April Wrap-Up

As usual, I’m going to wrap up my monthly reading by listing the books I finished reading in April, and mentioning briefly how I felt about them. I’ll give extra time to the classics, because I don’t post full reviews of them elsewhere… but I’m happy to talk more about them in the comments if you have any particular questions about them! Otherwise, each of the titles should be linked to its corresponding review if it’s already been posted, and if it hasn’t been, I’ll come back to link it as soon as the remaining reviews from the end of the month are up. And without further ado, here’s what I read in April 2017:

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte5 out of 5 stars. This was my March classic of the month, but I didn’t leave myself enough time at the end of the month to finish it and thus it carried over here. My thoughts: I loved it! This is definitely one of my favorite classics now. Some specifics: the second of the three sections is by far my favorite. The first one is interesting, but I started flying through the book once I hit part two with Mr. Rochester, who is a supremely interesting male lead. The fact that both of the main characters are frequently described as plain or distinctly less than beautiful made me appreciate their interest in each other all the more. I love that Jane holds on to her principles, even though the third part of the book, when she’s holding to them so firmly that happiness seems lost, is my least favorite part of the book. I felt then that the reader was being introduced to a whole new cast of characters that didn’t matter as much so close to the end. Even without any spoilers, I knew Mr. Rochester had to come back into the story at some point for better or for worse, and his absence in section three was really quite frustrating. It seemed like someone had hit pause on the plot. But, in the end, I think the third part shows another side to Jane’s character that makes the ending that much more rewarding. The end pleased me most of all–there was collateral damage, which I like to see (it feels more realistic than a tidy happy ending), but the story was strong enough that when Jane got what she wanted she could be happy with it instead of greedy for more or sulky about what was lost. I also particularly enjoyed the little direct addresses to the reader woven into the text. This is a book that acknowledges its existence as a book, which I found to be pretty cool.
  2. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. 5 out of 5 stars. All IFullSizeRender (8) knew about this one going in was that it revolved around Norse myths and was divided into bite-sized pieces. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. I learned a lot about Norse mythology here, and I had a good time doing it. This book reignited my interest in Gaiman’s stories and writing. I’m looking forward to reading more of his books in the future.
  3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. 4 out of 5 stars. I read this contemporary FullSizeRender (9)YA book because I enjoyed Yoon’s other book, and I knew this one was going to be released as a movie sometime coming up (later this month, maybe?). While I would say that I liked this one better than The Sun is Also a Star (Yoon’s other book), I would also say that I’m oddly less excited about the movie now that I’ve read Everything, Everything. Maybe it’ll surprise me. I had a good reading experience with this one, and I loved the illustrations integrated into the story, but it didn’t strike me as the kind of story I wanted to experience over and over again.
  4. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. 4 out FullSizeRender (10)of 5 stars. Here’s another YA contemporary; this one was far down my TBR, but a friend’s recommendation boosted my interest. Again, I had some mixed thoughts. The overall experience of reading this one was good, and I liked the writing style and the messages the story had to share, but I could barely stand one of the two main characters. I think I want to give another of Nelson’s books a try, because I liked some things about this book as much as I disliked others, but I could use a break from the genre.
  5. The Magician King by Lev Grossman. 5 out of 5 stars. I cannot wait to read the FullSizeRender (11)final book of this trilogy. The setbacks of the first book? Absolutely gone here. I remember the first one taking me a while to read even though I was enjoying the story, but this one took practically no time at all because I was so completely immersed. The story of this one was better, the jumps between characters and chronologies were apt, the plot twists were exciting and heart-breaking and left me with so many guesses about where the series is going next. I will be picking up book three in May for sure, probably within the week. This volume has been one of my favorite books of the year so far, and I will definitely be recommending this trilogy heavily. Be prepared. 😉
  6. Marlena by Julie Buntin. 5 out of 5 stars. FullSizeRender (12)This was my Book of the Month Club pick from March, but I forgot to leave a space for it in my TBR. It was a rather tragic choice to be reading around my birthday, but I loved this beautiful, painful story and I’m so glad I read it, even if I was a month late about it. The only thing that would have tipped this book past a 5-star rating to a 5-star rating plus an addition to my favorite books of the year list would have been a plot as deep and impressive as the emotion running through the book.
  7. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. 4 out of 5 stars. I put this one off in FullSizeRender (13)March because I had a surprisingly disheartening experience with the previous book in publication order, Clockwork Angel. However, after a short recess from Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter world, I jumped back into this one at long last and remembered all the things I appreciate about her world and characters. While I didn’t like this book quite as much as the first three Mortal Instruments books (City of Fallen Angels is book 4 in that series), I did like it better than Clockwork Angel (book one of the Infernal Devices trilogy), and it made me excited to continue on with the Shadowhunter books again. I will be reading the next book in May.
  8. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens). 3 out of 5 stars. This was my classic of the month for April. I liked… parts of it. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I did The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn a couple years ago, and Huck was one of my favorite characters again here. I did like much of the last half of the book, but the first part felt like each chapter was its own separate episode that could more or less have stood alone–that made it hard for me to get into the flow of the story for a long time. I also had some difficulty really envisioning the children in the story because something seemed odd to me about their ages. I think Tom is supposed to be 11 or 12, which is the age of my brother, and yet he never quite seemed to do what I expected for his age. I had difficulty matching his clear intelligence in his adventures with the fact that he could not do well in school. For someone so very inventive, he also made obvious mistakes–like neglecting to mark his path while exploring the cave, even after he started out doing so. But I did appreciate the glimpse into bygone days, and the atmosphere of the tale fit right in with what I remember of visiting Mark Twain’s childhood home several years ago. I’m glad to have finally read both Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer now. Plus, this one really put me in the mood for To Kill a Mockingbird, which is my classic for May.
  9. The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda. 4 out FullSizeRender (14)of 5 stars. I picked up this one as soon as it was published because I found Megan Miranda’s other adult thriller, All the Missing Girls, so intriguing. Although I still prefer that first book to The Perfect Stranger, and was disappointed that the two didn’t have more in common, this one hooked me and I had to stay up  late into the night with a pressing need to find out how it would turn out. It interested me enough that I would read another Megan Miranda thriller if there’s ever another one in the works.
  10. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo. 5 out of 5 stars. After Siege and Storm (book FullSizeRender (18)two of the Grisha trilogy) disappointed me a bit, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one (book three). Luckily, although I did predict a couple of the main plot twists here, there were also some great surprises and just enough tragedy at the end to turn my opinion back around. I would still say the first book in this series, Shadow and Bone, was my favorite of the three, but mostly I’m looking forward to reading Leigh Bardugo’s other books that are set in the same world, because I suspect those will be even better.
  11. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. 4 out of 5 stars. FullSizeRender (17)I was especially eager to read this book because naval catastrophes fascinate me. I don’t know if I died in a shipwreck in a previous life or what, but thinking about people who’ve died when a boat sinks in the ocean tears me apart in a way that nothing else does. There’s also something particularly hard-hitting for me about fiction based in reality, so now that I’ve read one historical fiction book I’ll probably have to pick up another. I’ll definitely be reading Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray soon.

And that’s a wrap.

I’m proud of this list. March’s wrap-up left me a little disheartened, but in April I caught up with the books I didn’t finish from March, and I completed the TBR I set for April, and I read an extra book that I had originally planned to add to my May TBR. I’m hoping this is a sign of more good reading days to come, because my May TBR looks intense. All in all, I really liked the books I read this month; there are some high ratings in this list, and even the lower ones weren’t exactly dislikes. I hope that’s a trend, and that my May wrap-up will look a lot like this one.

What did you read in April?

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

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