Hi guys! In April I did a post about my Bookish Buzz-Words and one about my Bookish Nope-Words, and I got some really great recommendations from you guys in the comments. So I decided to try to read one book per buzz/nope word in May. Partly to push myself to read outside of my comfort-zone and partly cause I though it would be really fun to see if I actually do enjoy books that contain my buzz-words more than books that contain my nope-words – and here’s how it went!
FAIRYTALES: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert ⭐⭐⭐
This is a book people seem to either love or hate, but I just liked it. I’m always down for stories within stories, especially if those stories are dark, disturbing fairy-tales. I loved how weird and genuinely creepy the Hinterland was. There was such an eerie mood through the book. I truly felt like something terrible could happen at any moment, but I was never desperately hoping it wouldn’t. I just didn’t care enough about the characters to care what happened to them.
MERMAIDS: The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ya’ll know how long I’ve been waiting for a good mermaid book… Well, I finally found one! This was so good. It’s just as loudly and unapologetically feminist as Louise O’Neill’s other books. The world-building is really on point. I loved the kingdom beneath the sea, the mythology of mermaids vs. rusalkas and of course the Sea Witch. Who wouldn’t love a fat, body-positive feminist witch with no time for anyone’s shit?
WITCHES: The Graces by Laure Eve ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I’d so many bad things about this books, so my expectations were pretty low. But I was hooked from page one, the prose and atmosphere just had me spellbound. I was just as fascinated by the mysterious, maybe-magical Graces as River was, and equally intrigued by the deceptively bland River herself. If you pick this one up prepare yourself for a slow burn, with an explosive ending.
GIRL SQUADS: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This book is so full of awesome I don’t even know where to start. The main character is a fat Latina witch! There’s a coven of biker witches! Zombie mean girls! Female friendships! Feminism! Dark humor! I loved it so much, you guys. It’s the perfect mix of contemporary and magic, with just a touch of creepiness. Who knew a witch, her dead bestfriend and two murdered mean girls would be the best girl gang ever?
90’S SETTING: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I’m a 90’s kid who grew up on Spice Girls, so there’s not way I wasn’t going to love a book about two best friends joining a girl band, set in 1990’s Florida. That was literally me and my best friend’s life plan growing up, we spent hours dressed like Spice Girls, rehearsing our dance routines in front of the mirror. But this isn’t just nostalgia talking! This is a really good contemporary about messy female friendships, first love, the music-industry and following your dreams.
SPACE: Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This book’s not like any other sci-fi I’ve read, it’s a lot more military and a lot weirder. I love the complexity of the universe Yoon Ha Lee’s created, even though it’s short for a space-opera, you feel like you could reread this book 10 times and still pick up something new every time. My favorite thing about it is the characters tough. Especially the enigma that is Jedao, an undead general who never lost a battle, but went mad and massacred two armies.
URBAN FANTASY: Hunt by L.C. Mawson ⭐⭐⭐
This was a really fun and easy read. It didn’t fall into any of the urban fantasy cliches I dread reading about, no steamy romance with a possessive alfa male here! Just a really cool world with lots of interesting paranormal beings and a great cast of diverse characters. My only complaint is that there was a lot of info-dumping, which would’ve been fine in a longer book. But if you only have 192 pages to tell a story, it’s very noticeable when a third of it’s world-building.
WAR: Songs of Love and War by Santa Montefiore ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This book was the biggest surprise of the month! I wasn’t expecting the war in the title to be the Irish War of Independence, nor was I expecting a family curse or an Irish castle haunted by the grumpy ghosts of it’s past inhabitants. I also wasn’t expecting to fall in love with it’s heroine, the marvelous Kitty Deverville. But she’s that perfect mix of fierce, independent, impulsive and brave that I’m weak for – so of course I did. I love her, and I love this book.
GOTHIC: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton ⭐⭐⭐
I have so little to say about this one Reading it was a lot of work, for very little reward. To sum up my reading experience: I was bored, then I was sad, then it was over. I did really like the characters though, especially the Brandt siblings. They were very layered and complex characters, who kept some of their secret’s past the last page of the novel. And I like that. Not knowing all there is to know about a character makes them feel more like real people.
ASSASSINS: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Remember when I said I don’t like books about assassins? Oh boy, was I wrong. I love books about assassins! Assassins are cool! This book is ruthless and I’m here for it, imagine Hogwarts if it was a school for assassins and every character was a Slytherin. My only issue was that the writing style took some getting used too, it’s very intricate and ornate, and there’s a lot of footnotes (PSA: Infodumping in the footnotes is still infodumping). But the story itself? Perfection. I need the second book!
MALE PROTAGONIST: Half Bad by Sally Green ⭐⭐⭐
The most interesting character in the book shows up for about five minutes and I’m a little salty about it. But overall I really liked this one. It has likable characters, a good story and a pretty cool version of our own world, with black and white witches at war. I’m not sure I’d pick up the next two books if I wasn’t so intrigued by the villain, but with a little more world-building I think this could be a great trilogy.
DYSTOPIAN: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This book is miles away from your typical (grey and bleak) dystopian. It’s more like a mix of sci-fi, horror and biopunk, which is just as weird and creepy as it sounds. It follows an all female team on an expedition into Area X, a place where the natural laws definitely don’t apply. This was such a page-turner and even though you’re left with more questions than answers, the ending doesn’t disappoint.
So overall my bookish buzz-word picks were rated a little bit higher, but I did give three books from each section 5-star ratings! This was a lot of fun and it reminded me why I enjoy reading outside my comfort zone so much. I don’t like disliking things. I love it when a book takes me by surprise and proves me wrong. I just want to like all the books, guys! Cause it’s not like my TBR’s big enough as it is…