After a disastrous start to the year, I’m beginning to think that I’m now slowly getting my reading mojo back, if my recent reads are anything to go by. I found a couple of favorites, one of which I’ve been raving about almost everywhere, mostly in my Favorite Authors and the Mid Year Book Freakout Tag videos. I’m still going to be a little cautious, though, because I don’t want to jinx it in any way or form. I know what could happen and I’m super wary of it.
In today’s blog post, I’ll be talking about my May 2022 and June 2022 reading wrap ups. I read 9 books in each of these months and given how I’ve given up on TBRs and also on bothering about the number of books I need to read, it went pretty well. Over the next month, I’m hoping to add many more books to my TBR because it’s my birthday month, but also because why not? But I’ve veered off the point again: my recent reads i.e. my May 2022 wrap up and June 2022 wrap up. Buckle up for a LONG blog post!
I’ve also done a 30-minute long video in which I talk about these books. If you’d like to go check it out, here’s the link: Recent Reads: July 2022 Edition.
P.S. If you’d like to support me by buying me a coffee or a book, here’s where you can: buymeacoffee.com/bookwormdrama. Thank you in advance. ❤
1. Pentias: The True Bond by Karthika Sajeev
A little book that is a prequel of sorts to another book that I read and reviewed on my channel, Pentias: The True Bond by Karthika Sajeev is the story of two brothers, Aahan and Aarav, who move to a small town because of their father’s work transfer. They make friends and begin to assimilate there, only to encounter a haunted house on their adventures, where Aarav, the younger brother, falls into trouble and Aahan, the older brother, and their friends have to rescue him from the ghost residing there.
The premise of this story is super intriguing and the novella itself is fast-paced. But the writing is childlike and basic punctuation is off in quite a few places. It is still a fun read and I would recommend it!
2. At the Mountain of the Divine Tigress (Frank Carter #3) by Yashesh Rathod
The third in the Frank Carter series, this book is a culmination of the story of the quest for the power of pellets that Frank Carter and his friends have been on since the first book. The action sequences and the unexpected ending make for a fast-paced, riveting read, but the extra, unnecessary details and the childlike language pull it back a few notches. As I’ve maintained since the time I read the first book, I just wish some editing and proofreading had been done.
I did a full written review of this book on my blog. Here’s where you can read it: At the Mountain of the Divine Tigress by Yashesh Rathod.
3. One of Us is Next by Karen M McManus
The sequel to One of Us is Lying, a thriller that I found interesting, One of Us is Next doesn’t quite live up to the name its predecessor made. A year after the events of the first book, someone is back at Bellevue High, threatening to spread rumors using Simon Kelleher’s modus operandi in a dangerous game of Truth or Dare. The main characters now involved are different, but the game they’re trapped in is one that is way too similar to the first book. This is exactly what put me off this story, that the same recipe of intrigue is used here. There’s a fine line between books with the same recipe working and not working and this book evokes a déjà vu that only just falls on the wrong side. I just wish there had been something different throughout.
4. Pentias: Master of the Elemental Jewels by Karthika Sajeev
This is the book that I read and did an extensive review of and which is a sequel to Pentias: The True Bond that came earlier in this blog post.
In Pentias: Master of the Elemental Jewels, Aahan and Aarav go on a whole other adventure. On Aahan’s fifteenth birthday, their father falls ill and slips into a coma, but not before telling them that they do not belong to this world and that they should contact someone called Mother Alaysia. The kids and their friends embark on this journey to find the new land and then on another quest for the Elemental Jewels, for finding these jewels is the key to saving their father’s life.
Like The True Bond, this is also a fast-paced, intriguing children’s fantasy that will keep your attention from beginning to end. And like its predecessor, it falls short in the language department.
I’ve done a full video review of this book. If you’d like to go check it out, link is here: Pentias: Master of the Elemental Jewels.
5. Charlie Savage by Roddy Doyle
Roddy Doyle is a well-known Irish author and in this book, he tells the story of Charlie Savage through a collection of columns that he wrote for the Irish Independent.
