April Reading Wrap-up 2018

Friday, May 04, 2018
March was an amazing reading month and thankfully April was just as good! I managed to read 10 physical books, two audiobooks and three short e-books. I did read a couple of fantastic books this month and my two favourite books from April have to include: Flame In The Mist and A Hero Born, both of which I loved. For 2018 I set myself a goal of reading one longer book each month and I'm categorising books over 500 pages as a 'long' book - my pick for this challenge in April was The Tiger And The Wolf by Adrien Tchaikovsky.

*The Sealwoman's Gift by Sally Magnusson (384 pages) ★★★
April has been a month of worldwide reading for me as I've read books set in Japan, China/Mongolia, Iceland, Algiers, Morocco and the UK with this book being set partly in Iceland and partly within the Ottoman Empire/Algiers with mentions and brief trips to Italy and Denmark too. In terms of geography, I don't think my reading has been this varied for a while!

A historically true event is the basis of this story and it's mentioned within another book I've read this month (Out Of Thin Air) in which a group of Icelandic people were taken as slaves to Agiers. We mainly follow one family's journey, struggles and hardships as they try to fit into a new land and being separated. Asta is the main view point we follow as well as her husband and she copes by telling the stories of her homeland. It was so interesting and heartbreaking to read about their captivity and struggle for freedom and to keep their family together. I loved the writing style as it was set in the past but the writing style is very contemporary and refreshing. It wasn't quite what I'd expected and it was very slow (which I did struggle with at times) but I'd definitely recommend it.
*A Hero Born by Jin Yong (416 pages) ★★★★
Three of my favourite books from April are all set within Asia - two within Japan and A Hero Born which is set within China/Mongolia. A Hero Born is a very popular book in China as it's sold of 300 million copies since it's publication in 1957 but it was only translated into English this year! I adore the cover and I'm so glad that I was sent an arc because it's definitely one of my favourite books of the year!

We follow a tale of epic proportions which spans years and involves revenge, family ties, friendship and lots of kung fu! The story begins with a chance encounter by brothers in arms, Skyfury Guo and Ironheart Yang with Qiu Chuji, the latter is a Taoist and master of kung fu. After an attack, the brothers in arms are both presumed dead and their pregnant wives are forced to flee. Qiu Chuji makes a pledge with the Seven Freaks Of The South (a group of nomadic Robin Hood kung fu masters, almost) to find the pregnant women and train their children in the noble art of kung fu - after which they'll fight to see who is the better fighter/trainers.

I'll be honest and admit that I was a little intimidated, not only because it's so beloved but also because it's set within a culture I know very little about; additionally the characters names and place names are fairly difficult to pronounce too. However, I liked the writing on the whole although I think the translation is definitely a little odd at times but after the initial difficulties, it became such an interesting, entertaining and enjoyable read! I loved the classic feel to it and the characters of the Seven Freaks Of The South along with Guo Jing and the terrifying character of Cyclone Mei! The only issue I had was with the plethora of names for the numerous kung fu moves (it became fairly confusing!) and there was one scene that was utterly ridiculous - Lily Li, one of the pregnant women, was running and fell unconscious after which she was surprised to find that she'd given birth unaided while unconscious...However, despite that I'm so surprised by how much I adored this book and now I cannot wait for the second in the ten book series which will be published next year. Thanks MacLehose Press for an early copy!

*Out of Thin Air: The Peculiar Story of Iceland's Most Infamous Criminal Cases by Anthony Adeane (304 pages) ★★★
My non-fiction read for the month of April was this fascinating true account of two disappearances and subsequent deaths of two men in Iceland back in 1974. Iceland has an incredible low crime rate so anything like this will naturally leave a mark on the nations memories and history. The book not only follows the investigations and lives of the missing individuals and people surrounding the case but also the folklore, history and culture concerning the beautiful country of Iceland which I found very interesting as I know very little about Iceland in general. One topic that this non-fiction read mentions is the kidnapping of Icelandic people by Danish/North African pirates in the 1600's which is a coincidence as this event is the basis of the events of The Sealwoman's Gift by Sally Magnusson.

