April was an interesting reading month! I read 13 books for a totoalt of 5,342 pages. I read an interesting mix of genres, and found some new favourites books.
Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again.
It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio, and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career.
She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the dangerous thrill Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love?
Akwaeke Emezi’s vivid and passionate writing takes us deep into a world of possibility and healing, and the constant bravery of choosing love against all odds.
I went into You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty knowing very little about it other than it was Akwaeke Emezi’s first romance and that the main character was finding love again after the death of her husband. I was not at all prepared for what this book turned out to be, and though my feelings about it are complicated, I kind of loved it for that reason. It is messy in a lot of ways, but it is also very human. Feyi’s relationship with grief is so authentic and it feels so raw. I completely understood why these two characters formed a connection. There is also no denying that Emezi is a talented writer. The way that they can write in any genre continues to amaze me. I loved the way that they took a lot of traditional romance tropes and turned them on their head. There was a lot in here that I wasn’t expecting and wasn’t prepared for. It has been weeks since I have read this book and it continues to live rent-free in my head. Also, there are LGBT characters and Feyi’s best friend, Joy, makes this book worth reading.
Let me ask you a question:
If someone is vying for your spot on a team and just so happens to injure you during practice, would you believe it was on purpose?
Word around campus is . . . it was no accident.
That injury has cost me everything; my starting position, my junior year—and the draft. Now, I’m a senior fresh off recovery, struggling to find my groove, until the day I run into a nervous, fidgety, girl with freckles, in the dining hall.
They call Milly Potter The Baseball Whisperer, The Diamond Wizard, and The Epitome of All Knowledge. She believes in baseball. She breathes it. She’s the queen of an infamous dynasty, but no one actually knows who she really is, and she plans to keep it that way.
One mishap in the panini line, one miscommunication in the weight room, and many failed attempts at an apology equal up to one solid truth — Milly Potter never wants to speak to me again — no matter how good my forearms look.
Little do we both know, she’s about to become more than just my fairy ballmother.
April means Opening Day for baseball, so I thought it would be fun to read a baseball romance! I found The Dugout on Kindle Unlimited, which is actually book two in the Brentwood Boys series. I love the setup of this one. It was fun to see Milly teach Carson a thing or two about baseball, especially after he dismissed her in the beginning. These two have a ton of chemistry and there was the perfect amount of baseball; however, the “not like other girls” energy was off the charts! Milly often said things like “while other girls were getting ready for prom, I was on the sidelines at a baseball game” and Carson loved that she was sooo unique and said things like how he was always more of a Pheobe fan when it comes to Friends while everyone else loved Rachel. Just cringe! Another thing I didn’t love was the third-act conflict. It felt so out of character for Carson! That said, I was able to look passed it because they worked together and there were a lot of sweet and steamy moments.
Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the powerful Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.
Alone, untrained, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the Crown Prince, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the emperor’s son.
To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. When treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, however, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.
Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic, of loss and sacrifice—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.
So many of my friends on Goodreads have DNFed Daughter of the Moon Goddess before the 50% mark and I have to admit that that was almost me. I love the beginning and I connected with Sue Lynn Tan’s writing style; however, the first half was a bit of a drag. There was a lot of setup and world-building and it was not done in a subtle way. It was just our main character asking questions to those around her and then us getting long explanations about the lore of the world. That said, all that setup pays off in the second half and I am so glad that I pushed through. I ended up really loving this and it becomes more of an adventure story. I am not usually one for love triangles but I thought this one was interesting and it has an important role in the story. It didn’t feel like there was a love triangle just for the sake of having one, which I appreciated.
When Sara Foster runs away from home at sixteen, she leaves behind not only the losses that have shattered her world but the girl she once was, capable of trust and intimacy. Years later, in Los Angeles, she is a sought-after bartender, renowned as much for her brilliant cocktails as for the mystery that clings to her. Across the city, Emilie Dubois is in a holding pattern. In her seventh year and fifth major as an undergraduate, she yearns for the beauty and community her Creole grandparents cultivated but is unable to commit. On a whim, she takes a job arranging flowers at the glamorous restaurant Yerba Buena and embarks on an affair with the married owner.
When Sara catches sight of Emilie one morning at Yerba Buena, their connection is immediate. But the damage both women carry, and the choices they have made, pulls them apart again and again. When Sara’s old life catches up to her, upending everything she thought she wanted just as Emilie has finally gained her own sense of purpose, they must decide if their love is more powerful than their pasts.
At once exquisite and expansive, astonishing in its humanity and heart, Yerba Buena is a love story for our time and a propulsive journey through the lives of two women finding their way in the world.
I have never read anything by Nina LaCour, but I was intrigued by her first adult novel. I was so thrilled when it was included as an ALC in Libro.fm’s influencer program. As a side note, Julia Whelan is the narrator, so you already know the narration was fantastic. Yerba Buena is being pitched as a romance but I would say it is more contemporary fiction with a love story in the background. We are following two women from their teenage years into their late twenties. They both go through a lot and it can be difficult to read about. Definitely triggers for addiction. We see how their pasts affect them and how they fight to overcome their trauma. They also fall in love.
