Reading Wrap-up: May, 2019

I read fourteen books this month and two short stories, which is amazing, especially considering all the craziness of this month. At the beginning of the month, I moved from Minnesota to Ohio. Now, near the end of the month as I was finally settling in, a massive flood of tornadoes hit Ohio (thirteen in the Dayton area, according to the news). Just a couple miles from my house was hit, and our water sn contaminated (meaning we have to boil water to drink it). Just Google Celina, OH (just north of where I am) and entire neighborhoods were wiped out. All my prayers go out to anyone effected by these storms.

So yes, my month has been rather eventful, but for some reason I’ve found myself getting into reading even more, perhaps a coping mechanism for all the stress. But let’s get into this wrap-up by looking at a few of my resolutions.

Reading Resolutions

(my original post of my resolutions)

  1. Read 1 Indie book a month: I did do this. In fact, I read two Indie books this month, catching up since I didn’t read one last month.
  2. Read 2 short stories: I did do this.
  3. Read more challenging books: I did some of this, but not as much as I wanted (I feel like I say this every month…perhaps my standards are too high)
  4. Reread some books: I didn’t do this, but I am currently rereading one, but I didn’t finish it by the end of the month. However, as all my books are now unpacked, I can dive into them headfirst this upcoming month!

Reading Challenges

(my original post on my challenges)

  1. The Year of Asian Reading Challenge: I read a total of 31 of my 51+ books. I read four books this month by Asian authors. I was hoping to read five, but I have only twenty books left in this challenge and more than half the year is left, so I’m feeling good about it.
  2. Back to the Classics Challenge: I read a total of 9 of 13 books, as I read two books for this challenge last month. This means I have only four more books in this challenge to read this year.
  3. Pages Read 2019: I read a total of 4,643 pages this month (I need to read about 4,000 a month), which brings my total to 21,764 out of 48,000 words. Not too bad, though I’m definitely reading a lot more than usual.

Now, let’s get into the mini-reviews! The great news is I didn’t give any book a rating under three stars, which is amazing!

3 Stars

  • Starboard Secrets (Cruise Ship Mysteries #1) by Hope Callaghan (released 2015) (Indie)
    • There are a lot of things to like about this mystery. Millie is adorable, and so is Annette. The mystery is intriguing, and it reminded me a lot of Murder, She Wrote (as the story kept reminding us). However, this book has a lot of weaknesses. It’s a pretty short book, and yet there are an incomprehensible amount of characters. Having a massive cast of characters is difficult to keep track of in a five-hundred-page book, but completely impossible in a two-hundred-page one. Also, when the murderer is revealed in the end, my first question was, “Who?” That is never a good sign when I couldn’t even remember who the murderer was. It’s a fun book, don’t get me wrong, but it had a lot of weaknesses.
  • Main Street by Sinclair Lewis (released 1920)
  • The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo (released Feb. 2019)
  • Steam by William Ripper (released 1889)
    • If you like math and chemistry, and learning the science behind the steam engine of the Victorian era, this is the book for you. It is a collection of lectures given by William Ripper to students and scientists alike, originally published in 1889. Since I don’t like math or chemistry, this was extremely boring to read. However, it does explain how the steam engine works and discusses Victorian understanding of steam, heat, power, and metalwork.
  • Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of An Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah (released 1999)
    • This is such an interesting book to read, filled with common Chinese practices of the 1940s. Saying that, it is definitely a book written for children or younger readers so none of the topics are explored very thoroughly. It feels very young, alienating me (an adult) as a reader. If I was twelve or so, I’m sure I would have liked this book better. As it is, it was both informative and childlike. Plus, the ending, after all the horrors the author endured, is rather hopeful!
  • “Celephais” by H.P. Lovecraft (released 1922) (short story)
    • It’s interesting how Lovecraft ties his worlds together. This tells of a dreamlike world, also featured in his other short stories. I will say, this story seems extremely similar to his other short horrors. In that way, it wasn’t that interesting to me, though the descriptions are beautiful, as always.
  • The Edge of the Empire: A Journey to Britannia: From the Heart of Rome to Hadrian’s Wall by Bronwen Riley (released 2014)
    • The level of detail described in this book is incredible, but the dry writing style does make it a slog to get through. I loved the idea of taking a “journey” from Rome to Hadrian’s Wall, examining each place someone traveling would pass, getting some of the history and layout of different places. Unfortunately, the book does go off on constant rants on one small topic, taking away from the storytelling itself. If you are curious to learn more about Ancient Rome, however, I can easily recommend this book.
  • What Angels Fear (Sebastion St. Cyr #1) by C.S. Harris (released 2005)
    • The mystery was really good in this book, and so was all the historical accuracy. I was constantly questioning who the murderer was and what would happen next to raise the stakes. However, I couldn’t stand the romance, which was entirely based on physical attraction and very little sacrifice and communication. It was frustrating, because I felt like, without the romance, this book would easily be five stars.

