Everything I Read in April 2024.

Everything I Read in April 2024

April was a solid month of reading. I read eight books in total. A nice round mix across all of my favorite categories (thrillers, non-fiction, literary and historical fictions, and some lighter reads). The biggest news of course is that Emily Henry’s new book is out and it’s excellent. I think it’s up there with People We Meet on Vacation and Book Lovers. Truly, the woman does not miss and every book she writes is fantastic.

My other favorite fiction book from the month was The Sicilian Inheritance. My mom is loving it too. It’s got a bit of everything… history, a mystery, some scary crime stuff… plus the most beautiful backdrop. Piazza really leaves you feeling like you are actually in Italy. I have been craving a vacation ever since finishing. The other real winner for me was Get the Picture by Bianca Bosker. You might remember Bosker from Cork Dork, amongst other things. This time, she’s diving headfirst into the art world. It’s equal parts funny, interesting, and educational.

PS – here’s everything I read in March!

Everything I Read in April 2024

Thrillers

Darling Girls, by Sally Hepworth

I have become such a fan of Sally Hepworth’s books. I absolutely loved her first two, and this one was great too. Hepworth has such a gift for writing characters that are complex and sometimes difficult, but extremely lovable all the same. In this case it’s three sisters. There is Jessica, the oldest: A type-A professional organizer (who may be addicted to pills and keeps everyone at a distance). In the middle there’s Norah, who is beautiful, brilliant… but also violent. And then the youngest: Alicia, who struggles with her confidence and can’t seem to be in a relationship. The three sisters grew up in foster care, under their seemingly lovely foster mother Miss Fairchild. There’s a pool, the home is beautiful and immaculately clean… it seems idyllic!

But Miss Fairchild is actually unpredictable, manipulative, and emotionally abusive. She finds non-physical ways to abuse each girl. It is awful but the sisters form a close bond. When they manage to escape, they think they are free. But twenty years later, a body is discovered under the home they grew up in. The sisters find themselves thrust into the media, unable to decide if they are suspects or witnesses. It’s a page turner. I will warn you that there are trigger warnings for child abuse, kidnapping, and rape. Overall Score: A- // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org

One Perfect Couple, by Ruth Ware (out 5/21/24)

This book is a wild ride and a nod to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Lyla is a scientist whose research project has fizzled out. In a weak moment, she is persuaded by her boyfriend Nico to sign up for a reality TV show, One Perfect Couple. Nico is a struggling actor and believes this is his last big chance to make it. Although she has a lot of hesitations, Lyla finds herself with Nico in paradise: on a tropical island, 20 hours away from Jakarta. The two of them will compete against four other couples. But once they arrive, things start to go awry.

Nothing is really as it was promised. The food is terrible, the resort doesn’t feel like it is finished. Lyla questions how safe it is. And then, after the first challenge, everyone is angry! That night, a horrible storm takes things to a new level of bad. There is no electricity, and no way to call home (since they all had to give their phones and devices up). The group has to band together to try and survive. Tensions run high, they are running out of food and water… things begin to feel like life or death. I will say no more but this one is really scary at times! I couldn’t put it down and read in a single day. Overall Score: A- // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org

Literary Fiction

The Other Valley, by Scott Alexander Howard

It is a little hard to describe this one. I’d almost call it literary science fiction? I overall loved the book as I thought it was really creative and unique but it is a bit sleepy for a lot of parts and the author does not use quotation marks (personal qualm!). Sixteen year old Odile is growing up in a small town, nestled between two other towns. One is twenty years ahead, one is twenty years behind. Odile is quiety and shy and vying for a seat on the Conseil. If she is chosen, she will be a part of the committee who decides who gets to cross over the town’s borders.

One day, Odile is in the forest and sees something she’s not supposed to see. The parents of her beloved friend Edme are on a mourning tour (to view their son whil he is still alive). She realizes that Edme is about to die. To preserve the timeline, she is sworn to secrecy. Meanwhile, as she grows closer and closer to Edme, she is also becoming closer and closer to securing the apprenticeship with the Conseil. I will say no more to avoid spoilers but this book is completely different from anything I’ve ever read. Overall Score: A- // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org

Historical Fiction

The Sicilian Inheritance, by Jo Piazza

This book is pure escapist candy (and also, quite scary at times!). If you love a thriller and/or historical fiction, and you wish you were spending your summer in Italy… this book is for you. It’s a page turner but also, you really feel like you are in Italy. I devoured it and then passed it on to my mother as this is our kind of book. Sara Marsala is flailing. Her business has collapsed, same with her marriage. She is depressed, regretful, and everything is a struggle. On top of all that, her beloved great-aunt Rosie passes away. Aunt Rosie, it seems, had other plans for Sara. She leaves her a plane ticket to Sicily and a deed to a potentially valuable plot of land. Sara takes off for Sicily, and a wild adventure ensues.

