May was a tough month for me. I had another reading slump that was challenging me. My dog also got really sick, needed emergency surgery, and still requires a lot of aftercare. He has a condition called laryngeal paralysis and while it was fixed with a simple surgery, he had to relearn how to eat and drink correctly and while he was doing that he developed a secondary complication called aspiration pneumonia. It is hard to see him sick and struggle so much. In fact, he had to be hospitalized in the ICU for three days because the medication didn’t help with his pneumonia. I have been struggling with his care for weeks as it basically requires as much attention as a newborn. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional burden, to be honest, and I am thinking about writing up a blog post or two about our experience as I couldn’t find many personal accounts online that would’ve helped me along the way. Anyway, I still ended up reading a good chunk of books but was not able to read all the ones I had pledged. I am not stressing about this but it does suck to see the same books being pushed off to the next month over and over again. On a positive note though, I was able to review 5 ARCs this month, and feel really proud that I am keeping my schedule with those.
Books read: 10
Books listened to: 2
Total pages read (includes “pages” from audiobooks): 4219
Stoker’s Wilde (Steven Hopstaken, Melissa Prusi) ♠♠
We all know I love a good Gothic novel and I love, love, love Stoker’s Dracula. So, I was really looking forward to reviewing this ARC (check out my full review here on my blog or on Goodreads). While I ended up not rating it very highly, it definitely was a fun homage to all the classic Gothic horror novels and contemporaries of Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde. It was like a puzzle to figure out who in the novel existed in real life and who is a mythical creature. Sadly beyond that, the book was super predictable and didn’t feel fresh.
I recommend this novel as a fun vacation read if you want to just be entertained for a few hours or if you’re a Gothic lit enthusiast and want to bathe in all the nostalgia.
The Family (P. R. Black) ♠♠
I was looking for a bit of a mind f*** type book and this ARC promised to be it. As twisted as it is, I enjoy reading a gruesome murder story and this novel was definitely that. What it wasn’t though, was believable (check out my full review here on my blog or on Goodreads). It had a boring final trope and bland characters. The killer was probably the most stand-out persona. I wanted the author to spent more time on character development as Black showed great skill in describing the murder after effects and the resulting emotional turmoil. Unfortunately, those emotional plot points were overwhelmed by the actual storyline which was plainly speaking too much. Too many events which didn’t propel anything forward jumbled over each other convoluting how I felt about the protagonists and the crescendo of the story. I just couldn’t care.
I recommend this book if you haven’t read a metric shit ton of psychological thrillers. Had this book felt new and unique to me, I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more.
The Greatest Love Story Ever Told (Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman) ♠♠♠♠♠
This was a super fun listen as an audiobook. Megan and Nick just had a conversation and we were privy to it. They seem so personable and normal, yet divinely talented, sarcastic, and unique. I want to be their friend and hope they will write many more books together.
I recommend this as an audiobook. It felt like a fun podcast and would be great for anyone interested in celebrity memoirs and an easy listen.
Waking the Witch (Pam Grossman) ♠♠♠♠♠
How did I get so lucky to review this book prior to release????? I listen to Pam Grossman’s podcast regularly and just love everything about her. Her book was a pleasure to read (check out my full review here on my blog or on Goodreads). It gave me everything that I wanted: feminism, academic knowledge, personal anecdotes, mentionings of art and movies and music, as well as a logical flow of chapters. The only nitpicky thing I have is that it felt a few times a bit abrupt when it went from well-researched, academic type text to a personal anecdote. But that is so minor, I don’t think it’ll affect anything.
I recommend this book to any feminist or anyone interested in the witch life.
Valencia and Valentine (Suzy Krause) ♠♠♠
This one was my Amazon Prime monthly pick. It sounded like a fun and quick read. Plus, the synopsis made me think of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, which I loved. Unfortunately, the book left me conflicted. Part of the protagonist’s OCD seemed too real. I empathized with her. Other parts appeared to be just what the media makes OCD out to be unnecessarily propagating stereotypes. The story itself was super predictable to me. It also was at times very convoluted making some of the events hard to follow. Overall, I felt meh after finishing this novel.
I recommend this book if you are looking to connect to someone with OCD and don’t mind it being not an entirely accurate portrayal.
