Oh May 2016. Heretofore known as the one where I only read three books. Admittedly I hardly had big expectations for this month, what with school ending and me being sufficiently maxed out on all things academic related. However I still would have liked to accomplish a little something closer to my goal of eight books every 30 days. For what it’s worth though 66% of my reading was ARC’s, which gives me a promising start heading into ARC August right around the corner. May was also interesting in that my opinions of what I read went progressively down hill, from “love” to “meh” to “OMG burn this book on sight”. That should make for some interesting review material. In other (more optimistic) news, I’m currently in the middle of a pretty great read (surprisingly, Richelle Mead’s The Glittering Court) and am super stoked for the June ahead. Hopefully a bit of reflection on where I went wrong last month will help me avoid likewise pitfalls this time around. Though the pickings may be small, this is the place to be for my feels in a nutshell.
The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz- 4 stars
I can’t deny The Hired Girl contributed to my subpar reading accomplishments. Clocking in at nearly 500 pages, all of which was made of the meandering and detailed prose historical fiction is known for, this was a slow read to say the least. I also loved every minute of it. Though the tale of 1900 era Joan Skaggs is one for a very particular reader, those who fit the mold will undoubtedly fall head over heels. The storytelling (told in diary format across a year) is unique in that it allows us to grow very close to Joan’s plight. We see her hardships, her triumphs, her hopes and dreams. We long to see her succeed. It also further serves to accentuate the setting, which Schlitz takes special pains (read: meticulous research) to ensure represents a wide view of turn of the century Baltimore. This also extends to side characters; specifically Joan’s employers the Rosenbachs, a wealthy Jewish family. Not only are they well fleshed out emotionally, but their culture so different from Joan’s own is a unique point the story sets out to make. It lends to invaluable discussion on religion, education, and socioeconomic differences. However certain parts are made of lighter fare, such as Joan’s first trips to the opera and a department store. The Hired Girl really is perfect for any reader homegrown on Little House on the Prairie, as Schlitz sets out to tell her tale (based on her own great grandmother’s teenage years) with a naïveté innocence that speaks volumes to her talent as an up and coming author.
The Way to Game the Walk of Shame by Jenn P. Nguyen- 3 stars
Though The Way to Game the Walk of Shame may fall prey to some technical shortcomings, at its core Jenn P. Nguyen’s debut is fun, sassy, and paves the way to her future as an up and coming Perkins or Matson. As you can likely guess from the snappy title, the story is all about what comes after the infamous walk of shame- served up in an extra humiliating fashion when good girl Taylor Simmons is forced to make the odyssey. In a last ditch effort to quell rumors and save her reputation she concocts a scheme. One that will see her and sleazy player Evan McKinley in a (contractual) committed relationship. Of course this wouldn’t be YA contemporary if a dishing of angst wasn’t served, and needless to say the two polar opposites fall for each other in a major way. What follows is lots of sharp back and forth, great chemistry, and a story that I flew through in under two days. For that reason alone I really would recommend this to every contemporary fan out there. It’s hardly a major time commitment, and I do believe it contributes some sassy spice to the genre. As far as things that I was less than impressed with…though Evan and Taylor do great in scenes together, by themselves both floundered in underdeveloped “family drama” storylines. Speaking of being underdeveloped, you can imagine how frustrating it was to be entirely locked in our two MC’s heads 24/7. Such is the case when the supporting cast only shows up when it’s important for Nguyen, and only then demonstrates a personality akin to every teen soap you’ve ever read. However in the end I’m not so judgmental as to short TWtGtWoS , and ultimately I give it three stars all the way.
The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Ledger- 1 star
While I’d love to support a fellow “Meg”, nothing could save the hot mess express that is The Museum of Heartbreak. For starters, it suffers from a common hipster syndrome called trying too hard. Too hard to be whimsical, and eccentric, and right of normal that is. Not so much in regards to character development, plot logistics, or any other technical facets. Basically it follows Penelope (quite possibly the most boring narrator you’ll ever be subjected to reading about) as she destroys her relationship with best friends and pines after an equally groan worthy love interest. That’s literally all that happens. And while some of my favorite books ever are entirely character driven, Ledger did nothing to make her story insightful or thought provoking. In fact I kind of felt whilst reading that Ledger was insulting her audience by “dumbing things down”. Either that or she’s never read a single young adult book in her life, because if that was the case she’d realize using every single trope known to the genre does not a good book make. This includes the oh so obvious way the relationship between Penelope and Keats will end, the anti resolution in Pen’s friendship with Audrey, and the classic “I fell in love with my hot male friend” cliche. Honestly those aren’t even spoilers. Also, though I’m glad this one was short and not-so sweet, there was little time for any actual development of the storylines. It was like Ledger just threw a dart at a story board and where it landed was where she focused her efforts for the next chapter. So glad I read this as an ARC (which comes out June 7th, if you’re still interested), and didn’t waste any other resources on it.
What did you guys read this May? Any big plans for your June TBR? Let me know in the comments!
–Keep Calm and Read On