The top 8 books to read in April 2023

Here are
The top 8 books
I plan to read in April 2023

Here is a sample of what I am planning on reading this month, a nice mix of genres, of classics and review books.


Les trois mousquetaires

📚 Les Trois mousquetaires,
by Alexandre Dumas
Historical fiction
896 pages
Reading with French student E.
It counts for The Classics Club

I have read this one decades ago.
I was really thrilled to revisit it when my French student E. expressed the desire to read it together.
As usual, I’m getting so much more out of it than when I first read it.
First, a few years ago I reread Don Quijote, and it’s fun to see the parallels, especially at the beginning of the book.
And as usual when I reread classics, I see so much humor that I didn’t see back then. At least in the first 10% I have reread so far, this is totally hilarious, at so many levels.
It should keep us busy for close to three months.

I am also currently reading:

  • Why Read The Classics? by Italo Calvino
  • L’Arabe du futur #2 : Une jeunesse au Moyen-Orient, 1984-1985, by Riad Sattouf (with French student F. We are planning to read the 6 volumes)
  • Thinking Orthodox: Understanding and Acquiring the Orthodox Christian Mind, by  Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou (slow weekly reading with the catechumens of my Orthodox parish)
  • The Transfiguration of Christ in Greek Patristic Literature from Irenaeus of Lyons to Gregory Palamas, by Christopher Veniamin


Hag's Nook📚Hag’s Nook (Dr. Gideon Fell #1),
by John Dickson Carr
161 pages
It counts for The Classics Club

This is the book I got for Classic Spin #33.
And finally be my first book by John Dickson Carr.
He wrote 23 books in this series, so who knows if it may be another good series?

In his detecting debut, larger than life lexicographer Dr. Gideon Fell is entertaining young American college graduate Tad Rampole at Yew Cottage, Fell’s charming home in the English countryside.
Within sight of his study window is the ruin of Chatterham Prison, perched high on a precipice known as Hag’s Nook. The prison’s land belongs to the Starberth family—whose eldest sons must each spend an hour in the prison’s eerie “Governor’s Room” to inherit the family fortune.
Rampole is especially interested in the family, having met the young and beautiful Dorothy Starberth on the train from London. He readily agrees when Fell and the local reverend, Thomas Saunders, ask him to accompany them as they watch and wait for badly frightened Martin Starberth to complete ‘his hour’ in the prison.
Martin has every reason to be afraid; more than one Starberth heir has met an untimely end. Will his turn come tonight?

Descent into Hell

📚 Descent into Hell,
by Charles Wiiliams
Literary fiction/fantasy/Christianity
208 pages
It counts for The Classics Club

This is the result of my jar pick.
And my first book by an Inkling I have yet to discover.

“In this provocative, classic metaphysical thriller, a group of suburban amateur actors plagued by personal demons and terrors explore the pathways to heaven and hell.
Certain inhabitants of Battle Hill, a small community on the outskirts of London, are preparing to mount a new play by the neighborhood’s most illustrious resident, the writer Peter Stanhope. Each actor struggles with self-absorption, doubt, fear, and sin. But “the Hill” is not like other places. Here the past and present intermingle, ghosts walk among the living, and reality is often clouded by dreams and the dark fantastic. For young Pauline Anstruther, who is caring for an aging grandmother and frightened by the specter of a doppelgänger who gets closer with each visitation, the prospect of heaven exists in the renowned playwright’s willingness to bear the burden of her terror. For eminent historian Lawrence Wentworth, the rejection of his desire pulls him deeper inside himself, leaving him vulnerable to the lure of the succubus and opening wide the entrance to hell.
A brilliant theological thriller, Descent into Hell is an extraordinary fictional meditation on sin and personal salvation by one of the twentieth century’s most original and provocative literary artists. Charles Williams, a member of the Inklings alongside fellow Oxfordians C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Owen Barfield, has written a powerful work at once profoundly disturbing and gloriously uplifting, an ingenious amalgam of metaphysics, religious thought, and darkest fantasy.

Hide and Geek

📚 Hide and Geek (Hide and Geek #1),
by T.P. Jagger
Mystery / Middlegrade
Jan 4, 2022
320 pages

This is the random book from the titles I added to my TBR last month.
Don’t you love the title? That’s what attracted me to the book in the first place.

“A puzzlemaker’s last clue. A friendship’s last chance.
The GEEKs:
Gina, Edgar, Elena, and Kevin have been best friends for as long as they can remember. So when their arch-nemesis points out that their initials make them literally GEEKs, they decide to go with it.
The problem:
The GEEKs’ hometown of Elmwood was once the headquarters of the famous toymaker Maxine Van Houten. Her popular puzzle sphere, the Bamboozler, put the town on the map. But Maxine passed away long ago. Now the toy factory is shutting down, and Elena’s mom and Kevin’s dad are losing their jobs. They might have to move–and that would mean splitting up the GEEKs!
The quest:
Maxine left one final puzzle, a treasure hunt that could save the town and keep the friends together. But only those who know and love Elmwood best will be able to solve it. GEEKs to the rescue!”

