May Reading Wrap-Up 2019

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
April was the best reading month I've ever had in terms of the number of books I was able to read but May was also a fantastic reading month (although it didn't start off well) as I managed to read 11 books, out of which one was over 500 pages and another that was only a few pages off being 500 pages. My favourite books within the month of May include: Prince of Thorns, Kings of the Wyld and my ultimate favourite of May has to be The Missing Of Clairdelune.

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (319 pages) ★★★ (3.75)
The first book I finished in the month of May was a grimdark fantasy read from Mark Lawrence and I loved it. We follow heir to the throne of Ancrath as he forms his own merry band of outcasts and murderers on a path of destruction and death to his fathers castle to claim his royal birth right and to get his revenge for the murder of his mother and brother.

It's definitely grimdark, it's very brutal, dark, crime filled and quite gruesome at times so it isn't for the fainthearted, squeamish or for those who don't like dark fantasy. I loved the setting, the quick and vivid writing style and the twisted (but interesting) character of Jorg. This is the second book I've read from Mark Lawrence (I read Red Sister a couple of months ago) and I loved both books. I definitely want to carry on with this series!

Kings of the Wild by Nicholas Eames (492 pages) ★★★★
We all know that I love fantasy books so I had to read this one which seemed unlike any other I've read and it had received amazing reviews so I couldn't wait to read it. We follow Clay Cooper, a retired mercenary who has a legendary reputation, along with his bandmates, when he is approached by his former bandmate and friend with a proposal for a reckless adventure to save his daughter from the besieged city of Castia.

What follows on from that premise is a sarcastic, funny, adventure fuelled journey through lands filled with a plethora of unusual and deadly creatures, former friends and memories of their youthful raiding and killing. I adored the adventure, the vivid writing and the banter (I hate that word but it's the best word to describe the humorous, sarky dialogue between all of the characters).

I loved so many aspects of this book but my favourite has to be the characters, especially the bandmates of Saga, particularly Moog. The witty, humorous, sarcastic dialogue and the bandmates camaraderie was infectious and made me want to be part of their band...although I would be more than useless. My only negative is that it is too long and a little too detailed at times especially with the enormous number of creatures involved so it became bogged down occasionally but other than that it's a fantastic, funny and refreshing fantasy read.

Past Mortems by Carla Valentine (280 pages) ★★★
After reading (and loving) Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty and The Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek, I wanted to read another book all about what happens after you die, the processes involved and the thoughts/experiences of individuals working within the death industry so I picked up Past Mortems by Carla Valentine which has such a gorgeous cover!

We are told the slightly macabre but interesting memories, career highlights and downsides, personal tragedies, unusual stories and learning experiences as well as the personal and professional progression of Carla so on that I cannot really rate the book or comment on it as I would never want to review someone else experiences.

However, I'll say that I found some of her initial career thoughts and experiences to be very interesting, if a little gruesome. I also liked learning about her career, the processes involved and the ups/downs of her various jobs. Although there was just one thing that irked me and that was her tendency to stick to gender stereotypes which as a woman in the death industry, a former solely male profession, I thought she'd be more sensitive or aware of (eg: "Maxim? Isn't that a blokes magazine? It can't be Juan's, can it? I said with a wink")....if it is was a one time occurrence, I could forgive it but it was numerous times throughout the book and it is such an archaic gender view that really irks me!

Overall, I didn't love this book as much as I thought I would and I didn't really feel any connection or personality from the author, compared with my experience of reading Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty and The Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek - both of which combined personality, gruesome facts and a memoir in such a fantastic way. I liked this book but I just didn't connect with it, I had some issues with the stereotypes mentioned, the layout/flow didn't make sense to me and I was just a little disappointed - maybe my expectations were too high from the previous books. I would recommend it on the whole but I'd recommend the other two books I mentioned more.

Necropolis by Catharine Arnold (304 pages) ★★★
Another slightly macabre book and it focuses on all things related to death in and around London as well as general ways in which various societies over time have dealt with their dead, from the ancient britons and romans to the victorians and more modern techniques such as cremation. Typically I don't tend to damage my books but I did fold over the corners of SO many pages within this book as it was filled with constantly interesting facts as well as new to me information. The first half of this book was incredibly interesting but it became a little repetitive and I did lose interest after the 60% mark. However, I would recommend it as a macabre but interesting and unique non-fiction read.

