Reading Wrap-Up: April 2021

Previously: Women’s Prize Shortlist | Coming Soon: D: ‘After the Race’

Absolute Friends by John le Carré ⭐️⭐️⭐️

John le Carré is known for his spy novels. On reflection, this probably was not the book to pick up in order to satisfy my craving, because it does not read like a traditional spy thriller. As the title would suggest we follow the relationship between Ted Mundy and his friend Sasha who meet as young revolutionaries. The book begins with the promise of a mystery as Mundy sees a man from his past, during his shift as a tour guide in Germany. However, the book then goes back to chart Mundy’s life in quite a bit of detail. As a result, it takes a very long time until we return to the main plot. While I enjoyed the previous book I read from this author I was close to abandoning this one. Thankfully I did stick with it at the plot returned to that initial mystery to Mundy and Sasha’s reunion, where the intrigue builds. Overall I still was not loving the book. I appreciated the author’s repeated references to the theatre because it reminded me of The Little Drummer Girl. However, what really rescued this book for me was the relationship between Mundy and Sasha, and the homoerotic undertones. The penultimate chapter was gorgeous in the way that the ending of Hamlet is gorgeous. Frustratingly the author couldn’t just leave it at that and had to have one more chapter, which detracted from the emotion of the penultimate chapter. Absolute Friends was a mixed bag for me, but the relationship was the saving grace of the book and I am looking forward to reading more from this author.

The Treasure by Selma Lagerlöf ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Treasure is a short story from the Swedish Nobel Prize-winning author Selma Lagerlöf. It is a take on a fairytale, in a similar vein to Hans Christian Anderson, but the author twists it. Instead of following the conventions that we expect the story takes the road less travelled and gives us something new. I don’t want to say anything about the plot, other than the fact that it was brilliant because this is only 68 pages, including an afterword. But I promise you that it is worth your time. For such a short story and one that is plot-driven, there is a lot in here about gender roles and about the genre of fairytales. These are the themes that particularly interested me, but that is the tip of the iceberg. It astounds me that I had not previously heard of this author, despite being the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1909), but I see this as an opportunity to acquaint myself with more of her work. If it is anything like The Treasure then I am sure to love it.

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Kings of the Wyld is a fantasy novel, the first in a companion trilogy, which follows a band of ex-mercenaries reuniting for one last job. The problem being is they’re a lot older, and a lot slower, and they seem to have made a fair few enemies. As you might expect this is a book that has a lot of comedy in it, and, at least for me, every single joke landed. This book had me laughing out loud, something which takes me back to reading the Percy Jackson series. The humour hits where it needs to hit, and gives the book a lot of levity, but it manages not to detract from the heart of the book. There are moments throughout with these men who have been friends for so long opening up to each other that was really lovely to read. Nowhere was the heart of this book more prevalent than in the third act, and with a certain speech that was made by Gabe. I finished this book a couple of days ago and I am still thinking about that speech. Essentially the balance between the humour and the heart was done brilliantly. I absolutely loved this book, and am very impressed that it is Nicholas Eames’ debut. I can’t wait to crack on with Bloody Rose and see what else this author brings us in the future.

Loving a Lost Lord by Mary Jo Putney ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Loving a Lost Lord is the first is a series of Regency romances from Mary Jo Putney. We follow Mariah, a young woman of means who finds herself inventing a husband to keep another man at bay. Her prayers seem to be answered when she finds a half-drowned man on the beach who has lost his memory. I picked this book up specifically for the amnesia trope, and it delivered. Not only did it provide the angst that I was hoping for, but it didn’t overpower the story. The man, Adam, still had a personality despite not remembering his own name. The book made me laugh to my self at some of the more absurd moments, but it also has all the drama of a good romance. As a character, Mariah was a lot more proactive than I was expecting, and I really enjoyed that she knew how to do it for herself. As Adam is half Hindustani, I especially loved the contrasts and comparisons to Christianity and the way it was weaved into the story. Although I must admit that I cannot speak for the validity of the representation of the Hindu aspects of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading more from the author, especially now that I have started two of her romance series’.

The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Carey Pietsch ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Adapted from the popular podcast The Adventure Zone Petals to the Metal follows Merle, Takko, and Magnus as they search for the third Grand Relic and try not to cause too much destruction in the process. This is the first of the trio where I have noticed how much editing there is between the podcast and the graphic novel. I’m not telling you this as a negative but as a fact. Petals to the Metal is definitely a more streamlined version of the story. If you hadn’t listened to the podcast you wouldn’t know that anything is missing, and the way it is handled is almost like you’re part of an inside joke. This wasn’t my favourite storyline in the podcast, but it did translate really well into a graphic novel. I feel as though I enjoyed it more this time around than I did when I listened to it. As usual, the art is great and does an excellent job of illuminating the story. More than the previous two this one has a lot more action, and it was great to see how the artist was able to cover than in order to keep it fast-paced but not so much so that you couldn’t follow it. I think there was also slightly more of Griffin in this book which I loved. So far I haven’t been able to fault these books, and that stands true with this one.

Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Golden Son by Pierce Brown ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Consent by Annabel Lyon ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ [Coming Soon]

Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ [Coming Soon]

Luster by Raven Leilani ⭐️⭐️⭐️ [Coming Soon]

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