Another month with very little going on. April was a bit better than March, but it was still a struggle. I’m slowlyyyyyy getting back into the groove of reading, and I am going to hype up the Soulbound series in big ways in the next few weeks because it’s been keeping me afloat.

Mini Book Reviews

Legend
🌈 LGBTQPIA+ characters
🔥 BIPOC authors
🌑 BIPOC characters

Gallant | VE Schwab
(3/31-4/3) ★★★★★

One of the things that I adore about Schwab as an author is that none of their novels are the same. Shades of Magic is a fairly standard young adult high fantasy, but the Villains series is unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and Gallant is out here with the Secret Garden meets Coraline middle grade, but also kind of young adult vibes, and I am here for it. I love how i never quite know what to expect, and how, even if I kind of do, I’m still mostly blown away by the end. I thoroughly enjoyed Gallant, and it was so different from anything else Schwab has written that I know I’m going to be thinking about it for a long while. And that combo of Secret Garden and Coraline? Holy moly! I never would have thought of it, but they blend together so perfectly, and Gallant did it in such an unique and interesting way.

Persuasion | Jane Austen, narrated by Greta Scacchi
(4/6-4/14) ★★★★★

I think I may have found my audiobook niche? I really enjoyed listening to this as an audiobook. Like, way more than I was expecting, and it kind of makes sense to me because, while I love classics, they’re hard for me to focus on, and being able to listen to this while I did other things was exactly the right combo of things that I needed to fully enjoy this. And holy heck did I enjoy this. I might be wrong, but I feel like I’ve seen people say that Persuasion is usually people’s least favorite Austen, and I truly don’t understand. This was such a delight! Anne Elliot might be one of my favorite Austen protagonists–though no one will ever beat Emma–and this slow, winding tale of false starts and yearning was such a joy to read. I need to watch an adaptation of this as soon as possible, and I really hope they do the cautious tension right.

Seafire | Natalie C. Parker
(4/6-4/10) ★★★★

The tagline for this is Wonder Woman meets Mad Max: Fury Road, but at sea, and I really didn’t think anything could possibly deliver on that, but this did. Like, what a combo. What a highly specific combo that makes me want to scream into the abyss with joy, and Parker freaking nailed it. This was incredible. I’m ordering the other two in this trilogy as soon as I finish writing this review, and Parker may have just become an auto-buy for me because y’all, this really is Wonder Woman meets Mad Max: Fury Road, but at sea, and I am shook. This was so good. Obviously, I have to say why I gave it four stars instead of five since I liked it so much, but I really just would have liked it to be longer. It’s just under 400 pages, but a lot happens, and all that action doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for digging into the emotions of the characters in high stakes scenes, and I would have liked more of that. There is a really excellent emotional arc for several different characters, but I still wanted more, so yes, I did want a 500-page book, and no one can stop me. This was so damn good, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy.

A Ferry of Bones & Gold | Hailey Turner 🌈
(4/18-4/21) ★★★★

This was exactly what I needed. I’ve been having a rough go of it with my reading in 2022, and I really wanted a Shadowhunters book to read, but, for the first time in fifteen years, I don’t have any outstanding, and this was honestly the next best thing. It’s like a gayer, much more adult version of Shadowhunters, and it’s fantastic. It’s got the same every mythical creature in the whole world is present vibe, but with the addition of every single pantheon of gods, and the fact that Persephone is a legitimate character in this just had me hollering at the end. This very much reads like an AO3 fanfiction that is a fandom favorite, and it was just perfect. Chaotic and fun and overflowing with sexual tension and insane magic plot lines, and I’m just so here for all of it. I immediately ordered the other six books in the series, and I can’t wait to binge them all.

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings | Various
(4/11-5/1) 🔥🌑 ★★★★

I want to start reviewing short story collections based on the individual stories rather than as a whole because, while they’re collections for a reason, the real magic is in the stories themselves. Thus, here is a sentence about each short story!

  • Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi | I’m a big fan of Chokshi’s writing style, so this was a win for me right away, and the way it was told in fairytale vignettes was perfect.
  • Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong | I’d read an entire book just on this story alone, so Wong is definitely someone I’m going to check out now.
  • Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee | Trust Lee to convince me to enjoy a robot-centered story with a probably predictable ending, but one that I didn’t see coming and that made me enjoy this even more.
  • Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra | I honestly spent most of this short story confused because it felt like we were dropped into it with no explanation at any time, and I wasn’t sure what had happened until I read the author’s note.
  • The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette De Bodard | This was really sweet, and it reminded me a lot of Girls of Paper and Fire, so De Bodard is definitely someone I’ll check out for more books.
  • The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Meyers | Not only was this an unique & interesting take on such an old myth, but it was so damn good!
  • The Smile by Aisha Saeed | I would read a full novel dedicated to this version of this story, and I am now so excited that I have another book by Saeed on my shelf.
  • Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber | I could so picture this as the most chaotic center piece in a ten-episode contemporary series with just wildly too energetic characters that you love despite their mayhem.
  • Nothing into All by Renee Ahdieh | I hate to say it because I love Ahdieh, but there’s nothing overly special about this short story, and it reads like one I’ve read a half dozen times before.
  • Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia | Oh, I did not like this one at all, the characters were awful, the story was pointless, and I nearly skipped it halfway through.
  • Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz | Do I need to say more than VAMPIRES???
  • Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman | This had such a Ruta Sepetys feel to it, and I would 100% read an entire novel of this.
  • Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar | About a page in, I was reminded that Thakrar’s writing is, astonishingly, too purple for me, and while this was good, it was a bit much.
  • The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon | I’m thoroughly enjoying the author’s note at the end of each story because this one would have been so-so without it, but Pon’s idea of retelling this particular story in a way that gave the woman more of a voice makes me love it.
  • Eyes like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa | This reminded me so much of The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natalie Pulley, which of course means that I now need to read more by Kagawa.
  • Carp, Calculus, and the Leap of Faith by Ellen Oh | This was such a sweet ending to this collection, a story within a story, and an echo back to ancestors both near and far.

