Sunday, June 4, 2017

Books I Read in May

Nothing to declare, ARCs clearly defined in accordance with review policy here

Hi!

I say this every month, but May really did fly by. We're now almost halfway through the year, and my goal of reading 100 books is ticking along nicely - I'm a little ahead of myself which is how I like it, that darned reading slump could hit at any point.

In May, I read 13 books, and abandoned one.

The Rick O'Shea Book Club

The choices for May were The Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerney and this:


Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
This is one of those books that I've owned for eternity but never read. I really liked it - Guy Montag is a fireman, but he doesn't put fires out - he starts them. Books are banned, and must be burned. People instead watch endless television on entire TV walls at home. Guy begins to question everything when a new neighbour moves in and changes his way of thinking.

I loved this, I found it really relevant. I've said this a few times before, but the current trend of attacking authors online over their "triggering" or "questionable" or "offensive" literature is scary. Instead of encouraging people to read for themselves and come to their own conclusion, there are entire smear campaigns dedicated to lowering the ratings of authors if a group of people believe that there's something damaging in the book.

ARCs

As usual, I still haven't caught up with my NetGalley dashboard, but I finished one review copy in May.


Fenian's Trace by Sean P. Mahoney
I was contacted a few months ago and asked if I'd like to read this tale of friendship, love and loss set in Limerick in the early 1900s. It took me a few goes to get into, but I enjoyed it - it's the story of Conor and Rory, who are best friends (practically brothers). The boys go down very different paths - one is determined to do all he can to fight for Ireland, the other just wants to get out of there and go to America. While I felt it was a little heavy on the bóreens and shillelaghs at times (I didn't like the narrator), there's a good story in there and it's different from the books I usually read.

Abandoned

I used to power through with books I wasn't enjoying - but I've two bookshelves and a Kindle full of books waiting to be read, I'm not wasting precious reading time on something I'm not enjoying. Like this:


Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach
There are some books, like Fahrenheit 451, that are still relevant despite being written decades ago. Then, there are books like this, written in the recent past, that feel like they belong in the 1900s. The only reason I bought this was that it promised an update throughout - and indeed, the updated introduction was brilliant, Susie speaks about the unrealistic expectations given to females from childhood ("Body transformation is no longer experienced as a problem but as a potential they will be able to take up."); images of women in media; the growing number of people with food issues and the type of non-foods we now consume ("children learn about good foods and bad foods and may not know that eating is something you only need to do when prompted by hunger"); the Diet Industry and how it relies on "failure" - but then it descended into "if you're not fat because of the patriarchy, you're fat because of your mother, or you secretly desire to be fat. I can help you stop eating!". The entire second half of the book is devoted to overcoming compulsive eating. That's fine if that's what you were looking for - I wasn't, so I didn't fancy another couple of hundred pages telling me I could be thinner if I really wanted to be. Really disappointing.

The Richard & Judy Book Club

Of the 16 books chosen so far this year, I added another 3 to my total. You can see what Richard & Judy picked for Spring and Summer on my Books 2017 page.

  

Baby Doll by Hollie Overton
Lily is locked in a room, in a house, with her daughter Sky (6). Her captor has made sure she hasn't seen the light of day in over 8 years - but one day he leaves the deadbolt off by accident. This is what happens when Lily and Sky escape.

I didn't enjoy this -  leaving aside the fact that it was full of fat shaming, it wasn't compelling (as promised on the cover) and the plot was thin. The events towards the end of the book were also a bit daft.

Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant
This, on the other hand, I liked a lot. It's about how one lie can spiral out of control and lead to serious danger. Paul is a liar, he likes people to think of him as a successful novelist with a string of beautiful young girlfriends. In reality he's single, his latest book has been rejected, and he's about to be evicted. His lies take him on a group holiday to Greece with some old friends, where he gets into a whole lot of trouble - but who's the biggest liar of all?

This was really good, even darkly comic in places. The setting is perfect for a holiday read, I would pop this one on your Kindle if you're looking for an easy holiday thriller.

The Trespasser by Tana French
I haven't read the other 5 books in the loosely connected Dublin Murder Squad series, so I was a little apprehensive that I'd be lost - but that wasn't the case. I got just enough backstory to get a good feel for the squad and for Detective Antoinette Conway, who I really disliked. The case here wasn't particularly interesting or different - the murder of Aislinn Murray, a young woman living alone, took a backseat to the drama going on in the squad. Antoinette feels like her whole team are out to get her, that nobody wants her there.

This was okay, the writing was good and I liked the style, but I disliked Antoinette and I thought the case wasn't interesting. I'll definitely read the others, because they feature different main characters in the same universe.

Young Adult


  

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
The third in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, and the book I keep calling A Court of War and Rain in my head. We continue on our adventure with Feyre and Rhysand, as the King of Hybern prepares to attack. Alliances and bonds are formed and broken, war is coming - who will survive? 

