Turn the Page: April Book Reviews

I’ve got four book reviews coming your way today – here’s hoping I can keep that reading momentum going through May! This post contains affiliate links. Any money earned through these links goes towards covering the cost of running this blog.

april book reviews red queen

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Overall Rating:
really like it rating

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.” – via Goodreads

This book would have been five stars had I not just read the first two books in the Sons of Ares trilogy recently (read reviews of those here!) This book had very, very similar themes to that series, down to the classes being colors and the complete injustice between them. Overall, the story seriously lacks originality. But in spite of that, it was still an enjoyable read. The main character Mare was well written. I often feel that YA incorporates character tropes that drive me nuts, and while this had a few, it handled them well. There was a rather inexplicable crush happening with Mare (as in, why on earth was she attracted to Cal?) but what I liked about the crush was that it didn’t dictate Mare’s actions. She acknowledged it, but didn’t let her emotions steer her every decision. I so appreciate that, especially in books that are aimed at teens. I did feel that that the ending was a bit…severe? I don’t want to give away major spoilers, but one of the characters basically does a 180 in terms of what side they are on, and it came off as rather abrupt. Which was the point but I don’t know, it didn’t really feel that ‘natural’ to me, if that makes sense. But it was a good, quick read and I plan on continuing the series.

 

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A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Overall Rating:
really like it rating

Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in) ” – via Goodreads

A Walk in the Woods chronicles Bill Bryson’s attempt to hike through the Appalachian Trail. As someone who loves both memoirs and hiking, I figured I’d enjoy this book, and I was oh so right. The writing is great, and this book was unexpectedly funny. I laughed out loud on multiple occasions reading about his trek. But what I truly enjoyed about this book was that it was such a great combination of travelogue & non-fiction. Yes, it documented his journey, but it also had tons of facts and tidbits about the trail, forests, trees, and area tucked in there as well. It was well balanced, and overall just really well done. I’ve never read anything by Bill Bryson before but after reading this, I definitely want to get my hands on more!

 

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The Magician King by Lev Grossman (The Magicians #2)

Overall Rating:
really like it rating

Quentin Coldwater should be happy. He escaped a miserable Brooklyn childhood, matriculated at a secret college for magic, and graduated to discover that Fillory—a fictional utopia—was actually real. But even as a Fillorian king, Quentin finds little peace. His old restlessness returns, and he longs for the thrills a heroic quest can bring. ” – via Goodreads

Let me preface this review by saying that it took me a LONG time to be ready to even read this book. I really disliked The Magicians. I read it in January of 2015 and it wasn’t until April of 2016 that I felt ready to tackle book 2 in the series. Here’s my full review of The Magicians on Goodreads if you want to see the issues I had with it.

Luckily, I am happy to report that I found The Magician King thoroughly enjoyable! While Quentin still aggravated me on occasion I found him so much more tolerable (and less depressed.) But mainly, I loved that it seemed that the universe finally had enough of his bullshit. Karma came back in a big way to him for a huge part of this book, and I loved every second of it. Maybe he will finally stop walking around being such an ungrateful little prig.

But the main reason I loved this book so much was because so much of it was dedicated to Julia. I absolutely LOVE her character, and I loved learning about her journey to become a magician, and what she went through. It was fascinating, and I completely adored the ending for her character in this book. Since I don’t really enjoy Quentin all that much as a character, it was really nice to have so much of her story to balance it all out. Here’s hoping the same holds true for whatever adventures they get up to in book three!

 

april book reviews the 5th wave

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Overall Rating:
not good not great rating

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. ” – via Goodreads

This book had a lot of good going for it. I loved the alien invasion and their plan for it. I loved reading about the characters pasts, as they continued to survive each wave. And while I was reading it, I was enjoying it. But after finishing it, and really thinking about it, there was a lot about this book that bugged me.

The biggest thing that drove me nuts was how utterly predicable this book was. I already had the entire plot figured out by the time I was done the first quarter of the book. So it made a lot of the book rather anti-climactic. I feel like a lot of the ‘reveals’ were meant to be pretty exciting, and it really loses that when you already know what they are.

Beyond that, I found the characters really shallow. Heads up, spoilers past this point if you haven’t read it and want to! I know the main characters are all teens, but there was way too much focus on physical description in this book. And by that I mean the characters seemed to be constantly sizing up the other characters in term of how attractive they found them. Cassie wakes up in a completely strange house (in a full blown, post-apocalyptic situation as well) when she should be dead, and her first thoughts about the guy in the room are how hot he is? Really? Not buying it. And the same applies to the male lead character, Ben. When we first meet Ringer, he is caught up in how attractive she is, physically. At the end of the book, Cassie meets Ringer and immediately starts having these weird jealous, petty, thoughts about her. Things like this happen often throughout the book, and it just rubbed me the wrong way. I didn’t rind it realistic at all that this would be any of these characters thought processes, and I was not impressed by such on emphasis on looks.

