Read in April 2023

April was Magical Readathon month, so this usually means a lot of books are being finished. Even though I did read quite a bit more in april, both in number of books as pages, compared to previous months, I didn’t go too overboard.

In total I read 13 books, amounting to 4425 pages. The average April book comes to 340 pages/book.

It’s been a pretty good month in terms of ratings, with only a few lesser books, but generally nice to great books. The average April book scores about 3.5 stars.

For the target group I varied between 1 middlegrade book, 1 Young Adult and 11 adult books.

As always, I varied well in reading style, with 5 e-books, 3 audiobooks and 5 physically owned books.

For the genres, I switched between 5 genres, namely graphic novel (1), sci-fi (1), thriller (2), mystery (3) and fantasy (6).

For the language I stuck to English again and did not read a single book in Dutch/Flemish.

Below is the list of the books I read in April and my rating in stars.
Click the link to jump to the blurb and my review! As always, be aware that both blurb and review may contain spoilers, especially if they are sequels in a series!

  1. Sanderson, Brandon – The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England ★★★
  2. Jackson, Holly – Five Survive 🎧 ★★★
  3. Fawcett, Heather – Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries (Emily Wilde #1) ★★★★
  4. Horowitz, Anthony – The Three Monarchs (Horowitz’s Holmes #1,5) ★★
  5. Abercrombie, Joe – Before They Are Hanged (The First Law #2) ★★★★★
  6. Chokshi, Roshani – The Last Tale of the Flower Bride ★★★
  7. Tesh, Emily – Silver in the Wood (The Greenhollow Duology #1) ★★★★
  8. Vaughan, Brian K. – Saga, Volume 1 (Saga #1) ★★★★
  9. Stroud, Jonathan – The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co #2) ★★★★
  10. Abercrombie, Joe – Last Argument of Kings (The First Law #3) ★★★★
  11. Hallett, Jannice – The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels ★★★★
  12. Miranda, Megan – The Only Survivors 🎧 ★★
  13. Bartz, Julia – The Writing Retreat 🎧 ★★★

Sanderson, Brandon – The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England ★★★

Genre: Sci-Fi (Fantasy)

A man awakes in a clearing in what appears to be medieval England with no memory of who he is, where he came from, or why he is there. Chased by a group from his own time, his sole hope for survival lies in regaining his missing memories, making allies among the locals, and perhaps even trusting in their superstitious boasts. His only help from the “real world” should have been a guidebook entitled The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England, except his copy exploded during transit. The few fragments he managed to save provide clues to his situation, but can he figure them out in time to survive?

You could read my full review for this book here, but in short I thought this was a very nice, unique story. Not a new BrandoSando favourite, but still very entertaining and easy to read.

🎧 Jackson, Holly – Five Survive ★★★

Genre: Mystery (YA)

Eight hours.
Six friends.
One sniper .
. .

Eighteen year old Red and her friends are on a road trip in an RV, heading to the beach for Spring Break. It’s a long drive but spirits are high. Until the RV breaks down in the middle of nowhere. There’s no mobile phone reception and nobody around to help. And as the wheels are shot out, one by one, the friends realise that this is no accident. There’s a sniper out there in the dark watching them and he knows exactly who they are. One of the group has a secret that the sniper is willing to kill for.

A game of cat-and-mouse plays out as the group desperately tries to get help and to work out which member of the group is the target. Buried secrets are forced to light in the cramped, claustrophobic setting of the RV, and tensions within the group will reach deadly levels. Not everyone will survive the night.

Phew, what a ride.
It took me a couple of chapters to get into this, but once I made the click, it was one wild, fast-paced race to the ending.
The reveals were ridiculous and you really, really need to suspend your disbelief, because there is no way this could ever happen in real life. But it was entertaining, highly immersive (so much so that I completely forgot what the title of this book was 😉) and I just couldn’t put it down until the end, despite some very unlikeable characters, lol.

Fawcett, Heather – Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries (Emily Wilde #1) ★★★★

Genre: Fantasy

A curmudgeonly professor journeys to a small town in the far north to study faerie folklore and discovers dark fae magic, friendship, and love in the start of a heartwarming and enchanting new fantasy series.

Cambridge professor Emily Wilde is good at many things: She is the foremost expert on the study of faeries. She is a genius scholar and a meticulous researcher who is writing the world’s first encyclopaedia of faerie lore. But Emily Wilde is not good at people. She could never make small talk at a party–or even get invited to one. And she prefers the company of her books, her dog, Shadow, and the Fair Folk to other people.

So when she arrives in the hardscrabble village of Hrafnsvik, Emily has no intention of befriending the gruff townsfolk. Nor does she care to spend time with another new arrival: her dashing and insufferably handsome academic rival Wendell Bambleby, who manages to charm the townsfolk, get in the middle of Emily’s research, and utterly confound and frustrate her.

