13th Challenge: April’s Chapter

Reading and CoffeeApril was a month of more work and less reading. I’m already more than halfway done with the reading challenge, which gives me time to slow down and enjoy my time, and the books more. Also, I have finished the easier categories, and am now reaching the categories I’ve put off, e.g. “Read a classic you’ve never read,” or “Read a true crime book.” These require research and thought, none of which I’ve felt like doing much of for this challenge until now.

In addition, I get competitive. From sports, to being the first to laugh at jokes, to hiding in my room watching YouTube, so I can learn different knitting stitches that are more advanced than my friends know, to reading. It can really be more of a curse than anything else. There has been more than one conversation with my sister about who of us is more competitive,

“No, you are.”

“No, you are way more competitive than I am.”

“No way, you’re so competitive it’s ridiculous.”

When we asked our brother, he mocked us for weeks about trying to out-compete each other in a competitive conversation.

The other thing is now that I’m blogging about the books I’m reading, I feel additional pressure to show a diverse range of books. Thank you for making me a more well-rounded person who caves to social pressures of wanting to impress with my reading taste so that you and Amazon.com won’t think I have the reading profile of a 14-year old girl, “Why can’t I just read the Hunger Games again?”

Here are the books I read in April:

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

The other books I’ve read by Neil Gaiman (The Ocean at the end of the Lane, and the Graveyard Book) helped pave the way for me to enjoy reading this book. I loved it from the beginning, although I won’t lie, it started to lose me a little in the last third. It could be because I was reading the version that the author prefers, with less edits, but by the end, I was back on track and enjoyed how the different threads wound back together. The scale and scope of this book are tremendous as old world gods clash in new world America. Would I read it again? No. Would I recommend it? To the right person.

Fellside, by M.R. Carey

Last year I read  The Girl with All the Gifts by the same author. It creepy, a little scary, and mostly it’s awesome. I dislike horror books, and find it odd that it’s classified as one, but at the same time, it’s also classified as a dystopian book and a literary thriller. When I saw his new book, Fellside came out this year, I picked it up to read. As a book, Fellside is completely different. It is dark, violent, and yet it has heart. Reviews are torn about it, but I liked it. There is a confidence that comes with reading a book by a talented author, you can trust the story to take you into places you shouldn’t believe, and then bring you back, perhaps a little different, a little changed, but makes you think about it long after.


As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, by Cary Elwes

If you haven’t read the book, The Princess Bride, stop reading this blog and go do so now. I’m serious. The book is as strong as the movie, which, is amazing. On a whim, I bought the audio version of As You Wish and started listening that night as I cooked dinner. I couldn’t turn it off. Cooking turned into cleaning, turned into doodling on sketch paper, turned into 3am, turned into a struggle to turn it off so I could try and get some semblance of sleep. The stories of the making of one of my favorite movies, including interviews from nearly everyone in the cast make it a special little book. I almost feel guilty for counting it in this challenge. Luckily there was a category for, “Book that Gives you Joy”, and hearing the stories behind the scenes brought me more joy than I had even anticipated. Inconceivable.


The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

The first thing I did when I finished reading this book was wipe the tears from my eyes and call my mom to recommend it to her. The story of two French sisters during WWII, one an obedient wife, the other a rebel. You know one survives to move to America later in life, but you don’t immediately know which. In the past few years, I have read an increased number of novels about WWII, each capturing the horrors and bravery from different angles to create a much larger, layered experience of the war.


When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi

I read this book in small bits of time over a few weeks. I rarely have any interest in medical stories, it is my sister who reads books about people surviving medical traumas like they were the only books written. But this challenge is about me branching out, and a neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and begins writing about his life, his experiences of being on the opposite side of the doctor/patient relationship, and his love of life, of his wife, of words. This book makes me feel shallow for not appreciating it more. While it was a good read, it wasn’t an easy read for me.


Snow Like Ashes, by Sara Raasch

I read this book, I enjoyed this book, and a few weeks later when I went to write this quick synopsis, I had to look up the book to remember what it was about. That is the biggest problem with a lot of the similar YA books, they’re rarely unique enough to be remembered a few weeks later. However, now that my memory has been jogged, I can safely say that I did enjoy this book about the few remaining free people from the Kingdom of Winter, whose country and people were destroyed by the ruler of Spring . The writing was solid, and the story entertaining. So what if I guessed the big reveal of the end in the first few chapters, it says something about the book that that fact didn’t bother me. If you’re curious, yes I’ll be reading the second one. This story also proved a nice break from the depth of the other books I read this month.

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