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March-April Reading Wrap-up

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

MARCH READS

1. Always Only You by Chloe Liese (Adult Romance) (366 pages) (3.5⭐️)
Hockey player Ren and staff member Frankie are in love but forbidden from dating since she works of his team. Frankie is an empowering character and Ren is a total sweetheart. There is really positive autism and physical disability representation. The thing that kept me from rating it higher was how sexually charged the entire novel was to the point it made me uncomfortable.

2. The Night Swim by Megan Goldin (Adult Mystery) (341 pages) (4.75⭐️)
True crime podcast host Rachel is in a seaside town covering a rape trial when the sister of a girl murdered 25 years ago reaches out to her seeking help in acquiring justice. Of Goldin’s four books this one is the most mystery verses thriller. The podcast was actually in the story and this was the best written of her novels. I plan to pick up the next Rachel Krall book when it comes out later this year.

3. The Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose (Adult Mystery) (334 pages) (3.25⭐️)
When Sarah Morgan’s husband Adam is accused of his mistress’s murder she becomes his defense attorney. I found this book via Tiktok which is not a sentence I ever thought I’d write. It reminded me a little bit of For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing. I didn’t see the ending coming but be warned the characters (especially Adam) are pretty insufferable.

4. I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson (Adult Romance) (368 pages) (2.75⭐️)
Kian, a down on his luck reporter, agrees to be his ex-boyfriend’s date to his cousin’s wedding in exchange for being introduced to a man who could help elevate his career. I never really connected with either character in this book unfortunately though there wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with either one. I also didn’t buy it as a second chance romance.

5. You've Reached Sam by Dustin Thao (YA Magical Realism) (293 pages) (5⭐️)
Julie is struggling to cope after the death of her boyfriend Sam. When she calls to hear his voicemail one last time she finds they are magically connected and able to talk on the phone. This book reminded me of Other Birds and The Astonishing Color of After. It's a moving, tear inducing depiction of life after loss and my second favorite read of the year so far.

6. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro (YA Mystery) (321 pages) (3.75⭐️)
The descendants of Sherlock Holmes and James Watson (Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson) are attending the same boarding school when they're framed for their classmate's murder. This book is The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter meets Truly Devious. Charlotte and Jamie had good chemistry but I hope in future books they trust each other more. I tentatively plan to continue reading the series.

7. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Adult Historical Fiction) (369 pages) (4.25⭐️)
The children of legendary singer Mick Riva (Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit) face reckonings among themselves during an out of control party at Nina's beach house. This was a reread for me. As with all of Jenkins Reid's books the characters are the strong point here. In particular, Nina was the sibling who had the most spotlight. The narrative has a tendency to shoot off in various directions with unimportant characters which is the main weakness.

8. Lucy on the Wild Side by Kerry Rea (Adult Romance) (334 pages) (3.5⭐️)
Lucy is a zookeeper at the Columbus Zoo in charge of helping an orphaned gorilla find a surrogate mother while being filmed by a wildlife show (the host of which is the handsome and humble Kai). I grew up in central Ohio and love the Columbus Zoo so it was a treat to read a book set in one of my favorite places. The plot about the gorillas were cute and emotion and Kai was ideal book boyfriend material. The reason I didn't rate it higher was Lucy was unlikable and her feelings ran hot and cold.

9. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Adult Historical Fiction) (389 pages) (5⭐️)
Monique is a reporter who is interviewing retired Hollywood starlet Evelyn Hugo. Evelyn recounts her life story to Monique including her career rise, her many marriages, and who the love of her life was. This was a reread for me and to date I still consider Jenkins Reid's historical fiction debut to be her best in the genre. Evelyn is a morally grey but captivating character.

10. The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd (Adult Magical Realism) (387 pages) (5⭐️)
Nell Young's budding cartography career was ruined 7 years ago by her father over a seemingly worthless gas station map. After her father's death Nell finds the map is actually highly valuable and may be connected to her father's passing. This novel is the perfect combination of mystery and fantasy. It reminded me of Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson but the secrets and drama and relationships between the characters was better done in my opinion.

DNFs

1. The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Choksi (Adult Fantasy) (read 116 pages)
This is the story of a man who marries a mysterious woman but she makes him vow that he will never look into her past. I went into this fully expecting it to be the perfect read for me. It's got fairy tale vibes and flowery, poetic writing which are both things I typically love. The writing was honestly a little too much for me, though. I would feel exhausted after reading chunks of the novel. I wouldn't usually mind a low plot novel either but it just didn't feel like it was going anywhere I needed to follow.

