There always comes a time in your life when the prior commitments overwhelm you and hobbies get dropped like hot rocks until you finally feel like you can straddle the waves. For me, it means I don’t get to read as much as I would like to, and I definitely struggle to actually get into whatever book I pick up due to severe I-should-be-doing-other-things guilt. That being said, my reading month wasn’t completely horrible. I had two days where I finished 3 and read most of a fourth book, and that put me back on track – but it also means that in the 28 other days, I ‘only’ read six and a half books. As someone who AT A MINIMUM reads 10 books in a month, and usually finishes one every two or three days- May has been, without a doubt, my worst reading month so far this year. Both in actual number of books I picked up, as well as some pretty “meh” reads. I wanted to enjoy a few of these wayyy more than I actually did, and that tore up my heart a little – but I keep telling myself that I just wasn’t in the right headspace and I’ll come back to them and jump on the hype train with everybody else. For now, I’ll just be sitting at the station watching as every book-train seems to be delayed or late. At least I have a comfy seat and a warm hoodie.
COMPLETED READ 1: HOT DOG GIRL BY JENNIFER DUGAN
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
“Funny” books are usually a total hit-or-miss for me. I have a relatively broad sense of humour that understands and appreciates most cheesy jokes, whilst also causing me to snort at dark sarcasm – making me an easy person to please. But that doesn’t mean every ‘laugh out loud’ contemporary I crack open does the trick for me- but this one? Booooy was it one of the most glorious roller-coasters that I’ve ever been on. Sure, sometimes Lou (the main character) needed to pull her head out of her ass and realise the whole world doesn’t actually revolve around her, but that’s mostly where the relate-ability and realism of this beautiful book came from. She constantly put her feelings above others and was kind of an ass most of the time- but I loved her all the same. I felt like I was there with her, working at the nearby arcade or begging her to dance in her hot dog suit. Jennifer did an amazing job of drawing me in and making me stay for the ride.
COMPLETED READ 2: THE OPPOSITE OF ALWAYS BY JUSTIN REYNOLDS
The rapidly approaching summer-time put me in a super-strong mood for contemporary books, and after consuming Hot Dog Girl in a few days I was determined to continue my winning streak. I was also a little afraid that nothing could compare to the PERFECTION of my previous read but DING DING DING I found a winner! Another new release, I was lucky to get my hands on an ARC from a trade and that put me in the position to get stuck straight in to this magical-realism adorable cutesy nightmare from hell. Okay, I know that’s kind of an oxymoron- but the main character of this book seemed to be strangely like me: completely and utterly average at everything. I tend to breeze through life but never excel at absolutely anything. It’s a curse. Possibly also a blessing in disguise, as this book seems to prove. At least I can say I’m skilled at finding EXCELLENT reads.
COMPLETED READ 3: THIS TIME WILL BE DIFFERENT BY MISA SUGIRA
This is where my reading month goes downhill. Don’t get me wrong, three stars doesn’t necessarily make this a bad book- it was sweet and endearing at times, but you know that ‘meh’ feeling you get when you’ve read a book and it just didn’t hit home for you? Maybe that’s because of the writing or maybe it’s because I was really thrown off by the fact the only super interesting plot point barely got a chapter or two of attention. It needed way more expansion and focus than it actually got. Other than it was a pretty quick easy read that didn’t take me too long to get through and I was mostly okay with the final result.
COMPLETED READS 4 & 5: GRIM LOVELIES AND MIDNIGHT BEAUTIES BY MEGAN SHEPARD
I was incredibly luckily and totally in the right place at the right time and managed to score myself an early copy of Midnight Beauties, for which I thank Miguel and his willingness to trade with little ol’ me. From the moment it arrived in the post, I knew I wasn’t going to be holding it off for long- despite reading Grim Lovelies again only recently. BUT I HAD TO DO ANOTHER REREAD. I HAD TO MOM, OKAY?! Yes, I know I still have over 100 unread books on my shelves but it’s important to let my mind read what my heart wants to pick. Otherwise I’d fall into a slump faster than a cat jumps into an open cardboard box. (Super quick, for reference). I’m happy to say my rush-decision to squeeze in these two books into my May reading plan was one that paid off well. Midnight Beauties was amazing. Not perfect, but definitely amazing.
