The last few months (or for the entirety of my time as a blogger) I’ve posted my wrap-ups late. And by late I mean a month and a half late. This April though I’m smack dab in the middle of a particularly behemoth book, and have no chance finishing it in two days. So what would be my excuse for posting this April Wrap-Up circa May 15? Zip, nada, zilch! There’s absolutely no reasoning for my lack of punctuality this time around. So, in the hopes of converting me to responsible book blogger-dom, is a post of what I read this month! All in all I completed five books, of which I rated one 1 star, one 3 star, and three 4 stars. Not bad for a girl usually so brutal in her rankings! I read a pretty wide variety as well, with a classic, a magical realism, a romance, a thriller, and a contemporary all making the jump from my TBR pile to the read shelf. As per usual, if you’re looking for some great book recs this is the place to be!
Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson- 1 star
Ugh…this book though. I downloaded it as my first NetGalley ARC ever (it doesn’t hit book shelves until May 17), and was wildly and utterly disappointed. Actually, huge understatement. Gena/Finn made my writer DNA twitch at all the things I would axe, and edit, and add to the final publication. The premise is a good one, especially as books implementing unique visual mediums fly off the shelves. It follows two young woman, both darlings of the fanfiction scene, as they strike up a friendship via texts, IM’s, art, etc. At first I really appreciated the different writing style. I felt it made the dual narration very distinct, and really developed each girls persoanlity separate from each other. I had a theory of where Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson (the former of which is not a debut author, FYI) would take the stories climax, but really it was an open book, no pun intended. And then the two decided on a twist. A twist so far out of left field it practically wasn’t even in the same book. It totally shook the solid characterization up to that point, and left the story I felt it intended to tell with no time to recover. Then it just ends. No resolution, no real solution. There’s A LOT more I could say, but I’m currently writing a review that will hopefully sum all my feelings up in a rant flavored nutshell.
A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry- 3 stars
Similar to Gena/Finn, A Fierce and Subtle Poison is a ARC that started off strong…and rapidly descended into blahness. It’s magical realism, which you guys know my feelings on, and for that reason it’s hard to say whether my beef with Samantha Mabry’s debut is based on the quality of the story vs. my own lackluster opinions of the genre. First though, what I enjoyed. Mabry describes her native Puerto Rico (the setting of the story) with a special kind of love that really coated the magic fueled narrative in a dusting of wanderlust. I loved every minute of it, and that’s in large part why the first 150 pages were so captivating. Similarly, I felt the deep history imbedded in San Jose made the transition from contemporary to magical realism seamless, and a huge testament to Mabry’s writing prowess. Where the story went wrong for me though was in the final chapters (AFaSP is well under 300 pages), when our protagonist Lucas goes on a totally random goose chase with the semi-antagonist/semi-heroine Isabel. I knew very little about the latter, yet Mabry expected me to invest an interest in her well being, and thusly care when the final blow is landed. Since I couldn’t do either, I was left with a sour taste in my mouth, and a wish for a few extra pages in the middle of this otherwise great novel.
For my full thoughts:A Fierce and Subtle Poison Review
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes- 4 stars
I’ve been meaning to read The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly forever! It’s got crazy high ratings, a captivating premise, and an intriguing cover to boot. And as if that wasn’t enough…Stephanie Oakes still managed to blow me totally away with my bar of expectations set sky high. For those of you not in the know, TSLoMB follows Minnow Bly, an escapee from a religious cult sent to juvenile prison for her role in an assault. Obviously there’s much more to Minnow’s story than meets the eye, and piece by piece she’ll unwind the tale that found her behind bars. The book is a jack of many trades, weaving mystery/thriller together with contemporary, and keeping the best elements of each to tell a tale not soon forgotten. What strikes me most now upon reflection, is how little actually happened in Oakes tapestry. There’s occasional recollections of the past, and meanderings around the prison, but that’s about it. On the contrary, while reading I felt like the plot was moving a mile a minute. I couldn’t put the book down, and was held at rapt attention as I waited for Oakes to unveil the final piece of her puzzle. This is in large part owed to the strength of Minnow’s narrative, that is heartbreaking, hopeful, and always moving. She’s an incredibly fascinating protagonist that is the perfect study to character development. In any case, Oakes is an author not soon to be forgotten.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury- 4 stars
The Chocolate War still reigns supreme as my all time favorite classic, but that isn’t to say I didn’t immensely enjoy Fahrenheit 451. I probably wouldn’t have understood much of it without the help of Spark Notes, but nonetheless, enjoy it I did. I don’t intend on ever writing a review on this one, as my thought have undoubtedly been influenced by its distinction as one of the strongest pieces of 20th century writing, but I did read an interesting review on Goodreads that discusses a topic I’ll now mention here. That is, does Ray Bradbury’s voice on censorship and technology still have a relevant place in 2016? Upon reading, I say yes and no. Yes in that censorship has, is, and will always be a part of society, to varying degrees. No in that 2K innovation has ushered in a host of technology similar to those mentioned in the novel, only to far less dire effects. Modern readers have likely been exposed to products like Apple and the Internet their whole lives, yet they still find it in themselves to be compelled by Bradbury’s story- contrary to the picture the author paints so clearly. Still, would I recommend it? Yes! There’s a lot of fruit for thought in it irregardless of your stance, and will beef up your ‘read’ shelf as an established reader.
First & Then by Emma Mills- 4 stars
My absolute favorite book I read this month comes from Youtube vlogger Emma Mills. The first time author put a spin on a perenial favorite tale, Pride & Prejudice, and infused it with a Friday Night Lights twist that is just as awesome as it sounds. First & Then follows Devon, a hapless high school senior struggling to sort out her life after graduation. This is coupled with the ensuing stress that comes with a major life change, being in the form of her socially clueless adopted brother/cousin, Foster. Always one to fly under the radar, the arrival of Foster shakes up her world, and introduces her to a bigger future beyond Austen regency. What makes F&T truly a standout piece of fiction is the punch Mills packs in every scene. There are certain characters we meet a mere handful of times, yet she was still able to make every ounce of dialogue, every interaction count in the end product. Not to mention Devon, a flawed, heartfelt, heroine that near any reader can relate to as she struggles with the roller coaster of bridging adolescence to adulthood. The result is a story so quietly real, it’s practically breathing the same air as the reader.
So what did you guys read this April? Anything you would recommend to me? Let me know in the comments!
-Keep Calm and Read On