During March, I read 10 books. During April, only 4. What happened? I’m not really sure. (A visiting friend, travel, a 9-day migraine… those may have contributed to my low book count.)

Let’s review:

When We Were Alive – C.J. Fisher  – 3.75* – (Apr. 6):
(Goodreads review)

whenWeWereAliveInteresting debut novel written from three perspectives and three different points in time. I found Bobby, the young magician, the most engaging. His story begins when he’s 12 and we follow him through WWII and beyond. Myles, who tells his story via letters to a mother he’s never met, is intriguing but problematic for me in that his simpleness makes his age seem much younger than he is supposed to be. William isn’t introduced until much later, which feels odd and he was hard for me to like.  I’m curious to see what Fisher writes next – it was a promising debut with a complex narrative. It wasn’t without its faults, but far more sophisticated than many other books I’ve read recently.

Brooklyn – Colm Tóibín – 3.5* – (Apr. 10):
(Goodreads review)

brooklynI wanted to love this book – and I still want to see the movie because I’m in love with the fashions of the time period. But Ellis, the protagonist, was such a passive character. On the surface, she sounds very in control. She can’t find work in Ireland so she leaves for America, works in a department store, attends school, and finds love. When tragedy strikes at home, she returns, where she’s then faced with a decision! Except Ellis is such a limp dishrag, she never truly makes any decisions for herself. Others more or less decide what’s best for her future and she goes along with it to please them or because she agrees. I never sensed any growth from her or any indication that she was taking control of her life even as the final scenes closed the story. I was left wishing someone more plucky had been provided the opportunities given to Ellis.

Secrets of a Charmed Life – Susan Meissner  – 4.25* – (Apr. 16):
(Goodreads review)
secretsCharmedLifeSurprise – I read another WWII novel! This one, like so many, starts in present day and then drags us back to tell us the story. But I appreciate that there wasn’t much bouncing back and forth. I also appreciate that there wasn’t a desperate attempt to randomly tie the storyteller and listener together.  This story involved sisters sent out of London for their safety and the older sister following her dreams in a way that caused them to be separated. There was a final act that felt somewhat out of place, and I wish it had been handled better, but the first 90% of the book was so good that I’ll forgive it.

Swerve – Vicki Pettersson – 3.5* – (Apr. 19):
(Goodreads review)

swerveThis was very dark. Darker than I realized. I wasn’t expecting the level of detailed gore, even though I knew it was about some sort of abduction in the desert. It was an action-packed thriller with a tough female lead. She was smart and tough most of the time, doing what needed to be done and only occasionally letting her guard down. Considering the stress and trauma and physical duress, it seemed excusable.

The use of the present tense helped to keep the action moving and added to the edge-of-your-seat vibe, but it was a little inconsistent and sometimes exhausting. I also deducted points for resorting to cliches a few times.


I have three reading goals this year:

  1. Read 50 books: – I finished 4 in April, for a total so far of 22. According to Goodreads, I’m 6 books ahead of schedule.
  2. Complete the PopSugar 2016 Reading ChallengeThere are 40 categories, and I’ll count no book for more than 2. I also decided not to count re-reads (unless the category specifies it must be a re-read). Numbers below are new/add’l categories completed.
    1. January – 4 (blue cover, murder mystery, set in Europe, takes place in summer)
    2. February – 3 (culture unfamiliar with, translated to English, library)
    3. March – 10 (autobiography, political memoir, graphic novel, over 600 pages, satirical, guaranteed to bring joy, poetry, finish in a day, NYT bestseller, under 150 pages)
    4. April – 2 (road trip, published in 2016)
      1. (Total = 19)
  3. Read at least 3 classics from new-to-me authors: I did not.

Diversity? Not really.

Star ratings: I base this on the flat stars Goodreads displays in list-view, not the quarter-star system I assign in my reviews.

  • 5 stars: 2 books (1 re-read)
  • 4 stars: 11 books
  • 3 stars: 7 books
  • 2 stars: 2 books
  • 1 star: 0 books
  • 0 stars: 2 books (both books I started and abandoned)

Pages read:

  • January – 1608
  • February – 1420
  • March – 2521
  • April – 1258


Let’s hope for better things in May, though I start school again next week. I’d like to finish two VSI books, four other books, and a minimum of 2000 pages.