“It was strange and novel to have a human body again.”First line in Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare
Hello, lovely readers. It’s the end of the month so here you have my wrap-up for April. I had a bit of an anxiety-filled start to the month as I had been preparing posts for Wyrd and Wonder in May. I love that event, but my posts during that month also get a lot more attention, and I think I kind of underestimated how that was going to affect my social anxiety. I had so many ambitious ideas for posts I wanted to make but the more I wrote, the more anxious I felt. I realized it wasn’t going to go away so I decided to scrap some of those posts and go for something a bit “safer”, and I immediately felt better. I’m very determined to not look at that as a defeat. Wyrd and Wonder is meant to be fun, and it was good for me to be reminded that not every post I make needs to be some revolutionary thing. And I promise that I have a lot of fun stuff coming your way in May anyway.
I also spent the entire month of April being obsessed with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+, and now I’m actually in mourning because it’s over. And yes, I know I’m being kicked out of the bookish community for not saying the same about Shadow and Bone but it just didn’t compare, I’m sorry.
But let’s get to the reading I did in April because in that regard, it was amazing in every way possible. Just look at my stats:
I read about a thousand pages more than usual, so I’m very thrilled about that! I did get through a few big books this month, but they were all ones I was very excited about so I flew through them. My average rating definitely also reflect that.
Out of the seven books I read, I’ll be reviewing five while two will not get reviews. One of those two is The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern which was a reread and I don’t do mini-reviews for those (it was still brilliant though). The other is Secret History by Brandon Sanderson, which is a Mistborn novella, and I can’t say a single word about that without spoiling something. But let’s get onto the reviews!
Chain of Iron (The Last Hours #2)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Published: March 2nd, 2021
Genre: YA Fantasy
Check out the synopsis for the first book in the series, Chain of Gold on Goodreads.
Do I spot a tiny bit of middle book syndrome? It’s not glaring, but I did feel that Cassandra Clare had a hard time stretching the numerous slow-burn romances in here across three big books. It made for some odd developments that seemed to only be happening because of “drama”. We still need problems to solve in book three. Especially the ending had me rolling my eyes hard because of this.
I did still enjoy the book but less than the first one. I really missed a lot of the side characters that were sorely absent for large parts of the book, but the few snippets we did get were golden! They’re easily my favorite part of this series, so I’m obviously disappointed we didn’t get as much of them as we did in book one. Again, I feel the reason was due to Clare’s need to stretch their arcs into book three. I really hope we get more of Alastair, Anna, and Thomas in the next one. Maybe even Matthew if his character can be redeemed.
The Shadow of the Wind
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Published: May 1st, 2001
Genre: Historical Fiction
Buzzwords: Book about books, Barcelona, different life stories
Synopsis: Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.
This was nice. A quite sweet but tough story following different fates, all centered around the mystery of Julián Carax and his books. I really enjoyed the main character Daniel as a narrator in the sense that he didn’t tell the reader every thought he had but was more of a neutral observer in several situations. It amplifies how this story isn’t just about him but a lot of different characters whose lives have become intertwined. However, sometimes I did feel like we veered too far away from what was actually important about the characters. And there are so many of them! I didn’t feel like I needed everyone’s entire life story. In that sense, I was more interested in Daniel’s storyline.
However, this book is still very beautifully written and so quotable! It’s definitely something that I consider a must-read if you like Historical Fiction and want to imagine yourself in Barcelona for a time.
Assassin’s Quest (The Farseer Trilogy #3)
Author: Robin Hobb
Published: March 1997
Check out the synopsis for the first book in the trilogy, Assassin’s Apprentice, on Goodreads.
I have added the Farseer Trilogy to my list of favorites because it is perfection. Sure, it has flaws and things I would change, but I cannot change how these books make me feel. I love them and this final book only cemented that. Any gripes I had with it are quite spoilery so in case you’ve also read the book, I wrote a spoiler-filled review for you to check out.
Noughts and Crosses (Noughts and Crosses #1)
Author: Malorie Blackman
Published: January 15th, 2001
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Dystopia
Buzzwords: Racism, white privilege, alternative reality
Synopsis: Two young people are forced to make a stand in this thought-provoking look at racism and prejudice in an alternate society.
Sephy is a Cross — a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought — a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go. In their world, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum — a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger. Can they possibly find a way to be together?
In this gripping, stimulating and totally absorbing novel, black and white are right and wrong.
I get that this book is very old and I’m very late to the party, but this book was amazing! It tackles a lot of issues surrounding racism but shows them happening to white people in this alternate reality to tell the reader “hey, this is wrong, right? No matter who it happens to.” And yes, even if this book was written 20 years ago, it is sadly still relevant. I really liked how the book managed to show the many variations of racism as it tackles both the grand institutional racism and the minor acts of everyday racism that occur even between friends. With an extremely fast pace, it gets around a lot of issues without making it seem like we’re just rushing by them. For the most part, at least. There were scenes towards the end where I wished the author had taken more time to explore a problem to really make me understand it. Overall though, I think this is a must-read for young readers especially.
Knife Edge (Noughts and Crosses #2)
Author: Malorie Blackman
Published: August 7th, 2003
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Dystopia
Okay, so that was… less than great. It wasn’t at all like the first one. The pacing is slower which shouldn’t bother me but I don’t think the book utilized that slower pace to dive deeper into some of the issues. It was all very surface-level and it even touched on fewer issues concerning racism than the first one. I was left wondering what the point of the book was. Other than that, the sequel also focuses way more on the individual characters rather than how society as a whole dealt with what happened in book one. Unfortunately, it made me realize that I don’t like these characters very much. Every perspective had quite a bit of teen angst to them, which is odd because most of the POV characters are actually adults. It meant that the 18-year-old had the same narrative voice as her mother, and in general, it was hard to tell the differences between each POV character, and so made them hard to connect to.
I’m still going to read to next book and see if we return to the standard of the first book, which I also still recommend. So far, these books kind of read like standalones, so you can definitely just read the first and then stop if this review should have deterred you from continuing.
That was what my April looked like. Pretty amazing, which I just know I’m going to replicate in May because May means Wyrd and Wonder! I can’t wait for all the amazing Fantasy content people are going to be posting. My own TBR goes up tomorrow, so be on the lookout for that if you want to know what I’ll be up to in May. In the meantime, let me know what your favorite book of April was? Not counting my reread, mine was probably Assassin’s Quest.