Monday 1 June 2015

May Reading Wrap Up

# of books read: 9
Genres:  3 Contemporary YA, 4 Dystopian YA, 1 Children's Classic, 1 Fantasy YA.

It's time to wrap up my reading for the month of May! May was a weird month, it started out and ended really well but in the middle was just a big gaping reading slump. At the beginning of the month, I went away with my parents for the bank holiday weekend and managed to read four books in as many days on my e-reader. When I got back I started to read The Fox by Sherwood Smith for the #INDAclub readalong and just couldn't get into it, it's not that I wasn't enjoying it I was just starting to feel quity slumpy and didn't feel like picking it up. Then the #RYBSAT readathon came along and I tried to kickstart my reading with that but five days in I was still struggling to finish one book and it just wasn't working. So I didn't read very much at all for about three weeks, then earlier this week I wasn't feeling very good so I stayed in bed and started reading and managed to get through four more books by the end of the month! This month has definitely taught me that reading momentum comes and goes in waves and you just have to ride with it and take each day as it comes. I'm going to try and chill out a bit more next month and not get so stressed over how much and how quickly I'm reading, let's see how that goes eh?

Anyway, enough rambling, onto the books I read this month and what I thought of each one...

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | ☆☆
This book got a crazy amount of hype in the blogging and booktube world last year and I sort of put it on my mental TBR but I wasn't desperate to read it. It had been sitting on my e-reader for a while so I decided to pick it up when I went away at the beginning of the month. If you haven't heard of it, it's a YA contemporary about a wealthy family who spend their summer on a private island every year. It deals with themes of family and friendship and issues like racism and classism. I know that's kind of a vague summary but it's probably best to go in kind of blind with this one. I had a few minor issues with the plot but I really enjoyed E. Lockhart's writing style and the sense of mystery. It was a compulsive read, I couldn't put it down and read it in a few hours. It was powerful and beautiful and you should probably just go and read it because I'm not doing very well at describing it here.

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi | ☆☆☆.5
This is the second book in the Shatter Me trilogy, I read the first way back in February and didn't really like it at all. In Shatter Me I found the overly flowery, metaphorical writing very irritating and didn't like Juliette's characterisation at all. I decided to carry on with the series because I heard that it got a lot better and I'm really glad I did. I didn't LOVE this second book but the issues I had from the first weren't as big of a deal as the writing style was dialled back a bit and the characterisation was vastly improved. I spent the first half of the book being very frustrated at Juliette and eye-rolling the writing but then it took a turn for the better and only improved from there. 

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga | ☆☆
I was still in the mood for YA so I picked up this contemporary that I've heard a lot of people rave about lately. This is about a girl who is depressed and contemplating suicide, and she meets a boy who becomes her 'suicide partner'. I was a bit unsure about this as I knew that it does deal with depression and suicide and I was quite worried about how it would be handled. I would definitely say there is a trigger warning for depression and suicide so if you are sensitive to those issues then I really wouldn't pick this up as it might be difficult. I did pretty well with it as I think the topics were handled quite well, although I was still a bit iffy about it in places. However I think this quote was particularly well said:
"There is nothing beautiful or endearing or glamorous about sadness. Sadness is only ugly, and anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't get it"
I just wish she'd said 'depression' there instead of sadness, as sadness and depression are entirely different things. Overall I did really enjoy this book and can recommend it as an interesting and pretty accurate insight into mental health.

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi | ☆☆
I then decided to just finish up the Shatter Me trilogy with this one (there are companion novellas which I may read at some point but I don't think they're essential to the trilogy) and I've got to say I LOVED it. I honestly really really enjoyed it. It was addictive and fast-paced and the romance element was just, there are no words, if you've read it then you know what I mean. Now the reason I haven't given this five stars is because it's not actually that good of a book as a whole, it was really enjoyable but there were still some significant plot issues and the writing did still annoy me at times. Now that I've finished the series I would definitely recommend it and just advise that you push through the first book and stick with it.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett | ☆☆
This is the first book that I picked up for #RYBSAT and it's also going to be my 2015 Classics Challenge book for this month so I won't say too much about it here. I'll just say that I really really loved it and it's one I'll be reading again and again. Isn't this edition absolutely stunning? You'll get more of a look at it when the 2015 Classics Challenge post goes up.

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness | ☆☆☆.5
This was the second book I read for #RYBSAT and my TBR jar pick for the month, but I didn't manage to finish before the readathon was over. This is the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy so I can't really say what it's about but it's an excellent continuation of the series. I read about 100 pages over the course of a week and then just sat down on Thursday and Friday of last week and read the other 400 pages. It had been a long time since I read The Knife of Never Letting Go so I had to refresh my memory a bit but once I got into it I was hooked. I don't think that this suffered from second book syndrome at all, I enjoyed the progression of the story, the pacing was nice and the character development was excellent. I just really enjoyed the different interactions that I got to experience in this second book and I can't wait to see how the plot progresses in the third and final book of the series.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness | ☆☆
After The Ask and the Answer I had a few library books that I had to get finished as they're due back this week. I was so happy to find this in my local library as I've wanted to read the illustrated version for so long. It's such a beautiful book, the artwork is so rich and amazing and really adds to the atmosphere of the narrative. It's hard to describe what this book is about without spoiling it except to say that a young boy is dealing with his mother's illness. I actually found that quite difficult to deal with so I'm giving a trigger warning for the book if serious illness, particularly in a parent, is a sensitive issue for you. It's tough to put into words how I feel about this book, I thought it was beautiful and heartbreaking and incredibly important and I devoured it in a single sitting. It managed to be both gritty and beautifully atmospheric and dealt with very serious issues without ever being maudlin. I want to read this book again and again and am already planning a purchase of the illustrated edition for my collection.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins | ☆☆☆.5
I was still really feeling YA so I picked up this contemporary which is the first in a series, this is a library copy and I really like this edition. Anna and the French Kiss follows Anna who leaves her home in Atlanta in the US and is shipped off to a boarding school in Paris by her father. I had a little eye-roll moment at the 'poor me' drama of being forced to attend a perfect-sounding school in a wonderful city, but reminded myself that any kind of change is difficult for anyone and although it obviously sounds like a dream situation it wouldn't be easy for a lot of people, especially a teenager. Anyway, despite some minor eye-roll moments, I really loved it. I thought the characters were pretty realistic and well-drawn and I enjoyed their development. The themes of first romances and friendships were dealt with well and I found the plot to be well paced and compelling. I'm already planning a purchase of this for my collection and can't wait to read the next in the series, which deals with different characters.

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner | ☆☆
This is another YA set in a dystopian 1950s England where a corrupt, dominant power is trying to intimidate it's enemies by landing on, and claiming, the moon. It follows Standish Treadwell, a boy from impoverished and terrorised zone 7, along with his grandfather and best friend who are determined to make a stand against the neo-Nazi dictatorship. It's told from Standish's point of view who cannot read or write but who is "a breeze in the park of the imagination". Maggot Moon is a beautiful story of frienship, rebellion and bravery and I really, really enjoyed it. It was a wonderfully quick read and I easily read this in one sitting.

Phew! That was a long one. Congratulations if you made it through to the end, I appreciate your stamina! It was a good reading month overall and I'm hoping for just as successful a month in June. My June TBR should be up on Wednesday so stay tuned for that, until next time!

What was your favourite read of the month? I'd love to hear from you!

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