oh hello, friends! i know we are almost finishing up the month of may, but let me tell you about the ten things i read in april really quickly! overall, it was a good reading month, but for sure had a lot of range – i read a new all time forever fave book! but also… was let down by an all time forever fave author, hahaha! 🤍
✨ Daughter of No Worlds (The War of Lost Hearts, #1) by Carissa Broadbent
“Because if I allow myself to be angry, I will never stop.”
i’ll be completely honest with you, i adored the cover of this book, and it kept catching my eye over and over, so i picked it up without knowing anything! i liked the story, but i didn’t love the story, but i do believe the next book in this series will be even better. and i did really love and appreciate that one of the biggest themes of this book is getting your own agency back, no matter what, especially after years of someone forcing you through abuse to be codependent on them.
trigger + content warnings: blood, death, war, genocide, murder, invasion, slavery, kidnapping, abuse, torture, brief mention of animal death, mention of rape in past, self harm to get blood, mentions of suicide, vomit mentions, loss of a loved one in past, child death in past, grief, anxiety, possession / magical compulsion, gaslighting in past, a little bit of a medical/surgery setting, a lot of talk of scars + burns, snakes + insects
✨ To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
“If I ask what I’m asking only of people who agree with me at the outset, with whom I already share a dream and a language, then there’s no point in asking at all.”
becky chambers really is just a once in a lifetime writer, and i truly am always so profoundly touched by everything she writes. in this novella, we follow four astronauts on a space mission to visit and research four exoplanets. and each visit, the crew uses their perfected somaforming to adapt their human bodies to the new uncharted land, instead of adapting the land to their human bodies. and each landing is quite a different research experience. but this book also focuses on the importance of love and relationships – all the different kinds – and the exploration of those relationships while traveling through the galaxies. and it was just wonderful, and i fell so easily in love with this crew (like i always do with becky chambers stories)!
this book will really make you think about the wondrous joy of discovery and all the beautiful things that can come from learning about new things and new ways, but also make you think about the ethical side of things and what is okay for us to discover and learn, and at what cost do we also deem that learning and discovery to be an okay price. there is a constant theme of community and how if we want to build greater things, we need so many individuals that also believe in greater things (and greater hope for better things… one day). also, how things change so vastly from decade to decade, but seeing how things change in a blink of an eye in this book is really haunting and, again, really thought provoking. and as always, her books make you think about how small we are in the grand scheme of the universe, but that doesn’t make us less important, or less beautiful, or less destructive.
lastly, i dont really know how to put this in a more eloquent way – but i read the special edition with a little extra acknowledgement to her mom, and it was lovely and brought an extra tear to my eye. every part of this story is written thoughtfully, hopefully, and so very beautifully. i highly recommend this one for everyone.
trigger + content warnings: blood, talk of cancer briefly, vomit, a little talk of eating/eating habits, talk of war + famine, depression depictions, anxiety depictions, implied loss of loved ones, suicide ideation
“And bad people taste better than good ones.”
ahhhh this is a hard one to rate, because i really loved these characters, especially our mc, kai. and i loved the start so very much, because we are truly given a character sheet and then dropped right into the story of a demon prince, who is able to inhabit different bodies, who is locked in a tomb underneath the water. and he is trying to remember his lost memories so he can figure out who betrayed and assassinated him, and locked him in this watery grave. like, that sounds perfect, true? but as the story went on, i just cared less and less and i really had to make myself pick up this book more times than not. i finished the very last pages just not feeling much, sadly. i just dont know, this book has a lot of good, and i love martha well’s writing and mind, but i just wasn’t invested in this book the way i wish i could have been. maybe it was the time i picked this up? i am not sure, but i wish you happier reading than i had, especially because i do believe there is a lot of good in this one.
trigger + content warnings: death, murder, violence, gore, implied child abuse, blood, loss of a loved one, fear of water (+ talk of that fear a lot), captivity, slavery, self harm to prove immortality (i think this was a cut on the palm or wrist but i didn’t specify in my notes >.< i am sorry), war, battle, very brief mentions of water snakes and spiders, drowning.
✨ The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England by Brandon Sanderson + Steve Argyle
“But in the scope of the history of humankind, you are a god.”
this is a story about a man who wakes up in medieval england with no memory, but a deep feeling of great loss, and a physical handbook to guide in this new adventure. we get to learn about this world that is like ours, but with the technology to travel to multiple dimensions, while also having augments to strengthen your human body. but ultimately, this story made me realize that from this point on, i think i will only read sanderson’s cosmere stories.
this was truly such a disappointment. i get what sanderson was trying to do, and trying to critique, but it is so surface level that it just ends up feeling extra bad and extra hollow (especially when cops and law enforcement are involved throughout). there are constant “jokes” and “funny” star ratings throughout this story as well, and they truly constantly made me feel like i was cringing out of my skin. on top of it all, our main character is so damn unlikeable, and i think he is meant to be, but he extra made this book so insufferable to read for 400 pages.
