And thus concludes my April

the-monthlies-2

April was a really good reading month. Not as proliferate as January, but I made it through {x} books. Both, Dewey’s readathon and Spring into Horror really kept me motivated and, of course, helped advance my total book count. I didn’t finish all the books I had set my eyes on in my monthly goal pledge but I tackled some behemoths. I am looking at you, The Stand. I also reviewed one ARC. As usual underlined books represent books I own, Goodreads links are below the pictures, and spoilers are possible.


Books read: 16

Books listened to: 4

Total pages read (includes “pages” from audiobooks): 6603


The Dark Game (Jonathan Janz) ♠♠and 1/2♠

500

Goodreads

I had been hearing a lot about Jonathan Janz in the horror community and was excited to review this ARC (check out my full review here on my blog or on Goodreads). The synopsis sounded right up my alley – a competition for upcoming writer’s at a famous author’s estate – promising a sinister plot. The ideas and backstories were all super intriguing. I also enjoyed the creativity and imagination behind the paranormal happenings. Yet, overall the book fell flat. The execution of the actual story wasn’t as good as it needed to be in order for me to keep the many characters and the many side plots straight. That took so much brain power that I had none left to care about the characters. I will be checking out his other books in time, I am sure, but this one wasn’t anything special to me.

I recommend this book if you want to dabble in horror without being actually afraid. It does have some light gore though.

Pachinko (Min Jin Lee) ♠♠♠

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Goodreads

This book had so much buzz and came highly recommended from a few in-real-life friends that I just had to check it out. I finally got around to it this month. Historical fiction or generation-spanning plots aren’t usually my thing but I do enjoy learning about other cultures. My favorite part of the novel was the characters. I admired their tenacity during difficult circumstances. The women were really strong and definitely stole the show. Their situations felt real and their actions were relatable. I learned quite a bit about Korea and Japan’s interactions during and after WWII, so the book had an educational feel as well. Otherwise, the book was a bit slow for me. I am glad I listened to it. I am not sure I would’ve enjoyed this read.

I recommend this book if you want to expand your reading to non-caucasian authors and don’t mind a historical setting.

King of Scars (Leigh Bardugo) ♠♠♠♠♠

509

Goodreads

I enjoyed The Shadow and Bone Trilogy and you can review my thoughts on those books in my January and February wrap-ups. Nikolai wasn’t my favorite character but I was nonetheless looking forward to this book. Well, I loved it! He really grew on me. He was entertaining as usual but his story in this book took him beyond sarcasm and made him relatable and a lot more complex. My favorite character was Zoya though. I already liked her in the Grishaverse books but she really stood out here. We get to learn so much more about her and I love loving an unlikable character! There are new characters that I quite enjoyed as well. Hanne, for example, was a stubborn and wild one that made reading this book very fun. The plot also ended in kind of a cliffhanger, so now I can’t wait for the sequel. Leigh Bardugo really knows how to make me wanting more!

I recommend that you read The Shadow and Bone and The Six of Crows series first as there are spoilers in this one. If you enjoyed those, this book is for you.

Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) ♠♠♠♠♠

516

Goodreads

This has been on my TBR for a long time. It is part of my endeavor to read books American children read growing up. I bought this lovely copy a year or so ago and it had been staring at me from my bookshelf ever since. I saved it for Dewey’s readathon this month and it was so worth the wait! I can see how I would’ve devoured this series as a kid. Anne is so perfectly imperfect. She changes the environment around her and her surroundings change her. She grows. She learns. She prevails. I really want to read the sequel. I enjoyed the potential for a budding romance between the protagonist and her scholarly competitor Gilbert Blythe!

I recommend this book if you are 1) in middle-grade and like reading or 2) enjoy classics like Little Women.

The Haunting of Hill House (Shirley Jackson) ♠♠♠♠

517

Goodreads

This is one of those books that I am embarrassed I hadn’t read, yet. How can I be a true horror aficionado and have missed this so far? Well, I finally got to it during the 24-hour readathon. I have watched and loved (minus the last episode, which I didn’t love) the Netflix series and that spurred me on, even more, to finally read this novel. This book was beautifully weird. The characters were enjoyable and the story made sense. Unfortunately, I wanted and NEEDED more horror. I yearned for more descriptions of the paranormal occurrences to get frightened. I really was looking forward to a good scare but didn’t get to go there. I did love the author’s writing style though. This was my first Shirley Jackson book and as you’ll see later, I picked up another book by her, pretty much immediately. She does have a knack for the odd and the sinister and her stories are super conducive to making TV shows or movies.

I recommend this book if you are like me catching up on horror classics or enjoy a good haunting story that isn’t too scary.

Sorry, I Wrote So Many Sad Poems Today (Tracy Dimond) ♠♠♠♠

518

Goodreads

I don’t even remember for how long this poetry collection had been on my Kindle. AGES! I have made it a mission over the past two years to branch out and read poetry other than Rilke and Neruda. This book was also saved for Dewey’s and it was the right choice for the dreary middle of the night hours. It took a bit getting used to her style. Her poems didn’t grab me right off the start but about a quarter through, the topics became more relatable. And if you’re a 20 or 30 something, these WILL BE relatable. In fact, they can be much too real and much too depressing at times. Tracy Dimond has a few other poetry books out and I’ll be sure to check them out.

