May Reading Wrap Up

May was an interesting reading month! I have really embraced by love for fantasy romance!

I am going to start sharing my DNFs because I always appreciate hearing why someone puts a book down! I was buddy reading Blood Mercy with friends and we made it about 80 pages in and we were all struggling. I thought that the premise was intriguing and there was potential for me to really like the romance but it was the writing I couldn’t connect with. I have read a lot of vampire novels that have a more formal tone, which makes sense, but I felt this writing style was too formal. It took me out of the story and I found myself having to reread sentences over and over again. This is not ideal for a book that is over 700 pages! I was so happy when my friends also wanted to stop because I don’t think I could have pushed through, So disappointing because I loved the idea of it!

The Last Word is a book I should never have tried reading in the first place and that is on me! I didn’t love No Exit by the same author and I am struggling to like thrillers lately, but the idea of an author stalking a reader who gave him a bad review intrigued me so much I had to try it. That was a mistake! I don’t like this cat and mouse type thriller to begin with and I found all the characters to be stereotypical and they read like caricatures. The villain especially was over the top and ridiculous and I found myself rolling my eyes. I have seen so many incredible reviews for this from readers who love No Exit and are more thrillers readers, so I thought it was best to put this down and acknowledge this is a me problem.

A novel of terrible first impressions, hilarious second chances, and the joy in finding your perfect match.

Dr. Briana Ortiz’s life is seriously flatlining. Her divorce is just about finalized, her brother’s running out of time to find a kidney donor, and that promotion she wants? Oh, that’s probably going to the new man-doctor who’s already registering eighty-friggin’-seven on Briana’s “pain in my ass” scale. But just when all systems are set to hate, Dr. Jacob Maddox completely flips the game . . . by sending Briana a letter.

And it’s a really good letter. Like the kind that proves that Jacob isn’t actually Satan. Worse, he might be this fantastically funny and subversively likeable guy who’s terrible at first impressions. Because suddenly he and Bri are exchanging letters, sharing lunch dates in her “sob closet,” and discussing the merits of freakishly tiny horses. But when Jacob decides to give Briana the best gift imaginable—a kidney for her brother—she wonders just how she can resist this quietly sexy new doctor . . . especially when he calls in a favor she can’t refuse.

The fact that Yours Truly was the worst book I read in May is not something I expected at all considering Part of Your World is my favourite romance of all time. Something about this one didn’t click for me. I normally love fake dating but, in this case, I found the lack of communication to be frustrating. I also hated the ending and wish I could warn you where this story goes but it is a major spoiler. It is always tricky when a content warning happens in the last 10% of a book! Abby Jimenez is great at adding emotion and hard-hitting topics to her romances but I think this one was trying to do too much that it was overwhelming and almost felt emotionally manipulative. The best parts where me were the cameos of the characters from the first book and the author’s note.

Enter the brutal and elite world of a war college for dragon riders from USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Yarros

Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general—also known as her tough-as-talons mother—has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders.

But when you’re smaller than everyone else and your body is brittle, death is only a heartbeat away…because dragons don’t bond to “fragile” humans. They incinerate them.

With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother’s daughter—like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant.

She’ll need every edge her wits can give her just to see the next sunrise.

Yet, with every day that passes, the war outside grows more deadly, the kingdom’s protective wards are failing, and the death toll continues to rise. Even worse, Violet begins to suspect leadership is hiding a terrible secret.

Friends, enemies, lovers. Everyone at Basgiath War College has an agenda—because once you enter, there are only two ways out: graduate or die.

Fourth Wing is EVERYWHERE lately and I understand the hype. It is so much fun and super accessible and the dragons are awesome! This is a book where you have to suspend your disbelief in order to enjoy it and it took me a minute to do that. I was hung up on the fact that the military would allow their elite students to be killed during training if they desperately needed a strong army, but once I let that go I had a better time with it. Also, for a fantasy romance, the romance was the least interesting thing about it, in my opinion. I can understand why people would be invested in the romance but it is just not the kind of setup for a romance that works for me. It is one of those things where she is trying to survive but keeps getting distracted by how hot the boy who wants to kill her is. That said, I loved the side characters I was supposed to love and hated the ones I was supposed to hate, and I cried at the moments when I was supposed to cry and was shocked by the moments when I was meant to be shocked. I will be reading the sequel the moment it comes out because of how it ended!

