All of the books I read in April with my personal rating and a brief description!
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
4.5 / 5 Stars
Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte's war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.
Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth -- and the part he played in it.
As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.
Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang
4.7 / 5 Stars
Our narrator produces a sound from the piano no one else at the Conservatory can. She employs a technique she learned from her parents--also talented musicians--who fled China in the wake of the Cultural Revolution. But when an accident leaves her parents debilitated, she abandons her future for a job at a high-end beauty and wellness store in New York City.
Holistik is known for its remarkable products and procedures--from remoras that suck out cheap Botox to eyelash extensions made of spider silk--and her new job affords her entry into a world of privilege and gives her a long-awaited sense of belonging. She becomes transfixed by Helen, the niece of Holistik's charismatic owner, and the two strike up a friendship that hazily veers into more. All the while, our narrator is plied with products that slim her thighs, smooth her skin, and lighten her hair. But beneath these creams and tinctures lies something sinister.
A piercing, darkly funny debut, Natural Beauty explores questions of consumerism, self-worth, race, and identity--and leaves readers with a shocking and unsettling truth.
4.2 / 5 Stars
Horror master Junji Ito explores a new frontier with a grand cosmic horror tale in which a mysterious woman has her way with the world!
A woman walks alone at the foot of Mount Sengoku. A man appears, saying he's been waiting for her, and invites her to a nearby village. Surprisingly, the village is covered in hairlike volcanic glass fibers, and all of it shines a bright gold. At night, when the villagers perform their custom of gazing up at the starry sky, countless unidentified flying objects come raining down on them--the opening act for the terror about to occur!
Delilah Green Doesn't Care by Ashley Herring Blake
4.2 / 5 Stars
Delilah Green swore she would never go back to Bright Falls--nothing is there for her but memories of a lonely childhood where she was little more than a burden to her cold and distant stepfamily. Her life is in New York, with her photography career finally gaining steam and her bed never empty. Sure, it's a different woman every night, but that's just fine with her.
When Delilah's estranged stepsister, Astrid, pressures her into photographing her wedding with a guilt trip and a five-figure check, Delilah finds herself back in the godforsaken town that she used to call home. She plans to breeze in and out, but then she sees Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid's stuck-up besties, and decides that maybe there's some fun (and a little retribution) to be had in Bright Falls, after all.
Having raised her eleven-year-old daughter mostly on her own while dealing with her unreliable ex and running a bookstore, Claire Sutherland depends upon a life without surprises. And Delilah Green is an unwelcome surprise...at first. Though they've known each other for years, they don't really know each other--so Claire is unsettled when Delilah figures out exactly what buttons to push. When they're forced together during a gauntlet of wedding preparations--including a plot to save Astrid from her horrible fiancé--Claire isn't sure she has the strength to resist Delilah's charms. Even worse, she's starting to think she doesn't want to...
Making Love with the Land by Joshua Whitehead
4 /5 Stars
In prose that is evocative and sensual, unabashedly queer and visceral, raw and autobiographical, Whitehead writes of an Indigenous body in pain, coping with trauma. Deeply rooted within, he reaches across the anguish to create a new form of storytelling he calls "biostory"--beyond genre, and entirely sovereign. Through this narrative perspective, Making Love with the Land recasts mental health struggles and our complex emotional landscapes from a nefarious parasite on his (and our) well-being to kin, even a relation, no matter what difficulties they present to us. Whitehead ruminates on loss and pain without shame or ridicule but rather highlights waypoints for personal transformation. Written in the aftermath of heartbreak, before and during the pandemic, Making Love with the Land illuminates this present moment in which both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are rediscovering old ways and creating new ones about connection with and responsibility toward each other and the land.
Intellectually audacious and emotionally compelling, Whitehead shares his devotion to the world in which we live and brilliantly--even joyfully--maps his experience on the land that has shaped stories, histories, and bodies from time immemorial.
American Queen by Sierra Simone
3.9 / 5 Stars
Her name is Greer Galloway, and she serves at the pleasure of the president of the United States.
The sharp-eyed granddaughter of a former vice president, Greer is well-versed in politics and people--but not romance. Not when she is warned to keep her kisses to herself. Except her first kiss goes to the man who will one day lead the country, war hero Maxen Ashley "Ash" Colchester, and her second goes to his best friend and future vice president, Embry Moore. When the three collide in the Oval Office many years later, the unsaid words between them leave Greer breathless and burning.
It starts with a stolen kiss under an English sky, and it ends with a walk down the aisle. It starts when Ash asks Embry to find the girl they both lost, and it ends with Greer's heart split in two. It starts with buried secrets and dangerous desires...and ends with three people bound together with a ruthless, all-encompassing love sharper than any barbed wire.
Chain of Thorns by Cassandra Clare
4.5 / 5 Stars
Cordelia Carstairs has lost everything that matters to her. In only a few short weeks, she has seen her father murdered, her plans to become parabatai with her best friend, Lucie, destroyed, and her marriage to James Herondale crumble before her eyes. Even worse, she is now bound to an ancient demon, Lilith, stripping her of her power as a Shadowhunter.
After fleeing to Paris with Matthew Fairchild, Cordelia hopes to forget her sorrows in the city's glittering nightlife. But reality intrudes when shocking news comes from home: Tatiana Blackthorn has escaped the Adamant Citadel, and London is under new threat by the Prince of Hell, Belial.
Cordelia returns to a London riven by chaos and dissent. The long-kept secret that Belial is James and Lucie's grandfather has been revealed by an unexpected enemy, and the Herondales find themselves under suspicion of dealings with demons. Cordelia longs to protect James but is torn between a love for James she has long believed hopeless, and the possibility of a new life with Matthew. Nor can her friends help--ripped apart by their own secrets, they seem destined to face what is coming alone.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
4 / 5 Stars
Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate. This edition features a new introduction by Jonathan Lethem.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
4.5 / 5 Stars
Butler's most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre-Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana's own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.
Held up as an essential work in feminist, science-fiction, and fantasy genres, as well as a cornerstone of the Afrofuturism movement, the intersectionality of race, history, and the treatment of women addressed in the book still remain critical topics in contemporary dialogue, both in the classroom and in the public sphere.
Frightening, compelling, and richly imagined, Kindred offers an unflinching look at our complicated social history, transformed by the graphic novel format into a visually stunning work for a new generation of readers.