Not my best reading month in terms of quality OR quantity.
Here we go:
The Fortune Hunter – Daisy Goodwin – 3* – (May 11):
Interesting depictions of society and lifestyle during the late 1800s weren’t enough to overcome unlikeable characters in this historical fiction/romance. You know you’re in trouble when you find two out of three corners of a love triangle to be horrible, selfish people. You hope in the end the third person will choose herself and run screaming in the opposite direction. No resolution to that sort of love triangle will feel satisfactory, as this book proves. I did enjoy the way Goodwin detailed the English fox hunts and a horse race at the end. She has an engaging way of describing imagery and action. It was the interaction of characters that I found tedious and detestable, unfortunately.
Life After Life – Kate Atkinson – 3* – (May 19):
From the summary: “For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways.” The premise of this book drew me in – and also shut me out. Ursula’s repeated deaths made it difficult for me to immerse myself in her story. Each time I found myself deeply engaged in what was happening, she died. Sometimes in her next life, she made choices that meant an entirely different cast of characters. It was interesting to see how at her heart, she was always the same person and some events remained the same, but depending on certain choices, she could end up in vastly different circumstances. Still, in the end, I didn’t feel there was any conclusion or lesson learned. It felt instead as if the author ran out of ideas or got bored. Which was fine, because after 540+ pages, I felt the same way. In fact, I’d felt that way for at least 300 pages already.
Cat Food for Thought – Warren Dotz – 4* – (May 19):
I thought this was a book of silly kitty drawings. Instead, it’s a collection of cat food label art from the 1950s through the 70s. The ads are coupled with random quotes and facts that are cute but don’t add much value. But it’s interesting to see how marketing has changed over the years – from photo-realistic to cartoon cats, those appealing to flavor versus health, it’s an interesting collection. There’s also a brief history of how cat food came to exist as it does today, being developed into kibble and canned versions.
Whistling Past the Graveyard – Susan Crandall – 4.25* – (May 24):
Crandall does an amazing job of conveying complex characters and showing so much without saying things outright in this book, all through the POV of a 9-year-old girl who has been kept relatively naive. Starla runs away from home, sure her grandmother will send her to reform school or jail for her latest transgression. She catches a ride with a black woman who has “stolen” an abandoned white baby from the steps of a church. All she wants is to be reunited with her stardom-seeking mother in Nashville, then her father will come in off the oil rigs and they’ll all be together and happy again. Instead, Starla learns important lessons about race, family, friendship, and so much more along the way. Starla’s a fantastic character and a real delight to read. This book told from any other POV wouldn’t be nearly as rich.
Where She Went – Gayle Forman – 4* – (May 29):
I was under the impression this book took place at the same time as the first book, If I Stay, but with a different point of view. I don’t know why I thought that. Instead, it is from Adam’s POV, but it’s a true sequel. I found myself enjoying it more than If I Stay, mostly because there’s more action. It picks up three years later, enough time for life to have moved on for all of the characters, but not so long that the characters themselves have necessarily moved on from the events.
I only managed to read 5 books this month. If I had kept on my previous pace, I would have hit my goal for the year of 40. However, 36 books isn’t a bad place to be right now.
Not a great amount of diversity this month. One YA, one picture/quote book, three novels.
Star ratings: This is based on the flat stars Goodreads displays in list-view, not the quarter-star system I assign in my reviews.
- 5 stars: 5 books (including one re-read but none this month)
- 4 stars: 18 books
- 3 stars: 8 books
- 2 stars: 4 books
- 1 star: 0 books (not sure why I don’t use this rating more often)
- 0 stars: 1 book (book I edited but didn’t rate)
One last stat – pages read:
- January – 2010
- February – 2166
- March – 2419
- April – 2349
- May – 1752
My pages read wasn’t as off as my number of books read would indicate, though it was still down. Total is 10,696 pages for the year.
I bought only one book in May – a Jane Austen novella – other than a few travel guides for an upcoming trip. Some of that trip-planning (along with two weekend trips) has been partly to blame for the lack of reading reflecting above. Also a personal bout of illness, a couple of family issues, and a busy period at work.
I expect this coming month may not see much reading either but I hope to hit at least 40 books by July 1st, even if a couple are novellas or what I sometimes feel are “cheat” books – shorter, graphic-heavy books.