My April 2016 Reads

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April, you flew by. I feel like I say that every month, but just WHOA. I'm not mad May is almost here, because May is my birthday month, which in my mind makes it the best month. The library was pretty good to me this month, and there are several five star ratings in this stack as well!

Also. I officially decided (thanks to nudging from Amber and Annie!) to bump by 2016 Goodreads challenge to 100 books for the year. I had said 80, but being WAY ahead of schedule made me realize I should really try to challenge myself even more. I'm still 13 books ahead of schedule...

Anyway...here is what I read in April!


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Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

MY RATING: 4/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I'm all about this idea, and found this book to be a very powerful motivation/reminder to truly chase the essential things in all aspect of my life. It's one I know I'll read again when I feel off track, and think it's a must-read for creatives of any kind!


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The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber

MY RATING: 3/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I received this one from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review, and honest review I will give! I couldn't finish this one. It wasn't that the premise wasn't interesting and unique (it was) or that the writing was bad (it wasn't) or that I wasn't interested in the plot or characters (I was)...there just was some spark missing and this one felt super slow.  I talked to someone else who listened to this one on audio and felt the same way about its slowness, sadly! It's about a man who takes a job as a missionary of sorts to an entirely new galaxy, where he meets the natives and goes to live among them, all the while trying to stay in contact with his wife back on Earth who keeps him informed of the disasters and tragedies happening back home. It's not a small book (500 pages) so once I had given it 200+ and still felt like it was dragging, I knew it was time to just let this one go. I can't tell you too much more about the plot because at halfway through, that's really all that had happened... I did flip ahead to find out how it ends though, even though I'm sure that's cheating. Oops! Not one I would highly recommend, but still an interesting read if you're willing to slug through the slowness.


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Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

MY RATING: 3/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I received this one free from NetGalley in exchange for my review (which will be honest always, because that's my thing). I have mixed feelings about Chris Cleave after reading both Gold and Little Bee by him-- I LOVED Gold but really disliked Little Bee (even though everyone I know loves it). I wasn't sure what I would think of this one as a result! I'm pretty dead set in the middle on this one. It was a whole new subject matter, but still character driven more than plot. I blew this one pretty quickly, but just wasn't as enamored by any of the characters or able to connect with the storyline as well as I expected I would. It's a love triangle story at its core, and the twists and turns as they came didn't really hook me or shock me like they perhaps were intended to, and I felt like the ending fell a bit flat after how everything played out. Gold is still my favorite of Cleave's books, and the one I would most recommend!

IN ADDITION: Gold is still my favorite of Cleave's books, and the one I would most recommend!


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Bandersnatch by Erika Morrison

MY RATING: 5/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I could swoon about this book for days, and I have been. It was beautiful. Stunning. Engaging. Magical. Powerful. Inspiring. Challenging. Convicting. Life-changing. This book awakened things in me and in my faith that I hadn't ever known how to name or identify before, and it spoke so clearly to my soul and the way my heart and mind work. It was AMAZING.


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Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

MY RATING: 5/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I've seen this one all over the place and was excited to finally grab it from the library. I even read half of it sitting right in my favorite library chair, which tells ya it's an easy read. It wasn't some great work of literary fiction or anything, but it was a really great book that surprised me, kept me interested, and was fun to read! I almost always hate books that are written in all letters, but the way this one did it really worked and made it enjoyable instead of distracting.

IN ADDITION: What should I read next by Reay?!


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Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

MY RATING: 5/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: With all the news headlines telling of black lives taken prematurely, brutally, and unfairly, I've become much more aware of both the brokenness around me and the privilege within me. It's been hugely eye-opening to realize how my own identity as a white, college-educated, salaried woman puts me in a bubble that protects me from so much danger, while people of color live in fear with a constant need to fight for their safety. It's sickening to realize. Books like this one are powerful beyond words. My eyes are more open now to what it means to be black in America in 2016, and although it wasn't easy to read, I am so grateful to have read it. I'm convicted of the ways in which I, too, have been one to judge or ignore or look down on others who are different from me. I'm broken by the truth that there isn't a neat and tidy solution to racism and injustice. I don't want to stay sheltered by my privilege but instead to step out of the bubble and into the brokenness where I can listen to stories like this one, let my heart be broken, and steep my soul in the truth of the world around me. I do not have answers. I do not know solutions. I know I can listen to what people of color are saying. I can hear their stories instead of silencing their voices. I can choose to not live like those before me who put people down because of skin color or ancestry or geography. I can start by opening myself up, and I'm grateful that this book could be part of that. Please read this one.


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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

MY RATING: 5/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I had heard so many rave reviews about this one, and you should know by now how I feel about hype... But joining in for the #readathon and finally having this one in hand from the library was enough motivation to give it a chance. People. I couldn't put this one down. It was amazing. Beautifully written, completely engrossing, powerful, and eye-opening. I have read many books about World War Two, but hearing this one totally from the perspective of women was both good and hard. I felt overwhelmingly grateful for the freedoms I have and the way war has always felt far from me, but also deeply challenged by thinking about how I would act (and should act) when the world around me falls apart. I haven't stopped thinking about the power I hold and how I should be using it for good around me, and for a fiction book to leave me so convicted and moved is a mighty thing. This is absolutely deserving of every bit of hype, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It will make you want to be braver and bolder in the face of injustice and opposition and cruelty. It will also make you cry, so get ready. And I rarely cry at books.

IN ADDITION: If somehow you still haven't read All the Light We Cannot See, also grab that one ASAP.


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Euphoria by Lily King

MY RATING: 2/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: For all the awards plastered onto the cover of this one, I couldn't sink into it. It wasn't bad, just wasn't enthralling. Love triangle stories frustrate me sometimes, and this was exactly that. I won't say more as I don't want to turn people away since clearly the majority love this one, so just check it out if it interests you (the cover is stunning and was what drew me in!).


A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman

MY RATING: 3/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I heard about this one on Anne Bogel's podcast and instantly put it on my to-read shelf. It's about a grumpy old man, and while that might not sound enjoyable, the anecdotal way this book goes about introducing him draws you in and makes you love him even though he is very quirky and rude and not at all the kind of person you want to be when you grow old. The poor cranky old man is so loveable and this one is such a fun little read.


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