April Reading Roundup

Thursday, May 04, 2017
This month has been an amazing as I've managed to read ten books (including mostly e-books, a comic book and a couple of physical books) as well as five audiobooks. Let's start with the audiobooks that I have been listening to this month as I've managed to listen to five audiobooks, two of which are quite lengthy non-fiction books.

*The Body Snatcher and other stories by Robert Louis Stevenson, narrated by Roy Mcmillan - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5
I have wanted to read this book for so long, I've had it as an e-book on my iPad for ages but it's also on BookBeat so I listened to it instead of reading it. I loved the narrators voice, he is fantastic and makes the characters distinct. It's quite a short audiobook at less than 2 1/2 hours long and it has one thing that none of the other audiobooks I've listened to have had - music. I think the music does add some atmosphere but I wish there was a little less of it. The main story only lasts for about 50 minutes, it's very short! The second is also extremely short but very boring and the third, The Bottle Imp, was one of the longest and I did find it generally interesting but sadly this whole collection was a bit boring!

*Victorians Undone by Kathryn Hughes - ★★★★☆, 4/5
This is the second non-fiction audiobook I've listened to via BookBeat (an audiobook subscription service) and I loved it! I've noticed this book in Waterstones a few times as the cover is really striking so I thought I would listen to it as an audiobook. I like the narrator she has a very easy to follow voice and I love the subject of history anyway although it has to be said that this one is quiet…unusual, different and intimate. It looks at the physical appearance and bodies of famous Victorians in terms of how they would perceived in life by their contemporaries and why we don't have much information or we don't discuss the physical attributes and views of the physicality of famous historical figures.

The first person was Queen Victoria and other women of that time and it shows how the Victorians attitude to women was quite different to our own for example the internal gross examinations of women to determine virginity and the stigma associated with women. Even women had backward views of themselves and of the women at that time in terms of physical beauty, virginity and anything sexual. It was a little frustrating listening to the views of that time but there were also interesting facts about Queen Victoria that I didn't know (on a side note, Queen Victoria is always viewed as a sweet romantic queen but...oh boy was she odd and childlike). I also found out some things about Charles Darwin that I didn't know, for example I didn't know that he suffered with facial eczema as I do. Apparently he grew his now famous beard to cover up his eczema!

The chapter about George Eliot, if I'm honest, was one of the ones I didn't like so much and halfway through I found myself thinking about how pointless this section of the book was as all it was doing was wondering why people thought George Eliot had one hand larger than the other. Okay, there was more to it than that but still! The next chapter about Dante Gabriel Rosetti was more interesting and I did know some of the information already because I watched a BBC drama series Desperate Romantics years ago about the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood so I was familiar with the artists and their work already. I did find the third and four individuals chapters a bit boring, about George Elliot and Dante Gabriel Rosetti! Final chapter was the saddest and one I knew something of via QI and documentaries - fanny Adams (where the term sweet 'FA' comes from) which I thought it was American story. The final story does involve a true account of child murder and sexual assault which is the most difficult to comprehend as the view back then of assault is so messed up! If you can handle the messed up views they had back then along with some gruesome and intimate details of the murder then definitely give this audiobook a go.

*We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - ★★★★★, 5/5
I have seen everyone and their mum talk about this mini book/audiobook or her Ted Talk and I wanted to give it a listen for myself. It's a very short audiobook at only 45 minutes long but it definitely gives you a new perspective on feminism, the author and the experience of gender inequality in Nigeria. It's narrated by the author herself which I loved (she has a fantastic voice that is almost soothing to listen to) and I found myself agreeing with everything she said. I think this book brings up fantastic general points about gender inequality and it should definitely be recommended reading or listening in schools for both genders!

*Charles Dicken - History in an Hour  - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5
Another History In An Hour audiobook and while I didn't really like the narrator, I did find out some new things about Dickens that I did know, for example, I didn't know he visited America and that I met with Edgar Allen Poe; I also didn't know he did SO much for charities and social issues. However, the rest was really quite boring and I wouldn't recommend it unless you are a massive Dickens fan (in which you'll probably know everything...) or if you're studying Dickens. The only truly interesting points were about the inspiration behind the novels.

