April 2021 Reading Update

This might be the best reading month I’ve ever had in my entire life! Our school district was on spring break for two weeks and I did take a few days off, which definitely helped me add to this month’s list. I watched WAY less TV, which gave me more time to read! I’ve been listening to two great podcasts by readers, for readers (What Should I Read Next? and Currently Reading), which are filling my TBR list so fast I can’t keep up, yet I was motivated to try!

In April I read:

  • Later by Stephen King – I loved Stephen King in my teens, and I have loved 11/22/62 and The Institute, two of his more recent novels. His writing style is so unique, and his horror is just fun to read! This story was about Jamie, a young boy who can see dead people. When a nefarious adult learns of his unique skill, she uses it for evil, which causes drama for everyone.
  • Too Good to Be True by Carola Lovering – I loved this mystery! The first half of the book was amazing, with the story told from the present point of view of Skye, the semi-present point of view of Burke, Skye’s new fiancee, and the past told from the point of view of Heather, Burke’s wife. The reader knows more than Skye for most of the book, and it’s painful how despicable both Heather and Burke can be. The twist mid-way through the book was a complete surprise to me, but such a great way to change the story. This was a fun read and a good pick from my Book of the Month club!
  • The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert – I loved this YA novel, that I heard recommended on the “Currently Reading” podcast. Marva is a young Black high school student with an intense passion for voting rights. She meets Duke, a mixed race high student when they begin their day voting. The rest of the book takes place throughout one day – election day- and the chapters are narrated by Marva and Duke, alternating their perspectives as they go from one mishap to another. While the story was cute and funny, it was also smart and had compelling storylines about voter suppression, what happens when Black teens are pulled over by cops, and interracial relationships. There was a lot crammed into this short, sweet story.
  • Win by Harlan Coben – Coben is one of my favorite mystery writers. I recently watched a Zoom where Sharia La Pena, another author I love, interviewed him about this book, his newest release. Win was a secondary character in all of the Myron Bolitar books that Coben has written. It was fascinating to have an entire novel about this rich, sociopathic character, who has always been the side-kick in other stories. Win spends this story trying to solve a mystery close to home, impacting multiple generations of his own family, yet spread out across the country. His insane wealth and desire for violence make this a wild ride!
  • Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris – I loved this fast-paced, psychological thriller (thanks JJ for the recommendation!)! Grace and Jack have the perfect life, at least from the outside. But between chapters that flash from past to present, we learn that there is a darkness to Jack, and that their marriage is anything but perfect. I was so tense reading this right up until the end, waiting to find out what would happen. That’s a sign of a good thriller!
  • Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View by Ramin Setoodeh – I have never been a regular watcher of The View, but I have heard snippets about this book ever since it came out. I read this during my spring break, when I was going for light and airy reads. This was a decades long chronicle of all of the in-fighting amongst the co-hosts, the lack of leadership from the show to the producers, to the political and personal battles fought on and off screen. While I enjoyed the celebrity gossip of it all, it was sad to read how so many smart women fought with one another, seemingly for power and control. It’s sad that an ensemble of women can’t be successful, no matter how many times they changed up the people sitting at the table. It sounded like an uncomfortable place to work!
  • Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger – This book is beautiful literary fiction at its finest. It holds a special place in my heart, and reading it in April is my way to honor my mom, who we lost 10 years ago. I love the improbably love story of Mary and Cobb, their love of nature, of crows, of travel, and myth. Their trip to Indonesia to see turtles and Yellowstone to count crows and wolves, make me want to travel to those places with a biologist. I cry every time I read this story, even though I know what will happen and nothing is a surprise any more. I cry for their love, their loss, and the beauty of the story, and I cry for my own loss.
  • Whisper Network by Chandler Baker – I liked this book for the powerful messages about female empowerment, standing up for what is right, and independence. I disliked this book because I wanted to like all of the female characters so much, but they were all so flawed, so painfully real in their secrets and lies. Sloane, Grace, and Ardie are lawyers for a company, working under Ames, a man who harasses women. When a new woman starts working for them, the women decide to put a stop to Ames’s behavior. Then everything goes wrong. During depositions and investigations the truth and lies come out in different ways. I loved the character of Rosalita, a cleaning woman in the building who saw everything. I liked the end of the story.
  • Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia – I loved this book! The author is a CPA and a writer and she combined her two passions in this story. Nora is a forensic account, hired by Strike gym to find $20 million that went missing. Gregg and Logan, the gym owners, are both suspicious and seem to be framing each other. I loved the way the author gave us glimpses of the story, and then went backwards to fill in past actions that moved the story along. This was a fun, fast-paced mystery!
  • Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant – I LOVED this ridiculous book that can only be described as mermaid horror. An entertainment company commissions a huge boat of scientists to go out to the Mariana Trench in search of mermaids, which most people believe are mythical, but which the entertainment company already believes to be real because of the destruction of a previous ship they sent out there to make a movie. What unfolds is truly mermaid horror, so you can’t stand descriptive horror stories, this is not the book for you. If you like that, know that this is fun, ridiculous, fast-paced, and full of fun and diverse characters.
  • When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris – This was a YA mystery that would be good for high school students. Jay is a young Black teen whose sister goes missing. Because they live in a poor area of town, there isn’t a lot of concern taken to help find her. It doesn’t help that she was hanging out with the local drug dealer the night of her disappearance, so people write her off as worthless. As Jay tries to solve the mystery of what happened to his sister, while supporting his aging grandmother, he doesn’t let anyone get too close. Then Riley, a girl from his church, just busts her way into his life. I love the character of Riley and how she opens Jay up to others helping him.
  • Broken (in the best possible ways) by Jenny Lawson – I love Jenny’s humorous essays – about life, fights with her husband, her mental illness struggles, and general merriment. This book has more seriousness, as she wrote it in the thick of deep depression, and I appreciated her honest accounts of the good and bad times. She is always honest, usually funny, and a gifted writer.
  • Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy – I heard this book recommended on one of my new readerly podcasts and appreciated the description so much I knew I had to read it. It’s hard to talk about this without giving away spoilers, but I can say it is fast-paced, has hints to Stephen King’s Misery, has an unreliable narrator, switches perspectives, and makes you question everything. I loved it!
  • Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones – I liked Luvvie’s TED Talk, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” and I wanted to love this book and just couldn’t. She provides general self-help advice to build confidence, be independent, have the tough conversations, and be brave. I love all of those things, but Luvvie didn’t say anything new or unique about these ideas. Her writing style is very informal, like she is having a chat with a good friend, and she shares a lot of personal memories of her Nigerian grandmother and her own learning experiences. I confess that I skimmed through the last section of the book, because I didn’t want to DNF this, but I wasn’t willing to commit to fully reading every word.

