May, looking back, has been a surprisingly good reading month for me. Whilst it felt really slow it is the month I finally finished Alexander Hamilton (it only took five months and two different formats!) and also finished my 52nd book of the year, therefore completing my revised Goodreads challenge. It’s been a good month. Here are the books that made it so:
Isla and the Happily Ever After
Continuing on from the Anna and the French Kiss series at the end of last month, Isla and Josh’s story is just as fun, sweet, and relatable. The insta-love is definitely more prominent in this book than the other two but I really enjoy the fact that we get to see them actually be in a relationship, it adds something more to the story, a difference that I hugely appreciated.
The Cuckoos Calling
Written by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, The Cuckoos Calling is the first in the Strike series, and has recently, along with the other two available books in the series, been adapted for a BBC TV series. Having read this before, I picked it up because I wanted something a little less ‘easy’, something that would take a bit more time and attention. I have read very few crime type novels, in fact, I can count all the titles on one hand, but what I really like about this one is the characters and their relationships. Also, the crime, while intriguing doesn’t involve excessive violence, blood and gore. These are all things that I don’t particularly like reading about, and I appreciated that there could still be an intriguing story without them.
The second in the series, in many ways this is a better read. As you would expect, the characters and the relationships between them are more developed. However, the plot – the crime – was a little trickier to follow and it became a lot darker.
The Communist Manifesto
Bought during my degree, what would have been Marx’s 200th birthday seemed like the perfect opportunity to revisit this tiny book. Both little in dimension and length, this was still an enlightening and relatable read.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Simply, this book is a moan. You can read my full review here.
Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
I love this book. It expresses so well how I feel about reading and books, but it also contemplates the danger of choosing fiction over reality. Not only that but the characters are developed, relatable and loveable. It is warm and inviting without being suffocating and the residents of Broken wheel welcome and … support you just as they do for Sara. I wrote a blog post about this book back in 2016. If you’d like, you can read it here.
The definition of a summer read this is easy and fun. North writes realistic characters with real depth and issues. It is a book that I come back to about once a year, usually when the sun is shining or when I ‘ve decided I want an early night and an hour reading in bed.
Leah on the Offbeat
I wanted to love this so much, but it just didn’t live up to expectations or the previous book: Simon VS the Homo Sapiens Agenda. The characters that I had genuinely grown to care about seemed entirely unlike themselves. The romance was the plot and whilst I could have forgiven this, the fact that the characters were so unrecognisable made no sense. Furthermore, the relationship itself felt very strange especially when the side romance to Simon and Blue (a pen-name) was so strong and so inevitable. The pairing choice felt unbelievable and rushed. It’s such as shame as bisexuality is a hugely underrepresented topic and, considering how well Simon VS was written, I was expecting a sensitively and believably written story that people could get behind. Instead, I was left feeling disappointed and confused, unsure how to feel about the characters or what was going to happen next.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Extremely short, I cannot believe that they managed to pull a whole movie from this. Due to its short length, it was a very quick read which was one of the main reasons why I picked it from the shelves. I had tried reading The Great Gatsby before and really did not gel with it, in fact, I gave up within about 30 pages. Why not give Fitzgerald another chance with a shorter commitment? It was okay but left me feeling nothing more than ‘so, I finished that, what’s next?’. The story never went anywhere and felt extremely circular. I think that may have been the point, but rather than being clever it felt repetitive and unimaginative.
I’ll Give You the Sun
Another book I reach for annually, I’ll Give You The Sun is a beautiful story, with stunning phrases, about being a twin and an individual, about creativity, life, grief and family. It’s a love letter to art but remains accessible to people like me, who maybe don’t have the same visceral reaction to a painting or sculpture. Jandy Nelson has written two novels and neither disappointed!
Crazy in Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop
With a title like this it was begging to be a bedside table read; the easy, happy novel that either guides you towards relaxation and sleep or helps to make the mornings a little less jarring. I hadn’t realised until writing this wrap-up that this is actually the third in the series. It didn’t read like the middle of a series, the characters were introduced, and never once did I wonder what was going on. It was happy, romantic, and fun. I do wish that books that promise books actually utilised the books more in the plot but, apart from that minor gripe, there was absolutely nothing wrong with this rom-com of a novel.
The Little Prince
I am struggling to put into words what I think about this book (I have deleted and rewritten this section 3 times now). I picked it up the other day because I had been wondering about it for a while, and I had seen it referenced a lot. It initiated a lovely reaction from my Dad. He told me that he had the same edition when he was a child and then, with my permission – I can be a bit funny about people reading my books before me – proceeded to sit and read the whole thing. Granted, at 109 pages, it didn’t take him long. After that, I was asked almost daily whether I had read it. Apparently, it was very charming and might make me cry. It was charming, it made me chuckle, I nodded along with the Little Prince as he mused about how strange adults were. I didn’t cry.
I FINISHED IT! It only took 5 months! At 732 pages it’s not the longest book I have read but it is probably the densest. There is a lot of information. A lot. Exhaustive in scope, it covers every part of his life and, where necessary, parts of the lives of those he met or who influenced him. It was a lot to wade through, and there can be no denying that a lot of it hasn’t been retained. However, it was fluidly written and was reasonably accessible in its language, even whilst obviously being a scholarly work. If you’d like to read more of my thoughts on reading this, I wrote a blog post when I hit page 100a blog post when I hit page 100a blog post when I hit page 100.
Having read Melissa’s autobiographical essay collection a few years ago I was intrigued to see how she would write fiction. I loved this. It was crude, a little disturbing at points, and should definitely come with some trigger warnings. However, it was also intelligent, poignant, vulnerable, emotional, and self-aware. I am really sad that I need to take this back to the library; very sure that I am going to be ordering myself the paperback copy when it’s released.
What did you read in May? Have you read any of these books, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below.