Welcome to the April 2021 reading wrapup.
To be fair, it’s already halfway through May, so this wrapup is way overdue.
It was a bit of a difficult month, where I really struggled with my motivation, so reading was harder as well. Still, I have four reviews below for you.
I hope at least one of these books will be to your liking!
As always, you can either scroll down to read all of the reviews, or go below the image and click the link of the book/genre that sounds most interesting to you. You’ll then jump straight to the review of that book.
Mini-reviews April 2021
Celestine by Kevin St. Jarre
Genre: Coming-of-Age Contemporary Sci-Fi, mental health
Publisher: Encircle Publications
I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
The story is about Celestine, who departed earth in 1984 together with her parents as part of a secret mission into space. However, just months after their departure, a virus ravaged the ship’s crew, killing nearly everyone aboard. They return to earth, where Celestine becomes one of six survivors—her parents not being amongst them. Even though for them just two years have passed, almost forty years have passed on Earth, and Celestine comes back as a 17-year-old in the year 2022. In addition to the same teenage angst every other teenage girl faces, Celestine has to adjust to all the new technology and deal with the public who—in the aftermath of COVID—still fears that she’s contagious, even though the government says she’s not. She also has to deal with her survivor’s guilt, therapy, and fear of becoming sick.
I really loved the premise of the book. Celestine was an intriguing story, where we get a first-hand experience on how she deals (or rather, doesn’t deal) with her mental health issues. For instance, we get sucked into Celestine’s paranoia. We believe that there may be something bigger going on because that’s what Celestine believes. Is there some government conspiracy? Are they lying about them no longer being sick?
Another interesting thing was the contrast between the current worldview against the one Celestine grew up with during the ’70s and ’80s, which was apparently more optimistic. There are some nice ideas in there, for instance, how weird it actually is that we have all these ‘friends’ on Facebook, who can see what we do, but none of these ideas are fully explored. Pretty much all the social media stuff is strange if you think more deeply about it. The same goes for reality tv shows. However, I think the author wanted to put in a bit too much, so we actually barely scratch the surface on the oddities of present-day society.
I didn’t connect to Celestine as a character, though. It was natural that she lashed out to the people who tried to help her; it’s something most people do when they struggle with their mental health. Celestine spends a lot of time even resisting the fact that she has issues. I felt this denial went on a bit too long. There’s also a climactic part in the middle that felt off to me. I think it wasn’t set up well enough for it to really pay off. So, it didn’t have nearly as much of an emotional impact on me as it could’ve had.
Other than that, I also found Celestine to be very judgemental of the people around her. And very convinced that she’s right. This made me like her less.
While it was disappointing that I couldn’t relate to Celestine, it was still an interesting story. Especially after you get through the beginning (which I felt dragged on for a bit too long), it’s a story that makes you think about today’s society, health, and the way we treat others. Especially those we consider to be different or in any other way ‘unsafe’, even if we don’t have proof of it.
So, if that sounds like your cup of tea, be sure to check it out!
Vicious (Villains #1) by V. E. Schwab
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Victor and Eli are both brilliant and arrogant college roommates. For their final thesis, they share an interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences and supernatural events. What if under the right circumstances, someone could become ExtraOrdinary? However, everything changes when they go from theory to practice, and things go horribly wrong with Victor ending up in jail. After ten years, he gets out of prison, with just one goal in mind: get to Eli and get his revenge.
I absolutely loved this story. It is thrilling from the beginning to the end. The story plays with time, where we switch back and forth between present and ten years earlier, when Victor and Eli were still in college. I always like it when the author plays with time; as long as it’s done well. And in Vicious, it’s definitely done well.
Victor was such an intriguing character. He’s the protagonist of the story, but he’s definitely not a typical hero. He’s dark, with mostly selfish motives for the things that he does. He just always wants to be better than Eli. The other characters in the story were fleshed out properly as well. I loved Sydney and Mitch, and they definitely gave Victor some humanity.
It’s definitely not an average superhero story, questioning if powers automatically make you a hero. That’s the thing we often see in the big superhero stories from Marvel and DC. But getting powers is definitely not enough to be a hero. What even makes a hero?
If you love a darker take on superpowers in a comic-esque world, with great writing and compelling characters: Vicious is definitely your jam.
The Call by (Storm's Rising Book 1) Jason and Rose Bishop
Genre: YA Epic Fantasy
When her sister, the Elven Princess, gets caught and sold to a decrepit king seeking immortality, Dia is willing to do anything to get her back. Even work together with two half-elves. Meanwhile, Lendil, a young rogue, gets his hands on the brooch that was carried by his sister. Little does he know that it’s an ancient and powerful artifact. He also didn’t expect it to draw him into an insidious web of danger. It doesn’t take long before the paths of the four are entangled, drawn together by the magical amulets that have been handed down through generations. A legacy of betrayal and loss. They have been called, and it’s their task to reunite the five, rescue the elves, and stop the king from receiving his immortality.
