June 6, 2012

RTW: Best Book of May

Road Trip Wednesday is a 'Blog Carnival' where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic:
What was the best book you read in May?

May was a pretty good month for reading for me. I read ten books in total, a handful of which were self-published, which was a first for me. It's really difficult to nail down just one book from this list, especially since they were impossible to compare (from all different genres), so here are my top four:

1.  To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Although completely embarrassing to admit, I hadn't read this classic before. I felt that it was high time I got around to reading it, and it was the first classic I chose from my Conquering the Classics From A to Z personal challenge. What a great book to get started with! I had seen the movie based off the book some years ago, so there were certain scenes that I was anticipating. Scout as a narrator was a great lens through which to view the events of the book. The subject matter of this book made it tough to read at times (in an "I can't believe human beings can be so ignorant and evil" kind of way), but this just makes it an even more important read.

2.  Grave Mercy - Robin LaFevers
Escaping an arranged marriage to become a handmaiden of Death? What? And even worse: Death placing a target upon the person she's grown to love? (None of this is spoiler material. It's on the back of the book.) I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this book, given the Death aspect of it, but I was pleasantly surprised. It takes place in 15th century Brittany, which I've never encountered in a book before, so that was pretty fantastic. And the whole notion of a seventeen-year-old girl becoming basically an assassin nun of sorts was pretty darn cool. You just had to know that this chosen life would present issues for Ismae. Also, how great is the name 'Ismae'?
  
3.  Insurgent - Veronica Roth
Was there any book people were eagerly anticipating as much as this sequel to Divergent? Doubtful. I fully expect that this book will be most people's RTW pick for May Book of the Month. It was a pretty fantastic book,—as if VRoth could write anything but—though, I do have to say that I liked Divergent a bit better. I wrote a fairly detailed post on my thoughts about Insurgent here, so I won't belabour the point here. Great book, but I wanted more Tris + Four (and not just smoochy scenes), more Dauntless HQ, and less bouncing around from faction HQ to faction HQ. But, it was very well-written, and the story was engaging from start to finish. 

4.  Wanderlove - Kirsten Hubbard
I'm a little late to the game on this one, but it was well worth the wait. I won a copy of Wanderlove in a YA Highway giveaway, so I was eagerly awaiting its arrival. It was the perfect book to kick off the (almost) summer season. It may still be spring, but it sure felt like summer around here. Wanderlove felt real to me in so many ways, mainly because Hubbard didn't glamorize the backpacking life. If a place was filthy and buggy, then that's how she described it. Bria was a believable character who you so badly want to see burst out of her shell. This is a story of growth and letting go of the things that hold us back—lessons that we can all learn no matter our age or where in life we find ourselves.


What was your favourite May read?

37 comments:

  1. I've said it before: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a masterclass on how to write a novel. There. I've said it again. Enough said. :)

    You think *you're* late to the game on WANDERLOVE?? That book's been on my TBR list since I read LIKE MANDARIN back last year some time! I really need to get to it soon. Perhaps the Summer will be the perfect time to pick it up. If LIKE MANDARIN's anything to go by, I expect WANDERLOVE to be at least as good as you say.

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    1. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD was a very good book. Definitely earned its classic status. :)

      I suppose it's probably even worse that I haven't read LIKE MANDARIN yet, right? I read the first chapter of it on Amazon, and I really liked her writing then (this was some time before reading WANDERLOVE). After reading WANDERLOVE, I think I definitely need to get my hands on LIKE MANDARIN.

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  2. My favorite May read so far has been ONE FOR THE MONEY, the Stephanie Plum book #1... SO funny and ridiculous but exactly the sort of beach bum book I needed to start off my 'summer' :)

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    1. I've been meaning to watch the movie version on Video on Demand, but I'm not sure if I'll read the book. I mostly stick to YA reads and classics these days. :)

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  3. Like Colin, both LIKE MANDARIN and WANDERLOVE are on my TBR list - and have been for awhile! You are not behind, my friend - not even close!

    Some great reads for the month of May - and while I enjoyed INSURGENT, I don't think it topped my best reads for the month, especially after reading GRACELING (loved), FIRE (loved even more!), and BITTERBLUE (a little too dark and twisted, and not enough romance!). Three fabulous books that satisfied my lack of romance in INSURGENT, so it wasn't even a toss-up there.

