Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bookish Saturday

This Saturday was a bit hectic, which is due in part to why for the second week in a row I was unable to make a post for #ReadingMyLibrary. It started with the Ohioana Book Festival and continued through the rest of the day taking part of the Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon. Both of these were a first for me, and both an awesome experience.

About a month ago I decided that considering at the time I was out of work I would get to know my city a little better. I had gone to school here for 4 years and never really went further than campus or downtown. It started with visiting museums and markets, and with research I found an event that interested me. The Ohioana Book Festival. The basic set up is a continual "book fair" where authors sit with their books and you can meet them and have them sign the books before you buy them, and then groups of authors would go to separate rooms to give panel discussions. Sadly, I was unable to make it to any of these, I traded in the panels to go home and read for the marathon.

My intentions when going was just to buy one book; "Everything I never told you" by Celeste Ng. The problem is I am weak, and I have problems getting the courage to go up to booths at these types of things as is so to have the author just sitting there made it even worse. I ended up buying another book "The Midwife's Tale" and instantly felt the guilt of my pocketbook. However, both authors were very nice, one seeming more nervous than the other (probably out of lack of experience or just shyness).

I'm not going to talk about how Jenna (@LostGenReader) was discussed with Celeste Ng as a mutual twitter friend because Jenna's head is big enough.

In all, I plan to go back next year when buying two books wont make my bank account hurt and I can stay for the panels.

This was my first read-a-thon. I know my own limits. I get that I'm a bit slower of a reader than most (at least it seems to me that I read slower than your average "avid reader") and I get my own attention span. Add in that sitting in one position starts to hurt after awhile (due to old sports injuries) and I didn't expect to get through half my stack of books but I wanted to have my options.

In all, I finished "Steven Eleven" and "The Great Gatsby" (I'm an anomaly of having made it through high school and an English degree without ever reading it), and started "Everything I never Told you" before I gave in. I feel like I would have gone longer if my stomach hadn't started feeling funny (I'm not sick, don't worry, it didn't amount to anything). 

I'd like to take part in this readathon again, and hopefully I'd be better prepared and not have anything else going on that day. I loved interacting with everyone over social media; seeing what they were reading, eating, where they were reading. It was fun just meeting new people. Not to mention the ego boost I got from my klout score going up from that one day alone.

Did anyone else take part in the Read-A-Thon? How'd your experience go?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dewey's Read-a-Thon

Dewey's 24 hour Read-A-Thon is happening tomorrow, and I along with almost 1,700 other readers will be reading all day (as the name declares). There will be plenty of updates on social media so make sure to follow me on those (I'll provide at the end of the post) if you're interested. 

This is my first time every taking part in a read-a-thon, and I'm kinda curious if my attention can actually keep all the way through it. I will get off to a rocky start, I had already planned to attend the Ohioana Book Festival, so I will be getting a 2 hour buy more books...

As it stands this is my current stack (you can also find it on my Goodreads account):

1.) The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer by Ian Mortimer (finishing)
2.) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (finishing)
3.) The Prince by Nicoolo Machiavelli (finishing)
4.) Wit's End by Karen Joy Fowler
5.) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
6.) Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
7.) Madam Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
8.) Wicked by Gregory Maguire (rereading)
9.) Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Not pictured: Buried Giant, which is waiting on me at the library, and Everything I never Told You, which is waiting for me at the book fair.

I doubt I'll get through all 9 in 24 hours. I'm hoping the smaller books will get me through the rough patches. I've been working on The Greatest Traitor for awhile now and I'm hoping this will give me the push to finally finish it. 

Are you taking part in the marathon? What are you reading for it?

Social Media to follow along:
#Readathon #Dewey
#MiniChallenge #RahRahReadathon

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Three Funny Women Walk into a Bar

In the past month or so I have read the memoirs of three famous funny women. Each one inspired me in a different way. Each one made me laugh in a different way. I went in with certain conceptions of each and left with a different understanding. I believe there is an ease with learning through laughter. A memoir doesn't need to be dark or overly inspirational to leave it's mark on you.

