Reading Wrap Up | April 2020




April 2020 was my best reading month in a long time so I decided to write a proper wrap up.


I read...

  • 5 novels

  • 1 novella

  • 2 mangas

  • 1 light novel


My favorite read was Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang ^.^



1. Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang


5/5 ⭐️


My first read of the month was also my favorite read of the month, and is currently in the lead for favorite book of the year! It was incredibly entertaining!


Our protagonist is half Chinese, half European, and after her mother abandons her at the property on Dragon Springs Road as a child, also an orphan.


In the first half of the novel, we follow Jialing as she grows up and we come to realize that life in Shanghai will be incredibly hard for her.


In the second half of the novel, Jialing is an adult and our familiar cast of characters all come together in unexpected ways.


While this story depicts the harsh reality faced by these characters, it always felt hopeful. I especially appreciated the supernatural element of the fox spirit who befriends Jialing.


Check out my full review here: Dragon Springs Road Spoiler Free Deep Dive



2. Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama, Vol. 2


5/5 ⭐️


I continue to insist that Witch Hat Atelier is a manga with great crossover appeal to non manga readers.


It's heavily based in western fantasy tradition and the art is stunning. A potential gateway into manga for all kinds of fantasy readers!


Our protagonist Coco finds herself in danger again, but this time she's with her fellow apprentices. Unfortunately, this results in her seeing just how much knowledge she's lacking.


I liked the world expansion we get with the introduction of the character Olruggio. I also appreciated the deeper look into the character Agott since it was pretty easy to dislike her after volume one.



2. Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama, Vol. 3


5/5 ⭐️


The mystery of the one eye'd masked group deepens in this volume. I want to know what happened between them and the current ruling body of witches.


It makes sense that Qifrey's on the cover of volume 3 as he stole the show. And as a big fan of Qifrey, I loved this volume.


I didn't expect to get any of the character development we got for Tartah, the quill shop assistant. His struggles are similar to Coco and her inspiring him was some feel good storytelling.



4. The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker


5/5 ⭐️


I've seen the fantastic GOODREADS rating for The Simple Wild. I've also seen many of my fellow bloggers & bookstagrammers talking about it.


But when I finally started reading, I was real worried this wasn't going to be a book for me. Wouldn't be the first time it happened.


But I kept going, just to see what happens next. Then suddenly, I was half way through, the heart of the story really got kicked off, and I found myself so invested I couldn't put it down!


I loved this book in the end. It's a perfect story about averagely flawed characters.


I do plan to read the sequel, but not yet. I feel no rush on it because I don't think I'll forget this story anytime soon.


Check out my full review here: The Simple Wild Simply Blew Me Away



5. Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center


2/5 ⭐️


After reading the Simple Wild I couldn't fathom reading anything not like the Simple Wild so I picked this up on audiobook from my library. I had heard it was similar in concept, only the main couple were more likable.


Sounded good to me. I could do with a Jonah character who didn't tell his love interest what she should and shouldn't wear. lol.


Unfortunately, I found this story lacking. A lot. Part of that might be because I followed it up to a story that felt so highly real. But I suspect I would have had the same opinion no matter when I read it.


The tone and pacing felt very off to me.


We start with a story about our female protagonist Cassie integrating into firehouse culture, the struggle of her loving a profession that would rather not have her simply because she's a female. Then we find out about her trauma. Then her crush. Then her mother's cancer.


I liked the first few chapters of this novel. The characters were good, including most of their dialogue. I just didn't feel like they did much during the story.


We didn't see enough character growth, or hints on the page, to have the ending feel satisfying.


It was such an unexpectedly light read for such serious topics including cancer, sexism, sexual assault, stalking, & drug abuse.


Ultimately, this is a story about learning forgiveness, but one where the learning to forgive part happens as if by magic. I felt like these messages were just shoehorned into the plot 🤷‍♀️. Like they made logical sense, but the words on the page didn't get us there.



6. After Dark by Haruki Murakami


4/5 ⭐️


Mari is killing time in a Denny’s with a book & her own troubled mind until a musician, on his way to an all nighter practice session, recognizes her. The meeting unexpectedly brings her into the world operated by night people.


The atmosphere created in this novel is dense. It's a mood.


No matter what time of day you're reading it, this novel grabs hold of you instantly. Transporting you to those dark, introspective, hours of quiet night. The people of the night world have very different concerns from those of us in daytime.


Night shifters, musicians, love hotel personnel, prostitutes, gangsters, they all move in this other world that operates while the daytime people are asleep. Mari has never been a part of this world before, yet here it is, proving it operates all the time without her.


