April: A Month in Books

So this month I have been very bad about posting reviews, but having sat down today and written several, you’ll see them appearing over the next couple weeks. I can’t promise to be any better about staying on top of this just because of who I am as a person. β™₯ I’ve also recently become obsessed with The Mindy Project which has majorly cut into my reading time. This month I strayed pretty far from the reading list I posted at the beginning, but it turned out okay in the end. What I read this month, in order:

  1. Waking Up White by Debby Irving
  2. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  3. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  4. Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh
  5. One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter by Scaathi Koul (BoTM)
  6. The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  7. You Are Mine: A Lenten Study of Isaiah by SheReadsTruth
  8. This Way to the Sugar by Hieu Minh Nguyen
  9. The Crown Ain’t Worth Much by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib
  10. The Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (Classic)
  11. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

I got very sick earlier in the month and had to spend more than a week in bed, which means I read almost exclusively on my tablet (it’s easier to hold lying down). That’s how I plowed through Victoria Aveyard’s first two books in The Red Queen series, as well as Erika Johansen’s first two-thirds of The Queen of the Tearling trilogy. Simply put, you can skip The Red Queen. The only reason I’m going to finish it is because it has its stupid Twilight-like claws in me (a series I am ashamed to admit I read cover to cover). The series is such a blatant rip-off of better young adult fantasy/dystopian books that I’m really mad my compulsive reading habits are making me waste my time on it.

The Queen of the Tearling, however, is awesome. I love it. This is definitely not young adult drivel. Erika Johansen has crafted a complex and difficult heroine with flaws so deep and obvious you’re dubious about cheering for her. Johansen also tackles difficult themes like depression, anxiety, self-harm, and abuse, and does it without being flippant or cliche (unlike Aveyard who treats emotional & physical abuse in an almost erotic manner). I highly recommend this series. I’ll be posting a full review this month when I finish the final book.

Flood of Fire was probably my favorite book this month. It’s the final in the Ibis Trilogy that takes place before and during the First Opium War in the first half of the nineteenth century. This series will go down as one of my all-time favorites as it’s not only insanely well researched, but also pushes the reader to acknowledge the destructive and racist forces of imperial capitalism, a system we still very much live with today. My review of the entire series will be published on May 2nd.

The two books of poetry I read this month, This Way to the Sugar and The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, are both products of the incredible group Button Poetry. Hieu Minh Nguyen’s chapbook deals with excruciating themes from his life as a gay Vietnamese immigrant. Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib’s book, though, is a masterpiece. His poetry is rare and fluid, giving sometimes gentle, sometimes violent pushes and pulls through his manuscript. His writing will stay with me for long after I have misplaced his book.

The only other insight I have to offer from this month’s readings is that The Beauty and the Beast by Barbot de Villeneuve is weird. The first three-quarters of the book read like you’d expect, following the same basic plot as our modern reimaginings with a few very eighteenth century exceptions, but once the beast is rescued from his ghastly form and is again a handsome prince, let’s just say the fairies arrive and about 40 pages of pro-monarchy propaganda ensues. Very interesting if you’re into history, but not so much for other people I imagine.

That’s all for this month! Stay tuned for reviews of several of these books as well as my May list published tomorrow!

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