*A Vampire's Redemption by Casey Wolfe (442 pages?) ★★★
As well as the physical books I read, I also read a few e-books and one of them was an arc from Netgalley. I can't find a page number for the ebook which is why the number above has a question mark as that's the paperback page number. A Vampire's Redemption is the second book in The Inquisition Trilogy, the first of which I read last year and really enjoyed, despite the sometimes very cheesy dialogue. The second book follows on directly from the dramatic events of the previous book so I can't say too much without spoiling it but I'll say that we follow adorable Caleb and Marcus within this book rather that Rowan and Shaw, although they're still a part of this one. I liked the very quick writing style and it was such an entertaining and light hearted read which is just what I wanted. My only negatives include the fairly rushed ending and the cheesy dialogue but it is an entertaining and quick read so I can look past it, almost. I would recommend both books if you can handle the cheesiness.
*Japanese Style at Home (192 pages) ★★★
A couple of books I've already mentioned on my blog as part of my Easter Gift Guide are two wonderful, photograph filled books all about home decor and interior design. Out of the two I was very kindly sent from Thames and Hudson, the Japanese Style at Home was the one I gravitated towards as I do love Japanese style, homeware and history. I love the layout of both of these books, the plethora of photographs and the straightforward information that could be easily implemented into your own home. I also like the product recommendations, room by room layout and the easy readability. If you're interested in home decor and interior design then I cannot recommend this series of books enough.

*Bohemian Style at Home (192 pages) ★★★
The second in the series is focused on bohemian style which isn't really to my taste, on the whole, although I do love the idea of haute bohemian style and other more minimal interpretations of the bohemian style. As with the previous book, I loved the room by room layout, easily readable information, gorgeous photographs and specific product recommendations for each room. However, as with the nature of these books, the information can be a little repetitive and it was more so with this version than the Japanese Style at Home book. I'd recommend both of these books from Thames and Hudson but the previous title is definitely my favourite of the two.

*The Missing of Clairdelune by Christelle Dabos (540 pages) ★★★★
Last year I read the highly anticipated first book in The Mirror Visitor quartet which is a well loved French fantasy series that has been compared to Harry Potter. I loved the first book as I found it to be magical in a Harry Potter-like way (but it's nothing like the Harry Potter storyline/series) and I loved the world so I was very excited to read the second book which will be released by Europa Editions in July.

As it's the second book in the series, I can't say too much without spoiling the first but I'll say that we follow Ophelia who is a reader which means that she has the ability to 'read' the life of objects as she is married off to a man from another arc (arcs are floating islands with their own customs etc that formed after the rupture hundreds of years ago). She discovers that her husband has many secrets and she will have to learn fast to survive in this new and dangerous world, where nothing is what it seems, quite literally.

As with the previous book I liked the quick and easy but vivid writing as well as the magical world, the character Ophelia and the general tone/feel of the book which is very difficult to describe as it's magical and unique but it has a slightly Tim Burton-like vibe to it in how topsy turvy and darkly magical it is. While I loved the first book, I think I liked this one more and while it took for a few chapters to get into it again, when I did, I didn't want to stop reading!

I just love this magical world filled with individuals with abilities to speak through someone else, alter or read memories and a family ancestor who has the ultimate courtly power to make or destroy his courtiers. I found this book to be much darker than the previous one with family betrayal, secrets, the marking of outcasts and the mystery of the missing people of Clairdelune. My ONLY negative about this book is Ophelia's acceptance of Thorns demands and his contract which seemed baffling and definitely frustrated me. Also, I didn't understand the relationship between Ophelia and Thorn and I hope that in the next couple of books it is resolved. However, apart from that it's a fantastic magical fantasy read with a unique world, unusual characters and lots of mysteries to keep you guessing. After finishing this book and carrying on with my other reads, all I wanted to do was go back into this world but sadly I can't read French so I'll have to wait for the next English translation!
*The Girl In Red by Christina Henry (363 pages)  ★★★
I've read a few books by Christina Henry and I think my favourite has to be Alice, closely followed by Lost Boy. I love her very dark topics as well as her incredibly quick and easy writing style so I hoped I'd enjoy and fly through this one as well...and I did but I had a few problems with it. I think I am in the minority though as everyone else seems to adore this book so keep that in mind.

