April 2021 Wrap-Up: 5-Star Books, Studying for Exams and a Huge Reading Slump

It was the best of reading months, it was the worst of reading months, it was the month of 5-star reads, it was the month of my worst slump yet, it was the beginning of spring, it was the intensity of school stress, it was sunny days, it was calculus practice tests.

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It was the best of reading months, it was the worst of reading months, it was the month of 5-star reads, it was the month of my worst slump yet, it was the beginning of spring, it was the intensity of school stress, it was sunny days, it was calculus practice tests.

(and no, I still have not read A Tale of Two Cities but I need to)

What I’ve Been Up To:

I promise there is a reason I pretty much ghosted WordPress for the past month, and that reason is home stretch of junior year when you have five AP exams and state competitions to submit to and a piano exam to record and a huge, stress-induced reading slump and a socially-distanced return to in-person school and to waking up at 5:30 AM again.

  • I went back to school in-person, two days a week and while I’m happy to feel sort of normal again, it’s extremely awkward to engage in small talk and deafening silences with your teachers and two other random kids you don’t know because those are the only other people in the socially distanced classroom.
  • The good news is that it’s been getting less awkward every week as I begin to remember how to act like a sociable and friendly human being.
  • I’ve been pretty busy in the lead-up to exam season, but I did manage to read quite a few books anyway. I’ve also been working some on my Goodreads account.

Books

I read six books total this month, which is about 50% of what I usually read but it is what it is. HOWEVER, three of said books were 5-star reads, and since I rarely ever give out 5-star ratings, this is pretty rare and thus my opening parody lines are fitting here.

I am forcing myself not to read ANY new books until after my first round of exams (which is in the first week of May) so…. yeah. Although, not reading before bed might not have been the best move because for the past few nights, I have dreamt about physics problems.

I’m also trying to write more reviews. I have draft reviews/notes for the three 5-star books from this month, so I’ll be able to write the full reviews after AP season is over.

Fiction

1.5-2 stars

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by (Adult, historical fiction, mystery)– so, this is one of those historical cozy mystery Nancy Drew-style series and I decided to ignore the bad reviews I read because the premise sounded good. Unfortunately, I did not like it very much. It’s a shame because this series looked so interesting. Maybe I’ll still continue, who knows.

2.5-3 stars

The Inheritance Games (YA, contemporary, mystery) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes– I read this one because of the hype, but it didn’t exactly live up to it for me. While realism isn’t the best quality to look for in thrillers, this book just didn’t feel realistic at all, and the twist was underwhelming. There was also a love triangle. The plot was super creative, though.

3.5-4 stars

N/A (…that’s a first)

4.5-5 stars

The Light in Hidden Places by Sharon Cameron (YA, historical fiction)

Straddling the line between fact and fiction, this book follows 17-year-old Stefania Podgorska, who rescued Jews from the ghetto in her town in Poland and managed to hide 13 people in her attic while Nazis were literally living in her apartment at the same time.

I stayed up until 1 AM to finish this book and when I turned the last page to read the epilogue, I was expecting to read about how this was based on a true story but heavily fictionalized. No, almost every event in the book really happened to Stefania– who is a real person– and all of the 13 people she hid– who were also completely real. The names weren’t even changed. This has got to be the best book I read this year so far!

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (classics, fantasy/horror)-

The writing in The Picture of Dorian Gray is gorgeous, and the story sucked me in from the first page. I read this book in one afternoon (all while feeling intense guilt at the prospect of all the homework piling up on my desk)

It follows our titular character, Dorian Gray, who at the start of the book is a young and very (very, very, very) handsome guy who has his portrait painted. When he falls under the corrupting influence of a man called Lord Henry, he unwittingly sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. He will never age, and instead his portrait will bear the effects of his choices. This does not end well for anyone.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (classics, mystery/thriller/horror)-

This book was pretty slow-paced, but I still couldn’t put it down. It follows our MC who meets a man in France and marries him (instalove, yeahhh), moving to his estate, Manderly. At first she can’t believe her good fortune, but soon it becomes apparent that the legacy of her husband’s late first wife, Rebecca, may be a little hard to shake.

I can’t really describe the plot of this, but the writing is so descriptive and there is such a strong sense of something-is-not-right-here. It’s a pretty creepy psychological thriller/mystery and just a really rich and well-written book. Plus, awesome opening and ending lines.

Nonfiction

What Though the Odds by Haley Scott– this memoir is about a Notre Dame swimmer who paralyzed after being in a bus accident, and her journey towards walking and eventually swimming again. I finished it in a day and it was really inspiring. I wish more people would read this one, because I know it will stick with me for a while.

Blogging

Another sort of sad posting month…

Here are my posts from the month:

Thank you for 500 Followers! | My Future Blogging Goals

The “Goodreads Was Wrong” Book Tag: Exposing My Unpopular Opinions

and this post.

Goals

Last Month’s Goals:

1) Read some more classics

Two out of the six books I read this month were classics, so I would consider this goal accomplished.

2) Prioritize school

Again, I definitely did adhere to this goal this month.

3) Go outside more

It’s been way nicer outside, so I’ve been able to go outside more often, but I do still want to incorporate daily walks into my routine.

May Goals:

1) Be more positive

I am a pretty pessimistic person and I know that my mood easily compounds (if I tell myself I’m sad, I will feel sadder and sadder but if I tell myself I’m happy I’ll start to feel that way.) So, I’m going to try to channel my inner Pollyanna more often this month (she’s in there somewhere…)

2) Get organized

There was a 5 feet in diameter pile of papers on the floor next to my desk for 3 months, and I finally cleaned it up the other day… but I am still kind of a mess. I’m organized in my head, but physically, my stuff is all over the place. I organized my school folder the other day, which was a start.

3) Study smarter, not harder

AP exam season for me lasts from May 4th to June 7th so I’m going to be doing a lot of studying in the coming weeks. I want to make sure I’m studying efficiently though, instead of wasting my time on endless practice problems that aren’t actually going to help me.

That’s it for today’s wrap-up. How was your April? Have you read any of the books I read this month?

29 comments on “April 2021 Wrap-Up: 5-Star Books, Studying for Exams and a Huge Reading Slump”

  1. ahh all the best for your AP exams, i’m studying for them right now, and it’s not pretty at all 😦 i’m in such a BIG reading slump too, but i managed to read around 2 books the past week~ i just came across your blog and i love the vibes~

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooh I want to read more classics too! I’ve been making my way through the Anne of Green Gables series and am loving it – I’d never gotten past the 3rd book so I’ve loved reading the later ones in the series. P&P is also on my list because I feel like it’s a classic classic. Added Rebecca too (mainly because of Taylor Swift haha) but your review also sounds interesting!! I’ve just finished exams too which means more time for reading, blogging and other things. Good luck with the rest of your exams!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same actually for Anne of Green Gables, I have read up to the third book but I need to finish the series. Also, I didn’t even know Taylor Swift liked Rebecca… so she has good music AND good taste in books! I read Pride & Prejudice at the beginning of 2020 and thought it was fine but challenging to read– I’m also not the most romance-y person, but it’s a really iconic book. I hope you can read it soon. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Damn, I definitely have to give ‘The Light of Hidden Places’ and ‘Rebecca’ a try, they sound right up my alley of interests, especially with WW2 and thrillers
    Also, I really like this format of monthly wrap up/summary posts,since they’re concise and easy to read and honestly it’s just enjoyable to hear about others’ goals. Great post

    Liked by 1 person

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