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (Stuart Turton) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠
This was a Goodreads group read and it prompted a lot of fun discussions. I enjoyed the Agatha Christie elements mixed with some sci-fi and fantasy. The plot was incredibly complex and imaginative. Yet, at times it felt drawn out, disconnected, and a bit boring. I didn’t really care for any of the characters and the final conclusion left me perplexed. A lot of the story is hinged on the protagonist’s relationship with a character named Anna but I found their interaction not very believable and often even far-fetched.
I recommend this book if you enjoy a whodunnit plot with some time travel twists.
Whiskey in a Teacup (Reese Witherspoon) ♠♠♠
I love Reese Witherspoon. Her movies are fun. She is boookish and charming and recommends incredible books on her Instagram account. I was expecting this memoir to give me a deeper insight into her life and maybe reveal some tidbits or fun facts no one knows about her yet. I listened to her read her stories and enjoyed them but they were mostly fluff. This book feels more like a coffee table type book: you could read a quick anecdote, try one of her recipes, or look at some photographs.
This is an easy read that you could devour in one sitting or read 10 minutes here and there.
Doctor Sleep (Stephen King) ♠♠
This was another Goodreads group read. I love The Shining and have read AND liked almost all of King’s new releases, so was definitely looking forward to this one. Sadly, Doctor Sleep was a miss for me. I didn’t care for the characters. The story didn’t highlight King’s first-hand knowledge of recovering from addiction the way The Shining highlighted his experience with alcoholism. This could’ve been such a powerful book but instead, it felt flat. At times, I was convinced I was reading a YA novel with all the teenage angst. Where were the horror elements? Why was The True Knot not scarier? And what was this final show-down??????
I know of several people who enjoyed this novel a lot, but I recommend if you loved The Shining to skip this one.
Naturally Tan (Tan France) ♠♠♠♠
I so love the Netflix show Queer Eye and couldn’t wait to review this ARC (check out my full review here on my blog or on Goodreads). Tan is such a lovable person on TV and I believe he is like that in real life. His memoir reflects this as well. I really enjoyed learning of his journey from England to the US. I loved getting to know him and his husband. And I was surprised by the prejudice he experienced as a child. The book is well written (minus some chapter 1 hickups), has a nice flow, and seems to be the voice of Tan himself (not some ghostwriter).
If you enjoy memoirs, I highly recommend this one.
The Bride Test (Helen Hoang) ♠♠♠♠
Helen Hoang’s first book, The Kiss Quotient, took me by surprise. So, it was a given I would read her second book. The Bride Test wasn’t quite as good but I super enjoyed it. The main characters were relatable and their love story, while not natural to me (my culture doesn’t do arranged marriages), seemed believable. What made me feel icky, was the ending (or what happened just prior to the conclusion of the story). I don’t know why the author went there.
I recommend this book if you enjoy more adult romances with real and underrepresented characters.
Under Currents (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠
Everyone knows I love me some Nora Roberts. I was so excited to receive this ARC (check out my full review here on my blog or on Goodreads). I’ve been trying to stay current with her books but she publishes at an impossible rate. I tend to love her mystical trilogies, her romantic thrillers, or her folklore inspired fairytales the best. This one sounded like it would have some suspense mixed with a lot of romance. Turns out that’s not the case. In fact, this seems more like a family epic. It’s kind of a heavy book. I wish it would’ve been marketed as such. My mind was set on thriller and so I was disappointed to see that the “unknown villain” was totally obvious. The budding relationship between the two main protagonists was more casual to make this a true romance novel. In fact, Roberts does such a good job weaving this intricate tale of betrayal, new beginnings, aftereffects, and trauma while highlighting interpersonal relationships and their ups and downs that the novel can stand on its own as contemporary lit and definitely does not fit the description of romantic suspense. Why the publisher chose to advertise this book as such is beyond me!
I recommend this book if you’re looking to read something deeper by Nora Roberts. This book does have potential triggers such as domestic abuse, rape, and stalking.
The Princess and the Fangirl (Ashley Poston) ♠♠♠
The geekiness of Ashley Poston’s first book, Geekerella, made my little nerd heart so happy that I, of course, had to read her second book. Based on The Prince and the Pauper this was an entertaining read but lacked the punch of the first one. I did enjoy the development of the main characters, their quirks, and idiosyncrasies interspersed by all the delicious references to so many fandoms. But I did not get invested in the story itself. It didn’t tug on my heartstrings, and I wasn’t fevering along. The novel gave me a few entertaining hours and I am happy I spent them that way.
I recommend this book if you read and enjoyed Geekerella.