books

May Book Reviews

Hello my loves,

Here’s May’s book reviews!

The Anxiety Sisters’ Survival Guide – Abbe Greenberg & Maggie Sarachek
4/5 Stars
☆☆☆☆

Every couple of months or so I like to go into The Works (a shop here in England, I’m not sure if it’s a worldwide thing) and go to their mental health / psychology book section and buy a book that takes my fancy. I then basically read it and scribble all of my notes and thoughts in it because the books are there to make you think, and because they’re so inexpensive I don’t mind writing all over them, which is like a guilty pleasure for me because I love writing down my thoughts / comments / annotations in books but hardly ever do because I don’t want to ruin them. This book in their anxiety section (as we all know, that’s definitely the thing I need help with most at the moment) instantly caught my eye, the cover was so bright and colourful and it looked like a fun, comforting read. I can honestly say it was worth every penny I spent on it, because it was only £4 and you get a massive, chunky book full of comfort and warmth, which I guess suits the cover perfectly.

This book is not your typical self-help book (which I’m not a fan of, a lot of it is all wishy washy twoddle that I’ve heard 10x before and none of it works), this however was like a warm comforting hug swaddled up in a cosy little blanket. It was accessible, understanding, and comforting all in one. This is one of those books that I’ll keep in my bag to carry around with me for whenever I need it, it’s become one of my new favourite little things. Being able to read about anxiety, and more importantly, my anxiety, because the whole thing was so relatable, and make my own little notes and annotations in it was great. It just felt like a big warm hug and it was like oh, thank you for putting all of that into words for me. I especially loved the explanations behind the anxiety and the science behind it, because anxiety is a brain disorder and so, we need to know how our brain works along with our receptors and our body as a whole – when we feel anxious, what’s physically going on inside? The explanations within this book were so simple and accessible yet so informative at the same time, I’m super grateful for this book. It wasn’t wishy washy, it wasn’t your typical nonsense self-help book, in fact, I wouldn’t like to classify this as a self-help book at all because I think that undermines it and gives it way less credit that it deserves. It’s like a hey, we know you’re feeling anxious and it feels like the world’s going to end right now, but guess what, we know how you feel, we’ve been there, and here’s what we’d like to share with you about how we got through it because guess what, you will too. It was just like a warm hug wrapped up in sunshine and I really appreciated it. Super grateful for this book and anything these two women (or, the Anxiety Sisters) write in future, which I hope they do, because I’ll be right there to read it. This book came at exactly the right time I needed it and it was worth every penny I paid for it, if anything I believe I underpaid because this book is worth so much more. 100% would recommend it for all anxiety suffers to read. Super grateful I got the chance to experience it.

Recitatif – Toni Morrison
4/5 Stars
☆☆☆☆

This is Morrison’s only short story and, quite frankly for how short it is, it’s fascinating. It’s about two girls, Twyla and Roberta, who met at 8 years old when they were in a girls’ shelter. They were best friends but once Roberta left the shelter followed by Twyla they lost touch. Years later they have multiple encounters over time and in these we are given snippets and clues, as one of the girls is black and one is white, but we are never told who as Morrison purposely leaves this as ambiguous and leaves it up to the reader to decide. It’s basically an experiment on the reader since, we will choose which girl we think is black and which is white based off of our own assumptions and stereotypes of different races. I thought the story was excellent and really enjoyed it, it’s so cleverly written and the amazing introduction by Zadie Smith definitely added to the experience. I’ve only read one other of Morrison’s works before which was The Bluest Eye and even though Recitatif is only a short story, I definitely thought it was better. The rest of Morrison’s novels are on my TBR and I really hope they lean more towards the style of Recitatif because if so, I may have found myself a new favourite author.