I have reviewed each of these books separately which you can find on my blog, this is not to discuss the merits of the books but to wrap up the women and how they inspired me (through a really long drunk metaphor) and how I now view them.

There's a particularly popular post on the blogging site Tumblr. It simply asks:

Are you a Wine Mom?
Or a Vodka Aunt?

To those who don't have a tumblr sensibly, I'll explain. There's a stereotype of the middle-age mother who ultimately drinks wine every evening to relax and inevitably lets loose in her tipsy-ness. They over use Facebook and tend to appear in denial about their age.

The Vodka Aunt is the wild and crazy aunt who has no kids and thus no responsibilities. She's loud and the life of any family reunion (even if she's the family disappointment). You'd go to her house if you ran away from your wine mom.

For the purpose of this post, I have made up an entirely different category that you'll see later on.

Wine Mom Tina Fey

She's quirky and supportive. She has a bit of self doubt but can put herself out there. Give her a glass of wine and she'll ramble on about a life story with a sentence wrap up moral. She doesn't always stay on topic, but its usually cause something annoyed her and she wants you to know about it. She's been there, done that, she'll tell you how and the regrets she had that she doesn't want you to have too (or maybe she secretly does for fun).

Vodka Aunt Amy Poehler

She's led the Rock and Roll life. The current world bugs the hell out of her and she's too sober to deal. Due to being pissed off at the man (and men in general) she'll give you awesome advice she probably wished she had at your age. She's loud, up front and sometimes swears like a sailor but she hits home hard with truth. She wont tell you everything she did, but that's likely for your own good. But she'll tell you how to get through your own problems cause she fought through hers.

Tequila* Sister Mindy Kaling

She'll tell you how pretty you are before getting distracted by how pretty she looks. She's the one to call all men jerks and crack up at her own joke. She's the lethal combo of smart/funny/sharp. She can make you laugh and think at the same time. She'll make you feel better about your own problems by joking about her own. She'll convince you to do that thing you were worried about doing because COME ON JUST DO IT!

*Mindy Kaling doesn't drink much but her natural personality is equal to the confidence you get after a shot of tequila so I thought it applicable.

In the end should any of these women walk up to you in a bar, after having the drink of their choice, and see you're in a bit of a funk, they'll likely start to console you by expressing:

Tina Fey: "You don't even know, let me tell you how I got here..."

Amy Poehler: "Trust me, I've seen some shit. Let me tell you how you should handle this..."

Mindy Kaling: "That is the worst! And let me tell you, I'm right there too."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 21: Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Authors

So, for my favorite authors I didn't want to focus just on writing ability. A true favorite author of mine will have my attention outside of their bodies of work. I might not have read everything they've ever written, but I enjoy them as a person. Additionally, I've decided to document when this author (to the best of my memory) became one of my favorite authors.

1.) J.K.Rowling: It was 2001, I had just seen this movie my mom forced me to called "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" I was nine. Until this point I hadn't really ever read a "real" book. It was after this movie that I read my first lengthy book...and the rest they say is history. J.K Rowling as a special place in my heart not just because she wrote my first ever love, but because her story hit close to home. I was raised by a single mother. I myself have bouts of depression. She inspired me above all to be a writer. Because the moment of realization that the "J" in JK Rowling stood for Joanne is a revelation. My favorite by her is Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

2.) 8th grade, after a disastrous section on "The Diary of Anne Frank" our literature teacher passes out "The Outsiders". The majority of my class was moved by the book. I remember vividly it being the first time I ever saw my friend Ethan cry, and he was crying in the middle of class while we read it so it was a big deal (he was also really popular and a jock so). This was a turning point for me because I had found my second author. I wasn't just a one trick pony, there were other novels out there that I loved. I proceeded to force my mother to buy me the movie, and three more of S.E.Hinton's novels. My love for S.E.Hinton would continue long into high school where I unashamedly attempted to try and copy her writing prose while coming into my own. My favorite by her is still The Outsiders, but I also recommend That was Then, This is Now. 

