May 2020 Wrap-up

I can’t believe May is over already. To think I was still in school at the beginning of the month AND the official launch of this blog! So, welcome to my first wrap-up! I read so much more than I expected. There are some in-depth reviews on my blog, but I want to share some brief thoughts about the other books I read this month. I read ten books, so this might be a little long, but here we go!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first book I finished this month was The Guest List by Lucy Foley. I wrote a review of this book here. This thriller was a strong start to my month. I gave this five stars because I thought the cast of characters were well developed and also because Foley has a way of leaving little hints in each chapter until Foley reveals the ending. I read this book so quickly and just had to know what happened next.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The next book I finished was another thriller – Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. I also wrote a dedicated review for this book, which can be found here. I gave this book four stars because I never knew what to expect, and the social commentary Sager provides is exactly the type of thing I want to read. The only reason this wasn’t a five-star read is that I wanted to see some more development of the relationships between characters, and our main character ignored some major red flags early on. Overall, still such a fun time.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The third book I finished this month was a group read with some friends –  Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick. Since I did not write a dedicated review for this book, I will talk a bit about it here. This book follows Ilya, who leaves Russia to come to Louisiana for a year of high school. In addition to navigating a new school and a new culture, Ilya is leaving behind his family. Their lives have been turned upside down because his brother, Vladimir, has been arrested for and confessed to murder. This book is both heartbreaking and complicated. Sometimes characters are unlikable, but I also think they are very realistic. I usually don’t enjoy reading from a teenage male POV, and there were some awkward, cringey moments, but the story is still powerful. I gave this four stars. cw – drug use/abuse, murder

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The last book I posted a dedicated review for is A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight. You can read it here. I gave this 3/3.5 stars. I was initially nervous about this book because I thought it would be a typical legal thriller. Still, the plot has a lot to offer and has some serious domestic thriller vibes. As two seemingly unrelated mysteries start to converge, I found myself unable to put this book down. I enjoyed jumping between Amanda’s and Lizzie’s POVs and slowly learning about both of their lives. I also really loved to hate one character in particular. Some things didn’t work for me, though. I didn’t really understand why most of the couples would have even married each other in the first place. I also found myself having just to accept some things without much development.

The next book I read in May was a nonfiction called The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin. This book documents the history of vaccines and the rise of the anti-vaxx movement. Mnookin writes in a way people without a science background can understand, and I greatly appreciated it. It is also incredibly enlightening when it comes to the ways the media allows misinformation to spread. I don’t like giving star ratings to nonfiction, but I do highly recommend this book – just maybe not right now. It is a bit frustrating.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The next book I read was Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. This book is a Pride & Prejudice retelling that takes place in modern times (think yoga instructor Jane). I am a sucker for Austen retellings. I enjoyed seeing how Sittenfeld updated certain aspects of the story for a modern US setting. She also chose to end by talking about Mary. In both the original and this retelling, the other characters don’t understand Mary and are mean to her. I’m not too fond of that in both cases, but Sittenfeld gives us a little more about her after the story, and I think that might be a way of giving her a little kindness as the author. I appreciate that.

I do want to note that I do have some concerns about this book. Sittenfeld includes both black and trans rep in her writing. While I get that they are probably trying to use these characters to both challenge the conservative beliefs the older Bennets hold and to tackle tough issues, I can’t help but get the feeling that her attempt at representation might have reduced the characters to simple plot devices. Some of the writing felt very late 90s – early 2000s, and it was weird to read some of these sections.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

While reading Eligible, I also listened to the audiobook for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. This is a prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy and tells the origin story of President Snow. You might know that there has been a ton of mixed reviews for this book. I am here to add to the confusion. I rated this a true three stars because I didn’t care either way about this book. I actually decided to DNF this book before picking it up again a few days later. For me, the pacing was a huge issue. I think the exciting and interesting plot points were breezed through while the less interesting things seem to drag on forever. I also don’t think the social commentary was as sharp as the original trilogy. It could have been more.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Next, I picked up a short story collection by Oscar Wilde called The Happy Prince and other Stories. This is a collection of five short stories, each of which had appealing qualities. The connections between these stories are pretty clear; each story deals with themes of privilege, selfishness, and using your privilege to help those who are less fortunate. It was a wholesome read, and I gave it four stars. My favorite stories from this collection are “The Selfish Giant” and “The Devoted Friend.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My next read was The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. When we were growing up, my brother loved the Percy Jackson series, but I was a bit older and never really got into the books. With the excitement of the upcoming TV series, I decided I would finally give them a try. This first book made me regret not picking them up sooner. I won’t say a lot because I want to have a blog post talking about my feelings over the whole series, but I do want to say that Riordan creates an immersive, fun world with interesting connections to history, dyslexia representation that is important for the target audience to see, and fantastic environmental commentary.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My last read for May was the audiobook for Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix. This book follows the employees of Orsk furniture store (think Ikea) as they try to figure out who is breaking and destroying merchandise at night. When spooky occurrences start to become horrifying, they realize they might not be dealing with regular vandals. I had such a fun time listening to this book while playing Animal Crossing. It was a fairly quick listen but full of excitement and scares. It also makes you think about your relationship with buying items and consumerism. If you don’t already know or can’t tell, this is the type of content I eat up! Four stars!