A Christmas Pageant – Donna Tartt
3/5 Stars
☆☆☆

After reading The Secret History and finding one of my new favourite books of all time, I of course decided I wanted to read everything Donna Tartt has ever written. This is a short story about a little girl called Sally who’s in her school’s Christmas pageant, and she’s basically quite snooty and is mentally a lot older than the other kids around her, she kind of looks down on them as less than her because she’s smarter and a lot more aware of the world around her, she thinks adults are silly etc. etc. The story basically follows the events that occur at Sally’s Christmas pageant and I enjoyed it – I wish I could have read it at Christmas but of course I wasn’t going to wait until December to read something so short. Overall a quick and enjoyable read, would recommend!

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel
3/5 Stars
☆☆☆

After starting this in 2020…I finally finished it. A year and a half later. Probably the longest it’s ever taken me to read any book so take what you will from that. This book is set in England in the 1520s and is about the Tudors and Henry VIII, through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell who eventually becomes Henry’s advisor. When I was at school the Tudors were always my favourite topic (?) people, to learn about, I was absolutely fascinated by them and found them so, so interesting. I think if I would have gone to university for essentially pleasure purposes I would’ve done a degree in history, Tudor based, if that’s even a thing. One of my favourite booktubers was reading this back in 2020 and as soon as I learned the synopsis I ordered it straight away. Started it in the December but this is a 600 page book and I just kept putting it off, I got to around the 300/400 page mark and stopped for basically a year and last month finally decided to finish it.

I did overall enjoy the story, it can get quite confusing at times and if anyone’s read this book you’ll know the all famous phrase and tip that essentially, every time Mantel says “he”, she’s referring to Cromwell. Which can get very confusing when there’s so many people (mostly men) involved and no indication as to who’s speaking. If it’s “he”, just assume it’s Cromwell.

I will admit I got lost more than once due to so many names, houses, places etc. but I did enjoy the story and you really do feel as though you’re in Tudor England when reading this book, I found myself becoming very fond of Cromwell. I do intend to continue on with this series and have the next two books on my shelf ready to go, though I probably won’t be starting them for a while yet.

The Box in the Woods – Maureen Johnson
3/5 Stars
☆☆☆

Hello and welcome to my favourite book series ever – the Truly Devious Series. This is the fourth book in the series (reviews for 1, 2 and 3 here) and follows our main character Stevie outside of the Truly Devious realm for the first time. The first three books are about Stevie solving the Truly Devious murder mystery and Ellingham academy, but this book it set during the Summer holidays when Stevie is at home and is invited to a Summer camp to try and uncover the box in the woods murder mystery, which involved 4 campers being murdered in the woods back in 1978.

As always this is my favourite series and I love these characters so much – Johnson included Stevie’s friends back at Ellingham as well as they joined her over the Summer to become camp counsellors, so it was so nice to read about these group of characters again. Including Stevie’s boyfriend David, who I’ve always been a little bit in love with despite the fact he was a hated character until around the end of book 3. I’ve said this before but even though this is my favourite series and I love these books so much, I still only give them a 3 / 3.5 star rating due to the fact they’re super fun and easy to read but don’t impact me too much in terms of emotion etc. if you’re wondering why the rating may be considered ‘low’ in relation to how I actually feel about the books. The fifth book in the series is due to come out this year and I am so excited to read it!

Attached – Amir Levine & Rachel S.F. Heller
4/5 Stars
☆☆☆☆

Ladies and gentlemen may I please present to you, the Holy Bible. This book. This book has absolutely changed my life and is in my opinion something everyone should read. This is the type of thing that should be mandatory reading at school.

This book is about the theory of attachment, which is essentially formed when we’re children based on our parents and upbringing, and we become one of three attachment styles – securely attached, anxiously attached or avoidantly attached, with a small percentage of people being a combination of anxious and avoidant. Each attachment style is pretty self explanatory, with anxiously attached meaning you constantly think people are going to leave you, you always need assurance that they still love you etc. etc., avoidantly attached being that you avoid intimacy with people, want to push people away and if someone tries to tie you down or wants you to give them commitment, your first and only thought is to run in the opposite direction. Secure attachment is neither of these two, with the securely attached individual being very secure within themselves and able to have good, strong, secure relationships with people due to being comfortable with themselves and their connections, and so on and so fourth.

