Caught on the Big Screen: February, March and April

It’s been a while since I made a movie centered post, and here I am to bring to you, all the recently released movies that I watched at the cinema throughout the past three months! This came a little later than I intended, so I also included the movies I watched in May. I will list them according to my least favourite to my most favourite. Let’s go!

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Maze Runner: The Death Cure (3D) – 3/5

As the final movie in the Maze Runner series, The Death Cure was a solid and typically young adult movie. I read the first two books of the trilogy but gave up on the last one. Due to the several year gap between the second movie and the third, I barely remember anything that happened before. However the movie did well to refresh my memory, and the beautiful faces of some gorgeous-looking men was something I was definitely not complaining about. With an exciting plot that was never dull, and a lot of things happening towards the end, I thought it was a fun 2 hours. Was it worth to watch it in 3D? Probably not.

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The Shape of Water (2D) – 3.5/5

mv5bngninwq5m2mtngi0oc00mda2lwi5nzetmmziyjvjmdeyowyzxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjm4ntm5ndy-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Guillermo del Toro strikes again, bringing home a handful of Oscars for this highly acclaimed movie. Most of you have probably heard about The Shape of Water and what the story is about. I watched it merely days before the Oscars were actually aired, so I didn’t have too high expectations of the movie, I was mostly just curious what all the hype was about. Though it was beautifully shot with great care in the cinematography, special effects, music and colors, bringing out the atmosphere of the scenes beautifully, story-wise I was just not a fan. It was just too weird for my taste. However, looking at the story as art and not as a scientist that think about everything logically, it was a very enjoyable movie, and overall it brings out a beautiful message about loneliness, friendship, love, and fighting for what you care for.

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Game Night (2D) – 4/5

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A movie I didn’t expect to like as much as I did, Game Night stars two very famous actors in a comedy thriller about a couple and their friends on a game night. It had a lot of funny moments, and the story itself was not too wacky (which I hate in a comedy) or gross, or boring. It was fun, fast-paced, had some laugh out loud moments that kept us chuckling even hours after watching the movie. Great, light, and totally fun movie to watch with your friends.

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Pacific Rim: Uprising (3D) – 3/5

I deeply enjoyed the original Pacific Rim movie, its premise and the execution of the idea, the sci-fi elements and the humour and the wonderful characters. This movie is set a few years after the previous movie, where problems rise again as another attack seemed to appear from not kaijus, but other beasts of the world. It was action packed and had funny moments, but overall it was just a fun blockbuster with empty story and unmemorable plot.

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The Post (2D) – 4/5

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Ever since I saw the trailer for this movie, I was already intrigued. As a daughter of a former newspaper journalist, when I was young I wanted to be a reporter as well. Then I decided I didn’t like being chased by deadlines and that I didn’t have the social skills to be a journalist. I am always still fascinated with the newspaper and journalism industry, and have always adored movies around that theme: The Newsroom, and more recently Spotlight. This was no exception. Though it felt a little too long-winded, and the story was sometimes too slow that it got boring, the story was exciting, and it felt very relevant to today. It was thought-provoking, and additionally, the cinematography and the acting was marvellous.

 

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Avengers: Infinity War (IMAX 3D) – 4/5

mv5bmjmxnjy2mdu1ov5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzy1mtuwntm-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Though I’m not a huge Marvel fan, my boyfriend is, so we would always, always watch the new Marvel movies when they come out in the theaters. I’ve always found them very entertaining, and had great cast and exciting stories. As someone who doesn’t read the comics or know much about the story, I had no expectations for this highly hyped movie. It was enormous in magnitude, cast, setting, action scenes and overall story. I really enjoyed the plot and the villain was well written, and a lot of the scenes were actually well-written and despite the large amount of characters and plot points needed to be ticked off, the movie was great. It was also highly worth it to watch it in 3D.

