May 092020

Oh boy, it’s part three of my April book round-up, on May 9th!

16. The Woman in the Window – A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window

Um. This book wasn’t that great but soooo many people are so stoked for it, and now there’s going to be a movie, and I’m sorry but IT IS SO CLICHE AND DONE-TO-DEATH. The twist was 100% not shocking to me at all, I didn’t care about any of the characters, and the climax was just dumb. I gave it a three though because the writing itself wasn’t too shitty but I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. Maybe like, a teenager who is just getting into adult thrillers.

17. Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng

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Nothing to do with the book itself, but I had no idea that Celeste Ng is from Pittsburgh, so that made me feel extra-connected to this book even though it was set in Ohio. It mostly takes place in the 1970s—and that’s tied with the 80s as my favorite era for novels—with some throwbacks to the 50s and 60s.

This is about a family really going through it after one of the three kids disappears and turns up dead. Both parents and remaining two siblings process their grief in very different ways, while trying to understand what happened to the daughter. Was she murdered? Did she kill herself? Was it an accident?

I was really attached to this family and I cried lots. I’m probably the only person left who hasn’t read Celeste Ng’s latest book, Little Fires Everywhere, but I promise that will happen soon. THIS is a book I would recommend.

18. Truly Devious – Maureen Johnson 

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Another Pittsburgh connection! The main character of this book is from Pittsburgh and I think this is the book where there is a reference to one of the characters pounding on the 57 on a bottle of Heinz ketchup (if it wasn’t this book, then it was Daisy Jones and The Six, because there are characters from that book that are from Pittsburgh too!) and I literally laughed out loud because that’s such a “how you know you’re from Pittsburgh” thing.

I remember when I worked at that shitty meat place, my boss came back from a cruise and the story he was most excited to tell all of us was how he taught a bunch of people that ketchup technique at dinner one time.

Anyway, this book! It’s a YA mystery about a girl who gets accepted into this eccentric art school where a kidnapping and murder happened in the 30s. The girl is super into crime and mysteries which is the main reason why she wanted to go to this school, and while she’s there, ANOTHER MURDER HAPPENS, DUN DUN DUNNNN.

Look, I loved the atmosphere of this book and the characters. It was a page-turner for me and of course it ended on cliffhanger because it’s part of a trilogy so now I have to wait for Asian Read-a-thon to end so I can grab the second book.

19. City of Ghosts – Victoria Schwab

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I, um, started reading this accidentally because I confused Victoria Schwab with her alias VE Schwab, and apparently Victoria is the name she uses to write her middle grade books. So yeah I read a middle grade book about a girl who died for a second but was brought back to life by a ghost so now she can enter a veil to the OTHER SIDE and the dead boy that saved her is like her sidekick that only she can see and it has such an adorable Casper feel to it, but I just can’t justify reading the rest of the series because I might like young shit but this was just too young. I think I would have LOVED it when I was in 5th grade though!

20. Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz


The only reason I picked this up was because I saw that Lin Manuel Miranda narrates the audiobook and wow, I’m really glad that I did. Set in the late 80s, it’s about two Mexican American high school boys who form an unlikely friendship. I was just bracing myself through the entire thing, waiting for the other shoe to fall, like surely there is going to be some devastating episode, and of course there was but no dogs died or anything at least.

My only issue with it was that it’s a coming of age/coming out novel set in 1988 and there is no mention of AIDs. Like, none.

21. Six Stories – Matt Wesolowski

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I came so close to DNFing this because the writing is pretty rough, but I am so glad I kept going. It’s about a teenage boy who was murdered during a camping trip with friends in the late 90s and now, present day, there is a podcast that is dissecting the cold case, interviewing the friends, parents, suspects. Because each “episode” features a different person of interest, it can get quite repetitive but I still found it compelling and couldn’t wait to finish it.

I ended up really enjoying it, and I will admit that there were numerous times when I had actual chills while reading it.

