Hello, dear readers! I am here to talk to you about the books I read in the fine month of May, and without further ado, here they are!
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert (audiobook)
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team’s Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown (audiobook)
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Y: The Last Man, Book Four by Brian K. Vaugn & illustrated by Pia Guerra
I read seven books in May, bringing me up to a total of 33 for 2016. The selection of my desert island book presents a whopper of a conundrum. Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle is one of my favorite clusters of books in recent years, but I didn’t 100% love The Raven King; I guess it’s safe to say that I 90% loved it. It, like so many final books in series before it, was a bit too scattered and I felt that Stiefvater let her plot tension run a bit too thin as a result. BUT, if I pretended I was a Libra and tried to weigh my satisfaction with the conclusion to the series apple of my eye against my frustration and occasional disappointment, I’d say satisfaction would come out the victor.
However, there’s a dark horse in the running, because I at least 90% loved A Darker Shade of Magic, too. It has the shiny veneer of a newly discovered magical world that is one of my personal favorite reading experiences; while I wouldn’t say this series opener quite equaled the sense of blissful wonder I felt upon reading Harry Potter or His Dark Materials for the first time, the multiple Londons of the Shades of Magic series sucked me under like bloody, bloody quicksand. I mean, one of the main characters has a jacket that can be turned inside out in seemingly endless ways to suit whichever parallel universe he happens to be inhabiting, and the other main character is a girl-dressed-as-a-boy who wants to be a pirate but OOPS ends up in a grand trans-universe adventure. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE???
So, which do I choose? In the upsets of all upsets, I’m going to have to go with A Darker Shade of Magic. If it were this one book versus the entire Raven Cycle series, it would be no contest, but The Raven King just didn’t feel as strong to me as the previous entries, and so in a one book to one book death match, I’m going to go for the nearly stand-alone series opener to the not-even-remotely-stand-alone series closer.
Other books of note include Conviction and The Boys in the Boat, because I was surprised by just how much I loved both of these books. Anyone who follows me on Goodreads or maybe even my rambling reviews on this here blog knows that contemporary realism isn’t really my thing, so when my high school book club decided they wanted to read Conviction (and skype with the lovely author, Kelly Loy Gilbert), I obviously had to read along with them. It a taught, highly psychological mystery-ish where the tension isn’t in “whodunnit” but rather in “didhedoit,” and all of the mounting evidence as delivered by an increasingly unreliable narrator make the ride absorptive and not a little upsetting. There is some pretty intense emotional abuse in this one, so readers sensitive to that kind of stuff, be forewarned.
I don’t know why I was so surprised by how much I adored The Boys in the Boat, because after more than three decades of consuming narrative one would think I’d be aware of how much of a sucker I am for an inspirational sports story. Even though I was forced to listen to the young readers’ adaptation because the adult one is just too dang popular at my library, I am pretty sure that digital download was actually a portkey because from the very beginning this incredible story of hardship and resilience hooked itself right behind my belly button and pulled me into Depression era Seattle/Pacific Northwest.
I’ve rambled on enough now, so tootles, and see you next month when I recount just what I read while I was tramping around ICELAND in June.