This is about a week late, but I’m going to try to make this a monthly column, where I give a brief review of everything I’ve read that month – so here’s April!
There are only a handful of series that I’m really into. The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs is one of them (her Alpha & Omega series is another!), and the 9th entry, Fire Touched, could not truly satiate my hunger, but it mostly filled me up… for now! This is truly one of my very favorite werewolf series. Mercy is a great character, and the other characters also quickly worm their way into my heart.
I only just finished Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard in March, but I figured the 2-story prequel collection of Cruel Crown wouldn’t take too long to read. I liked Red Queen more than I thought I would, but I was a bit divided on the stories here. The first, Queen Song, I really loved. It felt like a complete story to me, that was not dependent on information from Red Queen. The second story, Steel Scars, actually skipped what I figured would be the climactic event because it occurred in Red Queen. Still, now that I’m reading Glass Sword, I’m grateful for the extra background of both stories. For those of you who haven’t read this series, it blends fantasy with a lot of the dystopian elements seen in YA literature over the past few years – the Red blood vs. Silver blood reminded me of Divergent, while the Queenstrial and the various fights to the death reminded me of Hunger Games – and also has a Cinderella-esque feel to it.
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes was a book I read for my teen book club over a year ago. I had really enjoyed it, but waffled about getting the subsequent books, because series take time, and I have so many books to read! I was stuck without an audiobook for my commute, so I went online and downloaded Rebel Spring (Falling Kingdoms #2) and I was surprised at just how easily I was transported back into this fantasy world and the cast of characters. Normally I only listen to audiobooks in my car, because I have them on CD, but the downloadable audio gave me the opportunity to listen while I did household chores like cooking dinner or preparing my lunch for work, or folding laundry (although part of this was because the due date was rapidly approaching!). As soon as I’m done Glass Sword I’ll be checking out Gathering Darkness! I’ve been slogging through the 3rd book in A Song of Fire and Ice for about a year now, and I’ll just say that this has a lot of similarities to Game of Thrones but reads very quickly and easily. The world-building isn’t overly complex or intimidating, and each character has such a strong agenda that I can’t help but root for each in turn, even the not-so-good ones (ahem, Magnus!).
My enthusiasm for the standalone fiction I read this month pales a bit in comparison. Two of these I finished reading while I was on a trip to Iceland. Valhalla by Ari Bach was one I had downloaded and was super excited to read, based on some strong marketing. I did not, however, enjoy it as much as I wanted to. The main character, Violet, seems to have antisocial personality disorder of the serial killer type, which makes her difficult to relate to. The world-building seemed to take up a lot of the story. Considering that the characters undergo modifications that make them able to come back to life and not feel pain, I didn’t feel that there was much at stake throughout. This is the first in a series, but I won’t be reading the rest, hence why it’s in my “standalone” section.
Boy on the Edge by Fridrik Erlings was on my to-read list, possibly because it sounded like the story of a troubled, possibly suicidal boy stuck in a foster care system. Then I quickly discovered that it was originally written in Icelandic and takes place in Iceland – what a coincidence! While being in the country while the author is describing the lava fields and landscapes was pretty awesome, the story felt old-fashioned, probably because it was being told by an older man about his childhood. The book was alright, but I doubt its appeal to modern teens.
The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood is a classic short story/novella that in my mind I associated with werewolves. Intellectually I knew that the wendigo as it is known to Native Americans is not the same as what wendigo has come to mean to popular culture, but still, I was under the impression that this was going to be a horror story. Basically, this is the story of a group of explorers and traders of different nationalities (British, American, French Canadian, and one lone Native America who is described in the racist fashion of the times) who encounter a wendigo. One of them is spirited off, and returns much changed. Or, not really changed at all, other than raving about his burning feet, because apparently wendigos are just really big creatures with burning hooves that run around and don’t eat humans. Not exactly what I was expecting – or hoping for.
Nonfiction is a category I don’t often read, and it’s hard to really decide if I’ve “enjoyed” it, so it’s more along whether or not I found it “interesting” or learned something from it.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been writing some fanfiction. Fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World by Anne Jamison is one of the few books out there about the culture of fanfiction (although it didn’t really get as deep into the “why fanfiction is taking over the world” as I would have liked). This compiled a bit of the history of fandoms and fanfiction as it evolved over the centuries, which sometimes got a bit boring when it delved into fandoms I’m not a part of nor interested in (such as Star Trek, or even Sherlock Holmes). This focused a bit heavily on the Twilight fandom, as that fandom has produced a number of published authors in recent years and fueled the debate over what is transformative fiction and what is copyright infringement. There were a few philosophical essays and bits that were really tedious and boring, but there were a number of great essays as well.
Now, I haven’t read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but I still wanted to read The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight. The subtitle, A Practical Parody, really sums up this book. It’s funny, but you can also use the advice contained within. I found it really amusing that so many reviewers on Goodreads marked this book down for containing too many instances of the f-bomb – I mean, it’s in the title, what did you expect? I, however, really enjoyed it.