Monday, May 4, 2020

Wrap-Up: April 2020

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April (Social Distance) Snapshots

1. I was (briefly) a popular kid! People must be bored during lockdown because this blog had a large traffic spike in April. Normally, the blog averages about 300 pageviews a day. (Since people are going to ask, 99% of the blog’s traffic comes from Pinterest, Google, Bing, and Twitter.) For about a week, the blog’s Pinterest account became inexplicably popular. I was getting 1,000-3,000 pageviews a day. I’m grateful for the extra traffic, but OMG, the comments. Let’s talk about my comment situation:

One million viewers looked at the blog's Pinterest account in April. 😨

The first thing I did every morning was delete hundreds of spam comments. I’d wake up in the dark, grab my phone off the headboard, and start deleting links to pirated movies and sexy websites. I’m sure there are people who’d love to wake up to hundreds of naked women, but I am not one of those people. It’s too early to have nude strangers in my bedroom!

After deleting the spam, I deleted the irrelevant comments. Um, ma’am, this is a book blog. Please take your essential oils and your undying love of Donald Trump somewhere else.

Then I deleted the mean comments. Apparently, everything is wrong with this website. People don’t like the design, the colors, my writing style, my sense of humor, the books I promote, my opinions on those books. I laughed when someone told me that I should have taken a computer class before I started a blog. (That’s probably true.) Do people realize that blogs are free content? If you don’t like a blog, you can just . . . read a different one?

So, April was a new internet experience for me. I’m kind of happy that my popularity only lasted a week. Who knew that being a popular kid was so exhausting?

2. If you’re bored in lockdown, please check out my Coronavirus post. I updated it a few times in April. It’s a list of authors whose book releases have been impacted by the virus. It would be super helpful to the authors if you added their books to your Goodreads shelves.

3. Happy stuck-in-the-house anniversary to me. On April 17, I celebrated one month of self-isolation. I celebrated by drinking a Diet Coke while driving the car up and down the (empty) street. Live big, right? I still haven’t been farther than 2 miles from my house. I haven’t been to a store since March 17. Basically, I have nothing else to say in the “life” section of this wrap up. Bring on the next section!

Wayward Googlers

Here are a few amusing Google searches that led people to Read All The Things! last month. I’m sorry to the unfortunate souls who ended up here instead of finding what they were Googling for.

“3 imaginary conversations.” I’ve had A LOT more than 3 . . . 

“is Outlander obsession shallow?” Why does it matter if it’s shallow? If you love something, and your love isn’t hurting anyone, then feel free to love it! Be enthusiastic. Enjoy yourself. Fangirl from a safe social distance. Who cares what anybody else thinks. 

“life in iran political memoir.” I recommend Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

Books I Read

In April, I read 11 books.

The Case-Book Of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. The last Sherlock Holmes book! I don’t think it’s the strongest in the series, but Sherlock Holmes stories are always clever and escapist. These short stories were a great distraction from a pandemic. I enjoyed them greatly. (Well, except for the causal racism, but you have to expect that in a classic.)

Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire. A delightful surprise! It’s a novella about children who have returned from portal worlds and are having trouble readjusting to the “real world.” Some of them are having a lot of trouble readjusting. The cover and synopsis sound sweet and innocent, but the insides are dark and bloody. I liked it. I was slightly disappointed in the plot because I was left with a bunch of “Why?” questions, but I loved the bizarre characters and premise. I want to read the next book in the series for sure.

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera. Another book with an amazing concept, characters, and world-building. It’s set in an alternate-reality 2017 where people get a phone call informing them that they’re going to die in 24 hours. Even though I knew how the story would end (because the title is a spoiler), I was still sad when both of the main characters died! The plot drags too much for my tastes, but other than that, I liked it.

Berserker by Emmy Laybourne. A group of siblings flee Norway after committing several murders. They travel to America to find their uncle, but since the siblings have strange, murderous superpowers, they’re pursued by powerful enemies. If you’re searching for a supernatural horror read with a well-developed setting, this book might satisfy your craving. It has some action, some gore, a few twists. I had fun reading it, but the characters are all a bit bland or stereotypical. I love the loyalty between the siblings, though!

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki. The main characters are two young girls who find themselves on the fringes of adult situations. This is a slice-of-life story. The plot goes in a bunch of different directions, and not much is resolved at the end, but I don’t care! I need more graphic novels by these authors! They’re talented artists. The characters are lifelike and relatable, and the art is gorgeous. I don’t think I’ve ever read a graphic novel with such detailed illustrations. I especially like the drawings of the forest and the lake. It makes me want to go on vacation.

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss. I’m conflicted about this one. The author handles the themes brilliantly. It’s a story about the invisible walls that stop people from understanding each other. The characters in this novel are doing an experimental anthropology project where they try to live like ancient Britons. The project goes wrong when a few characters get too wrapped up in their own selfish agendas. It’s thought-provoking and very relevant. I kind of hated the writing style, though. It’s stream-of-consciousness rambling.

The Outsider by Stephen King. The story centers on a team of detectives who are trying to solve a murder that may have been committed by a supernatural creature. I definitely didn’t hate the book, but I ruined it for myself by watching the TV show first. I think I would have liked it more if I didn’t already know the twists. Stephen King books tend to be slow paced. I was impatient because I knew where it was going.

