Happy May day everybody! Look at me actually getting a wrap-up post done on time! I am quite happy with how much I read this month. I have a grand tally of 7 books to talk to you about. Just a side note, my Goodreads challenge states that I want to read 50 books this year, which should be quite manageable since I am already up to 30, but I am a bit nervous since the majority of books left on my yearly TBR are quite large. Dang it! Why do I always put off the massive novels?? Anybody else easily intimidated by their own literature?
The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
My sister-in-law picked this up for me when encountering a book sale last year. I had absolutely no idea what to expect going into it. Being swayed pretty frequently by online reviews and my own research, I usually only buy books that I am pretty sure I will like or that interests me greatly. So, it was certainly a different experience to jump into a novel that I didn't know anything about and that was in a genre that I don't really read. Crime and thrillers are usually not my taste, but I was definitely willing to keep an open mind. I am glad too because I got really into it! It was a super fast read that I got through in one day, so the pacing was excellent. I did have a few issues, though. There was more fat-shaming for a woman who was completely average sized, there was an excessive amount of infidelity... thinking back on it now, I am not even sure that there was a relationship that would not be considered cheating, and the killer felt really obvious despite him not having any motivation whatsoever for his actions. I hate it when they don't give the "bad guy" a motive because it just makes the whole character feel really one-dimensional. In the end, it was an average read, but it makes me curious about crime-fiction that would be more up my alley.
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
This idea and the story behind this beautifully crafted non-fiction is so incredible. The women that are talked about within are real women that barely got any recognition for their hardships and the wrong-doings against them before this book was published, so huge round of applause for Kate Moore who sought out the story and made the information not only available, but interesting to read for all of us. This book follows the journey of the women at two different factories that painted radium numbers on clock faces. Their superiors told them to make the paint-brushes thinner by putting the tip in their mouths, causing them to ingest radium every working day. It follows the pride they felt in their work, the fear that entered them as they started to watch their co-workers get ill, the lies that the companies told them, and the legal action that they took. Every story is devastating and heart-breaking in its own right. These women were absolutely put through the wringer. The only reason that I knocked a star off in my rating is because the pacing in the book really slowed down in the second half of the book as all of the legal information was laid out. While I get that it is important information, the first half felt really accessible and personal and the second half lost my attention a bit. Still in incredible story that needs to be heard.
Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
This book was such a huge reminder to me about how much I really love a good Young Adult contemporary novel. This book follows Lina, a young girl whose mother just passed away. Her mother's dying wish was that she goes to Tuscany to meet her father and to fall in love with the land that her mother did. Lina, of course is hesitant to accept another big change in her life, but feels she owes it to her mother to do her bidding. In a fast, fun-filled adventure, the reader is introduced to dynamic characters, possible romances, and the setting is to die for. It's been awhile since I read a book that made me want to visit where the characters were, but all of the food and architectural descriptions had me adding Florence to my "cities I must experience for myself" list. If you are looking for a book that is sweet and pure, but also has a deeper story-line than just "I want to meet a cute boy", then this is definitely a book I would recommend. I also know that the author is coming out with a new book new week called "Love and Luck" that takes place in Ireland. It's definitely on my radar.
Angela Carter's Book of Fairytales
For those of you who do not know who Angela Carter is, I suggest that you go read "The Bloody Chamber" to get a feel for her work, and if you love the feminist fairy tale vibes, then head into this one. This is an anthology of female-centric fairy tales from around the world that Carter compiled. They are weird and quirky (especially those Inuit ones- WOWZA) and sometimes, I have to admit, I had no idea what some of the stories were even about. This is a great book to read while you are deep in another book as well because the tales are quite short, and it'a a more pleasurable experience if you take your time reading each one than plowing through it all at once. One thing that I will note is that she really does have tales from most cultures, so it's a diverse bunch. It's hard to rate this entire book with a number because some of the tales I loved so much and read to my friends and family, and others I could happily go about my life never reading again. Definitely worth looking into, though, if "feminist fairy tale" sounds up your alley, or if you'd enjoyed Carter's work.
Hamilton: The Revolution
I was trying to decide whether I should read this book or the Alexander Hamilton biography first, and so I picked them both up and read them at the same time. However, it became clear very quickly that Hamilton: The Revolution was going to be one of those books that I was going to fly through, while the biography was going to take patience and concentration. This book is a work of art. It looks massive, but the photos throughout are incredible, and half the book is just the lyrics to all of the songs with annotation from King Lin-Manuel Miranda. If you are a fan of Hamilton, this is a must-read in my opinion. It has loads of stories from the Hamilton process, it has information about the original cast (that made me kind of salty that I would never get to see the original cast perform it), and the lyric annotations were gold. The first time that I heard about Hamilton, I listened to a few of the songs and didn't really get what all of the hype was about, but when I actually sat down and listened to the lyrics, I got so wrapped-up in the genius writing that I started to fall in love with the show, the story, and all that it stood for, so the emphasis on the lyrics hold a special place in my heart. I am so excited to see the show in exactly one month!! Now to get through that monster of a biography...
The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron Dokey
If this cover layout does not look familiar to you, then you are missing out on one of the best YA series out there. When I was in high school, my best friend introduced me to the "Once Upon A Time" series which consisted of both close and loose re-tellings of fairytales, and holy moly are they amazing. To this day, I can remember falling in love with "Midnight Pearls" (the Little Mermaid retelling) and "Beauty Sleep" (the Sleeping Beauty retelling of course). There was a used book sale years ago where I saw "The Storyteller's Daughter" for sale, and remembering my love for the series, picked it up on a whim. My desperation for a short novel led me to pick it up for a re-read this month and I was not disappointed. This is a re-telling of One-Thousand and One Nights and it's really gracefully done. The language used throughout is really beautiful and mature for a YA novel, and the book is full of little tales and a wonderful slow-burn romance that is often times lost in the world of insta-love. While it isn't my favourite of the series, and with my love for "The Wrath and the Dawn" overpowering this one just a little bit, I don't see myself keeping this book on my shelf, but that is not to say that it isn't an excellent short read.
Tampa by Alissa Nutting
Let's play a game. Judging by the cover of this book, do you think that it would be considered controversial? If you guessed yes, then you would be correct. I was scrolling through my Buzzfeed Page-Turner page on FB and saw a post for controversial reads. Almost everyone said that one of the most disturbing books that they had ever read was "Tampa", so of course my interest was peaked. What can I say, I am drawn in by hype and controversy. I am going to just copy and paste my review from Goodreads on here, because my thoughts after I sat down and read it in one sitting were most articulated there. "This isn't the first book that I have read in which the main purpose the author was trying to get across was not only a keen sense of "uncomfortableness" but also to go in looking at the plot with a critical eye. Yes, the subject matter is off-putting. That's the point. Ask yourself when you are reading it... what is this teaching me? About women; about sex-appeal; about consent; about the legal system? It certainly opened my eyes to a lot of things. Therefore, it's obviously not the subject matter that is making me knock off a couple of stars. I knew what I was getting into when I started it. The stars getting knocked off were for the main protagonist that had literally no redeeming qualities, the overuse of sexual situations after the point had already been made, and dips of mediocre plot that held no value whatsoever to the end result. If you read the synopsis, and you feel like you want to be challenged, give it a shot. If it sounds like it could be outside of your comfort-zone, I assure you that it is".
And so that's it folks! A super diverse reading month that consisted of many different genres and targeted audiences. I am really happy with what I have accomplished and look forward to seeing what books next the month of May brings. What was your favourite book of the month? Mine was definitely "Hamilton: The Revolution".
Keep flipping those pages,