Everything I Read in April 2023.

Everything I Read in April 2023
My two favorite reads from the month!

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!

PS. Everything I Read in March 2023.

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.

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  1. erica:

    Just put three books on hold based upon your April reviews, thank you! I think you would really like The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post. I agree about needing lighter reads when life is stressful. I feel like the majority of the best books are super intense, I wish there were more amazing light reads. I tend to read thrillers by default.

    5.1.23 Reply
  2. Kristin:

    I just finished JoJo Moyes’ new book, Someone Else’s Shoes, and I loved it. She can be hit or miss for me, but this one was great. One of those books you read in a weekend because you can’t put it down.

    5.1.23 Reply
    • That has been sitting in my TBR pile! Thanks for the endorsement!

      5.1.23 Reply
    • Laura:

      Ooo, good to know. I haven’t revisited JoJo in a while, maybe this will be the book to do it.

      I’m currently about 1/3 of the way through The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz and so far it is a twisty fun thriller a-la Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware. We love an isolated mansion with a dark history!

      5.1.23 Reply
    • Calee:

      I read “The Weight” by Jeff Boyd! I recommend it!!

      5.2.23 Reply
  3. Colleen:

    Love your book recs!!!!! : )

    5.1.23 Reply
  4. Mel:

    Hi! On an Abby Jimenez kick! Binged the friend zone series in the last week and they’re amazing! They’re romance – but each has an underlying serious issue and they’re just so amazing! Also read 3 of the magnolia parks series – which is basically gossip girl for adults if you need any light reading! Can’t wait to read the new Laura Hankin book!

    5.1.23 Reply
  5. Jenifer:

    I just finished Romantic Comedy this weekend. I liked the book overall and like you would give it a B+. You mention in your review how the character makes the same mistakes over and over again, I think that is very true to life as we all have a tendency to repeat patterns in our lives (both good and bad) and Ms. Sittenfeld hits the nail on the head with Sally on that point.

    5.1.23 Reply
    • Heidi:

      Agree! I gave it 4/5 stars on Goodreads. This was one of those books that I SO highly anticipated. I felt the opposite about which parts I enjoyed most – the first half was too much SNL inside baseball for me and I flew through the second half. Haven’t read any of the author’s other books – where should I start?

      5.1.23 Reply
      • Totally! I had been waiting and waiting for it. Prep, Eligible, and Rodham are my fav of her books. A lot of people LOVE American Wife but for whatever reason I wasn’t able to get into that one!

        5.1.23 Reply
      • CW:

        Heidi, I would start with Prep and then American Wife. I didn’t love the Hillary Clinton book, but read it quickly.

        5.1.23 Reply
        • Heidi:

          Thanks for the recs, CW and Grace!

          5.1.23 Reply
    • Yes, so true. It’s very relatable… yet annoying to watch!!!! I really didn’t like her as a character (but still felt the character was well developed and written, if that makes sense).

      5.1.23 Reply
    • Jenny:

      I just finished Romantic Comedy and feel the same – the first part was a slog and I almost gave up – but devoured the the rest. I stuck with it because I love her books, though this was worth it but not my fav.

      5.12.23 Reply
  6. Heidi:

    Totally agree that reading Pineapple Street is good people watching. I read it on vacation and tore through it – recommend to anyone who wants fun distraction.
    Per your rec, I read (and loved) The Island of Sea Women. Thank you! I probably wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise.
    Finished Romantic Comedy (also a B+) and now am reading Maame (slow to start, now i am HOOKED 60% in).

    5.1.23 Reply
    • Such good people watching!

      I am so, so happy you read and love The Island of Sea Women. It was one of my favorite books of the year so far — such a special book! Felt the same on Maame. Slow to start but really liked it.

      5.1.23 Reply
  7. m:

    I loved The Kingdom of Prep so much. I’m also almost done with The Social Climber that you recommended last month and I can’t wait to see how it ends!

    5.1.23 Reply
    • I can’t stop talking about it to anyone who will listen! Truly such a highlight for me.

      5.1.23 Reply
  8. Alina:

    I hated romantic comedy as well – what a bore to read! The housemaid is one of my fav books of all time, it just kept me on the edge of my seat. Love your book reviews!

    5.1.23 Reply
  9. Kelly:

    Thanks for the recs! I always add to my GoodReads list when you like them, we have similar tastes. Last month I read Woman on Fire and really enjoyed it and the Personal Librarian, those were probably my top two for the month.

    Now I’m reading the Island of Sea Woman and am probably about 1/3 through. It’s not completely grabbing me, but I feel like it will get as their stories go on. After this, it’s Lessons in Chemistry finally!