Spells Trouble | PC Cast & Kristin Cast 🌈
(4/3-4/6) DNF @ 40 pages

The writing style just didn’t vibe with me. It very much read like a first draft of a first book ever written, and it was wayyyy over descriptive. It also had some ageist comments toward the beginning that I didn’t love, particularly in a book with witches, which happened right around the “perky but ample breasts” description, and that was about when I said no thanks.

Mansfield Park | Jane Austen, narrated by Frances Barber
(4/15-4/21) DNF

I’ve seen this pretty consistently across other reviews, of people saying that Fanny just doesn’t live up to her predecessors, and while I don’t want to just fall into the same category as everyone else, that’s where I am. After just reading Persuasion and absolutely loving Anne, and with Emma as my favorite protagonist, Fanny leaves a lot to be desired. But even beyond her, I hate all of the other characters. I really don’t want to spend my time listening to the 1% complain about their first world problems, and that’s what the first three hours of this book were, and I just–I’m not here for it. I’d like to say that I might pick this up another time when I’m struggling less with my reading, but I don’t think this last Austen is it for me, and I’m just going to love the other five instead.

April Statistics

Books read: 4
Pages read: 1,330
TBR: 2/6
Great TBR Challenge: 25/96

Monthly TBR

I am taking the month off from TBRs. I’ve been struggling with reading lately, and I’d like to just leave the month of May free to read the entire Soulbond series with potentially nothing else before the absolute chaos of Pride begins.

Favorite Posts

I need to do some serious catching up on posts because I haven’t since before I left for Portugal, and that was in the middle of March, so.

Writing Updates

Another very short section here because I’ve done absolutely no writing, and I don’t want to talk about it.

What I’ve Been Watching

We’re back! It was weird to watch almost nothing last month, and I’m honestly really excited to be back to my weekly movies with Erin and watching things while I meal prep. My goodness, though, don’t even get me started on how much joy I derived from cooking & baking this month while I caught up on my shows, it was the most wholesome joy ever, and I’m still laughing at myself.

Truly the only thing I wanted to watch when I got back from Portugal was HTTYD and The Little Vampire, so the fact that Erin got me to watch No Man of God is a testament to our friendship. Here I am, wanting animated dragons, and she’s like Ted Bundy?? It was really good, though! I’ve wanted to see it for a while, and Erin had just given me a present that required me to pop out a bunch of wooden pieces to build something, so this was the perfect combo. Elijah Wood was absolutely phenomenal in this, as expected, and while the actor playing Bundy didn’t creep me out nearly as much as Zac Efron, he came pretty close.

I mean, of course I watched How to Train Your Dragon. I’ve been thinking about it since I kayaked to an islet and had a Hiccup & Toothless flying through towers of rock for the first time moment, and I still can’t believe I didn’t watch it that night. I’m bad at watching movies on my own, so I had to kind of trick myself into watching it by putting it on super fast while I was in between things so I didn’t have a choice but to sit down and watch it, and I’m so glad I did. This is truly one of my all-time favorite movies (I saw it five times in theaters when it first released), and I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up rewatching the second one soon.

I finally got Erin to watch something that I wanted to, so we watched The Neverending Story, and it was fantastic. I haven’t seen this movie in years, and it was as ridiculous & amazing as I remembered. The scene cuts were atrocious, Atreyu was still my favorite, and the soundtrack absolutely slaps. There is not a single second that I don’t love in this movie.

Obviously, I watched Heartstopper the moment it released. I gave Erin two options, to either watch it together for our weekly movie night or to watch it separately because there was no chance that I was waiting until May when I head up to Maine to see her to watch it. I forced myself to only watch the first four episodes the first night, too, because I wanted to stretch it out a bit, and I honestly wanted to restart the entire thing the second I finished the last four. It was just perfect. Some of the scenes were carbon copies of the graphic novel, and getting to see Charlie & Nick’s story come to life was more than I could have ever possibly dreamed of, and it was absolutely wonderful.

LIFE

What month was this? April? Well, I landed back in the good ole US of no fucking thanks at the beginning of the month, and it is great to be back on a personal level and not at all on any other level. I am exhausted at existing, though, and I don’t want to talk about Roe v Wade, so all it really boils down to is that if you don’t support equal rights for all, we’ve got nothing to talk about.

April was an otherwise slow month. It’s been very busy at work, which meant that I didn’t have a lot of time for things outside of work, as is hugely evidenced across this post. I taught my normal classes, none of which were out of the ordinary, and I had some crazy busy weekends of helping my brother move, celebrating Jen for her bachelorette, and trying to get organized in my own life so I can prepare to move upstairs to my brother’s old room. I am really excited about that since the market is still awful, and I’m unlikely to be able to afford a place on my own for another year or so, and moving upstairs to a bigger room is a huge win for me. My brother & sister both live with their significant others, and it’s been a thorn in my side for some months now that I’m still living in an eighty square foot room when their bedrooms are just sitting there empty, but that’s hopefully all in the past soon, and I’ll begin moving my things up this weekend or next. Definitely very soon, though, because I’m headed up to Maine for Memorial Day, and I want the girls to have settled in by then.

Much like the rest of this post, I don’t have a whole lot to say here. I’m tired, it wasn’t a great month, and I’m happy to put it behind me.

Posted by:Mary Drover

she/her | yoga teacher | Tibetan Buddhism | part-time witch | full-time author | astronaut in a previous life

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