Monthly Wrap-Up: May 2023

Looking back at what I read last month has made May feel ridiculously long. It legit feels like I read some of these books months ago. 

I managed to read an impressive 11 books last month, including three graphic novels so maybe not that impressive, but I think it is. Especially considering the slump I currently feel myself in. 

I’ve not had the best month, quality-wise, thanks to some not-so-good ARCs but hey, it makes for great content. Well, I hope it does.

Demon in the Wood by Leigh Bardugo and Dani Pendergast

Read: 1/5/23

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Before reading this graphic novel, I’d completely forgotten I had already read the written version of this story at the end of Ruin and Rising. The adaptation of it into a graphic novel was done extremely well and I actually enjoyed it more this way. 

The illustrations were gorgeous and I loved the colour work. I’m definitely going to check out more of this illustrator’s work. 

Book Review: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Synopsis: Before he led Ravka’s Second Army, before he created the Fold, and long before he became the Darkling, he was just a lonely boy burdened by an extraordinary power.

Eryk and his mother, Lena, have spent their lives on the run. But they will never find a safe haven. They are not only Grisha—they are the deadliest and rarest of their kind. Feared by those who wish to destroy them and hunted by those who would exploit their gifts, they must hide their true abilities wherever they go. But sometimes deadly secrets have a way of revealing themselves…

Lose You to Find Me by Erik J. Brown

Read: 28/4/23 – 1/5/23

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

*I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

I had a lot of fun reading this and I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. This sounds mean, but I’m always a little skeptical with YA contemporaries. I don’t know why because I usually really enjoy them. 

ARC Review: Lose You to Find Me by Erik J. Brown

Synopsis: Tommy Dees is in the weeds—restaurant speak for beyond overwhelmed. He’s been working as a server at Sunset Estates retirement community to get the experience he needs to attend one of the best culinary schools in the world. And to make his application shine, he also needs a letter of recommendation from his sadistic manager. But in exchange for the letter, Tommy has to meet three conditions—including training the new hire.

What he doesn’t expect is for the newbie to be an old crush: Gabe, with the dimples and kind heart, who Tommy fell for during summer camp at age ten and then never saw again. Unfortunately, Gabe doesn’t remember Tommy at all. The training proves distracting as old feelings resurface, and the universe seems to be conspiring against them.

With the application deadline looming and Gabe on his mind, Tommy is determined to keep it all together—but what if life isn’t meant to follow a recipe?

Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

Read: 3/5/23 – 4/3/23

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was a super cute and fun listen. I’m not usually a fan of single narration audiobooks, but the narrator for Perfect on Paper was really good. The story gave me major Sex Education vibes and it was an overall good read. 

Audiobook Review: Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

Synopsis: Her advice, spot on. Her love life, way off.

Darcy Phillips:

• Can give you the solution to any of your relationship woes―for a fee.

• Uses her power for good. Most of the time.

• Really cannot stand Alexander Brougham.

• Has maybe not the best judgement when it comes to her best friend, Brooke…who is in love with someone else.

• Does not appreciate being blackmailed.

However, when Brougham catches her in the act of collecting letters from locker 89―out of which she’s been running her questionably legal, anonymous relationship advice service―that’s exactly what happens. In exchange for keeping her secret, Darcy begrudgingly agrees to become his personal dating coach―at a generous hourly rate, at least. The goal? To help him win his ex-girlfriend back.

Darcy has a good reason to keep her identity secret. If word gets out that she’s behind the locker, some things she’s not proud of will come to light, and there’s a good chance Brooke will never speak to her again.

Okay, so all she has to do is help an entitled, bratty, (annoyingly hot) guy win over a girl who’s already fallen for him once? What could go wrong?

NeoForest – Volume 1 – Cocto Citadel by Fred Duval & Philippe Scoffoni (Illustrator)

Read: 8/5/23

Rating: 1 out of 5.

*I was given an ARC of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review*

This was not good, like at all. It was boring, the art style wasn’t very interesting and the whole colour palette was pretty much just green.

Graphic Novel ARC Review: Neoforest by Fred Duval & Philippe Scoffoni

Synopsis: In a distant future lives a young woman named Blanche. She’s the heiress of Cocto Citadel, a neofeudal city like those that arose after the end of the world… When Blanche and her father find themselves at the centre of dramatic power struggles, it’s in the heart of NeoForest, the Great Central Forest, that everything must be decided.

Knee Deep by Joe Flood

Read: 8/5/23

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

*I was given an ARC of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review*

I was kind of vibing with the art style on the cover, but it didn’t translate well to the pages. Everything was too busy and chaotic and the story wasn’t very gripping.

Graphic Novel ARC Review: Knee Deep by Joe Flood

Synopsis: In the year 2223, a teenage girl must venture through underground tunnels and canals in search of her parents who disappeared while on a mining expedition.

Two hundred years in the future, refugees from an environmental cataclysm have fled underground. They survive, scrounging out a living in a twisted maze of tunnels and canals. Scavengers, mistitfs, bandits, renegades and mutants are among the citizens of this subterranean realm. They are sewerfolk, their home, the bowels of a utopian city that was never completed.

Kill Your Darlings by L.E Harper

Read: 1/5/23 – 9/5/23

Rating: 3 out of 5.

