Happy Friday, everyone!
Another month has come and gone, although I’ve barely managed to process it because I’ve been so busy 😂 University started again, I moved, and now that I actually understand stuff, my master’s thesis has taken over a huge chunk of my waking hours. Which is probably going to stay that way for a while, so I’m sorry for currently not being as active in the blogosphere! Consider me to be on a thesis-related semi-hiatus 😉
Still, now that stuff is actually working and I’m no longer writing clueless emails to my advisor every few days because I don’t know what I’m doing, this thesis is actually turning out to be fun! Though maybe you should ask me about that again next week, when the next big coding error pops up… Judging by my track record, I probably shouldn’t be too optimistic too soon 😅
But back to books! Despite my supreme business, I did manage to read quite a bit. And, honestly, judging by how much I enjoyed what I read, April is probably my most successful reading month of the year so far! I just discovered so many great things! So, without further ado, let me tell you all about them 🤗
The Betrayals by Bridget Collins (5/5 Stars)
AAAAAAHHHHHHH!! You guys!! If you’ve read my recent posts, you’ll already know how I feel about this book, but it was just so good that I have to gush about it again!!! I LOVE it with all my heart and soul 🥰 It’s one of my favorite things I’ve read in years. It was just absolutely amazing.
To be honest, I think this is probably the type of book that you should go into knowing as little as possible. What I can tell you, though, is that it is dark. It is slow. It is angsty. It leaves a bunch of stuff up to the reader’s own interpretation. It’s about a disgraced politician being sent back to his former school. About a teacher who is one of only a few women in academia. There’s a ton of politics simmering beneath the surface.
I don’t think it’s the perfect book for everyone, but for me, it just did everything right. The world, the mystery, and the characters had me hooked from the start, and Bridget Collins’ writing was absolutely beautiful, too. I would highly, highly recommend this one!!
Oh, and if you’d like some of my less-vague thoughts, you can check out my full review here 😉
Assassin’s Quest (Farseer Trilogy #3) by Robin Hobb (4/5 Stars)
You probably know by now that I’m absolutely obsessed with this series 😊 Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy follows a royal bastard named Fitz as he navigates his way through life at court, and it has everything I love in a fantasy series. There’s politics, there’s intrigue, there’s magic. Lots of backstabbing. And even animal companions!
Since this was the conclusion to the trilogy, there obviously isn’t much I can tell you without giving too much away, especially since the previous book ended on a pretty big cliffhanger. So if you want my more detailed thoughts, you’ll have to check out my full review. However, let’s just say that I loved being back in this world with some of my favorite characters, and that it was extremely satisfying to finally get some big reveals!
That being said, though, I also thought the ending was a bit underwhelming. I was hoping for more answers and an epic finale with lots of character sacrifice, but alas, Assassin’s Quest didn’t really deliver. Instead, it delivered a new character who started off very promising, but ended up having no other ambitions than trying to get a certain someone to sleep with her 🙄
Still, for the most part, I was very happy with this book 🥰 By now, I’m so obsessed with this world that it’s probably extremely difficult to come up with a story set here that I wouldn’t love! And you bet I will be reading those other Realm of the Elderlings books!
The Binding by Bridget Collins (5/5 Stars)
Considering how much I loved The Betrayals, I obviously needed to get my hands on Bridget Collin’s other adult novel as well! Especially when a bunch of you started spamming the comments of my The Betrayals review with your thoughts on how The Binding was even better!
Well, you were half-right 😉 I still love The Betrayals more, but The Binding was absolutely amazing as well. And again, I don’t think it’s a good idea to know too much about what it’s about before reading it.
Let’s just say it’s a book about a world where books are shunned and might be evil. It is about a farm boy who has recently been very ill. It has a beautifully slow forbidden romance with tons of yearning. A great sibling relationship. It’s lyrical. And, like The Betrayals, this book is dark.
So yeah, I obviously loved this one, too. What more is there to say? Just go read it yourselves! 😍
How to Think Like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education by Scott Newstok (3/5 Stars)
This book actually wasn’t on my radar at all. But then, out of the blue, I received an email from the author, a professor of English at Rhodes College who had read and enjoyed my post about reading all of Shakespeare’s plays. He told me he had written a book about how reflecting on Renaissance education and Shakespeare’s upbringing might provide valuable lessons towards reforming modern-day school systems and asked whether I’d be interested in receiving a review copy.
I normally don’t accept review requests. There are just so many books that I already want to read! But this one piqued my interest. Education? Shakespeare? I’m studying to eventually become a teacher, and I am OBSESSED with Shakespeare! So I said yes.
And overall, I did enjoy this. The book included a lot of interesting ideas, and better yet, Shakespeare quotes and a bit of background on the bard!
However, I did think that How to Think Like Shakespeare lacked depth. It was extremely short and might work well as a conversation starter, but apart from mentioning a bunch of issues in education that are already well known and finding some nice Shakespearean references to support them, it didn’t really do much. I was hoping to learn a bit more about school in the Renaissance and read more detailed and thoughtful discussions on our own educational systems, but I didn’t really get that.