I adore the cover, it's a fairly quick read and it's incredible interesting due to all of the rumours, conjecture and secrets around the disappearances, deaths and botched investigation. The plethora of characters and the timeline jumping around a bit did make for a slightly confusing read at times but I'd still recommend this book as it's ideal for those who like true crime, mysterious non-fictions reads and who want to learn a little about Icelandic history and politics; however I can see why it wouldn't quite be for everyone.
*Under The Knife by Arnold Van De Laar (368 pages) ★★★
Another non-fiction read for the month is a new release from a Danish surgeon all about the history of surgery, focusing on 28 specific operations that changed the field. That premise alone is intriguing but if it is just focused on the medical side of the operations then I would have found it a little too much and potentially boring; however, for each operation, process or tool we look at the history of the procedure, the method of the operation and various famous or infamous people in history who have had that specific operation. Just some of the famous individuals featured within the book include: Queen Victoria, JFK, Houdini and various popes!

I liked the writing and the layout of the book as it split the operations up into short chapters which allowed me to read it fairly quickly and easily. I definitely enjoyed the history side of the book more than the medical side but together they made for an interesting non-fiction read for those who love medical history, historical figures and the evolution of various surgical operations. History in general as well as medical history as intrigued me since secondary school so I found this book very interesting. However, it won't be for everyone as it's fairly detailed and specific when it comes to the method of the operations so if you are squeamish then proceed with a little caution.

*What Lies Within by Annabelle Thorpe (352 pages) ★★★
As with a few of the other books in this post, this read already has a full review posted on my blog so I won't go too much into it here but in the novel we follow three friends, Freya, Paul and Hamad as they are reunited in Morocco. What follows is a very tangled web of lies, secrets, betrayal and death in the very beautiful, colourful country of Morocco. I liked the writing, it was a very quick read and I think it would make the perfect summer holiday read - I'd definitely recommend this book if you like mystery thrillers.

*Carnivore by Jonathon Lyon (432 pages) ★★★
I was instantly intrigued by this novel because of the striking cover and the premise sounded interesting and very vague so I didn't really know what I was getting into - the only thing I knew was that it was related in some way to the authors experience of chronic pain. I partly read the arc I was kindly sent and I also listen to it partly on BookBeat. We follow Leander who seems to be suffering with chronic pain and synesthesia, among other issues as he leaves a trail of drug use and manipulation in his wake.

This novel is described as 'the most controversial debut literary thriller of 2017' and I think that's a great way to describe it as it's definitely a polarising book. I found it to be an interesting read overall but it's incredibly graphic, disturbing and extreme at times with potentially triggering topics of chronic pain, illness, manipulative relationships, abuse/rape and drug use. I have very mixed feelings about this book but ultimately I think I would recommend it.

*Japonisme by Erin Niimi Longhurst (277 pages) ★★★★
Surprise book mail is always very welcome, especially when it's from Harper Collins! I was very kindly sent this gorgeous hardback copy of a non-fiction read all about the Japanese culture, recipes and how to implement the Japanese lifestyle to lead a happier, healthier life. It's beautifully illustrated by Ryo Takemasa.

This read is very similar in it's style, concept and layout to the books about hygge that I've read such as The Little Book Of Hygge which I loved so I knew I'd like this book! It's pretty much a combination of a cook book, gardening guide, non-fiction read on the Japanese culture and self help book. It contains everything from mindfulness, gardening and flower arranging to calligraphy, how to assemble a bento box and make sushi and chopstick etiquette. I think it's a wonderful little book that's perfect to dip in and out of - I cannot recommend it enough!
*Flame In The Mist by Rene Adhiere (416 pages) ★★★★
In March I read one of my favourite YA books of the past year or so which was Children Of Blood And Bone and within April I read another YA fantasy that is very high up on my list of my all time favourite YA reads! As with Children Of Blood And Bone, this book focuses on a culture that I'm not very familiar with and I cannot recommend both books enough!

