Thursday, 25 May 2017

May Wrap-Up: #BookReviews of reads from my May #BookHaul

This month, I had a mixed bag of books which I planned to read. Again, they were from my local library ~ you can click on the cover images for more info.




The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

 

What drew me to this book was the cover ~ I'm a sucker for cool covers and this book definitely had that. But the blurb made me think that this wasn't going to be the type of book that I'd find to be original and unique. Then I remembered that one of my favourite BookTubers had enjoyed reading this book and the cover (the one in my library) had author Cassandra Clare describing it as "haunting and dreamlike" so I decided to give it a go.

My Rating: 4-stars

I really liked this one. It lived up to my expectations based on Cassie Clare's quote and I'm hoping to read the rest of the series soon.

It was weird ~ and I love a bit of weird! ~ and lovely and creepy and mysterious and clever. Oh, I can't say enough good things about it. A good read that I would highly recommend to anyone that's into YA.

Now, I have bad news :(  I went through bit of a reading slump this month, starting with The Vatican Princess by C.W. Gortner ~ I didn't finish this book. I read 8 chapters in ~ well, I struggled through them ~ and then I gave up. Once upon a time, I'd power through to the end, as a principle, but I've become more ruthless these days. I have so many of my own books to write, so many books in the world to read, and life is too short to read something that's not holding your interest or entertaining you.

As you may know from previous posts, I don't rate any books I don't finish, as a rule, so I won't be giving this book a rating. All I will say is that what made me put this book down and return it to my library promptly is the fact that it felt like it had no plot. It follows the lead character, i.e. Vatican Princess, from her early years to adulthood, I presume, and I guess plot wasn't the main focus of the early chapters of the book. Or it was the reading slump that ruined things for me...

 


Next, The Falconer by Elizabeth May

 
 
All I knew about this book was that it's set in Scotland, 1844, and its about Fae.

Sarah J. Maas (author of the Throne of Glass series and the Court of Thorns and Roses series, both about Fae/Faeries) is quoted as enjoying this debut novel so I was in, wondering how it would compare to Maas's books, which I love...

But.... the reading slump kicked in again and I gave up on this after three chapters. I just couldn't get into it. I can't say why ~ probably the reading slump ~ but I felt no inclination to continue this book. I guess Maas's Fae books are just on another level and this one didn't match it and so I couldn't stick with it. The second book in a row that I didn't finish.

Yes, I was definitely in a reading slump!


Kishwar Desai's Witness the Night was on the Librarians Recommend shelf so I'd picked it up.

 

This is a mystery set in North India and was the first India-based novel of this type for me. It also won the Costa First Novel Award so I knew it would be a good read. But I was so sceptical at this point, I almost didn't want to pick it up. What if it's a good book and I'd have enjoyed it had it not been for the slump?

I needn't have worried! This book gripped me from the early pages and I kept coming back for it.

My Rating: 4-stars

It was disturbing. Heartbreaking. Twisted. Gripping. I highly recommend Witness The Night. It reads almost like literary fiction but has a fresh twist and the lead character is fun and witty and likeable. I was very impressed with the writing style and quality, and can't praise it highly enough. It brought me out of the reading slump.

Or so I thought...


I picked up After You by Jojo Moyes next.

 
  
This is the sequel to Me Before You, which I'd planned to read... before I watched the film adaptation on my flight to Bangladesh in February! Oops. I wasn't blown away by the film but I got the feeling that the book is much better and I wish I'd read it first. Having watched the film though, I have no plans to read Me Before You now (I rarely read a book once I've watched the movie adaptation ~ I like not knowing what happens next too much to do so) but I did want to find out what happens to the female lead after... well, After You.

Unfortunately, this was another book I couldn't finish. I enjoyed it at first ~ the writing was good and the characters were interesting. Then it dipped after maybe 8 or 9 chapters and I just didn't care about what happened next. The Reading Slump ~ and I think this term deserves to be capitalised now, seen as it led to me to give up on three books so far in the month ~ seemed to be in full swing again. Darn!

The next book I started was: Prophecy by S.J. Parris. I'm persistent, if nothing else.



This book is a spy thriller set in Elizabethan times and is Cityread London's book of 2017. Cityread London is a charity that supports London's libraries and encourages Londoners to read books.

But I couldn't finish this one, either! Grrr. Damn The Reading Slump!

The book seemed interesting enough but after a few chapters, I just didn't feel like picking it up again. It sat on my bedside cabinet for days but it never managed to convince me to recommence reading.

