Does anyone else feel like April flew by? I expected to be reading more than usual, but between slow audiobooks and how quickly the month passed, I just barely managed to squeak out ten books!
Okay, so maybe that’s still something to be proud of, but if it hadn’t been for audiobooks that were over 24 hours (at 1.5x speed), I think I may have enjoyed even more. That being said, I was still so excited with how many 5-star stories I got to enjoy this month! It was a great combination of fantasy, young adult contemporary, romantic comedy, and science fiction.
I got to finish a new favorite series (I mean, serious favorite now – I already want to read the trilogy again), and started a few as well. Thank goodness for the library’s curbside pick-up option, because I’m practically spending every free moment reading – or at least listening to a good book.
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The 10 Books I Read in April
Archenemies by marissa meyer
The Renegades Trilogy continues, in this fiercely awaited second installment after the New York Times-bestselling Renegades by Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles. Time is running out. Together, they can save the world. But they each other’s worst nightmare. In Renegades, Nova and Adrian (aka Insomnia and Sketch) fought the battle of their lives against the Anarchist known as the Detonator. It was a short-lived victory. The Anarchists still have a secret weapon, one that Nova believes will protect her. The Renegades also have a strategy for overpowering the Anarchists, but both Nova and Adrian understand that it could mean the end of Gatlon City – and the world – as they know it.
Sequels are known for not being as good as their predecessors – but this book broke the mould. Follow Adrian and Nova as they change all the rules when it comes to “enemies-to-lovers”. This is not usually my ideal trope, but it works in the case. They’re enemies AND lovers – still unaware of each other’s prodigy identities. This book left me with so many unanswered questions – but that doesn’t anger me since this is a trilogy and hopefully those answers will come in the third installment. This entire world is unique and vibrant and intriguing. I haven’t been this involved in a series in AGES. Now for book 3.
supernova by marissa meyer
All’s fair in love and anarchy… The epic conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s thrilling Renegades Trilogy finds Nova and Adrian fighting to keep their identities secret. While the battle rages on between their alter egos and their allies, there is a darker threat shrouding Gatlon City. The Renegades’ worst enemy is back among them, threatening to reclaim Gatlon City. Nova and Adrian must brave lies and betrayal to protect those they love. Their greatest fears are about to come to life, and unless they can bridge the divide between heroes and villains, they stand to lose everything. Including each other. Intrigue and action will leave readers on edge until the final, shocking secrets are revealed.
** spoiler alert ** WHAT A FINALE. This completion to the series definitely got more political than the rest – and I found it intriguing. Superhero politics, the definition of villains vs heroes, and what defines a good person – it was more thought-provoking than expected. I appreciated the depth of the characters, and I found myself truly adoring Callum over any other character in the books. His ability to see wonder in the good, bad, and ugly was something so admirable. His death wrecked me to my core. I felt like everything wrapped up nicely (almost too nicely, when it came to Adrian and his dads forgiving Nova so easily). The epilogue told from Magpie’s perspective gave me hope for future stories in this world of prodigies. I hope to the heavens Meyer decides to write more (even if just novellas or short stories from Max, Magpie, or Leroy’s point of view) because this trilogy was truly phenomenal. I don’t even know what to do with my life now that I’ve completed the series! Talk about amazing!
waiting for tom hanks by kerry winfrey
Can a romcom-obssessed romantic finally experience the meet-cute she always dreamed of or will reality never compare to fiction, in this charming debut adult novel from Kerry Winfrey. Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron. She spends her days writing screenplays, rewatching Sleepless in Seattle, and waiting for her movie-perfect meet-cute. If she could just find her own Tom Hanks—a man who’s sweet, sensitive, and possibly owns a houseboat—her problems would disappear and her life would be perfect. But Tom Hanks is nowhere in sight. When a movie starts filming in her neighborhood and Annie gets a job on set, it seems like a sign. Then Annie meets the lead actor, Drew Danforth, a cocky prankster who couldn’t be less like Tom Hanks if he tried. Their meet-cute is more of a meet-fail, but soon Annie finds herself sharing some classic rom-com moments with Drew. Her Tom Hanks can’t be an actor who’s leaving town in a matter of days…can he?
