What I Read: April 2014

someone, a discovery of witches, shadow of night, mini book review, book review, what i read in april

Someone

About- An unremarkable, Irish-American girl growing up in Brooklyn.

Why I picked it– Recommended to me by my friend Babe.

Grade A- In most cases, I probably wouldn’t like a book like this. It’s slow and quiet, and not really plot-driven. In fact, when Babe was describing the book to me, she said something along the lines of, “It sounds really boring, but I promise, it’s good!” She was right. In this novel, we follow the life of Marie as she grows up and navigates various obstacles in life. While I was reading this, I felt like I was peeking through a window into Marie’s life. That’s a strange way to describe it, but it did feel a little voyeuristic. The story flashes back and forth in time (sometimes she’s reflecting back on her life) but I didn’t find it too difficult to follow along. I definitely enjoyed the writing as well- simple and quiet doesn’t necessarily mean boring.

A-Discovery-of-Witches

About- A young woman named Diana tries to resist her heritage, but can’t ignore it any longer when a mysterious manuscript threatens to upset the magical balance of power.

Why I picked it– I think one of you lovely readers recommended it to me, so I added it to my to-read list. I can’t remember who it was, but thank you!

Grade A About 10 pages in I knew I was going to love this book. I’ve always enjoyed fiction about witchcraft, I think in part because it was sort of banned from me as a kid and it’s always felt a little forbidden. Once I started this book, I could not stop. It’s not short (500+) but it was so interesting that I felt like I was flying through it. This book has vampires, witches, magic, history, and a love story. What can I say?! I’m a sucker for this stuff.

Shadow-of-Night

About- This is the second book in the series, the sequel to A Discovery of Witches.

Why I picked it– Since I loved the first one, I had to read the second one. In fact, I had to wait a few days for the library copy of this book, but I wouldn’t let myself finish the first book until the second one was available so that I could start it immediately.

Grade B It pains me to say it, but I don’t think this one was as good as the first. A couple problems that stood out to me:

1. The main characters travel back in time and suddenly we get bogged down in all this history. Don’t get me wrong- I generally enjoy historical fiction and history has an important role in the novels since Diana is a historian, but in this book I felt that the historical details weighed down the plot.

2. While I felt like the action was racing forward in book one, there are large chunks in book two where nothing happens. I think part of the problem was that there were so many new characters. It felt like the author wanted to squeeze in some historical figures that really did nothing to advance the plot.

3. I think I wanted a bit more character evolution. The two main characters began to morph people that I liked less than I did in the first book (no bueno).

Overall it was still enjoyable, but not nearly as much as the first one was. You know me- I can’t leave a series unfinished- so I’m hoping that the third book gets back to the excitement and pacing of the first book.

Tell me: Have you read anything good lately?

  • sartorialsidelines

    I’ve ben postponing reading the second Harkness book…I was always a little surprised that the first book didn’t have more history in it (Harkness is a fellow early modernist)!

    Courtney ~ Sartorial Sidelines

    • I think in the second book she definitely wanted to focus more on the history, but as a result the plot suffered a bit!

  • Thanks for these suggestions, i love it when a friend recommends a good book to me, like your friend even if it starts slow. I can handle that if it’s really good and worth my time. Someone sounds interesting!

    • Of course, happy to help! :) Yes, recommendations from friends are great- particularly the ones who I know have similar reading tastes as me.

  • I just finished The Cider House Rules by John Irving. It was really one of the best books I’ve ever read. It took me several months to read it because I can’t seem to make myself sit down and read a book anymore. But I’m thinking about picking up some of the “classics” I read in high school because I don’t think I really truly appreciated them the first time around.

    • I’ve never read The Cider House Rules but I’ll add that to the list! I think I should reread more of the classics as well. I reread Little Women last spring and I’d completely forgotten how good it was.

  • I’m starting with Gone Girl and I am loving it, just the kind of story I love. :)

    • Yay, so glad that you’re liking Gone Girl! :)

  • Love learning about new reads to add to the list! i’ll definitely be sure to check these out next time i go book shopping! I have a couple i should really finish!

    • Yay! :) Which ones are you currently reading?

      • Province 1970 and Gone Girl!

        • I love Gone Girl! I haven’t heard of Province 1970, but I’m going to look it up!

  • These all sound like great reads. I was just loaned a copy of The Fault in Our Stars and I hope to make time to read it soon.

    Rowena @ rolala loves

    • I LOVE The Fault In Our Stars- I recommend it to everyone!

  • Kate Hardy

    I wish I had read good books lately…or any at all, really. I so adore reading others’ reading lists and reviews, finding those that interest me…it’s simply the buckling down and reading them aspect I need to work on. Beautiful blog!

    • Thanks so much Kate! It took me a while to get back into the habit of reading regularly, but I’d say it’s totally doable :)

  • I was curious about Someone – so glad to know you enjoyed it! I tend to really like books that go at a slower pace, especially when they have some creative/introspective play in the narrative, but at the same time I definitely have to be in the right mood for that sort of thing. And I feel like I’ve been seeing Deborah Harkness’s books everywhere! I don’t read from the paranormal/fantasy sphere very often but I’m not sure why; they can be so fun. (:

    • I agree- the right mood is everything! Bad timing can ruin a perfectly good book and in fact, my friend recommend Someone to me last year but I wasn’t in the mood to read it until recently.

  • I’ve been wanting to read A Discovery of Witches for a long time! Glad you like it!
    ~Sara

    • I really enjoyed it! Let me know what you think if you read it! :)

  • I’m currently reading Shadow of Night and feel similarly that it’s not quite as compelling as the 1st book so far. But I’ll definitely make an effort to finish it because I want to know how the series will end.

    • Ahh, glad to know I’m not the only one who felt that way about book 2! Like you said, I’m still invested enough to finish the trilogy though :)

  • I am always looking for book recommendations. I haven’t read any of these. Thanks!

    • Thanks for reading Alecia :)