i am giving this two stars because steve argyle’s art is so beautiful and was truly the shining star of this entire work.
trigger + content warnings: memory loss, battle, death, murder, violence, loss of a loved one in past, grief depiction, depression depiction, pandemic mention, brief mentions of loss of a child, kidnapping, self harm for proof of medical abilities, talk of colonization, gun violence, mention of cheating, suicide ideation
✨ Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield
“It’s hard when you look up and realise that everyone’s moved off and left you in that place by yourself. Like they’ve all gone on and you’re there still, holding on to this person you’re supposed to let go of.”
this is a heartbreakingly beautifully written book that the reader can interpret in many different ways. But this ultimately is a story about how grief can impact us, change us, shape us.
this will not be a book for everyone, and even though there are so many eerie scenes, the sadness and loneliness and helplessness i felt while reading was the scariest horror elements for me. i cried for the entire end of this, and for sure at least half of my tears were because i was purely heavy sad, but i also think it’s because this story is so expertly crafted that half of my tears were the light feeling of feeling seen and felt cathartic to let out.
letting go can be so hard, even when it is the right thing, and especially if you are given no other option but to let go. but this book just amplifies, and continues to echo throughout, that reality so very much, because sometimes you really are forced to give up the entire sum of your heart, and you’ll never be prepared for the timing of it. we as humans just are not equipped to deal with that instant emptiness, no matter how many times we read about it in books.
i saw someone else say this, but this writing truly feels like the ebb and flow of a great body of water. i even noticed myself rocking slightly back and forth while turning these pages, because this is crafted in such a way that it truly does make the reading experience feel like waves (sometimes crashing against my heart over and over again eroding at something). such a hypnotic style and craft, i really can’t believe this is a debut novel.
again, i just know this is not going to be for everyone, maybe not even for the majority of readers, but i think this book could very much connect with certain readers. And if it does, i think you’ll love it wholeheartedly. also, maybe unimportantly, this book cover is truly an all time favorite for me. haunting, beautiful, and memorable just like the story inside.
lastly, this is an interview with them magazine that just really just makes my heart overflow with immeasurable joy, seeing queer writers subvert, empower, and reclaim the horror genre.
trigger + content warnings: grief, depression, death, loss of a loved one, loss of a parent, terminal illness, not great parents, a lot of blood depiction, body horror, talk of eating habits, hypochondria, insect mentions, menstruation mention, needle imagery, vomit, memory loss, nightmares, suicide, confinement that made me feel a little claustrophobic with the descriptions (being trapped in a submarine at the bottom of the ocean for six months
✨ Night of the Living Queers: 13 Tales of Terror Delight edited by Shelly Page + Alex Brown
“The smell of sampaguita fills the air. It’s coming from you, the magic that’s always been you, that you’ve finally given yourself the ability to unlock.”
there is something just extra cool and extra harrowing about all these stories taking place under the same moon on the same halloween night. very galaxy brain of these editors. Leyla Mendoza and the Last House on the Lane was my very personal favorite – it really meant the entire world to me. and Rocky Road with Caramel Drizzle is one i feel so thankful to have been able to read, and i know it will sit inside my heart forever. but here are my thoughts on all the stories in this collection, and i think so many people are gonna have a good time with this one, especially if you read this during spooky season.
♡ full review with induvial content + trigger warnings: here on the blog
✨ Happy Place by Emily Henry
♡ mariam’s amazing spotify playlist
“One more deal I struck with a disinterested universe: If I’m good enough, I’ll be happy. I’ll be loved. I’ll be safe.”
This one is going to be hard to review, but please know I am for sure in the unpopular opinion with this book – so do not let my review deter you! And I did really love a lot of elements of this book! and the set up? 11/10 – a group of college roommates turned best friends, all returning back, summer after summer, to the same cottage where they will spend a magical week away from the realities that are their current lives. This book is told in alternating chapters of present day of the week, to the same day of the week from the past! I thought this was really cool and really added to this book being a fast read!
I loved the discussion on how we always will be nostalgic for the past and view those memories through a lens that romanticizes everything. I always do this while thinking about college, so seeing this group of friends talk about this this (and do this) was something that i just think about (and do) a lot. I also really loved the discussion on how friendships change! Sometimes people do grow apart, for so many reasons… time, location, and just because people change and what they like changes too! But it doesn’t mean that the friendships have to end negatively, or that they ever have to end – they just are different, and even though that can be scary, different is not bad.
Also, not to get too personal, I really did have a lot in common with the main character and wanting nothing more than to make your parents happy and proud. My parents are nothing like the parents in this book! But I still felt a lot while reading how the main character put so much of her worth, and value, into how much she is pleasing the people she loves. I still very much struggle with choosing paths in life completely because of what i want – so it felt impactful reading this additional central them as well!
