April Favourites: Top 3 Reads This Month
I started the month of April in a major reading slump. I finished Maas’s A Court of Wings and Ruin and A Court of Silver Flames, then tried to read contemporary literary fiction. What a bust. My main takeaway for the month: after reading YA fantasy predominately, it can be hard to read contemporary and historical fiction.
Remember when I asked if the books I planned on reading this month would live up to the hype. I’m more disappointed than I thought I would be, that’s for sure. For the first two weeks of the month, nothing appealed to me. I grudgingly finished Chang-Rae Lee’s My Year Abroad and started but didn’t finish Gutter Child by Jael Richardson. I returned The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah) and Elizabeth and Margaret (Andrew Morton) without giving them a chance. I knew I wasn’t in the right mindset.
Then, to update my followers and write this article, I checked on my Goodreads challenge progress . . . Was I ending April on a low note?
As it turns out, I wasn’t in a reading slump. I was in a plain old slump. My head was not in the game. I was not on the ball. I hit 50 books without realizing I hit 50 books. If you asked me before I checked, I would’ve said that I read maybe six or ten books this month. *facepalms* So, hopefully, my brain returns to my body soon.
Goal: Read a hundred books in 2021.
Progress: 50 books . . .!
This is what I did read in April:
- Piranesi, Susanna Clarke
- Yellow Wife, Sadeqa Johnson
- A Court of Wings and Ruin, Sarah J. Maas
- A Court of Silver Flames, Sarah J. Maas
- Aquarium, Yaara Shehori (ARC)
- Carry On, Rogé Girard (ARC)
- The Soul of a Woman, Isabel Allende
- My Year Abroad, Chang-Rae Lee
- The Keeper of Lost Things, Ruth Hogan
- Of Women and Salt, Gabriela Garcia
- Indians on Vacation, Thomas King
- Meet Cute, Various YA Authors
- The Skin We’re In, Desmond Cole
- The Witch’s Heart, Genevieve Gornichec
Of Women and Salt
By Gabriela Garcia
Genre: Historical fiction meets contemporary fiction
Worth the hype: Yes
Reading pace: Fast
Reading ease: Medium
I like Latin American history and politics. I’m saying this because my love of Garcia’s book probably stems from the fact that it’s partially set in Cuba and Mexico and features life during the very political Cuban Revolution. It also goes back to Cuba post-revolution. Garcia explores a lot with this book. She manages to tell multiple stories of love and loss in under three hundred pages.
Did I mention that this is Garcia’s debut novel? If you’re at all curious, I recommend picking it up.
*There is content that might be triggering to some readers, including drug use, scenes set in immigrant detention centres, and physical assault. As always, if you have any content questions, reach out to me through a private note.*
The Keeper of Lost Things
By Ruth Hogan
Genre: Fiction, with romance and fantasy elements
Worth the hype: Where’s the hype?
Reading pace: Fast
Reading ease: Easy
The Keeper of Lost Things tells the stories of three intertwined characters. Anthony Peardew, who carelessly lost a keepsake from his beloved finacée, Therese, on the same day she unexpectedly dies. Laura comes to work for Anthony after a bad divorce and inherits his home with the caveat of fulfilling his last wish, which is to reunite his collection of lost objects with their owners. And Eunice, who found a trinket years ago, and with her own end drawing near, has lost something precious.
Full of character, wit, and wisdom, The Keeper of Lost Things is a heartwarming tale that will enchant fans of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Garden Spells, Mrs Queen Takes the Train, and The Silver Linings Playbook.
I read this book up for my library’s book club this month and had no expectations whatsoever, especially after not enjoying anything else. Little did I know The Keeper of Lost Things was exactly the book I needed to get out of my rut and back into reading. It has everything a book needs, including a plotline that draws you in, intrigue, and hope for the characters. You really want the characters to find each other and fulfill all their promises. I finished this book quickly and felt content at the end, which has rarely happened this year.
By Sadeqa Johnson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Worth the hype: Yes
Reading pace: Medium
Reading ease: Medium
Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Brown was promised her freedom on her eighteenth birthday. But when her birthday finally comes around, instead of the idyllic life she was hoping for with her true love, she finds herself thrust into the bowels of slavery at the infamous Devil’s Half-Acre, a jail where slaves are broken, tortured, and sold every day. Forced to become the mistress of the brutal man who owns the jail, Pheby faces the ultimate sacrifice to protect her heart in this powerful, thrilling story of one slave’s fight for freedom.
Johnson succeeds at bringing the character Pheby Delores Brown to life. Pheby is a strong, spirited woman. Daughter to a white plantation-owning father and a black enslaved mother, difficult events bring Pheby to a prison where she becomes a yellow wife. She dreams of freedom. She wants her children and loved ones to be free.
Yellow Wife is a heart-wrenching and haunting page-turner. If you’re looking for a historical fiction read set in America and not about the wars, then this could be the read for you. I know Yellow Wife opened my eyes to parts of US history that I’ve never known a lot about.
- If you like mythology, read Gornichec’s The Witch’s Heart. It’s a reimagining of Norse mythology. You may also like it if you liked Madeline Miller’s Circe.
- If you want a feel-good read, which may (or may not) make you laugh-out-loud, you have to read Indians on Vacation by Thomas King. While being a comfort read, King’s book also brushes on indigenous history and issues and European history and culture, focusing on Prague. And I mean “brushes,” as it explores neither in-depth.
- If you want feminism with a sense of humour, Isabel Allende’s Soul of a Woman should be on your TBR. I mean, it’s Allende. You’ll want to laugh, to cry, to set aside a couple of hours and knock this one out in a sitting or two. Caveat: I did enjoy the first part of this book much more than the second, which is why it wasn’t in the top three.
Everything I read this month was good in its own way. Some were shining stars because of the character depth, plot-building, or writing style. Others had me hooked, then lost me, or vice versa. Though the Keeper of Lost Things was the most enjoyable for me this month, in the headspace I was in, Of Women and Salt was the “knock-out” overall because of its characters, plot, and unique style. On the topic of uniqueness, Piranesi takes the cake. My Year Abroad was the most out of my comfort zone, but Piranesi stood out for its concept, writing style, and how the plot plays out.
If you like starting a book in the dark, with not a clue whatsoever as to what’s going on, then pick up Piranesi. All that being said, I don’t want to comment on May because I want to go into the month with zero reading expectations.
May Sneak Peak
I’m going into May without a plan. I do have three books checked out from the library right now, which are The Centaur’s Wife (Amanda Leduc), The Rose Code (Kate Quinn), and The Prophets (Robert Jones Jr.). Other than these three books, I don’t have a TBR to share. After last month's rocky start, I don’t even have a bullet journal spread with goals. We’ll all have to wait and see how the month plays out together.
I will be sharing a top three books of the year so far, though, so stay tuned for that.