Another slow month for me. Unfortunately, I was struggling with some depression and it made it very hard to read. I wanted to. But every time I picked up a book, I could read a chapter and then I needed to stop.

What did you read in April? Share in the comments and inspire others to add to their TBR pile!

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

☕☕☕☕☕/ 5

What does it mean to really belong? In Braving the Wilderness Brown does what she does best, makes you think and feel about belonging through a mix of personal stories and research. She covers how and why we have become such a polarized society and what we can do to overcome those initial reactions to those that seem different from us.

Brown speaks to the courage it takes to be yourself. Your true self. Not the self your parents want you to be. Not the self your partner or your boss wants you to be. She talks about how it can be a difficult road to navigate but in the end, it is worth it to stay true to yourself and your beliefs.

I had started this book years ago when it first came out but couldn’t get into it. I set it aside and read many other books in the meantime. For 2023, my word of the year is renew and all about becoming my true self, even when it feels difficult. I picked Braving the Wilderness back up as I felt I was in the right place to read it this time.

Oh boy, I was right!

I feel like I flew through this book but in reality, I took it slow and re-read passages to make sure the message stuck. I felt close to Brown in parts where she was telling her personal stories. I wanted to yell out “ME TOO BRENE! ME TOO!” at parts. I had to take other parts slowly as tears welled up in my eyes. When I finished, I felt satisfied and ready to head into the wilderness.

I would recommend this book to any Brene Brown fans (of course). It is also a good, short read for those looking for the push they need to be themselves or find the courage to stick to their personal values but still find ways to bring others into their conversations. 

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

☕☕☕☕/ 5

Kya has almost always been alone. One by one, she is abandoned by her family members. She learns to fend for herself in the marsh and becomes the marsh girl to the townspeople. A wild, unknown entity. Then she meets and falls in love with Chase Andrews. But does he actually love her or the idea of taming the marsh girl? One day, Chase is found dead. Was it an accident or was he murdered? 

For me, this book started a little slow. There felt like a lot of background that could have been condensed. I get the author wanted to build up the back story but it kind of dragged a bit. Once we got to the meat of the story, it started to pick up and was much easier to read and get into.

Slight Spoiler alert maybe: Once Chase is found dead there is a lot of speculation of who would have murdered him. Eventually, it comes to Kya is put on trial for his death. I like that the author made it feel real, not like some of the tv law shows. 

Until the very end, I went back and forth with what I thought happened. 

I would recommend this book to people that like a slow mystery with commentary on economic and social classes. There is a lot of talk of the differences between townspeople, the marsh people (white trash), and the blacks in the southern US. The story also goes between two timelines. Kya’s story starts when she is a small child and builds to the present time. The other timeline starts with the discovery of Chase’s body and is interspersed throughout Kya’s story.

I did not know until after I finished Where the Crawdads Sing that there was controversies surrounding the author. I read about her past and it adds an interesting postscript to the book. The first involving the unsolved murder she may be involved in (allegedly as no one has been named a suspect but she is wanted for questioning) is interesting and kind of parallels the book. The other is the way she wrote the dialogue for many of the characters. She tried to write North Carolina coastal, small town, 1960s accent. It was difficult to read. Some have called it racist, as it is done for the two main black characters, Jumpin and Mabel. But even the rich, white boy Chase had words interspersed in the “accent” (for lack of a better word). The setting of the book is made very clear. It is also made clear there are lines between the white townspeople and the white marsh people and the black people. We don’t need this awful dialogue.

Categories: Books


Jenna Volden has a degree in business and has spent the last 10 plus years working for others. She believes it is time to start her own photography and writing business. She enjoys running, coffee and helping others achieve their goals. Gluten-free foods are a lifestyle, not a choice, for her due to celiac disease. She is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.