April was incredibly packed, and we had less time to read than we’d have liked. We only managed to buddy read three (short) books! Fortunately, we were mostly busy with fun things, so we can’t complain too much. We had two birthday parties (including Maraia’s first party with Sebastian’s entire family), a pizza dinner at Sebastian’s parents‘ house, our first movie in theaters since December, and several weekend excursions to zoos, parks, and a museum.
Books & Audiobooks
Blanky – Kealan Patrick Burke
This is our second novella by Kealan Patrick Burke, but unfortunately not our favorite. We both thought Sour Candy was much creepier, whereas this one didn’t really evoke any emotion at all. It wasn’t bad, exactly, it just wasn’t the horror story we were expecting.
Hydra – Matt Wesolowski
We weren’t sure if this could live up to the high standards set by Six Stories, Matt Wesolowski’s first novel. Like that one, Hydra is fictional true crime, told as a series of podcast episodes. For the first 90% of this book, we could hardly put it down. Our only minor complaint with Six Stories is that the case itself wasn’t anything special. The case in Hyrda, however, is dark, creepy, and dips into the realm of the supernatural. We couldn’t wait to (hopefully) find out the answers to all our burning questions. Unfortunately, the ending left us rather unsatisfied and a bit conflicted about the book as a whole.
A Caribbean Mystery – Agatha Christie
This is our fifth Agatha Christie novel and, while it can’t live up to And Then There Were None or Murder on the Orient Express, it was a nice, easy read. Now we know why they’re called “cozy mysteries.” It was also our first encounter with Miss Marple and in our opinion she couldn’t quite live up to Hercule Poirot yet – but that might change when we get to read more of her cases.
Durch Mark und Bein („Fatal Voyage“) – Kathy Reichs
Even after four novels I’m still not really a fan of the book series, mostly because opposite to the TV show I find it quite difficult to bond with Tempe Brennan in the books. I still think she’s rather arrogant and I also don’t care neither about her love life nor her pets which both always seem to take a big part in the stories. It also took a while for this case to become interesting but then the story really got quite intense in the last third and eventually became surprisingly addictive. I guess I still need to read more Kathy Reichs books to make up my mind about this series…
The Regional Office is Under Attack! – Manuel Gonzales
When I first heard about the book the story about a secret superhero agency immediately sounded super exciting to me but after seeing some mixed reviews my expectations weren’t very high anymore once I actually picked up the book. However I still enjoyed it a lot, both because of the setting but also because of the unusual narrative which seemed a bit chaotic first but somehow really had me hooked. Unfortunately the climax of the story came already at about 75% of the book which made the last part a bit unnecessary and anticlimactic.
Crimson Lake – Candice Fox
A dark and very atmospheric crime novel with three suspenseful cases at once and two unusual and very interesting antiheroes (one an alleged pedophile and the other a convicted murderer) about whom I definitely want to read more in the future. I loved the setting (a small and forgotten town in Cairns, Australia, also: crocodiles!) and how everyone in this story seemed to have a dark secret. It was quite addictive to see all these mysteries being unraveled and even though the final part was a little bit too fast in my opinion I’m already looking forward to the sequel – I definitely want more cases for Amanda and Ted!
All Good Deeds – Stacy Green
I’ve heard quite a lot of good things about this thriller series and after reading the first book I can say that the praise is definitely well-deserved. The protagonist reminded me of a female Dexter with the difference that Lucy Kendall isn’t a natural killer but wants to bring justice to those who were failed by the system. Being a thriller about about child abuse it was hard to read at times but in my opinion the author found a good way to deal with this sensitive subject. Definitely a series I’m going to continue.
Breakthrough – Michael Grumley
This book came with the label of being a „science thriller“ but to be honest the science in this book felt sometimes a bit ridiculous – for example when it came to dolphins talking to humans. However all I wanted was a fast-pace adventure thriller with a maritime setting and that’s exactly what the book delivered.
Fjord – Halvar Beck
I spontaneously wanted to try out Amazon’s Prime Reading service and being a huge fan of nordic crime novels this Norwegian thriller seemed a good choice. While the story about a murder in a small village was a bit simple I enjoyed the rural setting and so the book did quite a good job keeping me entertained during my lunch breaks.
Todesmärchen – Andreas Gruber
This was my fourth book by Austrian thriller writer Andreas Gruber and the fourth one that got a full 5-star rating from me. Being the third book in a series it was maybe even more addictive than the previous ones and I still find the protagonists – one of them a Dutch profiler who’s always in a bad mood – very fascinating, especially because this case became quite a personal one for one of them. Also the narrator of the audiobook is just perfect for this series which makes it even more fun to listen to the books and I might even go as far as saying that Gruber is my favorite thriller author at the moment.
London Stalker („The House of Fame“) – Oliver Harris
The books in this series are always such a mess, mostly because the protagonist Nick Belsey always doesn’t give a shit about anything except the case he’s working on – even when he’s already lost his job with the London police and is living on the streets. However this not-giving-a-fuck attitude makes both the character and the stories quite interesting because they feel so different from the usual crime novels. It took a while for this case to get interesting but the second half completely surprised me with an unexpected turn of events and now I really hope that there will be at least one more book in this series.
Tess of the Road – Rachel Hartman
Having finally read this, I can see why so many bloggers struggle to review it. The cover suggests that it will be an adventure tale involving dragons, but as Lucille pointed out, the dragon on the cover is actually a metaphor for Tess facing her internal demons. It makes sense in retrospect, but I imagine that more than a few readers will be turned off when they go in expecting action and adventure and are instead met with a slow story that tackles mental health, the damaging effects of a patriarchy on girls, and the struggle to keep on living. I had some prior warning as to what this book is and is not, and as a result I ended up really liking it. I hope more fantasy authors will follow Rachel Hartman’s lead and write the important types of stories we see in YA contemporaries but with a fantasy setting.
