As we say goodbye to April, we are one month closer to the half way mark of 2016 – scary, right? But I’m still optimistic about the possibilities that may present itself during the rest of this year, so I am staying positive and enjoying time with my books. I mentioned a few times on Instagram and on the blog that I set a little challenge in terms of my reading goals for the year. I aim to read at least one book from each genre every month, which will pull my brain in a few different directions and broaden my mind to new and exciting worldly matters. April will be the first month for this, and while I can’t say that I read a great deal of Earth shattering books, I did manage to find some fantastic ones in the genres that I don’t normally read much from. These are the books I completed:
THE UNDESIRABLES BY DAVE BOLING (HISTORICAL FICTION)
Goodreads Rating: 3/5 stars
Being a South African I enjoy reading about the history of my country, so I really appreciated this book – it makes me proud of all we’ve achieved so far and I am hopeful for a brighter future. The Undesirables is a book that all South Africans need to read. It is about the Anglo Boer War and one girl’s journey of surviving the concentration camps. But something that stuck with me long after reading the final page, was the mentality of both the Afrikaners and the British, and in turn the colonists who stripped Africa of its people and resources. I found it shocking that the Afrikaners felt what was being done to them was wrong but could not see the fault in their own actions when they took over the land of the Native people, and even after suffering at the hands of the English, enforced the oppressive law of Apartheid. The reason I gave this book a 3/5 star rating though was because it was easy to see that it was not written by a South African – something I only discovered after reading more about the author once I completed the book. I didn’t feel any emotional connection to the story, which I was expecting since I am South African. There are just some things you cannot bring across if it doesn’t touch you on a personal level.
MODERN ROMANCE BY AZIZ ANSARI (NON-FICTION)
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 stars
I have to admit that it’s been a while since I read a non-fiction book; but this was certainly a great one to start the genre with again. Aziz Ansari’s writing style is unbelievably gripping and really captures the essence of his personality, making this one hilarious book. He took the topic of modern romance and broke it up into so much researched detail that answered questions I wasn’t even aware I had, and also gave me insight into what it’s like to be dating today. Ansari sheds light on the obstacles modern men and women need to overcome these days as a result of the ever changing rules of dating, and he compares this to the challenges faced by previous generations. He uncovers the reality of finding that perfect someone in different parts of the world and the role technology plays in this endeavor. I found the direction of the research to be a fascinating take on the modern way of life; and the added flair by Aziz Aansari made this book well worth the read.
THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS BY MARIEKE NIJKAMP (CONTEMPORARY FICTION)
Goodreads Rating: 2/5 stars
This Is Where It Ends is a story about a high school shooting – a very disturbing reality and problem in America. I was quite disappointed by this book because I didn’t feel as if the shooter (Tyler) was given enough of a back story. In most cases that we see on the news, there is an explanation to what drove the person to act out in such a horrific manner – normally linked to some kind of breakdown because of a traumatic experience. In this book however, it didn’t feel to me as if Tyler had any real reason, and he was portrayed as a monster with absolutely no conscience or motive. Because of this it felt as if there was a big chunk of the story missing, and it made the whole book seem unreal and disconnected from what it was trying to convey. The book is told from different perspectives but still feels as if the story is being witnessed from the outside. The narrative voice of each character didn’t change from one to the next, so it read as if the whole story was told from one person’s point of view. Due to the content of the book and the topic in general, I expected much more. This wasn’t about a teenager who had a psychotic break and snapped, this was a story about a monster boy who held an entire school hostage with a very clear aim in mind – to strike down anyone who has ever looked at him the wrong way, and anyone else who got in his way on his rampage.
MIDNIGHT LILY BY MIA SHERIDAN (ROMANCE)
Goodreads rating: 2/5 stars
This book disappointed me so much. First of all, I felt like the blurb gives an intentionally false idea of what the book is really about and that upset me more than anything else. Secondly, I thought the story had real potential to be something good because up until about two-thirds of the book I was honestly enjoying it. Holden Scott, the male love interest in the story, grated on my nerves with his stereotypical jock type, playboy personality that resembled that of a dog on heat; so it was particularly difficult for me to be sympathetic towards his struggle with addiction. Lily however made it up for the both of them with her compassion and innocence. For a while the book had everything I look for in a potential favourite – there was even an added twist thrown in for good measure that took me by surprise! Then out of nowhere the story took on a confusing turn that not only left me puzzled, but it ruined the whole book for me. This is the point where the story became disappointing, and kind of gave me the impression that there was no other direction left for the plot to turn toward. It’s like reading the most enthralling story filled with adventure and excitement, only to reach the end and realize that it was all just a dream.
THE FIXER BY JENNIFER LYNN BARNES (MYSTERY/THRILLER)
Goodreads rating: 4/5 stars
Since I’m being honest in these posts, I have to say that I had absolutely no intention to read this book. Whenever I made eye contact with the cover on my ereader I pretended like it wasn’t there just so that I’ll have one less book on my TBR list. And then while I was looking for something under the mystery genre I started reading The Fixer, with absolutely no expectation to actually complete it. I read it in one night because I was completely engrossed by the story and needed to know how it was going to end. The Fixer is a story about sixteen year old Tess, who is forced to pack up her life and live with her sister in DC where she is thrown into a world of politics, money and power. As soon as she attends her new school the rumors start flying about who the new girl actually is, and Tess finds herself fixing the problems of her very wealthy peers – quickly realizing that this is exactly what her sister does for a living too. This book is filled with mystery and scandal, along with lies and betrayal that strings the most unlikely characters together in a web of political power struggles. It was quite different compared to the type of mystery books I normally read, so it was a refreshing experience even though I was left rather pissed with the ending when I realized the story was going to continue with a second book.
