April Reading Wrap-Up w/ Stats | 2021 Edition

STATISTICS:

Note that any category marked Unknown is because I could not find clear information to indicate the answer would be in any other category. Also note that on author gender identity all women are women and all men are men, cis or trans they are counted under the gender they identify as; non-binary authors would be listed under non-binary, and unknown means that I could not find preferred pronouns and probably means the author blurbs are written in first person. Co-Authored books are written by more than one person and does not take gender into account. If books contain multiple forms of diversity as listed under the individual categories they will be listed under Multiple and not broken out into the individual categories (ie I read a lot of Queer/LGBTQIA+ books but those books often contain other categories too).

  • # of Books Read: 13
  • Page Total: 4172 pages (estimated by page counts found on Goodreads)
  • Format: 1 ARC (7.7%), 1 audiobook (7.7%), 5 ebooks (38.5%), and 6 physical books (46.2%)
  • Intended Audience: 0 Children’s, 3 Middle Grade (23.1%), 1 YA (7.7%), and 9 Adult (69.2%)
  • Authors by Race: 1 Black (7.7%), 2 Asian (15.4%), 10 White (76.9%)
  • Authors by Gender Identity: 3 Male (23.1%), 7 Female (53.8%), 0 Non-Binary (0%), 2 Co-Authored (15.4%), 1 Unknown (7.7%)
  • Books by Diversity Content: 10 Multiple (76.9%), 0 Disability (0%), 1 Queer (7.7%), 0 Mental Health (0%), 0 Racial (0%), 1 Fey Diversity (7.7%), 0 None (0%)
  • Books by Genre is probably easier if I just insert the table for it:
ClassicsContemporaryDystopianFantasyGraphicHistoricalHorrorHumorManga
100540000
MysteryNonFictionParanormalRomanceSciFiStoriesThrillerOtherDNF’d
101000010
  • And here’s my Books by Rating:
Books by Rating Graph

THOUGHTS ON THE BOOKS:

I neglected to blog about any of the books as I was reading them in April, so I guess strap in since we have 13 books to get through.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill won the Newbery Medal in 2017. The book blurb is very accurate as to what to expect, and I would say this falls on the younger side of middle grade – perhaps around the time a kid would be reading The Phantom Tollbooth or The Chronicles of Narnia. It feels like a fairy tale that has been stretched out a bit to make a lovely full-length story. My only gripe is that the bad things that happened are implied as bad but aren’t really explored to say why it’s bad — then again, that’s a typical fairy tale for you.

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. 

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known. 

– Goodreads Book Blurb

Sunstone, Vol. 1 by Stjepan Šejić is a lesbian BDSM graphic novel. While I love the Queer BDSM rep, I felt it was either too wordy for a graphic novel or the frames or something needed resized so the text wouldn’t be so small. I had to put this down a few times because of the headaches I was getting from the teeny tiny print. I also wish that the author would have redone the opening panels. This started off as a web comic, so having the character beg you to stick around in the very beginning makes sense since people could click away at any moment. As a book, I didn’t feel like this worked very well since, well, I had picked up the book and it isn’t like readers don’t give a book several pages first — you don’t have to beg me to stick around; my attention span is going to be a bit longer for print medium than it is scrolling through a website. Part of me wants to keep reading the series, but it’s not good enough for me to put myself through a headache every time. If it ever gets an adaptation with larger print I’d probably pick it back up again.

«Sexual nerds. That is what BDSM people are, behind all the pretense…»

From critically-acclaimed creator Stjepan Šejić (Death VigilRavineAphrodite IXWitchblade) comes Sunstone, a love story like no other.

Lisa’s tastes were always…unique. Longing to be restrained, without restrain. Lisa always felt like something was missing from her love life─until she met Ally. Ally was implacably ordinary─successful job, nice house, an average childhood─except for her preference for bedroom domination. 

