Being back to a few London commutes a week means that I’m making progress with books for the first time in a while! For whatever reason, I can’t quite fully focus on reading at home at the moment. Every time I open a book, my dog wants attention or Mum starts a conversation or a chore needs to be tended to. So I’m very grateful to lose myself in a great book on a train these days!

I also read, or am reading, everything on my May Hopefuls list! It’s felt very productive to bash through the ol’ elusive to-be-read stack, and I’m absolutely loving the whimsical magic that is Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin – I can’t believe it took me this long to pick it up! I’ve definitely sunk into it at the Best Time for me. Without further ado, here are my short and snappy reviews of this month’s equally short and snappy reads…

The Pyjama Myth by Sian Meades-Williams

Rating: ★★★★/5

Rarely do I delve into non-fiction at the moment, but I’m so glad I broke that for Sian’s much-anticipated The Pyjama Myth. I’ve been a freelance writer for more than six years now and always enjoy any works about the field and industry. Happily, I can confirm that this four-star read is fully worth it! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this all-in-one handbook. It’s well-suited to writers at any stage of their career – like I mentioned, I’m six years in now and personally found it eminently useful. From pitching to invoicing, self-confidence to motivation, Sian tackles every topic and offers brilliant advice without batting an eyelid. No silly questions here. There’s areas that feel a little ‘tacked-on’ or shorter than I’d anticipated but, mostly, this is a great guide for anyone wishing to successfully freelance and write.

Sword Art Online by Reki Kawahara

Rating: ★★★★/5

The Sword Art Online anime is one of my all-time favourites and I’ve been looking forward to finally reading its light novel original for absolutely ages. Thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint. Rediscovering Aincrad, and Kirito and Asuna’s beautiful story, felt so nice. Reki Kawahara’s mind is just incredible, and SAO is expectedly full of masterful world-building, epic battle scenes, curious realism and funny, well-written characters. I couldn’t recommend this, and its anime counterpart, more.

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

Rating: ★★★.5/5

Ooft it’s been more than a week and I still don’t know what to say about this TikTok and bookstagram-viral read. I finally managed to get round to trying out some of Colleen Hoover’s work and will definitely be back for more.

Lily is a young twenty-something, lamenting a decision she made, when by chance she meets Ryle – a charming man that doesn’t do relationships but does do instant sparks. When her childhood love, Atlas, comes back into her life, it throws her new relationship into disarray. This isn’t a normal boy-meets-girl story by any means; Hoover delves deep into childhood trauma, adolescent friendships and relationships, domestic abuse and modern relationships in a readable and page-turning way.

I’m oddly undecided about how to feel about ‘It Ends with Us’. I stormed through it in two days, and it is undeniably very readable. The overarching themes are important and incredibly beautifully portrayed, positioning domestic abuse in a compelling, believable and conscientious way. Lily is a great protagonist; she makes well-informed decisions and is a warm, funny character. Ryle… let’s not even go there. I have zero good things to say about a person that persistently asks or begs for sex. And I adore Atlas. So much. Ultimately I’d recommend this book, laced with trigger warnings, to anybody. It’s human, thought-provoking, emotional and strangely relatable.

Komi Can’t Communicate by Tomohito Odo

Rating: ★★★★/5

It’s been a little while since I indulged in any physical copies of manga, but I’m so glad I decided to collect Komi Can’t Communicate. This series is absolutely adorable and has become a total comfort read and watch for me. Shoko Komi is a beautiful, aloof high-schooler, plagued with social anxiety and a communication disorder. Tadano is an ordinary student, enamoured by Komi. Together, their goal is to help Komi make 100 friends. I love the story, art style and wonderful characters of Komi Can’t Communicate; it’s a real feel-good slice-of-life world.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

Rating: ★★★/5

I preordered this book months and months ago, and for some reason found it really hard to get through. This fantasy retelling of a Korean folklore tale is set beneath the sea and feels like a magical, witty and familiar story. For generations, deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland. It’s believed that the Sea God, once their protector, curses them with death and despair, and in order to appease him, a maiden is thrown into the sea in the hopes that one of them will be the Sea God’s chosen partner, and the storms will end. (Sounds a bit off to me, but okay!)

Our heroine Mina didn’t really resonate with me which is probably why the first 100 or so pages felt difficult to get through. But from there onwards, the story picks up gravitas and the dialogue – familiar and readable – moves the book along at pace. The world-building is fantastical in this and I definitely got swept up in the exquisite seas. Overall, it’s a clever retelling… I just wish there was a faster hook!

June Hopefuls

  • Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin (already started!)
  • Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama
  • Pod by Laline Paul
  • We Were Dreamers by Simu Liu
  • Almond by Won-Pyung Sohn

What was your favourite read in May?

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