books read in April…

 

  • Children of Blood and Bone by Toni Adeyemi. I often avoid hyped books, at least until the initial frenzy dies down. But I was way too excited for this one to wait. And I’m glad I didn’t! Adeyemi’s prose isn’t flowery or lyrical, her storytelling is more straightforward in style. And it suits this tale perfectly. A story that is so agonizingly heartbreaking, but not just in itself. No, even more so in the unmistakable parallels this story has with the unjust society we live in. It’s a beautiful fantasy influenced by Adeyemi’s West African heritage. And I so love fantasy that breaks free of the European-based norm that permeates most fantasy sections in bookstores and libraries.
  • Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor. Yes, this was the sequel I was craving! I felt somehow “bigger” and “more” than Binti. Which is a really pathetic way to put it, but I can’t seem to find the words for what I mean. This story felt more fleshed out. Spending time with Binti as she battles to be the person she needs to be, despite what everyone else expects from her is a privilege. And I’m so eager to get my hands on the final volume of this trilogy. Yeah me, who claims not to be a fan of trilogies. lol
  • Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith. This may well be the best poetry collection I’ve ever read. I haven’t read massive amounts of poetry. I don’t really know shit about critiquing poetry. But I don’t have to know anything at all about poetry to know that Danez Smith can write with overwhelming intensity and complexity and compassion. That they can communicate the experiences of being in a black body, a queer body, an HIV positive body with such force and fire. Seemingly simple, straight-forward lines were anything but, and filled my eyes with tears on more than one occasion. Starting on page one. Listen for yourself to Smith reading one of their poems here.
  • On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder. I really thought this was a worthwhile read. The 20 points he expounds on to help us fight tyranny were helpful, and I admit that some of these are things I hadn’t previously thought of. However, there were a few times when I wished he’d acknowledged the privilege he was speaking from. One example was his point that everyone should have a passport, without acknowledging that not everyone can afford a passport. Or “make eye contact and small talk”…ummm, yeah, try telling that to my autistic son. But despite these issues, I think this book makes a lot of good points, points we’d all be wise to pay attention to.
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. It’s hard to put my feelings about this book into words. It was heart-breaking and yet filled with moments of monumental joy. The real people and the horrific injustices they faced at the hands of our so-called justice system were at the heart of this book, and it was for them that I shed many tears of sadness. But I think I shed even more tears in anger. And on the other hand, I feel as if I got to spend time with a true hero. Because I can think of no more fitting a word for Bryan Stevenson.
  • The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. I haven’t read a lot of Agatha Christie’s books, and this is the first of the Miss Marple series that I’ve read. I enjoyed it quite a bit, I must say. But I was surprised by how little Miss Marple actually appeared in the story. As this is the first in the series, it has me wondering if in later books, she gets more more page time. I can say that I’m looking forward to finding out.
  • Simon vs. the Homo sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Oh my goodness. Did this book steal my heart? Why yes, yes it did. I can’t believe I hadn’t read it sooner, but am sort of glad for that because it was just the book I needed right now. I gulped this one right down, let me tell you. And it was one of those books that just left me wanting to hug it tight.
  • Zone One by Colson Whitehead. Got this book from the library a few months ago, but only got about a third of the way through before I had to return it. It wasn’t because I wasn’t enjoying it, but more that it was just a reeeeally slow read for me. It’s sort of what you’d call a literary fiction story of the zombie apocalypse, and it’s that literary fiction aspect that made it a slow read for me. When I saw that it was available on Scribd as an audiobook, I knew I needed to give it another go. And even as a listen, it was a slow go. But well worth it. You know how you can sometimes appreciate a book but not really enjoy it. I sort of wondered if that was going to be one of those books for me…but it wasn’t. I really ended up both appreciating and enjoying it.
  • Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World by Mackenzi Lee. Okay, this was another “I bloody well adored this book!!!” for me. Everything about it! The writing, which is conversational and funny and down-to-earth. The art by Petra Ericsson, which sort of has me wanting to buy yet another copy just to cut out the portraits and make a gallery wall. (I already bought a second copy to give to Annie because I knew she’d love it as much as I did, because how could you not?!!) The diversity. ❤ ❤ ❤ And, most of all, the women featured. I knew of a handful of these women before reading the book, but the vast majority were unknown to me. And they all are truly freaking badass. I sort of wish that Netflix would make a movie about each and every one of them. If I get a vote, I’d like them to start with Stagecoach Mary Fields, Noor Inayat Khan, and Doña Ana Lezuma de Urinza and Doña Eustaquia de Sonza.
  • The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss. This book tickled me to pieces! Probably more than it should have, but what can I say. It brings together many of the horror/sci-fi classics. Stories I have a soft spot for. The Island of Dr. MoreauDracula, Frankenstein, “Rappaccini’s Daughter” (one of my favorite short stories of all time), The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (which shame on me, I have not read). Even Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson play their parts. It’s written in such a fun style, with meta elements. Catherine Moreau is writing the story of how this group of young women met and solved the mystery of the Whitechapel murders (a solution not found in any other Jack the Ripper theories I’ve read–lol) and ended up forming a family of sorts. But the other young women frequently interrupt and inject their own opinions, etc. This element does at first make it a bit confusing when listening to the audiobook, so I was happy I had a physical copy from the library to refer to at first. Once I understood how it was structured I had no further trouble understanding the audio. It is a fun and humorous book with small snippets of social commentary. It stole my heart.
  • Dawn by Octavia Butler. Yep, she did it again. Butler confirmed why she is one of my favorite authors. Though this isn’t my favorite book of hers, I still adored it. I wouldn’t call sci-fi one of my go-to genres, but in her hands I know I can’t go wrong. She writes compelling stories with characters that feel so very authentic (even when they’re aliens).
  • The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms by Amy Stewart. While I wasn’t over the top blown away by this book, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a short, quick read, but one I learned from. And I appreciated Stewart’s passion for her subject.
  • Good Bones and Simple Murders by Margaret Atwood. While I was no means enthralled by every story in this collection, there were a handful that I loved with a passion! “Unpopular Gals,” “The Little Red Hen Tells All,” and “Happy Endings” (the only one of the stories in this book that I’d previously read) were my favorites. One of these days, I really do need to get around to reading more of her novels, having only read The Handmaid’s Tale thus far.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. This was a reread, and not the first time I’ve reread it. But this is as far as I’ve ever gotten in the series. Shocking, I know. And it’s not that I don’t love these books–I do! The Prisoner of Azkaban is hands down my favorite of the first three. And I will continue this time–really, I will! I have extra incentive to not get distracted from the mission this time because Rich and I are reading them aloud together. (He’s read them all a number of times.)
  • I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, Stacey Robinson, and John Jennings. Absolutely the best graphic novel I’ve read all year. One of the best, maybe the best, I’ve ever read. It has so very much to say, and it says it in such powerful ways. It is about the systemic racism in this country, in our textbooks, in the media, and focusing a lot on our policing policies. It’s a work of fiction, but is filled with the ghosts of real people killed for being Black. It is beautifully written and beautifully illustrated. It is shattering.
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. I think I may have had my expectations of this book set too high. Which is not to say I didn’t like this book, because I definitely did. I generally didn’t want to put it down. But I think I had wished it was going to be one of those omg-I-love-this-book-so-much-I-could-just-hug-it-forever books, and it just wasn’t. Very glad I *finally* got around to reading it though.
  • Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani. First off, I just have to say how beautiful the art in this book is. Like seriously, seriously beautiful. Both the black and white portions and even more the color portions. The story itself is quite touching. Priyanka is a teenage girl whose mother left India before Priyanka was born. Her mother refuses to answer her questions about India, and even about her father. One day Priyanka finds a magical pashmina, though she doesn’t understand what the pashmina is showing her. It’s a story of cultures, yes. And it’s a story about the choices we must make about our lives.
  • Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling. Not much to say about this one. I honestly only read it because I really wanted to complete the “Care of Magical Creatures” requirement for the O.W.L.s reading challenge. Quick and fun, but certainly not one of my favorite reads this month.
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang. I read Jen Wang’s other book, Koko Be Good, back in January, and while I didn’t dislike it, I didn’t really connect with it either. Though I did adore her art in both that book and in In Real Life which she did with Cory Doctorow. But this book…oh my. All the love for this book. Her beautiful art continues to shine, and this time it’s with a story that stole my heart. I so love when a book makes me cry happy tears. There really is so much to love about this book. A prince who loves to wear dresses. No need to be labeled. Parents who don’t suck. Friendship. And more.

