Monthly Reading Round-Up: May

Edging ever closer to my Goodreads target (I’m now on 122 of 151 books), here is my May reading:

  1. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
    This was a re-read and I enjoyed it just as much as I did when I was 18; it’s such a funny book, which I think is what people most often forget about Austen.
  2. Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldovsky
    This was a surprisingly entertaining read; I reviewed it here.
  3. The Umbrella Academy Volume 2: Dallas by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba
    I really like this series; as with the first, the plot didn’t make that much sense but the artwork was amazing and it was all very entertaining.
  4. Ruby by Cynthia Bond
    I am still traumatised by this book, which was in no way what I expected based on the blurb. If the back of the book had said this, it would have been far more appropriate: “this book is cover-to-cover rape, incest and horrific violence. Enjoy!”
  5. Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige
    This was so disappointing; the first half was set in a normal high school, i.e. NOT OZ and then when they finally made it back there, the story went straight into a massive battle which didn’t seem to be about anything. Mainly, I am annoyed that I will have to buy and read the unexpected fourth book (why is this not a trilogy?) next year to complete the set.
  6. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
    Obviously, this was WAY too long, but very exciting and action-packed and everything. I still don’t care for that faerie dude (whose name I have completely forgotten) and will forever be Team Chaol.
  7. The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
    My review of this will appear over at Fourth and Sycamore in a few weeks, but suffice to say I am completely mystified by the glowing reviews this has been getting on Goodreads.
  8. Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard
    These two novellas give a bit of background to Red Queen and Glass Sword; the first, Queen Song, is about Cal’s mother and was quite engaging, but the one about Farley just echoed what happened in the main novels which was absolutely pointless.
  9. The Loneliness of Distant Beings by Kate Ling
    I loved this space-set YA; my review will go up in a couple of days and I’ll link back, but you really should read this.
  10. Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield
    Review here: I was sucker-punched by this and still feel emotionally vulnerable when I see the cover.
  11. You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour
    This was fun and light; I liked that it was about gay teens who’d already come out, which made it quite different to a lot of the LGBTQIA fiction I’ve read. I’ll be reviewing soon.
  12. Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw
    Another Fourth and Sycamore review to come in June. This featured an enjoyable level of snark, as well as a really funny line about Coldplay.
  13. Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
    I didn’t completely love this as it had a bit too much boy-craziness for my old and boring sensibilities. However, the focus on friendship between girls and their discussions of feminism were really refreshing, and the ending made me veer towards emotional.
  14. The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys by Gerard Way, Shaun Simon and Becky Cloonan
    Even more nonsensical than the Umbrella Academy books but equally enjoyable. I liked the ways in which the story paralleled the My Chemical Romance album of the same title.
  15. The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas
    I am officially in love with Scarlett Thomas’ writing. This was so vibrant and complex, with fantastic characters. The sprawling and dysfunctional family at its heart and the central mystery of what happened to the family members who went missing looking for a rare plant were massively enjoyable. I can’t wait to read more of Thomas’ books.
  16. How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne
    I loved Amber in Am I Normal Yet? but here she was a little too drunk and not as entertaining. The book sees her spending the summer in a Californian camp, which I found baffling; why separate her from her friends when they were what made the first book so good?
  17. Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
    I have now read this approximately 7 million times and I still love it. Every time I read it, I find myself nodding along at Hornby’s sage and insightful points. If you’re a football fan and you haven’t read this, seriously, what are you doing with your life?
  18. Charlotte Brontë: A Life by Claire Harman
    This was fascinating; I assumed I knew everything about the Brontë family but Harman includes some stories which were new to me, like Emily feeding the best cuts of meat to the dogs. It’s an excellent biography, even for Brontë-heads who feel like they know it all.
  19. All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
    This was so weird but good. I think. Told in two narrative strands, the book focuses on Jake, a woman with a mysterious past living alone in a remote part of Scotland. After finishing, I still wasn’t entirely sure what was going on but it was definitely an intriguing read.
  20. All of the Above by James Dawson
    I wanted to really like this, as I enjoyed Spot the Difference, but all the adolescent drama was a bit much for me, and it was one of those books where every conceivable issue occurs in the same group of friends, which seems statistically unlikely to me.
  21. Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss
    New York setting: check. Arty characters: check. Complex relationships and interconnected stories: check. Yes, this was my kind of thing.
  22. Broken Sky by L.A. Weatherley
    I’m conflicted about this. On the one hand, it was an interesting take on a dystopian future and the ending was brilliant. On the other, it was 500 pages long (500 pages!), not particularly well-written and would anyone seriously run a country using astrology as their manifesto?
  23. Matilda by Roald Dahl
    I read this by accident on the last day of the month. My daughter was quite happily entertaining herself for a few minutes, so I started reading Matilda, and the next thing I knew I had finished it and was feeling all warm inside. Someone on Goodreads gave this 2 stars. 2 stars for Matilda! This is treason.
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March Reading Round-Up

It’s been another busy reading month, and I’m now very close to halfway through my Goodreads challenge of 151 books. Hurray for me and my complete absence of a social life. The last week of the month has been a weird one because I’m in the midst of moving house and, consequently, all my books are packed away, so I’ve been catching up on some e-ARCs and, obviously, sneaking new books into the house without my husband seeing them.