This collection is for you if you like unconventional and timely poems.

The Turn of the Screw (Henry James) ♠♠♠♠

519

Goodreads

I have a classics horror collection book at home and this is one of the short stories featured in it. It is also the inspiration for the second season of The Haunting of Hill House aptly named The Haunting of Bly Manor. This novella perfectly puts pious and proper adult characters into a sinister and paranormal setting. Despite the fact that the protagonists are faced with potentially haunting ghosts, they can’t leave their ingrained social patterns or overcome what they perceive to be proper behavior for their social standing. The hauntings themselves are frightening and we never really get to learn why they are happening or what goals the ghosts pursue. The children are amazingly weird and potentially dangerous. Overall, Henry James delivered an excellent 19th-century societal commentary wrapped inside a nice Gothic blanket topped off with a big bow of a dark plotline.

I recommend this short story to anyone who likes classic 19th-century horror or enjoys ghost stories in general.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Stephen King) ♠♠♠♠

520

Goodreads

Oh, Uncle Stevie! You just can’t do no wrong! Stephen King reads his memoir on writing and it was a delight to listen to him. He has a flawless potty mouth. He is utterly honest. He tells you how his real life influenced and guided his story development and writing. He voices some strong opinions, which you can disagree with but won’t change his mind on. I liked some sections so much I listened to them multiple times. Stephen King’s voice was the perfect companion during the time I hosted the Dewey’s Twitter feed.

I recommend this book to any writer or anyone who loves Uncle Stevie.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Shirley Jackson) ♠♠♠♠

529

Goodreads

Ok, first of all, the cover is so damn superb I can’t even. And secondly, the sisters are the right kind of strange and deranged. The story itself is rather odd than scary. I kept thinking the entire time that this would work great as a graphic novel adaptation, so someone get on that. I know they’re making it into a movie right now and I CANNOT WAIT to watch that gem. The trailer looks just as it should be!

This novella is for you if you love strange and odd characters.

The WayWard Children Series (Seanan McGuire) ♠♠♠, ♠♠, ♠, and ♠♠♠♠♠

 

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So many people are reading this series at the moment I had to check it out. Every Heart is a Doorway (book #1) didn’t have a great plotline but proved to be so imaginative and creative that I got drawn into the different worlds and devoured the book (started it as an audiobook but that was going to slow, so I got the Kindle version from the library). I love pondering about how Alice must feel when she returns from Wonderland. This concept that the other world might be the home you’re supposed to be in is fascinating. The author came up with a variety of unusual worlds children have visited that we briefly get to hear about (for example, I loved Nancy’s world). Of course, I had to pick up Down Among the Sticks and Bones (book #2) almost right away. I was curious about Jack and Jill in book 1 and book 2 promised to be dark! I assumed their world would have Dracula-esque and Frankenstein-like atmosphere but was hoping for more than that. Sadly, that didn’t happen. The story was fine in and of itself but my issue is that McGuire showed such creative aptitude in coming up with unique worlds in book 1 that I was expecting to see something I haven’t before in book 2. The world Jack and Jill visit just seemed like your run of the mill bloodsucking, human-consuming, experiment-driven, beastly setting. Beneath the Sugar Sky (bok #3) involved a much brighter world full of candy and sweets and baking. I was excited to delve into it and found myself disappointed again. It promised to be a nonsense world so I was expecting to read about things I hadn’t encountered before but sadly it didn’t deliver and became quickly predictable. On top of it, the plotline read like a poorly conceived children’s book. But then there was book 4, In an Absent Dream! This one was BY FAR my favorite. It had everything the others lacked! I loved Lundy’s story and the world she visited. I loved her friend Moon and her teacher The Archivist. The ending was heart-breaking but necessary. If you read any one of these books, read this one. They are all sort of stand alones anyway.

Despite its dark themes at times, I recommend these books to young readers that love to visit unusual worlds. I definitely recommend book 4 wholeheartedly.

Hell House (Richard Matheson) ♠♠♠♠♠

531

Goodreads

This had everything The Haunting of Hill House was missing and thus it was super scary! There were lots and lots and lots of paranormal events all described in detail. They occurred in rapid succession making me live in that world as I was reading the book. I was definitely scared at times, not so much I had to put the book down, but enough to have a bit of an increased heart rate and a constant feeling of dread. I enjoyed the characters, the plot progression, and the final conclusion all around. I want to watch the movie now and see how it compares.

I believe this is a must-read for anyone who loves horror.

Note: the movie was just meh.