3.) Oh, my darling Jane. Once again, thanks to my mother, I was dragged into a movie theater where I, at the tender age of 13, watched Matthew Macfayden tramp through a foggy moor like a wild stallion in the morning. My mother then bought me a 3 set of Jane Austen novels. This was another monumental moment in my reading history; my least favorite teacher caught me reading Pride & Prejudice in class and told me to stop reading it, that I wouldn't be able to understand it, and I needed to read something more appropriate. Lets just say, that by that point Jane's sass had completely influenced me. I will defend this Lady until the day I die (against every last chauvinistic Salinger bro in the English Department, and Mark Twain). She has dragged me to Bath, England and given me more than one quote to live by ("I will not say that your mulberry-trees are dead, but I am afraid they are not alive."). My favorites by her are Sense & Sensibility and Northanger Abbey

4.) This is Daniel Handler. Don't know who that is? You probably know him as Lemony Snicket (Yeap that's what Lemony Snicket looks like). Just the mere thought that this entire series came out of this man's mind astounds me. Relatively speaking I was a bit old for the Series of Unfortunate events, but I think that allowed me to appreciate it more. I really got into these books right before the movie came out, but it wasn't until The End in 2006 that I appreciated them. It was the first series I was around for The End for. My favorites by him are...just read the entire series. And every companion book he's written for them. (I mean the man wrote an entire page with the word "ever" repeating and instead of describing down an elevator shaft just had two pages painted black.)

5.) I'm not going to ramble about how Lord of the Rings was my first fandom in 6th grade and how some of my favorite memories of middle school was pretending to be Legolas with my gang of guys. After Return of The King came out I decided it was about time I tried actually reading what this guy wrote. And me being me had to start with the beginning, The Hobbit. I have no idea how long it took me but it was awhile and I was so confused through most of it. What makes JRR Tolkien one of my favorites is not just his writing abilities or his world building abilities (arguably he's the best at this) it was reading all the stories about him. From his time in the war, to his relationship with C.S.Lewis. He's like everyone's little English grandpa. My favorite by him is The Hobbit.

6.) This. This was another one of those moments. I started getting into my musical theater phase in high school. I had the Wicked Soundtrack, but had never seen the musical. I heard it was based on the book so I got my hands on it. And Wow. This was my first "Adult" book. It was my first time I read any of the themes presented and it was amazing. You can see Gregory Maguire's personality in his words, this sassy man. I love his wit. I love how he does this genre SO much better than OUAT. He's so unafraid and manages to keep his writing beautiful. He has a way with very pointed statements, which I enjoy. My favorite by him is Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Alyssa this is not William Shakespeare, you say. I wanted an excuse to look at Joseph Fiennes' face I reply. (plus he' better looking come on.)

7.) So, it's around this point in High School I  was known as the "reader" girl for awhile. I'm not even kidding. Even teachers knew this was my title. (My high school had a whole of 400 students, so this isn't that big of an accomplishment.) 12th grade English was "British Lit", after the painful year of 11th grade "American Lit" I was home. For the first time we read a full Shakespeare play, up until this point we had only ever read bits and pieces of them. Ultimately I was pissed off we hadn't read a full play before then. Why do I enjoy Shakespeare so much? So many people have so many opinions on him and they're mostly wrong. Not to mention 95% of his work is dick jokes. My favorite by him is Taming of the Shrew.

8.) EVIL SANTA! How you pain me and entertain me! I got into Game of Thrones about midway through the second season. If you don't read the books, do yourself a favor and read the books. George RR Martin is so amazing at writing against cliches. All his characters are so real and so fluid and so fleshed out it's beautiful. I pride myself on calling stuff in books/movies/tv shows before they happen and this guy gets me. I have cried. I have throw my book. I have almost fallen asleep cause he really loves describing stuff. He will make you hungry describing every course of a meal. Personally, you can tell he's a nerd. You know he was one of those nerds who got made fun of. He loves the power now, and while I often joke he's going to die before he finishes the next book he has recently made me very happy by cancelling all his plans and writing! My favorite by him is A Feast For Crows (FIGHT ME I LIKED IT SHUT UP). 