Middle-aged Charlie, his relationship with his wife, his kids, his best friend, with society, and with social media – you’ll find all of this in this book. It is witty and the typical Irish humor is there. But you’ll have to take a lot of things that the author talks about in this book with a grain of salt. It’s a fun book, but for me, personally, it was just a one-time read. The only achievement I felt here was that I bought this book in 2020 and I’ve finally read it! FINALLY!
6. Mythos by Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry is a great storyteller and to read him telling Greek mythological stories was an experience in itself. Mythos is the story of the origin of the universe, the emergence of the Titans, and the emergence of the Gods. It isn’t comprehensive, but the way Stephen Fry tells these stories, it makes for a fun way of learning Greek mythology and its characters. From Gaia and Ouranos to the Olympians, we go through the whole gamut accompanied with wit, humor, and sarcasm. I highlighted the heck out of this book: the characters, the events, the funny quips – so much to take away from this! One of my favorites from this year and I cannot wait to get started on Heroes and then Troy.
7. You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry
This is the story of two best friends, one a chaotic travel writer and the other a calm teacher, who travel to places. Their story started way before the writer became the writer, though, and throughout this journey, which is told in a nonlinear narrative, we see the ebbs and flows of their relationship. But something happens between them that results in them not talking to each other for two years despite them having been closer than ever and despite the absence of any obvious animosity. What has happened that has brought them to this point? And will they be able to solve this?
Okay, listen. I don’t hate Emily Henry’s work. I think she’s fine. But I’m indifferent to her writing. It doesn’t evoke anything within me. It happened with Beach Read and it has happened again with this book, You and Me on Vacation. It was okay but it was nothing memorable. Doesn’t mean I won’t read another of her books, though.
8. The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
My first reaction to this book was extreme excitement because I did like The Guest List by the same author. But thrillers seem to have taken it upon themselves to not appeal to me, and this book entered that clique through my recent reads. Ugh.
This is the story of a group of friends who go to a remote private cottage/farmhouse of sorts in Scotland to ring in the new year. It’s a tradition, this, where every year, one person takes on the responsibility of organizing this getaway. So when one of them gets murdered, every one of the group becomes a suspect. Throughout the book, which goes back and forth in time while narrating the events, we learn about the characters, their motivations, and their lives outside this bubble. Eventually, we get to the motive and the murderer, something I guessed about halfway through the book.
But OH MY GOD! Why does every single character have to be a jerk? Yes, “everyone has skeleton in their closets” is a thing but it gets tiring in this book, especially when the fat person is portrayed as the one on the periphery, looking in and wishing for people to like them. GOOD LORD. This book feels like the author took The Guest List manuscript, changed the setting and the character names, and that’s it. It’s just…meh.
9. In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri
I usually update monthly wrap up lists as and when I finish reading books. In this list, when I came to this book, I wrote, “FAVORITE FAVORITE FAVORITE!! 10 STARS, IF YOU WILL!” What a fantastic book this is! I did a full book discussion post for this here on my blog. Here’s where you can find it: In Other Words – Book Discussion.
In Other Words is Jhumpa Lahiri’s autobiographical account in which she talks about her journey of learning the Italian language. She talks about the urge to learn a new language, the energy that goes into learning it, the steps that one must take to learn it, the dedication and motivation required for it, and so much more. I found myself staring at some pages in open-mouthed wonder because of how much I related to it. I smiled, I grinned, I laughed, I teared up, I shed silent tears – all at how much I found myself in this book. It is one that I will treasure till the end of time. And I wish you could see my copy right now. So many highlights, so many annotations, so many notes! If I could get Jhumpa Lahiri to sign it, it would be the ultimate thing to ever happen to me!
10. A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari
This was a Netgalley ARC that I finished reading on the day of the book’s release. With a stunning cover that left me breathless and a premise that promised me so much with the Agatha Christie vibes that it was sending my way, I was half-sure that I was going to find another favorite. Sadly, it was not to be.
