So it’s June and I’m finally posting my April wrap-up, go me! Haha. To be fair, I had written the whole post out during the first week of May, and it somehow got deleted??? The rest of May was pretty hectic with finals, so I’m just getting to rewrite it now.
The good news is that I managed to finish books for all 12 of the OWLs prompts!!! In all honesty, I really didn’t think that was going to be possible. I read all the time (when schoolwork doesn’t get in the way), but I’m a pretty slow reader, so I think the highest number of books I’ve read in a month was 8. I read that some people were trying to finish all 12 prompts to keep their career options open (if you haven’t heard of the OWLs readathon, you can find more info about it here), and I thought this was a great idea so I wanted to give it a shot. I really pushed myself and somehow managed to read 12 books! (To be fair, a lot of them are graphic novels which are obviously quicker reads). Here are short reviews of the books I read in April:
Ancient Runes – Retelling
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett ★★★★½
I officially think that Jenn Bennett is my favorite YA contemporary romance author. I loved almost everything about this book. First, I thought the relationship between Bailey and Porter was adorable. Individually, I thought they were well-developed and had interesting back stories. I liked the fact that they were able to understand each other on a deeper level because of their past traumas. Second, I thought the plot was really exciting. It felt well-paced and kept my attention the entire time. I also enjoyed the setting. All three of the Jenn Bennett books I’ve read took place on the West Coast, and they really transport you there. I felt like I was on the boardwalk in California and I loved it. Really my only problem with this story is a minor complaint I had about the ending. In order to avoid spoilers, I’ll just say that I didn’t think the major conflict/miscommunication in this novel made much sense. Overall, I really enjoyed my time listening to Alex, Approximately and Jenn Bennett has become an “auto-buy” author for me after reading this one.
Arithmancy – Work written by more than one author
Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matthew Wilson, & Jared K. Fletcher ★★½
Take my review with a grain of salt because this book was way more sci-fi than I was expecting and I’m not a huge fan of the genre. My main problem with it was that I thought it was really confusing. In general, I don’t like when stories blur the lines of reality, unless you’re able to determine what is going on somewhat quickly. That definitely wasn’t the case here, it was really hard to tell what was actually happening. I’m sure that if I was to continue on with the series, it would become more clear, but unfortunately I don’t think I’m invested enough in the story to read the next volume. Although this wasn’t for me, I can see how others would enjoy it. The illustrations matched the overall 1980s vibe that the story gave off. Apparently, there were also a lot of 80s references that I missed having been born in the 90s. So, if you like sci-fi or reading stories set in the 80s, it might be worth giving this one a chance.
Astronomy – “Star” in the title
Zodiac Starforce Volume 1: By the Power of Astra by Kevin Panetta ★★★½
This graphic novel was really cute. It’s about a group of kickass girls who fight monsters and try to save the world. It’s feminist and has LGBT characters, which I loved. There’s really nothing that I disliked about it, so I’m giving it a solid rating of 3.5 stars because beyond the elements I mentioned, it just wasn’t anything outstanding. It wasn’t a really unique story and just didn’t blow me away, but I enjoyed it overall.
Care of Magical Creatures – Land animal on the cover
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis ★★★★½
This book is so under-hyped. While I’ve heard of it before, I rarely hear it mentioned in blog posts and on BookTube, and after finishing it, I’m shocked that people don’t rave about it more. There was so much to love about it! The story was thought-provoking and morally gray. The characters were multi-dimensional (bonus: a teen female MC who’s sort of a vigilante!!). The plot kept me on my toes and gave me all the feels, and the ending especially blew me away. I would highly recommend this novel!
Charms – Age-line: read an adult work
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang ★★★★★
Unlike The Female of the Species, I’ve heard a lot about this book. I’m glad to say that it is so worth the hype. The characters were complex and lovable, and I really enjoyed the inclusion of autism representation. The plot was well-paced and I was consistently invested throughout the story. I also really liked the steamy scenes! This is definitely one of my new favorite romance/chick lit novels.
