April Book Wrap-Up 2020

5/03/2020


The world is still broken, which is leading to some peculiar book choices on my part. For the month of April I was picking up a wide range of book genres in the hope that something would fully capture my attention. There was historical fiction, a thriller, fluffy contemporary, graphic novels, children's literature, magical realism, and a dark contemporary. So without further ado, let's get on to reviewing them..



Pachinko
by Min Jin Lee

“Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage”

Pachinko is an epic historical novel following a Korean family who eventually migrates to Japan in the midst of WWII. I finished this book early in the month and am still unsure what I made of it. It was a really eye opening novel about the Korean-Japanese cultural differences, and what it was like living in Japan during that period of history. However, I disliked the way that the book span across so many generations of the family as it left the entire story feeling broken. I had whiplash from the abundance of time jumps, and would often forget who certain characters were as there was such a huge character list. I guess this read too dry, which affected my overall enjoyment. Meh. Quite a disappointment.


Paper Girls Vol.1 & Vol. 2
by Brain K. Vaughan
A graphic novel series? Who am I? My husband kindly got given this entire series from a friend, and I knew I'd heard great things about it from some booktuber but am still at a loss who it was. Maybe DrinkingByMyShelf? Either way, I figured it would be a fun introduction into the world of graphic novels for me, and wasn't wrong. This is a story set in the 70's about a group of paper delivery girls. Out on their morning delivery, they stumble upon what seems to be a time travelling machine and somehow find themselves caught in between a war of the future. It's a fun series, and I'm looking forward to finishing it hopefully in May.


Someday, Someday, Maybe
by Lauren Graham

“Once again, I've been thwarted by the massive difference between my vision of the successful me and the me I'm currently stuck with.”

Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three-year deadline she gave herself to succeed. So far, she's only managed to nab a commercial and a lot of waitress shifts. But maybe a charming new guy in her acting class, a wedding, and a new agent is what she needs for success? Inspired by her own acting journey, this is a truly charming debut novel by the beloved Lauren Graham. I'm a huge fan of her so was a little reluctant to pick this up incase it was bad. But it was exactly what I expected from Graham - humorous writing, slice-of-life goodness, and quite a few laugh out loud moments. The epitome of a heartfelt read. If you enjoyed the Me Before Series by Jojo Moyes, I'd recommend this in a heartbeat.


The Rules Of Magic
by Alice Hoffman 

“Know that the only remedy for love is to love more.”

This was a lovely prequel to Practical Magic, but the slow start prevents me from being able to give it a glowing 5 star rating. It doesn't quite live up to the first in the series. I do love the aunts though, so would very quickly pick up anything else revolving around them As always with Alice Hoffman, this was beautifully written. This author always seems to create a world that I ache to be a part of. She really flourishes when writing about magic, so a novel about three siblings who grow into their magical abilities throughout their early adulthood was her time to shine as writer. From the descriptions of herbology to rustic food, to the pure way she writes of first loves, this was an experience more than a novel. Hoffman's little touches when writing is what captures my heart, such as: red ribbons on a shoe, the sound of rustling leaves during a mood spike in a character, the antique furniture that surrounds any house she describes. I can't push her books in any other way than saying they're the epitome of 'homey reading'. Also, how beautiful is this cover?

The Silent Patient
by Alex Michaelides

"...we often mistake love for fireworks - for drama and dysfunction. But real love is very quiet, very still. It's boring, if seen from the perspective of high drama. Love is deep and calm - and constant.”

Alicia Berenson shot her husband five times in the face and hasn't spoken a word since. Before that incident, she led what appeared to be a regular life. Newbie therapist Theo Faber makes it his mission to find out what happened. This is told through Theo's voice and Alicia's past journal entries. For the past year or so, this thriller has been hyped in the booksphere. Everyone seems to love it, it's basically the new Gone Girl. So keeping that in mind, I was excited to finally pick this up... I shouldn't of been. I don't know what it was about this book that didn't mesh well with me. I was bored out of my mind for most of the story, and the ending fell so flat.

My Dark Vanessa
by Kate Elizabeth Russell 

“I can’t lose the thing I’ve held onto for so long, you know?” My face twists up from the pain of pushing it out. “I just really need it to be a love story, you know? I really, really need it to be that.”