*Other Minds by Peter Godfrey Smith -  ★★☆☆☆, 2/5
I was drawn to this audiobook as I love the cover and I find that non-fiction audiobooks suit me more than fiction. Additionally, I haven't listened to or read anything about the development of thought, evolution, intelligence and other factors regarding octopuses and other sea creatures. I liked the narrator, it was easy to follow and there were some very interesting facts that I didn't know such as the horrendous experiments conducted on octopuses, how predation developed and how evolution affected various sea creatures. It contained some information I knew from A-level geology and biology but most of the information was new to me. For about 60% of the time I was interested and wanted to carry on listening but the rest was quite repetitive or boring/dry and I found myself drifting away from the audiobook and thinking about other things. I would recommend it if you're interested in this topic but it's definitely not the most engaging and entertaining non-fiction audiobooks I've listened to so far. 
*Earth by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Linda Elkins-Tanton - DNF
Sadly I'm going to have to DNF this book as I thought it would be an interesting, short factual history of the moon but it's just letters and thoughts between the two authors about the moon which is definitely not what I wanted and it made the book more conversation and philosophy than geology or physics - albeit really boring, repetitive philosophy!

*The Creeps by Fran Krause - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I loved reading a few graphic novels and comic books last year, until Paper Girls which I was disappointed by but when I saw this one on Netgalley, I had to request it and I loved it. I adored the illustration style and just the premise of this comic book of illustrating our irrational fears and things we were taught as children. Some of the fears illustrated were ones I'd been told or thought about growing up and others I'd never even thought of. For example, the fear that when your looking at your phone at night, there could be monsters in the dark or if the hoover is on you have the feeling that someone is watching you! A fantastic, short comic book that is relatable but also a little creepy!

*The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5
Firstly, the cover is stunning and to be honest it's my favourite thing about this book as well as the travelling circus setting. The book begins with one of our main characters Ada aka. The Amazing Arden as she is caught by a police officer to whom she begins the tedious and drawn out tale of her life from childhood to the present were she is thought to be the person who is fleeing from a murder. I didn't fully know what to expect but from the cover I thought it was going to be really magical, endearing and mystical, similar to The Night Circus and it is in terms of the magical realism in this book as well as the travelling circus and performance aspect but I didn't expect a thriller or as much references and scenes of self harm, physical abuse or the sheer amount of unlikeable characters.

The writing style was easy to get through and to me it had a YA feel sometimes but I found the book overall to be quite boring, sure I did want to know what happened but I didn't like the process of getting there, it seemed so tedious. I also didn't like the general chapter endings of 'I thought everything was alright now...but was it?', just as a example - it was so frustrating and cliche. I liked the ending but the book to me felt quite pointless, I don't really know how else to describe it and I wish I'd read something else as it feels like a waste of time, in my opinion - sorry if that seems very harsh! Although to be fair there were some great scenes about the travelling circus, the acts and I have to give 5/5 for the amazing cover, it's a shame the rest of it was a disappointment.

*The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I have been meaning to read this e-book for months but I've finally got round to it and while I did have some problems with it, I enjoyed it overall. It follows the lives of Albie and his wife as he tries to work out the reasons behind his cousins death. The blurb sounded like something I'd love as it seemed to me to be a historical mystery with folktale or magical realism elements and that's a perfect description although I wasn't fully prepared for how atmospheric and creepy it would be! In terms of the mystery element, the city gentleman going up north concerning a death, the house at the top of the hill that everyone thinks is haunted and the rural setting all remind me of The Woman In Black by Susan Hill which I really liked but this one is longer, more supernatural and involves more characters/community.

I like the writing style however as the main setting is based in a rural community, the way the people speak is written as if they have a rural/localised accent or dialect which makes it a slower read than if it wasn't written in that style. I did like the short chapters, the mystery, the sometimes incredibly atmospheric writing and the overall story which I would recommend but the two main characters were really unlikeable, in my opinion. I would rate it higher as the story will stay with me for a while and I loved how creepy it was at times but I think it was longer than it should be and Albie and his wife were such annoying characters!

*Witchtown by Cory Putman-Oakes - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I think this book would be classed as middlegrade in the US but I would say that it's suitable for the 13-17 age bracket and I wanted to give it a read as I've been in a few reading slumps this year so I wanted a book that would be incredibly quick and easy to read and this one was perfect for that! Also the cover gave me nostalgic childhood halloween vibes!

The book follows Macie and her mum as they travel through what seems like a dystopian world where witches need to gather in havens so they are protected and can practice magic freely. They've been travelling and moving from town to town and they think that Witchtown will be the safe place they can settle down...but things don't turn out as planned and secrets are revealed.

