What I read: May 2016

May 2016 was a very mixed month for me, book-wise: I had everything from DNFs and one-star books to some really great, thick thrillers. I do think I should get a prize for only setting aside one book as a DNF this month (yay!) though I was very tempted with a couple of other titles! Read on for mini-reviews and don’t forget to look me up on Goodreads!

What I read: May 2016

The Sin Eater’s Daughter, by Melinda Salisbury. One out of five stars. I honestly don’t even know why I finished this, because it was terrible. I guess the lore was really interesting—especially the story of the Sleeping Prince—and the cover was really pretty, so I kept hoping something would happen at the end to make it worthwhile. Instead it just got worse and worse until it finally ended. I think it was partly the slow pace and partly the stupid relationship with Leif that made it so unbearable.

The Maiden of Ireland, by Susan Wiggs. Two and a half out of five stars. Go ahead, laugh; this was a fun read with a feisty heroine leading the way. However…I think that before you write a book full of sex scenes, you should probably, um…have some? So you can write a good scene and not a cheesy one? Nothing to write home about here, folks.

Zero World, by Jason M. Hough. DNF. I wanted to like this soooooo bad, partly because of the cool cover, partly because it was hyped as The Bourne Identity meets Inception. And it did seem pretty cool, but I just couldn’t slog through it. Maybe my high expectations slew it for me, but even with crazy action scenes thrown in it was moving a little too slowly and dully for me. Once I found out it had a sequel I put it down; I wasn’t going to read the whole thing only to be left with a cliffhanger. I think I would like to read it another time when I’m more in the mood for action-y sci-fi.

The Cure For Dreaming, by Cat Winters. Three and a half out of five stars. Boy, if ever there was a book that made me glad to live in an era of modern feminism (and dentistry!), this is it. I think it wrapped up a little too neatly at the end but otherwise I really enjoyed it.

What I read: May 2016

Desert Places, by Blake Crouch. Three out of five stars. You can tell this is Crouch as an early writer, because his writing isn’t as polished as in his later books. Still, this was a helluva thrill ride, if a bit too gleefully sadistic. I don’t think I care enough about the characters to read the next book, and there was a big cliche used to further the plot, which is why I’ve knocked it down to three stars.

Max at Night, by Ed Vere. Five out of five stars. Maybe it’s because I still miss my beloved cat Max, who was quite possibly the best cat I’ve ever met. And maybe it’s because the titular cat in Vere’s books so closely resembles my black cat Guenhwyvar. Or maybe it’s just because Vere’s Max books are so darn charming. Whatever the reason(s), I’m absolutely in love with these books! They are so cute and would easily hold up to the repetition of nightly bedtime reading with a toddler. I don’t have kids of my own but I would definitely buy this as a gift for any of my nieces or nephews.

The Travelers, by Chris Pavone. Three out of five stars. This book started with a bang and a racing pace that had me glued to the pages, but about halfway through I started to realize that all of that action was covering for a bare-bones plot, filler material, and character arcs that were easy to spot from the beginning of the book. It was still a really good read, I just didn’t enjoy the second half as much as the first once the adrenaline started to wear off.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald. Three and a half out of five stars. This book was ridiculously hard to put down, and it’s really a love letter to books, bookshops, bookish pen pals, and all the connections that books inspire. But I could have done without the meet-cute romance, and probably wouldn’t have read it if I realized that was one of the main plot arcs.

What I read: May 2016

The Lake House, by Kate Morton. Four out of five stars. This was enjoyable and hard to put down—Morton really has a talent as a writer, weaving lyrical prose together with twisty family mysteries—but I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Forgotten Garden. The ending was just a little too trite for me.

The Good Neighbor, by A.J. Banner. Two out of five stars. This seemed like it would be a really fast-paced thriller, but it ended up being kind of bland. The shocking secrets weren’t that shocking, no one acted in a way that made any sense, and the ending felt rushed. I think this had a good premise but poor execution.

11/22/63, by Stephen King. Four out of five stars. For some reason I’ve just never gotten around to reading a King novel, probably in part because of how long they are. I remember seeing this when it came out and not thinking much of it. Then I saw a trailer for the Hulu miniseries and was like “Time travel? Whhhhaaaaaaaat?” It turned out to be a real page-turner, despite the immense size, but I was a little disappointed by the ending. No spoilers! It does make me want to pick up another of his books, though!

Cruel Beauty, by Rosamund Hodge. Two out of five stars. This was billed as a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a heavy dash of Greek mythology, and while the world was intriguing, the rest of the book was not. I kind of wanted to buy into the relationship between Nyx and Ignifex, but it was so rushed. It felt like something that should simmer slowly over a long time and finally build up, not happen all at once. They did have some witty exchanges but otherwise I found them both very disappointing as heroine and love interest.

What I Read: May 2016

The Boy in the Suitcase (Nina Borg #1), and Invisible Murder (Nina Borg #2), by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis. Four out of five stars. Man, talk about books that were hard to put down…this Danish crime series may be one of my new favorites. I read the third book some time ago, so now I’ll have to go look for the fourth one.

Smoke, by Dan Vytela. One out of five stars. Man oh man, I really tried to like this book, but I just couldn’t! I’m giving myself points for not DNFing because it was so dull. I found the idea of the Smoke really intriguing and wanted to unravel the mystery, but by the end of the book I was even more confused than at the start, and that’s saying a lot. Did I mention this was dull? I saw a lot of rave reviews for this on GR but apparently I read a different book.

Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire. One out of five stars. I think that the author is trying to get across a message about the ways some teens seem to fall down some kind of rabbit hole or another, discovering something about themselves in the process, but returning to the “real world” (that is, the world of societal norms) changed in ways that make them stand out. Suddenly they’re too studious, or too loud, or they don’t fit neatly into gender/sexuality boxes, or whatever; but different isn’t bad, despite what society and their families think. And while I think this is a great message, and one teens need to hear, I think the rest of the book was a total flop: meandering plots, characters I couldn’t connect to in the least, a killer who was ridiculously easy to spot, etc. etc. This book was not enjoyable in the least and it’s another case where I just don’t understand how it got so much hype online.

So that’s my book roundup for May 2016! What did you read this month? Any recommendations? (Particularly Nordic crime fiction…I can’t get enough!)


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