April 2021 reading wrap-up

April felt reinvigorating after a so-so reading month in March, and I’m excited to share a few of my favorites from April with you. This month I reread an all-time favorite, read a buzzed-about story collection, and I’m also excited to pump you up for a book that will be coming out later this summer.

Without further ado, here are my favorite reads from April!

Best of the month

“…this is why slashers really wear masks, sir. It’s so you won’t see them smile.”

From My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

My Heart is a Chainsaw / Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones is a prolific writer, but he reached a new level of success last year with his horror novel The Only Good Indians, which was one of my favorite books of the year. Later this summer, he will be releasing My Heart is a Chainsaw, and it is already one of this year’s standouts.

The novel follows Jade Daniels, a horror-obsessed teenager who gets through her days by imagining she is a character in a slasher movie. When bodies actually begin to drop, Jade gets pulled into the mystery at the heart of her town.

This is a book that requires a lot from the reader, most of all patience. The first 60% of the book is deliberately slow as you get deep into Jade’s mind, a chainsaw idling before revving up and going on an absolute tear through the final third. When the book gets going, it does not let up.

Gory, disturbing, and an intimate portrait of the mind of a troubled teenage girl, the book pays off in a big way, rewarding readers that give themselves over to it.

My Heart is a Chainsaw will be released on August 31, 2021. Thank you to Gallery/Saga Press for providing an ARC.

Other highlights

The Warmth of Other Suns / Isabel Wilkerson

Early on, I established a rule that a reread couldn’t be my “best of the month,” and if that weren’t in place, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson might’ve taken that distinction. Telling the story of The Great Migration, where Black citizens fled the south for the northern and western states between 1915 and 1970, Wilkerson anchors this expansive history on the stories of three individuals and their experiences before and after their relocation. If you had to read one book to understand modern America, this is the one. An important, exhaustive, and stunning classic.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies / Deesha Philyaw

The biggest surprise of this month was Deesha Philyaw’s short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. These nine stories tell of the inner and external lives of a collection of Black women, the pressures they feel, and their moments of reprieve from the world around them. The collection flows beautifully, and it will have you smiling from one story, and heartbroken from the next. It’s the kind of collection that leaves you feeling energized about the art form. Each story is finely tuned, each character tenderly drawn, this is a collection I can’t wait to revisit.

Swimming in the Dark / Tomasz Jedrowski

Set in Poland during the decline of Communism in the 1980’s, Tomasz Jedrowski’s Swimming in the Dark is a story of forbidden love between Ludwik and Janusz, who are forced to hide their relationship from the repressive Polish society, and eventually find themselves divided by the violent politics of the day. Swimming in the Dark has been compared to Call Me By Your Name, and it’s an apt comparison, and a good measuring stick for whether or not this book is for you. With lyrical prose and sensual storytelling, the book is a fantastic portrait of first love and its bittersweet end.

Complete list of april reads

  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
  • Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski
  • Infinity Reaper by Adam Silvera
  • The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
  • The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
  • My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
  • The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
  • Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty
  • The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky

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