May: Books I’ve Read Recently

"Books I've Read Recently" is a series where I, Penelope Gomez, will do a monthly wrap up of the books I've read throughout the past month. In this series I will give a brief synopsis of the story and then give the book a rating out of 5 stars. 5 stars being the best and 1 star being the worst!

I will then give a brief description of why I chose to rate a book a certain way.

So without further delay lets get into the "Books I've Read Recently," and as always leave a comment down below and tell me which of these books you've also read, or plan on reading next.

Books I've Read Recently

Darling, book cover

Darling by Kayla Ancrum

On Wendy Darling’s first night in Chicago, a boy called Peter appears at her window. He’s dizzying, captivating, beautiful—so she agrees to join him for a night on the town.

Wendy thinks they’re heading to a party, but instead they’re soon running in the city’s underground. She makes friends—a punk girl named Tinkerbelle and the lost boys Peter watches over. And she makes enemies—the terrifying Detective Hook, and maybe Peter himself, as his sinister secrets start coming to light. Can Wendy find the courage to survive this night—and make sure everyone else does, too?

My Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars

I really liked this book, although it went in a direction that I NEVER would have imagined in a million years. This is a Peter Pan reimagining and in this story Peter is anything but the hero of this plot. In this reimagining he is actually the villain and in the most unexpected way possible! I never saw that diabolical twist coming. I think I imagined a hundred million different scenarios while reading this book, but I never even came close to guessing what Kayla Ancrum came up with. Basically we follow Wendy Darling as the main character of this story and after an unexpected meeting with Peter she ends up sneaking out of her house in the middle of the night with the idea of attending a wild house party! Wendy thinks nothing of it, being new to town and having really strict parents she thinks this is the perfect time to rebel and make new friends and hang out with a really cute boy to boot! The night seems incredibly promising for Wendy. Only Peter's ex-girlfriend Tinkerbell is totally trying to chase Wendy away by being the harshest mean girl possible. Come to find out Tinkerbell is the only one on Wendy's side. Tinkerbell is doing everything she can to protect Wendy from Peter because like it or not Wendy has stumbled into an extremely dangerous situation. Wendy Darling might wind up dead before the sun even rises and before her parents even realize she’s not sleeping in her bed. This was a pretty good and unexpected thriller. This book was far from the Disney classic everyone knows and loves and was completely its own thing. It was Peter Pan but unique. I do think this book could have used just a tad bit more thriller just to ramp up the scare factor, but it was a good read regardless.

They'll Never Catch Us, book cover

They'll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman

Stella and Ellie Steckler are only a year apart, but their different personalities make their relationship complicated. Stella is single-minded, driven, and keeps to herself. Cross-country running is her life, and she won't let anything get in the way of being the best. Her sister Ellie is a talented runner too, but she also lets herself have fun. She has friends. She goes to parties. She has a life off the course.

The sisters do have one thing in common, though: the new girl, Mila Keene. Both Stecklers' lives are upended when Mila comes to town. Mila was the top runner on her team back home and at first, Ellie and Stella view her as a threat. But soon Ellie can't help but be drawn to her warm, charming personality. After her best friend moved away and her first boyfriend betrayed her, Ellie's been looking for a friend. In a moment of weakness, she even shares her darkest secret with Mila. For her part, Stella finds herself noticing the ways she and Mila are similar. Mila is smart and strong--she's someone Stella can finally connect with. As the two get closer, Stella becomes something she vowed she'd never be: distracted.

With regionals approaching and college scouts taking notice, the pressure is on. Each girl has their future on the line and they won't let friendships get in their way. But then, suddenly, Mila goes out on a training run and never returns. No one knows what happened, but all eyes are on the Steckler sisters.

My Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Stars

I was really disappointed in this book if I'm being completely honest. I loved Jessica Goodman's previous book They Wish They Were Us. That book was filled with such rich and descriptive language. The setting for that book was chef's kiss. That book was top notch and I couldn't have been less satisfied with this book's setting and its character development. In this book we follow the two Steckler sisters and they were both bland, boring, vanilla and if I had to describe these two characters they were like unseasoned chicken breast. This book was a MURDER MYSTERY and I have to say it took so long for Jessica Goodman to even kill anyone off. By the time anyone actually died in this book I could not have cared any less! The character development was so poor I couldn't even remember what non-important character died. This book was mind numbingly dull. This book was like pulling teeth to finish. I do think Jessica Goodman is a good writer and has good settings and good characters but she really just missed the mark with this plot line. I'm not going to totally discredit her yet. She has this new Murder Mystery coming out this summer called The Counselors that I'm really looking forward to, so I'm going to give her another chance but this book was just a miss for me. I will say that I did enjoy that twist ending though. I never even suspected the killer in this novel.

