May 2020 Wrap-Up

Hey, everyone! Welcome to another blog post. Today I’m going to be talking about the books I read in May.

I actually read a fair amount this month compared to how I’ve been doing the rest of the year. I can 100% thank the Fantasy Journey-A-Thon for that. In case you don’t know, the Fantasy Journey-A-Thon is a month-long map-based readathon. You start at one end of the map, and your goal is to get to the other side of the map by choosing a path and completing the challenges for each stop along the map. Every single one of the six books I read this month were read for that readathon, so I suppose you could say that this is not only a May wrap-up, it’s also a readathon wrap-up.

I do admit that towards the end of the month, I struggled more with reading (and being productive in general) than in the beginning. Sometimes the things that are happening in the real world are so awful that it’s impossible to focus on anything else, and this is one of those times. My heart goes out to the protestors who are out there risking their lives to fight for equality, and I am outraged at the deaths, not only of George Floyd, but of Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, David McAtee, and the many, many other Black people whose lives have been stolen by police brutality and racism. Black lives matter.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about or you want to help, I encourage you to follow this link to learn more about ways to do your part in the fight for an end to systemic racism: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/


Okay, so… the books. It feels weird to talk about after those last few paragraphs, but this is supposed to be a wrap-up post, so let’s get started, shall we?

Like I said, I read 6 books this month, all of which were read to complete a challenge for the Fantasy Journeyathon. The starting point on the map was Haroyell, where the challenge was to read the first book in a series.

For that, I read…

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

This is the first book in the Folk of the Air series, which everyone has been raving about ever since it came out. Admittedly, I was a little skeptical going into this book, because I’ve been burned by hyped books before, and admittedly I’m always a little wary going into books by authors I’ve never read from before.

I ended up really enjoying this one, though! The setting was for sure my favorite part. I think the fae politics were really interesting and Jude’s personality and character arc was great to read. I had some issues with the way certain relationships played out and I thought several of the “plot twists” were really obvious from the beginning. But there were a few twists that genuinely surprised me. Overall, this was a great read, and I’m excited to read the next book in the series when I eventually get around to buying it.

After The Cruel Prince, the next stop on my chosen path was Dupressa, where the challenge was to read a book that was less than 250 pages.

I don’t know if I cheated with this one because the book I read was exactly 250 pages, but for this challenge I read…

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess is a classic children’s novel about a little girl named Sara Crewe, a rich daughter of a British soldier based in India. At the beginning of the book, Sara is sent to boarding school, where the whole staff and the other students adore her and she is given everything she could possibly want. Then, when she discovers that her father has died after having lost all of his wealth, Sara is suddenly impoverished. She’s forced to move into the attic and work as an errand girl for the school.

I read this book because I loved the movie when I was a kid, and I was hoping I would also like the book. Now, though, I’m nervous to ever watch the movie again because wow…this book was not a great time.

I had… a lot of issues with this book. First there was the fact that Sara was the most unrealistically perfect human being to ever walk the face of the earth. She arrived at school and was instantly the top of her class. She was rich and was given anything she wanted, but she wasn’t spoiled. In comparison to her, all of the other students (and even a lot of the adults) are described as stupid, ugly, or incompetent in some way. She’s a great public speaker and storyteller, and is fluent in both English and French. She’s creative and imaginative. Everyone loves her except for two people who are very clearly painted as evil. She’s perfectly composed nearly all the time, even when she finds out that her father, the person she loves most in the whole world, has died. I get that it’s supposed to be a lesson about looking at the good side even when things are hard, and how it’s important to be kind and all that. It was just hard for me to connect to that struggle because Sara’s personality was just so… nonexistent.

Plus, the story was just boring, honestly. For being incredibly clever and resourceful and whatever, Sara sure didn’t do much of anything. The plot just happened to her.

I went into this book thinking I’d be able to finish it in a day, maybe two, but it ended up taking four whole days for me to get through it because it was so dull.

After I finally finished that book, though, I moved onto Garon. The challenge here was to read a book from your favorite genre.

I chose…

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

My favorite genre is fantasy, and I really want to get done with this Harry Potter read-through, since I’ve been working on it for over a year at this point. Yes, this is my first time reading the Harry Potter series.

