What I Read in April 2020

Tea Book Repeat_April 2020 Reading Wrap Up

April was a great reading month for me! I read twelve books total, including the conclusion to a new favorite young adult fantasy series. With no further ado, let’s get into what I read in April 2020.

The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White

The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ll be honest, I had been reading The Elements of Style for a while now. I started last year and was doing really well reading a section a day to begin my workday. My main job activity is writing (and I just like writing), so I picked up this quintessential style book to improve. It feels a bit odd to rate this book. However, if I just rate it based on its usefulness to me, I’ll say four stars. Overall, this book gave great advice, and I can see myself referencing it in the future when I’m stuck or can’t figure out what’s wrong with a sentence. I did find a bit of the advice outdated, particularly regarding gendered language; however, overall, I learned a lot and will continue to use this as a writing resource. Also, the illustrations in this new edition are fantastic – five out of five if I was just talking illustrations.

Elements of Style is a quintessential grammar and style book for any writer who wants to improve their craft, from the basic foundation of language to formatting a manuscript.

“Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.”

The Elements of Style

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Raven Cycle series came into my life at the perfect moment. If you’re reading this in the far future, know that we are currently in the midst of a global pandemic of COVID-19. Times are hard, and it’s mentally taxing just to move through some days. Choosing to read these books, starting with The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves last month, was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’d put this series off because I didn’t love Stiefvater’s Shiver series – it was good, just a little forgettable for me. However, The Raven Cycle is magical and wonderful. In particular, Blue Lily, Lily Blue really upped the ante in this world. Some really tragic things happened and some really lovely things also happened. It was magical.

The Raven Cycle follows Blue Sargent, who has been told her whole life that if she kisses her true love they will die, and a group of boys, who attend the prestigious Aglionby Academy, on their search for Glendower, a many-centuries dead Welsh king.

“Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn’t all-encompassing, that wasn’t blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she’d had this kind, she didn’t want the other.”

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Take a minute to read the quote I’ve chosen for The Raven King. Did you read it? That’s exactly how I felt about this book. I wanted to know what happened, and I desperately did not want to leave this world. Good news is, I have since ordered Call Down the Hawk, the first book in a trilogy about Ronan set in this world. Now, I will say, I’m giving this book five stars because I really enjoyed it overall. However, I did feel like the ending was a bit rushed. Not even the entire ending, really just the actual last chapter. That didn’t detract from my enjoyment, but it did make me wish Stiefvater had drawn the final conclusion out just a bit. Now, excuse me, I have to get back to looking up all the Raven Cycle memes…

The Raven Cycle follows Blue Sargent, who has been told her whole life that if she kisses her true love they will die, and a group of boys, who attend the prestigious Aglionby Academy, on their search for Glendower, a many-centuries dead Welsh king.

“He was a book, and he was holding his final pages, and he wanted to get to the end to find out how it went, and he didn’t want it to be over.”

The Raven King

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

As you can see, I’ve taken the plunge into The Shadowhunter Chronicles. If you’ll remember way back to January, I read The Infernal Devices and fell in love – truly – and then read Chain of Gold last month. I figured it’s high time I finish the rest of these books, which means going back to the beginning and reading the first book in The Mortal Instruments series, City of Bone. I didn’t dislike City of Bones. I thought it was a solid introduction to the world, and I actually learned some things that hadn’t been particularly clear about downworlders and shadowhunters in The Infernal Devices. With that said, I still prefer Clare’s later work so far.

The Mortal Instruments follows Clary Fray, a girl who is suddenly thrust into a world of shadowhunters, downworlders and demons after she witnesses a murder and her mother disappears.

“It means ‘Shadowhunters: Looking Better in Black Than the Widows of our Enemies Since 1234’.”

City of Bones

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Starry Eyes surprised me last month. I had picked it up after I watched a video where Kayla from BooksandLala read it. She had described it as an accidental backpacking trip between two friends turned enemies. I didn’t need to know more. I love outdoor stories, and a good enemies to lovers story sounded great to distract me from real life. This book turned out to be so much more. It had family struggles, summer vibes, a very complex relationship between the two main characters, outdoorsy adventures and mountains, astronomy, friend struggles and coming of age themes. It was just great, and I related a lot to Zorie as the main character. I will say that the end wrapped up a little too nice and quick for my taste, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment.

Starry Eyes is the story of Zorie and Lennon, two best friends turned enemies, who are forced together on a camping trip after being separated from their friends in the California wilderness.

“Uncertainty isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it can even be filled with extraordinary potential.”

Starry Eyes

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of
the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe broke my heart and put it back together again. I read this for the Reading Rush Stay at Home Readathon last month. This coming of age story deals with self discovery and learning to love yourself. It had two great families that were refreshing in young adult, where usually parents tend to be absent or under developed. Benjamin Alire Saenz’s writing style was beautiful, sparse and poetic. It broke my heart to read of Aristotle and Dante’s struggles, but I so enjoyed watching them build themselves and each other back up. This is definitely a character story without a true plot, but I love those stories. Sometimes pacing can feel off in character-driven stories, but I didn’t find that to be the case here. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Alire Saenz.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe follows Aristotle and Dante who bond one summer over their similarly philosophical names and swimming lessons.

“Words were different when they lived inside of you.”

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Dispatches from Pluto by Richard Grant

Dispatches from Pluto by Richard Grant

Rating: 4 out of 5.