The Barrow Will Send What It May – Margaret Killjoy
I really hope we’ll have more books in this series, as I’m not ready for it to be over. I slightly preferred the story in the first novella, but this one really shines when it comes to character development. It was great to get to know the characters better and to meet some new ones. Also, I love Margaret Killjoy’s titles.
Lizzy Carbon und der Klub der Verlierer – Mario Fesler
Ellie sent me this for my birthday, and I admit that I was a bit unsure at first. It’s told from the perspective of a 13-year-old girl, and not surprisingly, her voice felt a bit immature. By the end, however, it won me over completely. It’s every bit as funny, sarcastic, and twisty as Ellie promised.
Tyler Johnson Was Here – Jay Coles
This is yet another book that is every bit as powerful as The Hate U Give but for some reason doesn’t receive even half as much attention. This one kind of snuck up on me, and I found the story particularly heartbreaking. I also appreciated that, while there was a token romance, it wasn’t nearly as prominent as in most YA contemporaries. (It wasn’t actually needed, to be honest.) I hope more black authors share these stories and more white people read them, until it’s impossible to look away anymore.
The Rise and Fall of the D.O.D.O. – Neal Stephenson
My friend Jess recommended this audiobook to me nearly a year ago, and I’ve been waiting ever since for my library hold to finally come in. I’m glad I was patient and held for the audiobook, because the full-cast narration was fantastic. I’m honestly not sure if I would have enjoyed the book even half as much if I’d read a print copy. The audiobook is quite long, and I think reading it would have been tedious. The different voices, however, kept me entertained the whole time. My only complaint is the ending, which didn’t feel like an ending at all.
Leia: Princess of Alderaan – Claudia Gray
This is my third Star Wars novelization, and I’m becoming quite a fan. This one is the first I’ve listened to that’s a completely different story from one of the movies, and I enjoyed seeing some of Leia’s backstory. I’d love more stories from her POV! (Maybe they already exist, I don’t know.) My only quibble was with the romance, which wasn’t terrible but was both unexpected and unnecessary.
James Herriot’s Treasury for Children – James Herriot
I found this audiobook when I was looking for memoirs last month. My library only has this children’s collection, but since I loved James Herriot’s books as a teenager and this one is read by Jim Dale, my all-time favorite narrator, I knew I had to listen to it. The stories were every bit as delightful as I remember, and I immediately listened to it a second time. (And then a while later a third time.)
The Astonishing Color of After – Emily X.R. Pan
I took a little while to warm up to this book, but once I got into the story, I was completely hooked. It’s books like this that keep me coming back to YA. Emily Pan tells such an important story about depression, loss, grief, and family. I love the art in this book and the passion that shines through on every page. I love the family dynamics, which grow and change throughout the book. I love the friendships and the touch of romance, and I especially love the ending. Also, I didn’t realize that this was magical realism and not a contemporary, which made it even better!
The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt
This was a buddy read with Nils and Simon, read on Simon’s recommendation. I’ve had mixed success with Westerns in the past, but this one is a winner. It’s a dark and humorous tale of two assassin brothers. I shouldn’t like Eli, the main character, but it was impossible not to. Despite his profession, he’s the moral compass of the duo and a softie at heart.
Anger Is a Gift – Mark Oshiro
This book took me completely by surprise, in part because I once again failed to read the blurb. It started off as a wonderfully diverse contemporary novel and turned into The Hate U Give time 10. I’ll be reviewing it after its release date, so for now all I’ll say is that I’m VERY glad I buddy read this with Cait. I’m not sure I’d have made it through without her emotional support!
Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie
This book is one of the most unique I’ve read. The protagonist is an Artificial Intelligence, but even more unusual is the fact that, in her language, there is no distinction between genders. Everyone is referred to as “she.” I’m glad I knew about this ahead of time, as not knowing would have added to the confusion I already felt for the first third or so of the book. My persistence payed off, though, and I ended up really enjoying this one. It’s not a favorite, but I’m looking forward to continuing the series.
- HARRY POTTER 5-7.2: Maraia is still disappointed by these movies, but the last two were at least slightly better than the first six. 😛 Sebastian thinks she’s still being a bit too hard on the movies 😀
- PACIFIC RIM: This was a rewatch for both of us, in preparation for the sequel. We’re glad we refreshed our memories before seeing the second one.
- PACIFIC RIM – UPRISING: Sebastian enjoyed this but thinks the first is better. Maraia thought this one was more fun, probably because a) she’s forced to pay attention in movie theaters and b) Finn a.k.a. John Boyega.
- LIFE IN PIECES: We’re pretty much caught up on this show now which means we have to wait again for the weekly episodes and season 3 is just as good as the previous ones so far.
- MODERN FAMILY: We’re in the middle of season 9 already and somehow this show just never gets boring.
- DESIGNATED SURVIVOR: The mid-season break is finally over and we were curious to see what would change after that shocking cliffhanger – the truth is: not much, which we won’t really complain about since we’re still enjoying the show.
- SUITS: This season is stressful, with everyone fighting with everyone else and nothing ever going smoothly.
- BIG BANG THEORY: Sometimes it’s weird to see how much the characters have grown up over the seasons (especially Sheldon) and then a second later they’re back to being super childish again – so everything as usual 😀