It didn’t really hit me until now…it is the end of May.
I’ve been trying to get back to the place I was before the beginning of this year: not dwelling on time and living my life. Don’t know if I’m quite there yet, but I have graduate school to look forward to and books, writing, and temp jobs keep me preoccupied until then.
I feel like I wrote more for my blog in May than I did in April. I did more book reviews, which I’m really happy with. Except I feel unfortunately meh towards most of the five books I read this month. I don’t know if it was just the mood I was in or it was the books I was reading. I’m starting to wonder if my TBR is getting the better of me.
(And, as you will see in my June book haul in a few weeks, it’s my own fault.)
In May, I read:
Freeks by Amanda Hocking
Freeks is a young adult paranormal novel reminiscent of the Twilight era. Set in the 1980s, it follows Mara and her family of travelling circus performers that end up in a small Southern town where nothing is what it seems. While I did have quite a few problems with the novel, such as a heavy amount of insta-love and a weak plot, I was filled a surprising amount of nostalgia. Freeks is a super easy, fun read, but I think I would have given it 4 stars instead of a 2.5 stars had I read it when I was sixteen. For my full thoughts, check out my review.
RoseBlood by A.G. Howard
RoseBlood is a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux set in a French boarding school. Rune Germain is born with an extraordinary singing voice, but whenever she uses her gift, she feels physically drained afterwards. Her mother sends her to RoseBlood, a conservatory in Paris, in hopes training will help Rune with her affliction. Except Rune has been brought to Paris for a dark purpose by the Phantom and he uses his dashing protégée Thorn to lure her into his web.
RoseBlood has been high on my TBR for a year. I went into ignoring whatever lackluster reviews I heard, wanting to have my own opinion on it. A.G. Howard has a beautiful writing style; if you like atmosphere and descriptive writing, you will definitely enjoy this book. I especially love how it was set in modern-day Paris, a place I have never been. She also did a good job going from first-person to third-person, though I admittedly liked Thorn’s third-person perspective more than Rune’s first-person. Between the two of them, his arc was the most interesting. Rune also finds a solid friend group midst the catty competitiveness at the school and I enjoyed those characters.
Unfortunately, within the gorgeous writing there was more telling than showing and there were big time gaps never explained. While I liked Thorn, Rune was OK; her character was underdeveloped in my opinion. The romance was borderline insta-love (Hi, my name is Jillian and I hate insta-love). A pet peeve of mine in young adult literature is the “fated lovers” where they have dreams about each other before meeting. I don’t know why, per say, but that trope really irks me. Lastly, the plot was confusing and weak in some spots. I did not hate RoseBlood; right now, I’m chalking it up to “read at the wrong time,” because this book had so many elements I usually enjoy in other books.
This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter (library book)
Without a doubt, This Heart of Mine was my favorite book I read in May. It is a young adult contemporary novel following Leah Mackenzie, a seventeen-year-old with an artificial heart until a donor miraculously appears. Only that donor is Eric Kenner, a popular boy in her school that allegedly committed suicide and the twin brother of Leah’s long-time crush, Matt. When Leah starts having dreams about Eric’s death, she and Matt team up to find answers.
I went into This Heart of Mine with low expectations. I have not heard good things about C.C. Hunter and this book promised a blend of too many genres—contemporary, mystery, and magical realism—I had no idea how she would make it work. Somehow, she managed to blend them all together, though the contemporary elements were stronger. But for me, the most surprising thing about this novel was how much I loved the romance. Plus, the topic of transplants hits home for me and I was happy to see it represented in young adult literature. Check out my review for my full thoughts.
The Memory Trees by Kali Wallace (library book)
I went into The Memory Trees expecting the same emotional punch as The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. That was no one’s fault but my own.
Sorrow Lovegood’s older sister, Patience, died in a mysterious fire eight years ago. When she is sixteen, her memories of the day her sister died are blurry and to get answers, she leaves her father’s home in Miami for her mother’s home in Vermont. In the apple orchard that has belonged to the Lovegood family for generations, Sorrow finds her emotionally unstable mother, land that seems to have a life of its own, and a legacy of deep family secrets.
If you are looking for a novel without romance and more focus on family, The Memory Trees is one I would recommend. Kali Wallace’s writing style makes you feel like you are in the Lovegood apple orchard. Unfortunately, the descriptions took up a lot of page space, making the novel drag. Also, if you like plot-driven stories, you might enjoy this one, too. For my full thoughts on The Memory Trees, go read my spoiler-free review.
Lizzie by Dawn Ius (library book)
A reimagining of the Lizzie Borden murders in modern-day Fall River? Yes please! Except…the author took that literally.
The Victorian ideals of the parents put in a modern-day setting clashed terribly. The author was trying too hard with her writing and she had this weird repetition thing that got seriously annoying. The mental illness element was handled in a way that was almost dramatized, when an illness like depression should not be at all. The characters were flat. Bridget, the love interest, was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl type. And, worse still, the romance was so obsessive and unhealthy on Lizzie’s part that it made me a little uncomfortable.
Needless to say, I will be very happy when I return this book to the library.