After her perilous quest to free her mother, Xingyin thrives once more in the tranquility of her home. But her fragile peace is threatened by the discovery of a strange magic on the moon and the unsettling changes in the Celestial Kingdom as the emperor tightens his grip on power. While Xingyin is determined to keep clear of the rising danger, the discovery of a shocking truth spurs her into a treacherous confrontation.

Forced to flee her home once more, Xingyin and her companions venture to unexplored lands of the Immortal Realm, encountering legendary creatures and shrewd monarchs, beloved friends and bitter adversaries. With alliances shifting quicker than the tides, Xingyin has to overcome past grudges and enmities to forge a new path forward, seeking aid where she never imagined she would. As an unspeakable terror sweeps across the realm, Xingyin must uncover the truth of her heart and claw her way through devastation–to rise against this evil before it destroys everything she holds dear, and the worlds she has grown to love… even if doing so demands the greatest price of all.

The stunning sequel to Daughter of the Moon Goddess delves deeper into beloved Chinese mythology, concluding the epic story of Xingyin–the daughter of Chang’e and the mortal archer, Houyi–as she battles a grave new threat to the realm, in this powerful tale of love, sacrifice, and hope.

I read Daughter of the Moon Goddess last year and was surprised by how much I loved it, so I am glad that I finally read Heart of the Sun Warrior and finished the duology. I didn’t know what to expect from book two because I wasn’t sure it was needed but I thought it was really beautiful. I don’t think I was properly warned about how emotional this book would make me! I teared up three times! I had to sit with the ending for a couple of days and I am still not sure how I feel about it, but I don’t think there was a way for Sue Lynn Tan to end this series that would leave every reader satisfied. I certainly didn’t see the ending coming, so that is a win. I think I heard that she is writing more books in this world and I will definitely be checking those out!

Pull three people out of prison–a disgraced paladin, a convicted forger, and a heartless assassin. Give them weapons, carnivorous tattoos, and each other. Point them at the enemy.

What could possibly go wrong?

In the sequel to CLOCKWORK BOYS, Slate, Brenner, Caliban and Learned Edmund have arrived in Anuket City, the source of the mysterious Clockwork Boys. But the secrets they’re keeping could well destroy them, before the city even gets the chance…

The Wonder Engine is book two in the Clocktaur War duology! I read the first book, The Clockwork Boys, last summer and I should have picked up The Wonder Engine right away because this very much reads like one book divided into two parts. Thankfully, T. Kingfisher includes a summary of book one at the start of book two, but it still took me a minute to reorientate myself in the world and to remember all of the characters and their relationships. I think I preferred The Wonder Engine because the first book felt more like set up and all of the action happens in this installment. This is not my favourite series from T. Kingfisher, but it still felt like her, especially the dialogue! I am excited to have completed this duology because I can not move on to the other books that are connected to this world, starting with Swordheart, which is a lot of people’s favourite book from T. Kingfisher!

Human or vampire, the rules of survival are the same: never trust, never yield, and always – always – guard your heart.

The adopted human daughter of the Nightborn vampire king, Oraya carved her place in a world designed to kill her. Her only chance to become something more than prey is entering the Kejari: a legendary tournament held by the goddess of death herself.

But winning won’t be easy amongst the most vicious warriors from all three vampire houses. To survive, Oraya is forced to make an alliance with a mysterious rival.

Everything about Raihn is dangerous. He is a ruthless vampire, an efficient killer, an enemy to her father’s crown… and her greatest competition. Yet, what terrifies Oraya most of all is that she finds herself oddly drawn to him.