This is a historical fiction set in 1923, in which Saffron Everleigh, a botanist and assistant to a professor, is at a party where someone is poisoned. Her professor is the prime suspect and Saffron knows that he didn’t commit the crime. She suspects that someone is pinning this on him, be it because of a personal vendetta or something else. She embarks on this quest to find the truth and eventually get the professor acquitted.
This is a good historical fiction meets mystery of sorts. The cherry on top is the research that has gone into it. But it doesn’t quite do more than that. There is no twist anywhere to keep you on your toes and the plateauing of the plot somehow makes it an okay read when it could have been amazing. It still holds your attention, though, and for that, I appreciate it.
11. The Loneliness of Hira Barua – Arupa Patangia Kalita, translated by Ranjita Biswas
A collection of short stories set in Assam about the lives of Assamese women domestically as well as in the larger picture of society, The Loneliness of Hira Barua is a fantastic glimpse into lives that keep getting sidetracked and overlooked. Halfway through, I felt that the writing – the translation – wasn’t that great and that it tries too hard to be poetic. Poetry in writing can come in different ways, of which the roundabout way is the most frustrating for a reader. But when it ends up being impactful, I think that it becomes a minor issue. One that can be ignored. It’s a stark, moving, honest collection that is a reflection of reality. This is one that I’ll definitely recommend if you’re looking for a translation/short story collection/book by an Indian author.
12. House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A Craig
The sisters of Highmoor are said to have a curse on them, for they keep dying off one by one. The latest to go is Eulalie, at whose funeral the book starts off. Told from her sister, Annaleigh’s perspective, this book oscillates between a murder mystery, the supernatural, and pure horror as Annaleigh, after seeing ghostly visions of her sisters, becomes convinced that Eulalie didn’t die on her own. She was murdered. But how it all happened and how the past is about to come unraveling forms the entire story.
This book succeeds in being creepy and giving us the chills. I tried to avoid reading it at night, given how big of a scaredy cat I am. But I ended up doing exactly that because of how invested I was in the story. There’s so much more in here than what I could explain in the gist above, things that will stun you because you could never have imagined it all happening. It’s a great book to entertain you in a dark way – one that I personally will file away under horror.
13. Galatea by Madeline Miller
Galatea was originally a sculpture born in Ancient Greece from the hands of one of the best sculptors to exist – Pygmalion. Given the boon of life, she is now locked up because her husband, the sculptor, thinks that he has full authority over her and that she should follow his every command. Patriarchy and male entitlement too dictated this, but Galatea has had enough. She has to do something to save her daughter as well. She has to break free and she will do it, whatever the cost. What is the cost, however?
Madeline Miller is a goddess of words herself, and the way she narrates Galatea’s story is simply out of this world. Simple, effective words find their way into your mind and heart and settle there, rooting for Galatea and her daughter. It’s a short book that you can finish in under an hour, but pretty impactful. Highly recommend!
14. Gardens of Love: Stories of a Marriage by Meera Godbole-Krishnamurthy
This, as the tagline says, houses four stories of one marriage. A man and a woman are trying to understand each other’s ambitions and their impact on their marriage. How they need to take some steps, how much they are prepared to do to have the other in their lives, their relationships with the other significant people in their lives, and how conversations actually help in coming to important decisions forms this book.
I finished this book in one sitting since it also has illustrations. But it didn’t appeal to me much especially because it tends to get way preachier than is required. Every sentence doesn’t need to start off with a ‘pearl of wisdom’ as they say and this, despite being a short book, makes it seem unending. However, it is still an okay one-time read because of the illustrations. Plus, the shortness of the book. Yeah, it has its pluses. 😉
15. The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
Poirot’s second case, if I’m not mistaken, sees him receiving a letter from Paul Renauld of France, begging him to come help him because his life is in danger. Poirot departs immediately along with friend, Arthur Hastings, but when he reaches there, he finds out that Renauld has been murdered. Eloise Renauld, the dead man’s wife, says that he was dragged out of his bed by masked men and whisked off, only to be found dead. There is the house staff, the neighbors, and a couple of other characters who are suspected. Poirot and Hastings are joined by Monsieur Giraud, an over-the-top, condescending detective from the Paris Sûreté. They have to find out what has happened, especially when new facts keep coming to light every now and then.