As I returned the books I couldn't finished, I decided not to borrow any more. The Slump just wouldn't let me finish them, so why bother carrying books to and fro?

So, there was just Delirium by Lauren Oliver left on my to-read pile this month.
 
 

I wasn't too sure what this YA book was about ~ the blurb is very vague; something about the cure for love ~ but it sounded interesting enough and I've heard good things about it on BookTube so I kept an open mind and picked it up from the library, hoping the risk pays off.

I started this YA dystopian novel with a sigh and a heavy heart, knowing for sure that I wouldn't be able to make it past the first few chapters due to The Slump. 

Luckily, after the first 3 or 4 chapters (they were reasonably short ones), I was hooked and looked forward to picking it up each time I put it down to go to sleep or run some errand.

My Rating: 4-stars

Oh, this book was so good. It's the first in a trilogy and I will be on the look-out for the sequels when I next visit my library. The writing style, the characters, the romance and the dystopian setting was really good. The concept ~ that love is an actual desease, an illness that can be cured ~ is so interesting and captivating. The main character has the makings of a great heroine and didn't start off as the typical rebel-in-the-making, so that was refreshing.

I know a lot of readers hated the ending and rated it down for it, but I won't. I'm a firm believer that there's a reason for everything, especially in fiction, so I'm going to assume the ending was necessary and key to how the series progresses. I would definitely recommend this if you're into YA dystopia. And that concludes my May wrap-up!

Now, I must mention that there won't be a haul post in June ~ I won't be reading any books next month and not because of The Reading Slump. The month of Ramadan, the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, is here and will end around June 24th, and I, like countless Muslims around the world, will be fasting from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan isn't just about refraining from all food and water during the daylight hours to remind ourselves how lucky we are and think of those less fortunate.

No. It's also a time to steer clear of wordly pleasures (like books ~ they're my wordly pleasures), to be more spiritual, more charitable and give the annual Zakat or Zakah, which is to donate to charity, the poor and needy, 2.5 per cent of your total assets.

Muslims are encouraged to be charitable throughout the year, but the Zakat is typically donated during Ramadan as it is a tough month all round, so it's good to help a poor family break their fast with something decent.

In fact, a lot of Muslims routinely donate money to the poor, and for various reasons. If someone dies, then a huge feast is cooked up to feed the poor. Likewise, when a child is born, a lot of Muslims donate food to the needy. If someone's going to take an exam soon, or embark on something important, they might give some money to the poor in hopes of garnering prayers that will help them pass the test. The same might be done if someone is quite sick.

Yes, I know some people will scoff at this: "If someone's worked hard, they'll pass the test, and if someone's meant to die, then giving to charity isn't going to halt Death!" To that, my older sister will say, "Yes, maybe. But the prayers of those you've helped may pull through for you or your loved ones in some other area of your life, or in the future. You never know whose prayers for you will be answered."

I, on the other hand, say that it's not a bad thing to help those less fortunate than us, is it? So, if we do it to pass our driving test or in the hopes that a loved one will recover from illness, what's so wrong with that?

Sorry for waffling on. I just thought I'd explain why I won't be reading in June and summarise Ramadan as best I could. Rest assured, I will be posting blogs in June, a series of four posts that I've prepared for the month, so definitely stop by :)


Thank you for reading this post. If you're interested in my debut novel, click the image below to learn more about it:
 


Like all my other books, it's also available on:
iBooks   |   B&N Nook   |   Kobo |   Smashwords 


Book Details

Length: 110,000 words
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Clean Romance / Diverse Romance / Interracial Romance / Romantic Drama / Women’s Fiction
Mood: Inspirational / Feel Good / Coming of Age / Dark
Content: Sexy but No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: New Adult & College / Adult / Female Readers

Recommended for: Readers that enjoy romance novels with serious issues and characters with depth. This is a story about life, love, friendship, family, music, art, destiny and soul mates.


And the first two books in my teen urban fantasy/YA paranormal romance series, the Poison Blood series, can be downloaded for free via:

Amazon USAmazon UK|   iBooks US & UK   |   B&N Nook Store   |   Smashwords




PB1 Book Details

Length: 29,000 words
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance / Teen Vampire Romance / Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy / Teen & YA Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy / Supernatural Romance / Fantasy Romance
Mood: Dark / Humorous / Coming of age
Content: No violence / No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: Teen / Young Adult / New Adult / Adult
Recommended for: Readers that love all things vampires, slayers and witches!

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