Happy Memorial Day (in the US) everyone! I’m happy to have a long weekend and having time to tackle my long to-do list.
Just a few quick updates, if you missed it I submitted the first part of my grad school application and need to turn in the rest. That includes a statement of purpose (which I technically already wrote twice but am not really happy with it), resume (just need to give it a once over but should be fully done already), and three letters of recommendation (still haven’t even given those out…). I’m very obviously going to miss the June 1st deadline. Sigh. But it’s cool. I’m not stressed about it.
No really, I’m cool as a cucumber. I’m really much more concerned about how I accidentally did start a “nature” theme on Instagram and I feel so limited now. Grr.
Real quick before I go on, #BirthMay is almost at the end! I decided to blog everyday in May to celebrate my birthday and have really loved it. My work friend (his name is John) said you guys were probably sick of me. My other work friend (her name is Erin) just thought I was still crazy. Now everyone wants to blog.
Anyway, I’m here to talk about the books I read this month! I have been in a huge reading slump for months but I read six books this month so we’re making progress! I rate my books on a Goodreads scale, 1-5 stars, 1 being terrible, 3 being okay, 5 being amazing, and in whole stars only. I start with my lower rated books and within each star category I do it usually by order read, but it can be random as well.
Back to the books!
The Isle of the Lost (Descendents #1) by Melissa de la Cruz
3 out of 5 stars
I didn’t know too much about this book when I picked it up. My sister had checked this book out from the library, told me it was Disney, and I decided I wanted to read it. I vaguely remember some of my cousin’s kids yelling at me about them in their overwhelming excitement about the movie. Oh my sister and I did watch the movie after. It was like High School Musical meets omg stop.
The Isle of the Lost follows the kids of Disney villains before the movie takes place on the island where they have been banished. They are desperately trying to prove they can be just as evil as their parents. It’s very obviously a kids book but entertaining enough.
How to be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lilly Singh
3 out of 5 stars
I love YouTube and will often read the books they write. Usually they’re not that great for a variety of reasons. They’re usually meant for younger audiences and the YouTubers aren’t writers and sometimes not even the author (but I’ll stay out of that topic for now).
How to be a Bawse just wasn’t for me. I think it was pretty good for a YouTube book actually but ultimately fell flat. The points were good but very basic. Lilly did get the keys to success down but I felt that she didn’t explore each topic very deeply at all and instead rambled a bit about each point she made. Each of the chapters were a different topic and gave a little story on how Lilly learned it was important. I suppose it was a guide, although just a guide on what is needed to be successful, not a guide on how to actually get there.
Left for Dead: My Journey Home From Everest by Beck Weathers
3 out of 5 stars
This book was very interesting for the most part but ultimately very repetitive and not quite as informative as I expected. Weathers was in the 1996 disaster on Mount Everest and I expected the book to be more on the disaster and what happened after it happened. Instead the events on Everest went by pretty quickly in the beginning and what happened after was crammed at the end and the entire middle was his life from before. The parts on the mountains and his precious experience were nice to read but intimately short and it focused a lot on how he wasn’t around his family a lot before Everest and the problems that arose from it.
I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would and enjoyed Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air much more. Still, Weathers story on Everest is remarkable as is his other mountaineering accomplishments.
Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire
4 out of 5 stars
This book was one that I really wanted to read for a number of reasons. One, the description sounded really interesting in a YouTube video I saw months ago and when I went to add it to my Goodreads “To Read” list, I realized I’d already added it! I remembered I had seen it in another video and it had sounded interesting then too so I had added it then. Clearly this was a book I wanted to read. Two, the video I had been watching the second time was about books to read when getting out of a reading slump, and I’ve been in one for awhile. Three, one of the characters is asexual, so I was interested in that, since honestly that is probably how I would identify if I took the time to actually identify as something.
Overall it was very intriguing. The concept reminded me a little of the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs where the characters are children in a school led by an older woman who looks after them. The children at the school arrive after they have “disappeared” and turn up again different. Each child comes back from a magical land and their parents are convinced their stories are a product of trauma and send them to the school to get better. At this school Miss West helps them adjust to being back in this world, but all the children want is to go back to the magical land they visited. The main character is Nancy and she gets caught up in a mystery when danger threatens to close the school she’s just arrived at and started to adjust.
It’s very short, and I wish it was longer but it was beautifully written and a great read.
Portraits of Courage: A Commander In Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors by George W. Bush
4 out of 5 stars
Like everyone else, I’m surprised President Bush has become a painter but here we are. I’ll continue by saying I’m a democrat, so that should tell you all you need to know about how I feel about President Bush, politically at least.
This book was absolutely beautiful. President Bush really did capture the stories of all the veterans featured in the book. These veterans shared their stories on how they decided to enlist, their careers, and ultimately their sufferings when they were injured and returned home. Hearing how they were affected by 9/11, the war, and their adjustment after returning home was very moving and it’s clear President Bush admires each and everyone of them. Until reading this book I hadn’t know how much he does for injured veterans and how much he has dedicated himself to this mission. Very moving and I’m glad I was able to read this. I do wish there had been more female veterans however there was a good mix of people in there.
Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly
4 out of 5 stars
I’ll be honest here, I did think this book read more like fanfiction than a book. But it was such a lovely story and really fun to read. It is part of the new live action story in a way, as it makes multiple references to the new story lines that were added to the film from the animated version and even borrows scenes as “flashbacks” and some dialog as well.
The story revolves around Belle’s time at the castle and follows her as she adjusts to life as a prisoner at the castle. During that time she finds a magic book called Nevermore which creates a dream world for her to escape to. However as Belle starts to care about the castle’s inhabitants she is torn between running away to live in the book forever or continue living her life as it unfolds.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
4 out of 5 stars
You may have heard of this one because of the play based on this book. The main character, Christopher, lives with his father in England. He is excellent at math, loves Sherlock Holmes, and is autistic. Through Christopher we learn that a neighbor’s dog was killed with a gardening fork and he decides to solve the mystery, which leads him to more trouble and revelations.
I found this book to be incredibly fascinating. I have known people with autism but never really understood how it affected them. Of course, autism is different for each person who has it, but this was a good introduction, I felt. A lot of it made sense as Christopher explained it. He groans to block out the noises he hears when he becomes overwhelmed, he doesn’t like being touched so he reacts negatively to it, and so on. Everything about the book is so true to the character of Christopher, even the chapters are numbered as prime numbers only because Christopher likes prime numbers. This book took me a while to get through because it was a lot to process, and I wanted to take my time to understand the character. I’m glad I did!
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
5 out of 5 stars
This was hands down my favorite book this month, possibly all year. I tried to put off reading it for awhile, because I wanted to dedicate a weekend to it, but ended up reading it because I was worried I’d see spoilers. That being said, I’m not going to go into this one because it’s the 3rd book in the series and I don’t want to spoil anything. But trust me, it was good! Sure, there are a few things I didn’t like as much but overall, great read.
So those are my May books! I have already read 31 books this year, so I’m 11 books ahead of schedule for my 2017 Reading Challenge. My goal is 50 books so I’m 62% there. It looks like I’ll make it and even far surpass it but I know it depends on if I start grad school in the fall or not.
What have you been reading lately? Let me know! I’m always looking for recommendations and I may be coming out of this reading slump.
Thanks for reading!