May was a weird month – I went from a reading slump lasting weeks to reading 6 books, which is a lot for me considering I normally do around 4 a month! (Find out how I kicked my slump’s butt!)
So what did I read? Take a look below!
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
This book has been dubbed the next The Girl on the Train or Murder on the Orient Express. Now, I thought The Girl on the Train was actually pretty overhyped, so in that respect, I agree with the comparison! In terms of the Christie comparison, it’s not as refined or believable as it would need to be to match the adventures of Poirot, but I see the similarities – mysterious death on a moving vehicle, leaving the main character trapped onboard with a killer we’re yet to find the identity of.
In case you don’t know, the book follows Lo, a travel journalist, onboard a luxury cruise ship on its maiden voyage. On the first night, Lo hears the woman in the cabin next to hers be thrown overboard, and sees blood on the window. The thing is, there was no one in the cabin, and all passengers are still aboard. But Lo knows what she saw, and isn’t about to let a killer walk around the ship freely.
I have mixed feelings about this book. The first chapter really gripped me and creeped me out, but by the end of the book, it seemed like a bit of a throwaway chapter not needed for the rest of the book. Without giving spoilers, I understand why it was there, but the intensity it builds, coupled with a reference to something similar happening to someone else on the boat, sets the scene for a big twist reveal that just never comes. It seemed like wasted potential to me.
After the first chapter, it was fairly slow for a bit – the main character isn’t hugely likeable and spends most of her time drinking (perhaps that’s why people thought of The Girl on the Train?!), and to be honest, there’s only a handful of characters that actually seemed to have a personality. That said, I was gripped by the cat and mouse game between Lo and the killer, so that kept me turning the pages. For me, the real disappointment came at the end – there were two elements that just made me roll my eyes in disbelief at the ludricrousness. The whole point of thrillers for me is that they’re believable – they get under your skin and make your heart beat a bit faster because you think: “what if that happened to me?” Having over the top, dramatic elements that quite frankly just would not happen, coupled with a few examples of throwing setting up for a twist further down the line that just doesn’t happen made this book seem a little rushed to me.
Young adult/mental health
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Of course, you’ve heard all about the TV adaptation of this by now. Whilst the first season wasn’t perfect, I stood by it for the most part (unlike season 2, which I have a lot to say about!), so I thought I’d read the book that inspired the series.
It doesn’t seem the right word to say I enjoyed this book considering the subject matter, but you know what I mean. The story follows Clay, whose life is turned upside down by the arrival of 13 cassette tapes detailing reasons why his classmate and first love, Hannah Baker, killed herself. Clay is one of the reasons.
For the most part, the book was effective in raising awareness of how teens may feel, and how our actions can impact others. It’s a good book to make you think about the ripple effect and the importance of treating others how you’d like to be treated – any small unkindness could tip someone else over the edge, no matter how inconsequential your action seems to you. You don’t know what other people are going through, and that’s the message I took from this book.
However, I do completely understand why others are up in arms about the “revenge suicide” accusations. Whilst to me it reads as Hannah recording some what of a memoir or eulogy and a message to others to think twice about their actions, the plot still stands as a teenager delivering a box of tapes accusing other teens of being one of the reasons she killed herself, so it’s hard not to see the revenge element even if the book tried to paint it a different way. I’ve said it before, but I really think the book would have had more impact without this dangerous grey area, and it could have been easily rectified by having Hannah record the tapes just to get everything off her chest, and perhaps Clay could be given the tapes by her parents to remember her by, as they would think they were normal music cassettes. Clay is definitely the type of character to be outraged and hand deliver the tapes to each person mentioned, so the message would get out that way.
Ultimately, the book has good intentions, but is a little messy in the way it’s carried out.
Get the Hell Over It by Sarah Beth Moore
A humourous and relatable look at the nature of procrastination, this book breaks down the reasons behind that irritating little urge to go and bake a cake, clean the house, or spend three hours looking at dog memes when you’re supposed to be doing something else.
Moore lays it out in all its brutal glory – yes, you’ve got a bunch of great ideas; no, you probably won’t be able to bring them all the fruition because you will inevitably get distracted, disheartened, disassociate yourself from the idea – or any other word beginning with “dis” that you can think of. But she lets you in on a secret – you don’t have to bring every idea to life. In fact, accepting this fact means the ones you do will be even better.
Biding your time, and building a project, passion and plan will mean you can bring to life that idea you had, whether it’s a novel idea, a blog, or a new business. Sticking to a simple plan makes it less daunting and more successful. Wahey! Win win, right? This is a witty look at a problem we all have, coupled with some great solutions to help you kick that procrastination devil and get the hell over the fears that stop you bringing your ideas to life.
The Note by Zoe Folbigg
This is the absolute opposite of anything I would normally read! This was the pick of the month for my Book Club at work, so I gave it a try, and I have to say – it wasn’t bad!