So overall, this was a fun read, but nothing that really took me by surprise. Still, if you’d like to read some more of my thoughts, I have a full review for this one, too 😉
ALSO: Can I just say that the author is absolutely amazing?! Because when he asked for my opinion and I said I had liked the book but thought it was a bit shallow, he offered to send me some of the books on Renaissance education that he had used for research now that he was done with them. And he did!! I’ve been leafing through them, reading passages here and there, and they’re super interesting and detailed! I am back in Shakespeare heaven, and him sending me those books was genuinely one of the nicest things ever! Honestly, I’m kind of jealous of his students, because he seems like a really cool teacher!
Умная собачка Соня by Andrey Usachev (4.5/5 Stars)
(This is a Russian children’s book that, as far as I’m aware, hasn’t been translated into English. However, my translation of the title would be “The Clever Doggy Sonya“)
I did it! I finally read my first book all in Russian! Granted, it was a children’s book with only about 60 pages that also included a ton of pictures. But still 😂 Maybe this is the first step towards tackling more ambitious projects in the future!
For now, though, this was perfect. The chapters were only two to three pages long, so I was able to read a few every day without overwhelming myself. Because, boy, I wasn’t expecting a children’s book to have so many words that I didn’t know! I’m not a huge fan of looking things up while reading in foreign languages – I think it stops you from immersing yourself in the story and learning vocabulary naturally [Okay, fine, I’m also just way too lazy to open a dictionary every few sentences 😁] – but I didn’t really have much of a choice here. There were a ton of specific plant names, animal names or words such as “power outlet” that were crucial to understanding what was going on and kind of hard to guess just from context 😅 Let’s just say I know a lot of random Russian words now!
And the story was just super cute 😊 I think if I had encountered it when I was around four or five, this would definitely have been one of my favorite books! You just can’t NOT fall for Sonya. She’s a small dog who lives with her master Ivan in an apartment somewhere in Russia, and when he is off at work or not keeping an eye on her, she always has a bunch of ideas that Ivan says are very stupid but Sonya is sure are extraordinarily clever. For example, Sonya is certain that the water tap in her house must be connected to the ocean, so she decides to turn it on and catch the fish that are sure to come out at any moment. The problem is that Ivan gets mad at her for flooding the house before the first fish arrive…
So, to sum it up: Умная собачка Соня includes a whole bunch of Sonya’s outrageous escapades, is absolutely hilarious, and isn’t one of those books that desperately tries to teach kids some sort of moral. I thought it was awesome!
In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren (2.5/5 Stars)
Did I really read a Christmas book at the end of April? Of course I did! I mean, when I saw that the e-book was finally available on Scribd, I just had to try it! Besides, with the insane amount of work I currently have to do for university, a cute holiday-spirited romance was exactly what I was in the mood for… Don’t judge me too harshly 😅😂
That being said, though, this book is probably my least favorite Christina Lauren book to date. Not that I hated it or anything. But if I had to describe my reading experience, I’d say it was kind of bland and underwhelming. The romance was very straightforward, and any disagreements the characters had felt like they were being overly emphasized for the sake of drama. Plus, the way the premise of this book was executed was incredibly disappointing.
In a Holidaze follows Maelyn Jones, a twenty-something-year-old who isn’t too happy with her life. She lives with her parents, has a job she absolutely detests, is too shy to tell the boy she’s had a crush on for years that she likes him, and, worst of all, at the end of Christmas break, she finds out that the cabin where her family and friends have been spending the holidays together for years is about to be sold. Mae desperately wishes for a chance to turn things around – and she gets it. After what appears to have been a life-threatening car crash, Mae wakes up in the past, ready to do Christmas break over and over again. Until she gets it right.
Quite frankly, I thought the Groundhog Dayish time travel storyline was the downfall of this book. The authors did absolutely nothing with it!!! Seriously, the book would have been so much better if Mae had just gone to the family cabin for one last Christmas, determined to make use of that final stay to turn her life around. Because that’s pretty much what happened anyway, except that when Mae messed up, we got to read about the same stuff over and over again. Until about a third of the way through the book, when the time loop stuff somehow disappeared completely. Also, did we ever learn why this happened? No. Did anyone think Mae was nuts when she told them about her experiences? No. Did any interesting cause-and-effect paradoxes happen because Mae tried to avoid doing stuff that led to her making bad decisions last time around? No. In short – the trope was pretty much just there for the sake of being name-dropped and took up unnecessary space that could have been used for an interesting subplot instead.
Sure, the Christmas feel was there. The romance was adorable enough. The book was the type of story that is easy to fly through. But once I’d finished reading it, I didn’t feel as though I had taken much of anything away from my reading experience.
And that was it for today!
Have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think of them? I’m always way too curious for my own good, so, please, tell me everything!
Or are there any big life updates of yours that I’ve missed because I succumbed to the depths of mathematics? How was your April? Did any of you get your vaccines yet? (I haven’t 😥) I would love to know!