    Ordering a few new reads from B&N right now...can't wait to see what sifts to the top for June!

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    1. Well, LIKE MANDARIN is on my TBR list for sure. I read the first chapter of it on Amazon and have been meaning to get back to it ever since. I definitely will now after reading WANDERLOVE.

      I think you summed up exactly how I felt about BITTERBLUE in one brief sentence! It was very dark and twisted, and I think that turned me off a bit.

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    2. I think what I loved most about Bitterblue was how much it affected me emotionally. If a book makes me feel something, I think the writer has done her job. Some scenes were disturbing, which I expect turns some people off, but they were so powerful.

      But you have some great picks for May. Now since you've put Wanderlove up there with these other three, I guess I'll have to move it up on the TBR list!

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  4. I've never read To Kill A Mockingbird either. It's on my list for sure - I feel bad as well that I've never read it.

    Grave Mercy sounds fantastic. I'll be keeping an eye out for that one. I have Wanderlove on my TBR list but I may save that a little longer. Read closer to summer and the holidays to get into the spirit of things. :)

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    1. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is one of those greats that I just felt like I was missing out on. I've just started reading THE GREAT GATSBY, and I'm really enjoying it too. So glad I decided to start tackling a bunch of classic reads.

      I've also kind of challenged myself to read books that are already on my shelf, so there should be some good summer reads there for sure! :)

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  5. You're making me want to reread To Kill a Mockingbird! Such a good book. And Wanderlove is on my TBR list--I've heard such great things about it!

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    1. Do it! :) It's pretty great when you approach a book that you've heard so much about and that has earned 'classic' status, and then find out that you love it. I'm feeling the same way about THE GREAT GATSBY, which I'm now 1/4 of the way through. Such a good book so far!

      WANDERLOVE would be a great summer read for you. :)

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  6. Loved WANDERLOVE! So fun. And I'm happy to hear that people are liking GRAVE MERCY, because the description sounds amazing and I can not wait to get to that one!

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    1. I was pleasantly surprised by both books. I don't know, I guess sometimes I feel let down by books that everyone else raves about. In both cases the raving was entirely merited. :)

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  7. I've never read To Kill A Mockingbird. I kind of feel like an idiot because of that but we always focused on English books in school.

    I want to read it but I'm scared that it won't be as great and lifechanging as everyone says it is because I think it's one of those books that has a positive reputation and thus I have high expectations of it.

    And I don't like reading about racism.

    Grave Mercy has a lovely cover though!

    I haven't had time to read any books this May unfortunately. I've been busy studying for exams.

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    1. The racism in TKAM was handled really well. It's still infuriating, but it doesn't make the book feel heavy in any way. That's probably due to Scout, a young child, being the narrator.

      GRAVE MERCY does have a great cover! And the crossbow is pretty kickass. :)

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  8. Sadly, I haven't really devoted much time to reading of late, and I am way behind on my goal of reading at least 50 books this year. I'm currently reading Insurgent, which I've been struggling to read for lack of concentration and time since the start on May. *sigh*

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    1. I suppose taking your time to read INSURGENT can be a good thing (silver lining). I ploughed through it pretty quickly and felt like maybe I missed things that would have made me love it more. I was pretty distracted at the time too. Here's hoping your June is a little less hectic, giving you more time to enjoy some great reads. :)

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  9. Are these in any particular order? I read your review on Insurgent and can definitely see some of your points. But I gave it a 5 out of 5. :) I'm really intrigued by Grave Mercy and have it on my list. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hmm...not really in any particular order. (I put that ellipsis in there just for you. LOL) I gave TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and WANDERLOVE both 5 stars and INSURGENT and GRAVE MERCY 4 stars on Goodreads. Like I said, it's kind of hard to compare them, though, because they come from completely different genres. That's why I refused to pick just one. :)

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  10. Grave Mercy was my fav this month, too! LOVED it! I almost chose Insurgent, but didn't because of the exact reasons you listed that you wanted more of - although, I would have been okay with more smooching scenes ;)

    So glad TKAM made your list! Just reading your review makes me want to read it again. And I just reread it a couple of months ago!

    I haven't read Wanderlove, but it's on my list. I'm going to have to kick it up a notch now!

