In April, I got slightly back into my reading groove, reading a total of 13 books. It was a sometimes stressful month, so I read a lot of light, quick books. I did also get to some books that have been on my TBR for a while, and discovered some new favorites!
As always, for longer/more detailed reviews you can check out my Goodreads reviews–just click the links in the titles.
Ok, so this is one of those books that you’ve definitely seen around if you’re involved in the YA book community at all, especially with all the news about the movie recently. I was slightly unsure going into it for two reasons–I don’t tend to be much of a contemporary YA reader (it’s just not my genre) and I get nervous when books have a lot of hype. But man, this book is smart, honest, fun, and oh yeah: adorable. The character’s voices felt genuine, and it mixes some of the best elements from my favorite rom-coms (You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, 10 Things I Hate About You). This book made me smile so much, and I loved it. 4/5 stars
I loved this book. I loved the gorgeous writing, which didn’t spill over into overly flowery language but instead was peppered with unique detail. I loved the fairytale-like tone, which occasionally paints a veil over the characters–but then pulls the veil back to dig deeper into them. I loved the celebration of the power of reading, the power of knowing your story. Like all 5 star books for me, I don’t think it was perfect but I connected to the writing and story in a deep way. This really felt like a standalone for me most of the way through, so I’m excited to continue the series but unsure of what to expect. 5/5 stars
I initially picked this one up because I sometimes watch Hannah Hart’s videos and think she’s great; I knew a little about her life from there because she’s pretty open about her journeys and emotions on her channel. But I was not expecting how great this memoir would be. At times the tone is uneven, but for the most part the writing is clear and lyrical, with real emotion always simmering by the surface. The memoir mostly focuses on her childhood and the stories she shares are humorous and heartbreaking by turns; she also enters into a discussion on the state of mental health care in the US, an eye-opening call to action. Definitely recommend for fans of Hannah’s videos and projects, and I think there’s something there even for people who haven’t heard of her yet. 4/5 stars
Daughter of the Pirate King
I started out really liking this pirate adventure, but I began to waver closer to the end. I’m fairly wary of relationship dynamics and power imbalances in YA lit, and this one just occasionally rubbed me the wrong way. Which was a shame because the main characters were often charmingly snarky and a lot of fun. The plot in this one is ultimately pretty nonexistent–it’s mostly set-up and banter–and the badass Alosa spends most of her time unable to unleash her full abilities because she’s undercover (although there are some fun fight scenes). I think I’m interested to see where the story goes in the second book–if it focuses more on Alosa’s awesome lady pirate crew and an actual treasure hunt, I’ll be so happy. 3/5 stars
The Dark Days Club
I just had so much fun with this one. I didn’t even realize how long the book was because I zipped through it in basically one sitting. I mean, Regency Era meets supernatural secret society? Count me so in.(Granted, supernatural doesn’t tend to be my favorite type of fantasy. But this book has its own supernatural mythology woven into it, not just relying on vampires or werewolves, and I appreciated that.) This book contains lots of great Regency details with an Austen-like spotlight on the absurdities of society and charmingly headstrong characters, plus a dash of kickass action. 4/5 stars
I said that I wanted to mix up my reading a little more this year and then have proceeded to basically just read YA… so I’m trying to get a few more MG titles in the mix. This one was an interesting magical adventure through a magical society many centuries after ours. The characters’ growth is engaging, the intrigue is suspensful, and the world is detailed. A good pick if you enjoy MG fantasy. 4/5 stars
I read the first couple books in this series a few years ago and enjoyed them enough, so when I was stuck between library holds, I chose the third and fourth installments for quick reads. This series has some fun parts; I mean, it’s about a young woman who is part of an all-female spy agency in the Victorian Era. But in the third one, the elements felt like they didn’t quite come together. By the end, all of the tension in the story has just sort of seeped away in both the interpersonal relationships and the mysteries (if by the end, the characters all say that they don’t even care to figure out the motivations of the culprit, then the entire mystery kind of falls apart.) The fourth and final book felt a little better and more complete. There are still some elements that pop up that I don’t love — overall, it just falls short of the awesome premise. But the characters are interesting and sweet, and the historical setting adds interest to the mysteries.
A delightful whimsical book. This was one of those books where I kept stopping to record quotes I loved, and then had to give up because I would’ve just written the whole book. The whimsy of it all sometimes overcomes the actual plot and characters, and while I was in love with the writing, the story itself felt a bit lacking. But there’s some genuine growth and emotion that comes through, the magical worlds are richly realized with the perfect hint of darkness, and I can’t resist a narrator who gives witty asides to the reader. 4/5 stars
This felt like a great start to a story, but lacking as a book on its own. The introduction to the world and the characters . I didn’t mind Rhee being ignorant to the world around her, but once it was clear that she was actively resistant to change and eager to fit the facts to her ideas instead of changing her ideas once confronted with facts, she became a hard character to care about, and a frustrating one to read about. Her growth could be really interesting to watch, but I hope it actually happens. Aly’s character and story thus far are the more interesting ones, and give us a deeper view into this world. 3/5 stars
13 Little Blue Envelopes/The Last Little Blue Envelope
I really enjoy Maureen Johnson on Twitter (seriously, she’s amazing and makes me laugh all the time). These ones were seriously quick reads–I read both in a few hours in one day. I don’t really have much to say about these; the characters aren’t super engaging, but the premise was fun (except personally I was less swept up in the awesome traveling adventure around Europe and more worried about the situations this poor teen ended up in). I wish that Johnson’s wit and humor was more apparent in these books, because that could have really elevated this beyond a pretty standard YA contemporary.
Midnight in Austenland
I read this one as a way to unwind after a stressful week at work, and it was pretty enjoyable. I liked it better (from what I can remember) than Austenland–although I definitely enjoy Shannon Hale’s children’s/YA works a lot more. Taking Northhanger Abbey as the inspiration adds some excitement into the plot with murder mysteries galore. At first it seems like it’s all just part of the make-believe estate. Everything at Austenland is fake…isn’t it? But soon a pretty real seeming mystery emerges. It gets a bit repetive and the characters aren’t explored beyond surface level, but it’s engaging at times with a rushed but sweet resolution.
So, there are my April reads! I don’t have an official TBR list for May, but I’m hoping to focus more on getting through the physical books I have on my shelves.
What did you read in April? Anything you’d recommend?