I finished it in one sitting as it was incredibly quick to get through, it was entertaining in a YA way and it was an interesting story - I loved the magic, slight romance (although it was very cliche) and the world. I'd love to see an adult spin off of this world and the characters as it felt so easy and nostalgic to me. I would recommend it if you like the sound of it, if you're in the age bracket or if you are like me and you want a very easy/quick book to help get you out of a reading slump.
*The Dark Room By Jonathan Moore  - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I was on a roll this month with the e-books I've been getting through! This book intrigued me as I love thrillers and mysteries especially with crime involved...and this one fits the bill so well. It follows Inspector Caine and colleagues as they try to solve a tangled web of lies, secrets, numerous crimes and a grisly murder involving a high profile family with so many issues of their own.

The writing was so incredibly quick and easy to read and I finished this book in less than two days (but it could definitely be finished in one) and because of how quick it was and the crime centric topic, it felt to me like an episode of Bones or CSI. Although it was quite cliche, there was nothing incredibly unique about the story and even through the twists and turns, the results were relatively predictable and not as shocking as the author probably intended.

However, it was an entertaining read, although it was disturbing at times with topics such as rape, murder, family secrets, corruption and human trafficking involved but to me it seemed so cliche and like a TV episode, that it was so unreal, if that makes sense - none of the characters seemed truly real or personal to me. I'd definitely recommend it if you like crime, mysteries and thrillers.

*The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
My favourite book genres include mysteries, thrillers, fantasy and magical realism but this book to me doesn't jus fit into some of these categories, it can also be described as a contemporary horror which is something I don't usually read but I loved this book on the whole.

It follows the Eleanor and Richard as well as their two daughters as they move into a new house in East London but to make ends meet they have to have a lodger, Zoe. This household is unusual in more than one way and it makes for an interesting and unnerving mystery to figure out the untold happenings in the house as well as it's previous occupants, mainly a child called Emily.

The book is a mixture of a contemporary novel about unhealthy relationships, growing up and messy, complicated life changes that we all go through as well as a horror/mystery where the house and it's previous occupants seem to be causing unusual things to happen. I didn't know much about the book but it turned out to be more of a contemporary than I thought it would be but it's also much darker too and unfortunately I read most of this before bed and I kept having to dissuade myself from turning on the light!

It was so incredibly quick and easy to get through, I wanted to find out what was happening and the outcome but the process to get there was quite repetitive and a little tedious especially as the ending to me seemed a little too neat and convenient. I would recommend it based on the atmospheric, horror elements but it's not something I'd read again.

*Gilded Cage by Vic James - ★★★★☆, 4/5
Most of the books I read this month there thrillers or mysteries (or at least had some of those elements) so it was such a refreshing change to read an amazing fantasy with dystopian and magical elements - they are my favourite kinds of novels to read. It's a YA book too and even though it's over 400 pages, it was so quick, easy and a pleasure to read.

The novel is based in a dystopian version of England where society is divided into commoners and people who have this ability called skill. Skill seems to be a magical force that differs in strength and outcome depending on the individual. Those with skill are part of large ruling families such as the Jardine family. Those who don't have skill, live out their lives as normal apart from for ten years out of their lives they have to serve their term of 'slavedays' which lasts for ten years in almost work camps around the country - the worst being Millmore in Manchester (it's always unusual seeing your home city mentioned in a book!).

The story follows the Hadley family as they go from their normal lives to being sent away to serve their 'slavedays' but the family is split up and between Kyneston where the most powerful family lives and Millmore, the worst place in the country. It follows their lives, how they try and get reunited and how to hopefully over turn the inequality. The book gave me The Bone Season vibes in terms of the ruling class, magical abilities, the unequality and almost dystopian Britain. I loved the book as a whole, it was such a unique but familiar world and I can't wait for the second book although if I'm honest, I wasn't a fan of the ending!

Printer's Devil Court by Susan Hill - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I have a few of these gorgeous editions of Susan Hill's books as they are stunning and after reading The Woman in Black, I knew I had to have more of her books. This book is a stunning little hardback, it is only 106 pages long so I read it in about an hour and I liked it but not as much as The Woman in Black. It follows a narration of Hugh's life, he is a student doctor in the late 1800's I think and the fellow doctors he shares a house with; it all takes a sinister turn as thoughts focus on one of the main medical views of the day - raising the dead. I loved the location, atmosphere and topic but it wasn't as creepy as The Woman in Black.

