April 2020 Reading Wrap Up – Part One [Books]

April 2020 1JanuaryFebruaryMarch Part 1March Part 2

I am not doing great at getting these up in a timely way. Ah well. April was another month in which I finished a lot of books, which means this is going to be another two parter. April also saw me complete my 2020 Reading Goal, which was set at 50. I’ve now increased it to 75. And it seems May is a bit of a reading slump month for me. So far I’ve finished 5 books this month, which is still good for me but I doubt it’ll exceed the 18 I read in April.

Doctor Who, The Tenth Doctor Adventures, Volume 1

doctor who tenth doctor adventures

My Review

2020 is the year I started listening to audiobooks. After a rocky start with DisneyWar, I’ve found myself enjoying them a lot, especially full cast productions. The Tenth Doctor Adventures contains three stories starring my favourite doctor and Donna, who though not my favourite of the companions, is still one I really like. This audio production was absolutely great to listen to, and I look forward to checking out more in the future.

Dead Daughters – Tim Meyer

dead daughters

My Review

Poltergeist Press are an absolutely fantastic indie horror publisher, putting out great books. Dead Daughters was slightly more thriller than horror for me, but I still really enjoyed this one. It’s got an intriguing premise and interesting characters able to carry the reader through. Definitley worth checking out.

Cirque Des Freaks and Other Tales of Horror – Julián López

cirquwMy Review

I had really high hopes for this one, and unfortunately it didn’t match up. I go into more detail in my review, but these felt more like doomed love stories than actual horror. Not to mention the plot for one story is ripped straight out of the horror film Waxwork. If you’re looking for LGBTQ+ horror anthologies, I recommend Black Rainbow instead.

The Devil’s City – Sara Tantlinger & Matt Corley

the devil's city

Review coming soon on Dead Head Reviews

Talking to friends who have read this, The Devil’s City works much better as a companion to the game currently in production, rather than as a standalone novella. I didn’t really get on with it, but I can see the appeal for others. For me, it moved too fast and didn’t feel like it had enough space to breathe, but many horror lovers have throughly enjoyed it.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard – J.K. Rowling

tales of beedleMy Review

I gave this a listen on Audible as it was a freebie. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if it hadn’t been free anyway, but I was still glad I didn’t spend money/credits on it. The narration is great, with some fantastic actors involved, but parts of the book smack of self-righteousness. I read this originally at university, but returning to it now, I really wasn’t fussed.

Vicious – V.E. Schwab

vicious

My Review

I really liked this. Of course I did, it’s a Schwab novel, and I know I’m always getting interesting characters, intriguing plots and wonderful settings with Schwab’s books. Vicious asks what it really means to be a hero or a villain, and who actually decides who is who. If you’ve not checked this out, I cannot urge you enough to do so.

The Corpse Garden – S.H. Cooper

the corpse garden

My Review

I will shout this from the rooftops: S.H. Cooper is a bloody fantastic writer. Her short stories are excellent at combining heartbreak with horror, and reinforce an idea I will bang on and on about until someone tells me to shut up – horror is at its best when it is about love. If you haven’t checked out any of Cooper’s work, why not? For horror fans, there’s her two short story collections and the novella, The Festering Ones. If horror isn’t your thing or you also love YA Fantasy, go read The Knight’s Daughter.

Ghostland – Duncan Ralston

ghostland

My Review

Unfortunately I wasn’t really fussed on this one, and I absolutely love stories with multiple ghosts focused around an interesting setting. But this just read a bit superficial to me. There was no real character development, the book didn’t know if it wanted to be YA or Adult, and there wasn’t anything really new to it. It felt much like Jurassic Park with Ghosts. Which is an awesome premise, just not pulled off very well here.

Beauty – Sarah Pinborough

beauty

My Review

I already really miss this series. After reading all three, I can safely say this is a fantastic, interesting take on fairy tales, giving them modern twists while creating a new fantasy world around them. I really enjoyed all three books, but they definitely got better with each one. And I got through all three really quickly. This is a trilogy definitely worth checking out.

So there we have the first 9 books I read in April. Part Two coming as soon as possible!

Ghostland – Duncan Ralston [Books]

ghostlandAfter a near-death experience, Ben is forced to readjust his life. Homeschooled, unable to do anything that could risk another heart attack, he has lost touch with his former best friend, Lillian. In turn, Lillian actively avoids anything that could risk her own life, scared so deeply from what happened to Ben. When the park Ghostland opens, Ben asks her to join him on opening day. Lillian does so, with her therapist as chaperone, and the three head for the attraction, but things take a deadly turn when the ghosts break free and wreck havoc.

It sounds like Jurassic Park with ghosts, and it essentially is. The author even admits as much at the end of the book. Although the core idea is intriguing, the execution falls a little flat. For the most part, the book feels convoluted, with too many different ideas vying for space. This is a world where science has discovered ghosts are real. Some people still question their existence, but it’s not made clear how widely this is accepted. The idea is also jammed in a little forcefully as the characters make their way to Ghostland, as if it was suddenly remembered that the reader needed to be aware of this before their arrival.

So ghosts are real…or are they? No one seems to question the technology used in Ghostland, considering they’re encouraged to wear AR headsets all day and can only see the ghosts using them. There were some interesting ideas here and it felt like a missed opportunity not to explore them a little more.

The book itself felt long, and to me it really started to drag. It read like a game, in that the characters were travelling along a set route, engaging with different enemies each escalating in difficultly, and the settings themselves added to that. I felt like I was reading Batman: Arkham Asylum, travelling through the different sections of the game to get to the big boss. The constant reference to the character’s gaming activities did nothing to help that comparison.

The characters…Ben and Lillian are verging on adulthood, and this event will likely push them into that realm quicker than they anticipate. Ben wants to be more involved with life, Lillian less, which should make for an interesting dynamic. Thing was, throughout the book neither of them seem to use the abilities the other praises them for, and every advancement they make it because of other people, rather than their own skills. Which is fine! If we weren’t constantly told how amazing they are, while seeing no evidence.

There’s also the matter of the AR goggles used – there were points when it seemed like they had been dropped or broken,  only for it to be mentioned a few chapters later that the characters had them and were wearing them. It got a bit frustrating.

Mainly, I enjoyed certain aspects of the book, but there were a lot of moments where I just kept wishing it would end – it stretched on for too long, read like a guide book for a video game without the enjoyment of actually playing one, and left unexplored the most interesting aspects of this world.

Thank you to NetGalley and Shadow Work Publishing for providing an e-book in exchange for an honest review.