Originally posted on DeviantArt, this books collects the first volume of the often erotic, always amusing, and surprisingly heartfelt Sunstone.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

The Fire Never Goes Out by Noelle Stevenson is another web comic turned book of sorts. The book blurb gives a great description of what to expect, and the art style matches that of the cover. A lot of this book really resonated with me, and I’m very glad to have read it.

From Noelle Stevenson, the New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of Nimona, comes a captivating, honest illustrated memoir that finds her turning an important corner in her creative journey—and inviting readers along for the ride.

In a collection of essays and personal mini-comics that span eight years of her young adult life, author-illustrator Noelle Stevenson charts the highs and lows of being a creative human in the world. Whether it’s hearing the wrong name called at her art school graduation ceremony or becoming a National Book Award finalist for her debut graphic novel, Nimona, Noelle captures the little and big moments that make up a real life, with a wit, wisdom, and vulnerability that are all her own.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

Gudetama: Mindfullness for the Lazy by Wook-Jin Clark is one of the ARC’s I’ve received through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. The book blurb is accurate, and if you’re a fan of Gudetama you’ll probably want to pick this book up. I’ll copy the review I left on Goodreads and NetGalley here:

In this graphic novel, Nisetama and Gudetama go on a learning and teaching adventure about what mindfulness means with the overall conclusion basically being to live in the present, practice self care, and don’t be a “butt”. It’s cheery and focuses on the brighter sides of life without promoting toxic positivity. This is my general takeaway from what’s covered:

Mindfulness:
Living in the present, saying hello to connect with others – opening up to others without needing a reason why

Self-awareness:
Knowing where you are in relation to others (be mindful of personal space)

Previsualization:
Hit pause to recharge when stressed out and unfocused – build it into your schedule

Do the things the way you would want them done – regardless of if the world would do the same for you 

Sometimes it helps to back up from a heated conversation to acknowledge the common ground (dogs vs cats – they’re both loveable pets)

The meanings of sympathy and empathy

If you’re not good at remembering things, set yourself reminders

Know how much of something you need and always try to take that much – not more and not less

Try to look at something from many angles before saying something

Even when being mindful of what you say aka don’t be a butt

When dealing with problematic people, you don’t have to answer them. You can block them, not respond, or chose to respond

Napping is a form of self care

The one thing that I wish they’d covered more deeply is that it’s okay to have down/sad moments. This crops up in a few of the other stories, but it didn’t get its own dedicated limelight. 

Mindfulness takes a lot of mental energy to wrap your brain around. Gudetama is here to help you become a better person…sort of.

Empathizing with others, understanding your feelings, learning to be selfless. These all sound like really hard things to do! Well fear not, come along with Gudetama who’ll guide your way to learning things and more. Living selflessly is something many struggle with. Don’t worry, Gudetama does too, and wants to join you on your journey in finding the wonders of mindfulness. 

– Goodreads Book Blurb

Far Sector, Vol. 11 by N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell – what can I say other than I am LOVING this comic Series and can’t wait for the last issues of it to come out this year?

Everything is coming to a boil as we lay the groundwork for the Far Sector finale in this, our penultimate issue! Riots are breaking out across the City Enduring as its citizens realize that there are political shenanigans disrupting their way of life and subverting the will of the people. To quell this unrest, @BlazeofGlory is threatening to unleash a terrible weapon upon her own people. Jo has to race against the ticking clock of a Green Lantern ring that is rapidly losing power to bypass the city’s entire defense forces and stop this attack from above.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

White Fang by Jack London … I think I picked this up one day as a freebie classic from Audible, because who doesn’t like a book about a wolf told from a wolf’s perspective? OR AT LEAST THAT WAS WHAT I HOPED GOING INTO IT <inserts eye roll because I should have known better with it being a “classic”>. I would give this book no stars if I could. Why on earth a children’s classic about a wolf has blatant racism for the sake of, well, Fascist Nazi rhetoric blended with Colonial Imperialism with a huge God complex is beyond me. I don’t think Jack London ever spent much time around wolves either judging by how not wolf-ish this feels. Oh, also content warnings for animal abuse. There are so, so many better books out there. Don’t bother picking this one up.

