May reading binge recap

I read eight books in May!

That is more than the total number of books I’d read from January through April *and* it puts me back within striking distance of my three books per month (or thirty-six books per year) reading target.

Hooray! So, what did I read this month and how did I like it? Here goes…

Best book of this month was: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

I can’t say much without giving away the story, which would be tragic because it’s such a good story. I can say, generally, that the story is a coming of age story of a girl and her cousins who are born into a very privileged, “old-money,” East Coast family. The story takes place over several summers at their vacation homes on their privately owned island off Cape Cod. I will also say that E. Lockhart is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary YA authors. Read this book on your summer vacation. And if you like it (you will), then go read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (also by E. Lockhart). You will then, like me, want to go read the rest of Ms. Lockhart’s books.

Other really good books I read:

  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton — Reviews on this ran hot and cold. Some people couldn’t finish it, others loved it. I didn’t “love” it, but I really enjoyed reading it. I completely ignored the astrological thingy and just enjoyed the story, set in the gold rush era in NZ. It’s written a bit like a Sherlock Holmes mystery with a large cast of characters and a stranger whose job it becomes to solve the mystery. Oh, and it’s also VERY LONG.
  • Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger — Definite Salinger voice and characters. Reminded me of The Royal Tenenbaums. Excellently written characters. It’s definitely “of an era,” but still readable and relevant.
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green — I avoided reading this for the longest time. I was sure it would be good, but I was also sure it would be sad. I have to be in the right mood to deal with a “sad” book. However, the movie is coming out soon and, mood or no mood, it was time to read this book. I’m so glad I did. Yes, it’s sad. But it’s not *that* sad. It’s strangely hopeful. And smart. And funny. And sweet. And I’m very excited to see the movie.

That said, I at least “liked” all the books I read this month. Here are the rest and why they just missed being “great”:

  • The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman — Nate is a bit of a jerk but he doesn’t really understand what he’s doing wrong. Make no mistake, though, he’s not really a “lovable jerk.” The story is primarily about his latest relationship with Hannah, but there are many flashbacks to previous relationships. I think the author does an excellent job of getting into the brain of a specific type of guy (the liberal arts educated, articulate, city-dwelling, publishing industry type). I’m having trouble remembering why I only gave it three stars…
  • Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey — This is definitely still what I think of as “early fantasy” Anne McCaffrey. It was written in the ’80s. I started reading her books in the ’90s when they’d definitely taken a more sci-fi turn. I skipped the “dragon era” and the “early fantasy” books because they just didn’t appeal to me. Last year I read some of the dragon books and confirmed that I was probably right to skip them (they’re like romance novels with dragons). Now I’m trying to decide if I feel the same about this series. So far, it’s not bad, but her writing just gets so much better in the Talents / Tower and Hive series, the Freedom series, and the Planet Pirates series. Those will forever remain my favorites.
  • Solving for Ex by LeighAnn Kopans — I picked this up to read months ago because it’s a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (and basically the only one of those I’ve come across). The writing in the first few chapters is so bad that I put the book down and didn’t think I’d finish it. This month, since I was on a roll and needed something light after TFiOS, I picked it back up, determined to plow through. It got better. I’ll spare you going into great depth about where I think it lacks in terms of a modern adaptation. But I will say, if the main character (first-person POV) tried to remind me one more time how “cool” Mathletes was in her prep school, I was going to stab the book. But, in the end, it was a good, if slightly annoying, light-hearted read.
  • Recklessly Royal by Nichole Chase — You may remember that last year I read the first book in this series (Suddenly Royal) and really enjoyed it. The writing in this book also gets off to a rocky (annoying) start. But then you quickly get to a REALLY hot make-out scene, and you sort of forget about the writing. This book was way more all about the sexual romance than the first book. As a result, it’s a smoking hot book to read, but somewhat lacking in plot and character development. I like Suddenly Royal better, but I’ll still probably pick up the next book (to be released in August), just to see if maybe that one has more of a plot… 😉

What’s on deck for next month? Well… I’m not sure yet. I’ve already picked out some books for my summer vacation coming up soon, but the only book I definitely plan on reading in June is The Goldfinch because it’s my “book club” book this month.

Alastair Reynolds’ sequel to Blue Remembered Earth comes out on Kindle in June (yes, I’m still buying Kindle books, don’t shoot me, and I still like Amazon, deal with it), so I’ll probably read On the Steel Breeze as well.

Since those are both going to be long reads, I don’t expect to get anywhere near the eight book record I set this month, but we’ll see.