I didn’t really blog in May, but hopefully I’ll be able to get back into it soon! I read a little less this month than in the previous months, as I’ve been working more than usual. I ended up reading 37 books in total.
I didn’t share a May TBR but I spent May mostly (though not exlusively) reading books by Asian authors for Asian Heritage Month. My favourite reads of the month were Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall, Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee, and Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi.
In this post, I’ll share my Goodreads reviews of my 4 and 5 star reads of the month. Want to keep track of my reading in more detail? Feel free to add me on Goodreads!
Lyssa Kay Adams – Isn’t It Bromantic?
I keep being positively surprised by how good this series is, and especially by how much I love the characters. This book was off to a fairly rocky start for me, I even considered DNF-ing. But I’m so glad I stuck with it, because it truly stole my heart after the first few chapters.
I just loved these characters so much, and I loved the way the trope of taking care of someone who’s injured combined with what’s kind of a second chance romance.
I will say I feel like there was a bit of a tonal dissonance with Elena’s backstory, which read almost more like a thriller in parts, and I could have done without the added suspense.
Lyla Lee – The Mindy Kim Collection Books 1-4
I don’t read chapter books a lot, but I couldn’t resist this series as it looks so incredibly cute. These books were completely adorable.
Alisha Rai – Girl Gone Viral
I ended up liking this even more than the first book, especially because I really connected with these characters
Roselle Lim – Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop
This was a slow read for me, both because the book moves quite slowly and because I wanted to savour it. I absolutely loved the magical, atmospheric writing, which made me feel transported to Paris. The descriptions of the food and the setting were my favourite part of this book!
Julie Kagawa – Night of the Dragon
I enjoyed this trilogy so much! Super engaging and action-packed, with amazing characters
Alexis Hall – Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake
I don’t really know how to review this book without including spoilers, so look away now if you don’t want to know more!
When I started this book, I did immediately click with the main character, the setting, the humour… But we were introduced to a love interest whom I really didn’t like from the start. He was bland and boring and a pretentious asshole, and I was really apprehensive to see where the book was going to lead.
I needn’t have worried though, because enter Harry. I could write a fucking essay on how much I love Harry and why. Not just because he’s such a cinnamon roll, but also because here we have the kind of person who normally isn’t seen as the romance hero. Because he’s working class and people tend to really look down on him. I absolutely loved seeing the way this was handled.
Because Rosaline spends quite a large part of the book involved with Alain the snobbish dickhead, she and Harry spend most of the book building a genuine friendship. And I loved this, because often in romance novels, I get the shady feeling that the love interest is only respectful towards the main character because he’s attracted to her and wants to get in her pants. I often wonder how these men will treat someone who’s unavailable to them romantically and sexually and if they’d still treat that person the same. And this is where we learn that Harry is just a genuinely good person. He accepts that Rosaline is in a relationship and builds a genuine friendship with her without expecting more, he’s genuinely there for her when she needs him, and most importantly: he’s very teachable. Whenever he says something Rosaline isn’t comfortable with, he’s open to correction and actually listens. I just loved him a lot, okay??
And aside from Harry, Rosaline herself is also a fairly “unconventional” main character in a romance. She’s a single mum who had her daughter at 19 years old, and she dropped out of uni. She goes through so much growth throughout the book in terms of choosing the life she wants and not the one her parents want for her, and at the end I was honestly proud of her for how far she’d come.
Rosaline is also bisexual and the book really delves into the casual and more violent biphobia she encounters. Whenever someone says books with an m/f relationship aren’t valid queer books, I just want to point them in the direction of books like this, because this book is very much queer because Rosaline is.
If you read this far, thanks for sticking with me while I ramble. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more coherent but I just have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this book.
Stacey Lee – Luck of the Titanic
I knew this would be devastating and yet I was still shocked at how devastating this was. I spent the last 20% just… crying.
Stacey Lee retells a well-known tragedy through the perspective of the people who have usually been ignored when talking about it: the Chinese passengers. What begins as an adventurous story of a girl doing whatever she can to get reunited with her brother, ends up having a huge emotional impact in multiple ways. This is definitely a book that will stay with me for a long time.
I’ve been wanting to read Stacey Lee’s books for a long time, but somehow I never got around to it. I’m glad this was my first one, because it was so good. I’ll definitely pick up the author’s backlist as well!
Gail D. Villanueva – Sugar and Spite
I love how messy kid main characters are allowed to be, this was really great! Perfect for fans of Love Sugar Magic!!
Jayci Lee – A Sweet Mess
Give me a romance with a good setting and lots of baking, and I’ll devour it!
Rin Chupeco – The Never Tilting World
I’m so glad I finally read a Rin Chupeco book!!
Joan He – The Ones We’re Meant to Find
Everyone told me this book was weird, and yet I was still surprised at how weird it was. This is by no means a criticism though, because it was also VERY good. Without wanting to spoil the book for anyone, I absolutely adore main characters like Cee.
If you like sci-fi dystopians but make them melancholical, this is the perfect book for you. I know I’ll be rereading this!
Akemi Dawn Bowman – Starfish
This was devastating, but so beautiful. It left me with a very heavy feeling, while feeling hopeful at the same time.
Kiko has dealt with child sexual abuse, she’s being emotionally abused by her mother, she struggles with not feeling good enough because she’s biracial and experiences a lot of racism, and she also has social anxiety. Even just one of these things would be hard to deal with, and frankly, I felt like crying the entire time while reading this. None of these things (except for the anxiety) are things I’ve personally dealt with but it’s impossible not to empathize with Kiko. This was a truly beautiful story.
It would have actually been a 5 star read, except for two issues I had. Since the book left me feeling emotionally exposed, I think they hit me harder than they normally would have, but I think it’s still important to highlight them.
Firstly, one of Kiko’s friends implies her abusive mum must be mentally ill. This then sort of subtly sticks in the back of Kiko’s head throughout the rest of the story. This is ableist, because it villainizes mentally ill people. People don’t have to be mentally ill to be abusive, and mentally ill people aren’t automatically abusive. Kiko’s mum is abusive because she’s a horrible person, it’s not something that’s necessarily caused by a mental illness.
The second issue is unchallenged fatphobia when Kiko’s mum implies she’s gained weight. Kiko then gets very scared she’s fat, as if that’s the worst thing in the world, and I would have liked to see that challenged. Of course it was an awful thing for her mum to say as it’s not okay to comment on people’s weight, but I would have liked to see the aftermath handled better.
CWs: child sexual abuse, emotional abuse from a parent
Sarah Suk – Made in Korea
Exactly what I want out of a YA romance, I had so much fun with this! I especially loved seeing them make actual mistakes as I feel like YA protagonists sometimes “have” to be a little too perfect for their age (or for human beings, tbh).
Mary H.K. Choi – Yolk
Third time was very much the charm for me with Mary H.K. Choi’s books. This was AMAZING.
CWs: cancer, eating disorder
What was your favourite read this month?