May was a good reading month for me, especially considering that I was stuck doing my finals in the beginning of the month.
I took part in Book Battle in May. It is a reading challenge that runs monthly in Facebook; everyone is assigned to a team and reads books that fit prompts. For finishing books your team collects points and the team with the most points wins. If you want to know more or take part in a game, you can join this group in Facebook. It was really fun!
It was my first ever Book Battle and it pushed me to read books I probably wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. I was part of the Spring Court Team (the teams were ACOTAR inspired in May, every month is different), and we finished second to last but I’m still very happy with my effort haha.
I managed to finish 11 books this month (YIPPIE).
- Persepolis #1 by Marjane Satrapi ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Persepolis #2 by Marjane Satrapi ⭐️⭐️
- And I Darken by Kiersten White ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
- Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou (no star rating)
- What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Chimera by Tyler Ellis ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Ready Player One ⭐️⭐️1/2
I use the maximum star rating of 5. A five-star read to me doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect, but the problems can’t take much of my attention. For five-stars, the story and the characters need to be interesting but the book also needs to immerse me into the world or leave me thinking back on it for long after I finished reading the book. That’s why I often have books that I give a lot of praise to, and then four instead of five stars because it just didn’t overwhelm me with brilliantness.
Below are my thoughts on all of the reads. Be warned, it’s a long post!
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
– Physical copy
– 153 pages
This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel
– 337 pages
Rosie and Penn have four boys, but they have always wanted a daughter. They decide to try one more time, but when they come back from the hospital they have a fifth baby boy in their arms instead of a girl. The story follows the family and especially Claude, the youngest, who grows to notice that he wants to be a girl.
This is How it Always is managed to break my heart. The book was funny and light-hearted at one second only to turn into something heart-achingly sad the next moment. Overall, the book manages to highlight how difficult it is to cope in everyday life when you don’t happen to fit into the absurd rules of the society. The author shows the ongoing problems that the world has in appropriately recognising trans individuals, e.g. the school officials think they are doing a great job in supporting Claude (or Poppy as she decides to call herself) while constantly forcing them to choose a gender identity.
I loved this book and the audio narration was very good. I took off a star, not because I didn’t like some parts of it, but because I wanted more of Rosie’s backstory.
Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi
– Physical copy
– 187 pages
I picked up the second part of Persepolis soon after I finished the first one. I had high expectations going into this, but unfortunately they were mostly crushed. Persepolis 2 follows Satrapi in her teens, in Iran and Austria. She struggles to fit in and gets into a lot of trouble.
Persepolis 2 breezes through events that should have been dramatic and heart-wrenching. Also, I was mostly annoyed at her for making so many bad, irrational decisions. Sometimes life is like that but I think everyone has somekind of a thought process behind even the worst of decisions. In Persepolis 2 the motives were not explained if they existed. Overall, I’m a bit sad that I read this at all. I hope that the second installment didn’t ruin my memories of the first!
And I Darken by Kiersten White (And I Darken series #1)
– 475 pages
And I Darken is an alternate historical fiction about the life of brutal Lada and her gentle younger brother, Radu. The book had all the ingredients for 5 stars; interesting and diverse characters who have radically different but stable personalities, a plot full of political intrigue and relationships that can break a heart.
And still it wasn’t a five star read for me. For some unfathomable reason, I could never fully engage with everything that And I Darken had to offer. One problem I had was entirely my own fault; I went into this thinking that it is fantasy. Throughout the book I was expecting someone to start shooting fire from their palms or speak in tones that can raise ghosts from the ground. But ya know, nothing like that happens because it is not really fantasy in that sense – it is alternate history.
My second problem was listening to this on audio. The names are foreign and all sound pretty similar. I was constantly confused about who is who and I was graving for a character list or something (I actually tried to look for one on Google but couldn’t find anything but spoilers haha).
I’m not sure if I’ll continue the series but I think I should re-read this as a physical copy if I do.
Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (The Illuminae Files #3)
– Physical copy
– 615 pages
AH OBSIDIO. AH.
I love the Illuminae Files series! If you haven’t heard of it, it is an epic sci-fi trilogy told in various documents. Obsidio is the final installment, and the wait was worth it!
Obsidio follows Asha and Rhys in Kerenza, and the plot is filled with epic action like in Illuminae and Gemina. As expected, I was completely sucked in the story and finished it in a couple of days. I felt that Obsidio was not quite as good as Gemina, but I was still very pleased with it. So sad that the trilogy is over! I need more!