As with The Woman in Black, I found it really atmospheric, extremely quick and easy to read and it was entertaining but sadly it just wasn't as good as I hoped it would be from the previous book of hers that I've read but I would still recommend and these little hardbacks are perfect for getting out of a reading slump. This book is in near perfect condition so I will be giving it away on Twitter around Halloween time because when else would I give away a book by Susan Hill.

Annihilation by Jeff Vandemeer - ★★★★☆, 4/5
First of all, let's just take a minute to appreciate the cover! This book follows four women who are going on a expedition to Area X which is an unknown land where mysterious things keep happening, you know, like all of the other expeditions resulting in failure, death, suicide or missing people...I don't want to tell you any more than than in terms of the storyline as it's best if you go into not knowing much more.

The writing style is really quick and easy to follow, it is all narrated by the biologist in this expedition which brings me to two of my issues with this book. The first is that as the characters are all, 'the biologist', 'husband', 'the psychologist', it makes the characters disconnected from the reader so I didn't get invested with them as I didn't really know them. Secondly, it's all just one persons point of view, that can be unreliable and also a little narrow as you don't fully hear from anyone else.

Besides those two negatives, I really enjoyed this book! It is very different to others I've read this year as it's part character study, part mystery and part nature/landscape fangirling. I had heard that it was really scary but I didn't find it that scary, sure it was a mystery and if I was in the position of the four main characters then I would be SO scared but as the characters weren't personified or named, I didn't feel that terror that they experienced. I also thought that 'the biologists' reactions to the weird and scary events that were happening was very robotic and unfeeling. I would recommend it but I won't be carrying on with the other two books.

Slade House by David Mitchell - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I wasn't going to buy this book but it seemed right up my street and it was receiving great reviews so I bought it and I finished it in just over one day. I'm not a fan of the cover but the writing style is so quick, easy and flowing despite the unusual topics and storyline.

It follows the events within and surrounding this house, Slade House, in London throughout the years. It's a house that no one knows is there, it's hidden away but it reveals it's bizarre secrets throughout the book and I was definitely hooked to find out what ultimately happens but the ending was really anticlimactic to me. Also towards the end it became a little tedious and confusing so I had to drop a couple of stars but I would recommend it but be prepared for...unusual, disturbing and unnerving things that happen within the magical, secretive and dark world within Slade House.

Currently Reading + May TBR
I'm currently reading a few books including: The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson and Haunted by Leo Braudy. I'm planning to read quite a few e-books from Netgalley this month and try to increase my 'read' list on Goodreads.

Currently Listening + TBR 
I'm listening to Medieval Anarchy which is part of the History In An Hour series of audiobooks by Harper Collins. I'm planning to listen to The Black Door by Richard J Aldrich and Rory Cormac too.

What have you been reading recently? Have you read any of these books or listening to any of these audiobooks? 

17 comments

  1. They all sound interesting, and so many! You've inspired me to go read some more x

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  2. We Should All Be Feminists has been on my TBR for the longest time! My favourite read from April has been The Reminders by Val Emmich, and I'm currently reading Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman :) -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

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  3. We Should All Be Feminists sounds so interesting! I would love to give that a read! x

    |Georgia Megan|

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  4. You've definitely read a mixed selection this month. I'm currently reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.

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  5. I've never tried an audible book and I'm quite intrigued to try one x

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  6. Wow I am amazed you have got through so many books! I need to read way more than I currently do.

    Cass | CassandraMyee

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  7. That's an amazing selection of books wow! I need to get back into reading! I always have so much going on!

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  8. I've been majorly slacking lately with my reading and need to up my game

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  9. Wow that's a lot of books!! Wish I had the time and patience haha x

    Cally | xcallyloves.blogspot.co.uk

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  10. The amount you read is inspiring, I need to read more, I love reading xxx

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  11. I've been wanting to try an audiobook for ages! You've inspired me.

    Georgia x
    www.georgiahathaway.co.uk

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  12. You got through so many! Well done x

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  13. You've read loads! I just can't get on with audiobooks.

    Sophie x | Essential Twenty

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  14. That's a great selection of books, I don't read enough.

    Kristy | www.thevioletblonde.com

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  15. I defo need to up my reading game - you have gone through so many! x

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  16. Wow you get through so many books! I am still loving audiobooks and am listening to The Handmaids Tale at the moment - so good! I definitely recommend it if you haven't already read it x

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  17. Wow you have read so many. I need to get
    Back into reading again I used to love it.

    Kasie x

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Feel free to leave me a comment, I read all of them!

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