I had an amazing reading month in May! Not only did I manage to read nine books, but I also loved or at least liked most of them. I also read quite a few books I probably wouldn’t have read normally, which has everything to do with a little project I did during the month of May. I asked six of my friends and family members to pick a book they thought I would love and should read, and those books made up my TBR for the month. Besides those, though, I also managed to read three other books. Here are my reviews! They’re even more mini than usual because nine books is a lot and I also reviewed most of these books in my videos (click here and here for those).
A Different Drummer by William Melvin Kelley ★★★★★
This is the best book I’ve read so far this year! I wrote a full review for this novel (you can read it here) in which I call it a stylistically brilliant literary masterpiece. Yes, it’s that good. The novel is set in the deep south of the USA in 1957, when one day the entire black population of the state packs up their things and leaves. In the wake of this exodus, the white population tries to figure out what the heck has happened. If there’s only one book I could recommend to anyone this year, it would be this one.
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro ★★★★★
Another five star read! The Buried Giant tells the story of an elderly couple that sets out on a journey to find the son that they have forgotten. It’s set in Britain, shortly after the death of King Arthur, when a mist has descended over the land that makes people forgetful. It features knights (Sir Gawain!), dragons and other amazing characters, and feels both otherwordly and familiar. To me, this novel is an example of extraordinary storytelling, and I definitely want to read more of Ishiguro’s work.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite ★★⭑☆☆ (2.5)
My Sister, the Serial Killer has been very popular in the book community, so I was excited to read it, but, unfortunately, it fell flat for me. The novel tells the story of Korede, whose sister Ayoola has murdered three of her boyfriends. Korede has to clean up the mess each time and while Ayoola doesn’t show any remorse, Korede is racked with guilt. And then, Ayoola starts dating the man Korede has a crush on. Although the premise seemed promising, I didn’t feel very invested in the story. The characters felt underdeveloped to me, and I didn’t feel any suspense while reading, which is a pity when you’re reading a thriller.
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie ★★★★☆
Haroun is a wonderful children’s novel about the importance of stories and storytelling. It’s very imaginative and whimsical, and even gave me Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland vibes. It tells the story of Haroun and his father Rashid. Rashid is the best storyteller around, and when he loses his storytelling powers, Haroun feels it’s up to him to help him get them back. He travels to a different planet and meets all kinds of amazing characters along the way, and he even ends up having to save the sea in which all of the stories in the world are stored. The novel is full of great puns as well as profound moments, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid ★★★★☆
This novel tells the story of Emira, a black 25-year-old woman who babysits for the white Chamberlain family. At the start of the novel, Emira is apprehended by a security guard in a grocery store because he thinks she’s kidnapped the little girl she’s babysitting. This situation is the catalyst for all of the subsequent events in the novel, which deals heavily with racism and white privilege. Not only did I learn a lot, but I was also captivated the entire way through. The characters were so complex and well-developed, and the writing made me want to keep reading every time I finished a chapter. This is Kiley Reid’s debut novel and I can’t wait to see what she will come out with next!
Maybe This Time by Kasie West ★★★☆☆
I listened to the audiobook of Maybe This Time because I felt like a fun, light romcom in between some of the heavier physical books I was reading, and this definitely fulfilled that purpose. Set in a small, southern town in the US, it tells the hate-to-love story of Sophie and Andrew, who keep bumping into each other at different events in town, because she works for the local florist and he’s the son of a chef. This was a fun read, but I didn’t feel like it did anything particularly special or original.
The Great Night by Chris Adrian ★★★⭑☆ (3.5)
This novel is based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and takes place during – you guessed it – Midsummer night. Three strangers get stuck in San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park, which is also where Titania and her faeries live. When Titania releases Puck (or “the Beast”) from his chains, all hell breaks loose and everyone is in danger. In between the scenes in the park, we get to learn more about the three strangers – Henry, Molly and Will – and their pasts through flashbacks. Those were the parts of the books I enjoyed most because it meant diving into the psychology of these characters. The Great Night is incredibly imaginative, original, and beautifully written with a great narrative structure. The reason why I didn’t rate it higher is that I simply never fully connected to the story.
This Spell Can’t Last by Isabel Sterling ★★★★☆
This is a prequel novella to These Witches Don’t Burn, which I read in April! In that novel, a school trip to New York is frequently alluded to, and this novella tells the story of that trip and how it ended the relationship between the main character, Hannah, and her ex-girlfriend Veronica. I really enjoyed getting a better insight into Hannah and Veronica’s relationship, and why it ended. Veronica’s manipulative hold over Hannah was infuriating to read about, but it felt very real. I’m now also even more excited to read book number two in this series, This Coven Won’t Break!
Dear Martin by Nic Stone ★★★★★
This YA novel was a last-minute addition to my reading month. Dear Martin has sat on my shelves for a while now, but during the last weekend of May, when the Black Lives Matter protests were going on all over the world, I finally read it. It tells the story of Justyce, who, after being agressively arrested by a white cop for no reason, realises that he will always be at a disadvantage because he’s black. He starts to write letters to Martin Luther King Jr. in an attempt to be more like him and work through his complicated feelings regarding racism and police brutality. This is such an incredibly important novel, and I honestly think it should be required reading in any US high school.
And that’s it for my mini reviews! Did you read any of these books and do you agree with my thoughts? What was your favourite book you read in May? Let me know in the comments so we can chat about it!