One of my family members has been recommending I read Dispatches from Pluto for a very long time. I’ve been wanting to read it, I just never picked it up. That finally changed last month, and I’m glad I read this nonfiction. I have lived in East Tennessee my whole life (except five years in Middle Tennessee for school), but I have family from West Tennessee near Memphis. On visits we always visit this Delta Museum that I absolutely love. The Delta is an interesting region with an almost mythic place in American culture. It produced haunting blues and has historically been known as a hot bed for racism. While I enjoyed Grant’s perspective as an outsider, I do hope to read more own voice’s books about the Delta to get a more diverse picture of the culture, people and social issues.

Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta is a nonfiction book following Richard Grant and his girlfriend Mariah who move from New York City to the small Delta town of Pluto, Mississippi.

“Things have come a long way in Mississippi. That’s the usual shorthand. Perhaps nowhere else in America has made more progress in its race relations, but then again, nowhere else had so far to go.”

Dispatches from Pluto

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I read Persuasion as part of a buddy read with some friends on Bookstagram. I’ve decided that 2020 is the year I get caught up on classics, and I’m so glad we chose Persuasion as a buddy read. Of the Austen I’ve read so far, this has to be my favorite. It’s difficult for me to separate the Pride and Prejudice adaptations from the book, but if I do, I can easily say Persuasion was my favorite reading experience. I related a lot to Anne Elliot and thought her romance was one of the more compelling I’ve read in a classic. It’s a true second chance romance that was lovely (and frustrating at times) to read.

Persuasion is the story of Anne Elliot, the forgotten daughter of her family, who was almost content with her fate until Captain Frank Wentworth – a man she once intended to marry – reappears and forces her to reckon with her youthful decisions.

“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope…I have loved none but you.”

Persuasion

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Should I have read a sad book during the current world situation? Probably not. Did I? Yes, yes I did. I don’t necessarily regret picking up Everything I Never Told You, but I do think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read it another time. With that said, I can easily say this is an objectively good book. The writing is exquisite. I did find the pacing to be a bit imbalanced, with a much slower beginning than I would have preferred. However, the writing really makes up for some of my gripes with the plot. I do enjoy family sagas, and this was nothing if not rife with family drama. It was just not what I should have picked up when feeling a little down, which is why I can’t give it a full five stars.

Everything I Never Told You is a family saga following the Chinese American Lee family as they struggle with the deal of daughter and sister Lydia, who is found dead in the lake one summer day.

“The things that go unsaid are often the things that eat at you–whether because you didn’t get to have your say, or because the other person never got to hear you and really wanted to.”

Everything I Never Told You

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by
Christina Lauren

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If I shouldn’t have read a sad book, then you could say I did a total 360 with Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating. Adult romance is really not a genre I’m drawn to, and I still don’t think it will be despite how much I enjoyed this book. But I decided to pick this one up after hearing HaileyinBookland rave about it. This is an instance where I read this book at the perfect time. I needed something light and cute, which is this book in a nutshell. I really like Hazel’s quirkiness and Josh’s more straight-laced approach to life. Now, I did not like the ending of this book. It went in a direction I did not expect and did not particularly enjoy, which is why I’m keeping this at four stars. But, if I just rated my experience and mood during this, five out of five for pulling me out of the depths after Everything I Never Told You.

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating follows quirky and eccentric Hazel and straight laced Josh as they embark on a friendship.. well, as Hazel decides they will be best friends if she can’t date Josh.

“But at the end of the day, being myself is enough. I’m enough.”

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating

Our National Parks by John Muir

Our National Parks by John Muir

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I have been listening to Our National Parks on audiobook for a while. I had already read most of it for an undergraduate course in environmental literature I took. I started this audiobook while I was on walks because it’s just a lovely escape. John Muir is a quintessential writer for anyone interested in wilderness and environmentalism. His description of nature is just wonderful and transportive – you will feel like you’re standing in Yosemite or Sequoia or anywhere else he is describing. If you want more environmental literature suggestions, check out my Earth Day reading recommendations post.

Our National Parks is John Muir’s quintessential plea for conservation of America’s national parks, told through his musings and vivid description of the California wilderness.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”

Our National Parks

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Oh, City of Ashes. I won’t lie. I struggled through this second installment in The Mortal Instruments. The pacing felt off, and I was just so ready to get through these books to get to Clare’s later series. I didn’t hate this book by any measure, but I felt that Clary was particularly insufferable for much of this book, and Jace was just as annoying and broody (but not in a good way). The plot didn’t do anything particularly groundbreaking, which I usually don’t mind from Clare because her characters are so good. But I just don’t feel like these characters are as well-developed as some of her others. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it shows how much she grew as a writer. But it did detract from my reading experience some. With that said, I liked that we got a little more from Alec, Isabelle and Simon. Also, can I really hate any book with Magnus Bane in it?

The Mortal Instruments follows Clary Fray, a girl who is suddenly thrust into a world of shadowhunters, downworlders and demons after she witnesses a murder and her mother disappears.

“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?”

City of Ashes

Well, there you have it folks. These are all the books I read in April 2020. As always, below is a sneak peak of my May 2020 TBR that I’m sure will change. What did you read last month? What was your favorite read? Let me know in the comments!

May 2020 Sneak Peak

  • City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (a reread in preparation for…)
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
  • Foundation by Peter Ackroyd

One thought on “What I Read in April 2020

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: