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5 Books I Finished in April

Want to know what books I finished in April? In 2019, I’m sharing the books I read each month and what my honest thoughts were on those books. If you love books, you don’t want to miss this post! (You can see all of my book reviews for this year here.)

5 Books I Finished in April

I set a goal to finish 80 books in 2019 and a second goal that 40 of those books will be books I already own. (You can see which books I picked to read from those I already own here).

By the way, I’m truly loving using GoodReads to track my reading. You all were right! It is really motivational to see my progress! And I’ve been ahead on my goal for the last month!

I finished 5 books in April — yay! Here’s what I read + my honest thoughts on each of the books:

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Troublemaker by Leah Remini

1. Troublemaker

This book had been highly recommended multiple times. When I found it available on Libby, I “checked it out” and started listening to it. Honestly, I almost didn’t keep listening because she has such a strong and brash personality.

But I’m glad I stuck with it because her story was fascinating and sad… but worth listening to/reading. I really had no understanding of what Scientology was before this book and while I know that this is just one person’s story, it was shocking to hear of her experiences in the Church of Scientology, what she was required to do, how she was mistreated, and how much money she paid into the Church as a member.

Note: There is strong and crass language in this book.

Verdict: 3 stars

The Glass Castle

2. The Glass Castle

After I read Hillbilly Elegy, multiple people said I had to read The Glass Castle. Again, I found it was available on Libby, so I checked it out.

It’s one of those stories that I don’t know how to describe. It was engaging and thought-provoking, but also incredibly sad and haunting.

It’s the story of a woman who grew up in a very dysfunctional and poor family… and yet, despite the dysfunction, there’s also this layer of mystique that she paints her parents in. Like, you want to really dislike them, but you can’t fully allow yourself to because they also have these likable traits, too.

The book left me wishing I could have a conversation with the author and her siblings. It was also one — like Hillybilly Elegy — that I wished I would going through in a Book Club setting so I could discuss my big and sometimes disparate feelings about the book.

Note: There is language in the book and also some various details and stories that could be triggering, depending upon your background.

Verdict: 3 stars

Point of View by Elizabeth Hasslebeck

3. Point of View

This book is part memoir, part self-help. Elisabeth Hasselbeck shares lessons she learned from being on Survivor, being on The View, being fired from The View, being co-host on Fox & Friends, and ultimately deciding to leave television and focus on being a wife and mom.

I appreciated her candid honesty about her struggles with pushing herself too hard, trying to do too much, and not acknowledging her limitations and capacity. I also loved the behind-the-scenes stuff she shared about being on the various shows she’s been on.

My complaint with the book is that I wanted more. 🙂 I would have loved to hear even more details on what it was like to be on Survivor, be on The View, co-host Fox & Friends, be wife to a NFL player, and come home full-time to be a mom.

Verdict: 3 starts

As Many Reps as Possible

4. As Many Reps As Possible

I wanted so much to like this book. I loved Chasing Excellence and was hoping this would be a similar book.

It’s written by CrossFit Games Winner, Jason Khalipa, and the premise of the book is promising. He encourages you to live life with the AMRAP mentality.

(If you’re not familiar with CrossFit terms, AMRAP means As Many Reps As Possible. It’s basically where you push yourself as hard as you can go.)

I enjoyed some of the personal stories and inspirational tidbits he shared, but I felt like the book was sort of all over the place, not well edited, and it was hard to follow because it kept jumping from one part of his story to another and then back again.

In addition, I struggled with figuring out what he was inferring when he encouraged people to live with the AMRAP mentality. How does this actually look in real-life? He talks about being fully present when you are working on, or working on your business, or hanging out with your family, but I would have loved for him to unpack that a lot more.

Clearly, most people disagreed with me on this because it has 72 reviews and every single one of them is 5 star! So yeah, you might completely disagree with me on this one!

Verdict: 2 stars

Before We Were Yours

5. Before We Were Yours

This was — by far — the best book I finished in April! Many of you told me you thought I should read it as soon as possible and you were so right.

It’s the tragic and true story of the Tennessee Children’s Home scandals and how they played out in the lives of the children who actually went through this horrific experience.

Truth be told, I had never heard of the Tennessee Children’s Home scandals before listening to this book — and I live in Tennessee! I have asked multiple people who live here and they haven’t heard of it either.

It’s heart-wrenching and horrible and I think a powerful reminder of how money can cause people to make terrible decisions that can hurt people in devastating ways.

