I guess it's that time again when I panic because I totally forgot to post a reading update so now I have to sprint through all the books I've read in two months to tell you what's hot and what's not. 

The Universe must really love me right now.

I will save the trouble of going month to month though and will only say that I've read a good stack of books in two months, probably a little bit more than I had last year (but we don't talk about that) so grab a cuppa, a snack, put a podcast on, whatever, we're gonna be here a good while. 

The rants

I haven't read that many bad books this year, not even throughout April and May, although some still had to make the cut into the rants. I feel like, the more books I read, the more strict I am with what I like and how many stars they truly deserve. This is the case for Daisy Miller by Henry James which makes a return into my tbr with another one of his novellas. The first one I read, The Turn of the Screw was so boring and uneventful that I really doubted I could come back to his writing. But I love pain, apparently and so I read Daisy Miller and yep, hated it to bits. 

It's not that it's bad, it's more the writing that makes it a bit dragging and makes you want to be finished with the book as fast as possible. It's the story of this girl, Daisy as she's on vacation with her family from America and meets this man, Winterbourne who starts courting her. Only, she's young and beautiful and likes to have fun, going to parties and flirting with men. It's about how society used to see women as these chaste creatures with no desires of their own and then go and criticize them once they have it their own way. It could have been a great book if it weren't for James' boring writing.

I've also read a little book of short stories about haunted houses, it's an Italian edition and I don't even know if you can get it anywhere anymore. I got it in a bookish box a while ago, a perfectly used copy with yellowed pages and a vintage cover. I wanted to like it, really, because I love gothic literature, I love houses in general and if they have some bad, unexplained things going on inside, even better. This one was a no for me, I think it's because the stories were very old school so predictable and already done.

Ctrl Alt Delete by Emma Gannon was a surprising no for me. I've read her blog for years and I was very excited to see how her writing would look in book form but I'm sad to say that the whole book could have been a lot shorter and basically translated into a single Instagram post. It's all about growing up alongside the Internet, the trolls and the horny men we used to find on the first websites we were secretly allowed to click into. It's basically every millennial story, nothing new, nothing fun, relatable, yes but to the point where it feels like revisiting the past you've already lived through so it's a bit boring and not fun at all.

The only part I was intrigued by is when she starts writing about finding a job on the Internet, and how she started out her online career, but that only happens from basically halfway through the book and by then you probably have already dnf'ed it. I wish the whole book was about how she got started on her career because that's what really fascinates me but sadly, it didn't deliver.

Asleep is probably my favourite book by Banana Yoshimoto. I've read a few of them and this one just really surprised me. It's a collection of three short stories all about sleep in very different ways: we find the girl who is having an affair with a married man whose wife is in a coma; then another girl who is trying to come to terms with the fact that her brother died and then another girl whose job is to sleep with strangers but is never able to sleep in her own bed. They are linked by the same fil-rouge and Yoshimoto always delivers these heartbreaking stories which are always full of sadness, longing, loneliness and sometimes a bit serendipitous, so why am I ranting about it? Because I never fully love these stories, maybe it's the culture shock factor or the translation which is never able to give you that original feeling, I don't know, but I do highly recommend checking Yoshimoto's writing tho!

Mr. Salary by Sally Rooney, can we talk about it? I get it, it's a short story so it's normal that it just doesn't really have a point but it's bloody Rooney we're talking about! Obviously, I did enjoy it, the writing was great, some quotes were striking, and her obsession with writing about faulty people, broken families, and damaged lives is still there, very palpable and yet, I didn't enjoy it. It's probably because when it comes to Sally Rooney I always want more and she didn't give me that and I think it's a very smart marketing move because I just bought myself a copy of her newest book just to have more of her writing. I wish I was joking.

The Raves

I've read so many great books so far this year, I'm quite shocked! The first book that really surprised me in April was The Girl in Red by Christina Henry. If I read it during the pandemic I would have hated it but now I quite liked it. It's about Red, a girl who has just lost her family to a terrible disease (sounds familiar?) and is now running through the woods to get to her grandma's house. In the woods, the wolves await: men with desire, desperate people ready to do whatever it takes to survive. Obviously is sort of a Red Riding Hood retelling but more modern and apocalyptic, it feels weird that I liked it quite that much.

