What I Read May 2023

by - June 05, 2023

Despite the craziness that was May, I blew through quite a few books. I also discarded quite a few books that just weren't doing it for me, but I'm not going to focus on them. Those Facebook book ads got me, y'all. My TBR list has exploded with samples recently, and sadly a lot of them just aren't worth finishing. Anyway, despite the many books/series I won't be continuing from this month, I've got quite a few good ones to share with you.

Author: Mary Ellen Taylor

We'll start with this month's One Woman Book Club pick, not because I finished it first but because it's the first book I started reading this month (and I can't remember exactly when I finished it). This is a dual timeline book with a nice parallel between the two main characters, Ruth and her granddaughter, Ivy. When Ruth dies, Ivy moves back to North Carolina to fulfill the requirements of the will. In the midst of cleaning out their old home, Ivy uncovers some truths about her family history, while Ruth lives those truths in the other timeline.

Darkly Sweet, Dread Delight, Bitter Bliss, Blooming Black, and Deadly Morsel (Rosewood Academy of Witches and Mages series 1-5)
Author: Juliann Whicker

I absolutely loved this twisted little series. It was very unlike anything else I've read, but if I had to choose something of a similar style I guess the closest thing I've read would be the All the Pretty Monsters series minus the reverse harem factor. Poppy is not your typical witch in that she doesn't actually have any magic, but that doesn't stop her from attending magic school in order to snag a mage husband to meet her grandmother's will's requirements and save not only her home but also her mother.

The main storyline pretty much wraps up with book five, but there are eight books in the series with the main characters changing in book 7.

Wine & Warlocks (The Unlucky Charms series book 5)
Author: T.M. Cromer

This was Dubheasa and Ronan's story, as well as the final battle against the O'Malley's biggest enemy, who just so happens to be Ronan's kin. Dubheasa and Ronan have a rocky history to overcome, but like with the other couples in this series, the two are fated to be together. That's really all I can tell you without fear of spoilers. I highly recommend this series, and I'm pretty excited that the author has decided not to stop here with the O'Malley family. I'm also eagerly awaiting the series about one of the characters who plays a big role in not only this series but the Thorne Witches series as well.

Crime and Publishing (Nevermore Bookshop Mysteries series book 8)
Author: Steffanie Holmes

This book picks up right where the previous book left off. Mina has been invited to an author's retreat where one of the attendees will leave with a publishing deal. However, the editor in charge of the retreat isn't exactly on the up and up. When he winds up dead, it's no surprise that nearly everyone in attendance has a possible motive, including Mina and the guys.

While I enjoyed this latest installment in what is arguably one of my favorite series, I have to admit that it's gotten a bit sillier and there were quite a few noticeable editing errors. I hope that the author pays closer attention to detail with the next book(s).

Author: Blake Blessing

I'm super disappointed in this one. I'd been waiting for the series to be complete before starting. It has really good reviews, but I found it lacking in pretty much everything. It had a lot of potential for a really good story, but it felt very under-developed to me. Insta-love has never been my thing, and this storyline tiptoes on the line, not to mention the main female character's easy acceptance of most things. It's just not believable.

The Scarlet Thread (Fated Destruction series)
Author: D.S. Murphy

This series has potential. It's an interesting story with ties to Greek mythology presented in what I found to be a unique way. However, I felt frustrated with parts of the plot, especially with how ignorant the author made the protagonist. I'm not giving up on the series, yet, so hopefully our female lead will get a grip on what exactly her destiny is. She has the makings of a badass heroine, but her cluelessness about the situation is annoying.

Forbidden Fates (Stolen Legacy series)
Author: Candice Bundy and Piper Fox

This was an interesting concept but a bit lacking on execution. There is a pre-established relationship between the main female character and the main male characters, but in my opinion there is not enough background information given before they become romantically involved. Essentially, a fae has stolen an item from each of the guys because of something that happened during their school days. The guys look up Sera to ask for her help negotiating with the fae, but she ends up tied to their quest. At the end of book one, they've recovered one item, which was pretty anticlimactic in terms of a potentially-deadly quest if you ask me.

The Piece You Broke and The Piece You Stole (The Hounds series 1-2)
Author: Marleigh Kassidy

This one is really dark, but I felt drawn to the main female character. I didn't realize the series was incomplete when I started it, otherwise I would have held off. The next book comes out at the end of July.

Night Huntress (The Urban Jungle Shifters series)
Author: SK Prince

I'm not sure I'm going to continue this series. I like that it's cat shifters instead of wolves, which I'm a bit burnt out on, but I felt like the plot was a bit pointless. There's a storyline for sure, but I wasn't very convinced by it. The main female character is turned against her will and spends two years searching for a way to undo it. Turns out her only option is a magical talisman that's in the possession of the Louisiana alpha, and unsurprisingly she's caught trying to steal it.

Raven Blood, Ashes & Bones, and Shadow Glass (The Red Masques series 1-3)
Author: M. Sinclair

This has been on my TBR for awhile. The books are pretty quick bites, so I'm moving through them fairly quickly. We know from the beginning that the main female character is different, and the series description is clear that there is a supernatural element to this story. However, it's not clear until the end of book three what the big problem is. We get hints along the way, but there's a big secret surrounding the MFC.

Author: Ji-li Jiang

Let me preface this by saying that memoirs are really not my thing. I read this because it is part of the curriculum my school is adopting for next school year, and I have mixed thoughts. While I enjoyed the story from a personal standpoint and agree that it is written in a way that most seventh graders should be able to follow along with fairly easily, I found some of the themes problematic for this age group as well as the overall language.

Ji-li was a pre-teen during China's Cultural Revolution. This was when the working class rose up to overthrow the bourgeois. Ji-li recounts her family's experiences throughout this tumultuous time, not shying away from the more despicable happenings including suicides, teacher targeting, work camps to reform offenders, beatings, etc. She offers very little explanation for many of the events that unfold until the epilogue and in some cases appears to be excited or caught up in the revolution. As an adult, I have enough prior knowledge to see it for what it is - the memories of a pre-teen who didn't fully understand everything that was happening around her. I feel younger readers who don't have the same background knowledge due to their age will struggle with that concept.

Author: Lorraine Hansberry

This is technically a play, but I wanted to include it since it did occupy some time for me. This play is also part of the curriculum being implemented for my school next year, so I wanted to read through it before attempting to teach it. As with Red Scarf Girl, I have mixed thoughts. On a personal level, I enjoyed the story and found it to be an accurate depiction of the time period it portrays. However, I am not convinced it is appropriate content for middle school based on the language and themes.

The Youngers are a black family that lives in Chicago during the 1950s. The grandmother is the matriarch of the family. Her daughter, Beneatha, is going to college to become a doctor; her son, Walter, is a chauffeur who wants to open a liquor store with his friends, while his wife, Ruth, works as a nanny. They, along with a grandson, live in a three-room apartment that shares a bathroom with another family. In the wake of the grandfather's death, they are all awaiting an insurance check for $10,000 to decide their futures. In addition to the daily struggles of this family, the play also addresses religious differences as well as an unexpected pregnancy and talk of terminating it. There are also quite a few references to historical events of the time throughout, though it's done with an almost indifferent attitude.

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