The book is well-written and engaging and appears to be very well-researched historical fiction. It is also the beautiful story of sibling love and how trauma and devastation doesn’t have to define your future.

Note: There are a lot of situations in the book when it comes to abuse that could be very triggering to people, depending upon your life experience and trauma. The book doesn’t give nitty-gritty details, but it’s enough that it could be very triggering.

Verdict: 4 stars

What have you been reading recently? Any books you think I really need to read soon? I’d love to know!

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60 Comments

  • Ruth says:

    Recently I read The Glass Castle too! It was jaw dropping the life she lived. Thankfully, she made healthy decisions (education & stable living conditions) to bring some peace into her life.

  • Laura A Collins says:

    What did you think of the book you read this month by Lisa Wingate? I always like reading your reviews and have seen her books at the library. Are they worth picking up?

  • Kitty says:

    Out of interest, how do you manage to read harrowing books? Being an INTJ and an HSP I really struggle. The pain and devastation I read in books really effects me – it stays with me for months. I find it overwhelmingly depressing. It is due to this that I have to be careful with what I read and watch. I then feel bad because I understand there is a need for us to know so that we can prevent or identify cases of abuse and mistreatment.

    • I have to be very careful with what I watch as it can affect me and depress me, but as long as a book doesn’t go into specific details, it doesn’t bother me/affect me like a movie/show/documentary would. But I do have to be careful and I often will stop listening to/reading a book because I can tell they are going to tell too many details.

  • Cheryl says:

    Hillbilly Elegy, Glass Castle and Before We Were Yours are all excellent books! I’m reading ” Tribe” by Sebastian Junger right now. Also really liked 2 books by Glenn Beck called “Agenda 21” and “Agenda 21 Into the Shadows”, and “The Other Einstein” about Albert Einstein’s scientist wife.

    • Thank you so much for sharing what you’ve been reading!

    • Marty says:

      LOVED “Before We Were Yours” Got to meet Lisa Wingate, wow what an awesome thing she has done for those affected by Georgia Tann. Also have met Janette Walls and am in awe that she could forgive her parents for the way she was raised. Amazing that she seems so well adjusted. You should read “Where the Crawdads Sing”. Great book!

      • Thank you so much for the book recommendation!

      • Kim Hill says:

        I second the recommendation for “Where the Crawdads Sing.” I listen to audiobooks while I work as an emergency department coder and this book was wonderful in an audiobook format. I couldn’t stop listening and even listened when I was done working for the day. Highly recommend!

  • heather byrd says:

    I would love to recommend a series of books to you. It’s the Call the Midwife series by Jennifer Worth. I have become so addicted to these books and also to the BBC T.V. show. It is a series of books about a young woman around the 1950’s who gets her degree in nursing and then in midwifery. She goes to her first job and when she arrives she finds out that she is in one of the poorest towns in the east end of London. She knocks on the door and a nun answers. She does not know that half of the covenant is nuns that are certified midwifes and the other half are regular young woman who are midwifes. It is post WWII and I have loved the whole series. You may become really addicted to it. It is beautifully written. There is a constant theme of LOVE throughout the whole series.

    • I have watched some of the show and really loved it! I’m hoping to pick it back up in the summer! And thank you so much for the book recommendation! I wasn’t sure if the books were as good as the show or not?

      • Lauren says:

        I second this recommendation. There are 3 books and I’ve listened to two on Hoopla so far. The stories are amazing, the writing is quite good, and the narrator is lovely to listen to as well. That said, some of the stories are quite graphic and not only about childbirth, if you’re sensitive to that. I also love the show so much!

      • September says:

        I second this–the entire trilogy was amazing. The whole story ends up being about more than the individual cases; Jeniffer Worth is a gifted writer and covers the entire scale of what humanity is capable of, and the backdrop (which really isn’t touched on much in the show) is how the experience shaped her faith journey.

  • Carol says:

    Some of my recent 5 star reads include “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens and “The House on Foster Hill” by Jaime Jo Wright. Both of these are out of my usual genre of sweet romance, but I’m trying to read more variety. Currently I’m reading an advance copy of Bethany Turner’s Christian romantic comedy, “Wooing Cadie McCaffrey” and really enjoying it. On audio, I’m listening to Karen Kingsbury’s “A Time to Dance”, which is kind of a tearjerker but I like her books. In nonfiction, I’m reading “It’s All Under Control” by Jennifer Dukes Lee (actually have the study guide, too) and I can’t tell you how much I need this book! Sounds like you had a lot of heavy reads in April! I can’t do too many of those at once; I need to mix it up!

