Wednesday 13 June 2018


What I Read in May 2018 – Round-Up & Mini Reviews

May was a whirlwind reading month stretching from 5-star to 2-star (yikes) novels. I've been getting a little bit experimental in books I've picked up and it clearly didn't always work out. Luckily though, there were some excellent books thrown in the mix as well (mostly, coincidentally, from publishers Scholastic) to make this a worthwhile reading month overall. Highlights included atmospheric Gatsby-esque historical fiction A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood, emotional coming-of-age Final Draft by Riley Redgate and post-Brexit political thriller Night of the Party by Tracey Mathias.

A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood (Scholastic)

I devoured this wonderfully lush historical YA novel over the course of two very sunny Bank Holiday days and I couldn't have planned my reading escape more timely. The sizzling Cornwall summer perfectly fitted my own surroundings and it wasn't hard to imagine myself in this glittering world so vividly created by author Laura Wood. The Cornish countryside and Gatsby-esque parties on a private island just beyond sounded absolutely divine and even though this isn't the kind of novel I'd normally pick up, I'm so very glad I did. It was a beautiful read filled with brilliantly atmospheric settings, delightful characters (feisty protagonist Lou was especially great, but I also loved the handsome Robert Cardew and his sweet sister Caitlin), a swoon-worthy romance and just enough drama to keep me on my toes throughout. It's a really wonderful coming-of-age read and one I'd very highly recommend. Out on 5 July 2018. 5 stars. Pre-order here.

Night of the Party by Tracey Mathias (Scholastic)

Night of the Party is an eerily timely young adult novel set in a post-Brexit Britain led by a nationalist party who forces everyone who is not BB (British Born) to return to their country. Protagonist Zara was born in Romania but grew up in the UK and so for her to have to return to a country she doesn't know seems incomprehensible yet it's the heartrending reality. It's either hiding out and fearing that with every step set outside she'll be asked for ID and identified as an illegal and deported, or trying to escape to the safety just beyond British borders. This is a very thought-provoking read and one I hope will serve as a warning for what can happen if we as a collective don't make the necessary steps for change. (Read my full review.) 4 stars. Buy here.

Final Draft by Riley Redgate (Amulet Books)

Wow this was a whirlwind ride and not what I was expecting at all. It started off focusing on a teenage girl trying to improve her creative writing skills but turned into so much more as she tentatively explored the world outside of her social comfort zone to experience things she would've never even considered weeks before. It was also surprisingly emotional with some really unexpected storyline directions that I'm still trying to process (like, woah?!?!). Final Draft is about fandom, coming out, friendships, identity, and so much more in between. There's real character growth and an emotionally engaging story that had me hooked until the final page. 4 stars. Buy here.

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi (Scholastic)

I'm a huge fan of Rick Riordan's inventive novels taking traditional myths and legends and adapting them cleverly to contemporary stories for a MG/YA audience. In the 'Rick Riordan presents' series, other authors take the concept on board with their own traditional stories woven in. Roshani Chokshi is the first one to do so, taking Indian myths and an Indian protagonist on an epic good vs evil journey. Protagonist Aru is feisty, fun and definitely not flawless, making her a relatable 12-year old for today's kids who wouldn't shy away from an otherworldly adventure either. The story is jam-packed with creepy demons and monsters, awe-inspiring weapons, friends and animal sidekicks, and is a great introduction to an entirely new world of stories to tap into. 3.5 stars. Buy here.

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian (Pan Macmillan)

I couldn't get on with the Ash Princess initially. There was a level of emotional disconnect with the titular protagonist who seemed to just endure years of torture and humiliation without questioning her position. And her supposed best friend being the daughter of the man who murdered her mother didn't sit right with me either. However, when a rebellion rises in the kingdom, one the Ash Princess is at the heart of, that's when this novel becomes interesting and gripping. Suddenly there are a wealth of fascinating characters, each with their own intricate backgrounds and motives in the impending war, and these were the people I cared for; Elpis, Blaise, Art, Heron, Soren... It was the side characters that kept me reading when the protagonist's story wasn't compelling enough and so I hope that the sequel will not forgot the power they have over the reader, and give us their exploration and characterisation we deserve. Out on 14 June 2018. 3.5 stars. Pre-order here.

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh (Razorbill)

I've been super into YA fantasies lately, driven by the incredible reading experiences of the likes of Everless by Sara Holland and The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green. And I really wanted to like this one. A world where necromancers raise the dead so the kingdom can continue on without any changes to the rulers or rules sounded so unique and fascinating. And it was. But ye gods it was slow. I also did not care for the main characters, there was very little characterisation and development to them. There was enough intrigue within the story to keep me hooked and wanting to read until the very end, and I'm glad I got some sort of resolution because of this, but I won't be picking up the sequel. 2 stars. Buy here.

Have you read any of the above books? And what did you read in May?
Let me know in the comments below!

🎵 Listening to: Fall Out Boy – Young Volcanoes

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