Books in Review: April

by Jenn (eating bender) on May 1, 2014


Can it really be the fifth month of the year already?

No complaints here! May is one of my favorites, and not just because it happens to be the month I was born. The air smells amazing, the sky is brighter and the temperature inside a sun-soaked car feels like a warm blanket rather than a sub-zero freezer or, in the case of Arizona a couple of months from now, an oven hot enough to bake cookies.

Some things I’m excited about in May 2014 specifically:

  • Celebrating the birthdays of several special people (some without blogs to link to!)
  • Celebrating my parent’s 33rd wedding anniversary
  • A visit from my aunt and uncle
  • A visit to my grandma and mom’s family in St. Louis
  • Finalizing plans for and exploring Ireland!

It’s going to be a good month, I can already tell. What are you looking forward to in May?

Despite the fact that I haven’t blogged about it since February (whoops), I have been keeping up with my fictional page goal for this year and am excited to be on track to go far beyond 15,000 pages through December.

Goodreads - April copy

I read a lot of great books in January and February, but the momentum slowed down in March due to the aforementioned “madness.” In April, I was happy to pick things back up again with yet another addicting book series. Big thanks to Nicole for giving me the final push I needed because as soon as I started reading, it was absolutely impossible to stop. I’ll only be reviewing the first book in this post so as not to give anything away!


Delirium by Lauren Oliver

From Goodreads:

Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.

A bit more from Amazon:

In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn’t about to make the same mistakes.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the Wilds who lives under the government’s radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

My thoughts:

First things first: Lauren Oliver is an absolutely beautiful writer. The way she describes the world around the characters is like poetry – seriously! Secondly, the concept of this series was so interesting to me. Essentially, the idea is that love and hate – basically, anything on either side of a spectrum of indifference – have led the world to obsession, violence and destruction. A “Cure” has been discovered that can remove these dangerous emotions from the brain, and so upon turning 18 people are now forced to have the procedure, which will essentially render them safe, emotionless members of society. Until then, contact between boys and girls is strictly forbidden – once cured, you are matched with someone the government chooses for you.

Sounds lovely, huh?

Of course, it’s easy to assume that the primary question this YA dystopian book sets out to answer is, “What happens if you fall in love before you’re cured?” And you’d be right – but there are many more layers and conflicts that are explored throughout the series, and summing it up with only that question wouldn’t be doing it justice. The books deal with very heavy issues – loyalty, revolution, death, jealousy – all of which ultimately relate back to love.

I will say this: the ending of the last book, Requiem, left me wanting just a little bit more. I likened it to how I felt after reading the epilogue of The Hunger Games. I really enjoyed the journey but upon realizing there were only 1-2 pages left, I started to panic and wonder how it could possibly wrap up that quickly. It seems a lot of reviewers felt the same way.

That said, I highly recommend this series. The points made throughout all three books had me nodding my head and highlighting like crazy. I read book three in a day because I just had to know what was going to happen – I love it when a series has that effect.

TIP: You should also plan to read the four novellas in between the full books, if possible: Annabel, Hana, Raven and Alex. The first three are available as e-books or paperback. Alex is only in the hardcover version of Requiem, but if you Google it (I’m not saying you should…), you’ll find many people have scanned and posted it online. The novellas aren’t essential to the story, but they do provide some interesting twists and details you won’t get in the full books and are also fun because they are told from other characters’ perspectives.

A few of my favorite quotes:

“You can’t be happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes.”

“It’s so strange how life works: You want something and you wait and wait and feel like it’s taking forever to come. Then it happens and it’s over and all you want to do is curl back up in that moment before things changed.” 

“My heart is drumming in my chest so hard it aches, but it’s the good kind of ache, like the feeling you get on the first real day of autumn, when the air is crisp and the leaves are all flaring at the edges and the wind smells just vaguely of smoke – like the end and the beginning of something all at once.” 


If I Stay by Gayle Forman

From Goodreads:

Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.

Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love – music – even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.