Your Heart, My Sky, book cover

Your Heart, My Sky by Margarita Engle

The people of Cuba are living in el periodo especial en tiempos de paz—the special period in times of peace. That’s what the government insists that this era must be called, but the reality behind these words is starvation.

Liana is struggling to find enough to eat. Yet hunger has also made her brave: she finds the courage to skip a summer of so-called volunteer farm labor, even though she risks government retribution. Nearby, a quiet, handsome boy named Amado also refuses to comply, so he wanders alone, trying to discover rare sources of food.

A chance encounter with an enigmatic dog brings Liana and Amado together. United in hope and hunger, they soon discover that their feelings for each other run deep. Love can feed their souls and hearts—but is it enough to withstand el periodo especial?

My Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Stars

I'll be honest - I didn't love this story, but that was because it was so incredibly heart breaking! In this book written in short verse, we follow two kids Liana and Amado who are growing up in Cuba in the middle of a government induced famine. People are not allowed to grow their own food. It is illegal and anyone caught trying to grow food will be sent to prison. All available food is given out in incredibly small rations by the government. The government hopes to keep its citizens weak and starving, so that there can never be an insurrection. Even "hunting" for food is illegal and could lead to a lifetime in prison. I found this story incredibly heartbreaking because this was based on real events in Cuba. This book was set back in the early 90's and although the main characters are fake the premises of 'famine' in this book was based on very real events. Liana and Amado are doing everything they can to survive in these harsh times. They begin to illegally grow food in order to feed their starving and almost dying families. We follow these two characters from a very young age into young adulthood. These two have fallen in love and like many people in Cuba they have dreams of illegally building a raft and escaping to America across the vast ocean. People would rather risk death than die of starvation. They must decide if they are willing to risk everything and sail to America, abandoning their families, or stay in Cuba and continue to risk execution to feed their families. For such a short book, this was such a heavy and terrifying read. This is one of those books that you can never unread but it's a book that stayed with me and I find myself still thinking about this book. It was incredibly slow paced, but I think its definitely worth the read, just be prepared to be absolutely devastated.

Our Dreams at Dusk by Yuhki Kamatani

Our Dreams at Dusk Volume 1, book cover
Our Dreams of Dusk Volume 2, book cover
Our Dreams of Dusk Volume 3, book cover
Our Dreams of Dusk Volume 4, book cover

Not only is high schooler Tasuku Kaname the new kid in town, he is also terrified that he has been outed as gay. Just as he’s contemplating doing the unthinkable, Tasuku meets a mysterious woman who leads him to a group of people dealing with problems not so different from his own. In this realistic, heartfelt depiction of LGBT+ characters from different backgrounds finding their place in the world, a search for inner peace proves to be the most universal experience of all.

My Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Stars

I'm not sure how I feel about this manga series. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it. I feel like the creator Yuhki Kamatani really wanted this story to have a solid moral and a lesson for her readers. Whatever that lesson was I feel like it completely flew over my head and I just didn't get it. I've talked to other people about this series and they absolutely loved it. It was a 5 star reading for them but I just didn't see it? In this series we follow a high school student named Tasuku. He has been harboring this secret. He knows he’s gay, he's always known he's gay, but he is just so fearful of being judged. He puts this fear of being judged above all else and would rather live miserably in a lie than be happy to be himself and openly gay. Throughout this series we see Tasuku completely evolve as a character and after meeting a group of other LGBT+ members who are older and wiser he begins to fully accept himself. Not all of the members of this LGBT+ group are authentically living as themselves, but it’s enough for Tasuku to know that there are other people out there like him, that gives him the courage to survive and change his mentality. I really loved the premises and the plot for this story, but this was not a happy or easy read by any means. I felt like most of the characters were incredibly pessimistic and unhappy with themselves. The story just kind of ended before all of the characters could fully except themselves as is, which was disappointing to me as a reader, because I always just want everyone to be happy. The artwork was amazing, but there were a lot of "dream like" sequences in this series that I just found rather confusing, but it was beautifully done. The artwork for these dream sequences were immaculate.