I enjoyed reading this book, especially when Giraud behaves like a condescending prick and Poirot smiles indulgently and ends up being correct as always. It’s fast paced and the new facts coming to light are not contrived. It’s one hell of a ride, for sure, taking you on a rollercoaster of hypotheses that you build up and that come crumbling down every two pages. It’s no Murder on the Orient Express or The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, but it’s entertaining nevertheless.
16. My Sh*t Therapist and Other Mental Health Stories by Michelle Thomas
Michelle Thomas, in this book, talks about her struggle with depression and its repercussions on all facets of her life. The global reality of a sizeable number of therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists not taking a patient’s concerns seriously and being downright dismissive of them is laid out in this book. Michelle Thomas talks about her own experiences and also mentions stories of people who have reached out to her, narrating their own. It’s an eye-opening read in a lot of ways, even though she does use a couple of questionable words to describe her mental state. To be fair, she does address it at the beginning of the book, saying that she does it ‘for lack of a better way’ and also that she uses it in her own context. I do think that this is a book that you definitely should read to learn about the universality of mental health.
17. My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
And my rocky relationship with thrillers continues! What a dud this turned out to be for me, especially since it had an interesting concept. The author twisted the unsavory topic in unsavory ways and brought it to the point where all I wanted to do was jump into the pages and knock the characters’ heads together. I mean… WHY! Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s what the book is about:
My Lovely Wife is the story of a couple who, to keep the “fun” in their marriage, takes to serial killing. Twisted, I know, but it gets even worse, just you wait. They are the respectable couple in the society, since they keep getting away with murder. To keep their reputation, they find a new way to keep doing these and not come under anyone’s radar. But there’s something else happening behind the scenes and things are about to get nasty, if that is even possible. How far are they willing to go and what are they willing to sacrifice to keep this horrible game going? This is the question that you need answered.
The answer to it is: to any extent. I dislike this book, I promise you, and the way some characters sprout consciences because something is happening to them and not to someone else is despicable to me. Yes, I get the concept of the book and I get the intent. But I think I’m allowed to not like something like this, no? The end was abrupt and rushed, and there were plenty of loopholes to create a black hole unto itself. Yes, I’m not good at physics, but please understand the emotion behind the statement. XD
18. Mohini: The Enchantress by Anuja Chandramouli
Anuja Chandramouli does mythological characters in a feminist perspective, pointing out obvious sexism, misogyny, and hypocrisy that is rampant to today. The Gods weren’t exempt from this. How can us mere humans be? It doesn’t make it any bit unfair, though.
In Mohini: The Enchantress, the author, as Mohini, an avatar of The Protector Vishnu, narrates everything she sees, be it whatever is happening with the Gods and on Earth. She sees things for what they are and not for what should have been or for what should be. Even so, she, with a sharpness that pleased me, points out everything that’s wrong with the male gender seeing every other gender as inferior to their own. It’s a failing, no matter how much they say it isn’t. From Nara and Narayana, to Lord Indra, to her intervening in worldly affairs, Mohini sees it all and in her commentary, tells us what actually happened versus what was said of the events and how it was spread in order to align with the patriarchal narrative.
Anuja Chandramouli’s writing can be tedious and in some places, unnecessarily so. But it accomplishes what it sets out to do, which is to impress upon you the truth of millennia of agendas that have been doled out to us in the name of tradition. It’s a good mythological retelling/fiction that will force you to reevaluate everything you have ever learned about religion as a whole.
So that was my May 2022 wrap up and June 2022 wrap up combined into a Recent Reads blog post. What did you think of these books? Have you read any of these? Are you going to add any of these to your TBRs? What did you read in May 2022 and June 2022? What were your favorites? Your least favorites? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you. 🙂
I’ll see you very soon in the next blog post.
Until next time, keep reading, and add melodrama to your life. 🙂