22. Daisy Jones & the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid

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This book is soooo over-hyped, I’m sorry. I gave it 3 stars for the story, but the audio book bumps it up to a 4 because it’s a full cast with Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, and Judy Greer (the character she voiced was my favorite) and it really made it feel like I was watching VH1 Behind the Music. It’s written interview-style, present-day, with the members of the band and people in their orbit talking about the rise and fall of Daisy Jones and the Six, so you get to see various situations from multiple perspectives which made me laugh several times because they don’t know what the others have already said so there’d be things like:

Pete: I remember I was wearing this orange suit. I looked so good.

Karen: Pete was wearing this ugly orange outfit. He looked hideous.

But honestly this could have been any band in the 70s. Drugs, drama, egos, secret band affairs. There was an unexpected “twist” thrown in there which I didn’t see coming and I thought it was well-done. But Daisy Jones and the other main character were so unlikeable and I was certainly not rooting for either of them.

The whole thing had big Fleetwood Mac vibes. If you’re into fictional band stuff, you would probably like this but I would only recommend reading it in tandem with the audio book! The audio book is PHENOMENAL.

23. Slay – Brittney Morris 


I don’t know what made me request this on Libby, some Booktuber’s recommendation, I guess. It really isn’t relevant to my interests at all because the plot centers around a game created by a high school senior but she goes through painstaking strides to keep her identity as the creator secret. As one of only three black students at her high school, she created this game as a safe haven for other black people, for a place where they can go and comfortably play without worrying about racism or discrimination. The game is really cool because it involves these battle cards, each of which are specific to black culture, history, sports, music, etc; for example, the Jordan card makes you outjump your opponent. One of the cards was about FUFU which is how this happened!

Meanwhile at school, our protagonist frequently finds herself in the middle of the race debates and it’s exhausting and she has to try and explain to her white friends that she is not the voice of all black people, so asking her, “Will it be offensive if I get dreadlocks?” really puts her in a tight spot.

I think the message conveyed in this book IS SO IMPORTANT and all white teens should be required to read it, honestly. I was very invested.

24. Red at the Bone – Jacqueline Woodson


I started reading this on a whim after watching a video spotlighting the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist. I didn’t know anything about it to be honest, sometimes I just compulsively add books to my “want to read” on Goodreads, all willy-nilly, and every so often, I find a diamond in the rought. This was one of those diamonds.

It starts out with a girl’s 16th birthday, and from there, the book is told in vignettes, from the POV of various family members of the 16-year-old, exploring race, class, sex, teenage pregnancy, death. There’s a lot of power packed into this small novel, and I cried heavily. I can’t even really summarize it here without starting to get all choked up again.

If you’re looking for beautiful literary fiction, this is it. I’m obsessed.

25. Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel 

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Oh shit, this cult-like family thriller is just flat out nasty. I could feel my visage setting in “stank-face” mode numerous times as I made my way through this one, and all of the characters are just straight-up despicable, but hoo-boy I couldn’t put it down. I recommend if you love digging through dirty laundry.

26. Girl Made of Stars – Ashley Herring Blake

This is one of the last actual library books I had left on my TBR shelf wheelchair. (Now I only have one left, but I keep putting it off because it will be last actual book to hold in my hands until the library reopens!!) I left this one for next-to-last because I wasn’t in the mood to cry and I knew going in that this would definitely trigger the tear ducts because I have seen it recommended in so many of my favorite Booktubers’ videos. It’s about these high school twins and the moral conflict that the sister twin goes through when her brother is accused of raping his girlfriend, who is also one of her best friends.

DANG. This book took me on an emotional ride, and it was not of the peaceful Sunday drive variety, either. Definitely a heavy-hitting YA that made me think of all kinds of uncomfortable hypotheticals.

I felt like it was almost perfect but there was something about the main character that made her unlikeable to me. Like, all of this shitty RAPE stuff was happening and she somehow kept making it about herself and I wanted to slap her.


OK, let’s bury the April books now. 26 was an insane amount of books to read and I promise once lockdown is lifted, I’ll probably be back to 10-books per month. I mean, as of this writing, I’ve read 77 books this year. 7-fucking-7. That’s ridiculous. Now I gotta get back to my #Asianreadathon, which is going swimmingly! One week in and I’ve already read one book that was so good, I had already known in my heart that I was going to give it 5 stars after the first 50 pages. May is going to be a good book month!

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