March Reading Wrap-Up 2020

Wednesday, April 15, 2020
March was a bit of a strange reading month as for the first half of the month I was in a reading slump and the second half involved a lockdown and almost no work so there was plenty of time for reading. I managed to read 11 books in March but annoyingly I failed on my monthly goal of reading one book over 500 pages. However, my favourite books from the month include: The Black Hawks and The Oldest House In London.

*The Empress Of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo (112 pages) ★★★
I've discovered a few interesting novellas recently and the first was an arc from Netgalley - I love the Tor.com novellas! I mentioned in last months wrap-up that I was a little obsessed with South East Asia, especially Japan, China and South Korea and that has carried on into March. I've read a few books that are either set in South East Asia or inspired by those countries including this novella by Nghi Vo.

We follow the life of an empress, through the stories of one of her now elderly handmaidens. The novella confused me a little initially as the story is being told to a traveller who is non-binary (which I wasn't expecting) and the magical realism/fantasy elements were also a little confusing as I thought it was a historical fiction - that's my fault for not fully reading reviews beforehand. After the initial confusion, it was an interesting mix of an Asian period drama or historical fiction with fantasy elements and female friendships. I didn't connect or love it as I hoped I would but I will definitely be looking out for more from this author.

The Black Hawks by David Wragg (429 pages) ★★★★
Next up is a debut fantasy read with comparisons to Nicholas Eames and Scott Lynch, the latter is one of my favourite fantasy authors so naturally I had to buy it. We follow Chel, knight and step-nephew to a lord, as he escapes an attack on the kingdom and is now in service to the young and bratty Prince Tarfel. Chel and Prince Tarfel find themselves kidnapped by a rag-tag group of meranceies and fighters, The Black Hawks, and what follows is a thoroughly enjoyable read with banter, camaraderie, fighting, politics and much more.

My initial thoughts were positive and I loved how quick and easy to book was but I didn't love it until The Black Hawks became involved as the banter, dialogue and interactions between them were perfect and reminded me of the dark humour and friendships in The Lies of Locke Lamora and Kings of The Wyld. I also loved the action, fight scenes and the characters of Chel and Lemon, in particular. Overall, I absolutely loved this read and my only negative was the start was a little slow and it became a bit drawn out in a couple of sections throughout the book but I highly recommend it and I can't wait for the next in the series.

The Oldest House In London by Fiona Rule (288 pages) ★★★
We all know by now that I adore niche history books and this one is no exception! I've read a fair few books around various aspects of the history of London, from crime and the beginnings of the police force to medical history, Bethlem and the Thames so there were many facts and stories throughout the book that weren't new to me but it still contained fascinating information not only about the specific house and the surrounding area but the people who owned the house and their lives as well as English history in general.

It was a quick, easy to follow and enjoyable read about so many aspects of British history and how it relates to the house and its surroundings, from the history of the buildings, the plague and riots to religious persecution, the demolition of historic buildings and the future of the oldest house in London. If you're looking for a niche and interesting non-fiction read, check out this book, especially as it is currently free on Kindle Unlimited.

*The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho (176 pages) ★★★
The second Tor.com novella I read in March was The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water that is also an Asian fantasy read - it seems to be a genre I am a little obsessed with now. We follow Guet Imm, as she joins a group of thieves to protect a sacred object but she gets more than she bargained for! I haven't read anything by this author before but I've heard great things and I think this novella was a good, quick and easy introduction to her writing. I loved the premise of the story and the camaraderie between the bandits as well as the action scenes and exploration of gender and gender roles but it wasn't as engaging as I'd hoped it would be sadly.

*The Gold Eater (Undertaker #1) by Xavier Dorison (66 pages) ★★★
Throughout late 2019 and early 2020, I read quite a few manga and graphic novels but I only managed to read one recently. We follow Jonas Crow, an undertaker, as he is asked to transport the body of a recently deceased man who made his millions in mining but shortly before his death he swallowed all of his gold which leads to fights, a race to reach the body and unrest in the mining town. I loved the Wild West setting, the art style and how unusual the premise is but as with a couple of the other short reads I finished in March, it just wasn't as great or memorable as I wanted it to be.

Sweetest Thing by Natasha West (235 pages) ★★★
My typical reading genres include fantasy, non-fiction and mysteries but I thought I'd give this contemporary female/female romance a go in March as it was free on Kindle Unlimited. We follow Robyn and Jodie as they are both selected to take part in a baking tv show. What follows is rivalry, relationship issues, a hate to love 'romance' and Bake Off-like judges. It was definitely a very cheesy, corny read but it was a good escape and a very quick/easy read. Although I don't think I'll be reading many more contemporary romance reads any time soon, it's just not a genre I really enjoy.

