My April 2023 in Books

I finished 5 books last month. Right now I’m on pace to meet my completely made-up reading goal for the year. Here is my month in books.

1. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

The official synopsis – “It is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery which forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church.”

I listened to this one on the recommendation of a friend. It was a nice, short 2 hour listen with an Irish narrator. I love listening to books with Irish narrators, so that was a bonus for me. It takes a while in the listen to get to the discovery, but it does a good job building Bill’s background before we get there. I don’t know how I would have felt if I was reading the print version, but it was a satisfying way to spend my drive to and from the barn.

2. Black Wolf by Kathleen Kent

It is 1990 and Melvina Donleavy is on her first mission with the CIA in Soviet Belarus. She is on the mission because she has extraordinary facial recognition skills. While there, she becomes aware of a possible serial killer and eventually ends up his target. 

There were several times I thought about giving up on this book. It meanders its way to its point. The mission is not really the main point of the book, but there is a lot of time spent on why she is there. It picks up once it focuses on the killer, her eventual encounter with him, and the reveal of who he is. I gave it three stars. It was OK, but that’s it.

3. Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Tova works as a night cleaner at an aquarium to pass the time after the death of her husband. Her son Erik disappeared when he was 18. Marcellus is an elderly, very smart octopus who lives in the aquarium. Cameron is a 30-year-old who was abandoned by his mother as a kid and arrives in town looking for his father. This is their story.

I read this for book club. I said I wasn’t going to worry about finishing the book this time. Then I started reading and wanted to finish because I loved the book and didn’t want to stop reading. The big reveal and the end isn’t a shock, but it was fun getting there with the characters. I thought it was odd at first to have chapters narrated by Marcellus, but it worked because he was the character who knew more than the others. I would recommend this to anyone.

4. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

This is a retelling of David Copperfield set in Appalachia. It chronicles Demon’s life from a childhood with an addict mom, time in foster care, a brief time of success, and then a spiral into addiction.

I never read David Copperfield so I don’t know how this compares. I did enjoy this book. I was invested in Demon’s life and wanted him to find a way to turn his fortune around. Being a small town, Kentucky kid helped with feeling a connection to the character. It was one of those books that is very good, but also difficult. to read quickly. I think it could have been a bit shorter, but I would highly recommend it.

5. Killer of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

A true crime book about the Osage murders and how the investigation coincided with the beginning of the FBI with J Edgar Hoover.

I read this one for book club. This book club tends to read more non-fiction. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction but when I do true crime is one of my top choices. This was a very good true crime book. I liked how it was split into three sections. First, the murders. Second, the FBI. Third, the author investigates. The audio had a different reader for each section and that worked well. I would recommend it to true crime fans.

It was a decent book month for me. I read two very good books, two that I liked well enough, and one that was a bit of a disappointment.


8 thoughts on “My April 2023 in Books

  1. I loved Small Things and Remarkably Bright Creatures. I read the hardcover edition of ST and listened to RBC, both very satisfying.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oooo, I like the sound of Remarkably Bright Creatures and Killers of the Flower Moon. I shall add them to the list.

    I so enjoyed Demon Copperhead, but didn’t know the area like you did, so I’m glad to hear it read right. I’ve read a couple more Claire Keegan books since the one you mention. They’re unusual in that they say nothing, and yet a lot. It’s an interesting experience reading her. I’m glad you found it a pleasant enough listening experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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