THE PACT BY JODI PICOULT (REALISTIC FICTION)
Goodreads rating: 3/5 stars
Technically this book falls under many different genres, but I thought it was a realistic fiction more than anything else. The Pact follows the story of two teenagers who took part in a suicide pact; however one of them survives. This leads to an investigation with all evidence pointing toward murder. It is worth noting that I have a deep appreciation for Jodi Picoult’s books. I find her writing style to be gripping and her subject matter is always thoroughly researched so that she can give as much details to conjure her story. The Pact was no different in these aspects, but it still felt like something was missing from the story; making me hesitant to give it higher than a three star rating. It was easy to connect with the characters in the book and I found that the flaws in each of them were realistic and relatable; but to me it felt like the truth about what happened on the night of the suicides was a cop-out. I also felt that the investigation itself was a bit sloppy and unrealistic, which was disappointing considering that the book had quite an intriguing and impressive plot. I guess I just expected a bit more out of the ending, and felt let down by the gaping hole it left in its wake.
Other books that I also managed to read this month fell mostly under the romance genre, and this includes the following:
THE FIRE BETWEEN HIGH & LO BY BRITTAINY C. CHERRY
Goodreads rating: 2/5 stars
If anyone remembers, I LOVED The Air He Breathes, which is book one in this series; however book two… not so much. I think I went into the sequel with unrealistic expectations because of how much I enjoyed the first book. I felt that the male character’s circumstances were too convenient and the author was trying too hard to get the reader to like him. Whenever I read a book that has a ‘misunderstanding’ as the tipping point of the story, I immediately lose interest. Rather give me something real to deal with, something that can instil true emotion and not some easy happily-ever-after ending that has been done a million times already.
TOO LATE BY COLLEEN HOOVER
Goodreads rating: 2/5 stars
I wrote a full review on this book which can be read here. I didn’t enjoy this one at all, which I am a little disappointed to say because I really enjoy Colleen Hoover’s books – this is the lowest rating I gave any of her books, EVER. Lately I can’t seem to connect with her characters and her story lines are lacking that extra bit of something that makes her books so special.
THE MARRIAGE TRAP BY JENNIFER PROBST
Goodreads rating: 1/5 stars
A few years ago when I started reading romance novels, I got hooked on the Marriage to a Billionaire series by Jennifer Probst. I read all the books in the series but somehow I skipped this one which in hindsight was probably a good thing because I wouldn’t have bothered with the rest of the series if I’d read this one too. The Marriage Trap was a shallow book with annoying characters and nothing exciting to report.
THE MOTH & THE FLAME (THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, #0.25) BY RENEE AHDIEH
Goodreads rating: 2/5 stars
If you follow me on Instagram then you would know that I absolutely adored The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. I loved it so much that I wrote a full review on the book just to get my thoughts out in the open. The Moth & The Flame is a side story based on two secondary characters from the main book. I don’t want to mention the names of these characters because it could be a potential spoiler if you haven’t read The Wrath & The Dawn, but I will say that their story disappointed me. I felt that Renee Ahdieh created really strong secondary characters that were vivid and truly special, so I expected more from this book. I enjoyed the banter and chemistry between these two lovebirds which was no surprise at all, but it felt like something was missing from their story – I am hoping this will be fixed in The Rose & The Dagger.
THE CROWN & THE ARROW (THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, #0.5) BY RENEE AHDIEH
Goodreads rating: 2/5 stars
I won’t classify The Crown & The Arrow as a book because it’s only about 9 pages long; but it is supposed to give Khalid fans a little teaser of what ran through his mind when he married Shahrzad. Personally, I don’t think this “book” was necessary because it didn’t give anything away and I didn’t learn anything more about Khalid – which was obviously the reason I read it at all. If I wasn’t such a huge Khalid fangirl then this book would have done some damage to my opinion of him because I expected much, MUCH more from his perspective of events around his wedding.
BEAUTIFUL REDEMPTION (THE MADDOX BROTHERS #2) BY JAMIE MCGUIRE
Goodreads rating: 2/5 stars
I read book one of this series a few years ago and really liked it, so I wasn’t surprised when I enjoyed this one too – at the beginning at least. I enjoyed Thomas’s character; he was a broody prick with a heartbreaking past that took no crap from anyone but he also softened a bit too fast for my liking which was quite unrealistic. The female lead character, Liis, annoyed me about 95% of the entire story. She was indecisive, insecure and “emotionally unavailable” for no apparent reason; also it seemed like her ex boyfriend of seven years was intentionally made out to be a loser so I’m not exactly sure what her problem was for running hot and cold. And to top it all off, for someone as qualified and head hunted as she was her slip up was pretty pathetic – I don’t think we’ll ever see a male character in a book make that kind of mistake so it kind of pissed me off that Jamie McGuire used that as a turning point in the book. It gave the impression that Liis was in control and competent until she became too emotional to handle herself professionally – this did not sit well with the feminist in me.
So, if anyone’s keeping score, I read a total of 12 books during the month of April. The most books that I read in a month for a long, long time. Hopefully this month I will read more from different genres since it seemed like I enjoyed those books more than my usual reads. I have my eye on a couple of autobiographies as well as non-fiction books that I really want to get into soon.
What was your favourite book for April?