Pure by Andrew Miller (346 pages) ★★★
March has been a bit of a strange month for everyone and for me, one of the best forms of escapism and something that also massively helps with my anxiety and constantly worrying mind is reading. The end of March was basically a readathon for me as I tried to read as much as I could, including this title which has been on my bookshelves for so long! Set around the time of the French Revolution, we follow a young and ambitious engineer as he is set the daunting task of demolishing a church within the heart of Paris. What the engineer finds, along with the bones of long dead Parisians, are new found (if eccentric) friends, superstition, love and a noxious scent that lingers over the graveyard.

I loved the time period, the setting of Paris, the eerie premise of the book and the very visceral and vivid characters. You can probably deduce from the premise that it is quite a bleak book focusing on more than a few macabre topics but thankfully it did have a few rays of hope throughout it; although probably not the most appropriate or uplifting read for our current global pandemic...I didn't like the book as much as I'd hoped but it was a quick read and I will be looking out for more books from this author in the future.

Horrorstor Grady Hendrix (240 pages) ★★★
In the month of February, I read my first book by Grady Hendrix and fell in love, sadly not fully with the story itself, but with the raw and gritty writing style as well as the macabre and dark topics so I had to read another of his books. Horrorstor is unlike any other book I've read as it is a contemporary horror novel set in a version of Ikea...yes, Ikea. The cover looks like an Ikea catalog and within the book there are various product pages and descriptions of the store as you imagine an Ikea store to be structured.

The bizarre nature of the book doesn't stop there, as you'll find zombie like creatures, fear, claustrophobia, bugs, trapped spirits and more. At times it was a little slow but other moments were filled with shock and almost a sense of claustrophobia that was more than a little unsettling! While I didn't love the main character or the ending on the whole, I did completely love the Ikea-like setting and the entirely bizarre and horror filled nature of the book. I will be reading more from Grady Hendrix soon.

Air Awakens by Elise Kova (342 pages) ★★★ (3.5)
I haven't been fully loving most of the books I read in March, apart from The Black Hawks, so I went back to my faithful fantasy reads with another Kindle Unlimited book. In Air Awakens we follow library apprentice Vhalla as she unknowingly saves the life of the crown prince and unlocks her rare and feared magical abilities as a sorcerer. I adore books that feature magic of any kind and particularly when the main character learns that they have magical abilities (cough, Harry Potter, cough) so I already knew I'd like the read from the premise.

There were so many things I loved about this book from the very quick and easy writing style, the page turning pace, the magic and the relationship between Vhalla and the prince. It was a very enjoyable, fast paced fantasy read that was a fantastic escape. My only negative was the predictable story line and the common YA fantasy tropes. However, I loved the book overall and it was one of my favourite books of the month but I'm not sure if I'll carry on with the series. Although that being said, I will read more from this author especially as most of her books are free on Kindle Unlimited.

The Queen Of Spades by Alexander Pushkin (47 pages) ★★★
For the first time in months I finished a classic book, even if it was an incredibly short read! A couple of years ago Penguin released their Penguin Little Black Classics series and I bought a few but never got round to reading them. One of the 'little black classics' was this novella by the famous Russian author Alexander Pushkin. We follow a young officer as he learns about a secret that could lead him to wealth and riches but it comes at a cost. I've only read a couple of Russian classics, including War and Peace, and they tend to have fairly strong moral messages within them and this read is the same. It focuses on greed, obsession, treachery and the folly of gambling. It was an extremely quick but surprisingly easy to follow read that I'd definitely recommend.

Halloween Tales Volume One by Olivier Boiscommun (53 pages) ★★
The final book I read in March was a very quick halloween themed comic book that initially intrigued me as the cover looks amazing and it looked a little reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's famous The Halloween Tree (which I adored). Sadly, despite being a super quick, easy read and having a very unusual art style, it wasn't what I expected or wanted, if I'm honest. It contained themes of grief, loss and struggling to cope, if that's something you're trying to avoid. I would recommend checking out the appealing but bizarre art style, only if you have Kindle Unlimited as it is currently free if you have a trial or subscription.

Have you read any of these books? Are you, like me, reading much more during lockdown?

*gifted

11 comments

  1. The book Pure sounds great - I'll have to investigate!
    Em x

    ReplyDelete
  2. OMG I have been so behind when it comes to reading!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I’ve not read any of these. That’s a lot of 3 stars!

    Jenny
    Http://www.jennyinneverland.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've not read any of these either - goof to know your thoughts on them x

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've actually been reading and loving it again!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your reading progess puts mine to shame! I do think I am doing more now we're home so much, though I do think that when I'm really gripped by a fiction book; I find a way to read it all the time regardless

    Jasmine xx

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've not read any of these yet. I've got quite a few waiting to get through xx

    Tiffany x www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ooo I haven't read any of these! Will take a look xx

    ReplyDelete
  9. I've started to read a book on bodybuilding which I find interesting x

    ReplyDelete
  10. The Oldest House in London sounds interesting, I love stuff like that x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  11. I’ve finally started reading during lockdown.

    https://littlemissmelanie.com/

    ReplyDelete

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

If you would like to contact me, email: heathernixon4@gmail.com