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey was a good surprise too. It was our April Book Club's pick and I'm shocked at how only a few people seem to talk about it. It was so good! It's different from your usual dark academia book as it follows an older woman but it takes place in a magical school where her twin sister works as a teacher and a murder has just happened and she, as a private investigator, has to find out the truth. First of all, it's queer which is always a plus and second, it's so mysterious and well done that I actually haven't guessed who's done it until the very end when all the pieces come together for a very explosive (quite literally!) finale!

Then I did what I tell myself never to do, which is watch or read what everyone else is reading so I obviously fell into the Heartstopper rabbit hole. Do I regret it? Nope! It was wonderful! I knew they were making a series on Netflix but the bookworm in me forced me to read Volume 1 and Volume 2 first before watching the show and my god, what a cute, wholesome adventure it was! It's my first approach to graphic novels as well so I was a bit scared but in the end, it was so fun!

A lot of people told me to read it without even thinking about the fact that I'm almost 30 and these kids are 16 because I would have loved it just as well. I think I loved it even more because I watched it with that burning wish to go back to a time when things were so simple but so hard at the same time and I wish my friends had these books, this show growing up and I wish I had it so that I could have been a better ally. Absolutely amazing! Highly recommend!

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich was quite an intriguing one. It starts off with a woman who is pushed by the love for her friends to sort of steal a dead body without knowing that the corpse carried drugs. Now, that's quite a start, isn't it? The book continues with our main character, Tookie, as she is free from jail and tries to start a new life with her new husband and her new, perfect job at a bookstore. I loved the random, mundane chats between the girls who work at the store, the packing and unpacking of books, the recommendations they give to their customers, I loved it all. Then the book takes a turn when they find out there's a ghost haunting the bookstore, Flora, quite an annoying customer who has decided to stay.

Now, Flora has a very deep, unsettling past which is discovered as we get to the end, but the book also touches on other topics like police brutality, George Floyd, and the pandemic, all interesting discussions but it felt like the author wanted to throw all those elements in there without intention and it felt a bit forced and fake. Overall, a nice book, very pretty writing and yeah, it made me tear up a little in the end.

Then I ventured, yet again, into another new territory: middle grade. They are so fun! And how is it that I don't read enough of them? I should make it a rule to read a middle grade every single month to lighten the mood! I've read Gideon Green in Black and White by Katie Henry and it was the most fun I've had reading a book these past two months! I got an ARC of the book and I wasn't sure at first to be honest but then I started reading a page and then another and I was immediately hooked! 

It follows Gideon, a teen with a passion for investigations (I'm starting to sense a pattern forming here) and who's been in a lot of trouble for it at his school so he sort of quits it to stay inside his room to watch old noir films. Until one day his former best friend, Lily, knocks on his door and asks him to help her solve a mystery. BAM! The adventure starts right there and then, with cliffhangers, fun comebacks, romantic dates and the cutest main character I've ever read about! This was a true surprise!

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn was somewhat of a let-down but still, a fun read! I teamed up with Bettina from booksfor.mee and we buddy-read it and came to the conclusion that the show is a lot better because it shows you the characters and the families from a wider angle, we have the friendship between Eloise and Pen and then all the other dynamics between different characters that in the book don't even appear. The author focuses more on Daphne and Simon which I don't mind but at one point it's a little bit boring and repetitive but still, it was so much fun and I think it's also because Bettina and I read it together, exchanging opinions and swooning over the Duke of Hastings. (We are also buddy-reading the other books so stay tuned for that if you want to tag along for the ride!)

And then last, but not certainly least, I read Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney. Just so you know, I'm on the journey of reading (or re-reading) all of her books so you can expect a whole post about my favourites and what I actually think of them. But yes, I was basically forced to read CWF because the show was about to come out and I wanted to read the book first and WOW. Just wow. I've read the whole thing in one sitting, I even pulled an all-nighter to finish it and honestly? It was better than I had anticipated. 

If you're new to Rooney's work, she writes about dysfunctional families, great but also toxic friendships, and damaged people, all done with that relatability factor that always punches you in the feels because she writes about real things that we've all experienced in a way or another and it gets so personal and deep, you start feeling like she might have followed you for a while and then wrote about you for how much her books portray a real-life we could all be a part of. Absolutely amazing.

I know, this was a lot and believe me, it was a lot for me too, especially because I haven't really posted anything on the blog for a while so my writing muscles were a bit rusty. But we've reached the end and now I'm curious to know which books have you read, which ones earned the position into your favourite books? Any disappointing ones? I wanna know!