If you’re going to write a book and reference my favorite rom com of all time (While You Were Sleeping) in nearly every chapter, you’re going to get 5 stars from me. Okay, but in all realness, this story was adorable. A true romantic comedy in every form of the term. It was lighthearted and adorable, from the meet-cute to the grand finale. I can’t resist a classic rom com, and Annie’s – dare I say, “obsession” – with them was endearing. The way it connected her to her mother was so sweet. I also loved her friendship with Chloe, and the way they communicated. It reminded me of the close friends in my own life. The whole thing, while maybe not relatable in a practical sense, was engaging and upbeat. I look forward to reading Chloe’s story next!
between burning worlds by jessica brody & joanne rendell
A thief. An officer. A guardian. All from different backgrounds, but sharing one same destiny… The planet Laterre is in turmoil. A new militant revolutionary group has emerged calling themselves “The Red Scar” and claiming responsibility for a spate of recent bombings. The infamous rebels known as the Vangarde believe that in order to bring about a peaceful revolution, their charismatic leader, Citizen Rousseau must be freed from prison right away. Otherwise the bloodshed will only escalate. Soon Marcellus, Chatine, and Alouette all find themselves pulled into battle with extreme consequences. Marcellus is determined to uncover his corrupt grandfather’s plan to seize Laterre—even if that means joining the Vangarde. Aloutte, trying to unearth the truth about her past, becomes a captive of Marcellus’s grandfather, the general. Chatine, who is serving time on Bastille, hopes to escape the brutal and horrifying reality of the prison moon. But the failed attempt to break Citizen Rousseau out of prison launches Aloutte, Chatine, and Marecellus into the middle of a dangerous war for control of Laterre. And in the midst of it all is the legend of a secret and dangerous weapon that could mean complete and absolute power to any that wields it.
** spoiler alert ** I very rarely give low ratings to books. I try to give them a hearty chance. However, this is the second installment in the System Divine, it was 6 hours longer than the first book (in audiobook form, on 1.5 narration speed), and it STILL didn’t actually finish the story? Are you kidding me? I believed the first title to be long, monotonous, and slow-paced, but this was even worse! I was hoping for redemption, so I listened to the entire book, over 24 hours of story, got to the final sentence, and quite literally screamed, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” Needless to say, I will not be reading #3… whenever it comes out. And I rarely DNF series. I just can’t believe how this is being stretched out into eternity. Not worth it.
The wicked king by holly black
You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring. The first lesson is to make yourself strong. After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished. When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.
If I could pick just one fantasy world to read about for the rest of forever, I would choose Faerie. I’ve found it fascinating for years, and I’ve read countless books that include fae in some way, shape, or form. When I chose to read The Cruel Prince, I was ridiculously disappointed that it didn’t feel new. I was immediately bored, found the enemies-to-lovers trope to be redundant, and upon completion, I didn’t even want to continue the series. HOWEVER, The Wicked King surprised me – in a good way! It was far more entertaining from the moment it began, and by the end, I was enthralled. I absolutely loved the deceit, the sexual tension, and the scheming. Now I’m greatly looking forward to reading the next installment in the series. I can’t wait to see what happens to Jude next!
Mist, metal, and ash by gwendolyn clare
Worlds collide in this thrilling sequel to the epic, imaginative, acclaimed fantasy Ink, Iron, and Glass. In an alternate 19th-century Italy, Elsa has an incredible gift: she can craft new worlds with precise lines of script written in books. But political extremists have stolen the most dangerous book ever scribed―one that can rewrite the Earth itself. Now Elsa must track down the friend who betrayed her and recover the book before its destructive power is unleashed. Can she handle the secrets she’ll uncover along the way―including the ones hiding in her own heart?
