I think April was a series of (small) revelations for me.
Mostly because I missed a lot of my self-imposed goals, and also because I’m starting to realize that I can’t do all the things I want to do, and mostly, because Forever and Everly’s post on disconnecting from bookish social media sparked something, as did the change in season.
Lore Olympus returned from its hiatus!! And I caught up on more of my favorite webtoons, and also caught up on my favorite podcast (You’re Wrong About), and watched Our Flag Means Death, which was a quirky delight in a month where what I mostly rewatched my comfort tv show.
And the big writing news I was hoping to talk about didn’t get posted in April (it was supposed to be announced), so fingers crossed I get to share it in May!
Anywho, while my writing stats were the lowest they’ve been in a while, I read 18 books this month: eight books and ten audiobooks, for a total of 6,774 pages.
I was in a literary mood this month, which is entirely unfortunate because when I crafted my April TBR I was in a YA mood—wanting cute, fluffy angst. Instead, my brain decided it wanted meaty.
Sea of Tranquility was exactly the book I needed at the moment. Was it a good book objectively? Eh. Was it the book that spoke to my heart and soul as soon as I picked it up? Yes, absolutely, even though I knew the ending would be somewhat unsatisfactory (which was the point) due to the clues sprinkled throughout.
The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois was an 800+ page tome that flickered between generations and yet never felt slow or boring or ponderous. There were so many heavy, heavy topics in this one, but it was so well crafted. It’s a brilliant work of fiction and I highly recommend the audiobook.
The Unwomanly Face of War was an audiobook I got from the library. I had actually received a digital ARC from NetGalley in 2017 (yikes) but never read it because that was before I realized that despite my desire to read more nonfiction, I tend to not do it unless it’s in audio format. Anywho, this book is a must-read for people who read a lot of military nonfiction. It’s very…raw. In a way I don’t think I have ever experienced before. It took me a long time to get through it because there was only so much I could read at a time.
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking was the second book I’ve read from T Kingfisher, and I am still delighted by her work and still kicking myself for not picking up any of her things earlier. This book was a true delight, tickling all of my fantasy nostalgia boxes while being new and creative and realistic (minus having magic, obviously). I loved it and highly recommend it.
Hell, I highly recommend all of my five star reads for this month (although obviously the middle two I recommend being in a decent head space for because they will fuck you up).
This was the month I finally read Black Water Sister after having checked the physical version out from the library twice (for a total of six months) and never read it. I listened to the audiobook, and I am super happy that I finally read it. Zen Cho is a hit or miss author for me, and this was a hit. Ghosts and grandmas and gangsters and gods, oh my! And it’s queer as fuck.
World Between was the second book in the Cascadia quartet by one of my favorite indie authors, and while I was disappointed in this book, it was still good? There was a lot of not a lot happening, and then the end did happen and I am still reeling by the ending and needing the third book now.
Embers of War was another book that’s been on my tbr for a hot minute, and it was much better than I was expecting it to be (although I don’t think I’ll tune in for book two based on the reviews). It was everything I like in a military space opera: ensemble cast, sassy AI ship, big political drama, not so much focus on technology specs.
Homicide and Halo-Halo was the second book in Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery series, and it was enjoyable and made me very hungry. I don’t remember a whole lot more than that, which happens and that’s okay. Likewise, I don’t remember a whole lot from The Troubled Girls of Dragomire Academy other than it was a middle-grade novel that discussed patriarchy in a really smart way and had a fantastic main character. I’m lumping them together here because I don’t usually read cozies or middle grade, and yet here we are.
Remember all that YA I was gonna read this month? Here is it is. Mostly.
A Little Bit Country was a fun book, although it felt light on characterization and chemistry between the two leads. I think I wanted more from it, and despite its decent page length, fantastic rep and critique on country music, I felt that it didn’t quite hit where it needed, particularly with the amount of casual homophobia experienced. It was still good though, and I recommend it.
Tokyo Dreaming was the sequel I didn’t know I needed, and yet while it was good it wasn’t the five-star explosion of heart-eyes that Tokyo Ever After was. I think that was because while I loved Izzy’s narrative voice (love her, she’s a delight), there was too much going on and not enough connective tissue to bring everything together.
Flip the Script was a loose companion novel (well, it’s set in the same world) as I’ll Be the One, and while I adored the latter, Flip was good but not great, mainly because while I adored the plotline and critique on Korean culture, I didn’t really feel a lot of the chemistry between Hana and Minjee—I wanted them to have more page time together.
Firekeeper’s Daughter was absolutely not what I expected, and that is because I thought it was a fantasy novel (thank you, deceptive cover) instead of (this one hurts) historical fiction. Yes, this is historical fiction, being as it’s set in 2004. I really loved it. I loved the lyrical writing and Daunis’ voice, and ended up binge-listening to it in one day. Highly recommend the audiobook.
Slippery Creatures has been on my tbr for a while too, particularly since it has a bit of a cult following and I’ve seen so many people gush about it. It was okay. I liked the setting, I liked Will’s voice and the fact that he was a non-noble veteran of WWI, the convoluted plot worked, but the sex scenes felt like fetishized m/m and I wasn’t really feeling that.
Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster and A Magic Stepped in Poison were both books that were super high on my anticipated reads list, but while both were enjoyable and entertaining they both fell a little flat for me. Bisexual Disaster was 100% a reader mood mismatch, and I think so was Magic. Definitely books for other readers and I probably would have loved them a couple years ago, but not the ones for me in April.
Ah yes. The two-stars I should have DNF’d and didn’t.
Not the Witch You Wed wasn’t bad, per se, but it was definitely a book that had me wondering if straight people were okay. I used to love urban fantasy (looooooved it), and was so happy to see that it’s making a comeback overall, but this wasn’t it for me. I don’t like lazy alternative worldbuilding (which this was), and the whole witchbond/matebond thing had me rolling my eyes, but what really annoyed me was Vi’s swearing. She kept saying she had such a potty mouth, but the harshest thing she said was hells spells. Yes. Hells. Spells. It broke me. I am a shell of a human being now.
Rubyfruit Jungle, on the other hand, is considered a lesbian classic and I can see why although I still hated it. Back in the not-so-distant past, there was queer literature, but there was a general rule that authors could write queer (particularly lesbian) fiction, but they could not have a happy ending—they had to be punished in some way or repent for their youthful indiscretions or some other homophobic nonsense. This was one of the first lesbian books to give its character a “happy” ending (I suppose?), but whew this is not the one. I should have known this, however, since the author co-writes mystery books with her cat (yes, co-writes), and began the book with an introduction that she doesn’t believe in labels, and that there are no trans people or gays and lesbians, but just people. Yeahhhhhh no.