Prince Jones is the guy with all the answers—or so it seems. After all, at seventeen, he has his own segment on Detroit’s popular hip-hop show, Love Radio, where he dishes out advice to the brokenhearted.
Prince has always dreamed of becoming a DJ and falling in love. But being the main caretaker for his mother, who has multiple sclerosis, and his little brother means his dreams will stay just that and the only romances in his life are the ones he hears about from his listeners.
Until he meets Dani Ford.
Dani isn’t checking for anybody. She’s focused on her plan: ace senior year, score a scholarship, and move to New York City to become a famous author. But her college essay keeps tripping her up and acknowledging what’s blocking her means dealing with what happened at that party a few months ago.
And that’s one thing Dani can’t do.
When the romantic DJ meets the ambitious writer, sparks fly. Prince is smitten, but Dani’s not looking to get derailed. She gives Prince just three dates to convince her that he’s worth falling for.
Three dates for the love expert to take his own advice, and just maybe change two lives forever.
Love Radio is a YA contemporary romance, and it is one of the best that I have read in quite a while. I loved the setup- Dani is cynical about love and Prince gives out love advice on the radio. He tells her that he can make her fall in love with him after three dates. While there are a lot of light and fluffy moments, there are also some deeper themes. After an attempted sexual assault, Dani has become more distinct from the people in her life. What I really appreciated is that the author made it very clear that falling in love does not heal trauma. I thought this book was so respectful!
In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.
Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free
Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker’s debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.
I buddy read The Golem and the Jinni, and I recommend doing that same if this is a book you are interested in. Or, if you do read it, you can always message me on Instagram with all your thoughts and predictions. There is just so much to impact in this book and I think being able to discuss it helps with the experience. Don’t be surprised if you see this book in my top ten favourites at the end of the year! It has made me realize that I could potentially love historical fantasy. I adored Helene Wecker’s writing and it was obvious that she put a lot of research into the immigrant experience in New York at this time. I cannot wait to read the sequel!
Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?
Grave Mercy had been on my TBR for years, so I thought that the Assassins in April was the perfect time to read it! Sadly, very little about this book worked for me. I think that if I had read it when it came out ten years ago, I would have loved it. It feels very much like a product of its time! I was bored throughout the majority of it, which definitely should not be the case in an assassin novel. Also, I was lukewarm on the romance. I will not be continuing with the series!
Hear more of my thoughts about these seven books in this video!
Stolen from her Ghanaian village as a child, Nena Knight has plenty of motives to kill. Now an elite assassin for a powerful business syndicate called the Tribe, she gets plenty of chances.
But while on assignment in Miami, Nena ends up saving a life, not taking one. She emerges from the experience a changed woman, finally hopeful for a life beyond rage and obligation. Tasked with killing a man she’s come to respect, Nena struggles to reconcile her loyalty to the Tribe with her new purpose when sixteen years later, she sees one of the men who razed her village, murdered her family, and sold her into captivity.
Now, Nena can’t resist the temptation of vengeance―and she doesn’t want to. Before she can reclaim her life, she must leverage everything she was and everything she is to take him down and end the cycle of bloodshed for good.
Her Name is Knight is a difficult book to talk about. The author includes content warnings at the beginning and I recommend reading those. Know going in that our main character was kidnapped as a child and sold into a human trafficking ring. A lot of this happens on page and it is harrowing to read about. I thought that the author handled this well and it was satisfying to see Echo as an adult seeking revenge. This is brutal and graphic and won’t be for everyone! I thought that the way the story was told was really compelling. The “before” chapters were written in the first person while the “after” chapters were written in the third person. I will say that I was not into the romance and I think we could have done without it! I am curious to see what happens in the sequel.
Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.
At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before.
But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.
Other Words for Home is a read-in-one-sitting kind of book! It is a middle grade told in verse and follows Jude, who has immigrated to the US from Syria with her mother. We follow her journey as she makes friends, faces prejudice, and ultimately finds what makes her happy. There were a lot of great conversations about what makes a place a home. This was also part of my 12 Challenge and I am so thankful that it was included!
Lou never believed in superstitions or magic–until her teenage aunt Neela is kidnapped to the goblin market.
The market is a place Lou has only read about–twisted streets, offerings of sweet fruits and incredible jewels. Everything–from the food and wares, to the goblins themselves–is a haunting temptation for any human who manages to find their way in.
Determined to save Neela, Lou learns songs and spells and tricks that will help her navigate this dangerous world and slip past a goblin’s defenses–but she only has three days to find Neela before the market disappears and her aunt becomes one of them forever.
If she isn’t careful, the market might just end up claiming her too.
Not Good for Maidens is the Golbin Market retelling that I didn’t know I needed in my life! If you love spooky and atmospheric novels, you need to give this a try. I will never think of the song Scarborough Fair in the same way! The book is written in two timelines, both of which are compelling and largely take place in the Goblin Market. This is a case where I think being familiar with the original text will greatly improve your reading experience. I recommend reading a summary! There is a large focus on sisterhood and family, which I adored.
