What I Read in May
May is over and in the month where we survived weeks 7 – 10 of lockdown I lost myself in 11 books. Yep, that’s right. 11 BOOKS! That’s a huge amount even for me.
I guess it is a sign of the times that I am hiding inside the pages of a book right now. At times it feels like it’s burying my head in the sand, but I see it as a way of dealing with my frustrations and anger of the current situations.
Finding My Voice by Nadiya Hussain
Less of an autobiography and more of a memoir, Finding My Voice is a brilliant read and was a fantastic start to my reading month.
I was lucky enough at the end of last year to see Nadiya live on her tour. I found her to be everything you hope that she is: open, honest, bubbly and so bloody funny. This translates beautifully to her book. You can hear her tone of voice in every page as she explores the many roles she has played in her life: mother, daughter, wife, granddaughter and cook to name but a few. I will say that at times she speeds off on a tangent where it takes you a minute or two to catch up, but that in itself feels so quintessentially Nadiya that it actually adds to the tone of the book rather than takes away from it.
For someone like me who is lucky enough to read from my position of privilege, this is a refreshingly honest look through the window into the dynamics of a British-Bengali family. To someone of colour though, I can imagine that this means so much more.
Women are power amongst the weak. They cook, they create, they feed, they sustain. Women are resilience, they are strength, they are brick walls. They are courageous.
I Made a Mistake by Jane Corry AD | eARC
I read The Dead Ex by Jane Corry a few years ago and LOVED it. So, when I Made a Mistake came up on NetGalley I was eager to take a closer look!
It follows Poppy Page who is a semi-happily married woman with her own business and two beautiful children. However, behind her successful facade it seems that her life isn’t quite so perfect and her marriage quite so happy. So, when her first love Matthew comes back into her life, Poppy’s head is turned. She makes a mistake and before long that mistake take a much darker turn.
I won’t lie, this one was a slow starter for me. The problem is that I just didn’t warm to Poppy at all. I found her to be incredibly self-absorbed. However, I Made a Mistake is told in three different perspectives: Poppy’s as she is living it, short glimpses in the future at a court case as someone is on trial for Matthew’s murder, and in a letter from Poppy’s mother-in-law Betty which gives Betty’s daughter. These three perspectives provided so much depth to this story and is what kept me turning page after page.
Through the glimpses of the court case you know the dark end that this story has which keeps you wondering how, but what was the real gem of I Made a Mistake is no doubt Betty’s story. At first her abusive marriage and mistakes seems to have no relevance at all to Poppy’ story but over time all the threads weave together. Before I knew it, I was really rooting for Poppy, my early dislike for her melting away as she faces up to her faults and fights for her family.
This is a great summer read which – although it starts a little slow – will draw you in and provide you with a great ending.
The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill
This is a reimagining of The Little Mermaid, and it’s bloody brilliant. There is nothing Disney about this as O’Neill brings you back to the original by Andersen. So, to say it’s dark and filled with pain and betrayal is a bit of an understatement.
O’Neill has put her own stamp on the classic fairy tale though as there are feminist themes woven throughout. The Little Mermaid – Gaia – is controlled by all men in her life, even down to her name. In an effort to escape an abusive father and a terrifying future with an even more abusive husband, she begs the Sea Witch to grant her legs to be with a human she has fallen in love with from a distance. As we all know, this comes with a price. Having had her beauty valued above all else, she gives up her voice willingly. Something she learns to regret as she realises that her voice is the one thing women should value above all else.
I don’t want to give too much away but let’s just say that complex topics are woven seamlessly into a tale which is hauntingly sad. A must read for anyone who loves an updated fairy tale and doesn’t mind some darkness in their stories.
Dreame Reading App
I’m reviewing this a little differently, as although I read two books in this app this month, it was the app itself which was interesting.
I came across Dreame in a Facebook ad and I thought I would take a peek. Basically, it’s an online community for writers who provide online fiction. It’s basically a reading platform where you can
A certain number of chapters in each story is immediately available and then after that, new chapters are released every few days. If you can’t wait, then chapters can be unlocked with coins earned in daily rewards or purchased in the app (you knew there would be £££ somewhere right!).
I got sucked in quite easily and stormed through two werewolf stories – Found by an Alpha and Dominating Alpha’s if you’re interested – and to be fair they were well written and a lot of fun. I won’t lie, I was actually pleasantly surprised! However, the novelty quickly wore off and I got frustrated waiting for the next chapters to be released. It was fun to try out, but I’m not sure I’ll be reading any more through the app.
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Oh yes, I went there. I fancied something quick and easy to read. Something I already knew and can put on like a comfy pair of slippers.
With news that Midnight Sun is finally coming out in August, it gave me the hankering to re-read the first four. I first read them when the Twilight movie came out in 2008. We were in the US at the time – running away to get married! – and we watched it while we were away. From there I devoured all 4 books and we used to watch the films together each year as they always came out around our anniversary. For that reason, the series will always mean something a little bit special to us.
Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
I seem to be saying this a lot this month, but this book was bloody brilliant. Heart breaking, captivating and haunting. Yet slithers of hope are woven throughout, little moments of light in the darkness.
