Happy May everyone!
It’s a long stretch from Spring Break until the end of the school year, but the end is starting to feel like it’s in sight! What a busy last couple of months, though. Luckily, I’ve managed to read a lot this month, but I haven’t had the time or energy to blog much about it. Hopefully May will be my month to get back on track!
This month, I read a lot of YA fiction and middle grade books. I struggled with a reading slump in March, so I was just focused on finding stories that would be really absorbing to help me get through it. And I would say it was successful! I ended up reading more consistently this month than I have in a while. I even managed to read a book in Spanish, which means I’m on track to meet that part of my annual goal!
Next month is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, so my plan for May is to try and read as many books as I can by AAPI authors. My current audiobook is A Single Swallow by Ling Zhang, and I’m also reading The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He. I actually started reading the latter title in April in honor of Earth Day (since it has to do with global warming), but I didn’t quite finish it time. But that’s okay! It will fit for May’s theme as well.
Without further ado, here is my wrap-up of all the books I read in April:
To learn more about a book, click on the photo to find the Goodreads synopsis.
Stats and Overall Thoughts:
Books read: 9
Physical books: 5
(Books that I physically own: 2)
(Historical fiction: 1)
Average monthly rating: 3.8
Top Book of April: Coraline
*To learn more about a book, click on the photo to find the Goodreads synopsis.
- Coraline by Neil Gaiman (Horror/Fantasy, Paperback)
- I loved this! It was short but really packed a punch. It was dark and creepy and disturbing but still appropriate for a young audience. It was amazing how Gaiman was able to create such an unsettling atmosphere in a children’s book. It was completely engrossing, I read it in one sitting! Review coming soon!
- Island Queen by Vanessa Riley (Historical Fiction, Audiobook)
- I really enjoyed this one! I started it for Women’s History Month, but didn’t quite finish it in time. It’s a sweeping historical epic that covers the lifespan of an incredible (real) woman as well as several generations of her family. I found it captivating, and the audiobook narration was fantastic. However, sometimes I felt like there was a little too much of a focus on the romantic subplots. It was still interesting and important to include in her life story, but it sometimes felt repetitive. Also, due to the fact that it’s also something of a family saga (and she had many, many children), I sometimes felt overwhelmed and confused by the large cast of characters. It was especially hard at times to keep track of all of her children and grandchildren. However, it was a really beautiful and inspiring story that I would highly recommend.
- The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton (YA Fantasy, Hardcover)
- I enjoyed this book! I will say, I struggled a little bit initially to get into it, but I think it was just a me issue. I don’t typically read fantasy, so I’m not used to such extensive worldbuilding. However, once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed learning more about this world that Clayton created. It was an interesting commentary on beauty and society’s obsession with it. I really loved the diverse cast of characters and how diversity was so effortlessly embedded and represented within this world. However, I did feel like the pacing was a little off, and there is a sexual assault scene that comes out of nowhere that didn’t seem entirely necessary. All in all, it’s an interesting premise that sparked my interest in continuing the series!
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (Literary Classic, Audiobook)
- I’m so glad I read this, but it may have been a mistake to read this one when I was trying to focus on lighter books (whoops!). It’s a fascinating exploration of mental health; one that seems way ahead of its time considering when it was written. And the narration by Maggie Gyllenhaal was fantastic, it really makes you feel like you’re inside Esther’s mind as she spirals into depression. And while that is a captivating experience and an impressive feat, it was hard to start and end my day listening to it since it’s so heavy. But it was totally worth it! I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to read a powerful story about mental health.
- Seatmate by Cara Bastone (Romance, Audiobook)
- I adore this series! This is book 3 in the Love Lines series. Book 1 (Call Me Maybe) is still my favorite, but I actually preferred this one to the second book! It’s just such a clever use of the audio format, and the story is adorable. If you’re looking for a light, fun romance I would highly recommend this series!
- The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton (YA Fantasy, Audiobook)
- While I enjoyed this book as I was listening to it, it didn’t really live up to its potential. The plot was kind of meandering, and the overall goal of the main character was somewhat unclear. Also, one of my least favorite tropes is “insta-love,” which was definitely how I would describe the romance in this story. Like the first book, this one also included some unexpectedly disturbing scenes, with these featuring suicide and animal murder. It was completely unnecessary and seemed to only be there for the shock factor. I just feel like there were still so many questions and plot points left unanswered, and the villain never seemed fully developed. Even though it left me feeling disappointed, I did still enjoy certain aspects of the story, and if there’s ever a third book I’d be willing to give it a try!
- De cómo tía Lola vino
de visitaa quedarse by Julia Alvarez (Realistic Fiction, Middle Grade, Paperback)
- I’ll start by saying that I really appreciated the thought that went into translating this story. The main character (who speaks Spanish) is from the Dominican Republic, and this is clearly reflected in the translation. The expressions and vocabulary are specific to this country, and I think it’s awesome that that much care was put into the translation. However, the story itself left me wanting a little more. There wasn’t much of a plot, which I don’t mind as long as the characters are interesting, but it can be tricky to be successful with this in middle grade books. Kids typically need more of a plot to stay engaged with a story, and I’m not sure how interested they would be in this. It almost felt like reading a collection of short stories. I do really enjoy Tia Lola as a character, but I found most of the other characters to be somewhat annoying. Miguel, the main character, is so moody and frustrating, and his mother is just very weepy for most of the story. And while I like tía Lola, I didn’t love how sometimes her eccentricity came off as childish rather than actually eccentric. However, I did really like the themes of home, culture, and taking pride in who you are. Review coming soon!
- The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge (Science Fiction, Middle Grade, Hardcover)
- The premise of this book intrigued me initially, but it fell flat for me at the end. The alien aspect of the story kind of confused me, there were several side characters that didn’t seem to have an important role in the story, and the ending felt anticlimactic. However, for kids who are interested in space and/or aliens, I do think they’d really like this book! Review coming soon!
- Youngbloods by Scott Westerfeld (YA Science Fiction, Hardcover)
- This was my biggest disappointment of the year so far. I still gave it three stars since I didn’t think the book was necessarily bad, but on a personal level I was just so frustrated and disappointed with this. Trying to write this review is making me mad all over again. It didn’t feel like there was any real payoff, to the point that it made me regret reading all four of these new books, and even left me with a bad taste in my mouth thinking about the original series (which I loved!). Honestly, I found the plot meandering and the conclusion confusing. My biggest issue, though, was how the characters of the original Uglies series were treated. The word that comes to mind is disparaging. I love those original books, and this just felt disrespectful to the original characters and series. I can’t say I recommend the Impostors installments to this series, but I would still recommend the original four Uglies books to anyone who hasn’t read them yet! In an effort to end on a more positive note, the sci-fi elements of this story were definitely thought-provoking. It’s an interesting exploration of the potential ramifications of AI. I also thought as a YA story it was an interesting and unique exploration of the theme of identity and discovering who you are.
How did your reading go in April? Any stand-out books to recommend?
Let me know in the comments! And thanks for reading (my blog, but also just in general)!