Skin Deep

📚 Skin Deep
by Antonia Lassa
Translated by Jacky Collins
Llevar en la piel
was first published in Spanish in 2023
To be published on 4/30/2023
by Corylus Books
136 pages
Epub received for review – book tour

“When police arrest eccentric loner Émile Gassiat for the murder of a wealthy woman in a shabby seaside apartment in Biarritz, Inspector Canonne is certain he has put the killer behind bars. Now he just needs to prove it.
But he hasn’t reckoned with the young man’s friends, who bring in lawyer-turned-investigator Larten to head for the desolate out-of-season south-west of France to dig deep into what really happened.
Larten’s hunt for the truth takes him back to the bustle of Paris as he seeks to demonstrate that the man in prison is innocent, despite all the evidence – and to uncover the true killer behind a series of bizarre murders.
Skin Deep is Antonia Lassa’s first novel to appear in English.”

A History of the Island

📚 A History of the Island,
Translated by Lisa C. Hayden
Оправдание Острова
was first published in 2020

Historical fiction
To be published on May 23, 2023
by Plough Publishing
320 pages
Ebook received rhough Netgalley

I was very impressed by Laurus, by the same author, and it seems this is some kind of sequel.

“Monks devious and devout – and an age-defying royal pair – chronicle the history of their fictional island in this witty critique of Western civilization and history itself.
Eugene Vodolazkin, internationally acclaimed novelist and scholar of medieval literature, returns with a satirical parable about European and Russian history, the myth of progress, and the futility of war.
This ingenious novel, described by critics as a coda to his bestselling Laurus, is presented as a chronicle of an island from medieval to modern times. The island is not on the map, but it is real beyond doubt. It cannot be found in history books, yet the events are painfully recognizable. The monastic chroniclers dutifully narrate events they witness: quests for power, betrayals, civil wars, pandemics, droughts, invasions, innovations, and revolutions. The entries mostly seem objective, but at least one monk simultaneously drafts and hides a “true” history, to be discovered centuries later.

And why has someone snipped out a key prophesy about the island’s fate?
These chronicles receive commentary today from an elderly couple who are the island’s former rulers. Prince Parfeny and Princess Ksenia are truly extraordinary: they are now 347 years old. Eyewitnesses to much of their island’s turbulent history, they offer sharp-eyed observations on the changing flow of time and their people’s persistent delusions. Why is the royal couple still alive? Is there a chance that an old prophecy comes to pass and two righteous persons save the island from catastrophe?
In the tradition of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, Julian Barnes’s A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, Vodolazkin is at his best recasting history, in all its hubris and horror, by finding the humor in its absurdity.

For readers with an appetite for more than a dry, rational, scientific view of what motivates, divides, and unites people, A History of the Island conjures a world still suffused with mystical powers.”


Babel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

🎧 Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence:
An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution,
by R. F. Kuang
Fantasy / Historical fiction
544 pages
22 hours
Narrated by Chris Lew Kum Hoi

I have a couple more hours of this one, very impressive!

1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation—also known as Babel. The tower and its students are the world’s center for translation and, more importantly, magic. Silver-working—the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver bars—has made the British unparalleled in power, as the arcane craft serves the Empire’s quest for colonization.
For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide . . .”

🎧  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ,
(The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #1),
by Douglas Adams
Science fiction
216 pages
Narrated by Stephen Fry

Last time I tried this, I gave up, not sure why, as I enjoy a lot scifi.
Let’s try this again, in audio this time.

“Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.
Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don’t forget to bring a towel!”

Eiffel Tower Orange



16 thoughts on “The top 8 books to read in April 2023

  1. I picked up three British Library Crime Classics on the weekend on a trip away. I haven’t read anything by John Dickson Carr yet but I’d like to. I just finished one by E.C. Lorac, Bats in the Belfry which was great.


  2. Hide and Geek looks the most interesting out of these to me.

    It’s April, so I’m focused on the #AtoZChallenge.
    Proof of Existence, book two in my dark urban fantasy series, is out this month.
    And I’m running a giveaway on my blog.

    J Lenni Dorner (he/him 👨🏽 or 🧑🏽 they/them) ~ Reference& Speculative Fiction Author, OperationAwesome6 Debut Author Interviewer, and Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge


  3. A mixed list indeed. I have not read any of them, although seen The Three Musketeers on telly. Babel is on my list. Good luck with your April read.


  4. My eye was caught by A History of the Island by Eugene Vodolazkin and translated by Lisa Hayden as something to pursue, so I shall do that in a moment. I enjoyed your review of Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius for which I’m currently writing a review, and this sounds a bit reminiscent of that! Glad you’re enjoying Babel (which I thoroughly relished) and look forward to your review. As for the Douglas Adams, I too struggled with getting beyond the first few pages – I was clearly spoilt by hearing the original exquisite radio version many decades ago which even the print version can’t recapture.


    • We just read about 5% for each week. We share about the passages we liked, etc, but I also speak about some specific vocabulary or grammatical turns. Linguistically, what’s very interesting in it is that a lot of its words are still used in modern French, but now with a very different meaning.


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