This was a decent (decent, not great) month of reading. I read 7 books but the ones I chose were on the lighter side as work was a bit stressful. Also, although I absolutely loved the ending, The Farewell Tour was a bit of a slog for me. It took me way too long to get into, and ate into my reading time!
For me the real highlight of the month was The Kingdom of Prep – I listened to it on audio and it is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I also really enjoyed Pineapple Street and The Daydreams! I think for me the problem this month was that I didn’t read anything literary/more thoughtful. Just a lot of fluff. And sometimes that is what you need (when I’m stressed I go for the fluff!). I would say that of the seven books I read, I would highly recommend Pineapple Street, The Daydreams, and Kingdom of Prep. Everything else was good but not great. Would love to hear what you are reading! Tell me the best thing you read this month in the comments!
Everything I Read in April 2023
Pineapple Street, by Jenny Jackson
I really, really enjoyed this book. (And if you remember at the end of last month, I’d lost a book to my house; this is the one: I liked it so much that I bought it twice.) Sarah from My Sister Made Me Buy It pointed out that not a lot happens, that it feels like really good people watching. And not a lot does happen (well, the characters get into and out of relationships, they lose & find jobs, get pregnant, etc.) but there isn’t any drama or huge plot. But the conversations and observations are what make this book such a gem (and really hilarious at times). I’d love to watch it as a TV show. The character development is fantastic (I’m still thinking about these people), and author’s understanding of New York’s 1% is spot on (at least… I think it is, I don’t really know firsthand!).
The book centers around three women. Darley (oldest daughter) who traded her inheritance and job for motherhood; her sister Georgiana (the baby) who falls in love with someone she can’t have and finds herself in a precarious situation; and Sasha, who married into the family and finds herself constantly feeling excluded. This book is smart, clever, and truly delightful to read. Overall Score: A // Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.com
Romantic Comedy, by Curtis Sittenfeld
I really wanted to love this book but only liked it. You know that I am a huge fan of Curtis Sittenfeld I’ll read anything she writes. This one just fell a little bit flat compared to her other books. Sally Millz writes for The Night Owls, which is basically a fictional Saturday Night Live. She is brilliant but cynical, having given up completely on love after a few heartbreaks. When her friend/fellow writer Danny begins dating a glamorous actress, she writes a sketch called The Danny Horst Rule, which basically means that average-looking, dorky men can date glamorous models and actresses… but it’s never the other way around. But when handsome (but slightly cheesy) Noah Brewster hosts TNO, sparks fly between the two of them. But he’d never date Sally. Or would he?
The book is comprised of three chapters. I don’t want to give anything away so I will say that I loved the first chapter and was only medium on the second. I found Sally’s character abrasive and annoying at times. Making the same mistakes again and again, lacking confidence to the point where you (as the reader) get really frustrated. Still, it’s a good book. I loved the first part and loved the ending. And as with every Sittenfeld book, the writing is fantastic. So I’ll still recommend it, but will just say this isn’t her best! Score: B+ // Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.com
Kingdom of Prep, by Maggie Bullock
I have spent the past month telling anyone and everyone that they need to read this book. It’s absolutely one of my favorite books of the whole year. I chose to listen to it as opposed to reading in paper form (I always do better listening to non-fiction) which was a good decision. This is the story of J.Crew from the beginning. Before there was Mickey and Jenna, there was Arthur Cinader and his daughter Emily… who built the brand out of nothing. I knew absolutely nothing of their story but found it inspiring, interesting, and honestly: relevant for anyone building a brand. The way that they conducted their lifestyle photo shoots, Emily’s discerning eye (with parallels to Anna Wintour). Then we get to Mickey and Jenna, which is simultaneously nostalgic but with new information.
I couldn’t tear myself away from it. I simultaneously learned so much about the company (and thought a lot about how I run my own business) while simultaneously experienced a ton of nostalgia (both from nineties era J.Crew when I would save my babysitting money to order from the catalog) to early aughts era J.Crew when I lived in stripe tees, colored denim, and bubble necklaces. This is one of my favorite books of 2023 and a must-read if you ask me! Score: A+ // Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.com
The Housemaid, by Freida McFadden
This was a fun, mindless vacation read. I fear that I’ve read so many books similar to it that I kind of just know what is going to happen. A lot of these domestic thrillers are pretty predictable by now, and I tend to guess the twists. But still, I enjoy them… guessing has become a part of the fun!
