April 2019: Reading Challenge Reviews

Anyone else love the smell of a book?

There’s just something about the way ink meets paper that brings such extra depth to a book. Not all books have the right kind of smell, but when they do, it’s almost magical.

We’re a third of the way through the 2019 Reading Challenge, and I have to say, this year’s challenge is a fun one! Reading a book a week has been a bit of a stretch lately (this avid bookworm can’t even believe she’s saying that) but my motto for this year has been quality over quantity — and hopefully, I’m achieving that.

So while you peruse these reviews, I’m going to get a headstart on my May reads.

If you need me, I’ll just be over here inhaling books.


Vienna Prelude Book Review.jpg

Set In A Country You’ve Visited
(Week 14: April 2 – 8, 2019) Vienna Prelude — Bodie & Brock Thoene

I remember reading part of this series as a teen and absolutely loving it, so I decided to give this a re-read. Set in Europe (Vienna, Berlin, Prague, Salzburg, Paris) during the late 1930s, the atmosphere is tense as Elisa Lindheim, a young violinist, watches her country descend into the darkness of Nazi occupation. With friends and family in danger, Elisa must decide how far she will go to keep them safe.

While there may be a bit of nostalgia tied to my teenage love for this series, I can say that it’s still a really good read. I’m not usually a fan of romantic storylines but this book is a great blend of both history and multi-layered characters. While some parts felt cheesy, I appreciate that the faith aspect didn’t come across as pushy or forced.

This book was exactly what I remembered and expected it to be. I look forward to re-reading the next book in the series and would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a historically accurate, Christian fiction novel.

I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.

Suggestions for other books Set In A Country You’ve Visited: This category is obviously dependant upon your own travels. For those who haven’t travelled far, find a book set within your home country (or even city, if you can), or a book set in a country you’d LIKE to visit. There’s so much flexibility with this challenge. If you can’t complete a category as is, bend it a little to make it fit! 

The Cheerleaders Book Review

A Teen As the Main Character
(Week 15: April 9 – 15, 2019) The Cheerleaders — Kara Thomas

I spotted this book on the Goodreads 2018 Choice Awards and thought that it sounded interesting. The premise is eye-catching. Five cheerleaders wind up dead: two in a car accident, two murdered, and one suicide, all within the space of a month. Now, five years later, Monica (the younger sister of one of the cheerleaders) is convinced that not everything is as it seems and works to unravel the truth behind her sister’s death.

This book is definitely YA, and while I don’t have a problem with that, I really struggled to get into it. There were so many teen girl characters that, honestly, it got a bit confusing to keep track of them all. I didn’t particularly like the protagonist, and while the ending felt strong, I wasn’t committed to the rest of the story. All in all, for me, this was a novel that just didn’t live up to the description on the book jacket.

This book is not what I was hoping for, but for the sake of the ending, I give it 3 stars out of 5.

Suggestions for other books with a teen as the main character: **Turtles All The Way Down by John Greene ** Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell ** Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins ** Little Women by Louisa May Alcott ** To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han ** Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery ** 

Emma: A Modern Retelling Book Review

The Retelling of a Well-Known Story
(Week 16: April 16 – 22, 2019) Emma – Alexander McCall Smith

I didn’t think I was going to like this book as much as I did. Emma is a rich, single woman who enjoys interfering in the lives of those around her. Her meddling and self-absorbed tendencies often have rather disastrous results. Taking the Jane Austen classic, Emma, and re-telling it through a modern lens, McCall Smith captured much of the humour of the original story.

While it will obviously never compare to Austen’s classic, for what it was, this book was a light and amusing read.

My main disappointment with this story is that I didn’t find myself enjoying the protagonist as much as I should have. Emma was somehow even more aggravating than in the original novel (and not loveably so.) It was, in fact, her father, Mr. Woodhouse, whose character seemed to shine the brightest. As for the actual writing itself, the style came across a bit formal for a modern version of Emma. Still, this book is one of the better retellings that I’ve encountered and for that, I give it a solid 3.5 stars out of 5.

Just Between Us Book Review

A Title Starting With the Letter J
(Week 17: April 23 – 29, 2019) Just Between Us – Rebecca Drake

In a novel dripping with suspense, four mom friends risk their suburban lifestyle to cover up a deadly secret. Feeling very reminiscent of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the story jumps from one character to another, asking the question, “How far would you go for a friend?”

The writing in this book is flawless, absolutely gorgeous. While I guessed at the “twist” to this novel early on, I still really enjoyed the read as I waited to see if I was right. With well-developed characters and great plot twists and turns, I would definitely read another book by this author!

I give this book 4 stars out of 5.

Suggestions for other books starting with the letter J: **  John A: The Man Who Made Us by Richard Gwyn ** Just As I Am by Billy Graham ** James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl ** Julie and Julia by Julie Powell ** Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear ** Juliet’s Answers by Glenn Dixon ** 

 


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April Book Reviews: 52 Books in 52 Weeks Reading Challenge

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