We follow Mariko, who is the daughter of a powerful and prominent samurai as she is being taken to the palace of the emperor to meet her betrothed, the illegitimate son of the emperor when her convoy is attacked. Her attackers are supposedly part of the infamous, brutal Black Clan so Mariko is forced to find out a way to infiltrate the Black Clan, what follows is a very Mulan themed adventure with magic, fight scenes and obviously, romance - because it wouldn't be a YA book without romance.

The writing was quick and easy, I loved the setting, culture and fight scenes and I also adored the magic but it wasn't explored as much as I hoped it would be - I think it might be more prominent in the next book *fingers crossed*. The Japanese culture and setting made it a very unique read for me, I liked the strong Mulan vibes I was getting from this book and I ultimately liked the romance. The group of Robin Hood type killers and thieves also appeals to me. It's one of my favourite YA books of the past year or so and I cannot recommend it enough. I now need the second book but it isn't released until June this year!

*Turn A Blind Eye by Vicky Newman (384 pages) ★★★
I've already posted a full review on my blog which you can read if you want but I'll explain it briefly here: we follow detective inspector Maya Rahman after the death of her brother as she is set to investigate the murder of the headmistress of her former school. The characters were interesting and the diversity and issues explored is very refreshing and needed within such a white male centric genre. The mystery of the deaths was compelling and I wanted to find out how the book would conclude. However, I found it to be too slow paced for me personally and the dialogue was a little too much at times and bogged down the story. Additionally, the motives of the killer seemed a little weak and flimsy which did pull me out of the story a little. With that being said, I'd still definitely recommend it but be aware of the potentially triggering topics of suicide, arranged marriage, religion, racism, sexism and murder/illness.

*The Tiger And The Wolf by Adrien Tchaikovsky (608 pages) ★★★
My genres this month have mainly consisted of thrillers and fantasy, both of which are my favourite genres so I wanted to carry on and read an adult fantasy novel. I was very kindly sent the entire trilogy from the lovely people over at Pan Macmillan/Tor so thank you! I will review the books in my monthly wrap-ups but I'll also have a full post reviewing the trilogy as a whole when I've finished all three books.

This is the first book in the adventure/high fantasy series and we follow Maniye who is part of the wolf clan but she is viewed as an outcast because her mother was the queen of the tiger clan which means that Maniye can transform into both a wolf and a tiger. She escapes, helps a prisoner of the wolf clan escape too (who is a priest of the snake) and now a killer is sent to find her.

For the first 30% or so, I found it a little confusing and there was so much information to understand that it felt very bogged down, intimidating and daunting but thankfully the rest of the book was fast paced, intriguing and compelling. I loved the characters of Maniye, Hesprec, Loud Thunder and Broken Axe, they made for very unique characters. It had a feel of being native american or South American inspired. I liked the writing but it definitely took me a while to get into and the vast amount of information about the various gods, numerous tribes, tribal stories/memories and backstory was very info-dumpy (not a word, I know) and bogged down at times. Additionally I found the character of Asmander and his journey far less interesting than Maniye's story. Despite some of the negatives, the more I read, the more I become invested and interested in the story!
*Quidditch Through The Ages by J.K Rowling (129 pages) ★★★
I have been wanting to read these short Harry Potter themed e-books for a while so when I had a free trial of Kindle Unlimited, I was able to read the Quidditch Through The Ages e-book for free. It's a short e-book created by J.K Rowling for charity. The book is a short annotated history of the game of quidditch including the origins of the game, it's best players, the moves and it's top teams. It made for a very quick, easy and entertaining read, perfect for Harry Potter fans.

*Inferior by Angela Saini via BookBeat ★★★ (3.5)
My second audiobook of the month is a non-fiction audiobook related to feminism, the persecution and subjugation of women, gender roles and sexual behaviour of animals as well as everything from various scientific experiments, societies views of women and female genital mutilation. It made for a interesting audiobook with a fair amount of the information that I already knew but various studies I'd never heard of. I read it partly as a Netgalley arc but mostly as a BookBeat audiobook - I'd definitely recommend the audiobook! I think it would make an essential read for women and especially men!