This sounds mean to say, but I really just wish this book were better! I loved the idea of the story, but it left a lot lacking for me. I’m unsure if I’ll continue the series or not.

If you’re looking for other book fun – check out Fiona‘s new book club on Goodreads – Nerdy Pages! There’s a shiny new badge in my sidebar for it as well. Right now there’s an introductions thread and I believe things will be kicking off with the first book in June!

What did you read in April?

  • Since we seem to have the EXACT same taste in books I’m definitely going to skip over The 5th Wave. I felt the exact same way about Red Queen (I still haven’t read the sequel yet but I’m interested enough to continue despite the similarities to other series). I think Aveyard is great storyteller and the pacing was near perfect which is why it was so enjoyable! I also haven’t read anything by Bill Bryson but I’ve always wanted to! And as for The Magicians, I again feel the exact same way! I really really really disliked the first book. It took me three tries of re-starting to even finish it and I HATED Quentin. I thought the second book was a billion times better and I really want to read the third and finish up the trilogy soon since I’ve heard that The Magician’s Land is the best of the three. Maybe we can buddy read it when you’re ready (since you might want a break between books)!!!

    • Kay

      Ah, yes! That would be so great! We are so on the same page about Quentin…he is such a miserable character. I found him more tolerable in book two, but I think it’s because he got at least a bit of comeuppance from the universe which made me practically gleeful as he suffered ahaha! That’s so awful to say, but man he’s a jerk!

      And yeah, skipping The 5th Wave is a good call. It was so disappointing…I really wanted to like it! I actually got the second book for free from a yard sale, but I haven’t decided if I’m even going to bother yet.

  • Haha, I laughed at little at the first sentence of your Red Queen review; I always feel torn when I read a really good book after a REALLY, REALLY good book, too. Because it might under normal circumstances be a five star rating, but it’s difficult to justify, when you’ve just read an even better 5 star book.

    • Kay

      Yes, exactly! Red Queen was enjoyable, but the Sons of Ares trilogy is just so much better!

  • That’s too bad about The 5th Wave! I was thinking about reading it, because aliens hahah. I hate predictable plots, though. Makes me feel like I wasted my time -__-

    • Kay

      Same here. I really, really wanted to like The 5th Wave but it was so disappointing. :/

  • I loved Red Queen so I’ll definitely have to check out that Sons of Ares trilogy! Bummer about the 5th Wave, I was hoping to check that out but I might just put it off for a bit now:P

    • Kay

      Ahh definitely read Sons of Ares!! Red Rising (book one) starts slow but it gets amazing, and book two is just fantastic.

  • Danielle Knapp

    I really want to start reading The Magicians as I love the show on SyFy.

    • Kay

      I am so curious about the show! I struggled SO HARD with Quentin as a character so I’m wondering if he is more tolerable in the show. If it ever comes to Netflix/Amazon I’ll definitely be watching!

  • gamerwife

    I only managed a few TPs this month, but I’m very intrigued by all the Magicians hype lately.

    • Kay

      I’m super curious about the show. I struggles so hard with book one, specifically the main character Quentin, and I’m wondering if they managed to make him at all likable. I’m actually excited to read book 3 in the hopes that it keeps up the great momentum book 2 had!

  • I wasn’t terribly impressed with the Fifth Wave movie trailer so I probably won’t be checking out the book. I’m never one to judge a book by its movie, but in this case it just felt obvious from the trailer alone and considering movies are usually more simplistic than the books by the mere constraints of the medium I decided to pass. I am interested in A Walk in the Woods. My husband and I are from VA and we’ve often hiked segments of the AT, not to mention one of his lifelong goals has been to through hike it from Maine to Georgia. So I think I would find a lot of humor to relate to in this one.

    • Kay

      Oh, I definitely recommend you read it then, it’s wonderful! I’m in NH, but I don’t think I’ve been on any of the trail sections since I was a kid. I’d have to look up which trails are part of the AT though. Hiking it from Maine to Georgia would be such an amazing accomplishment!

  • W.H.A.T….. The 5th Wave is one of my favourite books ever XD
    Jas Poole Blog

    • Kay

      Nooooooo!! Hahaha, totally just kidding. 😀 It is very popular & tons of people love it! Just wasn’t for me. 🙂

  • Oh interesting I will have to check out Red Queen it looks like an interesting read. I have read 2 books in April and one was great The Stone Bearers but The Subtle Beauty was not so good.

    • Kay

      I enjoyed it a lot! I just wish I hadn’t read it so close to The Sons of Ares books because they have very similar themes. But both were good in their own way (SoA much more adult, Red Queen definitely YA) and I will continue the series!

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