COMPLETED READ 6: THE KINGDOM BY JESS ROTHENBURG
As this was my top read of the month, I’m going to treat this ‘review’ like a little awards section. I want to thank whichever person at MyKindaBook/Macmillan took pity on me and my messy request and blessed me with an ARC. It arrived later than everyone else’s copy and I was FREAKING OUT that maybe my request had been rejected and that I wasn’t going to be able to fly through this one, but thankfully receiving this package in the post was the highlight of my week. It’s hard to describe why I was so desperate for this one, but I’m going to try: firstly, popularity of dystopian YA seems to have fallen dramatically since the whole The Hunger Games/Divergent/The Maze Runner binge a few years back, and I’ve not really seen any books catering to my tween self desperate to relive the glory days. The Kingdom appeared at the perfect moment, when I was feeling brave to try something different (it’s got a murder-mystery aspect to it that doesn’t usually float my boat) and came shortly after the release of Four Dead Queens, a similar synopsis book that I adored. Thankfully, after all the stress of “why doesn’t the publisher like me?!” that I went through- I absolutely adored this book. I can’t go into too much detail without spoiling absolutely everything, so I won’t. I’ll just leave you with this: PLEASE PICK IT UP!
COMPLETED READ 7: THE MERCIFUL CROW BY MARGARET OWEN
Here it comes: the big OOF. The Merciful Crow was not ‘ground breaking’, ‘thrilling’ or whatever other complimentary names it’s been called. It was decent. It was definitely unique and had a fascinating magic system, but that’s where the wonder ends. But what good is a beautiful foundation of world building if the pillars – the characters, the storyline, the writing- don’t hold up the roof of the overall picture? This book felt a little bit like a pretty pillowcase stuffed with generic tropes and flat characters that could have been so much more. I can’t describe how much it sucks to say all of this because I desperately wanted to fall in love alongside the rest of the lucky few who managed to get ARCs of this one, but it seems I’m stood on the other side of the road to the crowd and I just can’t convince myself to cross. Oof.
COMPLETED READ NUMBER 8: THE BECKONING SHADOW BY KATHRYN BLAIR
Would it be completely harsh to say that I remember almost nothing about this book? I only finished it a couple of weeks ago (if that), but it already seems to have disappeared from my mind. I remember flashes of it, moments that I loved but overall I really can’t give this book a higher rating if I can’t recall what actually happened. If I was only judging it on writing style, plot, world building and characterisation then I’m sure it would score a higher mark- but all the details are too fuzzy for me to trust my initial instincts of giving this book a four star rating.
I think there’s a few things throwing me off. For one, the cover strikes me as more of a ballet-contemporary themed book rather than a urban-fantasy about ring-fighting. I just don’t get that vibe, and when I look at the pretty pinks and purple hues I can’t help but conjour up a story that I haven’t read. One about a girl who pushes herself to the limits to get into a ballet company. But that’s more like the plot line of Dance Academy than the Beckoning Shadow, and for some reason I don’t get the feeling that the contents match the cover (as gorgeous as it is).
COMPLETED READ 9: DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE BY JOAN HE
I’m a little bit torn up about this one. On the one hand, it was way more then a ‘meh’ read. It hit something deep inside me and I really did enjoy my experience trekking through the pages, but on the other hand it’s the book that caused me to slump the most. It took me over a week to finish (and it’s not even necessarily a long book), and I just kept finding reasons not to pick it up. I didn’t read it on a 7 hour flight. I didn’t read it in a 5 hour long queue. I was bored out of my mind at both things but for some reason I just wasn’t in the mood to read this book. It’s a bizzare feeling and I feel bad saying it, but, for me, in this moment, this book was exceptionally well written but tough to get into. I DON’T KNOW WHY. The story was a 5 star plot line, the characters were realistic and heartbreaking. There were suspenseful twists that should have kept me hooked, but instead of being a tidal wave that took me off my feet- I just felt like I’d been hit by a one million tonne solid wall of concrete that didn’t move me anywhere. I know this is one I’ll 100% give another try when I’m in a different mood and I hope that it clicks for me the next time round, but I just couldn’t help feel disjointed and unmotivated despite the fact I can recognise how intriguing and well developed it was.
I know what you’re thinking after you’ve been through all this: how was this a bad reading month for you?! You read 9 books!
I know, reader, I know. But a lot of them were confusing or disorientating, and a few were REALLY HYPED BOOKS that I wanted to love a lot more than I actually did. Maybe I put too much pressure on them subconsciously, or maybe my mind just wasn’t in the right place for some of these – but either way I can’t help but look back and feel disappointed. I’m very much a ‘four star’ average rater. I have a knack for only picking up books I know I’ll like, and that usually leaves me a satisfied little reader with a reasonably sized TBR pile and a wrap up of 10-15 books.
But not this time, and that’s ok. Maybe June will look up? I have acquired 37 new books (I came off my 6 month book buying ban) AND have my birthday coming up (I always ask for books) so I know I’ll have plenty to choose from.
Look out for my HUGE book haul soon!!