May Reading Round Up

Somehow my most stressful months always end up being great reading months. Probably because I like to hide from all responsibility by burying my head in a book instead! The good news is I somehow managed to meet all my deadlines and still read six books. Don't ask me how. Just know that I did. 

May books read


I was sent this book in a book swap, where it was chosen purely on the basis of the cover. It's certainly very beautiful (and it uses the same font as my old blog design), but sadly I wasn't a big fan of the story itself. It's the fourth in a series of murder mystery books but they all stand alone so, although there was the odd moment where I felt like I was missing the significance of certain characters, I didn't feel lost without having read the earlier three. The protagonist, Flavia, is a precocious 11 year old upper class girl and I felt her character was quite contradictory. She has a very sophisticated knowledge of chemistry, particularly potions, and shows observation skills sharper than the police force investigating the crime, yet she still believes in Father Christmas and demonstrates some real naivety. It just didn't add up. The ending felt rushed, and somehow Flavia knew exactly who the killer was when they appeared in a mask. There was nothing to show the reader how she worked this out- it was literally just 'Of course! It was you, Sam!' (There is no Sam- I just made up a name to avoid spoilers). Then there are all the excruciatingly awkward phrases Flavia uses like 'by the buttons of the Holy Ghost!' (translation: 'Good Lord!'), 'hogs britches!' (translation: 'Bollocks!) and the frankly bizarre insult, 'you look like the flag of Portugal'. The whole book was just confusing, frustrating and all-round annoying.

My rating: 48% (Find out how I rate books here)


I was sent Lips by publishers Hardie Grant, and it sounded right up my street- a little pocket book all about lipstick. I was a latecomer to lipstick but these days I don't feel like myself unless I've got some colour on my lips (my favourite is Urban Decay's Criminal). This book is probably more aimed towards those who are just getting into lipstick as it's filled with quick, simple tips on matters such as how to exfoliate your lips and the best way to apply lipstick. Something I thought was a nice touch were the recommendations of specific brands and shades based on your skin tone, but there were some tips along the lines of 'don't do this if you've got thin lips/ don't wear that if you're teeth aren't white', which I'm not a big fan of. Just wear whatever you like however you like! Nevertheless, it's a cute book filled with gorgeous photos and the cover is stunning!

My rating: 55% 

Buy Lips here


I received this book in another book swap, and it's not something I'd usually pick up. Then somebody mentioned that it was really sad and I was all over it. I love a book that can make me cry! Unfortunately, this didn't make me shed a single tear, mostly because it was so forced and predictable. Because it's so predictable, you can probably work out the spoilers yourself but I will be giving away the ending so don't read on if you want to avoid that. As a warning, the book discusses depression and suicide so I'll be mentioning this too. Violet is struggling to come to terms with her sister's death and Finch is suffering from depression. They meet on the bell tower at school as they both consider jumping off. You can probably now work out the entire plot. By the end, I found I just didn't care about any of the characters. Violent and Finch had no depth and no life besides the 'quirky teen mental illness' cliché, and every single adult was useless. The language used by the teens set my teeth on edge (I swear, if I had to read 'Ultraviolet Remarkey-able' one more time, I would have thrown the book out the window!) and there were some quite damaging statements about medication. My biggest problem, however, was that it made suicide sound like something romantic and special. You too can show people how much you love them by running away, killing yourself and leaving them a cute treasure hunt to complete after they find your body, looking for the clues you spread around the entire state before you died, with messages to show them how much they mean to you. That's not OK! To Niven's credit, the book was easy to read, and an engaging story. There was one point where the realities of suicide were described, rather than a serene, idyllic myth, and I appreciated that but it was quickly skipped over. If it hadn't been so problematic, it might have been a powerful story, and from reading the author's note in the back, it's clear that her intentions were good. Unfortunately, it just ended up being a cutesy tale about how quirky and romantic it is to experience mental illness and suicide. 

