April Reading Wrap-Up 2020

Friday, May 01, 2020
March was a very strange month and it was also a fairly disappointing reading month; sadly that continued into April with quite a few unmemorable and disappointing reads. However, I did finish eleven books and my favourites of the month include: The Strange Library and The Atlas of Unusual Borders. I did DNF two books as well: Duckett and Dyer by G.M Nair and The Palace Job by Patrick Weeks, both of which I read about 15% of but became uninterested in unfortunately.

The House Of The Vampire by George Viereck (117 pages) ★★
I'll start with the most disappointing book of the month, The House of the Vampire, which is a modern classic (it was first published in 1907) that piqued my interest as it involved vampires - I do love a good vampire focused read. Sadly, this book wasn't what I thought it would really be and from the reviews on GoodReads, it seems that others felt the same.

It is categorised as one of the first vampire novels but it features Reginald Clark who isn't a vampire as you would expect as he is a 'psychic' vampire which is infinitely more boring than the tradtional blood sucking variety. I personally found the short read to be slow, tiresome, pretentious and far from what I wanted or expected sadly. I rarely give out two star ratings - this is a book I wouldn't recommend unfortunately.

The Seven: The Lost Tale of Dellerin by Robert J Power (392 pages) ★★★
After the disappointment of last months reading and The House Of The Vampire, I decided that I needed to go back to my trusty fantasy books and thankfully I did enjoy this book but it definitely isn't a new favourite sadly. We follow a group of thieves, killers and mercenaries called The Seven who have become somewhat of a legend in the newly ravaged city of Dellerin in which The Dark One reigns. A lost book tells their last tale and the fate of The Seven which involves grotesque creatures, loss, love, friendship, power and destruction.

One of my favourite aspects of my favourite fantasy book ever, The Lies Of Locke Lamora, was the camaraderie of the group of mercenaries, that is was also one of my favourite elements of this read too. I liked the group interactions and the complex relationships between all of the characters as well as the fight scenes, strange creatures and the classic fantasy quest feel of the book. However, it was such a bleak read with loss, death, hopelessness and many grim dark elements, all of which I usually love but for me, that needs to be paired with a little hope and humour; sadly that was missing in this read. Overall, I liked the book and it had many fantasy aspects I love. However it was just a little disappointing, too depressingly bleak and too drawn out at times for me to love it.

Pandemic: Our Fears and Facts by Sunetra Gupta (30 pages) ★★★
While I was reading fairly bleak and disappointing books and we are currently going through a global pandemic, why not read about more death and pandemics...This short Kindle Single e-book was written by Professor of Epidemiology Sunetra Gupta and I thought it would make for a great introduction and explanation of what we are currently going though by an individual who knows what they are writing about, rather than all of the hysteria from the media and misinformation on social media.

Growing up with many of my relatives and family friends that had various jobs in the medical profession, including my parents, I've always had a fascination with biology, immunology and science in general so whenever I see a niche medical (or medical history book), I have to read it. I never really knew what I wanted to do growing up, apart from a brief period when I wanted to be an immunologist, so this book was throughly interesting for me and gave me an easy to follow understanding of what a pandemic, mass infection and past examples of pandemic involves. I'd highly recommend it, especially as it is a very quick and easy to understand, well explained short read.

*Men To Avoid In Art and Life by Nicole Tersigni (96 pages) ★★★
Taking a break from the depressing and morbid reads, I requested this short non-fiction humorous read that combined classical fine art with memes and mansplaining - it was a glorious and light hearted interlude in-between all of the current chaos and disappointing reads I was picking up. Who doesn't love memes? My favourite kind of memes have to be the historical or classical art memes so this book was perfect for me. I definitely recommend this book, especially as a funny book to gift to friends or family. It was a very short read and I'm glad I requested it from Netgalley! If you have a blog and review books, definitely check out Netgalley as you might be able to read books before they are published for free.

Along The Razor's Edge by Rob J Hayes (281 pages) ★★★
Back to the grimdark fantasy reads with another free book on Kindle Unlimited - I love Kindle Unlimited and cannot recommend it enough, especially if you are just getting into reading again or if you want to try new genres without committing to buying each book. We follow Eskara, a former solider and sorcerer, as she is captured by the emery along with her best friend and fellow sorcerer Josef. They are taken to The Pit where they spend every gruelling day digging, mining and being beaten by the barbaric guards.

This book is grimdark, I mean really grimdark, as it is filled with fighting, a brutal setting, gritty vivid characters and magic. It flits between the Eskara's experience in The Pit, her escape and her time learning how to use magic/sources before she was captured. We also see changing relationships, Eskara growing up and all of her sadly brutal experiences but unlike The Seven, there's a touch of hope and a little dark humour throughout the book which I needed to be able to enjoy the story. If you like grimdark as a genre then definitely check out this read, although I did find it quite slow and it took me much longer to read than I thought it would considering the low page number.

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami (88 pages) ★★★
One of my favourite books of the month was one of the strangest and most lighthearted of the selection I read in April. I've wanted to read more Japanese translated fiction and Murakami is one of the most famous modern Japense authors so I don't know why it has taken me so long to get to his work but I'm glad I started with The Strange Library.

We follow a young narrator as he visits the library after school when he encounters a strange old man who lures him into a hidden area of the library and traps him alongside a man dressed as a sheep and a mute young girl. It sounds bizarre and it is but I loved it, despite magical realism and more abstract reads not being a favourite genre of mine. It has elements of Alice in Wonderland to me and it was filled with illustrations, which I always love in books. If you like magical realism, I'd definitely recommend it and I want to read more from Murakami now.

