In the month of May I managed to read quite a few books and make up for my lacking in other months. I’m now on a better track with my reading challenge! Anyway, on with the books.
My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
In Julia Whelan’s debut novel, we follow American Ellan Durran as she follows her dreams through a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University. In her first moments in England, she bumps in a rude stranger who ends up being one of her professors. Later he becomes much more than just that. Ella must figure out if she wants to stay in England, or continue her job with a presidential candidate back at home.
Lately, I haven’t really been reading the descriptions, and have just been diving into books head first based on recommendations and pretty covers. So there was a bit of a twist that I really wasn’t expecting. I did enjoy the book, but it probably wasn’t my favourite that I read this month. It did feel a bit darker than my usual romcoms.
Open Book by Jessica Simpson
I’ve never put a whole lot of thought into Jessica Simpson. She always seemed to be the distant third of female pop stars of the late 90s. I’d of course heard about her desire to remain ‘pure’ until her wedding. I knew she married Nick Lachey and they had a TV show. She just was never really at the forefront of my mind.
But I LOVE a celebrity memoir.
Especially one that tells me the dirt. I love when a book names names, and Jessica did that. She was very open and honest in a way that I didn’t really expect from her. The book is a compelling read, as she talks about her struggles with alcohol, assault, and body image. I found it a really endearing book. But please note that it is pretty religion heavy. Which I guess is to be expected from her.
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
Tiffy Moore was recently broken up with and she needs to get out of the apartment they shared FAST. She’s on a tight budget, as she doesn’t make much at her job as an editor for specialty craft books. Most of the apartment she sees are not really what she’s looking for. She finds an add for a flatshare – and more importantly – a bedshare. Leon is looking for someone to share his flat as he works nights and only sleeps during the day, and wants someone with an opposite schedule. He could use the extra $350 a month to pay the lawyer in his brother’s armed robbery case.
Tiffy and Leon, while avoiding meeting, get closer and become good friends through a series of notes left around their shared apartment. They get to know each other and themselves better than they could have hoped. Tiffy faces the dark truths about her recent breakup.
I had heard about this book from blogger Beth Sandland and put it on my hold list immediately. It finally came to me in the middle of this month. I loved this book. I thought it was an interesting entry into my favourite genre. The Flatshare also dealt with some darkness that I wasn’t expecting, and a darkness that I don’t usually see in many books. I’d definitely read this one if you love a British romcom!
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
Vivian Morris is a young woman in the 1940s with no direction. She is sent to live with her aunt in New York City after being kicked out of university. She romps around town with showgirl, Celia Ray, while working as a costumer at her aunt’s playhouse, The Lily. One evening, she makes a misguided, childish choice that changes the course of her life, and she returns home. She later returns to the city with her aunt to help her during the war. She continues to live her life in a different way in a whole new NYC.
So, I think I liked this book.
The whole story is told by Vivian to a woman named Angela, who wrote to her asking what she was to her father. I kind of forgot about that part, because it didn’t totally become relevant until the very last quarter of the book. In fact, the part where is kind of is relevant, the 20 year span is covered in a few pages. Whereas we spent 3/4 of the book on about a year or 2 of action.
I feel like the first half could have been condensed just a touch. I feel like Elizabeth Gilbert takes pride in being exceptionally wordy. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. The world she created was very clear and robust. It just felt a bit disconnected.
So yeah, I liked the book. But it wasn’t an absolute page-turner for me. I wasn’t craving to pick it up and read it every day. It took me a little longer than it normally does to finish a book.