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Ready Player One (2D) – 4/5

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Most of you have probably heard about this movie based on the famous book, about a boy playing in a huge virtual reality game in a quest to find some easter eggs dotted around the game, while finding himself along the way. It was hugely entertaining for me, someone who hasn’t read the book yet. It’s very colorful and keeps you glued to the screen, and every scene was orchestrated wonderfully. Though it had some cringe-y young adult moments, and the ending was fairly predictable, it was highly enjoyable and very well made. However I had been wondering if it would’ve been worth it to watch the movie in 3D, because of all the colorful scenes and the dynamic effects.

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Black Panther (IMAX 3D) – 4/5

This is another one of Marvel’s most talked about movie ever, and personally I thought it deserved every right to be so hyped. Everyone probably has already watched it, so I don’t think I have anything to say that other reviews haven’t said already. With great effects, amazing premise and an all-round excellent moviemaking, Black Panther is not only relevant and important, but most importantly it’s very fun to watch. Is it worth it to watch in IMAX 3D? Most probably.

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Isle of Dogs (2D) – 4/5

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I have always loved Wes Anderson’s movies, ever since I first watched Moonrise Kingdom in high school. Yet I have never watched any of his movies on the big screen. When I first found out about this movie I was so excited, and the fact that it had DOGS was just a plus point. Everything about this movie was perfect: the characters, the voice acting (Bryan Cranston NAILED IT and I can just imagine his face whenever Chief talks), the directing (of course), the Japanese elements and the small funny moments scattered throughout the movie. The music was amazing, the dialogues were characteristically Wes Anderson, so were the colors and the slightly “out there” plot. Everything was wonderfully made, and though at times it stalled and went a little bit boring/slow, it was such a wonderful, cute, genius movie.

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Lady Bird (2D) – 4.5/5

mv5bodhkzge0ndqtzdc0zi00ymq4lwjinmutyty1ogm1odrmngvkxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtmxodk2otu-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_I’m not sure why I ranked this movie as my favourite movie I watched in the big screens so far, but it does show that I’m not easily impressed with movies that have 3D or IMAX – a simple, yet touching movie on regular 2D can easily become a good movie without any special effects. Lady Bird won a lot of prizes and have been hyped a lot, though I have read mixed reviews about it. In my personal opinion, this movie was beautiful, with great story and AMAZING acting (I’ve always loved Saoirse Ronan), and the message behind this movie was so touching that it made me choke up. The music and directing was beautiful, and the scenes were so amazingly set up, especially with the unique and often hilarious dialogues. I relate a lot to the characters, and fell in love with them so much. As Chris Stuckmann said, there were so many unspoken messages all through the movie but mostly around the last parts, and everything was just so well made and hit me hard in the feels.

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Recent watches on the small screen

  • Fullmetal Alchemist (Live Action) – 2/5
  • The Glass Castle – 4/5
  • The Big Sick – 4.5/5

What movies did you watch in the cinemas this month?

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My Thrilling (And Not So Thrilling) Reads in April

April was a wonderfully tiring month. It suddenly began to be super duper hot in the days, my job is going really well and I love it, I discovered so many new audiobooks that I cannot wait to read/listen to, I went to Comic-Con for the second time (and bought lots of merchandise!), watched plenty of movies both in the big screens and at home, and ate wonderful foods. Reading-wise, I had a whole month planned to read thrillers and mystery novels – alas, that did not happen. I finished up some books I had been reading last month which I will also talk about in this post, so it’ll be a huge mix of thrillers and non-thrillers, but I did read and am currently reading some exciting thrilling stuff as well. I also haven’t been the most active this month. I think in the future I might not be posting as regularly anymore, however hopefully I will still continue to post now and again.

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The Thrillers

The Retreat by Mark Edwards

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Read my full review of the book on Goodreads.

When Lucas Radcliffe, a horror writer, joins a writer’s retreat in a small town where he used to grow up, he didn’t expect to meet a beautiful mansion owner with a dark past. In this thrilling novel, he discovers what Julia, the owner of the retreat has been living with in the past, and tries to find out the explanation behind her daughter’s disappearance several years ago.