This book is probably the first of its kind that actually focuses on attachment in adulthood and what that means in terms of romantic relationships – why we are the way we are. Something I will always say about attachment is that if for example you’re having relationship issues, rather than going to a therapist and having to give them the whole back-log of you, your partner and your relationship which would take such a long time, you can literally just say – “I’m anxiously attached” and your therapist will immediately know everything about the way you behave, because the “symptoms” apply to everyone. I have scribbled and written all over this book because I would be reading page after page and screaming oh my God, this is me. Finally, this is the reason for everything, this is why I’m behaving the way I am. Finally, it all makes sense.

I bought this book because I had already discovered the fact I was (extremely) anxiously attached and knew that this book was the best thing on the market for me to consume in order to further understand myself. As a psychology student this also made a lot of things tie in together because I’d already studied attachment previously, but only in terms of childhood as 1). I’m a child psychology student and 2). This is where attachment is formed, so studies / information on it is basically confined to those crucial developmental years where your attachment style and system is formed. As I said, this is the first book that has really delved into adult attachment and what that means in terms of our relationships. This book helped me so, so much and has now become my bible, it’s something I’ll read and refer back to over and over again, it relieved so much debilitating anxiety for me and for a period I actually carried it around in my bag with me as a little comfort blanket almost, just knowing it was there was a relief for me. I would absolutely 100% recommend everyone to read this book and I applaud and am so grateful to Amir and Rachel for sharing something that so many people need, that had otherwise not really been discussed. So thankful for this book.

Sadie – Courtney Summers
4/5 Stars
☆☆☆☆

This book had been on my to-buy list for a while purely because of the cover (it’s so pretty). I then discovered my friend had read it last year and really enjoyed it which spurred my on to finally purchase a copy. This story follows Sadie, a teenager whose little sister Mattie was murdered and who wants answers and revenge for the person that meant to most to her and was cruelly taken away from her way, way too soon. In order to get revenge and go after the person whom she believes murdered Mattie, Sadie essentially goes missing. The story is split between two POVs – Sadie’s, as she’s hunting down the murder and is known to everyone else to be missing, and West McCray, a radio personality producing a podcast on Mattie’s murder and Sadie’s subsequent disappearance. This story was so brilliant, I read it over two days and couldn’t put it down. The ending was fantastic as frustrating as it also may have been, but that’s what made it so great. A really thrilling story and completely heartfelt with Sadie’s love for Mattie, I found myself tearing up a lot as someone who has basically also lost a sister and someone who meant the entire world to them. A really, really great story, 100% recommend.

Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke – Eric LaRocca
3/5 Stars
☆☆☆

A short story that I read in the space of a couple of hours. Honestly? I didn’t know how to rate it because it was so disgusting and disturbing, but that is of course, the whole point. This story takes place between two women in a chat room in the early 2000s (that in itself sounds very…desolate), one woman is trying to sell a vintage apple peeler and our second woman replies to the advertisement showing interest and the story unfolds from there, eventually unfolding into a sub-dom relationship. I can’t tell you any more than this otherwise it would spoil the story but…what have you done today to deserve your eyes?

If I Had Your Face – Frances Cha
4/5 Stars
☆☆☆☆

This book was a buddy read with my friend for May and well, I really didn’t think I was going to enjoy it as much as I did. I was so pleasantly surprised. I never thought I’d dislike this book but similarly I also never thought it would be something I really enjoyed, I bought it last year because I was interested in reading it and thought it would be a normal 3 star read, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book so much and have proven to myself that I shouldn’t put off reading things just because I’m not sure I’ll completely love them – I’ve been proven wrong on that front a lot lately.

