April is on her way out! I’m not sure I have the patience or professionalism for writing full book reviews, so I thought I would try a Month in Mini-Reviews sort of deal, showing you the books I read this month with a basic, brief, “were they terrible or not??” consensus. And stayed tuned for the end of the post, where I show you what’s on my May To Be Read list!
Overall I read 9 books in April (thanks to the 24 hour readathon, no doubt.) In order, with blurbs grabbed from GoodReads:
Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (reread)
Sparks are igniting.
Flames are spreading.
And the Capitol wants revenge.
I can’t decide if I like this more than The Hunger Games or not, but it’s a solid, enjoyable, fast-paced book that makes me unexpectedly and arbitrarily burst into tears.
Startling, unusual, and yet irresistibly readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.
I wanted to love this, but it built up and up and ultimately didn’t really go anywhere? I kept wondering if I was reading the sequel to a better, more exciting book, since a lot of the exciting elements of the plot happened in the past. Also, there were a few weird sexual things in this book that made me uncomfortable (Her father tries to climb into her bed and kiss her for instance, and it’s never mentioned again???) I thought it was an interesting read, as I’ve never read anything with faeries before, and I appreciated how much the main character loved books, was constantly reading, AND was dealing with chronic pain, an area you don’t see explored in fiction often enough. But overall, it wasn’t my favorite book.
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (reread)
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
After reading THG and CF in about two days, it took me a couple weeks to finish Mockingjay. I don’t know what’s up with this book. The plot’s scattered, the writing is lazy and inattentive — Mockingjay reads like Collins was rushing to get to the end of the story without really caring about the writing or … even the story. It’s alright. But definitely my least favorite of the trilogy.
The Winner’s Curse, Marie Rutkoski
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences.
I devoured this book. Strangely, a lot of people say they prefer the second half of the book to the first, but I loved the first half and found the second half kind of scattered and in need of better focus. At any rate, I enjoyed this. It’s fun, the story’s interesting, and it’s not just a YA romance — there’s politics, action, and it’s SO SUSPENSEFUL. I’m totally addicted to royal court drama right now. (And how gorgeous is this book, seriously?!)
Book two of the dazzling Winner’s Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making.
This is the first book in a very long time that I’ve read in one sitting, in a spate of a few hours, because I wanted to know what happened so badly I couldn’t put it down. Now, I’ve said before that one of my deal breakers for books is plots that hinge on characters refusing to communicate with each other, but for this story — it kind of worked? You’re supposed to feel super frustrated that everything’s falling apart and NO ONE’S SAYING OR DOING ANYTHING RIGHT. Very enjoyable series so far, am absolutely dying for the last of the trilogy.
Inkheart, Cornelia Funke
Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can “read” fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service.
I HAVE SUCH MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK. The language is lovely, and the story and characters are classic. I love books about characters who love books. (Clearly.) But, I kind of wish this book had about 100 fewer pages. There’s an amazing story in here, but it gets bogged down by a slow pace and too many scenes that could be easily cut without affecting the plot. I would definitely recommend it, but would caution people that it can get slow. I want to read the rest of the trilogy before I decide on my overall opinion of the books.
Matilda, Roald Dahl
Matilda is a brilliant and sensitive child, but her parents think of her only as a nuisance. When one day she is attacked by her odious headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, Matilda suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to avenge herself!
This book was adorable. The humor was actually a lot nastier and sassier than I expected it to be, which came as a delightful surprise! The ending was abrupt, but it is a children’s book — what it lacks in tight plotting, it more than makes up for with its rather fiendish humor. I wish I had read this when I was a kid, I would’ve loved it so much! (I watched the movie all the time, of course, so I wasn’t completely deprived.)
Counting By 7s, Holly Sloan
Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life… until now.
Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world.
Didn’t know what to expect going into this. I read it for the 24 Hour Readathon, so if I hadn’t been power-reading this, I might’ve found it a little more frustrating. The author has some weird aversion to paragraphs, and the story comes to far too tidy of a conclusion that doesn’t ultimately amount to much — but, there’s some emotional meat to this story that’s worth reading. I got choked up a few times. Overall, I’d say it’s a really sweet book that’s perfect for readathons, since it’s a fast-paced, easy read.
Pyongyang, A Journey Into North Korea, Guy Delisle
Famously referred to as one of the “Axis of Evil” countries, North Korea remains one of the most secretive and mysterious nations in the world today. In early 2001 cartoonist Guy Delisle became one of the few Westerners to be allowed access to the fortress-like country. While living in the nation’s capital for two months on a work visa for a French film animation company, Delisle observed what he was allowed to see of the culture and lives of the few North Koreans he encountered; his findings form the basis of this graphic novel.
I’ve read a lot of books about North Korea, but never a graphic novel. While I thought this was a really interesting account of a foreigner’s journey into North Korea and the creepily controlled experience he has there, I wouldn’t say this is my favorite book about North Korea, and I don’t think it’s the best introduction for someone wanting to learn more. I would say someone interested in North Korea should read Escape From Camp 14 first, then The Aquariums of Pyongyang, then maybe watch the Vice documentary — Actually, the Vice documentary is extremely similar to this graphic novel, involving tourists visiting North Korea and having their experience extremely controlled and suspiciously discordant with what’s actually going on in the country. To watch the documentary *and* read the graphic novel and see that these two completely different tourists had eerily similar experiences in the same country is very interesting and haunting.
But what I’m trying to say is, I would read the accounts from the prison camp refugees first, before watching the documentary or reading this graphic novel that’s just about the strange and sterile face North Korea turns towards the world. Learning about the actual suffering and human rights crimes going on in that country is much more important, I think, and gives a better perspective for and understanding of how odd and terrible this facade of ~prestige they show foreigners really is.
… Well that got super serious. Anyway, those are the books I read in April…
I’ve got LOADS on the docket for May. I just received this BEAUTIFUL edition of Northanger Abbey, one of the few Austen books I haven’t read, so that’ll be my first read:
After that … who knows! I just got these books in the mail that I’m pretty excited about:
What’s on the docket for YOUR May TBR? Have you read any of these? Which should I choose first?? Leave a comment, let’s talk!