Monday 1 May 2017

[article] April Round Up

I finally made proper use of my local library for this month's reading

April Round Up

I can't believe we are already a third of the way through the year! I've had a pretty great month - three weeks off of university for Easter and a week back hiking up for summer exams at the end of May. This unfortunately coincides with the release date of a lot of ARC's in my possession, so I've been frantically trying to read those this month. Because I read so many books in April, twenty three to be precise, I'm trying out a new format for my reading round up posts in order to keep it shorter. Let me know if you prefer this way or not! 

May seems to be quite a popular publishing date: I have a handful of preorders for next month that I'm super excited about. There's the last book in the Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan, In The Sanctuary of Wings, Derek Landy's new Skulduggery Pleasant book (technically published 1st June, but if I'm lucky it might arrive early :) ), and of course, A Court of Wings and Ruin by S. J. Maas. There's also the last book in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy by Robin Hobb, Assassin's Fate, which I was lucky enough to get an ARC of. 

To counteract this book excitement, there's my university exams at the end of May. I've ordered the May Fairyloot box which ought to arrive just as I finish as a reward to myself, and I think I might buy a boxset (Dawn of the Clans) of Erin Hynter's Warrior Cats books. Whilst they aren't particularly well written, they come with such a huge dose of childhood nostalgia that I want to own them all! 

Spotlight ARC of the Month:

Spellslinger, Spellslinger #1
Sebastien de Castell

Kellen is supposed to be earning his mage name; on the cusp of turning sixteen, if he doesn't pass the four trials he'll be relegated to the life of a servant. The problem? He doesn't have any magic any more. It doesn't help that his father is the most powerful mage of their people and his sister, barely thirteen, is already passing all of her trials. 

When Kellen meets Ferius Parfax, a wandering magic-less traveller, she tries to teach the boy that there is more to power than magic, and that magic can be found in places other than spells. As Kellen doggedly tries everything to make his magic return, he delves deeper into the history and the secrets of his people. Secrets that get people killed. 

This is a beautifully written book. Kellen is one of those protagonists that is genuinely shit at something. There's no sudden moment when he becomes the powerful mage of his dreams and his father's expectations. Instead we watch him struggle and grow with his burden.

Official Synopsis:

Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage's duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There's just one problem: his magic is gone.

As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path.  
Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi - a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She's difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen's only hope...

Spotlight Read of the Month:

Radio Silence
Alice Oseman

A phenomenal contemporary read. Oseman perfectly captures what it is to be a British teenager on the cusp of attending (or not) university, struggling to separate who you are and who you want to be from what other people want you to be, but also from who you thought you ought to be for so long that it has become who you are. It seamlessly blends in social media, friendships, understanding your own sexuality, and a beautiful podcast: Universe City.

Frances wants to go to Cambridge. She wants it more than anything else, every since she was seven years old. I literally was Frances a few years ago. Frances is every child who was top of their class for years. Who got straight grades. Who is growing older and realising that they aren't nearly as clever as they thought they were and that there are so many children who are top of their school who want to go to Oxbridge.

This book is a love letter to those over achievers are beginning to realise that academia isn't even nearly everything that is important and nor should it be. 

Official Synopsis:

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.

Other Reads:

     * * Descendants, Rae Else - Review
In the vein of Percy Jackson, El is a descendent of Perseus and is suddenly thrust into a world of magic and godly children. Everything happens so fast in this short novel (210 pages) that I felt like I was getting whiplash. 

     * * True North, L. E. Sterling -  Review
In this sequel to True Born, very little happens and Jared Price is as creepy as ever. Whilst the writing is more sophisticated, there was a serious lack in plot advancement.

     * * * * * Grendel's Guide To Love & War, A. E. Kaplan -  Review
In this loose modern retelling of Beowulf, Tom Grendel, lawn mower and interviewer of old ladies, wild actress sister Zip, and best friend Ed, collide with unruly teenagers next door, Willow and Rex (bro-iest bro ever to bro). This book seamlessly blends hilarious humour and thoughtful ideas.

   * * * Unknown Horizons, C. J. Birch -  Review
A lesbian sci-fi novella that incorporates some classic sci-fi staples: an officer aboard a starship, a mission to help save humanity, a sort-of savage mech race, some religious aspects, and a nice romance. 

   * * Definitions of Indefinable Things, Whitney Taylor -  Review
Reggie Mason is depressed. She meets the equally depressed, nihilistic, terrible indie film-maker Snake. Snake's sort-of girlfriend Carla is seven months pregnant with his child. 

  * * * * * The Royal Ranger, Ranger's Apprentice #12, John Flanagan -  
The twelfth book in the Ranger's Apprentice series takes us right back to the roots. Will becomes a mentor to the unruly Princess Cassandra and the cycle of this beloved children's series finally concludes.

Warrior Cats: The New Prophecy series, Erin Hunter

When I went home for the Easter holiday, I wanted to read something not too mentally taxing. Seeing as I'd re-read the first series in January, I thought I'd continue with these. The years had dulled the details from my mind, so it was pretty fun to explore these books again. 

    * * *  The Murdstone Trilogy, Mal Peet
Phillip Murdstone is a writer of sensitive novels about young boys. His agent Minerva says he has to write something that sells - fantasy. It's all very in vogue darling, she says over a glass of wine. So Murdstone writes a best seller that is communicated to him by a goblin in another world. 

   * * * Ten Birthdays, Kerry Wilkinson -  Review
Poppy's mother died on her fifteenth birthday, leaving behind ten letters, one for each of Poppy's birthdays. The book follows Poppy through each of these birthdays as she and the people around her grow older and change from year to year. A touching yet repetitive book.

   Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut
A classic anti-war novel, I have left this unrated because I wasn't sure what to think. A quick, compelling read the deftly knits together war, aliens, and time travel.  

    * * * * Faceless, Alyssa Sheinmal -
Maisie wakes up in hospital after going for her morning run. She's missing half of her face. When she qualifies for a face transplant, she thinks she might be able to get her old life back - but how can she do that when she doesn't even recognise herself in the mirror?

   * * Love & Vandalism, Laurie Crompton - Review
Rory paints graffiti in secret. She spray paints roaring lions across the city as some sort of artistic therapy and teenage danger high. When recovering alcoholic Hayes catches her in the act, he blackmails her. I found the romance terribly unconvincing.

  * * * The Boy With the Porcelain Blade, Den Patrick - Review
Hard to get into but a rewarding read. Lucien is an Orfano, part of a group of people that are born with a specific set of physical deformities. When he is made an outlaw, he is thrown into the mysteries that surround his city. 

   * * * * Girlhood, Cat Clarke - Review
When Harper's twin sister died she left home for a remote boarding school in Scotland. Several years on, all is fine until new girl Kirsty joins her friendship group and she's weirdly interested in Jenna. Sort of a thriller, Girlhood is about friendships, grief, and love, and I loved it.

   * * * When Dimple Met Rishi -
Dimple Shah wants to be a coder. Her parents want her to find happiness, and they think she might get it in the form of an arranged marriage to Rishi Patel. When an unsuspecting Dimple goes to a summer coding camp, she meets this weirdly earnest boy addressing her as his "future wife". A sweet, humorous, diverse romance book. 

  * * Den of Shadows - Review
Den of Shadows is about a train. Franco owns The Gambler's Den which roves on train tracks through the Sand Sea providing lavish entertainment to the local people. Whilst it has a wonderful start, I found Den of Shadows to be a very slow and aimless read.

Have you read any of these? What was your favourite book of April?

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