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  • Writer's pictureCassidi Beck

My April Reading Run Down

Updated: May 19, 2023

I made the move to London at the end of March (jobless and homeless might I add) but

with an amazing network of friends and family already in the UK, the task seemed less daunting. The task at hand was to use my days networking and working on my resume to secure a job and a home (easy stuff right), while spending the rest of my time exploring all London has to offer. Small problem folks... this book buying queen managed to find the most amazing bookstores pretty much my second day here. You’re probably saying “but Cass, why is that a problem? Bookstores with six floors and all the books you could imagine? Some even have limited edition, unique publishing cases you say? GUUURRRLLL, sounds like heaven.” Oh, it definitely is heaven, but as any bookaholic knows, I have already purchased far too many books. People, I do not even have a home with a shelf yet to put them on! Thank goodness my girl Sarah has free shelves and enjoys the aesthetic of pretty colour matching books.

Anyway, besides the crazy move and more time spent buying books than reading them, here is a run down of the last few reads.



The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The first trailer for The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, to be released in November, made its way to the top of my Youtube page and immediately elicited my excitement. I also realised very quickly that I had yet to read the novel which was released back in 2020, which I new was sitting on my TBR shelf, desperately waiting to be read. As a novel loyalist, I knew I had to read the book before the movie’s release. I am plenty aware I had time until November (I can read at a decent speed), the excitement of the trailer had me pick it up despite already being a quarter deep into another novel. (My sincerest apologies to said novel).


For those that do not know, the books is written as “The Hunger Games 0”. It’s a prequel set way before we meet our beloved Katniss Everdeen, centred around antagonist Coriolanus Snow and his first year as a mentor in the 10th annual Hunger Games. I applaud Collins for choosing to centre her prequel on the original bad guy. Would we sympathize with a war criminal? Would his upbringing explain the horrendous actions and decisions he made during the rise and fall of the capital? Or perhaps would he at least be humanized in way that made us hate him a little tiny bit less.


Verdict: Unfortunately, I will be honest and say the book overall fell a little bit flat for me. It felt too long, and the stakes never felt high enough despite all the on goings. And there were a lot of on goings. I am also pretty sure the book would have been at least 67 pages shorter if the two main characters were not constantly referred to by their full names – Coriolanus Snow & Lucy Gray Baird.


Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. But I am still excited for the movie none the less.


The Rivers of London Series by Ben Aaronovitch

This series has been on my TBR for a while now but I was never able to find the first book back in South Africa. Luckily, all the London bookstores are stocked with the whole series. Considering I just made the move to London, the decision to start the series was perfectly timed. Get ready to dive into a world of Hogwarts meets CSI – the most perfect combo ever!


Aaronovitch has crafted a universe that seamlessly merges the supernatural with the mundane and it left me craving more. If there is one good thing about only getting to this series now, is that the entire series is already published! Our guide through this magical realm is Peter Grant, a young and endearingly sarcastic police officer with a knack for uncovering the hidden world of ghosts, wizards, and other mystical creatures lurking in the streets of London. From his unexpected encounter with a ghost in the early hours of the morning to his induction into the secret branch of the Metropolitan Police that deals with supernatural crimes, Peter's journey is as thrilling as it is entertaining.


One of the standout features of the series for me is Aaronovitch’s weaving together of the rich tapestry of London's history and mythology, blending real-life locations with fantastical elements effortlessly. As readers, we get to explore hidden corners of the city, from the dark underbelly of Covent Garden to the majestic River Thames itself, where ancient spirits and mythical beings hold court. As I was reading, I even made the point of jotting down any points of interest I may want to discover as a newly knighted Londoner.


Verdict: With its enchanting blend of magic, crime-solving, and humor, The Rivers of London series is an absolute gem in the urban fantasy genre. Ben Aaronovitch's masterful storytelling and unforgettable characters will leave you eagerly flipping the pages, craving for more mystical mischief. I managed the first two of the series this month and cannot wait to read the rest!


Do No Harm by Jack Jordan

Brace yourself for a heart-pounding journey filled with unexpected turns and nail-biting moments. If you're a fan of thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat, "Do No Harm" is the perfect book to sink your teeth into. From the very first page, Jordan takes you on a relentless roller coaster ride of twists and chills that will have your heart racing and your mind in overdrive.


Our main character, Emma, is a brilliant doctor with a tragic past. Determined to save lives and uphold her oath, she finds herself in a nightmarish situation when she receives a mysterious note with a chilling ultimatum: "Do No Harm." With her life turned upside down, Emma is thrust into a cat-and-mouse game with an unknown adversary, testing her limits both professionally and personally.


