Challenge Check-In April

Challenge Check-In – April 2023

Welcome to Challenge Check-In for April 2023 which is kind of like a Monthly Wrap Up, but not quite. Here I focus on my progress regarding my reading goals (check out THIS post), and also offer 5-5 recommendations for 2 The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge prompts each month. It’s never too late to join if it catches your interest!

Well, April went away fast as well. What’s with these months, really? I guess it helps that I had two 4-day weekends, so probably no one really feels particularly sorry for me. To be fair, I had an extremely long workweek too. Which was also kind of fun because that was the week I became the proud owner of a whole plush panda family… Please welcome Tomas and Billy Puddles! And expect a lot of panda-bookish pictures in the future 😂

I also got book mail!! The first this year. I can’t wait to get started on Gods of the Wyrdwood by RJ Barker in May!

In April, I started a series of feature posts spotlighting the SPFBO 8 finalists. So far we had Andrew C. Piazza Stuck in the Pages, and Stephanie Burgis visited the Asylum for a chat. And since we are talking about SPFBO, I’m very happy to announce that Small Miracles won SPFBO 8!!! It was my semi-finalist choice so I couldn’t be more proud and excited for Olivia Atwater! And if you’d like to get a very fancy edition, please keep an eye out for her upcoming Kickstarter campaign.

So, after important life updates, here comes my Challenge Check-In for April 2023.

The Month in Reading

April 2023

For April 2023 my handy spreadsheet at the start of the month had 3 ebooks and 1 audiobook (one I started in March, so it got pushed over) planned. After March’s craziness, April was a much slower reading month and I didn’t get to read as many books, which is fine. At least I’m back at finishing 4-5 books a month. Currently, the April portion of my spreadsheet has 8 books listed. One book was brought over from March, which I finished, along with three other books. I had one book scheduled for this month, which I’m going to push to May because mood/impulse struck me halfway through the month and I’m reading something that wasn’t even on my radar. Oops. But I checked out 2 books from my start-of-the-year reading list!

Before I get to what I read this month, here are some reviews for books I finished in March, but reviewed in April:

The Cleaving by Juliet E. McKenna

A Song for the Void by Andrew C. Piazza

The Book That Wouldn't Burn by Mark Lawrence

TitleThe Book That Wouldn’t Burn
Author: Mark Lawrence
Series: The Library #1
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: May 11, 2023
Format: ebook
Status: Read
Rating: 4👑

Mark’s new book was one of my most anticipated reads for 2023. It didn’t disappoint, although I think his prose and I aren’t well matched. Oh well, I still had fun with it.

The Book That Wouldn’t Burn is a mind-bending novel that sets a high bar for the books yet to come in The Library trilogy. Lawrence takes the reader’s hand and leisurely guides them through the many rooms and layers of the library, unraveling a story about books, love, about history repeating itself, and the lesson we take is that too much knowledge can be just as dangerous as little knowledge.

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

Title: The Happy Ever After Playlist
Author: Abby Jimenez
Series: The Friend Zone #2 / standalone
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: April 14, 2020
Format: audiobook
Status: Reread
Rating: 5👑

I think I read this book the third time? It’s a cheesy romance novel, but it’s a great pick-me-up and I totally have a crush on Zachary Webber’s voice.

The King of Faerie by A.J. Lancaster

Title: The King of Faerie
Author: A.J. Lancaster
Series: Stariel #4
Publisher: Camberion Press
Release Date: July 24, 2021
Format: ebook
Status: Read
Rating: TBA

I did it! I finished the series! Well, the main story anyway, because there is still a standalone novel featuring Rakken and Marcus, and I look very much forward to reading that one! My review for The King of Faerie will drop in early May.

Swordheart by T. Kingfisher

Title: Swordheart
Author: T. Kingfisher
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Argyll Productions
Release Date: November 27, 2018
Format: audiobook
Status: Set aside for later

This is only my second T. Kingfisher book. I’m not sure if it’s the narrator, my mood, or what, but it can’t hold my attention nor do I feel like picking it up again. So I decided to put it aside and come back to it later.

Salt in the Wound by Benjamin Aeveryn

Title: Salt in the Wound
Author: Benjamin Aeveryn
Series: Rainfallen #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: May 9, 2023
Format: ebook
Status: Read / RTC
Rating: TBA

Well, this is a book I never saw coming. I stumbled on the cover reveal on Twitter and it sounded super intriguing, so I impulsively put in my request for an ARC. I had to shuffle things around a bit to fit in before release, but I have no regrets. Review is coming soon.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Title: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
Sangu Mandanna
Berkley / Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date:
August 23, 2022
Format: audiobook
Status: Reread
Rating: 5👑

Apparently, I needed to find my audiobook mojo, so to tide me over until the Wyrd and Wonder read-along for The Bone Witch starts (on May 1st), I decided to relisten The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches I really enjoyed earlier this year.

