April was a weird month, I’m actually surprised that I read as many books as I did, considering how stressful and hectic things have been. Some of my big achievements/events this month may seem boring and mundane, the fact that I went for a haircut alone, for example. But because of my anxiety, this was actually a major step for me. I survived, and feel good about it. I also met Laini Taylor this month at an event in Birmingham! I was so excited, and she was so incredibly lovely. This last week has dialed the stress and anxiety up to an eleven, but luckily I turn to reading to escape, so I was able to feel productive in that sense.
The Hanging Tree – By Ben Aaronovitch
The Hanging Tree was the Tyburn gallows which stood where Marble Arch stands today. Oxford Street was the last trip of the condemned. Some things don’t change. The place has a bloody and haunted legacy and now blood has returned to the empty Mayfair mansions of the world’s super-rich. And blood mixed with magic is a job for Peter Grant.
Peter Grant is back as are Nightingale et al. at the Folly and the various river gods, ghosts and spirits who attach themselves to England’s last wizard and the Met’s reluctant investigator of all things supernatural.
I read a good portion of this book in March, but I didn’t finish it until a few days into April. As I predicted in my March Wrap Up, I loved this most recent installment of the Rivers of London/Peter Grant series. I cannot say enough how much I enjoy Ben Aaronovitch’s writing style.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – By Becky Albertalli
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
I really enjoyed this, much like with The Upside of Unrequited, I became really invested in the story and found it really easy to relate to the main character. This book managed to get to my feelings, making my laugh, cry, and squee at some cute bits. I’m definitely now a fan of Becky Albertalli’s work, I can’t wait for her next book.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
A Quite Kind of Thunder – By Sara Barnard
Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn’t a lightning strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder.
Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.
This book managed to be both incredibly cute and really powerful. Everything is experienced through Steffi’s perspective, and through the anxiety disorder that affects her day-to-day life. The story kicks off on the first day of sixth form, when Steffi is introduced to Rhys, who is deaf, because she knows BSL (sign language). The romance is really cute and the theme of communication runs throughout.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Unknown Horizons – By CJ Birch
The moment Lieutenant Alison Ash steps aboard the Persephone, she knows her life will never be the same. She will never again watch the sun rise over the asteroid belt, never again see Earth from a handheld telescope, and never again see her family.
In less than three weeks, the ship will dock at the Posterus and begin the most important journey humankind has ever undertaken. More important than discovering fire, creating language, or even abandoning Earth to live confined in biospheres among the asteroid belt over 100 years ago.
What Ash doesn’t expect is that by keeping her recent memory loss a secret she is
jeopardizing not only the Persephone’s mission but humankind’s launch of the first ever generational ship. Nor does she anticipate her attraction to Captain Jordan Kellow, but both will change her life forever.
I wanted to like this, but I ended up having problems with it. The plot felt rushed and the characters were underdeveloped. The story it’s self was interesting, but I wasn’t a fan of the execution, I felt there was too much telling and not enough showing. I have a full review for this here if you would like to read more of my thoughts.
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Windfall – By Jennifer E. Smith
Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.
At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.
As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.
This was more of a coming of age story, than a romance, which I really appreciate. It follows the lives of a trio of friends, in the final year of high school, under extraordinary circumstances. I enjoyed it and though it wasn’t quite what I expected going in, I was gripped by the story and compelled to keep reading. A review for this can be found here.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
The State of Grace – By Rachael Lucas
Sometimes I feel like everyone else was handed a copy of the rules for life and mine got lost.
Grace has Asperger’s and her own way of looking at the world. She’s got a horse and a best friend who understand her, and that’s pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn’t make much sense to her any more.
Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it’s up to Grace to fix it on her own.
Told in the first person, this book follows Grace, a 15/16-year-old girl, who is autistic. She’s got a lot going on, her family life is unbalanced, school is incredibly stressful and she’s met a boy she likes. This book is #ownvoices, and the first person style really explains what things feel like for Grace and how much effort she has to put in to things. It’s a short book, but it packs a lot in, and I definitely recommend it.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Strange The Dreamer – By Laini Taylor
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
I deliberately took my time with this, in fact it took me most of the month to read it. I knew that I was going to enjoy it, there is something special about Laini Taylor’s writing that I find uniquely beautiful and inspiring. I was not disappointed, in Strange the Dreamer she has crafted a vivid and interesting world full of rich characters and stories. It transported me, and I’m sure that like Laini Taylor’s other works, this will stick with me, even if it has also left me devastated. I cannot wait for Muse of Nightmares, I need to know how this story plays out.
Rating: 5/5 Stars.
So, that was everything I finished in April, and I’m really happy with how much I managed to read considering all the things going on in my personal life. I hope you all had a good reading month!
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