Wonders terrestrial and aquatic, ancient ruins, near drownings, and more kinds of dragon than you can shake a wing at… Six years after her perilous exploits in Eriga, Lady Trent embarks on her most ambitious expedition yet: a two-year trip around the world aboard the Royal Survey Ship Basilisk, to study all manner of dragons. From feathered serpents sunning themselves in the ruins of a fallen civilization to the mighty sea serpents of the tropics, these creatures are a source of both endless fascination and frequent peril. Accompanying her is her young son and a chivalrous foreign archaeologist whose interests converge with Isabella s in ways both professional and personal. Science is, of course, the primary objective of the voyage, but Isabella’s life is rarely so simple. She must cope with storms, shipwrecks, intrigue, and warfare, even as she makes a discovery that offers a revolutionary new insight into the ancient history of dragons.
I am having such a great time with this series, though I do think that the novelty of his has worn off for me a little bit. I love the unique storytelling where it is a fiction book written like a memoir, but now, three books in, it doesn’t feel as special to me. I appreciated that we got more dragons in The Voyage of the Basilisk and some of the characters that were introduced were interesting. We also got to know Lady Trent’s son, Jake, and he added some lightness to the story. I will say that I have noticed that I haven’t loved the endings of any of these books. They just happen so fast and are kind of ridiculous!
From the detective who found The Golden State Killer, a memoir of investigating America’s toughest cold cases and the rewards—and toll—of a life solving crime.
For a decade, The Golden State Killer stalked and murdered Californians in the dead of night, leaving entire communities afraid to turn out the lights. The sadistic predator disappeared in 1986, hiding in plain sight for the next thirty years in middle class suburbia. In 1994, when cold case investigator Paul Holes came across the old file, he swore he would unmask the Golden State Killer and finally give these families some closure. Twenty four years later, Holes fulfilled that promise, identifying a 73-year-old former cop named Joseph J. DeAngelo. Headlines blasted from the U.S. to Europe: one of America’s most prolific serial killers was in custody.
That case launched Holes’s career into the stratosphere, turning him into an icon in the true crime world with television shows like The DNA of Murder with Paul Holes and America’s Most Wanted, and with the podcast Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad. Everyone knows Paul Holes, the gifted crime solver with a big heart and charming smile who finally caught the Golden State Killer. But until now, no one has known the man behind it all, the person beneath the flashy cases and brilliant investigations.
In this memoir, Holes takes us through his memories of a storied career and provides an insider account of some of the most notorious cases in contemporary American history, including the hunt for the Golden State Killer, Laci Peterson’s murder and Jaycee Dugard’s kidnapping. This is also a revelatory profile of a complex man and what makes him tick: the drive to find closure for victims and their loved ones, the inability to walk away from a challenge—even at the expense of his own happiness. Holes opens up the most intimate scenes of his life: his moments of self-doubt and the impact that detective work has had on his marriage. This is a story about the gritty truth of crime solving when there are no flashbulbs and “case closed” headlines. It is the story of a man and his commitment to cases and people who might have otherwise been forgotten.
I have moved away from listening to as much true crime as I used to, but I have been highly anticipating Paul Hole’s memoir. Unmasked is the perfect mix of true crime and memoir. Holes talks about some of his memorable cases, most notably The Golden State Killer, while also sharing how his commitment to his work affected his personal life. If you enjoyed I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara, this is definitely worth the read. There is actually a chapter simply called “Michelle”.
In the Long Island oceanfront community of Mattauk, three different women discover that midlife changes bring a whole new type of empowerment…
After Nessa James’s husband dies and her twin daughters leave for college, she’s left all alone in a trim white house not far from the ocean. In the quiet of her late forties, the former nurse begins to hear voices. It doesn’t take long for Nessa to realize that the voices calling out to her belong to the dead–a gift she’s inherited from her grandmother, which comes with special responsibilities.
On the cusp of 50, suave advertising director Harriett Osborne has just witnessed the implosion of her lucrative career and her marriage. She hasn’t left her house in months, and from the outside, it appears as if she and her garden have both gone to seed. But Harriet’s life is far from over–in fact, she’s undergone a stunning and very welcome metamorphosis.
Ambitious former executive Jo Levison has spent thirty long years at war with her body. The free-floating rage and hot flashes that arrive with the beginning of menopause feel like the very last straw–until she realizes she has the ability to channel them, and finally comes into her power.
Guided by voices only Nessa can hear, the trio of women discover a teenage girl whose body was abandoned beside a remote beach. The police have written the victim off as a drug-addicted sex worker, but the women refuse to buy into the official narrative. Their investigation into the girl’s murder leads to more bodies, and to the town’s most exclusive and isolated enclave, a world of stupendous wealth where the rules don’t apply. With their newfound powers, Jo, Nessa, and Harriet will take matters into their own hands…
I have never read anything quite like The Change, though it did remind me of a mix of Practical Magic and the tv show Revenge. I felt connected to all of the women who we follow and I appreciated that we got so much of their backstories. This is very much a feminist revenge story and it was satisfying to see these women embrace their bodies and their gifts. I need to read more books with characters over the age of forty! I will say that it dragged in some moments, but the ending was worth it.