But as Emily gets closer and closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones–the most elusive of all faeries–lurking in the shadowy forest outside the town, she also finds herself on the trail of another mystery: Who is Wendell Bambleby, and what does he really want? To find the answer, she’ll have to unlock the greatest mystery of all–her own heart.

You could already see my review for this book here, but in short this was a book with a few flaws, which can all be forgiven in light of the cozy, quirky and lovely story.

Horowitz, Anthony – The Three Monarchs (Horowitz’s Holmes #1,5) ★★

Genre: Mystery

In this e-original short story, Sherlock Holmes and James Watson come together once again to uncover the motive behind a robbery gone awry. When an elderly man shoots an intruder he finds in his home, it seems like a clear case of self defense. What’s not so clear is why the robber was there. His bag contains no silver or jewelry­—only three crude ceramic figurines of Queen Victoria which were mass-produced for her Golden Jubilee. When two of the figurines are traced to other houses on the same street, it’s Sherlock Holmes who sees the key to unlock the mystery.

An all right short story, but way too short to be really interesting or memorable.

Abercrombie, Joe – Before They Are Hanged (The First Law #2) ★★★★★

Genre: Fantasy

Superior Glokta has a problem. How do you defend a city surrounded by enemies and riddled with traitors, when your allies can by no means be trusted, and your predecessor vanished without a trace? It’s enough to make a torturer want to run – if he could even walk without a stick.

Northmen have spilled over the border of Angland and are spreading fire and death across the frozen country. Crown Prince Ladisla is poised to drive them back and win undying glory. There is only one problem – he commands the worst-armed, worst-trained, worst-led army in the world.

And Bayaz, the First of the Magi, is leading a party of bold adventurers on a perilous mission through the ruins of the past. The most hated woman in the South, the most feared man in the North, and the most selfish boy in the Union make a strange alliance, but a deadly one. They might even stand a chance of saving mankind from the Eaters. If they didn’t hate each other quite so much.

Ancient secrets will be uncovered. Bloody battles will be won and lost. Bitter enemies will be forgiven – but not before they are hanged.

My full review for this book can be read here. A really strong sequel to The Blade Itself, not a typical middle book at all, as I enjoyed it even more than the first one.

Chokshi, Roshani – The Last Tale of the Flower Bride ★★★

Genre: Fantasy

Once upon a time, a man who believed in fairy tales married a beautiful, mysterious woman named Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada. He was a scholar of myths. She was heiress to a fortune. They exchanged gifts and stories and believed they would live happily ever after–and in exchange for her love, Indigo extracted a promise: that her bridegroom would never pry into her past.

But when Indigo learns that her estranged aunt is dying and the couple is forced to return to her childhood home, the House of Dreams, the bridegroom will soon find himself unable to resist. For within the crumbling manor’s extravagant rooms and musty halls, there lurks the shadow of another girl: Azure, Indigo’s dearest childhood friend who suddenly disappeared. As the house slowly reveals his wife’s secrets, the bridegroom will be forced to choose between reality and fantasy, even if doing so threatens to destroy their marriage . . . or their lives.

You could already read my review for this book here. A very hypnotic, fairytale-esque and beautifully written story, which I quite enjoyed despite the somewhat misleading marketing.

Tesh, Emily – Silver in the Wood (The Greenhollow Duology #1) ★★★★

Genre: Fantasy

There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads.

When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes. Old secrets better left buried are dug up, and Tobias is forced to reckon with his troubled past—both the green magic of the woods, and the dark things that rest in its heart.

Despite its short length, I really got sucked into this one. Of course, this being a novella, it lacked a bit in depth and exploration, but it nevertheless managed to transport me to this magical forest that’s equally enchanting and threatening. Similar to that looming forest feeling, this story was both cute and cozy, as dark and mysterious. I got immediately attached to the characters and am definitely curious about the sequel.

Vaughan, Brian K. – Saga, Volume 1 (Saga #1) ★★★★

Genre: Graphic novel (Sci-fi/Fantasy)

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in a sexy, subversive drama for adults.

I’m usually not a big fan of American-style comics, but this one popped up in my recommendations incessantly, so I wanted to give it a go.
This turned out to be quite weird, but in a good way. A bit like Rocky Horror, with a very diverse, non-sensical cast. The story is compelling too, so I’m looking forward to continue.

Stroud, Jonathan – The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co #2) ★★★★

Genre: Fantasy

In the six months since Anthony, Lucy, and George survived a night in the most haunted house in England, Lockwood & Co. hasn’t made much progress. Quill Kipps and his team of Fittes agents keep swooping in on Lockwood’s investigations. Finally, in a fit of anger, Anthony challenges his rival to a contest: the next time the two agencies compete on a job, the losing side will have to admit defeat in the Times newspaper.