Firstly thank you so much to NetGalley for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review! I started reading this book not expecting anything and not knowing much about where the story will take me. It definitely took me to places I did not expect, but of course in a good way. This novel is not just a mystery novel. It has many different elements combined: a little bit of horror and suspense, mystery, family drama, ghosty-supernatural-y elements, psychological thriller, and action.

Plot-wise, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire mystery and how everything unravels in the end. I wasn’t a huge fan of the relationship between the characters, or the romance, but when it comes to business (aka crime solving), and creativity (that ending!), this book nails it.

The main character Lucas is sort of your typical white male protagonist, slightly smart enough to figure things out but sometimes acts a little too impulsively. I enjoy his point of view, his past and his thoughts, his feelings and observations. Other than that I have nothing much to say about the other characters, they are all great contributors to the story and the flow of the book, and it’s nice to have a likeable protagonist that doesn’t annoy you too much.

Overall, with a great mystery and premise and interesting characters, added with the great resolution in the end and the pleasant writing style, The Retreat is never a boring read, and would make a great thriller novel to read in the winter days. The Retreat comes out in May 10th, so go ahead and buy it if you think it’s up your alley.

4/5 stars

27774222The Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minett

Read my full review of this book on Goodreads.

The story is essentially divided into two different timelines: one set thirty years ago about a young boy who murdered his schoolgirls friends. The other more predominant point of view was set at the current time about a recently-divorced woman, Ellen who mysteriously receives a huge legacy from an old woman she never met before.

Though the book was definitely crafted well and had a great premise filled with interesting aspects and themes that could’ve been discussed uniquely, what was lacking in the book was the well execution. Granted, the writing in this book was great, and the characters were very well written. However I just didn’t feel like this book was very gripping or intriguing, and the story though it had a great beginning, went on way too slowly, and the moments and themes Minett have decided to focus on were not the themes I had been hoping to read about.

Most of all, the main problem I thought this book had was just that it was way too long. With over 400 pages, the story was basically quite straightforward and had very little and even close to no action or thrilling scenes at all. It was mostly slow and involves small reveals of information one by one. Though I usually have no complaints about slow books, this one just felt too dragged out, and it didn’t grip me all the time.

In the end, though I did finish this book and the story was definitely far from horrible, I couldn’t rate this book more than 3 stars. It just was an okay read, that had a great story idea, but just wasn’t too exciting or thrilling for me.

3/5 stars

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The Other Books I Read

 

The Power by Naomi Alderman

33871762Read my full review of the book on Goodreads.

This is a book that has earned a huge amount of praise and awards and peaked my interest as I read about how it is a very interesting world with a unique take on feminism. Alderman’s take on this small premise is amazing, and that is through her writing and how everything unravels throughout the story.

The book jumps back and forth from chapter to chapter through four different main characters, each with their own stories during the start of this huge change in the world.  I found myself liking the chapters with Tunde’s point of view the most. However I really enjoyed the other characters as well; with a huge range of locations, personalities, and age, they all had their own take on the Power.

The writing of this book is nothing like I’ve ever read before. It’s difficult to define what type of narration it is, and in a way it’s beautiful and almost poetic, with a hint of historical feeling. On other places, it feels slightly biblical. Alderman really knows how to write, and though the story is slow-burning at times, she also has a knack for pulling the readers at critical times whenever the scenes are electrifying (both literally and figuratively), scenes involving a lot of action and scenes that are violent and terrifying.

All in all this book is so much more than a dystopian novel. It tells a lot not just about war, but the possibility of war in the world. It shows various parts behind that war: politics, of course, but also family, loss, deception, strategy, revenge, public figures, deception, friendship, and sadness. It gives a whole another perspective on masculinity and the possibility for women to be regarded as powerful and the higher gender of the two genders. It is touching, disturbing, emotional, thought-provoking, brutal, sexual, ground-breaking, and all in all, a very good book to read.