I really liked this, while the second book (A Court of Mist and Fury) is still my favourite, I enjoyed this one a lot and liked how everything wrapped up.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston
A retelling, funnily enough, of Cinderella. Elle lives with her Stepmother and twin Stepsisters, and works at a vegan food truck. Darien is the teen actor hired to play the lead in Elle's favourite franchise Starfield. Elle is less than impressed - so when a wrong number leads to Darien and Elle texting each other, how will they feel when they figure out who's on the other end of the line?

This was predictable, sweet - not a hugely exciting book, more the type of book you want when you're in the mood for something cute and easy to read. If you like Disney Channel Original Movies, I'd say you'd like this. For me, the Starfield stuff was overdone a little. 

Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green
Sixteen year old Noah has a problem. Actually, he has a few. His mother dresses up as ("a blisteringly shite") Beyoncé in her spare time and now the kids at school have found out. The girl he has a massive crush on is moving away. His Dad has gone AWOL. His Gran is planning an escape from her care home. Oh, and his best friend Harry kisses him at a party. 

This was hilarious. Proper, laugh-out-loud, hilarious. I adored Noah, I laughed (and cringed) along with him - this was a really enjoyable read that handled sensitive issues really well. I loved it, it's my favourite YA read of 2017 so far (and it'll be hard to beat). 

 


The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Flora has a condition that means she has no short-term memory. She remembers nothing without prompts - until a boy kisses her. Flora is sure that this must mean he's the key to helping her get her memory back - but does Flora know everything? Her search for answers leads her far, far from home - can Flora really be healed?

I liked this a lot. At times it was repetitive because Flora has to be repetitive in order to remember anything - but I really liked her and the plot overall. Some of it seemed a little ludicrous, but it was different, enjoyable, and ironically - memorable.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
What happens when one twin sister is moving on with her life and the other one feels like she's being left behind? That's what's happening with Molly and Cassie. Molly desperately wants a boyfriend (she has had 26 crushes), and when Cassie starts a relationship with a local girl, Molly feels like she's the last one to grow up.

I did like this - but I felt like there was just too much shoved in there for the sake of diversity - lesbian mixed race parents, bisexuality, drugs, fat shaming, feminism, vagina policing, homophobia, sperm donors, anxiety, medication - it's all there in spades. I disliked Cassie a lot, but I did quite enjoy the story and I felt that teenage me would probably have identified a lot with Molly. This was the book included with April's Owlcrate.

Screenplay

Honesty corner - I didn't know this was a screenplay until I saw it in the shop, I had no previous interest in it. I haven't seen the film, I went into it totally blind, and I only bought it because this beautiful hardback edition was €4 in my local bookshop.


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling
This is the story of Newt Scamander, who studies and collects magical creatures in order to save them from extinction. He travels to New York, landing in the middle of a massive Anti-Witchcraft demonstration and gets into a whole pile of trouble when his magical case full of fantastic beasts falls into the wrong hands. Together with some new allies, he must save his creatures and avoid being exposed.

This was a nice, quick read with good characters and a decent plot. There's not a whole pile more I can say, to be honest - other than that it was enjoyable. Much, much more enjoyable than that other Harry Potter related screenplay of which I never want to speak again.

Non Fiction


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
This is another one that I went into fairly blind - I knew little to nothing about it, other than it was written by a doctor and it was non-fiction. I hadn't realised that he had died - during the writing of the book, in fact. Paul Kalanithi was a brilliant neurosurgeon, who passed away in 2015 aged just 37. He writes about his life, his career, his family, and how he made the transition from doctor to patient. It's a beautiful book, it stares death right in the face, but it's not about death - it's about life, and living. Powerful stuff.

Other


Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land
This is a psychological thriller. Again, I went into this fairly blind - I spotted it in a bookshop and recognised the cover from a few people discussing it on the Rick O'Shea Book Club page. It's the tale of fifteen year old Milly, who has been placed with a family temporarily as she awaits her mother's trial. Her mother has been accused of causing the deaths of several children, and Milly has been given a new identity. School doesn't go well for her - her foster sister Phoebe is pretty and popular, and doesn't make life easy for Milly. But Milly isn't going to make life easy for anyone either - after all, blood is thicker than water, right?

This was gripping. I started to read it one Sunday morning and I couldn't put it down until I had finished it - it's fresh, it's unique, it's really well written. The mother was an imposing, threatening presence throughout, and the whole book was tense. This wasn't scary in the "boo!" sense, but it was terrifying in its subtlety. Highly recommended.

So that's it! In June I'd love to finish all my ARCs (only mainly so I can request new ones, not gonna lie) and I've a few really good new releases reserved at the library. If you didn't already know, you can use the free Borrowbox app to borrow library eBooks and Audiobooks for free directly to your smartphone, tablet, or Kindle Fire. I've a post about that here.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting post my dear, thank you for sharing :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice to see what you read in May.

    ReplyDelete

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