Nineteen books…now that is one stellar month for me! Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon certainly didn’t hurt, of course. But what really qualifies this as a stellar reading month for me is the sheer amount of books I head-over-heels loved! Nine of these books would get 5 stars from me. Often for extremely different reasons. NINE!!! Seriously, I’d consider reading nine books in a month not at all shabby for me. But to read nine books that each in their own ways added so much to my life–well, what can I say, I feel blessed.

Some sort of random thoughts:

  • Marginalized voices made up 10/19 of my reading (9 books by authors of color, 3 by lgbtq+ authors, and 1 disabled+ author, obviously with some overlap). I think I say this every month, but I would like this to be higher. I obviously need to put in more effort.
  • Last month was heavy on non-fiction, but that wasn’t the case this month with only five. Social justice, politics, poetry, biography, natural history.
  • Most were physical books. One was an ebook. Two were exclusively audiobooks, and another four I switched between the audiobook and the physical version. Having rejoined Scribd has definitely upped my audiobook game!
  • Almost perfect split between books I owned, and books from the either the library or Scribd.
  • Three comics. One poetry collection. One short story collection. And one collection of mini biographies.
  • I think the longest book this month was Children of Blood and Bone at 544 pages, and the shortest was Don’t Call Us Dead at 96 pages.
  • Fictional genres included sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian/horror, magical realism, historical fiction, mystery, and realistic fiction.
  • Middle grade, YA, and adult fiction all represented. More YA than I’ve read in a while.

4 thoughts on “books read in April…

  1. 19 books is AMAZING!! Congratulations! There are so many books on this list I so want to read.

    I can’t wait to see what you have lined up for May!

    Like

    1. I’m pretty sure this is the most books I’ve ever read in month, except maybe during some past Comics February. I’m guessing that my numbers will start waning soon though. I always think that I’m going to get tons of reading done during the summer, but it never works out that way. Do you have seasons where you definitely get more read than others?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been unsure about The Alchemist’s Daughter but now I’m going to make sure and get it! Right now I’m loving The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller — I think you would like it too! Lots of awesome ladies in it!

    Like

    1. The Alchemist’s Daughter isn’t a book I think everyone would love, but oh my, I sure did! And you’re one of those people who I think might just love it too! I so hope I’m right. 🙂 And thank you! I will definitely be adding The Philosopher’s Flight to my wish list. I haven’t even heard of it before, but I totally trust your recs! 🙂

      Like

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