This book follows four young women living in South Korea, trying to make their way in the world amidst the ridiculously high beauty standards set for them. If you didn’t know, South Korea is the number one plastic surgery capital of the world and also has the highest suicide rate…so work that one out. Each woman comes from a different background and has a different lifestyle but they all know each other and the book follows each of them as we flip between their different POVs. I can’t really say much else as I guess there’s no actual…point, to the story? It’s more so just a commentary on society’s beauty standards and the environment they’re living in but seriously, such a good read. The characters were so likeable and the whole story just flowed really well, I think possibly partially due to the fact that this was originally written in English rather than translated from Korean, though there are Korean terms and phrases in here that may throw the reader off if not familiar with them. As an avid Kpop fan I was thankfully fine on this front but it may be a little confusing for people who aren’t familiar with the terminology. Otherwise, a fantastic story and one that I’m super glad I read. Looking forward to reading more Frances Cha in the future!

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) – Sarah J. Maas
3/5 Stars
☆☆☆

After 3 years, I finally decided to drag myself through the fourth book in this series. It was on my shelf and I’m currently in a mode of trying to read everything I already own before going ahead and buying new books – this book was essentially in book jail and was one I did not want to read as, if you’ve followed my book reviews for a while, you will know that fantasy isn’t really my thing and neither is this series, despite the fact I’ve already read the first three and have now finished the fourth. I can’t really say much about this book other than the fact I’m very proud of myself for taking myself through 600+ pages of it and it was just an average YA read. I don’t dislike this series but it’s never really done anything for me and I could never really understand what all the hype was about. I started reading it in 2018 (reviews for book 1, 2 and 3 here) and the third book I read was in 2018 as I read the first 3 during that year, and I actually gave them all 4 stars I believe as the latter parts of the books really saved them, but this one (I think probably due to my age) was very much just average and even the ending didn’t really save it so it just stayed as a 3 star for me. I also basically have all of the exact same thoughts and comments that I made when I read the first three books as well as the following –

  • Not sure why Aedion was written as if completely in love with Aelin like some sort of incestual relationship
  • Manon as always does my head in (towards the end she redeemed herself somewhat)
  • As always, I hate the fact that every other sentence surrounding Manon / Aelin is “I could rip his throat out / I could kill him / I’m going to gauge their eyes out” blah blah blah, just a bunch of aggressive, repetitive and irritating empty threats as always. You’re the most violent and vicious people ever apparently, we get it.

I don’t own any of the further books in this series and unless I get a sudden urge to go out and buy them (doubtful) this will be the last book I read in this series, I’m quite happy to leave it here. 

I also read some short stories in May which I won’t do full reviews for because there’s already too many reviews in this post, but the short stories are as follows –

The Ambush – Donna Tartt (☆☆☆)
The Real Deal – Andy Weir (☆☆☆)
Antihypoxiant – Andy Weir (☆☆☆)
Deep – Philip Plait (☆) – (I just didn’t get it)
The Return of the Thin White Juke – Neil Gaiman (☆☆) – (awful, I wrote better stories when I was 12)
Cookie Jar – Stephen King (☆☆☆☆) – (excellent, my first experience of King and it was great)

And there we have it loves! Let me know if you’ve read any of the books in this list.

All my love,

Chloe .xx

Goodreads – ChloLuna

7 thoughts on “May Book Reviews

  1. So many interesting books here as always, Sadie sounds like something I’d like to read for sure- not my usual genre but thats what makes it exciting. And the review of that one about the two women who meet on a chat room is soo interesting, I want to read it based on the review alone. Is it triggering? X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! If you read Sadie definitely let me know what you think! Triggers for Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke would be animal cruelty / gore / emotional abuse but the point of the story is to obviously be quite extreme / gross etc. so if you’re comfortable with that definitely give it a read !! xx

      Liked by 1 person

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