    5.1.23 Reply
  10. Lola:

    I recently read My Last Innocent Year by Daisy Alpert Florin. If you liked Adelaide or My Dark Vanessa, I think you will like it. Great story and such beautiful writing. I am still thinking about it!

    5.1.23 Reply
  11. Cara:

    I also listened to and loved Kingdom of Prep. As a long time JCrew lover I found the whole thing so interesting even though the narration was pretty mediocre. Crazy to think of getting a catalog in the mail, filling in a form, sending in a check, waiting…but that’s how it was kids!

    5.1.23 Reply
  12. Allie:

    I’ve been reading (or possibly re-reading?) Daniel Silva books, the Gabriel Allon series. Over the years, I’ve read or listened to most of them, but often out of order. It doesn’t really matter if you go in order or not, but I liked the idea of starting the series from the beginning. Classic spy novels, with the later ones getting into very real, ripped-from-the-headlines topics. I also read the American Royals series recently (based on your recommendation), and was sad as soon as I finished book 3 and realized that 4 isn’t out yet. In my library/kindle shelf are The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Woman on Fire, and some new-to-me mystery writers like Alexander McCall Smith and Arnaldur Indridason.

    I love browsing your ‘library’ for recommendations, and reading your monthly recaps!

    5.1.23 Reply
  13. Jasmine:

    Halfway through Pineapple Street rn! Really enjoying it so far.
    It took me 15 day to read Great Circle, so that’s half of April right there. It’s 608 pages and kinda slow, but a cool story about an Amelia Earhart-like female pilot.
    Read Woman on Fire per your reco and really like it. Anything WWII usually is a win. And finally got Black Cake from the library, very much worth the 6 month wait!

    5.1.23 Reply
  14. Rayne:

    Love your book recs, I enjoyed Pineapple street and didn’t love Romantic Comedy either. I enjoyed Sally Hepworth’s Soulmate for a family drama with thriller vibes and also Emily Henry’s newest Happy Place (Julia whelan on audible is ). One of my all time favorite if you have never read is Castle of Water

    5.1.23 Reply
  15. Gilly:

    This is my favourite post of the month! From any blogger – thank you for all your work 🙂

    Super random question…..my favourite books are the 1% NYC elite scene. I could read about that world all day. I have read Pineapple Street also, great fun.

    Do you have any similar books you would recommend? Or do you have a filter / existing list?

    Thank you from Australia xx

    5.2.23 Reply
    • m:

      This is also one of my favorite genres, so I’d also love suggestions. My recs are: The Goldfinch, The Nanny Diaries, Swans of 5th Ave, Empty Mansions, Happy and You Know it, The Age of Innocence, Everybody Rise… This would be a fun, future post idea!

      5.2.23 Reply
  16. Helen:

    I just finished The Dictionary of Lost Words. I think you’d really like it, it’s well written and researched, and very engaging. I won’t try to explain the premise here!

    5.2.23 Reply
  17. Alexis:

    Productive reading month for me! I’m waiting for Kingdom of Prep on Libby and can’t wait, along with the new Emily Henry book! My April list was a good mix!
    Remarkably Bright Creatures A++ (this was so so good)
    The Silent Patient (whoa!!)
    Pineapple Street
    Someone Else’s Shoes (loved this as well)
    The Soulmate
    Happy reading y’all!

    5.2.23 Reply
  18. Jessica Garrett:

    Your lists are one of my go-tos for book recommendations. Thank you. My favorite April book was I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai—a true crime podcaster comes back to teach at the prep school where her roommate was murdered and gets sucked back into her past.

    5.2.23 Reply
  19. Molly:

    I just finished, The Island of Sea Women, based on your post and wow. I thank you for recommending it because I would not have picked it up otherwise and it was so good, gutted me in just the best way a book can do. Before that I read Woman on Fire and I really enjoyed that, as an art history major and just lover of art and history I loved how she wove together WWII/present day. Would love more books a long that line! Now I am reading I Have Some Questions For You. I am a little more than halfway and I am getting antsy to know how this turns out!

    5.2.23 Reply
  20. Marsha Gibbons:

    I loved Pineapple Street!!! Thanks for the the heads up on that one! I have preordered Drowning, The Rescue of Flight 1421 by T. J. Newman, coming out the end of May. It has received fantastic reviews and I am almost certain it will be a movie someday. Suspense on steroids and it is supposed to be a “cannot put down” book. T.J. Newman is a former flight attendant turned author. She had a number one best seller, Falling, in 2021 (I believe that was the year) She was still flying at that point, but has now started writing full time.

    5.6.23 Reply