    • I know! I realized when I was posting this that I DID read/listen to a lot of heavy stuff in April. May has been a bit of a lighter month as far as books… although I still managed to read a few heavy ones already. I think maybe I need to pick some lighter ones for the rest of the month! Were your two 5-star reads lighter??

      • Carol says:

        Good, because May tends to be a busy month for moms – lighter books would be more relaxing! “Where the Crawdads Sing” was a women’s literary fiction murder mystery. Beautifully written, original, intriguing. I couldn’t put it down. “The House on Foster Hill” was a bit darker – Gothic suspense, time slip novel (written by a Christian author). The book I’m reading now is more my speed, definitely lighter! (Romance, ahh…)

  • Julia Morris says:

    I just finished Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls. It’s a novel that she wrote about her maternal grandmother. I have read The Glass Castle and seen the movie. Reading her book about her grandmother gives you insights into her mother growing up out West.
    I’m currently reading Devil at My Heels by Louis Zamperini, his autobiography.

  • Jessica Layer says:

    Thank you for posting the books you read. I enjoy getting recommendations for new books to try, especially ones I would have never considered before. Also, thanks for introducing me to goodreads! I’m loving the app. I just finished reading “The Ones We Choose” by Julie Clark.

  • Grace says:

    One of the most impactful books I’ve read is “One Light Still Shines” by Marie Monville (wife of the 2006 Amish school shooter). She shares and lives out an amazing and encouraging testimony.

  • September says:

    Two of my all time favorite books are Hawaii by James Mitchner (just skip the first chapter…trust me) a historical novel about (big surprise) the islands of Hawaii. The other book is Lest Innocent Blood be Shed by Phillip Hallie–Hallies is a ethicist and writes about the town of Le Chambon in France during WWII.

  • Liz Marcus says:

    This is another great memoir about someone who escaped Scientology. So interesting! https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Belief-Secret-Scientology-Harrowing/dp/0062248480

  • Lisa says:

    Before We Were Yours…..I read that book this winter and it is still haunting me…in a good way. I listened to the audio book on my commute (which was phenomenal) and even had to pull over a couple of times to pause and reverse the book so I could jot down some of the moving quotes. It hit home to me as survivor of abuse and put words to feelings I’ve had that I’ve never been able to articulate before. Now as a college professor I’m even using some of the quotes when I teach future teachers about the impact of trauma.

    • Thank you so much for sharing! I am so sorry for the trauma and abuse you’ve experienced, but I’m grateful that this book helped you to process it and articulate it more.

  • Shannon Gardner says:

    Leah Rehmeni has a series on A&E that is riveting. It is a documentary about the church of scientology and it is fascinating.

    Also, I loved Before They Were Yours, it is based on the true story, not a true story. It was heartbreaking and it led me to research the story. They believe that 500 children were killed by Georgia Tann’s practices and at least a thousand children were stolen by her. The book was so well done!

  • Ashley P says:

    I’ve been listening to the Weingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. It was on a booklist recommended by my homeschool curriculum, and I was surprised. I was already a fan of Peterson’s music (he’s a Christian musician and I play his song “Hosanna” every Easter) and had no idea he’d written a book series!

    They’re a series of youth fantasy novels. Kind of like Narnia in a lot of ways. But very different, too! I’m on book 3 “The Monster in the Hollows” and I’m REALLY enjoying it! I borrowed the audiobooks from my library through Hoopla.

    If you or your kids like fantasy and high adventure, this is a great series! (And word on the street is, they’re working on making a series of moves out of them!)

  • Laura Donnelly says:

    Hi Crystal!

    I would recommend “Think Like a Warrior” by Darrin Donnelly. Disclaimer – I am married to this author! Gives inspirational and practical advice focused on mental toughness, self-confidence and positivity set in an entertaining story. Super quick read. Hope you read it – positive, empowering message for older kids too!

    http://www.amazon.com/Think-Like-Warrior-Beliefs-Unstoppable/dp/0692705465

    I enjoy listening to you and Jesse talk about entrepenurial life and marriage – lots to relate to!
    Thanks for being so open and honest on your podcast!