Things look up when a new client, Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co. to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead. Saunders needs the coffin sealed with silver to prevent any supernatural trouble. All goes well-until George’s curiosity attracts a horrible phantom.

Back home at Portland Row, Lockwood accuses George of making too many careless mistakes. Lucy is distracted by urgent whispers coming from the skull in the ghost jar. Then the team is summoned to DEPRAC headquarters. Kipps is there too, much to Lockwood’s annoyance. Bickerstaff’s coffin was raided and a strange glass object buried with the corpse has vanished. Inspector Barnes believes the relic to be highly dangerous, and he wants it found.

Again a thrilling and mysterious adventure, although I did feel this dragged on a bit too long. I also often got a bit put off by Lucy, because she’s really extremely unkind and often rather bitchy towards anyone around her, especially towards other female characters.
Regardless, I did enjoy this story and the cliffhanger at the end does promise an interesting sequel.

Abercrombie, Joe – Last Argument of Kings (The First Law #3) ★★★★

Genre: Fantasy

The end is coming. Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him but it’s going to be a big one. Battle rages across the North, the King of the Northmen still stands firm, and there’s only one man who can stop him. His oldest friend, and his oldest enemy. It’s past time for the Bloody-Nine to come home.

With too many masters and too little time, Superior Glokta is fighting a different kind of war. A secret struggle in which no one is safe, and no one can be trusted. His days with a sword are far behind him. It’s a good thing blackmail, threats and torture still work well enough.

Jezal dan Luthar has decided that winning glory is far too painful, and turned his back on soldiering for a simple life with the woman he loves. But love can be painful too, and glory has a nasty habit of creeping up on a man when he least expects it.

While the King of the Union lies on his deathbead, the peasants revolt and the nobles scramble to steal his crown. No one believes that the shadow of war is falling across the very heart of the Union. The First of the Magi has a plan to save the world, as he always does. But there are risks. There is no risk more terrible, after all, than to break the First Law…

My full review for this book could already be read here. A somewhat hollow and desolate conclusion to this trilogy, which really is so fitting, perfect and clever.

Hallett, Jannice – The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels ★★★★

Genre: Mystery

Open the safe deposit box. Inside you will find research material for a true crime book. You must read the documents, then make a decision. Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the story of the Alperton Angels: the cult-like group who were convinced one of their member’s babies was the anti-Christ, and they had a divine mission to kill it – until the baby’s mother, Holly, came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than go to prison, and Holly – and the baby – disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed – if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong, and the truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined.

This story is far from over – and it won’t have a happy ending.

Amazing once again and a true page-turner.
The mystery was extremely intriguing and windy. Together with the format of text messages, emails and transcription, this created a constant sense of foreboding, making it extremely difficult to put down.

Hover over this text to read spoilers

This puzzle was truly delicious and I’m such a fan of this author. I already can’t wait to see what she does next!

🎧 Miranda, Megan – The Only Survivors ★★

Genre: Thriller

A mystery about a group of former classmates who reunite to mark the tenth anniversary of a tragic accident—only to have one of the survivors disappear, casting fear and suspicion on the original tragedy.

This didn’t really work for me.
The premise didn’t really make sense and it only went downhill from there. There were too many characters and none I could connect with. Some of the reveals were okay, but others were just weird and made no sense.

🎧 Bartz, Julia – The Writing Retreat ★★★

Genre: Thriller

A book deal to die for.

Five attendees are selected for a month-long writing retreat at the remote estate of Roza Vallo, the controversial high priestess of feminist horror. Alex, a struggling writer, is thrilled.

Upon arrival, they discover they must complete an entire novel from scratch, and the best one will receive a seven-figure publishing deal. Alex’s long-extinguished dream now seems within reach.

But then the women begin to die.

Trapped, terrified yet still desperately writing, it is clear there is more than a publishing deal at stake at Blackbriar Estate. Alex must confront her own demons – and finish her novel – to save herself.

This unhinged, propulsive, claustrophobic closed-door thriller will pull you in and spit you out…

This book was insane!

It did start out as an ordinary, yet intriguing thriller. There’s mystery, suspense and menace.
Then something unexpected and absurd happens, but it’s okay, it was just a minor glitch and we’re back on track with increasing danger and doom.

But then the whole story goes off the rails completely and just gets so deranged and bizarre and over-the-top dramatic, but in a very entertaining, pass-me-the-popcorn kind of way.

So yeah, insane book. Not at all what I was expecting, with some weird scenes thrown amidst other preposterous developments, but ultimately a fun, ridiculous, fast-paced thriller.