My rating: 58%

Buy All the Bright Places here (Don't say I didn't warn you)


I used to love the Point Horror books when I was younger, and Fatal Secrets was my favourite. This was also the reason why, aged 11, I wanted to call my future daughter Marissa. Yep. A while back, my mum brought round a box of crap from my old bedroom and this book was in there. I kept meaning to re-read it and, looking for a light, easy read, my eyes settled on this. It's been a long time since I read it which meant, although I could remember some key plot points, a lot of the ending was completely forgotten, and I got to experience it as if for the first time. I was surprised by how scary it was at times- I don't remember being creeped out by it as a kid so I guess I've become wimpier as I've grown up. But at least I don't still think Marissa is a good name.

My rating: 63%
Buy Fatal Secrets here


This book is the perfect example of why I never give up on a book. I very nearly didn't make it past the first page. The problem was that it felt like I was reading the writing of a very gifted child I taught in year 4. Sure, it used interesting vocabulary but it felt formulaic. Every verb had an adverb, every noun had two adjectives, there was personification, metaphors and... yep, there's the simile. However, once I got past the first chapter and the story opened up, it hugely improved. The Graveyard Book tells the story of Nobody Owens, a young orphan who is raised by ghosts in a cemetery that sounded very much like Highgate. The characters were warm and likeable, even if Bod kept doing stupid things to put himself in danger and never learning from his mistakes. At times, the plot felt a little disjointed, almost more like a series of short stories, and it became clear why when the acknowledgements explained that chapter four was written and published first as a stand-alone piece. Still, it all came together at the end with a surprisingly poignant conclusion that actually made me cry. And that is why I always finish a book I'm not keen on.

My rating: 67%

Buy The Graveyard Book here


I've been waiting a year for this book to be released in paperback as it sounded absolutely perfect for me. A book about cults and murder, set in the late 60s and based on the Manson case? Yes please! Unfortunately, it was not worth the wait at all. OK, it was well written and engaging. Even now, a couple of weeks later, I find myself remembering little lines from the book that stood out. I was drawn into this world of the hot, hazy Californian summer of 69 and found myself wanting to read on. It wasn't a bad book by any stretch of the imagination, but two things really annoyed me. First of all, this isn't just based on the Manson case. It's a full-on retelling, just with different names. If you don't know the case, there might be some slight spoilers coming up so read on with caution. I can't tell how obvious the foreshadowing is because I know the case fairly well and therefore knew exactly what was going to happen. It was pretty obvious there was going to be a murder at the end, but the cult leader, Russell, demands his followers commit the crime- an act of revenge on a famous musician who failed in his promise to launch Russell's music career, but when they find the target isn't there, they kill his girlfriend and son instead. That is literally the Manson case. There is no imagination in this whatsoever. The worst thing, though, was that the whole murder is told by the protagonist who wasn't even there! She didn't the witness the murders and yet she knows exactly what happened. Not just the chain of events but exactly what people said, how they acted, their movements and expressions. How is that even possible? The book was largely pretty good but it would have been so much better if Cline had invented her own cult and murders, and had the protagonist involved in order to describe them. 

My rating: 68%

Buy The Girls here

Affiliate links have been used in this post. Lips was sent for review by Hardie Grant but all opinions are my own. 

Bloglovin' // Twitter // Instagram


  1. I absolutely loved the girls. Reminded me of the hazy feeling that I got when I read the Virgin Suicides. Completely agree with All The Bright Places, I tend to find that the more popular YA isn't as good as I hoped.

  2. Yeah so The Graveyard Book sounds exactly like something I would pass over but if the ending if good I'll take your word for it

    Mel ★

  3. I loved All The Bright Places, but you do make excellent points that I agree with too. :)

  4. I've not read All The Bright Places yet, though it is on my to-read pile, so I'll be keeping your review in mind when I do! I waited eagerly for The Girls, and bought it in hardback I was so eager, but was really disappointed by it too! x x

  5. I had a uni assignment on The Graveyard Book a few years ago, and have a real soft spot for it - glad you enjoyed it in the end!


I read all comments and appreciate every single one, even if I can't always reply. If you have a question or need a reply, feel free to tweet me @BeckyBedbug- I always reply to tweets!

Blog Design by Get Polished | Copyright Becky Craggs 2017