I had to make the most of the free time I had before university started, so I actually read quite a lot in April. In particular, I used the time to catch up on some new releases and old series that I’d been meaning to get to, as well as books that friends had lent me and I really needed to give back at some point. I’m very glad that there are also people out there who have had books of mine for well over year now, otherwise I might start feeling guilty about how long some of these have been sitting unread on my bedside cabinet… Anyways, without further ado, here’s what I read in April:
King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) by Leigh Bardugo (2.5/5 Stars)
I was quite disappointed with this one, because after Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, I had expected to love this. Plus, while the Grisha Trilogy had its flaws, I did enjoy it, and thought its setting was unique and intriguing. This book, I hoped, would be the perfect combination: Leigh Bardugo had had the time to become a more seasoned writer, we would be back in a world I loved, and we would get to see some favorite characters from the previous two series. Unfortunately, the book fell pretty flat for me. I don’t know why, because there were certainly things going on, but I found both Nina and Nikolai’s storylines to be pretty unexciting. To my surprise, I connected much more to Zoya, whom I never really found to be that interesting while reading the Grisha Trilogy. Of course, I wasn’t completely bored with the rest of the book either, or I wouldn’t have kept reading. I liked Nina’s new friendship with Hanne, and Nikolai’s “nighttime escapades”. There were a lot of interesting points made about themes like grief and power, though, in my opinion, these could have been explored in a lot more depth. However, the thing I am most skeptical about concerning this book is its ending. I’ll try to be as vague as possible because of major spoilers, but I thought the ending really stopped the book from standing on its own feet. It felt like a certain plotline in previous books had been so successful and beloved by fans that the author also tied it into this book, even if it didn’t really make sense. If you’ve read this, you’ll know what I mean – let me know if you agree! (And, since I know I’ll be getting the question: Yes, you probably should read both the Grisha Trilogy and the Six of Crows Duology before reading this.)
The Kingdom of Copper (Daevabad Trilogy #2) by S.A. Chakraborty (5/5 Stars)
After the disappointment that was King of Scars, this book restored my faith in series continuations. It even managed to live up to, and possibly surpass, the extremely high expectations I had after finishing The City of Brass, which was one of my favorite books of last year. I can’t really say anything about the plot of this book without giving away too much about The City of Brass, but what I can tell you is that it is the second book in an adult dual-perspective Middle-Eastern-inspired fantasy series filled with magic, djinn and tons of politics. I love all the main characters and how complex they are, all the twists and turns that you never see coming, and how this book manages to balance lots of action and exploring important themes. I highly recommend checking this series out if you haven’t already!
Millie in London (3.5/5 Stars) and Millie auf Kreta (3.5/5 Stars) by Dagmar Chidolue
These are two German children’s books in a series following a little girl called Millie as she travels to different foreign countries with her family. A friend of mine mentioned that she’d loved these growing up, but I had never heard of them. So, obviously, I had to borrow them and see what I thought. And I can totally see these being something I would have adored as a kid! Millie and her family are very relatable, the facts about the countries presented are interesting (probably especially so to little kids who don’t already know a lot about these places), and I had fun with Millie’s misunderstandings when she tried to learn some of the countries’ respective languages. From an adult perspective, though, these books were okay, but didn’t blow me away. I already knew most of the facts presented, and the stories themselves were very straightforward, so I wasn’t that engaged. However, this is something I can totally see myself reading to young kids and having a ton of fun with! But seeing that it was just me, I just don’t think I was the right target audience.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley (4/5 Stars)
This is the first book in a crime series (targeted towards adults, but I think children would also enjoy it) following 11-year-old Flavia de Luce as she solves mysteries in the English countryside of the 1950s. Despite this being the first book in this series, it is not actually the first book I read. I got Speaking from Among the Bones at a used bookstore several years ago and since then, I have been reading this series completely out of order (the library also only has copies of some of the books). Before you get all horrified, let me just say that the mysteries are not connected to each other and that there’s not that much of an overarching story line – you still understand everything and don’t get spoiled. It’s not as bad as it sounds, though reading the series in order might still be the most sensible option… Anyway, a friend of mine recently got into these as well, and when she asked me whether I wanted to borrow the first book, I said yes straight away. And I really enjoyed myself! Flavia is just such a fun main character. Though she is eleven, she sees herself as extremely grown-up, and has always wanted to be a detective. She loves to play pranks on her annoying older sisters. She’s absolutely crazy about chemistry, and even has her own laboratory in her family’s slightly run-down mansion Buckshaw. Though I’ve never loved this series quite enough to buy it myself, I really enjoy picking these up every once in a while, and I think it’s worth checking them out.
In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) (3/5 Stars) and Through the Dark (The Darkest Minds Novella Collection) (2.5/5 Stars) by Alexandra Bracken
I started reading this series in December, but it took me until April to pick it up again. Since I only thought it was okay, it wasn’t a priority, though I did like it enough to want to know how it ended. On the whole, I can say basically the same things about In the Afterlight as the rest of the series – it was pretty average. I had a good time reading it, and it wrapped-up the series in a satisfying way, but there are definitely better dystopias out there. There was nothing about it that particularly stood out to me. As to Through the Dark, I probably wouldn’t even have read it if it hadn’t been part of the box set I got for my birthday. I have yet to find a novella that I actually like – I never feel as though they stand on their own, they’re just fan service so readers can experience a bit more time in a world they have grown to love. Therefore, though I thought that this was actually one of the better novella collections out there (it includes three relatively long stories following characters from the main series, one for Zu and two for Sam), it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that this didn’t do much for me, either.
Ach, diese Lücke, diese entsetzliche Lücke (Alle toten fliegen hoch #3) by Joachim Meyerhoff (3.5/5 Stars)
This was a birthday/Christmas present from one of my friends, so I’m glad I finally got to it. In this third installment of the author’s autobiography, he tells the story of how he got accepted to an acting school in Munich and, being unable to find an apartment, moved in with his grandparents while studying there. Though this book could be long-winded and sometimes almost too cynical for my taste, I found myself grinning during a number of his recollections. I quite enjoyed the author’s description of his acting classes (among other things, I will never be able to see Goethe’s Faust in the same way again, so thanks for that, Joachim Meyerhoff) and the interactions with his grandparents, who, in many ways, reminded me of some of my own elderly relatives. Though I wouldn’t say I loved it, I definitely liked it, and it put a smile on my face on more than one occasion.