Mara and Owen are twins. Two halves of the same whole, there is no doubt that they are close. But what do you do when your best friend accuses your twin brother of rape? In a battle of he-said / she-said, who would you believe?
Girl Made of Stars deals with so many important topics. Consent, anger, sexuality, perceptions, gender fluidity. All dealt with respectfully with a beautiful tone. It’s a journey of finding your voice, having the courage to speak your truth and tell your story.
I don’t want to give any spoilers away but there is a reality to Girl Made of Stars which is both heart breaking and honest. Sadly though, real life doesn’t always have a happy ending. Sometimes the bad guy isn’t always punished. Sometimes the good guys don’t find their happy ever after. They need to find their own strength to pick themselves back up again, because no one else is going to do it for them. And sometimes it’s just not as a easy as good versus bad.
“…you mean it’s not that easy. Because what happened is that simple.”
Those People by Louise Candish
The residents of Lowland Way have a lot to be proud of. A close community that cares for each other. However, when Darren and Jodie move in, their quiet lives are soon shattered and tensions rise until breaking point, ending in a shocking crime which changes everything. With so many people against Darren and Jodie, which of the Lowland Way residents took it too far?
I had really high expectations for this one and to start with Those People had a lot of promise. With a narrative that switches between characters, I loved the jump between an interview in the present to that moment in the past to show how each of the characters ended up where they were.
I also loved how there was a real blurring of lines as to who was the real victims were and gave me a real appreciation for the nice neighbours that we have here! However, it kind of ran out of steam for me. A bit like a movie that you are really enjoying, but it just goes on a bit too long. It felt like there were a few moments where Those People could have easily ended but it just kept going on (and on and on!). I still enjoyed it and I loved how it ended – full of hints as to what was to come for the residents of Lowland Way – but at times it felt like a real marathon rather than the easy paced race I was expecting.
Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijamp
This is a captivating story of friendship and loss. Corey and Kyra are best friends who live under the skies of endless days and nights in Alaska. When Corey leaves, she promises to come back to Kyra. However, 7 months later – only weeks before she was due to visit – Corey is told that Kyra is dead. Packing her bags, Corey heads back to Lost Creek to say goodbye to her friend and find out what happened to her.
I won’t lie, Before I Let Go is a difficult read. While on the surface Lost Creek is a small Alaskan mining town in mourning for a lost daughter, there is something much more sinister underneath their grief. Told both in real time and in flashbacks, this is Kyra’s story, but not as it should have been. Abuse takes many forms and this book does not apologise for laying bare just some of the many which is which those people who suffer from mental health are both judged and abused, be it from perceived kindness or fear.
Before I Let Go does not shy away from the complexities of bipolar disorder and how – even when we mean well – we can hurt the people we say we are protecting. What Corey uncovers in Lost Creek is that everyone let Kyra down when they needed her, including Corey herself.
Midnight Abduction by Nichole Severn AD | eARC
You may remember last month I started reviewing the Harlequin mini-series centred around the Tactical Crime Division (TCD). Midnight Abduction is the third book in the brand new four book mini-series.
When Bennings twins are kidnapped, he turns to the one woman who can help him. Unfortunately though, Ana is also the woman who broke his heart 7 years before when she left in the middle of the night. If they are going to bring Benning’s son home alive though, then they will need to work together.
Overall, Midnight Abduction was just a bit “meh”. It was ok but never really got going past ok. I think for me I don’t really like that the mini-series is written by 4 different authors. With each book you feel like you get to know the characters, but then you lose that depth when you move on to the next author. The characters you have gotten to know pop up from time to time. but there is nothing of the person you got to know in the previous books. For me, this makes them fall a little short. A shame really as I love the theory of this, but I feel like the depth is just missing.
Running Out of Time by Cindi Myers AD | eARC
This is the final book in the TCD minis-series and I have to admit that after Midnight Abduction above, I was tempted to give it a miss. The only thing that made me keep going was the promise I made to the publisher to give them some feedback.
I’m glad I did though as the series really picked up and ended on a high. This time the story follows Jace and Laura to a small southern town where there have been a series of murders surrounding Stroud Pharmaceuticals. First poison and then bombs, this seems to be a case where both everyone and no one has a motive. The usual action, drama and romance you expect from Harlequin has be paired with good writing and a pretty good story. A good fun read for anyone who likes this kind of quick chick lit romance genre. I seem to have read a lot of them recently and think I’ll be taking a break for a while!
Again, ignore the cover. They really are awful aren’t they?!
I don’t think I have ever read 11 books in a month before. That is a massive amount even for a bookworm like me. The Surface Breaks, Before I Let Go and Girl Made of Stars really stand out for me.
- Books read this month: 11
- Books read so far in 2020: 35
What about you? Have you read anything this month that you would recommend?
DISCLOSURE: some of these books have been gifted to me in return for my honest opinion which has been provided to the publishers via NetGalley. These books are clearly marked with AD and described as an Advance Readers Copy. I am not paid to do this, I do it because I love to read. The decision to include them on this blog is my own and I am under no obligation to do so.