The story is a fictionalised account of the author’s own love story – she met her husband on her commute to work. The book kind of does what it says on the tin – it’s a lighthearted, fluffy love story, with a bit of life thrown in in the middle. It wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was fun to read!
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Monday’s Not Coming follows Claudia and her best friend Monday, who know each other inside out. Then one day, Monday disappears. Her phone’s disconnected, she’s not showing up for school, and her family are freezing Claudia out. Claudia knows in her heart that Monday isn’t just off school with the flu – something has happened and she won’t rest until she finds out.
This is both a heartwarming and heartbreaking story of friendship, with a twist that lands like a sucker punch to the stomach. And from then on, the blows just keep coming. Some of them left me reeling. I just wasn’t expecting how intense and bleak it would get!
But that’s good, because it means it’s giving important issues a realistic representation that hits home, because it should. This book deals with so many important themes – bullying, racism, abuse, first love and heartbreak, learning difficulties, mental health and much more, all packaged into a coming-of-age tale told by a girl missing the piece that makes her world whole – her best friend.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
I love reading books about contemporary issues, and I’d heard a lot of good stuff about this one. Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be. That’s not to say it didn’t address a wide variety of issues or in places totally hit the nail on the head – it’s just that, for me, I didn’t find myself nodding along and understanding exactly where the author was going and what she was meaning in each chapter. I can definitely see why others do, but to me, some passages read as exactly what it says on the cover – essays! No one really wants to read an essay, right?
Some of them were more what I had in mind – sharp, relatable, true, and sometimes funny, but a lot of them I read without really understanding what the author was getting at. Some places she kind of admitted that she wasn’t sure of her exact point too! It’s not a bad book by any means, but it didn’t quite have the punch of some other feminist contemporaries I’ve read, like Animal by Sara Pascoe, or How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. I don’t know – maybe I just prefer my feminism with a side of humour!
Inspired by Maraia and Sebastian over at Buecher Monster, I thought I’d add a round up of TV and cinema for this month too! Have you been watching any of these too?
I started this series purely out of curiosity, since everyone was talking about it. I went in not knowing about Archie Comics, and having no idea what it was about. But I’m addicted! I’m glad there’s a third season in the works.
We’re only on episode 4 so I can’t say much, but I love a good crime documentary, and this one comes highly recommended! There’s lots of twists and turns and it’s fascinating so far.
This definitely has BBC drama vibes. We binged watched this over the long weekend, and there were so many twists! I can’t say much without giving spoilers, but it follows Tom Delaney as he tries to find his missing teenage daughter. With Michael C. Hall as the lead and Harlan Coben writing the story, you know the real crime here would be not watching! 😉
I can’t believe I’ve been watching this show since I was about 11. Madness! But it’s never let me down! Sure, some seasons are better than others, but I’ve never stopped watching – unlike I did with The Walking Dead, which has bored me rigid for the past two or three seasons!
More like 13 Reasons Why Not! It wasn’t terrible, but I could spot too many issues without even trying too, so it really stopped me enjoying it. I still stick to the fact it should have remained a one-off series – a second season entirely defeats the point that the first one was trying to make. If you’ve watched it or don’t mind an in-depth look with spoilers, check out my blog post on what made season 2 a let down for me.
This show doesn’t get enough love! It’s the love child of Veronica Mars and The Walking Dead (well, back when TWD was decent anyway…). If you like detective dramas, sarcastic humour, supernatural elements, and characters you’ll love, you can’t miss this show.
My boyfriend and I were so excited when this came back on TV! It’s delightfully daft, and follows the Goodman family each week as they try to have their traditional Jewish Friday night dinner. However, each week is inevitably a debacle, and you’ll find yourself laughing and cringing in equal measure!
This is a bit of light watching for a good laugh! The premise of the show is that you go on with another person, whether it’s your best mate or your nan, and you each secretly design a tattoo for the other person which they only see when it’s already on their skin. Cue everything from horrendous tats to marriage proposals!
I am so happy this has been picked up by NBC! Andy Samberg can do no wrong.
This film totally caught me by surprise! I went to see it on a whim with my friend Emily, and had absolutely no idea what it was about. However, I loved it so much I dragged my boyfriend to see it again with me! We all really enjoyed it. It follows a family of 5 in a world where you can’t make a sound or you’ll be killed by strange alien creatures who use their superhuman hearing and speed to hunt. It’s probably the tensest film I’ve ever seen.
What can I say? Marvel have done it again. Once again, they’ve delivered the perfect mixture of action, humour and heartbreak, filling our appetites under the next adventure hits our screens.
Delightfully silly and hilarious! Though, unlike Deadpool 1, there were a few poignant moments in this that give more depth to the character, whilst still keeping the snark and dark humour.