White Fang is part dog and part wolf, and the lone survivor of his family. In his lonely world, he soon learns to follow the harsh law of the North–kill or be killed. But nothing in White Fang’s life can prepare him for the cruel owner who turns him into a vicious killer. Will White Fang ever know the kindness of a gentle master?

– Goodreads Book Blurb

Assassin’s Apprentice (and the other two books in The Farseer Trilogy because I’m a binge reader) by Robin Hobb — this is by far one of my most favorite trilogies of ALL TIME, and I’m sad that I didn’t experience it in my life sooner. The book blurb does a fine job of setting up expectations, and I cannot tell you how fabulous the female and non-binary representation is in this book!!! Did I mention this was originally published in 1995? A NON-BINARY CHARACTER BEING SLIPPED INTO A MAIN STREAM FANTASY SERIES IN 1995!!! And Robin Hobb did it by stealthing them in since they didn’t care whether their pronouns were he or she (even though they were almost always referenced as he). In case you couldn’t tell, my favorite character in the series is the Fool, and I’m very much looking forward to the other books with the Fool’s story line. Did I mention that this starts out as magical realism and gradually morphs into high fantasy? Because that was really cool.

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

While waiting for the rest of the Farseer Trilogy to show up on my doorstep I picked up a copy of Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Oh hey, this book had a side character with my name – that was fun. Is it a whimsical fairy tale written for adults? Absolutely! While some of the language used was used properly for its historical setting, I’m not sure that kind of language is necessary to tell this kind of story now. Granted this was originally penned in the 90’s, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it now since there are so many other stories that fulfill that mesmerizing fairytale feel for me without including language that I find unnecessary. Would I recommend it? Possibly – if the book blurb sounds like a fun time to you, you’ll probably like it. Also there’s a movie adaptation which I’m going to watch later this week, because maybe I’ll like the movie more?

Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria—even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie—where nothing not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

Anddddd here’s another 1 star review for the month. Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast is the first book in the House of Night Series. I was warned that this was VERY along the same themes as Twilight, but I’m not really sure what else I expected going into it. Here, I’m just going to copy and paste the same review I left on Goodreads:

Marked by PC and Kristin Cast – hooboy where do I begin? The only good qualities of this book seem to me to be “bullying bad”, “cats are adorable”, and “the power of friendship”. I don’t think I’ve ever said “ohhhh nooooooo” out loud while reading so many times as I have while reading this racist, sexist, classist, cultural misappropriating, ableist, back-handed-complementing, somewhat lgbtqia+ phobic, slut shaming, fat phobic mess of a book. In order to get through it one needs to suspend all forms of logic or else be like me screaming that almost nothing makes any sense. Like, if you’re going to “attempt” to pull from a lot of different cultures deities and try to hearken it back something people still take very seriously it needs to be done in a setting that isn’t the real world. There are several POC characters, but I’m not sure a single POC worked on the book – just from the different descriptions of hair textures (or rather lack thereof) alone. 

I read this because a few other people were excited to reread it because they remembered it being the only books beside Eragon, Twilight, and Harry Potter that seemed remotely interesting to them at the time (which is to say the YA market has since come a very long way and we’re glad it has). I’ve never read any of the House of Night books and figured I’d check it out for the first time since I have no intentions of rereading Twilight at this time. I was warned that it was basically Twilight adjacent – and it definitely is. Part of me wants to continue with the series just to see what the magic system is like, since the ending of the book was somewhat interesting, but there are just so many other MUCH better alternatives now. 

QOTD: Do I continue to read this to see how poorly things were written and made it to best sellers lists just out of a historical fascination while saying “wtf whyyyyy” the entire time, or do I say screw it and drop the series now because there are sooooo many better books out there?

After a Vampire Tracker Marks her with a crescent moon on her forehead, 16-year-old Zoey Redbird enters the House of Night and learns that she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx and has affinities for all five elements: Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Spirit. But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers. When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school’s most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny—with a little help from her new vampyre friends (or Nerd Herd, as Aphrodite calls them).