APRIL READS

1. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Adult Historical Fiction) (355 pages) (4.25⭐️)
This novel tells the tale of the rise and fall of the titular, fictitious 70s rock band. The novel steals my writer's heart wit its unique story telling device of being told exclusively through interviews. All the characters are well rounded but without a doubt Daisy and Billy and their pull to each other is the star of the story. I urge you to consume this book via its audiobook. The full cast really enhances the experience.

2. Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail by Ashley Herring Blake (Adult Romance) (363 pages) (5⭐️)
Astrid Parker is lead designer on the renovation of a local inn. She clashes with the owner's granddaughter Jordan (who is working on the project as a carpenter) but soon sparks are flying. This is a companion book to Delilah Green Doesn't Care. I loved both Astrid and Jordan individually and as a couple. The friend group in this book is also amazing.

3. Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto (Adult Thriller) (352 pages) (5⭐️)
When a man is murdered in her tea shop Vera Wong becomes determined to solve the mystery. She gathers the suspects but during the course of her investigation the group ends up becoming close...but is everyone who they seem? Cozy mysteries are always over the top and a tad wacky so don't go in expecting to take this super seriously, just have fun. The characters and their relationships are what made this a 5 star read because it was so strangely heartwarming.

4. A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins (Adult Mystery) (378 pages) (3.75⭐️)
When a man is murdered on a houseboat it casts suspicion on three women close to him. There's the nosy neighbor Miriam, his one night stand Laura, and his aunt Carla. Hawkins strength is parceling out her mysteries in a way that keeps you on the edge of your seat. There's always way more to the story than there first appears to be. This novel is very dark and at times disturbing and even depressing. Trigger warnings include; death of a child, suicide, incest, alcoholism, animal cruelty, and panic attacks.

5. Exiles by Jane Harper (Adult Mystery) (356 pages) (3.5⭐️)
This is the third and final installment of the Aaron Falk mystery series. The great ting about this series is you don't have to read the books in any particular order as each follows a different mystery. Harper does a marvelous job of painting a scene so you feel like you are there in Australia investigating alongside Falk. I liked (almost) all the characters in the story. The reason I didn't create this higher is because the mystery felt pretty stagnant and the investigation seemed to move in a circle.

6. Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Adult Romance) (321 pages) (3.75⭐️)
Told through dual timelines taking place over the course of a year, this novel tells the story of Elsie whose new husband Ben is killed less than two weeks after their wedding. This novel is strange to classify because the chapters documenting the development of Elsie and Ben's relationship is very much a cute if cringey romance story. Then there's the chapters that explore Elsie's raw grief are the antithesis of that.
Full Review: I Ranked All of Taylor Jenkins Reid's 'Romance' Books (coming soon to the blog)

7. The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz (Adult Thriller) (309 pages) (2.75⭐️)
Alex and her estranged best friend Wren are budding writers chosen to attend a writing retreat at the home of acclaimed horror writer Roza Vallo. While there one of the other attendees goes missing. The toxic relationship between Alex and Wren and the is it or is it not supernatural question was the most interesting parts of the books. Unfortunately, the plot went in predicable directions.

8. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Adult Romance) (352 pages) (2.75⭐️)
Emma marries her high school sweetheart (Jesse) but on their one year anniversary he is presumed dead in a plane crash. She eventually moves on with Sam and becomes engaged. Then Jesse is found alive and she must chose between her past and present love. Jesse and Sam were both very well written characters but Emma lacked a concrete personality. Though I don't typically like love triangles I think this one was done relatively well - I just know Jenkins Reid can do better.
Full Review: I Ranked All of Taylor Jenkins Reid's 'Romance' Books (coming soon to the blog)

9. The Poison Season by Mara Rutherford (YA Fantasy) (390 pages) (4⭐️)
Leelo lives on an island protected by a blood thirsty forest and a poisonous lake. They are distrustful of outsiders but Leelo saves one (Jaren) from drowning. She must hide him until it is safe to get him back to the mainland. This book is perfect for someone who just wants to dip their toe into the fantasy genre. It's a slow, character driven story with a small world and a simplistic magic system.

10. The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn (Adult Thriller) (427 pages) (4.75⭐️)
Anna is suffering from crippling agoraphobia after living though a traumatic experience. She watches her neighbors through her windows and one day sees something she shouldn't. This book reminded me so much of The Girl on the Train (they feel like sister novels). It was so refreshing to see a character in a thriller whose mental illness is not used to make them a villain. If you like thrillers with unreliable narrators then check this one out.

TOTAL BOOKS READ (JAN-APR): 41
TOTAL PAGES READ (JAN-APR): 15,119 AVG. BOOK LENGTH (JAN-APR): 368.76 pages
AVG. STAR RATING (JAN-APR): 165.25/205 (4.03⭐️)
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