Defense Against the Dark Arts – Reducto: title starts with an “R”
Rumple Buttercup: A Story of Bananas, Belonging, and Being Yourself by Matthew Gray Gubler ★★★★★
I love Matthew Gray Gubler and I’m always excited when he posts illustrations on Twitter, so when I heard about this book I knew I had to read it. It was so cute and heart-warming. The art style was very unique and did not disappoint. Most importantly, I love the message. This story was a sweet reminder to be yourself and embrace your individuality. As it is a children’s book, I’m obviously not the intended audience, but I can appreciate the work that went into it and I think kids will really enjoy it.
Divination – Set in the future
Legend: The Graphic Novel by Marie Lu ★★★★
I really enjoyed Legend when I read it a few years ago, and this graphic novel was a great refresher on the plot. To be fair, it has been a while since I read the original, so it’s hard to say whether too much was left out. One thing I would like to mention was how much I enjoyed the art style; I thought it fit the story well.
Herbology – Plant on the cover
Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge ★★★★★
This is without a doubt my favorite graphic novel. There honestly wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like about it, so I’m just going to highlight a few of my favorite aspects. First, the art style was so unique and absolutely adorable, which fit the story perfectly. Although the story was cute, it also incorporated heavy themes such as grief and loss. I think the discussion of these topics was executed so well in part because of the use of metaphors. An example of these metaphors is that in scenes where Will is feeling particularly haunted by her past, you can see ominous shadows following her. Finally, I loved the realistic characters and full-circle ending. If you’re looking for a cute graphic novel, I’d highly recommend checking this one out.
History of Magic – Published at least 10 years ago
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi ★★★
This is the author’s story of growing up in Iran. I found her experiences to be extremely eye-opening and I was surprised by how little I knew about the Islamic Revolution. Therefore, I’m very glad this graphic novel exists because I think it will spread awareness of the events of the Revolution and educate readers on the author’s culture if it is unfamiliar to them. While I see the great value of Satrapi’s story, I thought the depiction of her experiences could’ve been improved. For example, it was very hard to discern her opinion on certain topics. As a child, she seemed to repeat the opinions of those around her. While I understand that children do this and are impressionable, I wish I had been able to tell how the author felt about the events of her childhood while reflecting upon them as an adult. Furthermore, although this is due entirely to personal taste, I wasn’t a huge fan of the art style. It was so simplistic that at times I felt it didn’t hold my attention fully. Overall, I think the story was very important and I’m so glad it exists, I just wish the plot of the graphic novel had been a bit clearer and that the images were more detailed.
Muggle Studies – Contemporary
Bingo Love by Tee Franklin ★★★★
I really enjoyed this cute graphic novel. The artwork was beautiful and I loved the details that were included in each panel. The representation was fantastic. The story revolves around a queer relationship, there are a ton of characters of color, one of the MCs is plus-sized, there was normalization of talking to a therapist, and more. The only thing I didn’t love about this story was that it felt a little unnatural at points, especially because of the cheesy/forced dialogue.
Potions – Next ingredient: sequel
Prodigy: The Graphic Novel by Marie Lu ★★★★
Although I read the original version of Legend and really enjoyed it, I never went on to the second book, so I can’t say how true the graphic novel was to the original and how well it summarized the plot. I can say that the graphic novel made me want to finally finish the original Legend trilogy.
Transfiguration – Sprayed edges or red cover
Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody ★★★★
I loved Amanda Foody’s debut novel so I had super high hopes for this one. It didn’t end up being my new favorite book, but I still loved it and was far from disappointed. The characters are quirky and complex and the plot was so exciting. One of my favorite parts was the magic system, which was so unique. I will definitely be continuing with this series.
Are any of these books on your TBR? If you’ve read any, what’d you think of them? If you participated in the OWLs readathon, how’d you do?