April Wrap-Up // 2021

April was a great month – great reading, a great vacation (finally!), and some great weather! My kids have finally finished up all their sporting commitments for the school year, so now we’ll just be running around with year-end activities – sports banquets, finals for school, and get togethers with their friends. I used to think December was the busiest time of the month until my kids got older and I realized that December has nothing on May! The light at the end of the tunnel for me is endless days drifting around the lake…can’t come soon enough!

April By the Numbers:

  • Total Books Read: 12
  • Audiobooks: 1
  • Five Star Reads: 2
  • Goodreads Shelf: 48/125 (38%)
  • Unread Shelf: 3 (25%)
  • Nonfiction Challenge: 5/12
  • Books by BIPOC Authors: 2 (18%)
  • By Women Authors: 11 (92%)
  • Diverse Books: 4 (36%)
  • Nonfiction Reads: 4 (36%)
  • Debuts: 5 (45%)
  • Published in 2021: 9 (75%)

Favorite Book of April:

When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

This was my first introduction to Paula McLain and if her previous books are anything like this, I may have found a new author to love! I know she ventured into a new genre with this book, but her writing was complex, detailed, and gripping. From the first page, I was into the story; more importantly, I was intrigued by the complexity of the main character as well as her depth. Overall, this was such a great reading experience and I can’t wait to dive into McLain’s backlist.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid – I, along with the rest of the world, am a huge TJR fan – she could write a grocery list and I would happily read it. She is incredibly talented and writes such atmospheric novels that you feel you’re living the story instead of simply reading it, and Malibu Rising is no exception! I loved the alternating timelines – one leading up to the annual party and the other one revealing background information to help the reader understand how the Rivas family gor to their current circumstances. It’s intense and insightful and a great complicated family drama that you’ll definitely want to add to your Summer TBR. (Malibu Rising publishes on June 1, 2021.)
  • The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton – I love the Perez family and every time I finish one of Cleeton’s books, I think there’s no possible way she can come up with another angle to this family’s story, but she proves me wrong every time. I absolutely fell into the story of Evangelina Cisneros and the Cuban’s fight for freedom and independence from Spain. Cleeton also talks about the rivalry between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer – both fighting to be the top newspaper source in New York CIty. Cleeton writes historical fiction, specifically Cuban history, like no other author, and now I’m anxiously awaiting the next installment to the Perez

For Fans of Complicated Fiction:

  • * Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia – Totally by coincidence, this is the second historical fiction novel I read this month about Cuba. Of Women and Salt is a small book that covers a lot of ground. It felt a little clunky and disjointed, but Garcia is a talented writer and I’m excited to see what she writes next.
  • We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker – Perhaps the most overhyped book I read this month, I just can’t understand why this book is getting the rave reviews it’s getting. I liked the writing and I was impressed with Whitaker’s writing, but there was an intense sadness to the whole book with little redeeming qualities.
  • * Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann – Another complicated family drama, Olympus, Texas, is Swann’s debut novel. I enjoyed this one a lot, but I also think I would have liked it more had I not read it on vacation. I was pretty distracted and never really had the chance to sink into the story as much as I would have liked. Also, there’s a pretty large plot twist that just didn’t work for me which ultimately kept this from being a 5-star read for me (though I really do believe this will be a hot book this summer)!

For Fans of Nonfiction:

  • This Is Your Brain on Food: An Indespensable Guide to the Surprising Foods That Fight Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and More by Uma Naidoo – I do not struggle with any of the issues mentioned in the title; nonetheless, there were a lot of takeaways for me after reading this. I will be referring to it over the next few months as I try to commit to memory the benefits of certain foods. I’m not a nutritionist by any means, but I have noticed as I get older that foods affect me differently and it’s quickly becoming a topic I’m interested in more and more.
  • Pure America: Eugenics and the Making of Modern Virginia by Elizabeth Catte – After reading Mexican Gothic, I was intrigued with the history of eugenics. I saw this book come across my NetGalley home page and requested. It was an incredibly interesting and eye-opening experience…I learned a lot. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was more about sterilization than eugenics and I really would have liked to learn more about eugenics. Regardless, Virginia has an extremely racist past (as I’m sure all the states do), and I was introduced to a whole new set of issues to dive into!
  • Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West by Lauren Redniss – Another book that taught me a lot this month was the fight for Oak Flat, a sacred mesa located in Arizona that belongs to the Apache. There are a lot of resources on this piece of land, and as soon as the government found out about it, they tried to confiscate the land from the Indians. But the Indians are fighting for the land – not only because it’s theirs but also because it’s sacred to them. In addition to the battle over the ground, there is some beautiful information regarding the Apache culture and beliefs. I really loved this book and all that I learned from reading it!

For Those Who Are Looking For a Unique Reading Experience:

  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke – Truly one of the most unique books I’ve ever read, I was lost for a large part of the book. But then it began to unfold incrementally and it was a crazy good experience. There isn’t much to say about this book without reading it. It’s best to go in blind and just commit yourself to the experience. While it won’t be among my all-time favorite books, it will be one of the coolest books I’ve ever read!

For Fans of Memoir:

  • Widowish by Melissa Gould – My eyes and head hurt so bad after I finished this one. It was so beautifully written and something about the way Gould wrote about losing her husband felt so personal. I wasn’t so much crying for her – I felt like I was crying because it was my story. I’m glad it isn’t, but I really appreciated Gould’s story.

Great on Audiobook:

  • One Two Three by Laurie Frankel – I LOVED Frankel’s previous book, This Is How It Always Is, so I was curious if she could catpure me once again…and, she did! This book is about the Mitchell triplets who live in a tiny town called Bourne. Years ago, Bourne’s water turned green and it caught the nation’s attention: what is going on with Bourne’s water supply? How will this contaminated water affect Bourne’s citizens? As Frankel explores themes of justice, evironmental terrorism, and unburying the secrets of the past, I was totally invested. Many times, environmental concerns are put on the back burner in the name of capitalism, but Frankel really brings to light the repercussions of those inhumane decisions. The audiobook version of this book is wonderful!
(Debuts denoted by *)

Unread Shelf Update:

I added 17 books to my shelves last month, so as of the end of April, the total number of physical books on my shelves is: 259.

If you’d like to participate in the Unread Shelf Project, head over to Whitney’s blog for more information!

April Posts:

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