*I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

I had a semi good time reading this book, the premise was very interesting and not something I’d seen before, but it didn’t blow me away. There wasn’t anything inherently bad with it, but it got a bit repetitive and it focused on a lot of heavy topics – some of which were talked about in great detail. This book comes with a lot of content warnings, so if you do want to check it out, make sure you read those first.

ARC Review: Kill Your Darlings by L.E Harper

Synopsis: Fantasy author Kyla knows dreams don’t come true. Isolated and grappling with debilitating depression, she copes by writing about the realm of Solera. Fearless heroes, feisty shapeshifters, and mighty dragons come alive on her pages. She adores her characters, but she doesn’t believe in happy endings. And if she can’t have one, why should they?

Kyla’s on the verge of giving up on everything when she wakes one morning, magically trapped in her fictional world. Now she’s with her most cherished characters: the friends she’s always yearned for, the family she’s never known. There’s even someone who might be Prince Charming (if Kyla could get her act together and manage some honest communication). She’d surrender to the halcyon fantasy, except she knows a nightmarish ending awaits. Solera is at war, and its defenders are losing against the insidious villain spawned in the depths of Kyla’s mind. He feeds on the energy of dreams, seeks the destruction of all who oppose him—and Kyla’s become his number one target.

Kyla must trade her pen for a sword and fight to change her story’s ending, but this isn’t a fantasy anymore. No happily-ever-after is guaranteed. And mental illness has robbed her of everything she needs to succeed: love, fighting spirit, hope. If Kyla can’t overcome the darkness inside her, she’ll die with her darlings.

Rhythm & Muse by India Hill Brown

Read: 10/5/23 – 12/5/23

Rating: 2 out of 5.

*I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Now, I love books about music and when I saw the cover for this one, I was instantly interested. Unfortunatley, it wasn’t particuarly good. It wasn’t bad at all, but I really didn’t like the characters and the dialogue/events became a bit too repetitive for my liking. 

ARC Review: Rhythm & Muse by India Hill Brown

Synopsis: Cinderella  meets  Cyrano  in this pitch-perfect YA rom-com that is a celebration of Black joy, first crushes, and putting your heart on the line for love. Darren Johnson lives in his head. There, he can pine for his crush—total dream girl, Delia Dawson—in peace, away from the unsolicited opinions of his talkative family and showboat friends. When Delia announces a theme song contest for her popular podcast, Dillie D in the Place to Be, Darren’s friends—convinced he’ll never make a move—submit one of his secret side projects for consideration. After the anonymous romantic verse catches Dillie’s ear, she sets out to uncover the mystery singer behind the track. Now Darren must Is he ready to step out of the shadows and take the lead in his own life? 

Cupid’s Revenge by Wibke Brueggemann

Read: 14/5/23 – 16/5/23

Rating: 3 out of 5.

*I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Cupid’s Revenge was actually quite fun and I really liked the cast of characters. I couldn’t rate it more than three stars because I wasn’t a fan of the romance elements. My review for this is coming soon (7th June) so keep an eye out for it!

Synopsis: For the record, it was never my intention to fall in love. But you know Cupid: he’ll get you when you least expect it . . .

Tilly isn’t looking for a girlfriend, but her best friend Teddy is.

Enter Katherine Cooper-Bunting: beautiful, charming, and perfect for Teddy. So why does Tilly find herself using any excuse to join the theatre production they’re starring in?

And why can’t she stop thinking about Katherine?

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Read: 16/5/23 – 21/5/23

Rating: 5 out of 5.

She’s only gone and done it folks, she’s finally read King of Scars. I’ve been telling myself I’d read this book for god knows how long. I think the size of it was putting me off and honestly I’m amazed I got through it becasue May was not a fun reading month, I was in a massive slump and I’m currently not in the mood for fantasy – which I never thought I’d say. 

However, I did enjoy King of Scars as its main characters are three of my favourite Grishaverse characters. I definitely need more Zoyalai in my life (is that their ship name?)

Book Review: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Synopsis: Face your demons . . . or feed them.Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war – and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Read: 22/5/23 – 25/5/23

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I had a great time reading this. So much so that I watched the film adaptation almost instantly after finishing. I loved both. Neither was the best pieces of art I’ve ever seen/read but they are fun and I enjoy a good hate/annoyance to lovers story.

I haven’t done a full review of this yet, but one is coming soon.

Synopsis: Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Read: 29/5/23 – 31/5/23

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is exactly what I needed to finish out a pretty crappy reading month. I absolutely raced through this book and considering it’s over 400 pages, that’s pretty good. Time literally flew by as I was reading and before I knew it, during my first sitting, I got through more than half the book. 

I’m planning to publish a proper review of this in the next few weeks, so make sure to keep an eye out for it.

Synopsis: Evangeline Fox was raised in her beloved father’s curiosity shop, where she grew up on legends about immortals, like the tragic Prince of Hearts. She knows his powers are mythic, his kiss is worth dying for, and that bargains with him rarely end well.

But when Evangeline learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, she becomes desperate enough to offer the Prince of Hearts whatever he wants in exchange for his help to stop the wedding. The prince only asks for three kisses. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’s pledged. And he has plans for Evangeline that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…

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