4/5 stars

Little Basket by Various Authors

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Before this book, I don’t think I have ever read any Malaysian writing before. Despite all the controversy surrounding Indonesians and Malaysians, I’ve always liked the people and the country. And reading this short story collection almost a year after last being home in Indonesia, it felt so nice to read something that feels so much like home.

In general I think this collection is sophisticated and quite well-composed. Every story had their own writer’s voices shining through, and it’s apparent that there are a lot of talent in modern Malaysian writing. My favourite stories include You can’t make nasi lemak with sushi riceBroken English as a first language, and Misadventures in food. A writing style that really stuck to me (alongside the story and the characters of course) was Temptation. It was very different and unique and I’m very interested to read more stories by him.

All in all Little Baskets was a wonderfully unique collection that is fresh and a great start for my exploration of other countries’ literature. If you are familiar with South East Asian culture, you’ll probably love the references and the themes that remind you of the place. Even if you’re totally unaware of Malaysian culture, food, or people, I think some of the stories in this book will also grip you and give you an interesting overview on life in Malaysia.

3/5 stars

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

35498621Read my full review of the book in Goodreads

In the newest novel by John Green, our protagonist Aza Holmes, a sixteen year old girl with anxiety, struggles with both herself and her relationship with her best friend, her mother, and a boy. I read this book on audiobook and really enjoyed it. Going into this book I had very low expectations, knowing that lately I would find young adult novels to be boring, shallow and filled with too much romance. I was genuinely and pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying this book, and getting to love the characters in it.

The anxiety of our main character is what Green was trying to showcase in the book. I think that was what made me really like this story, how it focuses more on the internal struggles of a teenager suffering with a mental illness rather than the regular lovey-dovey stories most contemporary YA novels are about. It was a very informative and grippingly honest narration about anxiety, and I think it makes for a wonderful read for younger readers, to make them more aware of different kinds of struggles people go through everyday, which might not be visible on the naked eye.

The other characters in this book were also wonderfully written. I really liked Daisy, how she’s not just another annoying and talkative best friend, but very human and relatable. Daisy’s feelings about Aza’s anxiety also Aza’s mother’s personality also gave us a glimpse of what it feels like to be close or know a person with anxiety as well. How it’s something real that is hard to deal with, but in the end we just do all we can for the people we love, even though they aren’t perfect.

The story itself is also quite unique. It is a combination of a romance, a mystery, a friendship-family story, and also a lot about coming of age. The writing was characteristically John Green – a little over the top and definitely not representative of how teenagers nowadays speak, but nonetheless quotable and lovely to read – and the feelings created from the moments he designed felt genuine and unforced.

In the end, it’s a fun read with great characters and a unique take on teenage life, and contributes something different to the YA genre.

4/5 stars

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Currently reading

  • A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston: listening in audiobook, great narration so far, Cranston tells his childhood and his work in such a modest but interesting way
  • The Cutting Season by Attica Locke: reading in audiobook, excellent mystery and something I don’t think I’ve never read before, a unique combination of culture, history, family, and mystery, cannot stop reading it!

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Reducing the Books in My Book Depository Wishlist

I’ve seen various blogs posting about decluttering their TBR and I’ve always thought that was a wonderful idea! I rarely ever buy books (usually I buy one book per month, in average) but I love adding books I’m interested in to my Book Depository wishlist. Now it has reached the point where I’m too lazy to scroll through them, and at the same time I would often find a book I think is interesting, add it to my wishlist, only to find that the book is already there. I am always an organised person, and I feel like reducing the number of books in the highly unorganised wishlist will be for the better.

