April 2020 Reading Wrap Up – Part Two [Books]

April 2020 2

January  / February / March Part 1 / March Part 2 / April Part 1

Welcome to my April Reading Wrap Up, Part 2! Like March, I read a lot in April. 18 books in total. I’ve hit a little bit of a reading slump in May, so hopefully May’s Wrap Up won’t need 2 parts to go through. But anyway, here are the other 9 books read in the second month of lock down.

Bone Harvest – James Brogden

bone harvestMy Review

I really liked this book. Brogden’s novel spans decades, starting with World War I and coming right up to a now alternative 2020 where Covid-19 doesn’t exist. Instead, all these characters have to worry about are the VE Day Celebrations. Or at least they think so. This novel really hit a couple of sweet spots, and I really do recommend it.

The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas, Volume 1

twilight zone

My Review

This was a very enjoyable listening experience. These radio dramas are fully casted, and contain multiple stories, all of which had that strong Twilight Zone feel to them. I only came to this show fairly recently, but I absolutely love anything to do with it (Tower of Terror is a ride I refused to go on when we went to Florida, because I was five and terrified, and was my second favourite ride visiting Disney Paris) including this audio production.

The Seven Endless Forests – April Tucholke

seven endless

My Review

This had all the makings of a book I wanted to love. Female led fantasy based around the King Arthur legend, I was sold. Unfortunately, the book itself wasn’t that great. It rambled, a lot, and there was little to resemble King Arthur’s story found in the pages. This one definitely wasn’t for me.

Catalyst – Tracy Richardson

catalyst

Review Coming Soon

This was a book I read for one of the Write Reads blog tours. Unfortunately, I didn’t really enjoy this one. It took some really interesting ideas and felt like it simplified them too much. And presented simple ‘solutions’ to the main crises’ we’re facing today. Was a little disappointed, but keep an eye out for the blog tour, as I’m sure other bloggers felt differently from me.

Shades of Magic, Volume 1: The Steel Prince – V.E. Schwab

shades of magic steel prince

My Review

I don’t know which situation I would prefer: always having a few Schwab books to read, or being completely caught up and eagerly awaiting the next one. Either way, just like with Vicious, I knew picking up this graphic novel I would love it. I haven’t come across a Schwab book I didn’t like. If you’ve read the Shades of Magic trilogy, I highly recommend jumping into The Steel Prince.

Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds: The Musical Drama – H.G. Wells

war of the worlds

My Review

Another great listening experience! Though sadly there is no singing in this one. It was still very enjoyable though, and the cast involved was excellent. I definitely recommend this one, as the soundtrack is amazing.

Tiger Queen – Annie Sullivan

tiger queen

My Review

I enjoyed this one. It was a fun, easy read that had be completely hooked. A good YA novel, that maybe leans a little too much on various tropes, and could have done with stronger female characters, but overall, like I said, it was enjoyable.

Dark Ends – Edited by Clayton Snyder

dark ends

Review coming soon on Dead Head Reviews

This is an absolutely brilliant dark fantasy anthology, and one I really suggest picking up. This anthology is made up of novelettes, many set in worlds already created by the writers. Which is great because with every story I definitely found myself wanting more.

The Deception of Kathryn Vask – Mark Steensland

the deception
My Review

My final book for this month. The Deception of Kathryn Vask is a fantastic, tight play that I can easily imagine on stage, and will hopefully one day get to see on stage, too. My review is nothing but glowing praise for Steensland, and recommendations to keep an eye out for this one.

And that is it for April! How did your month go? I seem to be going through books faster than I realise at the moment, though it has calmed down for May. I’m also reading slightly longer stuff this month, and listening to American Gods on Audible which is really long. I amended my Goodreads Goal to 75, after hitting the 50 mark, and I’m currently on 55 so I’m pretty happy with that.

Seven Endless Forests – April Genevieve Tucholke [Books]

seven endlessSeven Endless Forests is advertised as a retelling of the King Arthur legend. After the deaths of her mother and lover, Torvi’s sister Morgunn is kidnapped by a wolf-priest called Uther. Torvi unites with a druid and a group called the Butcher Bards in order to track down her sister and rescue her, as well as seeking out a mystical sword buried within a tree. Whoever pulls the sword will inherit the jarldom.

This is less a retelling of the Arthur legend, and more inspired by. The main links come through some of the names (Morgunn, Uther) and the idea of a sword buried in part of nature (in this instance, a tree instead of a stone). To a point, it works, but don’t pick this up expecting an actual Arthurian retelling. (And one place is randomly referred to as Avalon at points)

This had the potential to be a really good book. There are some lovely ideas wrapped up in here, and the way the relationships are established is lovely to read, with the sort of closeness and affection among all the characters that sometimes isn’t touched upon in books. The problem is it doesn’t feel like we’re given enough time with the characters to actually get to know them. We’re told a lot about them, but we’re not really shown much. And for the most part, it feels like a lot was skimmed over when it came to the characters. One of the Bards has a sad past, but it’s almost forced out of him in such a way and told in so few lines it felt uncomfortable.

There’s a piece of advice often told to fantasy writers; know everything about your world, but don’t let the reader know everything about your world. Worldbuilding, when done well, can completely and utterly transport you into the novel. Unfortunately, in Seven Endless Forests there was way too much. Every single location, every single mention of a random place, or thing, or potion or whatever had a legend behind it. It got really tedious, with a character butting in on every page to say “Oh, there’s a story…” and another one going, “Yes, I know that one…” And proceeding to tell it. Even if it’s apparently a common story all the characters know?

These tales felt too distracting, taking the reader away from the actual plot. And the plot was hidden among a lot of faff. It felt like playing a video game, maybe Skyrim, and spending so long on sidequests you forget what’s part of the main storyline and what isn’t.

The other problem with the book, something which made it very difficult to slog through, was the formatting. I’m relatively new to ARCs in general, and I’m assuming these issues will be cleared up prior to publication, but because of the formatting it was hard to see which errors might lie with formatting, or editing, neither of which would really be the author’s fault. Still, I had to go back a fair few times to check who was speaking or what was happening.

The writer has clear talent, but the story felt a little all over the place and, at times, hard to follow. There were too many characters coming in and out, and some parts felt rushed to get to the next point, with the story veering off into this or that legend and losing the main thread at others.

I would definitely give Tucholke another chance, but in this instance, Seven Endless Forests just wasn’t for me.

Thank you to publishers Simon & Schuster for providing this arc via NetGalley.