  • Theresa says:

    I read The Glass Castle years ago and thought it was excellent. I read Before We Were Yours last month and thought it was equally powerful. Both books really stuck with me and made me think.

  • Terry says:

    Loved Before We Were Yours!! Also been loving everything Liane Moriarty has written. The Husband’s Secret, What Alice Forgot, Truly Madly Guilty, Big Little Lies. Now reading her Nine Perfect Strangers. Fabulous unusual plots. Also enjoyed Fannie Flaggs The Whole Towns Talking & others of hers too.

  • Katie says:

    Read any book by Charles Martin. His writing is amazing and the story always draws you in.

  • JoJoBean says:

    After listening to the episode about highly sensitive people, I think that you’d like the book Raising Your Spirited Child. I have THREE spirited children. And I seriously thought I was doing something wrong. Another friend also has three spirited children, and she had recommended this book when I was real and raw about how I needed prayer as a mom. It has tests in the book and also incorporates how the parents’ level of spiritedness and introverted/extroverted tendencies for both affect the relationships. It has given practical tips and steps to help there to be peace in the house. Haha! I just started How to Talk so Your Kids Will Listen, and How to Listen so Your Kids Will Talk. It is very helpful for loving those who are HSP/spirited. My friend who is an RN in an ER used some simple steps taught in this book for one of her patients, and it worked!!! The other nurses were floored and impressed Haha! Most people just want to be heard and treated with respect. These books help children and adults to learn how to do this–in my opinion!

    I had a friend who basically shamed me for my daughter’s meltdown at a play place(when she was 2!). It was a small room and big kids were in there. I was wearing my baby and manning two toddlers while trying to stand because so many parents were in there. A large kid who shouldn’t have been in there came flying down the slide and was acting crazy which scared her. Her natural reaction is to scream and cry and sob. I left the play area to calm her down, and that former friend said she ran the show and manipulated me to get me out of there. I was hurt, confused, and honestly mad as a wet hen, haha!!! After reading these books and a great article from The Character Corner, I learned techniques that have helped me to help her and keep my sanity. I am a HSP and scored high on the spirited test for parents in the book. But my reactions were very different than my daughter’s. So I never really knew how to help her. I’m so thankful for these books but more so for the closer relationship I have with my daughter because of them.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I heard about this book someplace online and got it and read it, then handed off to my daughter near us…because it had a lot of helpful information in how to deal with very unreasonable, difficult people. Being her job is full of those sorts right now, she found some helpful ways to defuse some situations. Now my other daughter who has also been the focus of some abuse by a coworker is going to read it. This author is known for his ability in hostage situations. Rather like some other situations in life. The book is: Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It. By Chris Voss.

    I understand your feelings about some stories of abuse. I am a survivor of childhood abuse…and I simply cannot watch violence of any kind on TV, online, or wherever. I am able to read a lot about it however. In the past few years, due to the very bad situation our grandchildren are facing due to their dad, I however have had to read more in order to try to help with information for our daughter and for ways to do all we can to help our grandchildren. It is a nightmare no one would want to be in. Sociopaths and pedophiles hide so awfully well. And right now, are largely protected by the courts. While I am in favor of parents rights…there are areas where it SHOULD be about the children’s rights. So sometimes even if we are wounded, and really prefer not to know more of such things…we must in order to help others.

  • Laura K says:

    I just finished reading Listen Love Repeat by Karen Ehman. I had heard her on a podcast before and was really interested in the book, and it was a very worthwhile read. She encourages readers to listen and be more observant of others’ needs so we can better minister to and encourage those around us. She provides several good, practical ideas for things to do to show love.

    Thanks for your book suggestions and podcast!

  • Melanie Robinson says:

    I started following you several years back but then couponing changed a lot (loading store cards) and I quit following blogs. Recently I started following you again. The last thing I remember about your blog was someone being critical of you about the pics you posted of yourself. You explained that having your pic taken was really hard for you. The first thing I noticed is that you appear at ease and sound so confident on your podcasts. You have really changed and and you wear it well. God bless you and yours.

  • Darcy says:

    Thank you for this post! I really loved The Glass Castle. It resonated with me because my mom has a mental illness (undiagnosed and untreated), and it has sometimes been really tough to work through our relationship. The movie was PHENOMENAL – I love Brie Larson. Do you think you’ll watch it?

    Also glad to hear your review of Before We Were Yours. I downloaded the Audible book and have been meaning to listen to it. (I think “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg is actually my next book to read/listen to.)

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