April Books 2023

Chaos here!

April turned out to be quite the busy month.  I had to work really hard to squeeze in the books I could, but I’m happy to say that I did end up with  more than I thought I would.  The end of the month became a big push to try and get through a few books.

Sadly, that didn’t leave much time for comics, so those will be absent this month. I’ll make a point of getting some comics read next month, especially since this coming weekend is Free Comic Book Day.

As always, books will be rated on a 1 – 5 star scale with 1 being bad and 5 being excellent.  If you enjoy what you see and don’t want to wait until the next book post, please follow us on Goodreads.  We’ll stay consistently updated there before compiling our month’s reading and thoughts here.

The comics I have read will also be included at the end of the post.  Those will just be listed and not officially reviewed.  However, if you ever want to hear about any specific comic in particular or want my thoughts, don’t be afraid to ask.  I enjoy discussing everything I read. 

Let’s go!

The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu – 2/5 Stars

Set during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, humanity makes contact with an alien race that is on its way to Earth.  Factions soon divide on how to best interact with and welcome the future visitors.  

The Three Body Problem reads a lot like classic science fiction.  There are many big and interesting ideas put forth, but the actual story itself is a bit lacking.  The characters and plot often felt more in service to the bigger ideas and theories being explored.  The cast also felt pretty flat and underdeveloped.

There were certain aspects of the novel I did enjoy such as the game built around the three body problem, since that felt like a puzzle to be solved but the actual outcome left me unsatisfied.  Many of the overall ideas covered in the novel were also pretty interesting.  However, I found this book a bit of a slog to get through as a whole.  

If you like classic science fiction which can be more about the scientific ideas/theories, The Three Body Problem may be for you.  

I’ll Stop the World by Lauren Thoman – 4.5/5 Stars

Justin Warren’s life is a mess.  With bad grades, a dysfunctional family, and little motivation to push himself, Justin’s future is looking pretty bleak.  Then, his future seems even more in limbo as he finds himself back in 1985.  Now, with the help of Rose Yin, a determined young woman, Justin must figure out how to get out of the past.  He has a feeling it might have to do the mysterious fire his grandparents died in so many years ago… or next week, now that he’s become unstuck in time.  With the clock ticking, can Justin and Rose solve a mystery that hasn’t even happened yet?

I’ll Stop the World works on multiple levels.  The premise and mystery are a great hook and should keep readers hungry for answers until the end.  While many of the book’s developments and reveals do feel a bit obvious well before they happen, they should also feel logical and satisfying.  

The character work and emotions behind each is also superb.  Thoman creates a large cast of characters, with many getting at least some time as the perspective character during different chapters, though Justin and Rose remain the main characters.  All of the characters feel unique and deserving of their time on the page.  Their motivations are also apparent, which helps drive the plot.      

The 1980s/time travel plot is used well without ever feeling gimmicky.  The differences between the past and present is used to serve the story well, and it never seemed tacked on or like a simple look-at-stereotypical-80s-culture.

I’ll Stop the World would work as an addition to many readers’ to-read-lists.  Whether you enjoy coming of age stories, mysteries, romance, character work, or a hint of science fiction, I’ll Stop the World should have something to offer.

The Last She by H.J. Nelson – 3/5 Stars

A plague has destroyed civilization and left behind a much more dangerous world.  It also had the side effect of killing off all the women, except for one.  Ara, the last surviving female, is looking for the answers her father left behind, but first she’ll have to deal with her capture by a clan of men.  Thankfully, she also meets Kaden, a guy who believes in doing what’s right and protecting his loved ones.  Ara might just find herself on that short list.

The Last She works well as a young adult, dystopian novel.  The action stays strong throughout and the characters are interesting.  Nelson also keeps the plot moving forward at a good pace.  Readers should find the novel comes together to create an engaging story, one that is looking to build further intrigue based on the mystery of the plague. 

While Ara’s sex is important to the story, the novel doesn’t get hung up on her gender.  At times the “last surviving female” aspect can easily be forgotten because the novel is more about the characters and their quest for survival.

As a teen novel, readers will come across many of the hallmarks of young adult literature.  The main characters will form an instant bond and not always act the most logically.  There isn’t a lot of subtlety to the writing, as characters’ motivations are spelled out and deeper meanings are often explained.    