Womble's TBR Reduction

The prompt for April was “open and shut case”. We were required to read a standalone book. For this, I think I’m going to pick Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson. Mainly because this is the only truly standalone novel I finished reading, even though I started it in March. Plus, it was an amazing book, so well worth mentioning here.

The Sound of Madness

While I did finish some books in April, I decided not to add any new titles to The Sound of Madness challenge yet. I’m holding it out, see what the next few months bring.

Here is what my card looks like right now:

The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge progress March 2023

And as promised, I’m going to give you some recs for the first two prompts on this lovely card.

Teenage Dirtbag

Another prompt that kinda speaks for itself. I think a YA novel or a book with a young character who is a total pain in the ass would be a great fit. I’m sure we all came across one of those types…

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Title: The School for Good and Evil
Author: Soman Chainani
Series: The School for Good and Evil #1
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: May 14, 2013

Since this one is set in a school, there are bound to be less than lovely kids. Though, in this one it’s hard to decide which side was more annoying, the good ones or the evil ones…

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Title: The Thirteenth Tale
Author: Diane Setterfield
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: September 12, 2006

I have to say, that I loved this book. Why I’m putting it here because it features twins, who are not exactly angels… Then again, their life wasn’t exactly easy either.

The Umbral Storm by Alec Hutson

Title: The Umbral Storm
Author: Alec Hutson
Series: The Sharded Few #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: May 20, 2022

The Umbral Storm was one of the SPFBO 8 finalists. I’m not sure if the 3 MCs actually fit into the teenage age, but I think they qualify. In the beginning, I was annoyed by Heth, by the end I was annoyed by Deryn… Probably not the intended reaction, but oh well.

Never Die by Rob J. Hayes

Title: Never Die
Author: Rob J. Hayes
Series: Mortal Techniques #1
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: January 29, 2019

One of the main characters of Never Die is an 8-year-old kid, Ein. Well, I know he is not exactly a teenager, but let’s overlook that.

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Title: Prince of Thorns
Author: Mark Lawrence
Series: The Broken Empire #1
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: January 1, 2011

Arguably, Jorg Ancrath is probably one of the most controversial kids in Fantasy. He definitely didn’t make an effort to be likable.


You Look Better When I’m Drunk

For this prompt, I would go with a book that didn’t match its cover/blurb – be it in a negative or positive way. It happens that we expect something based on a cover/blurb and then we get something different. Looks can be deceiving, my friends. A book in which there is a drunken scene can also be a good choice. Especially if the MC does something stupid while drunk.

Windcatcher by A.J. Norfield

Title: Windcatcher
Author: A.J. Norfield
Series: Stone War Chronicles #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: October 30, 2015

I’m sorry A.J., I love your books, but the truth is, I’m not sure if I would have picked this series up (well, there was only book 1 back then) if a friend didn’t recommend it to me back in 2016. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the covers, but it all comes down to personal taste. I definitely highly recommend the Stone War Chronicles to anyone!

The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings

Title: The Ballad of Perilous Graves
Author: Alex Jennings
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: June 21, 2022

Well, I wasn’t a big fan of this cover, but I was totally hyped by the blurb. I wanted to love this book so much, but then I didn’t. I hate the feeling when you get disappointed by a book that’s supposed to be written right for you. On the other hand, Arina enjoyed it, so you know, each to their own. You don’t have to take my word.

The Headlock of Destiny by Samuel Gately

Title: The Headlock of Destiny
Author: Samuel Gately
Series: Titan Wars #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: March 5, 2020

Okay, so this is a book I haven’t read personally, but it comes highly recommended by Liz. As I was trying to come up with recs for this prompt, I asked for help from my friends, and this one came through. I wanted to feature books that have a drunken character, and I was drawing a blank. So here we go. The MC is working at a brewery (at the beginning) and likes his beer.

Storytellers by Bjørn Larssen

Title: Storytellers
Author: Bjørn Larssen
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Josephtailor
Release Date: March 28, 2019

Let’s add some historical fiction to the mix, shall we? This one is very subtle, but it features Gunnar who likes to medicate himself. Not that it helps him much when it comes to dealing with an unexpected guest and other visitors.

The Lore of Prometheus by Graham Austin-King

Title: The Lore of Prometheus
Author: Graham Austin-King
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: November 30, 2018

This book ended up being one of my favorite books in 2018, even though there were moments when I thought I made a mistake. You see, I said yes to an ARC without really knowing what I was getting into. Then I read Graham’s email containing the word “military”, and I went OH NO. If I read the blurb beforehand I’m not sure I would have picked it up, and I would have never known how brilliant this book really is.

And that concludes my Challenge Check-In for April 2023. On the whole, it wasn’t a bad reading month. Let me know how you progressed with either my challenges or the ones you set for yourself!

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