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    1. GRAVE MERCY was really good! I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. I think I especially liked the setting and that Ismae was such a great character. And as for INSURGENT, who am I kidding? I wanted a lot more of the smooch. Like, a lot.

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  11. I haven't read To Kill a Mockingbird either. Someday I'll get around to it.

    My favorite read this May was The Help. Which actually referenced To Kill a Mockingbird, come to think of it...

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    1. I haven't yet read THE HELP, but I sure loved the movie. :) I know that's kind of a crime, watching the movie before reading the book, but it was the same situation with TKAM. It didn't stop me from loving it! :)

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  12. I've never read "To Kill a Mockingbird" either. Somehow I always managed to choose an alternate selection when it came to reading the classics. I did an essay on "The Stand" when everyone else read a classic. I do feel this is something I need to correct as well - thanks for the A to Z info!

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    1. I think sometimes we're just not quite ready to approach a book. I might have chosen THE STAND too, come to think of it (awesome book!). I read books in high school that I just wasn't ready to appreciate at the time. Reading them later on made me appreciate them a whole lot more. The same could be true for you and TKAM. It's definitely worth the read. :)

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  13. TKAM is, for my money, the Great American Novel. Scout as a narrator absolutely kills me--her reaction to seeing snow (that whole section, really) cracks me up, and then she goes and observes something huge and heartbreaking in a way that really drives it home. I'm so glad you liked it. TKAM was the only novel I really remember liking in high school English class, actually. I liked some of the plays, but mostly I hated everything we read in class, including The Great Gatsby. Then I read that last year, when I was looking for a short book in the canon with easily accessibly literary elements (sorry, kiddos, but as long as they test it, I have to teach it) and found that it was WAY better than I remembered. Now I really kind of love it (again--the narrator--the VOICE--I'm sensing a pattern in my comments here of late...)

    I think my May favorite has to be FIRE. I loved BITTERBLUE as well..but there was just that extra thing with FIRE, where a book just grabs you and you can't really explain?

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    1. Scout as a narrator definitely takes a pretty heavy topic and makes it accessible. It's one of those 'out of the mouths of babes' kind of situations, and her perception of events is so spot on. I think Atticus even comments on how children view things unclouded by the things that adults get hung up on. So true!

      I think a lot of what we read in high school we just weren't ready to like or sometimes even understand on a real level. We had to read a book called THE STONE ANGEL by a Canadian author, and I hated that book. It wasn't until I read it as an adult that I fully understood its themes and appreciated them. I still don't love the book, but it resonates more with me now. I'm kind of glad that I waited to read TKAM and THE GREAT GATSBY. As for the voice in GATSBY—fantastic!

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  14. I haven't yet read Grave Mercy - thanks for reminding me about it :)

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    1. You're welcome! It was different than what I was expecting (in a good way), and didn't really feel like anything else I've read recently. That's always a good thing. :)

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  15. I absolutely love To Kill a Mockingbird. And have you seen the movie? Fantastic. I love that you are "Conquering the Classics." :) Today I've been thinking a lot about Fahrenheit 451. Have you read that?

    Divergent and Insurgent are on my list. I have Wanderlove waiting for me, too. So many books, so little time.

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  16. I saw the TKAM movie some years ago, so it's about time I finally read the book! :) FAHRENHEIT 451 is actually on my Classics list, and I think it might have to be the next one I read.

    WANDERLOVE would be a great summer read. DIVERGENT and INSURGENT are pretty much great any time reads, though they do require more attention I think.

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  17. The only one of these I haven't read is GRAVE MERCY, though it looks like that's one I should probably get my hands on! I adore TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and WANDERLOVE, and even though I had mixed feelings about parts of INSURGENT, I still can't stop thinking about it. The sign of a good book, I suppose!

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    1. GRAVE MERCY was really good, and a whole lot better than I was expecting. I loved the time period that it was set in, and the MC was pretty great too.

      May was such a great month for reading, so it was really hard to nail down just one book. Especially with TKAM and WANDERLOVE in there too. :)

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  18. YAY for Mockinbird!!! And Ooooh WAnderlove is on my list!

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  19. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all-time faves. I could read it a million times.

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  20. To Kill a Mockingbird will always be one of my favorites :) I want to read Insurgent and Wanderlove!!!

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  21. I have never read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and probably should :D but you have gotten me very very interested in reading GRACE MERCY!

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