We follow Red as she is trying to survive in a world that has been ravaged by a biological epidemic. We see flashbacks to a few weeks prior when her family were trying to prepare for the outbreak and trek to grandmas house. However, nothing goes to plan and Red finds herself surviving on her own and facing the problems of not only basic survival but patrols, men, the issues related to her disability and the psychological impact of survival and tragic loss.

Let me start with the positives: her lightning quick writing style that allows me to power through her books in a couple of days, the easy dialogue and the darker topics she always seems to explore in her books. The darker topics in this one include racism, prejudice, loss, gender inequality and disabilities which I think is fantastic to explore within a YA novel. I also found it to be generally interesting and entertaining, however...

Despite the semi-realistic nature of the book in terms of the realities of survival, some of the characters actions didn't make any sense to me and I think it was far too bogged down in detail at times which made the book longer without providing interesting or useful information to the storyline or the reader. I also thought that there were too many references to specific scenes in movies, none of which I've watched so maybe that's a fault of mine rather than the book. I feel like too many YA books are trying to add in 'diversity' just for the 'diversity' label and thankfully I felt like it wasn't fully the case with this one, apart from the off hand inclusion that the main character is LGBT which didn't naturally fit into the storyline, it was just added in. Overall, I liked it but to be honest, I was a little disappointed and it didn't live up to her previous books in my opinion, all which I enjoyed much more. I'd recommend all of her books but my favourite is definitely Alice!

In The Stacks by Scott Lynch (77 pages) ★★★ (3.5)
I finished one fantasy e-book in the month and it is by the writer of one of my all time favourite books, The Lies of Lock Lamora by Scott Lynch. Despite being a novella, he creates an interesting and easily vivid world with unique characters. I love his sarcastic and easy writing style, the magical elements and the idea of the library as a living being with creatures, a weather system and powers of its own. I cannot wait to carry on with the second book in his famous series, Red Seas Under Red Skies now after reading this interesting and entertaining novella.

*50 Things To See In The Sky by Sarah Barker (144 pages) ★★★
The final e-book I finished in May was an arc copy of a book that doesn't come out until much later this year but it sounded interesting so I read it early. It's a non-fiction read about...you guessed it, things you can see in the sky such as constellations, galaxies, planets and much more. There's so much interesting and beautifully illustrated information within this book that kept my attention and made me want to look up more information about specifics mentioned in the book. My only negative is that the e-copy I received was all jumbled in terms of it's layout and the pages which made for a confusing reading experience but regardless of that technical issue, it's an interesting non-fiction read that I'd recommend overall.

Have you read any of these books? 

*Gifted 

21 comments

  1. I only managed to finish Pet Sematary in May but I really enjoyed it x

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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  2. I love the sound of Kings of the Wild by Nicholas Eames x

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  3. I like the sound of Kings of the Wild! I used to read so much fantasy bu the genre feels so saturated now that I never know what’s worth reading

    Jasmine xx
    Jasmine Talks Beauty

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  4. I seriously need to get back to reading! Thanks for the recommendations.

    Candice x

    natalyaamour.com

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  5. The Girl in Red sounds quite interesting I think x

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  6. Managed 5 books this month only because I've not been well !

    The girl in red is one on my list too

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  7. I really need to make tie to read more, this post has inspired me x

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  8. Wow, you have read so many books! It's a pity that Post Mortems was disappointing as that's the one that I'd be most interested in reading xx

    Beautylymin

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  9. I have a pile of books I need to catch up on soon!

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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  10. They all sound interesting and worth a read

    https://littlemissmelanie.com/

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  11. The Girl in the Red is on my reading hit list!
    Em x

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  12. They all sound worth reading, thanks for the reviews

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  13. Some amazing books here! I've got The Girl In Red on my to purchase list!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

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  14. I need to get my summer reading list together! Some good recs here x

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  15. I really like fantasy books too so Kings of the Wild sounds like a brilliant read.

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  16. I need to stop reading posts like these because I keep adding to my TBR ha

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  17. I've actually not heard of any of these books but I'm going to add some of them to my list! x

    Tiffany x www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

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  18. You did so well in May! I've fallen behind massively in the last month or so x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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  19. Love these book choices so much, hun!! You have an amazing taste in books! Haha! I'd never heard of the 'Style at Home' books but they look gorgeous, especially the Japanese one!

    Daisy xoxo | TheDeeWhoLived

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  20. ooh past mortems sounds really interesting

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