I always love the beginning of summer, and this month saw the release of the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide, volunteering at my library book sale, and planting my summer garden. I was in the car more than usual, so between that and gardening, I leaned heavily on audiobooks this month.
What I read in May:
- Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (audio)
- Clanlands by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish (audio)
- Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
- The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (audio)
- Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane
- Wolfpack by Abby Wambach (audio)
- Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith (audio)
- Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner
- The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton (audio)
- Four Aunties and a Wedding by Jesse Q. Sutanto (audio)
My favorite reads:
So many good reads this month! I loved Rules of Civility. I also loved Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo, a story about a young Chinese-American woman who falls in love with a female friend in 1950’s San Francisco. It’s a fascinating time in U.S. history, and if you enjoyed Peach Blossom Spring, this book is a perfect companion.
I also loved Mhairi McFarlane’s Just Last Night. McFarlane’s books look like your typical contemporary romance, but they deal much more with things like trauma and grief. Just Last Night is about a group in their mid-30s who are shattered by the sudden death of one of their closest friends. It’s beautifully written, but with a good romance as well (only weakness here is the bland title).
A surprise pick was Build Your House Around My Body, about a young woman’s mysterious disappearance in Saigon. This book was strange and fascinating. I was expecting mystery and got horror and history instead – it’s haunting and complex. It was difficult to follow, and I ended up having to draw myself a map of the timeline and how the different characters were related. But if you’re up for a challenge, this book was worth it. It’s a Women’s Prize longlist nominee.
On the lighter side, The Darkest Part of the Forest (read for Wyrd and Wonder) was a thoughtful, gender-bending YA fantasy, and I hear it’s one of Holly Black’s strongest books. Four Aunties and a Wedding didn’t disappoint, though as with the previous book I’d strongly recommend this one by audio because the accents are everything. The first book, Dial A for Aunties, was a bit better – this one was frustrating at times. But it’s campy, ridiculous, over the top fun.
Clanlands was a lot of fun, but the banter got very repetitive after a while, and this may function better as a show (Men in Kilts) than a book. Still, I loved all the Scotland history and getting to know these two actors better, as well as all the insider references to Outlander. Sam clearly knows those books inside out and I loved all the appreciation for Gabaldon and the show.
My real disappointment was The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, a Women’s Prize longlist nominee. I found the first half dull and the characters didn’t resonate (even with excellent audiobook readers). I finished it, but had issues with how the storyline developed and concluded. And I think the author spent too much time writing about music, at the expense of character development
On the blog:
Books for challenges:
- Nonfiction: Clanlands, Wolfpack
- Historical: Rules of Civility, Last Night at the Telegraph Club, Build Your House, Bloomsbury Girls
What I’m reading now:
Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro, and We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union (I love that title).
What’s coming up:
See my 20 Books of Summer list.
Added to my TBR:
Thanks to the Summer Reading Guide, I’ve added quite a few books to my TBR list, including: Bomb Shelter, Lessons in Chemistry, Take My Hand, Fellowship Point, Memphis, Tell Me Everything. The Guide is a fantastic way to find your next read, not that most of us need more suggestions. There are quite a few books in this year’s Guide that I love, including Firekeeper’s Daughter, A Place For Us, Olympic Texas, and Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.
Wishing you all a summer of great reading!