Lovers of young adult fiction should find The Last She a worthwhile adventure. While the “last female” premise can be a bit unnecessary and uneven at points, it does create a hook that will get eyes on the novel.  Truly though, readers should look forward to a tale of survival and possible romance in a world destroyed by a mysterious plague.

The Flying Woman by Daniel Sherrier – 4/5 Stars

Miranda Thomas dreams of being a big time actress, but her life will soon soar to new heights after she meets a mysterious woman in a park.  It turns out that just because your body becomes super, that doesn’t mean the rest of your life suddenly turns itself around too.  What does it mean to be a superhero and what does it mean to be a good person beneath the mask?

The Flying Woman is a quick and fun read.  Like its hero, the plot races forward but thankfully it never feels rushed or overwhelming.  Sherrier successfully introduces a lot about Miranda’s life and relationships without ever bogging down the novel.  Instead these details flesh out Miranda as a character and serve their purpose as needed.

It is the same on the superheroing side as well.  Plenty is introduced and delved into but it all comes off as pretty effortless and works to serve the plot (or possible sequels).  The superheroes also allow for plenty of action to keep the novel exciting.

Even while dealing with the issues of Miranda’s life and her insecurities, the novel remains light and charming.  

The Flying Woman is great for anyone looking for a fun, light, and enjoyable read.  Sherrier’s book works as a standalone novel, but I also look forward to seeing where he goes with the sequel.    

Dreamland: The Dream Child by Alex Flame – 3/5 Stars

Chaz Wilder, a young boy, finds himself transported into Dreamland, a world of fantasy and adventure.  Dreamland is meant to be a paradise but is drifting away from that ideal.  In fact, Dreamland may be headed towards war.  Join Chaz as he works to find his place in Dreamland while meeting a slew of new faces.  Chaz may not know exactly why he ended up in Dreamland, but he’ll soon play an important part in its history.

Dreamland can be a hard book to describe because it changes a lot from beginning to end.  In some ways, it feels like readers can see a writer’s style and direction evolve as they move through the novel.  

Initially, the book begins at a slower pace that can be reminiscent of classic adventure books meant for children, such as the books of Narnia.  There are a lot of descriptions and introductions to people and places.  The drama stays pretty low and it isn’t until about one hundred pages in that the action starts to truly pick up.

As the novel continues, there are still plenty of introductions, but the plot changes quite a bit and the main supporting cast also shifts greatly.  The continuity stands firm, but the story feels quite different from beginning to end, so there is still a feeling of disconnect, especially as new premises and characters are quickly added throughout.  Chaz  ages, moves, finds new purpose, etc., and so a lot changes but I was left feeling certain ideas could have been streamlined.  

Within Dreamland there is a great book that is currently struggling a bit with identity in terms of story, pacing, audience, and style.  By the end of the novel, the book seems to find its way, but I can’t help but wish that it discovered it a bit sooner.  Certain aspects could have been fleshed out sooner and others could have been cut or at least minimized.

Alex Flame clearly has some good ideas, but an editor may have been a good idea to help make the novel feel a bit more consistent and purposeful from start to finish.  

Overall, Dreamland would work best for middle-grade readers who enjoy descriptions of magical lands and like to see the growth of a character over an extended period of time.   

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – 4/5 Stars

Jacqueline Woodson uses poetry to share her experiences as an African-American child in the 1960s and 1970s.  Her words will cover different homes, life events, and family relations.  Woodson delves into the little moments that defined her life and made her who she is, and the bigger ideas that seeped into her life from family and larger world events.

Woodson’s poetry is very accessible for readers.  While she crafts fantastic pieces, they still clearly express her experiences narratively and share her emotional reactions plainly.  The larger narrative that unfolds throughout the poems is a story of growing up that should be easily identifiable and relatable to any who read them.

The poetry’s view of the world through a child’s eyes provides an emotional touchstone that keeps all the poetry relevant despite the possible distance readers may feel from specific events and places that are described.  The search for home, family, connection, friendship, and purpose, which young Jacqueline goes through come in quickly digestible verses that can still sit with a reader for a while.  

Brown Girl Dreaming is a great all-ages book of poetry that should spark emotional resonance with any reader.  This is a great look into one girl’s and her family’s lives but also a greater view into childhood from a young black perspective during a time of great change.

Comics Read:

No Comics this month

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