  1. The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge – this was very sweet, as well as funny. It’s about a young boy who loses his mother and resorts to quantum theory to try to get her back. I read it to see if it would be suitable as a year 7 class book; it’s probably pitched a little younger than that, but it was still an endearing read.faceless
  2. Faceless by Alyssa Sheinmel – I reviewed this here. Most of the book focuses on its main character’s recovery from having her face burned off in a freak accident. It’s harrowing and upsetting, but well worth reading.
  3. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman – I understand from Twitter that everyone loves Alice Oseman and this book. It didn’t do anything for me except make me not want to read her books again.trouble
  4. Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach – this was okay but nothing special, and featured one of my least favourite YA tropes.  You can read my review if you want to know what that is.
  5. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – I reread this after buying a beautiful copy to add to my collection of Penguin English Library Editions and I loved it. I don’t remember feeling quite so in love with it when I read it as a teenager. I rhapsodised about it here.
  6. The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury – I liked this retelling of the Aladdin myth, although I inevitably ended up annoying my family by singing A Whole New World for several days. My review is here.
  7. Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg – this was really good. I liked Mazie a lot and saintmaziegenuinely cared about what happened to her. My favourite thing about this book was the way New York was almost a character in its own right; historical fiction set in one of my favourite cities will always be a winner for me.
  8. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas – my mission to plough through this series continues. This one was good in lots of ways (i.e. Aedion) but there was a lot of fannying about involving witches and Celaena’s story became a standard “crap magician” narrative which annoyed me. Also WHERE IS KALTAIN? And I still love Chaol. So there.
  9. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers – you can read my review of this here if you are so inclined. In short, the book is entertaining and appealed to my newfound love of Books Set in Space, but the plot was a bit meandering for my liking.
  10. The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine – frankly, this just wasn’t very good. The Snow White retelling idea sounded alright but there wasn’t really any point to the story; most of the interesting stuff happened before the main story began and there’s nothing original in the Strong Female Character Fights Evil Queen narrative arc because it is in every goddamn YA fantasy series.
  11. Shtum by Jem Lester – another area in which I’m apparently in the minority. I found this book about a father’s fight to get the right help for his autistic son incredibly depressing; the parents are unbelievably selfish and, while I now have a greater understanding of what it’s like to live with an autistic child, I question how much poo really needed to be mentioned.
  12. The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry – I really enjoyed this time-travely lovethatsplitYA, although obviously I did not understand the actual time travel bit at all. It was very much a romance but I didn’t object too strongly because I really liked the writing. My review is here.
  13. The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett – the cover quote describes this as ‘One Day meets Sliding Doors,’ which pretty much sums it up. I liked it a normal amount, but did find the structure (three versions of the central relationship, told in alternating chapters with a mind-boggling number of character names to remember) relentlessly confusing.
  14. Iron to Iron by Ryan Graudin – this prequel novella to Wolf by Wolf tells a story which was hinted at quite a bit in the full novel, so I’m not really convinced I gained any fresh insights from reading it.
  15. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – I completely loved this weird little doorwaybook about the aftermath of trips into fantasy universes. It had a note of Miss Peregrine to it but, otherwise, was a really original story. And it was very short, so that was good too.
  16. The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman – this started pretty slowly, with lots of Regency manners and society balls, none of which is very new and exciting if you’re a Jane Austen obsessive like me. But it got a lot more exciting when demons started attacking London and Lady Helen, the teen protagonist, had to fight them with her mirror compact. Yes, really. It’s good.
  17. The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer – I think this is meant to be a thriller but I didn’t find it very thrilling. The bit where the little girl went missing literally gave me nightmares about losing my own daughter, but after that I thought it was a little bit silly.
  18. This Song is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin – contemporary YA about three teens who form both a band and a love triangle; it was deceptively simple and short, with quite a complex story at its heart.
  19. Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick – I didn’t really enjoy reading this butEveryExquisiteThing_Cover_314bl then, thinking about it afterwards, I wonder if I was just being grouchy and thinking too much about moving house instead of focusing on the actual book. The meta aspect of it, with the characters obsessed with a novel, appealed to me, but I wasn’t quite convinced by the main relationship.
  20. Perfect Days by Raphael Montes – I can’t remember where I heard of this book but I’m glad I did because it was excellent. It’s about a creepy dude who meets a girl, becomes obsessed with her and kidnaps her by shoving her in a suitcase. It’s very dark but also weirdly funny in a satirical way. It’s one I’ll be recommending.
  21. Alice and the Fly by James Rice – this is a UK YA book about mental illness which I haven’t seen discussed very much (actually, I picked it up having seen it mentioned somewhere, but I now can’t remember where). It was dark and disturbing, but really emotionally affecting. I recommend it.
  22. The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood – look, basically, I just don’t understand time travel and now I’m starting to hate it. Possibly reading this so soon after The Love that Split the World was a bad plan, with both being YA time travel romances, but, as usual, I didn’t get how the actual time travel worked and there was A LOT of maths in this book, which is not my favourite thing.
  23. This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp – this was a quick but quite disturbing read about a school shooting, taking place in real time with four different narrators each describing the action in two minute intervals. It’s a clever structural idea which makes the book really pacy. It didn’t have the slow-burning menace of, say, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and I am inclined to agree with some of the criticism I’ve seen about the reductive presentation of the shooter.

I’m writing this wrap-up slightly early this month, just in case my worst fears are realised and moving leaves me WiFi-less for a few days. Let’s not think about it; it’s too horrible.