April Reads and Reviews

Who else can’t believe April is almost over? I say almost but really, it’s done. Today’s the last day. How can it seem so fast and yet so slow at the same time? Did you guys have a good April? I actually got a lot of reading done this month, but I’ve noticed that I read faster when I’m reading on my Kindle instead of an actual book. The majority of books I read this month were on my Kindle, and most of them were actually part of the same series.

Esther: Royal Beauty by Angela Hunt

Esther: Royal Beauty

I still think of her as Angela Elwell Hunt, though she has long since stopped using the Elwell portion. I first discovered Angela Hunt in Middle School with her Legacies of the Ancient River series. I fell in love with that series, I’m still on the hunt (pun unintended) to purchase the complete series. Her book, Magdalene was also good. So it’s no surprise that I’ve wanted to read Esther: Royal Beauty for a long time. I recently discovered it was on Kindle Unlimited, so I jumped on it.

In case you’re not familiar with the story of Esther, I’ll give you a brief overview.
Esther (real name, Hadassah) is a Jewish girl living with her cousin Mordecai in the Persian capital of Susa at the time of exile. When King Xerxes dethrones his wife, Vashti, there’s a call sent out for beautiful maidens to be brought to the palace for a chance to become Xerxes’ new wife and queen. Esther is brought to the palace, wins the king’s favor, and becomes his queen, all while hiding her Jewish heritage. Eventually there’s a royal vizier, Haman, who is an Amalekite, an enemy of the Jewish people. He devises a plot to trick the king into having all the Jews in the empire slaughtered. Esther, after encouragement from her cousin and fasting for three days, risks her life to approach the king and ends up saving her people.

This has been one of my favorite bible stories since I was a kid. However, Hunt’s version actually made me question a few things, such as:
~ Was Hadassah engaged before being taken to the palace?
~ Was Mordecai married?
~ Did Hadassah ever actually have children?
~ What happened to Vashti after she was dethroned?

I have never considered that Hadassah might’ve been engaged prior to being taken to the palace. So when it happened in this version, I was very upset for awhile. Not upset that she was engaged, I was upset that she was taken from the man she was engaged to! I got over it, but it was a little tough there for a minute.
Also, I always thought Vashti was executed or sent off to confinement. She is very much a presence in this story. I won’t give spoilers, but it did make me consider things.

I’ll admit, this isn’t my favorite version of Hadassah’s story, but it was good as it made me consider points that I had not previously thought of before. I’m not sure I see Hadassah differently, now, but I can see where Hunt gets her view of the ancient queen.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

The Sword of Summer

This is another book I’ve wanted to read for awhile from an author I very much enjoy. I am a big fan of the Percy Jackson series, as well as The Heroes of Olympus series. I love how Rick Riordan is true to the actual mythology while making the stories very interesting.

Ever since his mother died two years prior, Magnus Chase has been living on his own on the streets of Boston. When his Uncle Randolph finally catches up to Magnus, he starts rambling about Norse history and Magnus’s birthright: a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years. Just as Magnus succeeds in finding this ancient weapon, he’s attacked by a fire giant and dies. Brought to Valhalla by a Valkyrie, Magnus finds out that life after death may be crazier than life before it. With the help of some friends, Magnus goes on a quest to face his greatest fear, and maybe stop Ragnarok from beginning.

If you’ve read his other series, then you know how hilarious and engaging Uncle Rick’s books are. The fact that Magnus’s interaction with Annabeth wasn’t my favorite part of the book is a testament to how good this book is. (FYI, Annabeth is easily one of my favorite PJO characters.) I don’t know much about Norse mythology, and what I do know is mostly inaccurate, but I was able to make a few connections. I love that Rick explains Norse history and mythology in a way that is engaging. You’re either learning about it with the characters or he explains things without making it seem like he’s dumbing it down for the reader. While I’m not as into Norse mythology as I am Greek mythology, I still want to read the rest of the series. With titles such as: “Good Morning! You’re Going to Die”, hilarious tidbits, like why it’s called Common Era instead of Anno Domini (Thor’s salty about a duel with Jesus), or how Magnus mispronounces Norse words, this is a great read.

Accidentally Perfect by Elizabeth Stevens

Accidentally Perfect

I came across an excerpt of this book and liked it so much I had to read the whole book. There is a disclaimer from the author that this isn’t for younger readers due to mature content. It’s labeled as Mature YA, but we all know how I feel about that kind of categorizing.

This is the story of Piper Barlow and Roman Lombardi. Everyone is expecting Piper to find her perfect match in good guy Mason, while Roman is on the other side of the good-guy spectrum. Piper knows to avoid Roman and his degenerate ways like the plague, but a chance encounter over the holidays reveals a hidden side of Roman. In the space by the lake behind their houses, Roman and Piper allow themselves to lower their masks and be themselves without judgment. But what happens when the holiday is over and Piper’s “perfect match” comes calling?

What I love most about this book is the “no judgements, no apologies, no lies” agreement between Piper and Roman. They truly allow each other to be themselves, no matter their mood or issue, and that doesn’t change at any point in the book. Any change on their part is strictly their choice. As Roman says, “Piper and I are honest. It’s why it works. I can be me, she can be her, and we can be friends.” I found it to be an important contrast that Piper needed to help get over her own hidden issues.

Despite how much I enjoyed this book, there were a few spots due to the writing where I was left confused. There were a few parts where it was as if the author began in the middle of a scene and didn’t clear up what had come before. Almost like she wanted to get to what followed more than she cared about the flow of her story. She literally starts one scene with Piper denying something that Roman is insisting on, but never clarifies what. As a reader, and an author, that bugs me. So be forewarned, the book as a whole is good, but there are a few spots that miss the mark. I’m still going to re-read it for the fifth time.

Did you have a good April? What was a good book you read this month?

Happy Friday!

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