9.) Look at him. How can you not love this face. Look at this sassy Irish face. Oscar Wilde is beautiful. I'm pretty sure he knew this, but I'm stating it. "Portrait of Dorian Gray" was a pretty good read, but it's really his personality that makes him on this list. He's hilarious and I suggest looking up his quotes before even reading. Just read his quotes daily for confidence. My favorite by him is "Portrait of Dorian Gray".

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14: Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books (anything that inspires you, challenges you, makes you think, encourages you, etc.)

I gave myself some guidelines with this list. No quotes from memoirs because those are designed to be inspiring. And have a reason for picking the quote, not just because it sounds inspirational.

You might notice a pattern with a lot of these quotes. I assure you it wasn't an intentional pattern, there's just a certain theme that inspires me. I have social anxiety/depression. I'm pretty sure I've had this since I was young. I got voted "Biggest crybaby" my senior year of high school because by that point it was common knowledge that I cried a lot. In retrospect, most of these cases were because of anxiety attacks that I wasn't aware I was having. However, by this point in my life I was able to laugh off the fact that my 200 class members thought it was funny I had cried when my teacher refused to let us go to lunch early to watch President Obama's first inauguration (even though I was apart of early lunch and had got a 95% on my test; he said he was holding us back for low test grades). 

But that's just a bit of background context that you really don't need to know if you see that giant paragraph and think "Nah, get to the list."

My current "Wall of quotes", the original in my dorm went to the ceiling and left no space between post-its.
1.) "I will not say do not weep for not all tears are an evil." JRR Tolkien, Return of the King.

2.) "Once you've accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you." George RR Martin, Game of Thrones.

3.) "Laugh as much as you choose but you will not laugh me out of my opinion." Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice.

4.) "Of course it is happening inside your head, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?" JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

5.) "Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it." JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

6.) "At times the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe that there is much more good in it than bad..." Lemony Snicket, The End.

7.) "It's a shitty world and shit happens, but we don't have to bathe in shit." Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies.

8.) "It's dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." JRR Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring.

9.) "Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold." S.E.Hinton, The Outsiders.

10.) "No one controls your destiny. Even at the very worst - there is always choice." Gregory Maguire, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely love this book! Not loved, I finished reading it, but I still love it. If you asked five years ago if I would relate so well to the chick on the office I would have laughed.

I love the format of the book. She speaks like a best fried over brunch. When she breaks down into lists it makes what she's saying so much funnier than if it was just a really long passage. Additionally, this is one of the better memoirs I've read in terms of flow. She easily transitions from one topic to the next and they make sense in the order presented.

I will be honest, I probably liked this book so much because I can relate so much to her. I love that she loves celebrity gossip and can have a long conversation with little girls about which member of Nsync they should marry and then write for a witty ironic show like the Office.

A rather insignificant quote that stood out to me was right before her list of "My favorite eleven moments in comedy.": "A disclaimer about these: they are all pretty recent, from the last ten or fifteen years. My boss Greg Daniels was appalled I had never heard of Jack Benny or Ernie Kovacs before I started working at The Office. I am sorry I'm not obsessed with The Honeymooners or The Great Dictator, or even Caddyshack or other classic comedy from the 60's, 70's, and 80's. This list is also pretty mainstream, so other comedy nerds will be mad I didn't include alternative comedy stuff."

As someone with an English degree who had to sit through "What's your favorite book?" at the start of every new course, I can tell you the pain and annoyance of getting the looks from pretentious peers when you name a "Best Seller" as your favorite.

I could continue to gush for the rest of the characters allowed to me but I wont. Just know, if you're an awkward 20 something and new in your field this book is perfect to get you in a happy mindset.

View all my reviews

Friday, April 10, 2015

Saturday April 11: Weekly update, +1 entry for participating. Topic: Books you would like to suggest to your library.