But there’s no room for compassion in the Kejari. War for the House of Night brews, shattering everything that Oraya thought she knew about her home. And Raihn may understand her more than anyone – but their blossoming attraction could be her downfall, in a kingdom where nothing is more deadly than love.

After DNFing Blood Mercy, I wanted to find a vampire fantasy romance that I could fall in love with and that is when The Serpent and the Wings of Night was recommended to me. This is another book that is getting a lot of attention right now and I am here for it! I loved this! I thought this had the perfect balance between fantasy and romance and I was equally invested in both. I think Raihn and Oraya are now one of my favourite couples in all of the fantasy romances I have read. I love a good slow burn enemies-to-lovers and then you had in the fact that there is a competition element to the story- what more could I ask for?

Six roses. Six vials of blood. Six visits to a vampire who could be her salvation… or her damnation.

Lilith has been dying since the day she was born. But while she long ago came to terms with her own imminent death, the deaths of everyone she loves is an entirely different matter. As her town slowly withers in the clutches of a mysterious god-cursed illness, she takes matters into her own hands.

Desperate to find a cure, Lilith strikes a bargain with the only thing the gods hate even more than her village: a vampire, Vale. She offers him six roses in exchange for six vials of vampire blood–the one hope for her town’s salvation.

But when what begins as a simple transaction gradually becomes something more, Lilith is faced with a terrifying realization: It’s dangerous to wander into the clutches of a vampire… and in a place already suffering a god’s wrath, more dangerous still to fall in love with one.

I don’t often read the novellas within larger fantasy series, but I was told that the characters in Six Scorched Roses are in the next full length novel in the series and that it is worth reading, I am so happy that I did because I adored these characters and their love story! I would say that this is more romance focused when compared to The Serpent and the Wings of Night, but that makes sense considering it is a novel. That said, I thought it did a lot of interesting world-building and introduced some back story that I am curious to know if it will help me appreciate the sequel even more!

When I was a little girl, my Ma used to read me stories every night. Some were epic adventures with high stakes and exciting twists while others were of princesses trapped in towers guarded by fierce dragons. The pitiful princess would be stuck inside all day pining for her prince charming to come and rescue her. I always hated those stories. I couldn’t imagine why the lazy thing didn’t just get up and leave. Ironic since I was now stuck in that same situation. Turns out, when a dragon holds you hostage, he doesn’t just let you get up and leave.
Who knew?

When I thought I saw hope on the horizon, that hope was smashed to bits by – you guessed it – another damn dragon.

That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Human is the third book in the Mead Mishaps series. This has quickly become my favourite series and this is a great installment, even though it is my least favourite of the three. I think I just didn’t love the setting as much and I missed all of the characters from the first two books! That said, this was still fun, steamy, and ridiculous and I had a great time. I do find it strange that Orbit picked up this series but I will be picking them all up when they are published physically.

A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage in an empire reminiscent of imperial China. Her brothers are dead, her armies and their war mammoths long defeated and caged behind their borders. Alone and sometimes reviled, she must choose her allies carefully.

Rabbit, a handmaiden, sold by her parents to the palace for the lack of five baskets of dye, befriends the emperor’s lonely new wife and gets more than she bargained for.

At once feminist high fantasy and an indictment of monarchy, this evocative debut follows the rise of the empress In-yo, who has few resources and fewer friends. She’s a northern daughter in a mage-made summer exile, but she will bend history to her will and bring down her enemies, piece by piece.

This was a reread for me and I appreciated The Empress of Salt and Fortune so much more the second time! I think that is because I listened to the audiobook the first time and missed some things and this time I read it physically and felt more connected to the characters. There is just something about Nghi Vo’s writing that works for me and I think she is one of those authors who you will either click with or you won’t. I also read all of the notes that the author shared about the book on Goodreads and I will leave a link to that here because I thought it added to my understanding and the reading experience overall.

Reunited after twelve long years apart, Gyre and Maya will soon find themselves on opposite sides of a brewing civil war between those who wield magic and those who do not in the second instalment in Django Wexler’s epic new fantasy series.

