Hi everyone! I’m back again with another monthly wrap-up. I love writing these posts, they make me feel so accomplished and motivated to keep on reading and blogging. Today I bring you my May monthly wrap-up. Oh boy, was this a month! I read a total of eight books and I’m really happy about it!!!
Let me proudly show you what I read in May, as well as what I wrote here on the blog this month…
I’m very proud to say that I completed two challenges I set for myself:
- Complete Book Bum’s Book Club challenge of the month: This month it was “Around the world: read a book set in a different country.” I’m over the moon happy to say that I read a total of 4 books that are not set in America or England. For clarification, I don’t live in any one of these, but most of the books I read are set here.
- Complete the #AsianLitBingo Challenge: I did it guys!!! I read 5 books written by Asian/Asian-American authors!!! I’m so proud of myself for sticking to my TBR.
1. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
“Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart. “
I listened to the audiobook version of this at the beginning of the month. I was dumb and forgot to review this on Goodreads, so I don’t completely remember my thoughts and feelings about it. However, I know that went into it with high expectations for this book, but ended up being a little disappointed. This book made me sad, really sad! The story, the characters and the voice of the narrator were so sad, it felt too real and put me in the dumps a little.
2. Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
“For Penny Lee, high school was a total non-event. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.
Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director, but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.
When Sam and Penny cross paths, it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness.”
I wrote a full review on here that I’m actually proud of! You can check it out here! But here’s an abridged version: I hate Penny and this reads not like a YA contemporary, but as a New Adult novel.
I felt like the author could have done so much with this ensemble of characters and the entire concept of texting — but nope… I was left yearning for more to come my way.
3. The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
It’s Bombay in 1921. Perveen Mistry is the daughter of a well-respected Zoroastrian lawyer and has just started working at his law firm. She’s the first female lawyer in Bombay, and one of the first in all of India. With an Oxford education in law and a passion for women’s rights, Perveen is eager to start her career.
Perveen can’t show up in court, so she handles contracts and wills. One day, Mr. Omar Farid’s, a wealthy Muslim mill owner, will is handed to her to analyze. However, the more Perveen studies the documents, the more she realizes something isn’t right. The wishes of the widows don’t seem to make sense to Perveen. They’re all giving away their inheritance to a charity, leaving them and their children nothing.
Perveen travels to meet the Farid widows, where the women live in seclusion. She notices that there seem to be more secrets and silent battles between these walls than anywhere else in Bombay. When a body shows up in one of the rooms of the house, suspicion and intrigue spread around the house — and it’s Perveen’s job to get to the bottom of the mystery.
I absolutely LOVED this book. It’s only the first in an upcoming series, so you can bet I’ll be waiting for the next one!!! I wrote a full review here — it’s non-spoilery and everything!
This book blew me away. It had everything: a rich setting, a badass female protagonist, a cool and mysterious plot, and so much cultural information! I learned more than what I was expecting about Indian society (or shall I say, Bombay society). If you like crime novels, pick this up!
4. Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi
“Scott Ferdowsi has a track record of quitting. Writing the Great American Novel? Three chapters. His summer internship? One week. His best friends know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but Scott can hardly commit to a breakfast cereal, let alone a passion.
With college applications looming, Scott’s parents pressure him to get serious and settle on a career path like engineering or medicine. Desperate for help, he sneaks off to Washington, DC, to seek guidance from a famous professor who specializes in grit, the psychology of success.”
Again, this was a very meehhhh book for me. I was expecting so much more! I heard about it in the beginning of the year, and it had been on the back of my mind since then. However, when I picked it up, I just couldn’t get attached to any of the characters…
I wrote a full book review about this one. You can read it here — it would mean the world to me!
5. Jamilia by Chingiz Aitmatov
The narrator is an artist, Seit, who goes back decades to his childhood to tell this story. It centers around the character of Jamila (also spelled Jamilia or Djamila), his sister-in-law. This woman stays behind in their small Kyrgyzstani town when her husband goes to war during WWII.
Seit becomes increasingly fascinated by Jamila. He gets to know her more and they manage to talk during the errands they must run to help the war efforts. Left behind and with little to no loving words from her husband, Jamila changes. Until one day, she becomes interested in the town’s “crippled” and everything changes.
This is my best friend’s favorite book, so I had to pick it up. I’m happy to say that I really liked this one, even though it’s not usually what I reach for. I really liked how Jamilia was portrayed and the narrator’s voice.
I have a full review up on my blog. You can read more about my feelings and thoughts about this one here!
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
“The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream–a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength. Tackling universal themes such as the friendship of a shared vision, and giving voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed, Of Mice and Men has proved one of Steinbeck’s most popular works, achieving success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.”
This obviously wasn’t part of the #AsianLitBingo challenge. I had to read this novella for a class in university (which I hate, but I’ll talk about that in a later post!). This book took me completely by surprise. I love Steinbeck’s writing, but I wasn’t expecting to connect with the characters and their plight as much as I did. I found myself really attached to them, and that ending (no spoilers) killed me!
I love how there is so much foreshadowing in the book. We, readers, pretty much know exactly what’s going to happen from page one, but we still have to go through the 100-and-something pages hoping for the best. The dialogue is incredible and really brings the characters to life. Lennie and George are outstanding characters, too. I just loved everything about it. I even read it in three sittings!
7. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
“When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian Jet Set; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.”
This was the last book I picked up for the challenge, and it was the one I was anticipating the most too. I’m very happy to say that all my expectations were met — and then some! This was seriously one of the most addicting books I’ve ever read. I couldn’t put it down, there were just too many things happening at once. I loved the drama, the family dynamics, the characters, and the whole setting in general. I kind of love gossip, even though I will not admit it.
I would definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a book to read after you’ve come home from work. Any time I was stressed, the characters’ lives made me forget everything. You can read my full thoughts in this post!
8. Daisy Miller by Henry James
Frederick Winterbourne is a young American man living in Genova, Switzerland, in the second half of the nineteenth century. During a trip to Vevay, Switzerland, to visit his sick aunt, Winterbourne meets Daisy Miller.
Daisy is a young American woman traveling with her family in Europe. She has a mother and a brother with her, but they don’t stop her from living life how she wants to live it — and not by society’s standards. Daisy completely rejects the role a young woman is supposed to play in nineteenth-century Europe.
As Winterbourne becomes more and more fascinated by Daisy, we see her character be defined in front of us. Who is she? Is she merely a child? An inconsequential flirt who doesn’t know better? A woman who sleeps around? A young girl trying to live her life?
This was another assigned reading for university. To be completely honest, I went into it already expecting to hate it as much as I hate that class’s teacher. But things didn’t exactly happen as I was expecting them to.
I think this novella is pretty meh. I don’t have a lot of experience reading 19th-century Anglophone literature, so I don’t have much to base myself off. As I read it, I went off of intuition and what I have always pictured 19th-century European society to be like. I didn’t think this was that innovative.
My biggest problem with this book is that we can only see who Daisy is through the eyes of someone else. And through those of a man who is infatuated, nonetheless. I think this reduced Daisy to a “pretty flirt” because that’s what Winterbourne wanted to see. When compared to Jamilia, this isn’t even close to being as good. Whereas Jamilia has depth and we get to know that character better, this is just disappointing.
It wasn’t a bad novel, but it wasn’t anything over the top either…
I’m secretly a math nerd, so here are some stats I came up with for this month:
- Total number of pages read: 2076 ⇒ I can’t believe I read over 2000 pages this month. I definitely feel like I read a lot more than I did in previous months. I’m super motivated to keep this rate going (and even increase it!!!) during the summer.
- Average number of pages per book: 260
- Average rating given to books: 3.62 ⇒ not too bad, within my average…
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve managed to complete all five books I set out to read. You can read the TBR I set for myself in this post. To recap, here are the challenges I accepted and the books I read to complete them:
- East Asian Main Character — Emergency Contact by Mary H.K.
- Korean main character
- West Asian Main Character — Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi
- Persian-American/Iranian-American main character
- Contemporary Set in Asia — Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
- Set in Singapore, Hong Kong, and more
- Central Asian Main Character — Jamilia by Chingiz Aitmatov
- Kyrgyzstani main character
- South Asian Main Character — The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
- Indian main character
P.S.: I have reviews up for all five books. Scroll down to be linked to them.
This month I think I also did pretty well in terms of blogging! I actually set up a spread on my bullet point journal with my blogging calendar. I scheduled a ton of posts and overall respected the schedule I set for myself. This is first for me! I’m definitely feeling more motivated to keep blogging now.
Here is a list of the posts I wrote:
- April Wrap-Up (books and spring rant!)
- the one where she writes about the books she read the previous month and bitches about the weather — which still hasn’t gotten that much better…
- The “Asian Lit Bingo Challenge” TBR
- the one where she sets out to read 5 books authored by Asian/Asian-American authors and is very excited about the books she chose…
- 💻 Posts I Loved in April 💻
- the one where she spreads her love for other bloggers and the community as a whole…
- On Reading in Public
- the one where she declares her love of reading in public, and also some minor inconveniences for balance’s sake…
- The Meme Book Tag
- the one where her eagerness to look at memes and her love for books overlap — you could even say it’s the most ambitious crossover of all time 😉
- Emergency Contact (book review)
- the one where she reviews Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi — spoiler alert, she didn’t really like it…
- Emotions in Colors Book Tag
- the one where she channels her desire in having synesthesia (weirdo…) and applies that to books…
- The Widows of Malabar Hill (book review)
- the one where badass female characters, an interesting and intriguing murder mystery, and India in the 1920s collide…
- Things I Love (and hate!) About Being a Bookworm
- the one where she admits that she loves being a bookworm, even if it sometimes seems to come with downsides…
- Down and Across (book review)
- the one where she writes about her feelings after having read this young-adult contemporary — which she didn’t really like…
- The 20 Questions Book Tag
- the one where she answers 20 questions (briefly!) about her favorite and least favorite books, her habits, and her current TBR…
- Jamilia (mini book review)
- the one where she very briefly sums up her thoughts on this Kyrgyzstani novel — spoiler alert: it was awesome…
- Crazy Rich Asians (book review)
- the one where she gushes over how entertaining this book about the Chinese Jet-Set is.
On another note, I also posted my blog’s fiftieth blog post this month! I was dumbfounded when I got the notification — I just couldn’t believe I’d hit this mark…
How was your May? Did you get a lot of reading done? What were your favorite books? I can’t wait to read what you guys have to say! 🤗