– Goodreads Book Blurb

This month was definitely packed with fairy/folk tales as Vasilisa by Julie Mathison continues the trend with some Slavic lore. This is a love story built on a fairytale that sticks to the traditional side of fairy/folk tales since it still features many spooky things and doesn’t always explain why the world works the way it does. It’s supposedly a middle grade novel, though the way the love story develops made me feel like it was more of a YA novel. Honestly I’m kinda lost with how old the characters are supposed to be since by the end of the book it’s framed a bit like a coming of age story … but they figure out more adult themes a heck of a lot faster than I have – and idk if that says something more about me orrrrrr? 😅 Anyways, I made the mistake of reading it while I was in the mood for adult high fantasy – and I’m a mood reader, so I don’t think it hit quite the same as it might have as if I would have waited until a grey day in fall (the ideal conditions I’d imagine myself in when curling up to read this book). For now I’m going to say that it was an OK read for me. If you like a book with a soft magic system that’s both set in the real world and not then you’ll probably enjoy this book.

Three witches, two children, one ogre — and nowhere to run. 

It’s 1919, but in Edenfall, Pennsylvania, the Great War is not over — not for Vasilisa, at least. Papa is presumed dead on the fields of Flanders, Mama is being courted by an absolute ogre, and now Babka, her beloved grandma, has had a bad spell. Or has she fallen under one? Only the Old Tales, the Russian fables Vasilisa was raised on, offer any comfort or counsel.

But what if they are more than child’s tales?

Enter Ivan, who jumps a train for Edenfall at midnight and finds Vasilisa in a real fix. Old Rus is calling from across time and both worlds, and if they heed the call, they might both get what they want. It won’t be easy. Three witches, two children, one ogre – they’re outnumbered and outclassed. Baba Yaga and Old Koschei are after the same thing — and each other — and the children are caught in the crosshairs. Vasilisa has a secret weapon, in the humblest of guises, but will the meek truly inherit the earth? Or will the mighty prevail? One thing is certain: it’s a fairy tale of their own making, a tale whose happy ending is ever in doubt.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

The last book I read in April was Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala, and I am very torn about this book. The book blurb does a great job at setting expectations for this cozy, Filipino-American murder mystery. My only issue with the book is the language it uses around diabetes. As a person who is chronically ill and has several friends/family with diabetes, I found the language rather problematic. I decided to do a dedicated video review to discuss the book and talk about the positives and the negatives. Overall, as long as you don’t mind the language about diabetes used in this book and you’ve checked the other content warnings and it sounds like a fun time to you, you’ll probably enjoy it. I just wouldn’t give it to anyone in your life with diabetes or else they might try to yeet the book at your head. If you want to check out the dedicated video I made, it’s available on my YouTube channel or through the embedded link here:

The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer….

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

With the cops treating her like she’s the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila’s left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…

– Goodreads Book Blurb

BOOKS RANKED FROM LEAST TO MOST FAVORITE:

I want to take a second here to say that I really liked a lot of the books I read this month (just check out that book rating graph). I’m basically just ranking these for shiggles – and this ranking is THOROUGHLY SUBJECTIVE.

  • 13 – White Fang by Jack London
  • 12 – Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast
  • 11 – Sunstone, Vol. 1 by Stjepan Šejić
  • 10 – Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  • 9 – Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala
  • 8 – Vasilisa by Julie Mathison
  • 7 – The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • 6 – Gudetama: Mindfullness for the Lazy by Wook-Jin Clark
  • 5 – The Fire Never Goes Out by Noelle Stevenson
  • 4 – Far Sector, Vol. 11 by N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell
  • 3, 2, 1 – The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb (Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin, Assassin’s Quest)

CONCLUSION:

I had some really bad reads, some pretty ok reads, and some ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS reads. How’d your April reads go? What was your favorite book of April? Have you read any of these books? I’d love to chat about it in the comments 💜

Published by Victoria Mendes

I'm just a house-wife trying to cook good meals on a budget.

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