I chose a number from 1 to 13 (the total number of pages in my wishlist) in the website random.org and scrolled through all the books in that page. If I don’t remember the title I’d see the synopsis and genres in Goodreads and decide if it still deserves to be on my “to be bought” list. In this post I will show you all the books I removed from the list, and I’ll highlight some books to tell you why I am not interested in buying it anymore.

Initial book count: 352

 

I removed September Girls and Death or Ice Cream because I feel like they are young adult novels that I won’t be in love with at this time of my life.

I removed Daphnis and Chloe, Salt to the Sea and Ruby because I’ve heard mixed reviews about it and cannot bother to risk myself from reading something I’m not absolutely going to love.

I removed Aquarium because I already own the book.

I removed Lists of Note and A Doubter’s Almanac because it was too expensive.

Of course, I removed waaay more books than the ones mentioned here, but I think these are some of the more well-known ones and ones that we can maybe chat about. Most of them are just novels I don’t think I’ll be interested anymore, or books I think I will never spend any amount of money on.

 

Final book count: 305

Any of these books you liked or disliked? Let me know and try and change my mind if you think I should definitely buy it!

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Thriller Novels in My TBR & Currently Reading: #ApTHRILL

As I’ve probably mentioned in this blog before, lately I’ve been in a huge mood for thrillers. I even hope to read more mystery and thriller novels in 2018. And it seems like Kathy @ Books and Munches has the same idea about reading more thriller novels: thus the creation of ApTHRILL! In April, she plans on challenging herself to read more thrilling, suspenseful novels. And I was very intrigued, and cannot help but join!

In this post, we’re already halfway through April. I already plan on joining this challenge from the end of March, so I already compiled a list of thrillers and even horror books in my TBR that I’ve always wanted to read, and this is a sort of midway update through the month about the books I’m currently reading and the books I’ve always wanted to read.

Thrillers in My TBR

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(Also check out my Thriller-Mystery-Crime-TBR shelf on Goodreads!)

Top Books on the List

The Visitor by KL Slater is one of the (many) thriller novels I requested for an ARC in Netgalley, mostly because I fly through thrillers, and also because the premise looks absolutely chilling. I first found the book from Book Bum’s post, and I was so lucky to be able to have it in my Kindle. It’s about a woman moving back to her home town and meeting a mysterious man who is her neighbour.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a famous work by the famous Oscar Wilde that I’ve always wanted to read. A classic, horror-esque that is filled with history, I’ve heard so many people talk about it but I’ve never pushed myself too hard to read it. From the reviews I’ve read, it’s more than just a horror novel, and more of a deep, dark story about the main character, Gray.

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. I’ve seen many people praise John Wyndham countless times, and I’ve always wanted to know what’s so interesting about his books. This particular one is one of his most popular ones and sounds really weird: written through a blind man’s perspective it is set in a sci-fi world where the earth is suddenly invaded by crazy and savage plants.

As a self-proclaimed fan of JK Rowling, it’s horrible for me to say that I haven’t read any of her mystery books. I’ve always wanted to read The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first book in the Cormoran Strikes series that follows the detective solving a seemingly unsolvable mystery.

Currently Reading

I am currently reading two books, and only one of them is a thriller. I just realized, that the thrillers I currently own are 100% ebooks, and so I am confused on how I will be able to read more than one book at the same time, since I only have one Kindle.

  • The Retreat by Mark Edwards: This is a NetGalley ARC of a very intriguing mystery set in Wales about Lucas, a horror writer going on a writer’s retreat in a remote mansion near the woods. In there he meets the owner of the house, Julia, who has mysteries of her own. I’m around halfway through the book and I am loving it. It has the right amount of suspense and problem-solving for a thriller, and I really like the setting. I am very interested to find out how everything ties up in the end. It’s definitely not one of the more fast reads, but I am enjoying my slow time with this novel.
  • Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. This is probably the least thrilling novel you can ever find, but I am currently listening to this on audiobook just to have something to read while I’m cycling or in the train and not in the mood for something too dark.