I had no idea what this was about when I started the audiobook via Scribd. I had seen it everywhere on bookstagram, so figured I'd go in blind and I'm so glad I did. This is a dark contemporary revolved around the relationship of a student and her professor. As a young girl, Vanessa was infatuated with her professor and because of that, their relationship quickly got romantic. He chased after her, but she wanted that, right? In our current day, Vanessa is now an adult and the same professor is facing prosecution after a different girl comes forward and says he abused her, which leads Vanessa to question everything she thought she knew about the past. Was she a victim? This is a heavy read, so go in with caution. I've never simultaneously wanted to shake and hug a protagonist of a book more. This story had such good pacing and I really couldn't put it down. Definitely a hidden gem among the new releases. Would recommend.


Franny and Zooey
J. D. Salinger

“I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.”

This was my first taste of Salinger's writing and.. eh. Let's just say Catcher In The Rye has been shelved for the time being. This short story/novella mix just didn't work for me, especially the second half. I kinda enjoyed Franny's section, but every word written felt too try hard for me to get on board. If you didn't know, this is a duel story of siblings Franny and Zooey. Franny is going through an early life crisis as everything is making her feel unfulfilled. Whereas Zooey's dealing with his high maintenance mother and career choices, I guess..? The book was all over the place. Full of pointless segways and pretentious people.


One Day
by David Nicholls

“Live each day as if it's your last', that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn't practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard at...something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.”

Emma and Dexter are two friends who always seem to miss each other. On the night before their graduation, they had one of those nights that neither of them wanted to end. From there we return to both characters on the same day each year going forward. One Day is one of those books that sat unread on my shelves for years, and my excuse was always "I know I'm going to like that. Saving it for a rainy day!" Well, a mass epidemic counts, right? I really liked this book, it had a truly beautiful story to tell and it did so wonderfully. It never felt choppy, broken, or try-hard. The moment I turned the last page, I watched the movie. Neither made me cry (am I heartless?), but I definitely felt all the feels.


The Sudden Appearance Of Hope
by Claire North

“When you are alone, even the quiet is full of monsters”

Hope is a girl who people forget. The moment she leaves a room, or someone looks away from her face for 30 seconds she is no longer in their memory. Because of this she has lost her family, her friends, and her entire existence. To get by she steals. The app 'perfection' is changing people, it's creating the 'perfect society', the rich get richer and the poor get weaker because of it. After a suicide that impacts Hope emotionally she tries to accomplish a petty theft, but it goes terribly wrong. Because of this, the young woman is pushed into something far bigger than she knows. I truly didn't know what to expect form this book going in as that premise alone is a wild ride. I think I liked it? The writing was beautiful, so it feels unfair to give it a lesser than 4 star rating. But did I enjoy the experience of reading the story? Not so much. It felt too scattered and way, way, way too long. This book could've easily been 200 pages shorter without losing anything important. So many chapters felt like filler, the authors attempt to bulk out the book. I liked Hope's character but I always felt distanced from her, from the story. It read too formal, which didn't work for me.


A Series Of Unfortunate Events #2 (The Reptile Room), #3 (The Wide Window), #4 (The Miserable Mill), #5 (The Austere Elevator), and #6 (The Vile Village)
by Lemony Snicket

Yeah, I went on a binge of this series via audiobook. How could you tell? This is of course the much beloved children's series following the Baudelaire children and the series of unfortunate events that occur after their parents perish in a house fire. Count Olaf is an evil man who wants the children's fortune, and will do next to anything to get it.. I was going to review these books separately but I realised that would be rather tricky when trying to not give away spoilers. So, all-in-all, I'm really enjoying going through these (audio)books. It's such a devastating yet charming series, and have found myself laughing out loud multiple times. And boy, these books can get dark. I wasn't expecting actual character deaths, but voila, no one is safe. If you missed out on picking up these books as a child, don't be put off at the thought of giving them a read as an adult. I think there's something in them for everyone to enjoy, and the Jim Carrey narrated audiobooks are great fun.


Night
by Elie Wiesel
Night was my non-fiction book for April. This is a memoir of a young man who was sent to Auschwitz with his family. I chose to go with the audiobook for this, and that was a terrible choice. It really sucked me out of this devastating story and hindered what I took from the book. For this reason, I'm not going to give it a rating on Goodreads and will reread it physically in the near future. Welp.

My TBR is more daunting for May as I'm hoping to finish at least 20 books. Why? No idea! But when in doubt about the world, read until your brain is too tired to keep you up at night. What are your reading plans for May?


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