This week I actually managed to complete my first book of April. It was Amy Poehler's "Yes Please" I wont go too much into it, you can find my review on Goodreads or here. My short opinion on the book is you should go into it viewing it like your vodka aunt giving you life advice instead of "I want to know what Amy Poehler's favorite color was when she was 5." Cause you're not gonna know, she makes it a point to let you know she doesn't like to share personal information.

She does however give some pretty valid advice, especially for young girls. (I would have much rather had a chapter on her "Amy Poehler's Smart Girls" than why she hates cell phones.)

And now for this week's topic: Books you would like to suggest to your library.

This is tricky. I'm fairly new to my library so I haven't had a chance to go through their entire collection to really find anything they don't have. The other issue is my library is apart of the Central Libraries Consortium which is made up of 14 central Ohio libraries which means I can reserve and checkout books from all 14 libraries and they have a total of 4.5 million items. So, I mean if I can come up with something they don't have it would be pretty surprising.

That being said, there is one topic in which I have noticed my library is lacking. A couple months ago I got kinda obsessed with genealogy. This was partly brought on by my mother getting me into Outlander. That makes sense when you realize my mother's maiden name is Walker (like the cookies) so we're apart of the Wallace Clan (like the Mel Gibson movie). This was also around the time I had finally crossed the aisle from my beloved fiction section into the non-fiction stacks.

This is what I found:
From that white book on the top shelf on the far left to the second book of the bottom row is the entire section of books devoted to Scotland in the library (that would be 13 books in total). IRELAND has 2 whole shelves and Scotland can't even make up half of one. Also, 95% of the books are travel books written pre-2000.

I understand I can simply request a book from another library, but it's just depressing to see.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Yes PleaseYes Please by Amy Poehler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Going to be completely honest, I read this book because I loved Tina Fey's BossyPants. I also really like Parks & Rec (It's currently playing on my T.V. right now). For the most part, it was a funny memoir. Amy's personality came through well in her writing, and I enjoyed the additions such as the chapter written by Seth Meyers.

It is in my opinion that you shouldn't read this book expecting a typical memoir. You learn some things about Amy but nothing below surface level. There's rare moments where she does go into details about her life that are gems, but most events of her life are skimmed over. Not much focus is given to the actual events and situations but how she handled them and how you should handle similar situations.

This memoir is about following "Do as I say, not as I do."

Perhaps if the book was written later after Parks & Rec, or after her divorce was finalized it would feel less like a work in progress. Both of those aspects seemed to huge to her life and both are still opened, unfinished chapters that still made the book.

Lastly, the conclusion left a sour taste in my mouth. As a millennial I'm tired of hearing about how technology is horrible, and how no one makes eye contact anymore, and how it was so much better when people used to actually talk to each other. Especially after the last chapter of visiting orphanages in post-earthquake Haiti it felt odd and disjointed to end on that note. The only positive I can give the conclusion is that it worked to summarize her life in connection to communication.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April 7: Top Ten Characters You'd Like To Check In With

I have this issue that has followed me for many years. The issue is that all my favorites die. Literally. I get sad when I find a favorite character because they will ultimately die. Only once has this not happened and then I had to reread the last time he was mentioned because I wasn't convinced he had actually survived.

However, I managed to figure out ten I would like to check in with who were not dead or who haven't already been checked in with or who I really didn't care about. So, in no particular order;

1 & 2.) Ron and Hermione Granger-Weasley from The Harry Potter series: I'd like to check in with them pre-epilogue, mainly to prove that they are the OTP to end all OTP's and they're perfect for each other and did not in fact fight all the time and have to go to couple's therapy. Especially since they didn't get together until the very end of the last book I'd like to have a few moments of adorable couple-ness. 

3 & 4.) Marianne and Colonel Brandon from Sense & Sensibility: This is a bit like the one before. I took a class where we read Sense & Sensibility and everyone said there was no way Marianne and Brandon could have been happy. I wish to prove them wrong. I'd also like to see Brandon getting to be a real daddy.