Long ago a great war wreaked devastation, destroying an empire and leaving a new republic in its wake. Now a new civil war has begun, pitting those with the power to wield magic against those without. Across that divide stand a brother and sister.
Twelve years after she was taken by the mysterious Twilight Order, Gyre has finally found his sister Maya, now a powerful magical warrior known as Burningblade. But given the chance to kill her and brandish a great blow against the oppressive Order, he instead let her free. The love for his sister was too strong, despite the terrible authority she represents.

All the while, trouble brews within their factions. A small but influential group of the Order conspire, intent to bring about the return of the Chosen; and the warriors of the resistance will need to learn to work as one if they are to stand any chance.

Blood of the Chosen is the sequel to Ashes of the Sun and this is quickly becoming one of my favourite series! I just love this world and these characters. It is very much gay Star Wars and it just works! There were some interesting reveals in this installment, though I did feel like it followed a lot of the same plot beats of the first book. That didn’t bother me too much though because I was just happy to be back with these characters and to see how their relationships develop.

Salama Kassab was a pharmacy student when the cries for freedom broke out in Syria. She still had her parents and her big brother; she still had her home. She had a normal teenager’s life.

Now Salama volunteers at a hospital in Homs, helping the wounded who flood through the doors daily. Secretly, though, she is desperate to find a way out of her beloved country before her sister-in-law, Layla, gives birth. So desperate, that she has manifested a physical embodiment of her fear in the form of her imagined companion, Khawf, who haunts her every move in an effort to keep her safe.

But even with Khawf pressing her to leave, Salama is torn between her loyalty to her country and her conviction to survive. Salama must contend with bullets and bombs, military assaults, and her shifting sense of morality before she might finally breathe free. And when she crosses paths with the boy she was supposed to meet one fateful day, she starts to doubt her resolve in leaving home at all.

Soon, Salama must learn to see the events around her for what they truly are—not a war, but a revolution—and decide how she, too, will cry for Syria’s freedom.

I had it in my head that As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow was a historical fiction but it is set in 2011. That just proves my ignorance about the Syrian Revolution. I read a few emotional books this month but this one is at the top of the list. There was a moment where I was truly an emotional mess. This was an easy five star read for me and I think everyone should read it even if it isn’t typically your thing.

A boy has lived his whole life trapped within a vast library, older than empires and larger than cities.

A girl has spent hers in a tiny settlement out on the Dust where nightmares stalk and no one goes.

The world has never even noticed them. That’s about to change.

Their stories spiral around each other, across worlds and time. This is a tale of truth and lies and hearts, and the blurring of one into another. A journey on which knowledge erodes certainty, and on which, though the pen may be mightier than the sword, blood will be spilled and cities burned.

The Book That Wouldn’t Burn is easily one of my favourite books of the year! It has major Piranesi vibes and that is something I am always looking for but is hard to find. What more could I ask for than a book that centres around a library that is also a labyrinth? This is a book that is near impossible to describe, so just trust me on this one!

What is the best book you read in May?

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8 thoughts on “May Reading Wrap Up

  1. I felt the same way about The Last Word. It was cringy and uncomfortable due to the eye-roll-inducing stereotypical character descriptions and it damaged the authors attempt at a good story for me. In the whole world of character creation, can we please all agree to not use the smelly, socially-awkward, neckbeard with a katana as the. “Bad guy” choice??

  2. I’m sad to hear you didn’t like Blood Mercy, I’ve been seeing that one around a LOT and have it on my TBR but I’m weary… good to know if I’m not feeling it early on to just DNF!

  3. Heart of the Sun Warrior was a wonderful sequel and it made me emotional at times too. I’d love for there to be more books set in that world 😍 Have a great June!

  4. As Long As The Lemon Trees grow sounds great and I have been meaning to read that one for ages. The Mark Lawrence book… Piranesi vibes? That sold that one to me!

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