My thoughts:

I read this series from Gayle Forman after reading Just One Day and Just One Year, and although it seemed impossible at the time, I fell in love with it even more. Like those two books, the first book in this series is told from the female protagonist’s perspective (Mia) and the second book switches to the male protagonist (Adam). Unlike those two books, If I Stay and Where She Went take place several years apart from one another rather than describing the same time period from each person’s perspective. I ultimately liked this better because I thought both the characters – and the story itself – had even more depth as a result.

In If I Stay, we learn that Mia lives a pretty great life – she has an incredible family, is a talented musician and is dating her first love, who seems like a genuinely decent guy. Then comes a heartbreaking car accident – a split-second tragedy that feels equal parts unimaginable and terrifying because in reality, it’s a fictional plot that unfortunately could actually happen to any of us.

The book switches back and forth between memories from before the accident and Mia’s current battle for her life. She essentially steps outside of her body at the hospital and is able to “see” everything going on while she is in a coma. It’s up to her to decide whether to stay – and wake up in a world where everything she felt certain about is gone.

Believe it or not, as great as the first book was I enjoyed the sequel from Adam’s perspective even more. And I was so excited to find out that this series will be headed to the big screen in August. If you aren’t convinced that you should read it yet, I encourage you to watch the trailer!

One of my favorite quotes:

“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.” 


Other books I’ve read lately:

  • Cress by Marissa Meyer: This is fast becoming an all-time favorite book series. As the third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cress perfectly balances the continuation of the story set in motion by Cinder and Scarlet while also setting up what promises to be an epic finale in Winter. The main characters on Cinder’s side are all so lovable and unique (Thorne! Wolf! Cress! Scarlet! Kai!), while those on the side of Queen Levana are as menacing and frightening as ever (Sybil Mira…enough said). If you haven’t picked up this series already, now is a great time – although waiting until 2015 for the last book will be a true test of patience.
  • The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty: Read my review here.
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green: Another winner from him, though nothing tops TFIOS.
  • The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell: Read my review here.
  • Legend by Marie Lu: Our pick for this month’s book club! Read my review here.

Next up:

I’m currently reading Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige, which as you can probably guess is a modern twist on all things Oz. It’s another series and this first book was just released, so if all goes well I am sure I will be impatiently waiting for the next installment here, too!

What have you been reading lately?



{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Megan (Braise The Roof) May 1, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Wow, you have been doing a ton of reading, lady! I need to pick up some good/quick reads for the summer. I’m starting my master’s program in the fall, so I doubt I’ll have time to do much reading for fun then!


2 Jenn (eating bender) May 20, 2014 at 3:08 pm

So awesome that you’re starting your master’s program! I want to hear more about it!


3 Megan (Braise The Roof) June 3, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Thanks, I’m excited! It’s actually at your alma mater. 😉
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4 Cara (Twinthusiast) May 1, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Thanks for the reading suggestions. I just finished The Light Between Oceans — a very sad read — especially to read as a parent! Next I’m onto an essay collection called Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves :) Also just re-read To Kill A Mockingbird — I don’t think I’ll ever tire of that book.
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5 Jenn (eating bender) May 20, 2014 at 3:09 pm

The Light Between Oceans was definitely a sad read. To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favorites, too. Let me know once you finish Code Name Verity!


6 Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner May 2, 2014 at 7:51 am

I powered through all the Liane Moriarty books this winter, starting with “The Husband’s Secret”–definitely my kind of chick-lit. John Green is a favorite now, too. I can’t wait for “The Fault in Our Stars” movie. I just finished, “How to Bake a Perfect Life,” and am partway into, “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.” I’ve been book crazy lately!

I love reading all your reviews–“Delirium” sounds really interesting, so I’ll definitely be adding it to my list.
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7 Jenn (eating bender) May 20, 2014 at 3:10 pm

I have a few more of her books on my to-read list. Can’t wait to check them out! I’ve been meaning to read “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” for a while now. Did you like it?