*Guns by Stephen King (25 pages - ebook) ★★★
Another very quick read that I read for free with a Kindle Unlimited trial is an essay written by Stephen King (the Stephen King) about his views on school shootings, guns and gun control. It definitely made for an interesting and heart breaking read in which I do agree with a fair amount of King's opinions. He also addresses the influence of his first book on a few aborted school shootings too which I didn't know about. I'd definitely recommend this very topical and controversial short read.

*Marie Curie - The Radium Fairy by Chantal Montellier (50 pages) ★★★
I was sent this short graphic novel/comic book via Netgalley. It illustrates the life and work of Marie Curie, one of the most famous female scientists, including her early life, her relationships (particularly with her accomplished husband), her own accomplishments and her impact. I liked the illustration style, it's a quick and easy but enjoyable graphic novel about such an incredible woman! As well as being a great mini graphic novel, it also contained lots of photographs of Marie, her family  and colleagues which I hadn't seen before. It did contain so much information that I already knew from college and documentaries but I'd still recommend it.

*The Gamers' Survival Guide by Matt Martin (64 pages) ★★★
Last but not least is a very short hardback book I received in the April My Geek Box - you can read my review on All Subscription Boxes. It's a short, fun and quirky book that actually had some surprisingly great advice for gamers but the rest is just a bit ridiculous. I think it would make a fun little gift for gamers.

Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading? 

23 comments

  1. Japonisme sounds like a really interesting read. I don't know a lot about Japanese culture and I like how it covers an array of topics.

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  2. Oh my god you've read so much in one month! I really need to start making more time for reading. I miss it so much, but I just never can seem to find the time to pick up a book! x

    Brooke | www.brookeclarke.com

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  3. I am always in awe of how much you read!

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  4. Something for everyone! What a great selection

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  5. I don't know how you manage to read so much in a month.

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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  6. So many great books! But I think Out of Thin Air is the one I will add to my TBR.

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  7. I haven't read ANY of these! I do see a King book on here which makes me so happy! Looks to me you had a great reading month!

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  8. Turn A Blind Eye sounds like an interesting read, maybe I should pick that book up!xo

    Char | www.charslittleblog.co.uk

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  9. I need some new books so I'm definitely going to look at buying a couple of these!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

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  10. I love the sound of out of thin air! You know me I love my criminal cases! xx

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  11. Out of thin air and what lies within sound right up my street, the little blurb you've given about them makes them sound so intriguing. I'll definitely be putting them on my TBR. I don't know how you manage to read so much in one month,huge well done to you!

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  12. The covers alone are so beautiful! I have so many books I need to read the minute my exams are over! I am so excited to get back into reading again! :)

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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  13. I am so envious of how much you read, I wish I could too. I am going to have to try and make more of an effort!

    Danielle xx
    https://www.fashionbeautyblog.co.uk/

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  14. Oooh the sealwoman's gift sounds so interesting! x

    Laurzrah

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  15. It looks like you’ve read a lot of good books, I wish I could read that much but uni was so busy for me lately, however now that I’m on summer holiday i can now start reading more!

    Ayse x

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  16. Under the knife sounds right up my street. I love reading books about medicine!

    Sincerely, Sarah xx
    www.sincerelysarah.net

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  17. I can’t get over how much you read.
    I learn of so many new books on your blog.

    http://littlemissmelanie.com

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  18. I wish I had the time to read this much! It's incredible how many books you get through.

    Faye Jessica | fayejessica.co.uk

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  19. Flame in the mist sounds like one I would like x

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  20. Wow you read so much! Thankyou for the reviews, a lot of books I wouldn't of normally considered in there x

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  21. I really want to read under the knife & that Iceland disappearence novel sounds fab

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  22. Love the graphical design of the first boom & I'm defo gonna check out the 'under the knife' book as I love true crime books x

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