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler (Kelly Harms) ♠♠♠

532

Goodreads

This was my Prime First Read choice and I was in dire need for a sort of fluff piece in between all the horror I’ve been reading. I don’t have kids so I was hesitant if I could relate to this character. In the end, I was able to empathize with Amy Byler and found certain scenarios applicable to my life. It was a fast read and kept me entertained. I liked her budding relationship with a fellow librarian and how she treated her kids. The synopsis promised a crisis that would overthrow her life in a way where she might have to choose one future over another. That is a very melodramatic description of what actually happens. Even during this crisis (which is a real tragedy and could’ve been described much darker than it was), the book read like your typical chick lit novel – light and airy. I didn’t feel any particular worry or dread, which to be honest I should’ve. I did like how Amy handled the situation though and the conclusion to the story felt very mature and reasonable with the caveat of course that this was chick lit and everything sort of falls in place as expected.

I recommend this book if you’re searching for a fun and easy read with a sort of realistic setting.

The Stand (Stephen King) ♠♠♠♠♠

507

Goodreads

This is one of those books I had on my shelf for ages. I bought this used copy on a whim because 1) it’s Stephen King and 2) it’s widely considered his best novel. I am generally not into post-apocalyptic societies type stories but 1) it’s Stephen King and 2) it’s widely considered his best novel. So I, of course, had to read it. The book is looooooong and intimidating. My copy has a teeny tiny font and is still 1141 pages. It took me a bit to get into it, not because I wasn’t engaged, but because you need a good stretch of time to emerge. Reading 20 or 30 pages here or there doesn’t work for a 1200 page behemoth. The Stand was originally a goal for March but I just couldn’t manage to find the appropriate amount of time. So, it was this month that allowed me to make my way through this story and I gotta tell ya I loved it! The character development is one of King’s best. Their backstories are just enough to fall in love with them, yes even with the evil and sinister ones. Their emerging behaviors allow you to see them in a new light, and who doesn’t like the idea of a fresh start. I am looking at you, Larrie! I had my favorites as anyone else did (Stu, Frannie, Kojak, and Tom were mine) but I also truly enjoyed the plot progression of others. Their journeys to their respective destinations, Boulder or Las Vegas, were fascinating and entertaining. This ended up being a fairly plot-driven and fast read despite the page count. I loved the symbolism and the scoial studies of different societies. King shows quite some insight into the human condition here.

This is one of those King books everyone should read.

The Poet X (Elizabeth Acevedo) ♠♠♠♠♠

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Goodreads

Ever since I discovered novels written in verse I loved that genre. I’ve been reading more poetry books over the past few years but none have me affected as much as this one. It felt really personal despite the fact that I am not Hispanic and did not grow up in a religious household. X seemed so genuine and I could relate to so many of her struggles. I spent considerable amounts of time as a teen writing in journals, reading books, and trying my hand at poetry and short stories. I have never shared any of those things as it always made me feel too vulnerable, too misunderstood. At times, I naturally shy away from new experiences or connecting with others. I saw myself in X. Acevedo’s verse style fit this novel perfectly. The formatting of her poems was genius and brought some of the struggles across in greater depth. It is a rare gem when a reader finds themselves in the pages of a book and I can only hope many others will take this journey and explore X’s story.

I recommend this novel to anyone but particularly to today’s teenagers.

The Wife Between Us (Greer Hendrix and Sarah Pekkanen) ♠♠ and 1/2♠

542

Goodreads

This was a bit of a letdown. It came highly praised and thus moved up on my reading list quickly. The concept was intriguing but none of the plot twists truly shocking or at least surprising. The first one I figured out pretty much right away and the very last one in the epilogue almost ruined the entire book for me. I still finished this novel almost within one day so it was for sure engaging.

I recommend this book to anyone with a penchant for fast-paced thrillers or to someone looking for a vacation read.

The Ghost Bride (Yangsze Choo) ♠♠♠♠

541

Goodreads

This book started off slowly but ended up really sucking me into the story. The plot meandered into unsuspected territories that kept me engaged and helped me relate to the characters. The language was lovely and beautiful and at times starkly contrasting the darker themes of the plot. The idea of ghost marriages is intriguing and I enjoyed learning about several Chinese superstitions and folktales that drove the story forward. Er Lang and Li Lan were fascinating yet relatable characters (yes I know one of them was a dragon man). Despite its obvious cultural differences to some well-known English Gothic novels, this book was as Gothic as it could be. A truly wonderful read.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction and ghost stories.

Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë) ♠♠♠♠♠

543

Goodreads

I am totally on the Wuthering Heights bandwagon. I loved this book. Its twisted and unlikable characters, its darkly enchanting landscapes, its gossip and intrigue-filled plots, and its ickiness of romances makes this a perfect Gothic gem. I bow to you, Emily Brontë. I now want to just tear this novel apart and discuss each and every scene with anyone who is up for it.

This book is a must-read classic.


HOW WAS YOUR APRIL? DID YOU HAVE A FAVORITE BOOK? I AM NOT SURE I HAD A TRUE FAVORITE THIS MONTH BUT IF I HAD TO PICK ONE IT’D BE ANNE OF GREEN GABLES!

1 thought on “And thus concludes my April”

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