The same can be said of what lies deep in ones subconscious mind vs their waking mind.


You’ll never get to know someone without stepping into their spaces, just like you can’t fully know yourself without digging deep down.


Is this how people can become so different?


I also loved that we get a cast of fleshed out female characters within that Murakami style.


Might bump this up to 5/5⭐️ after I re-read it.


I had fun reading this and even more fun discussing it with my friend Kayti, who compared it to Season 2, Episode 2 of Durarara X2 Shou - which we have dubbed "The Greatest Episode in Anime History" ^.^


Find Kayti here: lifesacafeblog.com

Instagram: lifesacafeblog



7. The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss


5/5⭐️


This is a novella that takes place as book 2.5 in the Kingkiller Chronicles. Funny thing about me reading it is that I never finished book one in this series, The Name of the Wind.


I've picked it up a few times over the years, but as of yet, I haven't ever found that I want to read it. Why? I don't like Kvothe.


I only recently discovered I'm not the only one. There's actually other people out there, like me, who don't enjoy this celebrated series because they don't like it's main character. Which feels like such a relief.


That being said, I like Auri. And I thoroughly enjoyed reading this small tale from the perspective of this troubled girl living life in the Underthing.


I related to her more than I expected to and I imagine plenty of others will as well.



8. Can Someone Please Explain What's Going On by Tsuredurebana, Vol. 1


2/5 ⭐️


I think I've mentioned this before. I'm a sucker for light novels. They sound like a fun time & yet they continually disappoint me AND I never learn my lesson.


I think I own 7 light novels. I've only partially read four of them. Then I read this one digitally on the J Novel Club website... which makes it the first light novel I ever actually finished.


I was discussing it with Lita @nerdykinogems on instagram, which was fun! Thanks for finding it!


Viola is princess to a very poor royal house. When a wealthy prince offers to clear her families debts so long as she agrees to become his official "show wife" she agrees.


Prince Cercis is engaged in a long running love affair with an older woman whom he can't actually marry.


After their wedding, Viola is given the grand main house to live in while he and his lover will occupy the small garden house.


Viola doesn't care for him, or his affairs, at all. Instead, she gets to work befriending the staff and fixing up the manor with craft and decorations to her liking. As a poor man's daughter she's not used to such extreme wealth.


Over time, from he staff, we learn Cercis' backstory. Then he starts coming around more. At first the result of circumstance, then by choice.


We can tell he's taken a liking to Viola, but what will he choose in the end? And what about what Viola wants?!


See!? Such a fun little story idea! I would watch this as an anime!


Unfortunately, as is the issue I continuously run into with light novels, the writing is sooooo stunted.


These are translated works from Japan where they aim to appeal to middle school/highschool students as fast, simple, reads. I wonder if it's the translation into English that sucks the life out of them?


The lackluster writing makes it so hard to carry the story. They dont feel like quick reads in English. These plots are fun! Please give me fun! lol.


I'm a fan of the use of good, simple, language in books, so it's not necessarily the "reading level" at fault here. It's a combination of the words on the page, and what is explored in these light novels that continuously finds me unexpectedly bored.


I'm going to have to sit down and read all these light novels I own and report back to you on whether or not there are any hidden gems among them. I have the first 3 volumes of Spice & Wolf, which I know is a fan favorite!



9. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson


3/5 ⭐️


I liked the concept of a human painter navigating the inhuman whims of the Fey. I especially liked this portrayal of Fair Folk as gruesome & tragic & frivolous under their glamour.


I enjoyed this cast of characters.


I also enjoyed the prose in this novel, but I wish we didn't spend so much time in them.


Isobel, our main character, had a habit of telling us she absolutely knew what was going on. She could interpret a glance, translate a lack of words, instantly deduce locations & histories, or suddenly realize the ultimate truth behind a sequence of events. She would state her assessments as fact.


So much so, that I began to wonder if this story ultimately would be about the consequences after she realized she was wrong in her assessment. That was not the case.


I think I would have preferred it if some of those moments where she told us what things meant were either replaced with the observable actions, or just left unsaid.


Because I was very aware I was reading a book.


I was unable to get lost in this story because I felt disconnected from what was happening every time I wasn't necessarily arriving at the same conclusions as Isobel, as stated by her.



And that about wraps things up.


Thanks for reading!

Amanda

Header graphic created on canva.com images chosen to identify each book to not belong to me. I intend to use official images. If I mistakenly used your work and you would like it removed, please contact me,

Copyright ⓒ  2018-2020 Amanda Vaughan