Adventures in Books: May


May Reads

Yup, it’s that time again, kids: monthly book review time! Are y’all as excited as I am? (In case you missed them: January/FebruaryMarch, and April.)

May was a really great book month for me. There were so many amazing ones, it was hard to pick the ones to feature here, so this is really just a snapshot. You can find the rest on my Goodreads account here.


The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay

Meg Jay is a clinical therapist who has worked with twentysomethings for many years. In her book, she details the reasons why our twenties are a very important time and why it is dangerous to fritter them away as though they don’t matter. Using case study patients to illustrate her points and the ways that we can work through our problems, The Defining Decade is a must read for anyone who feels like they are a bit lost, like their 20s are supposed to matter a bit more than they do.

This book helped me immensely. Even though I am still in a bit of a limbo phase, it isn’t because I don’t know what I want to do anymore. It is because I am just waiting to be able to take that first step. I highly recommend this book to anyone in their twenties, or even anyone who is feeling like life just isn’t going where they’d like it to. Within two chapters, I had made more progress in understanding what I wanted and what I needed to do to get it than I have in the last… oh, two years or so.


Blood Red Road by Moira Young

In a dystopian future, on one fateful day, Saba’s family is torn apart: her father killed and her twin brother kidnapped by robed strangers. She sets off on a quest across the barren landscape of her world to get him back, allying herself with such characters as the charismatic Jack and a band of warrior women called the Free Hawks.

I love dystopian literature, especially young adult dystopian literature (see: The Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies). I had heard of this book but, for whatever reason, it had never entered my brain as something I should read. Enter my 13-year-old sister who is IN LOVE with these books. When I was visiting for the weekend and had nothing to read, she forced it into my hands and told me I’d love it. I was leery but read it anyway and she was right. Oh man. Though the whole book is written in dialect, I quickly got over that and plunged headlong into Saba’s world. She is a great heroine: hard and soft, a great warrior capable of deep love. You will be fascinated by trying to see our world in the dusty Wasteland, and unravelling the society that now exists. This book has amazing characters and heart-stopping scenarios that will have you ploughing through the pages as fast as you can go.


Why We Broke Up written by Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) and illustrated by Maira Kalman

Min and Ed were an unlikely couple: he’s a womanizing jock, everyone says she’s a little different. Now they’re breaking up, and she is writing him a letter to let him know why, to be included in the box of things she is returning that are related to their relationship.

This book…oh man, this book. I identified with it so strongly, it was almost painful. It reminded me of high school, of being young and dramatic and overwrought and so full of everything. It was really interesting to see the story told through the lens of the objects from each important event, from bottle caps to a bottle of liquor. Though it being a breakup letter is a bit of a stretch (come on, who writes a breakup letter that long, detailing all of the things that the person ALREADY KNOWS happens?), it never took away from the story for me. I felt like it could happen, did happen, to me.


The $100 Start-Up: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Gillebeau

The whole point of this book is to help you break out of the 9-5 framework, the corporate slog, and start your own microbusiness, doing what you love. The book is very accessible and helpful, dealing with pretty much any question you could think of when wanting to start your own business. He uses anecdotes, actionable items, and directions to other resources to create a really comprehensive guide. Not relevant for me anymore, but still very inspiring to read!


Rage: A Love Story by Julie Anne Peters

Johanna is a good girl, and she is totally in love with Reeve, who is decidedly not a good girl. Reeve has had a difficult life and her issues manifest in abusive behavior. They begin a passionate, volatile relationship, and spiral into the dark side of love.

I wanted to like this book. But I just couldn’t. The characters were all so flat and stereotypical, I couldn’t invest in them. Everything was the the ABSOLUTE WORST THING THAT COULD EVER HAPPEN, not only in terms of the characters’ responses to them, but in terms of the events themselves. It seemed like ever awful thing that could ever happen…did. It read as contrived and after-school special-ish, and it was not enjoyable in the slightest. I appreciate the effort to tell a story about an abusive teen relationship that doesn’t glorify it (there is a dearth of these types of books), but I would have appreciated it a lot more if it felt more realistic.


Hush Hush & Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

Nora Grey spends a lot of her time alone since her father was murdered and her mom had to take a job that required a lot of travel. One day in school, the darkly mysterious Patch sits next to her and she is drawn into a web of mysteries that involve fallen angels and their half-angel-half-human spawn. As she finds herself falling for Patch, her life gets more and more complicated.

I read the first book on another recommendation from my little sister, and I was intrigued enough by it. Fallen angels sounded pretty cool, and I was invested enough to overlook the bad writing, but then I read the second one, and all the ridiculous things that I didn’t like about the first one kind of exploded into the foreground. There is so much slut-shaming and fat-shaming, Patch is another pseudo-stalker-lover a la Edward Cullen, it’s illogical and repetitive and awful. Don’t bother with these books unless you enjoy bashing your head against a wall in utter frustration.

I’ve been burning through books so quickly that I upped my 2013 reading goal (again) from 100 to 125. I’m still way ahead! There are some benefits to unemployment, I guess. And it’s nice to make continual progress on one of my 101 in 1001 goals (not sure what that is? Check it out here!)

Book Goal Progress - May 201

What books did you guys read this month? Did you make any progress on some major goals?

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Jessica can most often be found with her nose in a book, or writing her newest short story/screenplay/novel, but she also has a passion for travel, child-care & development, psychology, feminism (and other forms of equality), and making the world a better place in general. Email Me