What I Read in May 2019
I finished May having read one less title than April, which makes it my lowest reading month of the year so far. This isn’t surprising since I went on vacation, which never allows for as much reading as I imagine!
I read a couple great books in May, but overall it wasn’t a spectacular reading month for me.
What I Read in May 2019
Mean Mothers by Peg Streep
Streep explores the myths of motherhood that are prevalent in our culture, showing how they can be false and harmful. Since this book is 10 years old, it’s dated because most of the women quoted were raised in the 1950-60’s. Overall, the book tackles a lot of stuff that’s been considered taboo by society and helps remove the stigma associated with not wanting a relationship with your own mother. Though dry at times, the writing is generally straightforward.
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
For the PopSugar Challenge category: A book that takes place in an abbey, cloister, monastery, vicarage, or convent The writing is absolutely brilliant. It’s obvious Lockwood is a poet, her descriptions are crafted to perfections. She provokes vivid images to accompany the dialogue she captured with note taking. The overlying story arc here is relatable: When we return to our parents and childhood home as an adult, we are seeing it with new eyes. Reflecting on where we came from and how we made it out, is a common experience .The majority of the book is hilarious. Even while discussing heavy subjects, Lockwood is able to capture the dark humor.
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
This is an epic family saga, full of secrets, as family drama tends to be. At the heart of it all is our protagonist, Hal who gets a letter from an attorney bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She’s sure the letter was sent to her by mistake, but also desperate for money. So Hal decides the skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader will help her pull this off, and heads to the estate to claim the fortune. It’s a compelling mystery, and also a study in human behavior. I enjoyed watching Hal struggle with her desperate need for money to survive, versus her desire for a family and belonging. I wanted to root for her and slap her at the same time.
* I highly recommend the audio book audio book narrated by Igmoen Church. She gave the characters strong personalities and added to the overall gloomy atmosphere of the story.
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
This came highly recommended by a book seller friend. I needed something for a “ghost story” category of a reading challenge. Since it’s middle grade, this was a fast easy read, though it was a lot more too. It’s the story of a girl who has a near death experience, and afterward is able to cross between our world and the ghost world. And ever since, a ghost boy has become her best friend and near constant companion. Cassidy has to figure out who she is now, and why she’s able to cross over. All the while, she’s keeping this new found ability a secret from her parents. Add to that both of her parents are famous paranormal “experts”, and it makes for a fun adventure!
The Mother in Law by Sally Hepworth
This novel falls into a unique niche category I’ve encountered often this year. It’s definitely a mystery/thriller, but with a complex emotional story. There’s a lot going on in this family, as we gradually learn through alternating glimpses into the past and present of Lucy and her mother-in-law, Diana. It’s a wonderful exploration of the dynamics between mothers-in-law and their daughters-in-law. It looks at the stereotypes and digs into how these women came to be who they are and why they interact as they do. And of course the rest of the family is woven into the relationship as well. This is a compelling story that had my wheels spinning from the get go, trying to figure things out. I enjoyed that aspect, and it also gave me a lot to think about in regards to family dynamics and unspoken expectations
Girl Gone Viral by Arvin Ahmadi
For the PopSugar Challenge Category: A LitRPG book Not quite as strong as Ready Player One, though quite similar and with a strong female main character. Initially I was concerned I’d get bogged down by all the technology but that wasn’t the case at all. With a compelling story that gives us a glimpse into a potential future for our society, Ahmadi explores both the positive and negative aspects of a technological driven world. I appreciated the political component, which it made it feel less like fantasy. There were funny parts and sad parts, the characters are well developed and relatable.
The Better Sister by Alafair Burke
Advanced copy from Netgalley: This was an ideal read for my vacation. It was a fast, easy read and the story is engrossing from the first page to the last. It’s a family drama, and while I found most of the characters unlikeable, it worked. Despite enjoying this read, I must say I take issue to how it addresses domestic violence. It felt glossed over, which was disappointing. It was a major part of the plot yet didn’t seem to be taken as seriously as it should have. It’s worth reading, especially if you like a twisty thriller.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
This is a unique, timely story. The sudden appearance of the mysterious sculptures was immediately compelling, and I was right there following April and Andy’s adventures. When their video of the first statue goes viral, April is faced with fame she didn’t ask for but is now desperate for. It’s a fascinating look into how such fame affects people and their loved ones. The polarization of people who welcome the statues and those who fear them brings to mind many current affairs. There’s a lot going on in this novel, and it kept me on my toes. The audio book was a great listen for a long plan ride.
Inheritance by Dani Shapiro
For the PopSugar Challenge category: A book recommended by a celebrity you admire This is an incredible story, told with raw honesty and grace. At age 54 author Dani Shapiro took a DNA test for fun. From its results, she learned that her father was not actually her biological father. This is where the story begins. What follows is a roller coaster of emotions as Dani struggles to understand what she’s learned and make sense of how it was possible. Dani’s writing is straightforward and powerful. The reader is right there with her as she tries to conjure up childhood memories to connect with the facts she’s learning. In regard to her parents and others involved in her story, she treats them with respect while still holding them accountable for their actions.
After Following by Burt Bradley
A beautiful collection of poems. Burt perfectly captures the essence of the Wyoming landscape and climate. These poems are personal and yet relatable. His writing has a dream like quality at times and invokes vivid images.
Super Fun Sexy Times by Meredith McClaren
Advanced copy from NetGalley, Expected Publication August 20, 2019 Even though I knew from the description that this was a sexy graphic novel, I couldn’t have been prepared for what I discovered. I was surprised by the graphic nature of the illustrations (surprised, not offended) and how they worked well to tell a fun story and include a lot of unsaid things as well. There are five short stories here, all of them are chock full of humor and inclusion, with characters displaying a wide variety of gender, race, sexuality, and body image. Plus there are super-heroes! This was an overwhelmingly positive reading experience.
Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth
Such an interesting story, I am in awe of this man for what he accomplished! I listened to the audio book and the narration wasn’t great, but I’m willing to let that slide since it was the author himself. I found the story fascinating, but difficult to follow at times. Because Ron used his real name for his undercover operation, it was confusing when he was talking about the white detective who showed up in his place and used his name.
Star Crossed by Minnie Darke
For the PopSugar Challenge category: A book with unusual chapter headings/unconventionally numbered chapters The style here is similar to that of movies like Love Actually and Valentine’s Day. I liked figuring out how all the side characters will come together, and I especially LOVE that one of those characters is a dog! The writing isn’t necessarily complex, but it makes for easy reading and gives the story the flow it needs to work. Astrology is a main character in the story, woven in throughout each chapter’s path in different ways. I enjoyed the character development a great deal. It was fun to watch them explore the line between fate and personal choice.
Everything is F@$ked by Mark Manson
This isn’t a self-help book, it’s a philosophy book. The writing style and tone is similar to Manson’s first book, but the content here is very different. I like how he uses simple and funny examples to explain complex theories. But eventually it became dense and boring.