Would it be cliche to say that I simply cannot believe we are in June already?! This year is absolutely flying by! But the end of the month means time for some more mini book reviews on what I read in May. For more in-depth thoughts you can hop over to my May Wrap Up video but here I keep them super short and honest. It was a mixed bag with some 2 stars alongside some books I loved.
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Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor
This is a YA fantasy sequel to Strange the Dreamer. In these books Laini Taylor has created a rich and interesting world with some unique characters. In the first book we are following orphan librarian Lazlo Strange as he goes on an adventure to the mystical lost city of Weep.
This picks up on Lazlo Strange’s journey immediately after the first book finishes. It is gorgeous story-telling which is extremely enjoyable and doesn’t require you to be a hardcore fantasy reader to pick it up and jump in. I’d highly recommend this duology.
Wall of Silence – Tracy Buchanan
In this fast-paced, mystery thriller, Melissa returns home from work one day to find her three children gathered around the body of their father, who is lying stabbed on the kitchen floor. As the story begins to unfold, to Melissa’s horror she realises that one of her children is responsible.
This was a real page turner and housed many unpredictable twists. I appreciated the dilemma Melissa found herself in; on the one hand as a mother she wanted to do everything she could to protect her children but on the other, she loves her husband and trusts him. The writing style was a little repetitive and when you really look, not that much happens plot wise but it’s a good enjoyable read, especially if mystery thrillers are your thing.
I finished it in just a few days.
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
The year is 2044, Earth is in a big old mess and the remaining inhabitants prefer to spend their time logged into an immersive utopia known as the OASIS. When the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, dies he leaves a string of clues along with three keys which lead to his massive fortune. Our protagonist Wade spends his days locked into this virtual world and when he stumbles accidentally across the first key a rapid race to the finish line ensues, which could ultimately cost Wade everything.
I’ll be honest and say I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did. I was aware from other reviews that it had a lot of gamer and 80s references in it and being a late 80s child I felt it would mostly go over my head but honestly, Cline integrates it into the book superbly and it never feels too much. Like the world Wade inhabits this book was an immersive read and I couldn’t put it down. Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic.
I’m grouping these two together seeing as they are the final two books in this YA fantasy series. These books are dark, gritty and pack a real punch. I adore the concept, particularly the fact that Kendare Blake gives you high stakes and has you guessing at the outcome right until the end and we have some real strong female characters mixed in here too.
The premise of the first book (to keep this spoiler free) is that we have triplets who are all raised to be Queen of Fennbirn. They are raised separately and each gifted in a different type of magic. This is an island where we have elementals, poisoners, naturalists etc. On the triplets 16th birthday they must basically fight to the death for which one of them will become the next Queen of the island. So many characters to love, such a great plot and fast moving too. I would highly recommend.
Both books I gave 4/5
84K – Claire North
I think it’s time for me to accept that Claire North and I will never see eye to eye, at least when it comes to her writing style. She is hailed as a genius but I have to be honest and say that her writing comes across as chaotic and lazy. In 84K in particular she leaves sentences trailing off, unfinished and has an erratic narrative which left me feeling frustrated and confused.
On the surface I feel like I should have loved this book. It’s dystopian and we are in a world where the ‘Company’ own everything. Gone are state funded schools and hospitals, now if you don’t have the insurance and can’t pay the Company then you are on the outside. Our protagonist Theo works in the Criminal Audit Office assessing each crime that crosses his desk and assigning a value to it. Can’t pay for your crime? Then you become indentured until you can. Paying physcial money for a crime is just good business after all. I felt like this whole concept was eerily plausible.
Theo has kept his head down his whole life, until his ex-lover is killed and he finds himself setting off on a path which will leave nothing but chaos in his wake. So, so much I should have loved but the whole story was lacking. And, as I said, I found the writing style to be messy and half-finished. Not for me in the end.
This Terrible Beauty – Katrin Schumann
Another book which I really wanted to love but which failed to hit the mark for me. This is historical fiction set predominantly in post-World War Two East Germany. We are following Bettina, a young woman who marries an older man after the death of her father. The man she marries, Werner works in local Government and eventually works his way up the ranks with ties to the Secret Police, making him quite a powerful figure. Meanwhile…Bettina meets and falls in love with an idealisitc young man and begins an affair. They are discovered and Bettina is forced to leave.
We are also following Bettina 10 years later as she lives a new life in Chicago and has to live with the choices that she made…
I enjoyed the way the author depicted the setting but it was the characters which ultimately let this book down. I simply couldn’t get over the fact that Bettina married Werner with zero explanation. She is portrayed as a bit of a rule-breaker who can’t keep her head down in the opening pages and then all of a sudden, with absolutely no reason given at all, she is marrying a man who is as old as her father. I just couldn’t let it go, it meant I lost all connection to Bettina as a character and made the whole book flat.
The Kiss of Deception – Mary E Pearson
I’m glad after the last two books that I got to end this month on a high. This YA fantasy was the perfect opening book for a trilogy. It is fast-paced and interesting with a hint of intrigue and some romance to boot. We follow our protagonist, Lia, who flees her home on the day of her arranged marriage. She is pursued by two men; one an assassin sent to kill her and the other her jilted prince. What you don’t know, and what makes this book clever, is who is prince and who is assassin…and you read from both perspectives.
Lia is a likeable main character and although there were a few hitches with world building and character development overall I thought it was a great first book and I’m excited to see where the rest of the story goes.
So there you go, they are the books that I read in May. Definitely a mixed bag but some which I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.
Do let me know what you read in May, I always love to know. Happy reading.