First of all, it turns out that her great grandmother (who had become a martyr in family lore) may have actually been murdered. Second, everyone wants a piece of her family’s land. Sara finds herself all over the Italian country racing to figure out what happened to her great grandmother, and fighting to protect what should be hers. Meanwhile, in dual timelines we get to know Serafina (the great grandmother) growing up in the early 1900s and fighting for a better life for herself + the women in her village. Overall Score: A // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org

Lighter Reads

The Husbands, by Holly Gramazio

This is a light, fun read! Lauren is single and living in London. One night, she returns to her home after a late night out, only to be greeted by… her husband Michael? She’s confused and is convinced that she has never seen this man before in her life. The house looks different; she looks at her phone and they have this shared history; her friends all seem to adore him. Then: Michael goes up to the attic to change a lightbulb and a new husband appears. And repeat: every time she sends a husband up to the attic, a new one appears. The attic is seemingly creating these new husbands for her, and with each husband, she has a slightly different life. Some husbands are a little mean, some are very nice. Sometimes her house is a mess, other times, it’s impeccably decorated.

In one situation, she finds herself extremely wealthy. There are twists and turns along the way, but I don’t want to spoil anything. It’s a fun read but it’s also a bit of a meditation on life. How do we ever know we’ve taken the right path? And when do we stop trying to do better and just live our life. Parts of it reminded me so much of online dating. Overall Score: B+ // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org

Funny Story, by Emily Henry

I have said this before but I love Emily Henry so much. Her writing feels like a warm hug and the books she writes are always real and relatable. And while I am generally more of a thriller person, I just love her stories. Romance, but not cheesy and never cliched/predictable. Anyway, no surprises here but I absolutely loved this one. It was up there with Book Lovers which has been my reigning Emily Henry favorite. I can’t decide if I like this one more!

When Daphne’s fiancé Peter leaves her for his female best friend Petra, her world as she knew it crumbles and she has nowhere to go. She needs to move fast and the only place that will work is with Petra’s ex: Miles. At first it seems like they have nothing in common but they slowly build a friendship and Daphne begins to realize that Miles isn’t the slacker loser Peter portrayed him to be. When they find themselves invited to Peter and Petra’s wedding, they hatch a fake dating scheme. Only: sparks begin to fly.

Besides the love story here, there is also a really wonderful friendship story as Daphne spreads her wings and figures out what she wants for herself. And there is some good family stuff too. I absolutely loved this and could not put it down. Brava, Emily Henry… you never miss! Overall Score: A+ // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org

Non-Fiction

Get the Picture, by Bianca Bosker

I listened to this one and absolutely loved it! If you are curious about the art world, want to develop your eye, or just love art, this is a good one! Bianca Bosker is a journalist who found herself curious about the art world. Bosker is a journalist (you may remember her other book, Cork Dork!) who begins the novel wandering into the art world, not understanding the hype. By the end of the book, she’s completely upended her life in the name of art. She begins working with one gallerist, and then another… works as a studio assistant for the legendary Julie Curtis, spends time as a security guard for the Guggenheim, and befriends a set of art collectors and follows them around. She literally throws herself head first into this weird and wonderful world.

In the process, she learns a ton (and teaches us along the way), refines her eye (and helps us refine our own eye), and has a lot of fun doing it. It is a wild ride and a super fun (but also educational) read. This book will educate you, teach you how to see, change how you think about everything, make you laugh… all the things. I can’t recommend it enough! Overall Score: A+ // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org

Live Learn Love Well, by Emma Lovewell

My friend Hitha told me to read this when we went to dinner and I actually can’t remember why! I think maybe the Cape Cod angle, or maybe talking about safety nets. But I needed a new audiobook and this seemed light, fun, and happy. In listening to it, I broke my new(ish) rule of “no memoirs about people you don’t know” as I wasn’t super familiar with Emma’s Peloton classes (I run vs. bike), but I wound up really enjoying it as I like her storytelling.