Just like with my June TBR, if you’re still here, thanks! Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What did you read in May? Let’s talk in the comments! Also, if there are other blog posts you’d like to see from me in June, let me know!

Stuck at Home Book Tag

Many of us have been at home for a few months and some people are going back to work (or have been working the whole time) but I’m going to be home for the foreseeable future since I won’t be teaching until August (knock on wood). I’m a bit late to the game but I’m going to do the Stay at Home Book tag!

I’ve seen a few other bloggers do this tag but it was originally created by Ellyn and you can see the original post here. I wasn’t specifically nominated but I most recently saw Tiffany over at My Bookish Fantasy do this and I wanted to give it a try. Hope you enjoy!

What are you currently reading?

I am currently listening to The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. I keep putting this book down and picking it back up; it’s been an interesting reading experience to say the least. I also just finished Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s a modern Pride and Prejudice retelling and I thought it was pretty good. That being said, I’m about to pick up another book to read physically and I randomized by TBR so it looks like I’m picking up The Happy Prince and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde.

What’s your favorite “can’t-leave-the-house” activity?

Of course, I’ve been playing a ton of Animal Crossing. My island isn’t the cutest yet but I’m slowly working on it. I made a little park and my next project is to make a boardwalk.

I have also been watching more shows than I normally would. I am currently watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, Bob’s Burgers, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia again. I might also start using this time to watch some more anime – One Piece and Blue Exorcist are both some favorites.

A book you’ve been meaning to read forever:

I have been meaning to get into Shirley Jackson in general for quite a while. I have a few of her books so I am going to try to work them into my TBRs over the summer if I can. I am also trying to get into Junji Ito’s work for a bit. Clearly, I am in the mood for all things spooky.

An intimidating book on your TBR:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. She’s giant, she’s old, she goes on tangents at length. I am interested in the plot but everytime I look at the book, I am unsure of how I’ll ever be able to tackle it. I fear the day that I randomize my TBR and that book comes up. 

Top three priority books on your TBR:

I am really looking forward to reading Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo with some friends in June. I don’t read a ton of fantasy and definitely haven’t read anything by Bardugo so I’m excited to give it a try. I mentioned Junji Ito before but I am really prioritizing Gyo because the synopsis is super intriguing to me. Lastly, I am looking to start the Percy Jackson series for the first time really soon. I’m picking up the books tonight so I want to put those high on my list.

Recommend a short book:

I keep talking about this book but I read it for a class this past semester and LOVED it. It’s a graphic novel called Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. It’s described as a tragicomic and talks about the author’s life and relationship with her father. She is coming to terms with her own sexuality and her family dynamic. I highly recommend it.

Recommend a long book:

I don’t exactly read a ton of really long books but I did really enjoy The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. This book follows one man throughout his entire life. He is on a journey to learn about himself and who he is after he learns that he is adopted. I really enjoyed following him on this lifelong journey of self-discovery.

Something you’d love to do while stuck at home:

Since starting this blog and my bookstagram account, I have been playing with the idea of starting a YouTube channel. I have plans to film this week but I’m not yet sure if the footage will ever see the light of day. I am just really nervous and self-conscious about trying a new medium where people can see and hear me. But who knows?

What do you plan on reading next?

I am picking up The Happy Prince and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde. After that, I might have time to read one more book before I start Ninth House and my June readathon books and I think that will be the first book in the Percy Jackson series.

If you’ve made it this far, I tag you in the Stuck at Home Book Tag! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and learning a little more about books I’ve read and enjoyed or books I’m planning to read. ❤