Books I Read in April: Mini Book Reviews

adminMay 7, 2020

March may have been a pretty poor month for me, but in April I managed to whizz through seven whole books! It was a mixed bag, with an utterly rubbish one alongside some I loved so on the whole I’d say it was a fairly good reading month.

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stack of books with flowers

Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5)Brandon Sanderson

This is the fifth book in Sanderson’s Mistborn series so I can’t go into too much detail without giving any spoilers away. Suffice to say that I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first one in this second trilogy. We are still following our crime fighting duo, Wax and Wayne, and it still had many elements of humour which I appreciated without losing the clever magic system. However, compared with The Alloy of Law I thought this was slower and more dense. It also featured less of Wayne who is undoubtedly my favourite character in the series.

Brandon Sanderson is a masterful storyteller, and he has a way of writing which is engaging and fluid. I could read absolutely anything and everything he writes.


The WhistlerJohn Grisham

Lacy Stoltz is a legal investigator whose job it is to look into cases of judicial misconduct. When she receives a mysterious phone call from a man saying he wants to blow the whistle on a well known female judge in Florida, Lacy has no idea she may be about to uncover the biggest case of its kind in American history. With ties to organised crime involving a casino on Native American land, Lacy soon discovers everything is not as it seems.

As with all of Grisham’s recent work this was a fast paced and good read but it was missing some of the wow factor of his earlier books (think Pelican Brief, The Client, King of Torts). I always like that you don’t really know how all the pieces of the story will fit together until the last minute and that is something I think Grisham will always do well. If you are a fan then this is good. Not amazing, but good enough.


City of Heavenly Fire (Mortal Instruments #6)Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments are YA paranormal romance books which centre around the idea of there being demons and downworlders (i.e. werewolves, vampires and the like) present in the world. It is the job of the Shadowhunters (who are descended from Seraphim) to protect the oblivious human race.

These books are good fun and easy to read. I like the way Cassandra Clare writes in a no-nonsense kind of way and I often compare these books to a good Netflix boxset; you know they are a bit trashy but you keep coming back for more. As a 32 year old woman, who has been married for 12 years, the angsty romance between Clary and Jace which has lasted for the entirety of the 6 books wore a little thin for me but I imagine if you are the age of the target audience you would love it. I have also heard that Clare’s other books are much better so I look forward to trying those out at a future point.


The CorsetLaura Purcell

Now here was a book which took me completely by surprise. I have seen Laura Purcell’s other book The Silent Companions receive extremely high praise but haven’t heard much about The Corset. The story is set in Victorian England and is about two women whose lives intersect. We have Dorothea, a gentlewoman with an unusual interest; phrenology. Dorothea uses her status to visit a local women’s prison under the guise of ‘reforming’ the female inmates. Really however, she just wants to get a good feel of their heads! During one of her visits she meets Ruth, a former seamstress who has been arrested for murder.

We follow the present day from the point of view of Dorothea and we also flash backwards in time to follow Ruth’s story and how she ended up in prison. I liked the way the stories of Dorothea and Ruth seemed to reflect one another without seeming overdone. Both the women face difficulties along with tragedy; both lose their mothers for example, which has a big impact on them. There was a slightly creepy feel to the whole book which fit very much with the Gothic Victorian period but there was also a good smattering of humour which I very much appreciated. Purcell has a fantastic, fluid way of writing which is very readable but beautiful at the same time. I adored this book and I can’t wait to pick up her other stuff.


The LetterKathryn Hughes

I picked this book up primarily because reading the blurb gave me Kate Morton and Lucinda Riley vibes. Perhaps because I was so excited to read it, I felt totally deflated once I got going because this book massively missed the mark for me. The first few pages were littered with comments praising this story and saying how emotional and fantastic it was and I feel like maybe I missed something because frankly I thought it was poorly executed with one dimensional characters and lazy editing.

Our ‘present’ day story is set in the 1970s where we meet Tina, a woman in an abusive and violent marriage who volunteers in a charity shop. One day she comes across a sealed letter in the pocket of a donated suit, decides to open it and the story unfolds from there. Our second story is set during the 1930s and follows a young couple who are never quite destined to get their happy ending. Honestly, this book had all the right ingredients to be a tear-jerker but it was just really didn’t do it for me.


King of ScarsLeigh Bardugo

I should probably preface this by saying that Leigh Bardugo is my queen and I will forever love absolutely anything that she writes and yes, that massively influences any review I may write 😉

King of Scars is set in Bardugo’s Grisha world and we are predominantly following the story of Nikolai, King of Ravka. Ravka is a country on the brink of disaster, reeling from civil war with empty coffers and more powerful countries sniffing around the borders. Somehow Nikolai must find a way to keep his country afloat, forge new alliances and protect the fledgling Grisha army. With the help of Zoya, his legendary Squaller and second in command and a young monk…will he do just that?

I mean…I loved this book. What else can I say? I connect with the way that Bardugo writes which means that even when she is destroying my favourite characters I still lap it up. This is fantasy at its best for me, quick and easy to read with just the right mix of high stakes, romance, darkness and everything in between. Zoya is incredible and I almost wish that we had been able to read more from her point of view. I loved the dynamics between Zoya and Nikolai and that we got various chapters from various points of view. Loved. Thank you next.


Strange the DreamerLaini Taylor

I was clearly in the mood for fantasy as this was the third one I picked up in March. I read this book a couple of years ago but decided to do a re-read ahead of picking up the sequel, Muse of Nightmares. I’m glad I did because there was plenty I had forgotten (although having since read MON I think Laini Taylor does a neat job of wrapping up the events from the first book).

This is lyrical YA fantasy about Lazlo Strange, a young orphan librarian who dreams of one day going on an adventure to discover the lost city of Weep. For as long as Lazlo can remember he has been obsessed with this mystical, forgotten city and reads and researches absolutely everything he can. Then one day Lazlo is given the chance to do something he had previously only dreamed of; and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever. I really liked this, even more so the second time around. At times I think Laini Taylor’s writing can veer towards being flowery and over the top, which may not be for everyone but in Strange the Dreamer she has created an unique world with wonderful and diverse characters and I thought it was extremely enjoyable.


What have you been reading this month? I always love to know!

This post is a collaborative post. All words and opinions are my own.

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