April was a much more productive reading month in terms of volume, largely thanks to the inclusion of a shorter story and a graphic novel. 

1. Oathbringer

This somehow managed to top the already 5/5 experience I had with the prior book

All of my fears that this would be a huge letdown after how much I loved Words of Radiance ended up being completely shattered. While I would still strongly argue that these novels could be shorter, I think this is some of the best fantasy I have ever read. The action, the plot twists, and the endearing character moments were all just so incredible. It brought me smiles, it ripped my heart out, and it sent my mind racing all in equal measure. While I've heard that fans were not quite as thrilled with the next book in the series, I honestly don't think I will be able to help myself from tearing right into it as soon as possible. 

2. Children of Time

This  4/5 read was a satisfyingly bizarre trip across space and time 

There are very few books that I finish where I can honestly say that I have never read anything quite like it, but that was just the case with Children of Time. It didn't always land perfectly for me, but I'd be lying if I said this wasn't a profoundly memorable story. I don't know for sure if I will read the other books in this trilogy right away or not. Tchaikovsky has a large back-catalogue of distinct works that I might want to sample first, but either way I will definitely be reading more by this author. 

3. Zero Twist

A bombastic 4/5 free story

The fact that this prequel story for the Hybrid Helix story is totally free is kind of crazy. It was professionally polished, nicely structured, and offers some good fun with little sprinkles of things to reflect on. Serving as a great entry point to Berne's writing or a bonus episode for his existing fans, I think everyone should give this one a chance, just be warned that there is a weird alien romance that borders on furry content (though it's not graphic at all). 

4. Ascender Vol. 2

This was still a  4/5 though I am getting a little impatient with the series. 

I continue to be a fan of this series and the way it reimagines the universe from it's preceding series, Descender. There are definitely some high points to be found here, but overall, I find myself feeling like I really want the plot to pick up the pace. Since this is only a four volume series, I would have expected things to feel a lot more developed by now. As things stand, the third and fourth installments are poised to either deliver some intensely satisfying payoff or else fall on their face. 

BONUS: The Two Towers

I still liked this less than the other books, but it was a delightful 4/5 reread all the same.

As with The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, I enjoyed my experience with this book even more on my second time through. That said, I think it is still my least favorite part of The Lord of the Rings, largely just due to how arduous the early part of the journey is as Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli cross vast stretches of land in pursuit of their captured friends. I'd also completely forgotten that Frodo and Sam's part are saved for "Book 4," A.K.A. the second half of this installment. Having the stories split up does work well, but it definitely threw me off since it is structured so differently both from the movie adaptations as well as from how modern fantasy books are laid out. These things aside, I had a really good time with this one, I just had to make sure that I was in the right mood for it whenever I picked it up. I will also say that some of the more action-centric scenes were better than I remembered. No, they don't really compare to what you're going to find in a more recent epic fantasy novel nor are they as exciting as what you'd find in the Peter Jackson films, but for what Tolkien was doing here, I thought they were handled well enough. I'd also forgotten how cool certain character moments were in both halves of the book. My enjoyment of these stories is certainly further enhanced by even more beautiful artwork done by Alan Lee. 

Looking ahead to May, I will be continuing my journey through the Stormlight Archive books on Audio. I'll kick things off with the Dawnshard novella and then begin the fourth mainline novel, though that will last me well into June and perhaps even part of July. I will also be aiming to get through at least most of the third and final part of The Lord of the Rings.


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