Jordan's writing style is a masterclass in building tension and suspense. He expertly weaves together intricate plot threads, keeping readers guessing and second-guessing at every turn. Just when you think you have it all figured out, he throws another curveball your way, leaving you frantically flipping the pages to uncover the truth. This book had some really WTF moments!


"Do No Harm" is a gripping and adrenaline-fueled thriller that demands to be devoured in one sitting. Jack Jordan's skillful storytelling, relentless pacing, and skillful characterization make it a standout in the genre.


Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld

I must begin by saying that I am SNL obsessed. It is also a new obsession. Back at home in South Africa, I never had complete access to SNL as none of platforms aired it and most videos posted on YouTube from the SNL page were not (and still not) available for us to watch. Then I finally educated myself on downloading a respectable and suitable VPN (all done for a just cause), compounded with Covid and a national lockdown, I was quickly enveloped into an SNL blackhole. Long story short, when Romantic Comedy was recommended across platforms, highlighting its SNL themed backstory, I was super quick to head out to Waterstones to buy a copy. It was also Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club Pick of the Month and I am a loyalist full and through.


Sally Milz, a highly accomplished TV script writer for a legendary late-night comedy show The Night Owls, has endured a string of heartaches that have caused her to abandon all hope of finding love. Her cynicism takes root when her friend, another writer, starts dating a glamorous actress, becoming part of the group of average-looking yet intriguing men who seem to attract accomplished and stunning women (Anyone else think this is in reference to Pete Davidson?) Sally's frustration fuels her creativity, leading her to create a humorous sketch that satirizes this societal double standard—men dating above their looks while women do not experience the same privilege.


Of course, enter Noah, a renowned pop idol notorious for his associations with models, who is The Night Owls celebrity guest host and performer. He can sing, act and he’s funny, sign me up! Of course, Sally’s perspective begins to evolve as Noah and her work together throughout the week. Yet, this is not the plot of a predictable romantic comedy; it is the complexities of real life. Sally grapples with the question of whether someone like Noah would ever consider dating someone like her.


In "Romantic Comedy," Curtis Sittenfeld masterfully dismantles our preconceived notions about love and delves into the intricate workings of the heart. Through a sharp, daring, and empathetic narrative, the novel explores how the heart ultimately follows its own desires, disregarding societal expectations. Sittenfeld delivers a witty and thought-provoking tale that challenges our assumptions and leaves us contemplating the unpredictable nature of love.


I loved the SNL themed backdrop and enjoyed the overall message I felt the novel was trying to portray. My only complaints would be what felt like too much dialogue? Especially a whole section dedicated to email correspondence. And the fact the Noah seemed too perfect. Dude had no faults whatsoever. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone – even those who tend to stay away from romance novels.


Camp Zero by Michelle Min Sterling

Another book of the month recommendation, this time by Today’s book club Read With Jenna. Marketed as Feminist Dystopian, I couldn’t wait to read it. I definitely have a spot for Dystopian science fantasy (I better speak to my therapist about that.) In the realm of young adult fiction, it's always a pleasure to stumble upon a novel that blends captivating storytelling with thought-provoking themes. Set in a dystopian world where survival is paramount, this book takes readers on a journey filled with suspense, bravery, and unexpected twists.


We are plunged into a dystopian setting, complete with oppressive regimes, hidden mysteries and surivial challenges. In the year 2049, America faces a grim reality: scorching summer heatwaves, the collapse of the fossil fuel industry, and a society wired to remain perpetually connected through a birth-implanted device known as the 'Flick.' As the wealthy find refuge in the Floating City off the coast, those on the mainland struggle to survive. For Rose, securing a job as a hostess in the elite club of the city becomes her beacon of hope for a brighter future.


In a Cold War-era research station, an extraordinary group of highly skilled women known as White Alice are dedicated to climate surveillance. However, the stability of their employment hangs by a thread, shrouded in uncertainty. Meanwhile, in Dominion Lake, a former oil town in northern Canada, a camp called Camp Zero emerges. It promises a fresh start, with clean air and cooler temperatures—an opportunity for Grant to escape his family's troubling past and seek redemption.


In this world of hidden motives and concealed agendas, trust becomes a scarce commodity. Amidst the chaos, could love be the most revolutionary act of all? Camp Zero is a thrilling, immersive, and disconcertingly timely tale that confronts the consequences of our collective actions and poses vital questions about our future.


With its chillingly prescient vision, this novel takes readers on a gripping journey through the world we have constructed and forces us to confront the choices that lie ahead. As we navigate the intricate web of alliances and betrayals, Camp Zero compels us to reflect on the paths we have chosen and the possibilities that await us in an uncertain tomorrow.

Whether you're a fan of dystopian fiction or simply enjoy a riveting adventure, this novel deserves a place on your bookshelf.






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