What I Read in May 2022
We’ve now made it to June somehow! May was a pretty good reading month for me, though a bit unusual!? I mostly read two series–Bridgertons & Wayward Children–though I squeezed in another book along with those:
ON JUNETEENTH by Annette Gordon-Reed – 4.25 stars
As a Texan and a Black woman and a historian, Gordon-Reed tells the complicated history of Texas and origins of Juneteenth. To be quite frank, I knew very little about Texas history until I visited Austin last year and went to a couple of history museums. On Juneteenth was further enlightening. Here are some things that particularly struck me while reading On Juneteenth.
- Impact of desegregation re: Black students losing Black teachers, Black teachers losing the ability to use their classroom space to openly uplift Black students
- Putting all enslaved people in one stereotype regardless of their origins and experiences, and denying their individual narratives (i.e. assumption that all enslaved people to speak in a thick southern accent, impossibility of enslaved people to speak another language or being educated)
- Erasure of many enslaved people in early American history to fit the story of American founding/originals and to deny enslavers reliance on enslaved people
BRIDGERTONS SERIES by Julia Quinn
After watching season 2 of the Netflix show and recent success with audiobooks, I was drawn again to listen to a couple of books in the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn (I first read the earlier books in the series last year).
TO SIR PHILIP, WITH LOVE – 2 stars
This is Eloise’s book and while I love Eloise’s character, especially in the Netflix show, To Sir Philip, With Love was infuriating and Sir Philip himself annoying! Long story short, Eloise is a spinster, having turned down multiple proposals and feeling alone, especially after her bestie Penelope gets married. After the passing of her distant cousin, she writes to the widower Sir Philip and they strike up a pen pal friendship which ultimately leads to a proposal. Okay–so the premise itself is okay but I found Sir Philip to be unbearable and not someone Eloise would choose (settle) to marry… When his first wife dies, the first thought he has is “let me go find a happy mother for my children” and no sadness or grief?! He also has quite a big of anger issue and is always looking to shift the responsibility of raising his children to someone else. While I get that is an accurate representation of the time period, he’s undoubtedly the worst male love interest in the Bridgerton series.
WHEN HE WAS WICKED – 4 stars
Bless When He Was Wicked for turning things around quite a bit for the Bridgerton series! This is the story of Francesca, the invisible and forgotten Bridgerton sibling. After being widowed at a very young age, Francesca ends up marrying her late husband’s cousin who has been also her best friend for the last few years. A little bit weird because the late husband and the cousin grew up very close like brothers but not too weird considering the time period (at least they are not actual brothers, you know?). When He Was Wicked presents the most balanced and equal relationship in the Bridgerton series! It was a tad bit boring at the end because the plot is pretty straightforward.
WAYWARD CHILDREN SERIES by Seanan McGuire
Huge thanks to Letters Bookshop for introducing me to this series! I used to read a lot of fantasy books when I was younger and had totally forgotten about it (and lots of YA in general). I received Every Heart a Doorway, the first book of Wayward Children series, in one of my monthly Sidecar book subscription mails from Letters and I was immediately hooked!
The premise of Wayward Children is that some kids end up in a different, magical world where they truly belong. Sometimes they get to stay there forever. and sometimes they return to “this world” accidentally or against their will. I would say the four books I have read so far can be read independently though Every Heart a Doorway and Beneath the Sky (books set in “present” vs “past” might contains some spoilers for other books.
First book in the Wayward Children series, Every Heart a Doorway might be the last book chronologically. Some children go to another world where they felt a true sense of belonging and find themselves back in this word for whatever reason. Many of those kids want nothing more than to go back and can’t adjust to the old way of life. Some of those kids get sent to this school (or home) called Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. They might learn to live “normally” or at least find others who feel equally lost. Not only Every Heart a Doorway introduces many of the characters of the series, it also has an intense storyline. Once you understand the setting of the story, it’s such a fun and quick read!
DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES
Story of twin sisters Jack and Jill, Down Among the Sticks and Bones is reminiscent of many fairytales. They had awful parents but a loving grandmother who ultimately led them to this new world where they enter together. There is juxtaposition for good vs evil and a clear lesson to be learned. Pretty intense but I loved it.
Going back to the Home for Wayward Children (the school), we’re a bit further along the timeline when we learn of a future that was complicated by a relatively recent event that takes place in Book 1 of the series. It’s complicated and a little bit over the place but somehow everything comes together at the end. (I realize this is the most vague review/book summary ever lol)
Lundy was going to grow up to be a housewife and live a normal, happy life that was expected of her. Until she found a doorway into another world where everything revolves around fair market value. It’s a logical world where you have to learn the rules but also truly abide by them in order to stay. I find the world in An Absent Dream to be the most interesting one far and Lundy’s character most complex yet.
P.S. I am currently reading These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card–another Sidecar pick by Letters Bookshop! 🥰