Fiction: 11

Nonfiction: 3

Young Adolescent: 2

Audiobooks: 1

Author is of or plot addresses a different race/ethnicity, orientation, religion than me: 3

Female author: 9

Male Author: 4

Nonbinary Author: 0

Library books: 7

Currently reading or my my TBR list soon: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

About Amy's Reflections

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services in Southern CA, taking time to reflect on leadership and learning
This entry was posted in Reflection. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to April 2021 Reading Update

  1. Andree Grey says:

    I loved that you got to reach so much last month! It was touching to read about your connection to your mom and Eternal on the Water. Hugs.

    Andrée Grey, Ed.D.
    Superintendent
    [signature_1121124406]

    From: Reflections on Leadership and Learning
    Reply-To: Reflections on Leadership and Learning
    Date: Saturday, May 1, 2021 at 8:02 AM
    To: Andree Grey
    Subject: [New post] April 2021 Reading Update

    EXTERNAL: This e-mail originated from outside of Encinitas Union School District. Do not click links or open attachments unless you recognize the source address and know that the content is safe. Please forward this e-mail to phishing@eusd.net if you believe this e-mail is suspicious.

    Amy’s Reflections posted: ” This might be the best reading month I’ve ever had in my entire life! Our school district was on spring break for two weeks and I did take a few days off, which definitely helped me add to this month’s list. I watched WAY less TV, which gave me more tim”

  2. Andrea C says:

    “Behind Closed Doors” sounds amazing! During the summer I usually enjoy reading thrillers! My book club recently finished an awesome psychological thriller that I wanted to recommend called “Deciduous” by Michael Devendorf (https://www.michaeldevendorf.com/.). There is nothing worse than losing a loved one, now imagine losing two at the same time. What if you started to realize it may have been your fault? These are the themes explored in this thriller. This is a dark novel, no doubt about it, sometimes bordering on horror. It follows a forest conservationist named Sienna who loses both her children and plunges into grief. She begins to see visions that twist her grief into something darker and more sinister. This book is full of mystery and suspense, grounded, thoughtful characters and some very dark and unique themes (explores the concept of an afterlife). I really enjoyed every second of it! I think it might be right up your alley. If you check it out let me know your thoughts!

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