April is the month I got my reading groove back. Well, sort of. The last two books I read I flew through. Not to jinx anything, but I may be becoming the reader I used to be. Root for me, y’all.
In April, I read three novels (one of which was an ARC) and two graphic novels. I also reviewed all three of those books. I call that a success. But you know what the best part is? I didn’t rate a single book below 4 stars. I think maybe I was right— I did get my reading groove back.
Before I start wrapping up my reading for the month, I want to advise you of one small change. I’m going to be combining my wrap-up post with my monthly Most Anticipated Books post. Why? Because there’s only one book coming out in May that I’m excited for. So I figured why not kill two birds with one stone? Sorry, birds.
Anyway, here are my thoughts on everything I read in April 2020.
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (ARC)
She answered the Emperor's call. She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend. In victory, her world has turned to ash. After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the penumbral Ninth House in Harrow the Ninth, a mind-twisting puzzle box of mystery, murder, magic, and mayhem. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman's shoulders. Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath— but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her. Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor's Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?
My thoughts and feelings for this book are all over the place. I really enjoyed it, but not as much as Gideon the Ninth. The first two thirds of this book could’ve been shorter and the last third longer IMO. I also didn’t feel like Harrow played enough of a role in the climax. But I still really liked this book and am so excited for the conclusion next year!
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise by Gene Luen Yang, Michael Dante DiMartino, and Bryan Konietzko; illustrated by Gurihiru; edited by Dave Marshall
Aang and friends must join together once again as the four nations' tenuous peace is threatened in an impasse between Fire Lord Zuko and Earth King Kuei! As the world heads toward another devastating war, Aang's friendship with Zuko throws him into the middle of the conflict!
I’m so happy I got to dive back into this world and follow these characters some more. For the most part, I enjoyed this arc but it wasn’t perfect. I didn’t really care for the side story about Toph’s students, though it’s very reminiscent of an episode of the show. I’m also just… look, I’m not a Kataang fan. I agree with Sokka— it’s oogie. But overall, I still really enjoyed it and liked the themes it played with.
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search by Gene Luen Yang, Michael Dante DiMartino, and Bryan Konietzko; illustrated by Gurihiru
The biggest mystery of Avatar—the fate of Fire Lord Zuko’s mother—is revealed in this remarkable oversized hardcover collecting parts 1–3 of The Search, from Airbender creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko!
Did I love this arc because it was centered around Zuko and Azula? Yes. But I also found it deliciously devastating and gloriously wonderful. Zuko’s pain, Azula’s pain, and Ursa’s pain were all so visceral. I nearly cried. It’s been a while since I’ve been this impacted by a story.
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski
Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences. Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest. But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted. Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.
I have mixed feelings about this book. The first half to 60% was just okay. I found Nirrim to be almost painfully naive and the story to read more like lower YA than upper/crossover YA (which is surprising because the main characters are 19).
The one thing that kept me reading was the romance. I love Nirrim and Sid’s connection. Their banter and flirtation is delicious. I love how Nirrim is quickly able to get over the fact that she’s into another woman and just desire her.
I also just really love Sid. She’s a rake with a heart of gold. That said, I don’t love her backstory because of how OOC it makes certain characters from the Winner’s trilogy.
But that ending bro— OOF. I really like the direction Rutkoski is taking this story. I’ll be waiting for the sequel with bated breath.
Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer
Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader. And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer's motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don't stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.
This book was incredible. I loved the characters, the writing, the plot, romance, the setting… the everything! If you’re looking for a good crossover YA novel (especially one with a F/F romance), this is the book for you. It’s like The Raven Cycle, but with witches and murder. And that cliffhanger! I absolutely cannot wait for this sorry to continue. Fantastic stuff!
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the 10th annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to out charm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute. The odds are against him. He's been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined - every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute... and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.
I’m tentatively excited for this book. I have faith in Collins, but I’m also not thrilled about yet another story that tries to redeem or get you to root for a villain. Hopefully Collins pulls through for me.
What did you read in April? Have you read any of these books? Let’s discuss in the comments!
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