May Reads and Reviews

May was another great month for reading! Since much of my time was spent moving, I enjoyed relaxing at the end of the day with a good book. This month was a huge mix of genres and ratings- I gave my first one star review but also read one of my favorite books (definitely my favorite so far this year). Here's what I read-


Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Note- this won Goodread's Best Fiction of 2021

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young—but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?



I think that I disliked this book just because of the style and I'm just assuming that Sally Rooney isn't for me. She did a great job of describing people and tiny intricacies of normal life, but this was so tough for me to get through! I would describe it as a completely unremarkable book and I don't really understand why it won best fiction book of last year. Just wasn't for me I guess!

My Rating - 1/5

A Lot Like Adios by Alexis Daria

After burning out in her corporate marketing career, Michelle Amato has built a thriving freelance business as a graphic designer. So what if her love life is nonexistent? She’s perfectly fine being the black sheep of her marriage-obsessed Puerto Rican-Italian family. Besides, the only guy who ever made her want happily-ever-after disappeared thirteen years ago.

Gabriel Aguilar left the Bronx at eighteen to escape his parents’ demanding expectations, but it also meant saying goodbye to Michelle, his best friend and longtime crush. Now, he’s the successful co-owner of LA’s hottest celebrity gym, with an investor who insists on opening a New York City location. It’s the last place Gabe wants to go, but when Michelle is unexpectedly brought on board to spearhead the new marketing campaign, everything Gabe’s been running from catches up with him.

Michelle is torn between holding Gabe at arm’s length or picking up right where they left off—in her bed. As they work on the campaign, old feelings resurface, and their reunion takes a sexy turn. Facing mounting pressure from their families—who think they’re dating—and growing uncertainty about their futures, can they resolve their past mistakes, or is it only a matter of time before Gabe says adiós again? 



Loved this follow up on "You Had Me at Hola". Same spunky, fun characters and great chemistry between the two. I also liked how Ava and Jasmine were in it a bit as a great support for Michelle- who wouldn't want some primas like that!? It was a little predictable and felt like the same thing over and over again after a while but was still a quick and easy read. Skimmed over a lot of the fan-fic stuff but liked the backstory of their relationship together!

My Rating - 3/5

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

Ray McMillian loves playing the violin more than anything, and nothing will stop him from pursuing his dream of becoming a professional musician. Not his mother, who thinks he should get a real job, not the fact that he can't afford a high-caliber violin, not the racism inherent in the classical music world. And when he makes the startling discovery that his great-grandfather's fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius, his star begins to rise. Then with the international Tchaikovsky Competition—the Olympics of classical music—fast approaching, his prized family heirloom is stolen. Ray is determined to get it back. But now his family and the descendants of the man who once enslaved Ray's great-grandfather are each claiming that the violin belongs to them. With the odds stacked against him and the pressure mounting, will Ray ever see his beloved violin again?


As soon as I saw the premise of this book, I immediately put it on my to-read list. I used to play violin and love any story that follows a musician, so I knew I had to pick this up and it did not disappoint. This is such an amazing and unique book! Not only was it a mystery / thriller, but also dealt with racism and slavery in a fresh way (through the classical music world). It was such a fast read and I was such a treat to listen to the music as Ray was talking through different pieces. 

My Rating - 5/5

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett's death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a traditional Caribbean black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child, challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage, and themselves.

Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor's true history, and fulfill her final request to "share the black cake when the time is right"? Will their mother's revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?


Not sure how I feel about this. I went in with really high expectations and it just felt very slow to me. So many different stories and cross crossing timelines- I had a hard time keeping everything straight! It was an interesting story like but just felt like too much, while also not having enough of a "big" story line to keep it going.

My Rating - 3/5

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.


I didn’t understand this book, it seemed to drag on forever, and was so anticlimactic. The descriptions of the circus were really in depth and interesting but took over the majority of the book. I was left feeling confused and really let down! I do think this would make for an incredible movie though with all of the cool effects that could happen.

My Rating - 2/5


Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

Brooklynite Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer, who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning literary author who, to everyone's surprise, shows up in New York.

When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their past buried traumas, but the eyebrows of New York's Black literati. What no one knows is that twenty years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. They may be pretending that everything is fine now, but they can't deny their chemistry - or the fact that they've been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since.

Over the next seven days in the middle of a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect, but Eva's not sure how she can trust the man who broke her heart, and she needs to get him out of New York so that her life can return to normal. But before Shane disappears again, there are a few questions she needs answered...


Loved the writing and the characters! They felt so real and the dialogue was hilarious. Some of the scenarios felt a little unbelievable for me- especially how quickly Eva and Shane bonded when they were younger. Plus wrapped up a little to abruptly for me. But very quick and easy read with just enough steam!

My Rating - 4/5


Audiobook

Book Lovers by Emily Henry - loved this!! It was such a cute story and all of the characters were unique and entertaining. The audiobook was also a great experience even though I always wish there were multiple readers for the different parts (especially for the male parts if it's a female reader). Otherwise I would highly recommend this for a fun and easy summer read.

Comments

  1. It's so interesting how different books just hit different people. I adored Night Circus and the ending made me so happy! But Seven Days in June was a pretty good book that completely fell apart for me in the last 10% or so. I just can't even with SDIJ anymore - I get angry when I think about it!

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    1. I really wanted to love Night Circus because everyone seems to think it's the best book ever! It definitely transported me but the actual story line didn't work for me unfortunately. But that's why I love books and talking about them- so interesting to see what other people think of the same book!

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    2. I loved The Night Circus when I read it. Also liked Black Cake but felt like it bogged itself down with just a tad too many characters that got their own POV chapters.

      Sally Rooney is not for me.

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    3. LOL Sally is definitely polarizing!! And I completely agree with you on Black Cake.

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  2. So many rave reviews for Book Lovers. I think I might have to read it.

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  3. I am so excited to read the Violin Conspiracy, and really want to read Black Cake too. I had it from the library a few months ago, but never got to it in time & need to readd it to my holds list. I haven't read Sally Rooney, but kind of want to see since it seems like people either love her writing or it's not for them.

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    1. You should definitely try at least one of her books! I think they're all similar so hopefully you enjoy.

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  4. I have Book Lovers. Definitely one I plan to read this summer.

    Lauren @ www.shootingstarsmag.net

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  5. Black Cake is my favorite of the year so far. The Violin Conspiracy is also on my Want to Read list. Seven Days in June was also great! I believe there is a related story in the works about Eva's mother and grandmother.

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    1. Black Cake is so many people's favorites and I just don't get it!! Everyone in my book club hated it too and I was just so disappointed :(

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