So far, I’ve been enjoying it. As much as I really don’t enjoy all the things the author herself has been doing and saying over the past several years, I think these books, especially the later ones, are solid. The copies I’m reading are my mom’s copies from back when the books were first coming out.

I’m excited to get to the final book in the series, because this one was great.

Still, even though I really am enjoying this series, I’m not loving it in the same way everyone else seems to. Most of the books have only been four stars (and honestly, thinking back, I probably should have rated the earlier ones lower than that), with the exception of Goblet of Fire, which was 5 stars. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve already seen all of the movies so I already pretty much know what the story is or if I would have rated these books this way regardless, but either way, I am glad to finally be getting around to this series and finishing it.

Anyway, after I read that book, I moved to Denasa, whose challenge was to read a book with a blue spine.

For this one, I chose…

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

This is another one that I kind of struggled with, though I ended up liking it more than A Little Princess. This book follows Nannerl Mozart, the older sister of the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was also a musical prodigy, but because of her gender, was not allowed to write music and was overshadowed by her brother. It’s a historical fiction novel with a fair amount of fantastical elements, and for me, it was just fine.

I really liked the sibling bond between Nannerl and Woferl (her brother’s nickname), and I liked the discussions about male privilege. And I loved the way the book talked about music. I was in choir all through middle school and high school, so it really brought back memories of what I loved about music.

On the other hand, the book was very repetitive, and it got tiring. The plot twist was painfully obvious. None of the characters aside from the two siblings felt fleshed out at all. And to top it all off, there was a romantic subplot that included both insta-love and a really lame love triangle, and then didn’t go anywhere, and I was left wondering what the point was of having it there at all.

This book has decent reviews on Goodreads, so don’t take this as me telling you not to read it, because I do think a lot of people would really like this book. It just fell flat for me.

And at this point, I think that maybe I should just cut my losses and say that Marie Lu is just not for me anymore. I desperately loved the Legend trilogy, but pretty much every book she’s come out with since that series ended has been… underwhelming.

After I finished The Kingdom of Back, I used my special ability as a member of the Shadow Walker team to jump to a different path on the map, and I went to Tryllin. The challenge was to read a book with royalty.

For that, I chose…

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

I’m currently in the middle of a reread of the Stormlight Archive in preparation for the fourth book that’s coming out this fall. I’d started reading this book back in April but I never finished it so I decided to add it to my TBR for this readathon. Honestly, I’m pretty impressed with myself for managing to finish this book after reading the other four on this list, because it’s huge. I’d already read about 300 pages before the month started, so I only had 600-700 left (the book’s over a thousand pages long), but I loved the reread just as much as I loved the book the first time around.

I don’t really have that much else to say about it. This is the second book in a huge epic fantasy series, so I can’t really go into much detail about my thoughts without spoiling the first book.

After I read Words of Radiance, I didn’t read for several days for a jumbled combination of reasons that I don’t need to get into here, but the next book I completed was for the last stop on the Fantasy Journey-A-Thon map, Nialas. The challenge was to read a predicted 5 star.

For that, I read…

Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa, translated by Akira Watanabe

If you saw the Fantasy Journey-A-Thon TBR from the beginning of the month, this one probably threw you off. It’s the only book I read this month that wasn’t included on my original TBR for this readathon. I tried to read one of the books I’d included on that, but with everything that was happening, I couldn’t focus on a regular novel, and I was running short on time. So on the last day of the month, I decided, on a whim, to download the first volume of this manga and blow through it because I was determined to not fail another readathon (my track record for finishing all the challenges in a readathon is not great). I’ve been meaning to get into manga for a while and everyone says this one is great, so I figured why not? I didn’t pick it as a throwaway choice, though, because I really do want to read this manga (and watch the anime) and I really thought I would like it.

I have no idea when I’ll get to the next volume, but I enjoyed this one a lot and I’m excited to get to the next one someday.


Those are all the books I read this month! Thanks for hanging out with me!

Have you read any of the books I read this month? What did you think of them? Let me know down in the comments! And don’t forget to scroll back up to the top of this post and follow that link to support the black lives matter movement.

See you later!

-Ariel

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