Book Review · Monthly Round Up

May Round Up in Books

One day late … here are the books I read in May …

I wouldn’t say this was an overwhelming number … my Goodreads goal is to read 50 books this year and I’m easily on track for that (and I’m excited to raise this goal for next year!)

The Kingdom of Copper – S. A. Chakraborty

This book was everything – a fantastical setting featuring djinn, fire and strong characters. It is exactly the kind of fantasy (high fantasy based in myth) that I love to read and I was so pleased to receive an ARC of this book. At the time, I hadn’t read the first book, City of Brass, so I made my way through the first book in February, before starting this at the end of April. Just like the first book, it was long, so took a little while – but was worth every page.

*****

The Twisted Tree – Rachel Burge

Welcome to disappointment. I was expecting more Neil Gaiman, instead it ended up all YA. For me, it fell short of what I had hoped for – there was so much gothic potential, especially in an effective retelling of the old Norse mythology. Instead, there was too much focus on a male love interest that added very little to the story, except for the protagonist to realise that maybe she was beautiful after all! The epilogue in particular was rushed and wrapped everything up much too … nicely. Bleh.

***

Don’t Touch My Hair – Emma Dabiri

Strongly written, powerfully argued – although it felt clear that this wasn’t really written for me, and there were times when I had to stop myself from saying ‘not all white …’ (before remembering that would just reinforce my own sense of privilege) – Don’t Touch my Hair combined a fascinating explanation of black hair styles, the history of black hair dressing (in its true context) as well as the author’s personal experiences of being a black woman growing up in Ireland in the 1980s. It took me a long time to get through this, but I took a lot away from it.

****

The Farm – Joanne Ramos

Pretty solid, actually. A big criticism that I’ve seen of this book is that nothing really happens. I think a lot of readers were expecting something more dystopian, but instead found something that was still too close to present day for comfort. Without a dystopian future, very little that’s exciting can happen, as we are still bound by what can happen in today’s context. In this story, an immigrant woman is paid ridiculous amounts to carry another woman’s baby, whilst missing her own very young child. There were lots of beautifully-written scenes and, aside from an unsatisfying ending, I really enjoyed the story it told.

****


Needlemouse – Jane O’Connor

Sweet, spiky and vulnerable, Sylvia is desperate to be loved, and to begin her life, but has made so many mistakes that she doesn’t know where to start. This novel could have gone really badly – the protagonist was so easy to dislike in the beginning that, if there hadn’t been a gradual growth in her character, I imagine it would have put a lot of people off very quickly … instead, this story so well crafted that you began to love and sympathise with Sylvia and learn to forgive her as she slowly forgave herself.

****

Limited Wish – Mark Lawrence

Freshly finished for the last day of May, this book was even better than the first in the series, One Word Kill. The titles are of old D&D spells, and the game features heavily in the books, which suits nerds like me perfectly. The other heavy theme is time travel. I felt that the explanations (and paradoxes) were much more clearly explained in this story, which was much like the first novel, but stronger, faster and more engaging. Even better, these are very short stories with a likeable band of friends, and with books 1 and 2 coming out in quick succession. I doubt these will be as popular as Lawrence’s fantasy works (which I also love!) but the books work well and I’m really looking forward to book 3: Dispel Illusion.

*****

In all, solid progress for me, slowed down by Don’t Touch My Hair – which slowed me down not because it was bad, but beacuse it was weighty.

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