Knock! Knock! by Jackie Carter. A cute and colorful picture book about a mother, daughter, and dog who move into a new apartment. They’re surprised when someone mysterious knocks on their door. The toddler and I both liked the book. It has rhyming text and joyfully chaotic illustrations.

A List of Cages by Robin Roe. The characters are so adorable! I can’t handle it. This book is hilarious, then devastating, then hilarious again. It’s a rollercoaster. The story is about two former foster brothers who reconnect in high school. One brother seems to have his life together. The other brother badly needs help. I like that the plot focuses on friendship instead of on romantic love. The main characters are developed well, but the other characters are disappointing. Most of them are just names. A few of them don’t have believable motivation. This book is worth reading for the main characters. They’re brilliant.

Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston. Another book I feel conflicted about! It’s unique. It stars a teenage girl who decides to become a suicide bomber. I enjoyed the untrustworthy main character and the author’s attention to detail. I still have so many “Why?” questions! Stuff just happens without explanation. But, it’s definitely memorable. I can see myself rereading it.

Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel. If you love Twilight, then you need to read this novel. The Twilight vibes are strong. It’s about a 200-year-old paranormal boy who falls in love with an ordinary teenage girl. It’s full of angst, lust, and magical peril. I was interested in the creepy paranormal creatures, but I found everything else ridiculous. (I felt the same way about Twilight.)

Best Books Of April

Most-Viewed April Blog Posts

April Bestsellers

Here are the books that people bought on Amazon or Book Depository last month after seeing them on Read All The Things! (Don’t worry, the link-tracking robots only tell me which books people are buying, not who is buying them. That would be creepy.) 

There are a bunch this month because there are ties for #2 and #3 on my bestseller list.

All The Things!

Number of unread books on my TBR shelf = 52 books

I’m currently reading = Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

What did you do in April?


  1. Happy birthday!! My mom had a solo birthday too. I love your "party". You gotta do what you gotta do though these days. :)

    And jeez louise! That would be crazy to get all those comments!! My blog has gotten more traffic but thankfully nothing crazy has happened. Those google searches actually made me laugh out loud.

  2. Being that popular would probably drive me a bit nuts too, if it came with all those crazy comments. LOL Happy one month quarantine anniversary! ;)


  3. Yaay all the views, boo the comments! Disqus has words you can filter out that will put comments in moderation instead of auto-approving.

  4. Love the social distancing snapshots! Sorry about all the spam comments, though :( That is never fun. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY! My birthday was also in April. I had a similar "party" in quarantine lol. I hope you have a fabulous May!

  5. Yikes at all the comments. Just hold your finger on the delete key.
    A List of Cages broke my heart. I just wanted to hug Julian and make everything okay for him.

  6. Your social distancing snaps are so pretty! Since they closed all the parks here for awhile, all my walking was done in my suburban neighborhood!

  7. I love your photos. Yay for popularity of your blog! I haven't looked at my stats in ages. I'm not sure I want to. LOL I guess popularity brings out the trolls. I can't believe people are so rude in their comments to you. That's so ridiculous. I am sorry you have to deal with that.

    This One Summer is on my wish list. I am glad to see it was one of your favorites this month. I am so glad to hear you enjoyed Every Heart Is A Doorway. I have been hearing mixed reviews on that one, but it's Seanan McGuire, and I'll read anything she writes just about.

    I hope you have a great May, AJ.

  8. So spam is the price of popularity. I guess it's good I am unpopular.

  9. I would probably go nuts with all that spam. Love your photos and I see you had read a lot for the month. Keep safe.

  10. I mean... I'd like to be popular, but if it comes with spam comments, then no thanks :) It's annoying enough that my every 2nd follower on bloglovin is a bot. I'm glad things are back to normal for you regarding the comments. You made me laugh reading this post, thank you!

  11. Now I want to pet the horses. Why can't I pet the horses?

    I loved A List of Cages, but wasn't crazy about This One Summer or Every Heart a Doorway. Berserker was fun. I'm still curious about Ghost Wall.

    I got a ton of spam comments about six months ago, then they stopped. So weird.

  12. Wait time out people actually buy things from your Amazon links!?!?!? You need to teach me your ways, please and thank you! In nearly 7 years I have made a total of TEN DOLLARS and I am sad. Also that is the WORST about the spammy (and mean- actually the mean is worse) comments. But yay for being suddenly popular?? Haha at least it's entertaining. Your photos are GORGEOUS, by the way. Love love love. Also I do have to agree about Berkerker, the characters could have been more developed. One day I swear I am going to read the sequel. Or not, you know hahha.

  13. If these people hate everything about your blog, they need to naff off and find a life! I enjoy your blog and I like the new look, I like the funny posts and the photos. These moaning faced muppets can just do one! Keep doing what you do AJ!

  14. What on earth with the comments from pinterest! But hey... page views? :)

  15. I really don't understand people most of the time--why be negative at all? Too much of the world already takes care of that job. I haven't been in a store since grocery shopping on March 13. And even then I still remember no toilet paper or cleaning products on the shelves. And the lady checking out ahead of me had a cart filled with meat. Hoarder! You had an excellent reading month and now I want to read A List of Cages. Happy Memorial Day.

  16. Wow, that's a huge jump in blog traffic. It sound like it was a crazy week for you. Every Heart A Doorway sounds like a delightful novella. I'll have to check that one out. As always, I enjoyed your WAYWARD GOOGLERS share :)