4 Stars

  • Songbird and the Spy by J’nell Ciesielski (released Feb. 2019) (Indie)
  • Bushido: The Soul of Japan by Inazo Nitobe (released 1900)
    • This is a fascinating book to read, especially since it compares the morality of the west and the east. Nitobe spends much time in explaining why certain beliefs were common in Japan during feudialism, a combination of Buddhism, Shintoism, and samurai war. I can’t say I agreed with a lot of the beliefs, including the uplifting of suicide and subjegation of women (this author, interestingly enough, comments that the lower class women were more equal to men than the wealthy women), but it was fascinating to read. I love how the author spends extensive time comparing Bushido beliefs (the beliefs of the samurai) with Christian beliefs. It’s a quick read, and well worth reading to understand some of Japan’s oldest moral codes.
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (released 1989)
  • Does the Bibles Really Say That? by Patrick Madrid
    • This book is really interesting! It takes a commonly held idea (often a misconception) of the Catholic Church’s teaching (like Catholics worshiping statues) and both disproves misconceptions and backs up the practices with evidence from the Bible. It is a really enjoyable and surprisingly quick read.

5 Stars

  • Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey #12) by Dorothy L. Sayers (released 1935)
  • “The Blue Cross” (A Father Brown Mystery) by G.K. Chesterton (released 1900) (short story)
    • “Only a man who knows nothing of reason talks of reasoning without strong, undisputed first principles.” This is such an amazing and ingenious short story where Father Brown brilliantly outsmarts a brilliant but arrogant criminal. It is so much fun to read, and I highly recommend it!
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (released 2012)
    • This is the most serious and moving comedy I have ever read, for all the worst and best reasons. It is the type of book that can have you laughing out loud one moment and then sobbing the next. It is both a happy tale and an intensely sad one. I absolutely loved it, though I feel rather at a lost to fully describe it. It reminded me of the movie Up, if the entire Up movie took place in the first ten minutes. I highly recommend this book, both because it is a fun read and because it explains the existence of the world and humanity in ways rarely found in modern literature.
  • A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy by Thomas Buergenthal (released 2007)
    • This is such a moving and beautiful narrative of a young boy who survived several Nazi war camps, including Auschwitz. It also covers the moving reunion with his mother following liberation. The story is told in a matter-a-fact, almost childish way, endearing the narrator and his memories to the modern reader, now so far removed from the horrors which occurred in Europe during WWII. It’s well worth reading and I highly recommend it.

There was not one single book I read this month which I did not enjoy, which is so rare for me! I probably shouldn’t jink it, or next month I’ll hate all the books I read.

Have you read any of these books? How did your reading go this month? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

11 thoughts on “Reading Wrap-up: May, 2019

  1. I’m yet to read A Man Called Ove. Hopefully, I’ll get to it before the end of the year. At the moment, I’m not really reading.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, everyone who read it told me they enjoyed it and what was I waiting for to read it. Well, timing is key. We’ll see. 😃

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOVED A Man Called Ove. It such an emotional rollercoaster. I think I connected with it so much having grown up with older parents and been around the elderly for most of my life. This was such a heartwarming read.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great list! For a moment I thought “Chinese Cinderella” was about the foot-binding practice since the earliest accounts of the Cinderella tale stem to China (with the elite there historically preferring “little feet” in women as a sign of nobility).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, you sure had a dramatic welcome to Ohio. Glad you’re all okay though.

    I read that Chinese Cinderella book when it first came out (I would have been 12 or 13 maybe?); I remember liking it but I’d forgotten about it until just now. I wonder if there’s still a copy at my parents’ house haha.

    I hear such good things about Fredrik Backman, especially this one. I need to read some of his!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the Chinese Cinderella was an interesting book. It’s crazy to imagine how cruel her family was. And yes, I’ve been meaning to read one of Fredrik Backman’s books and I’m so glad I finally did!

      Liked by 1 person

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