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavillo
– 212 pages
I have been wanting to read this book for some time, and a prompt in the Book Battle finally gave me the last push to pick it up.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls was crowdfunded and it received the most funding than any other children’s book ever on Kickstarter.
The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous throughout the book. I loved how the stories were actually diverse, the women were from all around the world and they represented a range of different professions.
And oh gosh how I wanted to love this book. But I didn’t. One major problem: the writing. I’m not part of this book’s target groub, and I honestly have no idea how a 7 to 11 year-old reacts to these stories. But I have read a fair share of childrens’ books and a bunch of them were written beautifully. It can be done.
Some parts of the story were cringy. Like this ending to a story
Anna continued to risk her life until she died.
The stories were very short, which occasionnaly made them hard to follow. I would have preferred them to be a bit longer and make more sense. A person’s life cannot be reduced sensibly to 200 words!
But these amazing illustrations. The below illustration is from the story of Grace O’Malley and the illustration is by Kathrin Honesta.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
– 476 pages
Liane Moriarty is a master of contemporary stories that seem light-hearted and funny but deal with heavy stuff under the surface.
Alice is 29-years-old and pregnant with her first child. She is a laid-back, funny individual, and absolutely crazy-in-love with her husband. Or that’s what she thinks. Suddenly Alice finds herself on the floor of a gym step-class, and everyone tells her that actually she is thirty-nine, a mother of three children seeking divorce. What Alice Forgot tells a story of Alice looking for the decade of memory she has lost and trying to figure out how in Earth everything turned out so disastrously.
What Alice Forgot is a perfect summer read! It is gripping, entertaining and funny, and the audiobook is perfection. I had to constantly pause the audio while cooking because I was laughing so hard I might have accidentally chopped my finger off. So good! But like all Liane Mortiarty’s books, for some reason What Alice Forgot didn’t move me. I enjoyed it but I will also probably forget about it, which is why I reduced one star.
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
– 352 pages
I have seen a lot of hype around To Kill a Kingdom since it was released in March. It is a dark retelling of the Little Mermaid but with sirens.
I was hesitant going into this, and at first I was cringeing at the fishiness of it all. Getting acquainted with the world took about a 100 pages, but then it turned out to be really good.
The story is told by alternating the two main characters’ perspectives, Lira’s and Elian’s. Lira is the princess of sirens, and most deadly of them all. Elian, on the other hand, is the prince of Midas known for his skill at killing sirens.
The most spectacular thing about To Kill a Kingdom is the character growth. It felt natural and I grew to like the characters and the romance.
Chimera: Book One – The Righteous and the Lost by Tyler Ellis
– 164 pages
– Will be published on the 20th of June
I received an arc from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Hopefully, I’ll make a full review on Chimera in a couple of weeks, but here are some of my thoughts.
Chimera is brilliant. It is a graphic novel that has been compared to Saga, and the comparison is definitely justfied. Similarly to Saga, Chimera doesn’t shy away from profanities or violence (minus the explicit sex scenes, at least so far) and it has a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
The story tells about a group of thieves hired to look for a rare object in a world full of dangerous beasts and treacherous saints. Oh yeah, and the world is torn apart by an intersteller religious war.
Most of all, I love how action-packed and complex the plot is. The story could go any which way at this point! I can’t wait till the second part comes out, and I highly recommend checking out Chimera when it is published on the 20th of June.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
– E-book & audiobook
– 374 pages
I binge-read Ready Player One in one day because I wanted to fill up one last criteria in the Book Battle challenge hah. I filled my entire head with it by listening to the audiobook on double speed and staring at the text at the same time. I have to admit that it was a very magical experience, it felt like I wasn’t actually reading the words because Will Wheaton, the narrator of the audiobook, did that for me.
Ready Player One is a sci-fi about the year of 2045. The world neglects reality because of a virtual reality called OASIS. The creator of OASIS leaves a puzzle in the game, and the winner wins his entire fortune. To solve the puzzle, the winner has to be a master at 80s pop culture trivia because that’s what the creator was passionate about.
The book has a fast-paced beginning but the story draaaaaaags at the mid-point, only to race to the end with poor pacing. The OASIS itself is cool, and the quests are interesting. Before picking it up, I knew that Ready Player One would be filled with 80s videogame references. But what disappointed me was that the characters seemed knowledgeable about videogame publication dates but not so much on any programming bits, like how the OASIS actually worked.
I thought that Ready Player One was just fine but pretty overhyped.
Woah you made it! As a newbie I am still trying to figure out best ways to do these kinds of posts. If you have any suggestions on how to improve the wrap-up format, they’d be highly appreciated!