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Reading wrap-up: May

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.

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Author: Stephanie Perkins  
Published: Usborne, 2014
Genre (According to Goodreads): YA
Blurb
Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on brooding artist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And, after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer break, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to face uncertainty about their futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Set against the stunning backdrops of New York, Paris and Barcelona, this is a gorgeous, heart-wrenching and irresistible story of true love, and the perfect conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.
Rating: 5/5 Stars

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.

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Author: Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)  
Published: Sphere, 2014
Genre (According to Goodreads): Crime
Blurb
When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case. A war veteran, wounded both physically and psychologically, Strike’s life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s complex world, the darker things get – and the closer he gets to terrible danger.
Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Silkworm

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.

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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.

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Author: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels  
Published: Penguin Little Black Classics, 2015
Genre (According to Goodreads): Classic / Philosophy
Blurb
Marx and Engels’s revolutionary summons to the working classes – one of the most important and influential political theories ever formulated. 
Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Simply, this book is a moan. You can read my full review here.

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Author: Deborah Moggach  
Published: Vintage, 2012
Genre (According to Goodreads): Contemporary
Blurb
When Ravi Kapoor, an over-worked London doctor, is driven beyond endurance by his obnoxious father-in-law, he asks his wife: ‘Can’t we just send him away somewhere? Somewhere far, far away.’ His prayer seems to have been answered when his entrepreneurial cousin, Sonny, sets up a retirement home, recreating a lost corner of England in a converted guesthouse in Bangalore. Travel and set-up are inexpensive, staff willing and plentiful – and the British pensioners can enjoy the hot weather and take mango juice with their gin. 
Rating: 1/5 Stars

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.

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Author: Katarina Bivald  
Published: Vintage, 2016
Genre (According to Goodreads): Contemporary
Blurb
Sara is 28 and has never been outside Sweden – except in the (many) books she reads. When her elderly penfriend Amy invites her to come and visit her in Broken Wheel, Iowa, Sara decides it’s time. But when she arrives, there’s a twist waiting for her – Amy has died. Finding herself utterly alone in a dead woman’s house in the middle of nowhere was not the holiday Sara had in mind. 
Rating: 5/5 Stars

Chances

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.

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Author: Freya North  
Published: HarperTouch, 2011
Genre (According to Goodreads): Chick-Lit
Blurb
When Vita’s relationship with Tim ended, they both knew they had to move on but Vita’s struggling to come to terms with Tim’s new girlfriend. Then Oliver comes into her life and he seems to be the perfect man but will she ever be able to compete with the memories of his late wife? Meanwhile, Tim, Vita’s ex, finds himself similarly torn between two women as he tries to make peace with Vita and work out his true feelings for his new girlfriend.

What Vita is about to discover is that people come into your life for a reason and that second chances come along when you least expect them…
Rating: 4/5 Stars

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.

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Author: Becky Albertalli  
Published: Penguin, 2018
Genre (According to Goodreads): YA
Blurb
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat – but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mum, and her life is decidedly less privileged. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends – not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting-especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

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.

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Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald  
Published: Scribner, 2007
Genre (According to Goodreads): Classics
Blurb
In 1860 Benjamin Button is born an old man and mysteriously begins aging backwards. At the beginning of his life he is withered and worn, but as he continues to grow younger he embraces life — he goes to war, runs a business, falls in love, has children, goes to college and prep school, and, as his mind begins to devolve, he attends kindergarten and eventually returns to the care of his nurse. 

This strange and haunting story embodies the sharp social insight that has made Fitzgerald one of the great voices in the history of American literature.
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

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!

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Author: Jandy Nelson  
Published: Dial Books, 2014
Genre (According to Goodreads): YA
Blurb
At first, Jude and her twin brother Noah, are inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them. 

Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor. 

The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world. 
Rating: 5/5 Stars

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.

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Author: Annie Darling  
Published: HarperCollins, 2018
Genre (According to Goodreads): Contemporary romance
Blurb
Tattooed, pink-haired, Bettie Page lookalike Nina is addicted to bad boys. Like Heathcliff and Cathy, Nina firmly believes that true love only takes one form: wild, mad love, full of passion and fire and tempestuous arguments, and she won’t settle for anything less.

But years of swiping right has uncovered nothing but losers and flings, and Nina is no closer to finding her One True Love than she ever was. And when a man from her past walks into the shop, Nina knows she has nothing to fear. The geekiest boy in her school has become a boring business analyst who’s welded to his iPad and with his navy blue suits and ginger hair, Noah has no chance of making her heart go pitter patter.

Which just shows how little Nina knows about bad boys, business analysts and her heart…
Rating: 3/5 Stars

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.

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Author:  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Published: Wordsworth, 1995
Genre (According to Goodreads): Children’s Classic
Blurb
The Little Prince is a classic tale of equal appeal to children and adults. On one level it is the story of an airman’s discovery, in the desert, of a small boy from another planet – the Little Prince of the title – and his stories of intergalactic travel, while on the other hand, it is a thought-provoking allegory of the human condition.
First published in 1943, the year before the author’s death in action, this translation contains Saint-Exupery’s delightful illustrations.
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Alexander Hamilton

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.

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Author: Ron Chernow
Published: Zeus, 2017
Genre (According to Goodreads): Biography
Blurb
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation.

In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”
Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Pisces

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.

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Author: Melissa Broder
Published: Hogarth Press, 2018
Genre (According to Goodreads): Contemporary
Blurb
Lucy has been writing her dissertation about Sappho for thirteen years when she and Jamie break up. After she hits rock bottom in Phoenix, her Los Angeles-based sister insists Lucy housesit for the summer—her only tasks caring for a beloved diabetic dog and trying to learn to care for herself. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube atop Venice Beach, but Lucy can find no peace from her misery and anxiety—not in her love addiction group therapy meetings, not in frequent Tinder meetups, not in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection, not in ruminating on the ancient Greeks. Yet everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer one night while sitting alone on the beach rocks.
Rating: 4/5 Stars

What did you read in May? Have you read any of these books, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

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9 thoughts on “Reading wrap-up: May Leave a comment

    • Thank you 😊 The little Prince was definitely a book I really had to think about before being able to write about; I think my expectations were a little, unfairly, high. Thanks for commenting x

      Like

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