Millie is a down on her luck 27 year old… fresh out of prison (she was imprisoned at age 17 and spent 10 years locked up). We don’t know what she did but she’s been fired from her last job and is currently living in Long Island. When she is offered a live in maid position for a wealthy Long Island family, she feels like the luckiest woman alive. Even if it means living upstairs in a tiny room where the door only locks from the outside. Even if her boss Nina berates her and displays psychotic tendencies. She will do anything to keep this job.
Meanwhile, Nina’s handsome kind and husband Andrew seems to grow more and more despondent while Nina behaves badly. And slowly, Millie wonders if she could take Nina’s place. I read this on a girls’ trip and found myself attached to it. It’s predictable and not the best written, but it is fun. Overall Score: B+ // Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon
The Farewell Tour, by Stephanie Clifford
I have a lot of complicated feelings about this book (not really all that complicated, but you’ll see what I mean. First of all, I still think about this author’s first book Everybody Rise, which I absolutely loved (it’s New York City social climbing/living beyond your means at its best). Naturally, I was very excited for her next book as that one came out back in 2016. This one is about an aging country music star with a tumultuous childhood (she left home at just ten years old!). It spans from the 1920’s through “modern day” (1980), in alternate timelines. Overall, I netted out only medium on this book and I feel a little bad about that because 1) It’s very well written and you can tell that Clifford put a lot of effort into researching the world of country music and 2) the last 50 pages were amazing.
But I think that for me, the main character wasn’t all that likable and I don’t really care about country music, so I struggled. It took me a long time to finish. But then I absolutely loved the ending (I cried?) so I feel like the slog was worth it? I don’t know what to say here. Read it, be annoyed with me for recommending it, and then be happy you did because the ending was wonderful? I’m still not sure if I’d recommend it but having finished it, I’m glad I did! Overall Score: B+ // Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
The Personal Assistant, by Kimberly Belle
Was this well written? Not particularly. Off the rails? Definitely. Thoroughly enjoyable and something you’ll read in a day? YES. You know that I cannot resist any thriller surrounding influencer culture so when one of my influencer friend group texts recommended this, I of course ordered it on the spot. It is a wild ride, that’s for sure. Alex, aka @unapologeticallyalex is a mommy blogger with over a million followers. She’s the mom to two twelve year old girls, married to her dream man, and living in a beautiful neighborhood in Atlanta. She relies on her personal assistant for just about everything from posting on her behalf to replying to followers. When Alex makes a big drunken mistake and finds herself cancelled, her world spirals out of control and AC is not picking up the phone.
Turns out, AC is probably not who she thought she was. And when Alex is doxxed by her ex-fans and a woman winds up dead in her house, events spiral out of control. This is a fun, fast thriller. There are loads of plot holes and the writing is medium at best but I enjoyed it all the same. Overall Score: B+ // Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
The Daydreams by Laura Hankin
I loveeed this book. I have read all of Laura Hankin’s books and I think this one might just be my favorite! Back in 2004, The Daydreams were THE THING. A tightly knit foursome, acting and singing for the Atlas Network (think Disney!). The show was all anyone could talk about (with a will-they-or-won’t-they romance that rivaled Dawson and Joey on Dawson’s Creek. But then the live season two finale happens and the show implodes, leaving everyone out of a job. Fourteen years later, the 4 former friends and castmates have totally different lives. Kat is a lawyer in DC, Liana is married to a famous athlete, Noah has become even more famous, and Summer (the star) is the cautionary tale (her character reminded me of Tara Reid).
When fans demand a reunion special, the stars all have their own reasons to come back (closure, revenge, etc!). But as they begin rehearsals, old secrets come out. Will the reunion fix things for these former best friends, or will it make things even more messy? Alternating between then and now, I found this book to be so much fun to read and thoroughly unputdownable. I’m telling all my friends to read it! Overall Score: A // Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.