But if this book was solely about the friendships and all these other elements I connected with, I think this would have been a new favorite book. But sadly, I hated the romances of this. Well, specifically, I really disliked the romantic lead in this. The romance in this is second chance and fake dating, so I had high hopes, but the more I read, the more I just didn’t like this. I also want to say that mental health and not being on medication obviously can impact lives and impacts relationships – and that is a very important discussion in this book, that I am happy was included and discussed! But the present day romance didn’t feel good to me either. And in case you need someone to say this to you: you never need to fight with someone to prove that you love them. Ever. but especially if you are living with childhood trauma that involves constantly seeing people fight.
Okay, I don’t want to say anymore or get into spoilers, this review is all over the place already, but basically everything in this really worked for me, but the romance. Again, I am the unpopular opinion of this upon release in april 2023, but the friendships, and discussion of friendships and how they can change, were really impactful to me and the reason I am giving this book three stars!
trigger + content warnings: anxiety, depression, grief, parent with illness, lots of food mentions, lots of alcohol consumption, drug use, mentions of throwing up, talk of parent divorce, talk of unhappy marriages between parents, mention of loss of loved one in past, claustrophobia, panic attack
✨ Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 2 (Yona of the Dawn, #2) by Mizuho Kusanagi
“No matter how much distance lies between us.”
i really enjoyed this second installment, and learning more about this world and the five tribes. i also really liked a few new characters who were introduced, some i hope we get to see again, and some who i am very confident we will start out the next volume alongside. i love both yona and hak so much already and i feel very thankful to be able to follow them on what i am sure is going to continue to be a long and hard journey. and lastly, some of these art panels actually took my breath away because they were so beautiful and so powerful.
tw/cw: murder, death, grief, blood, serious medical injuries, war, fighting, violence, poisoning, seizure, a few comments on body weight
✨ Pestilence (The Four Horsemen, #1) by Laura Thalassa
“The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, come to claim the earth and lay waste to the mortals that dwelled within it.”
okay this was for sure a ride. I really did like the apocalyptic setting (and the mention of an abandoned las vegas) and just the premise of these four horseman who all went missing, until one random day when one came down and started said apocalypse. But that’s about all i did like. I found the banter and just situations in general to be so uncomfortable, with our main character making questionable decision after questionable decision. But truly, the thing that bothered me the most was the very heartbreaking depictions of children and families slowly dying because of the love interest i am supposed to eventually root for. I truly think this is the first book i’ve ever read that centered around a traveling quest/situation that i really didn’t enjoy.
trigger + content warnings: suicide ideation, a plague setting, death, murder, graphic violence, scenes with fire, blood depictions, abduction, loss of a loved one, animal injury + death, alcohol consumption, ptsd, gun violence, threat of rape, abuse, human trafficking, torture, crucifixion, and many mentions and scenes of children dying that really impacted me as a reader – so please use caution.
✨ A House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher
“Vultures are extremely sensitive to the dead. Particularly when the dead are doing things they shouldn’t be.”
In 2023, i keep picking up books by this author in hopes they will become a new favorite, but they just keep not winning me over the way i had hoped that they would. I did enjoy a few things in this story, like the discussions on body image and fatphobia in all medical spaces, and how our main character studies insects (i keep reading books accidentally about archaeologist careers and it’s starting to get freaky), and i even loved the brief mention of playing civ (the amount of hours i have clocked in on those games could be its own horror story). But ultimately, i just didnt enjoy this one, or the setting, or the characters we were introduced to. I also feel like this story wanted to go places, but never went deep enough talking about anything. And… it was just incredibly boring. The last bit of this book just doubles down with the spooky twists, but those didn’t feel good either. I’ll be honest, I knew within 20% of this book that it wasn’t going to be for me, so I hope I can just learn to be better with dnfing again. I am very much not the popular opinion of this book upon its release in april 2023, so maybe don’t let my bad feelings deter you!
trigger + content warnings: racism, brief mention of kkk, loss of a parent in past, one line/question sentence/question about cancer, vomit mention (animal), lots of talk + descriptions of insects and arachnids, child abuse in past, anxiety, nightmares + sleep paralysis, a lot of talk of fatphobia + fatphobia within medical spaces + fatphobia towards a child in past, brief mention of heart attack in past, body horror, blood depiction, child death/abuse in past, cannibalism, anti amish sentiment.
it does make me giggle that i read another ten books for the fourth month in a row. but sadly, i will not be keeping this up for next month’s wrap up! not to get too personal, but basically last winter, i saw that someone i had been mutuals with for years was plagiarizing big portions of my reviews and… my entire blog – my about me, contact info, star ratings, very personal things, everything. it really bothered me to say the least, but i just blocked them on everything and hoped it would go away. but at the end of april i found out they were doing it again because of that anthology arc. and then friends linked me many of their 2023 reviews in which they are still copy pasting and switching up a few words every so often. i think it really impacted (still is impacting) me and my reading, but hopefully (if they are reading this) they will just stop once and for all. whewww, but anyways… even though i read less books in may, hope i have a happier wrap up for you in a week or so! i hope you’re all taking care of yourselves, in all the ways.