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker (176 pages) ★★★
This non-fiction graphic novel has been on my Amazon wish list for so long and I finally bought it in April when the price dropped. From the cover and the brief description I read, I assumed it would be a non-fiction history focused read about the origins of various sexualities, gay rights, historic accounts and recent LGBT victories all within a comic book or graphic novel format but sadly I was only partly correct.

It is structured a little strangely and I assumed the layout and format would be more comic book-like or at least more interesting than it is. I think the layout could have been far more interesting, entertaining and engaging as at times it read like a very dry textbook which isn't what I wanted or expected. However, it did introduce me to new concepts, individuals and theories related to gender roles and sexuality such as queer theory which is a term I'd never heard of.

There was one point made at the end of the book which I entirely agree with and that was the plethora of terms and debate around queer theory - that it is confusing for the general public to understand and that was definitely demonstrated with how many opposing arguments and overly complex sounding terms there were in the book. I felt as though the book was trying to make the topics assessable to the public but it just emphasised how convoluted, complex and confusing the topic, theories and terms are. With a topic such as sexuality and gender being so up for debate and with countless options, it's going to be fraught, filled with debate and labels but I think there's a point when there are too many terms that it becomes more complex than it needs to be. I also think it's a little misleading to label this book as a graphic novel, it's more of an illustrated non-fiction read.

I would recommend it if you are studying those topics; otherwise it's a little too dry textbook-like than I thought it would be with too many arguments and countless terms which makes it very confusing at times which almost defeats the point of the book, in my opinion, as it seems to be been created at (least in part) to educate the general public.

*Something Is Killing The Children: Volume One by James Tynion (128 pages) ★★★
I read one graphic novel in April and it was an arc from Netgalley - it will be released at the end of May. It was created by the author of the The Woods graphic novel series which I liked so I hoped I would like this new series too. We follow a boy, after his friends have been killed by an unknown monster, as he teams up with Erica Slaughter, who can see and kill monsters, to find the monster in the town that is killing children. I loved the art style, the easy plot and fast pace but it was quite generic, in my opinion.

The Atlas Of Unusual Borders by Zoran Nikolic (265 pages) ★★★
The final non-fiction read I finished in April was an unusual niche book all about the strange borders between nations around the world - we all know by know how much I love very niche non-fiction so I naturally I had to read it. I loved the layout of the book, the plethora of easy to read maps, the well explained information and the very niche nature of the read. I loved this book, it had some information in it which I already knew (from the TV show QI of all places) but most of it was new and very interesting as well as bizarre! It was a fairly quick and interesting non-fiction read about a topic that is still relevant today and one I barely knew anything about. I'd highly recommend it especially as it is free on Kindle Unlimited. 


Chasing Graves by Ben Galley (301 pages) ★★★
The penultimate book I finished was another grim dark read by a self published author - I rarely read self published books but I'm happy that my reading this month, while not the best, was quite diverse in terms of the genres and variety of authors. We follow Caltro, a master locksmith, who after being summoned to the capital city is murdered when he arrives but that is just the beginning of his life...or afterlife.

I loved the world, the gritty nature of the book, the character of Caltro and the idea of living ghosts that are bound to living individuals. I think it's a unique idea and something I haven't read about before. It was a fairly quick and easy read although it did feel drawn out and quite sluggish at times which pulled me out of the story. However, it was an interesting story mixed with the grimdark elements I love and some mysteries thrown in too. I'm not sure if I'll carry on with the series but I would recommend this first book.

River Of Thieves by Clayton Snyder (324 pages) ★★★
Last but not least for today's post is another adult fantasy read via Kindle Unlimited. We follow Cord, a cursed thief who has the ability to come back to life as he re-groups his allies to pull of the heist of a lifetime. Unlike the other fantasy books I read in April, this one has the perfect balance between fighting, dark topics and grotesque creatures/characters alongside funny friendships, camaraderie and a tonne of dark sarcastic humour, which I adore.

I loved the character of Cord especially and the friendships throughout the book as well as the traditional quest journey, the fight scenes and the banter between all of the main characters. I also liked the magic, elements of religion and strange creatures but the pace was a little strange and as the book progressed, the plot became a little confusing and meandering which took me out of the story. I did like the book overall, with funny friendships, magic and the amazing sarcastic and dark humour being my favourite elements but I didn't like the pace and there was a strange section in the book about Nenn's period and it seemed to be added in to make the character a little extra snarky...I did not appreciate that and it had absolutely no place in the story. Overall, I would recommend it but sadly there was some flaws (in my opinion).

Have you read any of these books? Have you been reading more since we have been in lockdown? 

*gifted

12 comments

  1. You have read a lot of books. Reading books can be so helpful, helps us imagine and reason in other ways.
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  2. I haven't read any of these, I've been really struggling to read since lockdown started, my concentration has disappeared x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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  3. I haven’t heard of any of these x

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  4. I got off to a decent start reading but it dropped off later in the month.

    https://littlemissmelanie.com/

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  5. I haven't heard of any of these books - it's always good to try something different.
    Em x

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  6. I'm so unsure, if I see three stars I just assume they're bad! xx

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  7. The Atlas of Unusual Borders sounds interesting - I recently picked up Prisoners of Geography, which is probably quite similar

    Jasmine xx

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  8. These look like some interesting reads!

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  9. I've not read any of these before! I actually really didn't read much in April, just didn't have the motivation to do much xx

    Tiffany x www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

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  10. The Strange library sounds right up my alley x

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  11. I haven't read any of these - you deffo have a book type!

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  12. I've not read any of these, but have been veering off into romantic books far too often lol

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

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