Five Most Recent Reads | April 10th

Here we are with my next bunch of reviews. As usual, we’re running a little behind so this are from the end of March but I have. pretty good bunch here. I enjoyed all of these, one a little less than the others, but on a whole, it was a pretty great end to the month. So let’s get into the books.

Portrait of an Unknown Lady by María Gainza

I don’t really know why I bought this one last March, but I did. It’s literary fiction, which is probably one of my least favourite genres, but I guess I saw that it was vaguely art related and thought, why not? Amazingly, I didn’t end up hating this. It’s very much a story within a story but with almost no actual plot. There was a bit of a mystery to it, which was engaging enough, but I didn’t feel like anything had changed by the time the book wrapped up. That pretty much sums up my experience with most of the shorter works of literary fiction I’ve picked up before, and it’s part of the reason I don’t enjoy them. That being said, this was interesting enough, especially the parts about the Argentine art world, that I mostly enjoyed reading it and I’d consider maybe picking up something else from Maria Gainza in the future if I ever came across it.

Every Heart A Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire

I was incredibly nervous about picking this one up. I read Seanan McGuire’s book Rosemary and Rue early last year and was extremely disappointed by it. After that, I lost pretty much all interest in reading McGuire, at least until I was inspired to pick this up for Tordotcomathon in March. I was honestly surprised by the fact that I really, really enjoyed it right from the start. I love the whole idea of children who have been in other worlds, like Wonderland and Oz, and what happens when they return to the real world. I thought McGuire pulled that off in a really interesting way. I really enjoyed the characters as well, particularly Nancy, Christopher and Kade—there’s just something about each of them that I really loved, and I can’t really explain what it was. I was so impressed with this that I’ve already continued the series at the time of me writing this series, and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on those soon too. But overall, this was such a fantastic start to the series, and I’m so so glad I gave McGuire a second chance by picking this up.

Mystwick School of Musicraft (Mystwick #1) by Jessica Khoury

I was really in the mood for a middle-grade fantasy this month and ended up picking this one up, and I’m so glad I did. It was one of those books that was genuinely a joy to read. I absolutely loved the magic system in here—I’ve never seen a book use magic and music together in this way and it was so much fun. The characters are fun as well; I really enjoyed reading about them all. There’s also some really beautiful art in here, which I always love to see, especially in middle-grade fantasy. I’m so glad this is a series as well because the world is so interesting and I think there are a lot of potential directions the story could go from here. There are so many things that just get briefly mentioned that I hope we might see developed over the rest of the books because I just need to know everything about this school and this world. I can’t wait to pick up the next one and see where Khoury decides to take it.

Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1) by Cassandra Clare

I’ve been making a conscious effort this year to reread the things I’ve said I would/need to so I can continue or finish a series. Chain of Gold was the next one in line in March—I originally read it in 2020 but then didn’t continue on with book two for reasons I do not know. This ended up taking me about two weeks to reread which is pretty slow for me, but I was just having a good time taking it at a slower speed. I hadn’t realised how much of this I had forgotten so I’m glad I decided to reread it before moving on because there’s just so much that happens. I really loved this the first time, and I felt pretty much the same after this reread. I adore our sort of four main leads—Lucie, James, Cordelia and Matthew, but I still can’t choose my favourite between them. But now I just have to make the time to read books two and three, hopefully in April or May.

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

This book was my pick for an April Fools booktube collab where we read books we thought booktube/the wider book community had fooled us about, you can see that here. The very basics of this are: I read a book by Holly Black about twelve years ago, hated it, and decided I wouldn’t pick anything up from her again. I was particularly unsure about this one because I also don’t have the best track record with fae books—there’s a particular type that I like, but I don’t really know what that is until I read it. Surprisingly, I actually loved this. I found the world really, really interesting and the plot grabbed me and just didn’t let go. There was just something about it that kept me reading even though I hated all the characters. Seriously, there was no one I really liked. Every time I started to think ‘Oh, blah is kinda okay’, they’d immediately do something terrible, and I’d hate them again. On a whole, they mostly felt one-dimensional to me as well—even as the story went on and twists happened, the characters felt as if they were kind of stuck in their roles even when they were completely different to where they started. I’m hoping this is something that starts to change in book two, which I’ve already put on hold at the library.

And that’s it for today. Have you read any of these?


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