The Call was a highly entertaining story and a great first introduction to the vast world that Jason and Rose created. We spend most of the story in Granite Hedge, getting to know the characters and learning about the world. That doesn’t mean nothing happens, though; there’s plenty of action, from fights between thieves and siblings to Ogres and ghosts. I wasn’t bored for even a moment while reading.
Overall, the plot unfolds naturally, going in the expected direction as the characters get closer to their destiny and task. There was one point in the plot that still confuses me, though. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it involves a certain ghost and a task that was supposed to be fulfilled. I was waiting for that to happen, but it never came. I suppose it might still happen in the sequels, but I felt it wasn’t really addressed much after it happened, nor what it all means.
I enjoyed the characters, especially the half-elven cousins. Their banter creates some lightness even if the events aren’t. Dia was a more typical Elf, who feels superior to humans and feels disgusted by them, but learns that not all humans are bad. Lendil was also the more typical thief with morals, but I quite enjoyed reading his chapters. He’s witty and skilled, and when it comes down to it, he does the right thing.
The writing is omniscient, which means you get multiple viewpoints and are told thoughts and feelings from several characters at different points in the story. I’m not always a fan of this, but it was done well; the shifts between viewpoints occurred naturally and didn’t feel forced. Only on occasion did I find myself reading someone’s thoughts without being entirely sure who they belonged to. I always find that I feel less attached to the main characters with this kind of writing, so I often prefer more focused viewpoints (so, basically, fewer viewpoints). But that’s just my preference.
If you’re looking to start a new epic fantasy journey, with good world-building, interesting characters, plenty of action, and a solid plot, I’d highly suggest giving ‘The Call’ a try.
Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle #3) by Jay Kristoff
Genre: New Adult Dark Epic Fantasy
Mia Corvere, our beloved escaped slave and infamous assassin, is on the run. She’s both pursued by Blades of the Red Church and soldiers of the Luminatii legion. To make matters worse, her mentor Mercurio has been captured by her enemies. And the man she thought killed, Consul Julius Scaeva, is very much alive and only a breath away from total dominance over the republic. Mia plunges into the dark secrets that lie beneath the City of Bridges and Bones, together with her lover Ashlinn, brother Jonnen and the mysterious man returned beyond the veil of death. Slowly, finally, she’s getting answers to the questions that have plagued her about being Darkin. Truedark approaches.
Holy shit; Kristoff does just not dissapoint.
Every time I think there’s no way that this book can be better than the former. And every time, I’m proven wrong. The plot is crafted with such expertise; everything always comes together in the end in the most surprising yet inevitable way. I can always count on Kristoff to leave me gobsmacked.
Darkdawn was no different. From beginning to end, you’re waiting for Mia to come face-to-face with Julius again, wondering how this tale is going to end. And will Mia fulfill this new destiny that’s put upon her?
I loved that we finally get an answer as to who the narrator is (I had some guesses that admittedly were wrong). And the narration is definitely one of the strengths of this book (and the entire trilogy, for that matter). It’s been very compelling throughout, along with the footnotes that provide a moment of pause and often humor, which is definitely needed on occasion.
There’s also a lot of characterization going on, and we get a lot more perspectives in this final book, which I really loved. All things added made the whole experience a lot more emotional, simply because I cared about these characters.
The themes of the trilogy are also still strong in this book: revenge, familia and found familia, friendship, and love.
I cannot express enough how much I loved this trilogy and it most certainly won’t be the last time I’m reading it.
Other Blog Posts
New On This Blog
🍁 What’s gonna be new in May? Check out the 19 Best New SFF Releases of May 2021
🍁 Love a good Dark Fantasy story? Check out this list with Dark Fantasy books!
Book Recommendations, Reviews & Bookish stuff on other blogs
Sorry, I know I usually have some articles from other blogs here, but I just haven’t had the time nor mental space to go through other blogs.
I promise I’ll make it up to you next month!
It's a Wrap!
I hope you enjoyed my reviews here in my April 2021 reading wrap-up. I hope it helps you choose your next read for May (or June).
So, what will I be reading in May?
I got the sequel to The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence, so I’ll definitely be reading that one! I’m really psyched about it.
As for the rest, I haven’t quite decided yet. If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears.
What did you read in April? Which was your favorite? And what are you reading in May?
Let me know in the comments!