My biggest question: will there be another book to answer all the questions and wrap up the story? If there are plans for a third, then I can definitely give high praise to this sequel. I had a really challenging time connecting to the characters or even following the plot while reading II&G – but this one grabbed my attention from the very beginning and I even felt emotional during the high-drama moments. I just have so many questions that still need answering. Even if these exact stories don’t continue – pleeeease, pretty please, with cherries on top let there be a spin-off or something that follows up and brings some closure.
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life. Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines. Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?
** spoiler alert ** Alright friends, let’s get into this, shall we? I’m going to include spoilers, because I had some intense feels throughout this book, and I feel like I can’t articulate them properly without name-dropping and the like. Pros about this story: I liked the more accurate portrayal of the family dynamics. I was told this would be similar to Crazy Rich Asians, but now I can deduce that whoever told me that was just lumping Asian stereotypes together. This book did NOT remind me of CRA. It was entertaining, with humor and drama. I also appreciated the character development. I expected Sophie to stay shallow and boy-crazy, with a penchant for getting in trouble. And I expected Xavier to be a creepy player through-and-through. I was appreciative of their glow-ups and the ending tale with Jenna. Cons about this story: It was PREDICTABLE. To the max. From the partying gone wrong, to the love triangle, to Sophie backstabbing Ever with the leaked nudes, to the fight between Xavier and Rick. I wanted to really love the book as a whole, but instead, I found myself cringing through most chapters. All-in-all, Loveboat, Taipei was an entertaining book. And I think I would enjoy reading other books by Wen. Maybe I just felt a little too old for all the unnecessary drama? But it was a quick read, and I don’t regret taking time for it.
all the stars and teeth by adalyn grace
Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice. She will reign. As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic. When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic. But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever. I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom.
Ooooh if you plan on reading this, you’re in for a GREAT tale! The beginning starts our relatively gruesome. I wondered if the entire book would be filled with gore and grit. Don’t get me wrong – it has plenty – but it doesn’t thrive off of it. I found this appealing. There is MAGIC. The good, the bad, the REALLY bad, and the downright disgusting. There are MERMAIDS, PIRATES, and knives that tell stories (read it, and you’ll understand what I mean). I found Grace’s writing to be alluring and mesmerizing. It had me hooked from the moment I began reading – and lemme tell ya, the narrator for the audiobook is definitely not appealing.** There’s romance. Not too much, and not too little. Just enough to quench my thirst for a good old fashioned forbidden kiss or two (and a mermaid’s siren song). I can’t WAIT for book #2. So many exciting adventures to come! **(Can someone please ask women to stop trying to make male voices and men to stop making female voices? It just comes off CREEPY).
josh and hazel’s guide to not dating by christina lauren
Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun. Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air. Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?
As usual, when it comes to rom-coms, I read this book really quickly. It’s light, fluffy, and totally mindless – which is great, if you’re into that kind of thing. However, I think I’ve realized that I’m … not? If I’m going to read a romantic comedy, I want it to have something unique or at least *something* meaningful in it? Maybe it’s just Lauren’s writing style that falls flat for me, but I very quickly tired of the age-old “we’ll never date each other – oh oops we just had sex” trope. I will say that it did have some good laughs throughout, so I’m glad for that. If it hadn’t at least made me giggle a few times, I think I would’ve given it less stars. It was pretty predictable, and if you don’t enjoy excessive, crude sex sequences, then maybe this will be your kinda story. Sadly, it wasn’t mine.
wicked fox by kat cho
A fresh and addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul. Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt. But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process. Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway. With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.
Talk about a unique story! I’ve never read anything quite like this tale (pun-intended, and you’ll get that joke if you read the book). It was filled with Korean mythology and lore, which was so different from what I’m used to, and I’m totally into it. It’s a bit gruesome, as far as what a Gumiho actually does to survive. The depth of Yena and how her childhood and pregnancy shaped her was tragic, bitter, and so intriguing. I was very much a fan of Jihoon, and how he handled Miyoung’s secrets. Their relationship was sweet, with a touch of vengeance, and it captured my attention instantly. I’m greatly looking forward to finding out what happens in the next installment!