What I Read in April 2023

The last weekend in April is always Independent Bookstore Day and then I spent 2 days recovering from all the work I put into planning and executing the thing. Soooo I’m just now getting around to writing about what I read in April. I’ve been excited to write about this because the majority of the books I read have a hot pink cover and I just was excited to see them all lined up together.

Shall we? Oh, PS get ready for a lot of romance. Hence all the hot pink.

True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren
Pre-Order the hardcover here (May 16)
Pre-Order the audiobook here.

This was the first Christina Lauren book I’ve ever read! I know they’re, like, super duper popular in this genre but I’d never picked up a book until it was shipped to me as an ARC. I would compare their writing to Emily Henry in the way that they all do a great job of writing fully fleshed out characters. We understand why everyone is making the decisions they do and even when we want to yell “stop!” we still get where they’re coming from.

So in this book the main fella (Connor) is a documentary filmmaker with a passion for saving the planet. But when his production company is shifting gears, he can either make a reality dating show or he can move to LA (and away from his daughter) to find better work. So, just for now he takes the gig. He calls on famous romance novelist Felicity Chen (her friends call her Fizzy which is adorable) to be their leading lady! And the rest, as they say, is history.

Can you predict exactly what’s gonna happen ultimately? Of course! You know there’s going to be a happy ending but the joy is in the journey.

Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile
Order the hardcover or paperback here.
Download the audiobook here.

For the past… 2.5 years? I’ve almost exclusively read brand new releases so that I know what to carry at the store. So if I don’t get on a book right away, it will likely pass on by me and I’ll add it to my list of books I’d love to get to one day (you know, after I retire). Broken Horses was on that list but my adoration for Brandi Carlile kept pushing me to pick it up. So after I started my new morning routine of waking up early and reading a book for 30 min before starting the day, I ordered myself a copy of this book.

I have to admit… for the first 2/3 I wasn’t loving it! Which surprised me because as I mentioned, I adore Brandi Carlile and also every single person that I talked to said this book was incredible. I quickly learned that everyone I know who loved it, listened to it on audio. And I am confident that’s where my mistake was. Which is so strange because 75% of my reading is done on audio. I don’t know why I decided that I just had to have the physical copy. But Brandi not only reads the book but also sings all the songs that are mentioned in the book. SO GET THE AUDIOBOOK IS ALL I’M SAYING.

Once we got into more recent times, I felt like we got that Brandi Carlile writing we all love: lots of reflection and thoughtfulness. But at the beginning, I have to be honest it just kind of read like a list of things that happened to her with not a lot of insight into how it affected her or how she was feeling. There’s one point where she talks about how she wanted to be baptized so badly and went to all the classes but day-of, the pastor refused to baptize her because she had a girlfriend. I felt like I got nothing of how that affected her even though I’m sure it broke her heart. That being said, I’ll bet I would have heard it in her voice if I had listened to the audiobook.

Happy Place by Emily Henry
Order the hardcover copy here.
Download the audiobook here.

Another excellent romance. I think what I really loved about this book is that it’s kind of a coming-of-age sort of book. It’s about that time in young adulthood where everything is changing in really, really big ways. It’s about the way you desperately want to hold onto life exactly the way it is right now because you can’t imagine that anything will ever be as good as it is right now. Your friendships are shifting in big, uncharted ways and you wonder what your life is going to turn out to be. I remember that time vividly and I hold young-Libby with so much compassion for the way she flailed through those moments.

Happy Place centers around Harriet–a lovable, if guarded, people pleaser who, after recovering from her breakup with her fiancĂ©, Wyn, is ready to let loose with her dearest friends on their yearly trip to the summer house in Maine. She’s finally in her happy place with her favorite people. As she turns the corner into the kitchen, who does she see? It’s Wyn.

Through the course of the story, Harriet takes us back and forth between her lifetime of “happy places” and “real life”. Could it ever really be possible for real life and happy place to co-exist? Again, it’s a romance so you know the happy ending is coming but I’ll be honest, I was wondering how it was going to work itself out!

Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld
Order the hardcover here.
Download the audiobook here.

I don’t know why I was reticent to pick up this book. Curtis Sittenfeld has a long history of “serious” literature under her belt and I was having feelings about her moving into the romance genre. But after thinking about it for a while (and getting the audiobook for free–bookseller perks), I decided that I was excited to see what she could bring to a romantic comedy!

So… Sally Milz is an accomplished comedy writer working at a fictionalized version of Saturday Night Live where she’s been for YEARS. This week on the show the host AND musical guest is a very famous singer who has been in the industry for about twenty years after finding early stardom with his famous song, “Making Love in July”. They didn’t explicitly say that it was Justin Timberlake… but it’s not not Justin Timberlake. His name is Noah Brewster. Anyway, Sally expects that Noah’s gonna be so dumb but he’s not and they seem to have a connection. But, you know, things happen and yadda yadda yadda we pick back up in the summer of 2020 and they strike up an email correspondance after I forget how long exactly but it’s been years.

Now, full disclosure, if you had told me that there was a significant Covid presence in this book I would have 100% not read it. Absolutely not. So if you’re like, “I’m out!” I get it. I’m not ready to go back to that place, especially in my entertainment. That being said… this was my favorite book I read all month. The Covid parts made things make sense in a way that any other plot device might have felt kind of forced. And I feel like if there’s any part of you that thinks you might be interested in picking this up, I think it’s absolutely worth it.

There’s one other book that I DNF’d but it was by no fault of its own. I was listening on audiobook but I felt like the narrator did a rough job of using her voice to differentiate between who was talking and this was a very conversation-heavy book. So I was getting so confused. But I’m even more excited to pick up the physical copy! I just wanted to show you the cover because it’s also pink!

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