Any thrilling novels you’d recommend to read this ApTHRILL? Are you also participating in reading thrillers this month?

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Hits and Misses: March Reading Wrap Up

Happy March, and Happy Easter to everyone! March was a month of cold spring mornings, commuting with an audiobook on high volume, warm soups, and chill weekends in bed. Though not the best reading month this year, I had some hits and misses reading-wise in March. I also got very ahead of schedule when it comes to my Goodreads reading challenge, because I spent a week in March on a personal readathon to try and read more books that week. It went really well!

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Twist of Faith by Ellen J. Green (review)

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This was one of the misses in the month. Though I am sincerely grateful for Netgalley for providing me with an Advanced Reader’s Copy for this book, unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this book very much. This is a thriller novel about Ava, a woman who is adopted by a woman and her sister. The story begins with Ava trying to find out the murder of a family in a house that is supposedly connected to her childhood. The book deals with themes like religion and spirituality, multinationality, family, adopted families, and has aspects that should concoct an amazing and thrilling mystery novel.

However, I felt like the story and plot wasn’t well executed. Added to the unmemorable characters, and the weird and forced ending, this book was a page turner, but it just wasn’t for me. Even so, it was a fun read and it wasn’t horribly written. I do like some of the characters in the book and the depth they bring into the story, but the plot itself isn’t something I love from this book.

2/5 stars

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (review)

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My boyfriend enjoys watching late night shows about American politics, and I’ve always enjoyed watching Trevor Noah‘s Youtube videos. As a celebrity and comedian I find him very smart, witty and hilarious. And I’ve heard amazing things about the audiobook of his memoir, also it’s being made into a movie, so I couldn’t help but buy this book on Audible. This book tells about Trevor’s life in South Africa, from his upbringing by his single mother and how he lives as a colored child in post-apartheid South Africa.

I adored Trevor’s stories and anecdotes about his childhood, especially those involving his mother and his close family. Granted, the structure of the book itself is a little confusing and all over the place at times, with timelines jumping back and forth, but each chapter has its own charm and wonderful stories that you just enjoy every single second of it.

All in all, it was a mixture of informational, heart-warming, touching, eye-opening, and hilarious all combined into one book. As someone who doesn’t know much about South African history or culture, it’s refreshing to find out snippets of the life of a South African that is so well narrated, and I learned so much about not just history, but also the way of life, language, and the norms in where Trevor Noah grew up; added with a personal portrayal of various themes like poverty, racism, self-confidence, domestic abuse, and love. A wonderful audiobook and a great book in general that I’d highly recommend for those of you who like Trevor Noah. A definite hit of the month!

4/5 stars

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illus. E.G. Keller

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Another book that I read because of my boyfriend! I first heard about it from him because of the hype surrounding John Oliver‘s Youtube about Marlon Bundo, the American vice president’s bunny. We randomly listened to its audiobook on a weekend (it was only 7 minutes), and I thought it was a fun read. Indeed I’m not a child, and I only listened to it instead of reading it while also looking at the illustrations, so I’m not captivated by the book or anything, but it was a fun audiobook.

3/5 stars

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What I’m Currently Reading

It’s ApTHRILL! I am trying my best to read mainly thrillers or mystery or horror novels this April. I’m also still bringing over some unfinished books from last month

  • The Power by Naomi Alderman: I’m only a few dozen pages left from finishing the book, but for the last few days I haven’t gotten the time to read it yet. I will definitely finish it soon and write a review about it in my April wrap up
  • Little Baskets 2017 by various authors: Another book I’m almost finished with, could’ve finished in March, but didn’t get the time to. I read it in my week-long readathon, so you can read about my thoughts while I was reading the book in that post!
  • The Retreat by Mark Edwards: my first thriller book of April, and it’s really good so far. I’m around 10% into the story and it’s still not very clear if I’m gonna love it or hate it, but I can’t wait to read more.

What books did you read in March? And what books are you planning to read in April?

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