I didn’t really take away anything new and groundbreaking from it but I loved her stories. Although we’ve had different lives we grew up similarly (her on Martha’s Vineyard, me on Cape Cod) and lived in New York for a time. I related to her stories of taking risks when you don’t have a safety net… those early years in New York where you are just cobbling everything you can together to get by. It was a fun and easy listen! Overall Score: B+ // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org

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13 Comments

  1. Laura:

    Ooo adding the Sicilian Inheritance to my library holds now! April was a refreshingly good reading month for me, lots of rain in Boston and great books helped 🙂

    I ADORED Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan. If you listen to audiobooks you know Julia. She is a prolific narrator (incl. all of Emily henry’s books!) and here she puts her author hat on (her first book was My Oxford Year) and delves into the world of professional audiobook narration with a main character who is complicated but endearing, fun insight on the industry, a dynamic circle of friends and relatives, and an inspiring (and spicy) love story. Because this was an audio book-focused story and Julia is such a brilliant narrator I was delighted to listen to this one and hope others get to enjoy it too!

    5.1.24 Reply
    • Ooh! Thank you so much for the rec!

      5.1.24 Reply
    • Rachel:

      Yes! I loved Julia Whelan and Thank You for Listening was a favorite.

      5.1.24 Reply
  2. Colleen:

    thanks for the recommendations, love that you do this! I’m burning out my library app putting thing on reserve!!!

    5.1.24 Reply
  3. Lauryl:

    April was a big reading month for me – 11 books! Some major hits among them, too, which makes me happy.

    Favorite book – The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichl. I just loved this book so much – it had so many different layers and the most beautiful descriptive writing. The story includes a girl finding herself, amazing food descriptions, an amazing art mystery that’s based on truth and so many picturesque stories about Paris and literary characters from the late 20th century. Couldn’t have loved this more.

    Fun Rom Com (2):
    Every Summer After – super fast, nostalgic and sweet. Loved it.
    Funny Story – love Emily Henry’s character development! This was a fun story, and I read it super fast. Sad it’ll likely be at least a year till a new book from her!

    Good non-fiction (5):
    Kitchen Confidential – it’s almost embarrassing I’d never read this. I listened to it (narrated by Anthony Bourdain), and it was amazing and immersive but made me sad he’s no longer with us.
    Knife by Salman Rushdie – somehow I’ve never read a Rushdie book, but this was excellent. This book tells the story of his horrific attack on stage in 2022 and his ensuing recovery. It’s a surprisingly hopeful book for a heavy topic.
    Crying in H Mart – this has been on my list for ages, and I finally listened to it. Really really well written but very sad and heavy.
    The Gardner Heist – a well-researched summary of the infamous event. The author definitely expected to solve the case and made some interesting editorial choices, but it was a good deep dive into all the theories. I’m going to the museum later this year so I wanted to be up on all the latest.
    Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty by Anderson cooper and Katherine Howe. I didn’t love this one. It felt jarring to go back and forth from personal family memoir to distant historical recap. M I think I would’ve preferred it if Anderson just picked a lane and told entirely from that pov.

    Fantasy (3 books – Assassin’s Blade, Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight): I started the Throne of Glass series by Sarah Maar, and I’ve made it through three of the books so far. I don’t find it as exciting and engaging as the ACOTAR books, but it has a female empowerment theme I love. I’ll continue on but I’m not as addicted to these.

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    • Oooh thank you so much for sharing! I LOVED Crying in H Mart. You are right it is sad and heavy but so beautifully written.

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  4. m:

    Thank you for your reviews, as always. I just finished the short memoir, Grief is for People by Sloane Crosley and it was fantastic. I was nervous that the subject matter would make me depressed, but it’s funny and thoughtful–and stealthily a story of true crime, the inner workings of the NY publishing industry and best friendships. Highly Recommend!

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  5. MB:

    Grace, thank you for these! I’m having a hard time with a reading routine and would love to know yours – a certain time of day? Place? And how do you find the books you’d like to read? A good bookstore in Charleston / newspaper reviews/ library / online? Thank you!

    5.1.24 Reply
  6. I am always amazed at how much you read in a month. So many books. I ended up only reading four books. My favorite was Remarkably Bright Creatures and The Unmaking of June Farrow was a close second.

    5.2.24 Reply