5.) R from Warm Bodies: I mean I feel like to die, get turned into a zombie, and then get turned back into a human would be pretty interesting and worth a check in to make sure everything is going good. Did him and Julie stick it through? Did being a zombie mess with the whole "ability to have kids" thing? Is this an issue? Plus, post-apocalypse world coming back would be cool to hear about.

6.) Haymitch Abernathy from The Hunger Games: LITERALLY my only fave who survived. Really, I just want to read more about him. I don't care if he's sober and married to Effie or drunk and alone, I just wanna hang with Haymitch more.

7.) Snape's Headmaster Portrait from Harry Potter: Spoiler alert; the first fave to not make it. Luckily, there's a loophole; he has a portrait with his personality that talks and moves. I'd like to see how he's doing being stuck between Dumbledore and McGonagall.

8.) Ponyboy from The Outsiders: I have a thing about kids from YA novels and wanting to see what they're like grownup. Kinda curious how he handled the seventies and which of the greasers ended up having to go to Vietnam. I know he was in, I believe it was "That was then, this is now" but I want more.

9.) Baudelaire Kids from A Series of Unfortunate Events: Again, another case of "I wonder how all the traumatic experiences messed up this kid's head". I kinda just want to know what they're doing and how stable they are.

10.) Kate from The Taming of the Shrew: "Hey Kate, so in that last were being sarcastic, right?" 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Hosted by BeholdTheStars

Adding to my list of 2015 challenges I will also be participating in the Reading England challenge. The challenge is simple; to travel the historic 39 counties of England through books. I have had a long love affair with England (if you can count anything in the life of a 22 year old as long). The majority of books I typically read take place in England and so this challenge is a natural fit for me. 

I intend to be a level four participant, meaning reading books that take place in 12+ counties of England.
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Saturday, April 4, 2015

It all came together when I managed to finish a book just two days after getting an email that one of my requested books had arrived at the library. Perfect timing to go. While I've been chipping away at "The Greatest Traitor" by Ian Mortimer, for April I have two books that I've really just started.

Literally just started Yes Please by Amy Poehler cause it was the book I picked up Thursday. I've read Tina Fey's "Boosypants" and while I typically like to think of myself as a Tina (since I'm not nearly as optimistic as Amy) I'm getting on with Amy cause we had similar upbringing. The entire chapter of looking for danger and coming up with stories of danger as a child was basically my childhood. I used to pretend I was in trouble even when I wasn't just cause there was literally nothing else to do. I feel you Amy.

Now for the #ReadingMyLibrary challenge this week we're to tell you a bit about our libraries. Mine is fairly new to me. I just moved, you see. And to be honest, as I mentioned in my last post, I was not a frequenter of my hometown library. Technically, I have four libraries within 5 miles of my house. This is just the one I frequent more. I might do another post as my second most frequent library recently got a brand new building.

It's apart of the Ohio Library system, so while not apart of the Columbus Metropolitan Library system we can still request books from it. It's a modest 2 story library, a far cry from my beautiful 11 story campus library I was used to for 4 years. 

Sadly, when I was there someone was sitting at the table I typically occupy so I took a picture of my second most visited area. The study area balcony over the video section. I prefer the tables in the back of the stacks, it's a lot more quiet back there as most people don't walk back there. And typically little kids run around under the balcony. 

And just for nostalgia sake. My campus library, my beautiful Thompson Library, recently named as the second most beautiful college library in the country (on some list by someone, but I agree).

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I will admit I used to have a weird problem with libraries. I've since blamed it on my hometown being small and in the Bible belt so our library, as I one day told my mother, "Doesn't have a book published after 1982". Despite this I used to spend a lot of time there as a child, it was a good place for a single mother to drop her daughter off during the summer. Since moving to the city I have joined two libraries and checked out more books than I did the entire span of my later adolescence (junior high and high school).

So, in an attempt to combine two of my new hobbies I will be participating in the Reading My Library Challenge taking place in the month of April 2015. A month long celebration of libraries, including a library scavenger hunt the week of April 15-30 and a giveaway! You can find out more about the challenge here.

The three books in the "TBR" list for April are

(I'm currently reading two other books from the library but I'm well into them)