8 Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner May 20, 2014 at 3:17 pm

I really enjoyed ‘Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.’ It almost read like a memoir. Since then I read ‘Black Heels to Tractor Wheel’s’ (by Ree Drummond–love!) and ‘The Midwife’s Confession,’ which started off awesome, but got a little too messy towards the end.
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9 Swati Hegde May 2, 2014 at 9:56 am

Wow! If I Stay sounds amazing. Definitely going to add it to my To-Read list.
I loved the Delirium series, but Requiem just disappointed me (especially the ending!). Recently, I’ve finished The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (it was hauntingly beautiful) and Paper Towns by John Green (just… horrible).
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10 Jenn (eating bender) May 20, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Let me know what you think of “If I Stay” when you read it! I was sad that there wasn’t more to “Requiem,” too. I’ll have to check out “The Bell Jar” – have always heard good things about that one. What didn’t you like about “Paper Towns?” I love John Green but haven’t read that one yet, so now I’m curious!!


11 Swati Hegde May 21, 2014 at 12:34 am

Oh, I’ve reviewed Paper Towns on my blog. But in case you don’t have time to read the whole thing, let me just tell you in brief. It was very ‘teenagey and pretentious’ (this is coming from a girl who is infact a pretentious teen), the jokes were crass and perverted, the story revolved around two very weak lead characters, and too much time is spent telling the reader how ‘cool’ it is to break rules and lie to your parents. No thanks.
I did enjoy TFIOS and AAOK. :)


12 Swati Hegde May 21, 2014 at 12:36 am

Oh, I’ve reviewed Paper Towns on my blog. But in case you don’t have time to read the whole thing, let me just tell you in brief. It was very ‘teenagey and pretentious’ (this is coming from a girl who is infact a pretentious teen), the jokes were crass and perverted, the story revolved around two very weak lead characters, and too much time is spent telling the reader how ‘cool’ it is to break rules and lie to your parents. No thanks.
I did enjoy TFIOS and AAOK. :)
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13 Katie May 2, 2014 at 11:16 am

I was going to tell you about DOrothy Must Die, and then saw you’re already reading it! I really want to read it and I have a stack of 5 books sitting next to me right now, but i think it is going to jump to the top as soon as I get my hands on it.

I haven’t read Where She Went and wasn’t planning on it, but your review just convinced me to try it. I LOVED If I stay. More so in retrospect than when I read it, which is the mark of a great book.

I didn’t love the Delerium series though I think I may have, if I hadn’t read them as they were released. I’ve made a new rule that series books are only allowed if they are all written! I’m too impatient. 😀


14 Jenn (eating bender) May 20, 2014 at 3:16 pm

We will definitely have to talk about Dorothy Must Die once you read it. I think it has promise as a story, but I didn’t love the writing.

I hope you enjoy Where She Went as much as I did! And I’m totally with you on series and reading them once they’re over. The only exceptions I’ve made are for Divergent (worth the wait, I thought) and The Lunar Chronicles (obsessed). But I’m impatient, too. :)


15 Jillian Henny May 5, 2014 at 12:01 am

Wow, that’s a whole pile of books you just made a review about. You make them all look enticing to read. I’ll definitely try reading one of these soon!


16 Jenn (eating bender) May 20, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Thanks, Jillian! Definitely let me know what you think!


17 Jen K May 7, 2014 at 5:07 pm

I enjoyed the Delirium series too! I just finished my first John Green novel TFIOS…and I CANNOT wait to try another of his!!! I love reading your blog and want to pass on the love…so I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award on my blog Daydreams & Shoestrings:
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18 Jenn (eating bender) May 20, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Wow, thank you so much, Jen!! I’m sorry for the massive delay – as evidenced by my radio silence on my blog it has been a crazy month, haha. I am honored to receive an award from you. Off to read the answers to your questions! :)


19 Biz May 18, 2014 at 5:22 pm

OMG, that movie trailer screams movie night with my daughter! Hope you are having a great month Jen!
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20 Jenn (eating bender) May 20, 2014 at 3:19 pm

It’s such a good book – I can’t wait to see the movie. Hope all is well with you, too, Biz!


21 Leucadia Chiropractor May 19, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Nice recommendations! Can you advise me some books that children would love to read?


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