May was a solid month of reading for me, with five books checked off my TBR and two reviews written (with a third on the way). The ratings I doled out weren’t the greatest, but I was able to give my second five star of the year to a classic I’ve put off for far too long. I also had my first DNF of the year with Jeff Giles The Edge of Everything, which was more due to a pesky thing called library fines than any actual hard feelings for it. I’m hoping to pick up where I left off in June, so maybe in a few weeks my full thoughts will be posted here. In other news, with the exception of the aforementioned classic, everything else I read was a 2017 release. This is pretty cool to see, and makes me feel like I’m actually making progress with my TBR. If you’re interested in any of these books official synopsis’, all titles are linked to Goodreads. But without further ado…let’s cut to the books!
The Outsiders by SE Hinton– 5 stars
The first book I read this month was, obviously, a real winner. I don’t know why I’ve put off this high school staple for so long, but now I’m just glad I can say I read it. For me, as someone who hates reading the long, melancholy, old English classics, the simple and to the point language of The Outsiders was perfect. I connected with Ponyboy + Co. in a way I do with YA books today, which is especially fitting considering Hinton wrote her debut when the genre was just emerging. Though nothing can dampen my love for the movie (sorry, but I totally watched before reading), it was a great experience to see where my favorite moments got their source, and have the story come alive in greater detail. Technically speaking it may not be the greatest, but the message and themes more than make up for it. I doubt I’ll ever write a review for this one, for no other reason than I don’t have a whole lot to say besides “I loved it!”, but know that I am one more voice added to the millions of other who adore this book.
Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen– 2 stars
I considered giving this one three stars, but ultimately felt it was just to drab for anything more than a mediocre rating. It’s very, very earnest and has a good story to tell, but I think Susin Nielsen’s obvious writing talent is better suited for a middle grade book than YA. That was by far this story’s biggest obstacle, and I don’t feel it ever quite managed to overcome it. The characters just act so young and, despite the one or two sex scenes, I think the perfect reader for this would be eleven. Kind of problematic when you consider protagonist Petula is sixteen. There’s a lot of fiction about grief under the YA umbrella, and I don’t feel Optimists Die First had anything new to add that hasn’t already been said hundred different times in a hundred different (probably more engaging) ways. If you’re at all interested in reading this one though I would say give it a shot, as a fast reader could easily finish the 220 pages in a few hours.
Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally– 3 stars
My first of probably many reads by Miranda Kenneally was a success: entertaining in all the right ways, easy to fly through, and all around a lot of fun. As was the title for my review, Coming Up for Air is the perfect summer contemporary to stow away in a beach bag. I can’t say how it stacks up against perennial Kenneally favorites like Catching Jordan, but from reviews I’ve read I’d say the two are very similar. Protagonist Maggie is in the same vein as all the Hundred Oaks girls, an elite athlete who’ll capture your heart from the first page. I loved reading from her perspective, and enjoyed the female friendships Kenneally gave her. My biggest complaint, and the reason this one’s only receiving three stars, is love interest Lucas. He didn’t really shine for me, and I couldn’t help but feel that Maggie could do so much better. His personality was pretty flat and his motives equally questionable, but he’s hunky so (insert shrug emoji). A cute, fun read perfect for lovers of chick lit when it hits shelves on July 4th.
Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios– 2 stars
My thoughts on this one will probably be controversial when the book comes out in two weeks, but I just have to say I did not like this one at all. I absolutely think it’s an important book that needed to be written but, similar to The Female of the Species, it just didn’t resonate with me. A huge part of this disconnect is owed to the characters here, all of whom I felt nothing for. Yes, that’s awful, considering this is a book about teen dating abuse but protagonist Grace elicited little sympathy from me. Logically I understood how impossible it was for her to get away from Gavin, but emotionally I didn’t feel it. I didn’t get the attraction she had for him in the beginning, which made it even more difficult to stay with the story when things went south. This is also probably wrong to say, but I was so bored the entire time I was reading Bad Romance. The story was just one giant maze all leading up to the same conclusion, and I wasn’t interested in the particular zags Demetrios chose to get us there. I have a lot more to say, but know that this will likely become a new favorite of many readers when it releases June 13th, just not for me.
Amish Guys Don’t Call by Debby Dodds– 1 star
This story is similar to Optimists Die First in that it lacked a certain punch necessary for me to ever recommend it. A cute idea with a lot of jumping off points for sure, but none of them were even remotely developed. To me, it read like a solid first draft that still needed to separate the wine from the water. Storylines seem to drop in and out of existence at random, with each chapter tackling one big issue at a time. It was a smorgasbord of loosely wound ideas, bizarrely tied together by the love interest being Amish. Equally strange is that, despite the title being Amish Guys Don’t Call, Sam doesn’t find out about her boyfriend’s past until 55% into the story. This made Sam’s ramblings very tedious because, you know, readers have known the truth the entire time! Also worth noting is that the story’s main conflict (according to the synopsis) is pretty much a non issue in the actual book. What results is a strange idea executed in an even weirder way. I would skip when this one releases June 13th.
What did you guys read this May? Are any of these books on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!