My monthly wrap-up — April 2021

Hi, friends! April really got away from me — I posted here way less than I like to, which was a bit disappointing on a personal note. But when I looked back at why, I realized it was because April was so full of wonderful things. My family had a big Easter celebration with our first pool day of the season, and then celebrated my niece’s third birthday the following weekend. Two weekends ago I went to Toledo, Ohio, to visit some friends I hadn’t seen in ages (two of them I hadn’t seen in over two years!). And last weekend, my husband and I went to the North Georgia Mountains for a family reunion — last time we saw them was in January 2020, before we hit quarantine. And in the midst of all of that, I still managed to squeeze in 14 books, which is an all-time record for me, and received my second COVID vaccine — as of today, I’m fully inoculated, which is a great feeling. So while I took a break from blogging, I had so many wonderful things to fill my time with πŸ™‚

Here are the books I got to read this month. There were some great ones, good ones, and also my least favorite read of this year (and maybe ever!). In order, I read:

The Babysitter by Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan. Thank you to Atria and Mystery Book Club (courtesy of Jordy’s Book Club and Boston Book Fanatic on IG) for the free finished copy and the chance to participate in MBC. This is a thrilling, slow burn memoir about a woman who discovers later in life that her kind childhood babysitter was one of the most prolific serial killers of the 60s.

Boy Erased by Garrard Conley. I got to read this memoir with one of my book clubs. It tells the heartbreaking story of Conley being outed to his family and his time at a church-sponsored conversion therapy program.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I read this one through the recommendation of one of my closest friends, Lauren, in anticipation of the upcoming Netflix series based on the series! I absolutely loved the book, and — no surprise — think it’s better than the show!

The Last Exiles by Ann Shin. Thank you to NetGalley and Park Row Books for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review. This was a heartbreaking tale of a young couple living in North Korea who become separated and go against all odds to be reunited. It’s a sad tale but still full of a sense of hope that really resonated with me. Full review to come.

Anna K Away by Jenny Lee. Thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for providing a free eARC — as you may know, Anna K was one of my favorite novels of 2020, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. This one sucked me in just as much, and while I thought it lacked some of the charm of the first book, it still was a great read that really explored how teenagers deal with grief and heartbreak.

We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A. E. Osworth. Thank you to Grand Central Pub and Novel Suspects for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review. I posted my full review of this one on its pub day, which you can view here. But this was a hell of a debut that covered misogyny and gender violence in the gaming industry, based on the real-life Gamergate. I highly recommend to those who love suspenseful novels and interesting and unreliable narrators.

The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. This was my first ever comic series that I read! I adore Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, so no surprise I loved the follow up story.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala. This was a fun, easy read that totally flipped how I view the genre “cozy mystery,” bringing with it excellent representation and diversity, while still providing a more lighthearted take on the usual darker or gruesome mysteries/thrillers I tend to go for. I look forward to more in this collection! I’ll be posting a full review soon.

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Books for the free eARC — I love SMG and honestly will read anything she writes. This one felt like I was reading a Jane Austen book, but with an added element of telekinesis and magic. I’ll be writing a full review soon!

The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. After reading the first set, I couldn’t wait too long to read this one! The story was equally as great with gorgeous illustrations.

Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalola. I’m currently working on writing up this review, but it’s so hard because there’s SO many good things to say about it! Usually with a short story collection,, I struggle to connect with at least a few of the stories. All of these were great and stunningly beautiful.

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. Thank you to Celadon (partner) for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review. I have lots of thoughts on this one, but I am truly struggling to organize them into something coherent! I read this book so quickly, but there are some parts that just felt… off for me? Especially compared to his first one. At some point, I hope to get a review up when I can figure out my thoughts more.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. This was my first audiobook I checked out this year! I listened to it on my drive to and from Toledo and was so impressed. It’s definitely a character-focused book and I loved how nuanced each character was while addressing some difficult topics revolving around race, privilege, and more.

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes. And this, sadly, ended my month on a low point. This is by far my least favorite book of the year, and maybe one of my least favorites ever. It just didn’t do it for me. It was for a book club, so it was good to discuss with friends, but this definitely won’t be one I’ll recommend or revisit in the future.

What books did you get to in April? Any standouts or ones that fell flat? Let me know in the comments or on IG!

Incredible stories to celebrate Black History Month

A stack of books, nonfiction and fiction, by Black writers, sitting against a white brick wall.

Happy Black History Month! While I think we as readers have a real responsibility to read stories by diverse voices all year long, I do think cultural celebratory months such as this are a wonderful opportunity to take a step back, reflect, educate ourselves, amplify diverse voices, and most importantly celebrate! To start off this incredible month of recognizing and celebrating Black history, I wanted to share a stack of some of my favorite books by Black writers that I have read or have on my TBR.

For me, I hope that this month is one where I not only reflect on all I’ve learned and where I have room to grow when it comes to being a voice for racial inequality, but also to use my love of reading to joyfully celebrate and highlight Black voices, especially this month!

Photo by Ellie Turns the Page.

So here are some mini synopses of the books featured here that I have read, ranging from romance to fantasy, and memoir to coming of age.

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin — What if cities really did have a soul? This fantasy explores the individuals who make up New York City in a creative, fantastical ode to NYC.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett — This story follows twin sisters whose lives diverge when one embraces her Blackness and one chooses to pass as White.

The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper — Dr. Harper, an ER doc, discusses brokenness, in her own experiences, in the patients she encounters, and within a medical system that isn’t always fair.

Here For It; Or How to Save Your Soul in America: Essays by R. Eric Thomas — A hilarious, laugh-out-loud collection of essays that explores how to move forward and keep going in modern America. Hint: the answer involves hope.

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon — After Samiah and two other girls go viral when it is discovered they have all been cat-fished by the same guy, the three new best friends make a pact to put themselves first. But that promise is put to the test when Samiah meets sexy, thoughtful Daniel Collins at work.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi — A stunning, expansive story that spans several generations beginning with two Ghanian half-sisters unknown to each other, one who marries into the comfortable life of a White man and the other who is sold into slavery.

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans — This collection of short stories explores race and history in the U.S. You can check out my full review of the novella here.

Memorial by Bryan Washington — Benson and Mike’s relationship is at a crossroads when Mike’s mom finds herself staying with Benson while Mike flies to Japan to reconnect with his dying father. This story explores both their relationship with each other and their families.

This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith — Tallie comes across Emmett, who is about to jump off a bridge. After convincing him to come back with her, they discover the power of healing and truth over the course of one short weekend.

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour — A laugh-out-loud funny satire about ambition, race, and identity in the American workforce. You can read my full review here.

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi — This story opens with Vivek’s death. What follows is an exploration of the events that lead up to its crisis and the people involved.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi — Gyasi’s newest novel explores themes of loss, faith, science, and addiction through the voice of Gifty, a PhD student studying the role of addiction on the brain, whose depressed mother has come to stay with her. Both continue to reel from Gifty’s brother’s death, the result of addiction.

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Tatum — Highly researched and informative, this nonfiction book discusses the role psychology plays when it comes to racial, ethnic, and cultural identities.

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi DarΓ© — Told from the perspective of 14-year-old Adunni, this story explores Adunni’s journey to finding her voice on the path to her dream of gaining an education, escaping poverty, and one day helping other girls do so as well. You can check out my full review of the book here.

Books on my to be read list include The Mothers (Brit Bennett), Queenie (Candice Carty-Williams), and Stamped from the Beginning (Ibram X. Kendi).

What books by Black authors do you love? Which ones do you want to check out? Comment below or message me on Instagram!