I’ve read 10 books this month, another good total! That brings my yearly total up to 49 books. It’s crazy to think that I’ve nearly achieved last years goal before the first 6 months of the year are up! I’ve been doing so much better in my reading this year and reading a much wider range, so I’m pleased with myself. This was also the month that I discovered a love for adult contemporary/romance! I also have managed to actually sit down and write a wrap up every month, which is something I failed spectacularly at last year! So here we go, here are my May reads!
1. Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco – 5 Stars
“Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.
But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?”
I just loved this series so much. This is definitely my favourite instalment so far, the mystery was great and I just feel so much attachment to these characters. This was set on a cruise liner (pre-titanic) when entertainment on ships was rising in popularity – this makes for such an interesting historical setting. The troupe of performers and the passengers we know of aboard the ship were all so seedy that it meant it was impossible to guess who the murderer was, but it made so much sense at the reveal – exactly how a good murder mystery should be. I’ve written a more in depth post on everything I love about this series here.
2. In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire – 5 Stars
“This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.
When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.”
This series has become a fast favourite of mine – over the last couple of months I have listened to all four books as audiobooks and truly loved them. I really loved books 2 & 4 (this one is book 4) as they contain the backstories of characters we’ve met previously and I just LOVE the character development. There’s just something about the super lyrical writing style that is wonderful and works so perfectly as an audiobook, so I highly recommend consuming them that way.
3. An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason by Virginia Boecker – 3 Stars
“When Lady Katherine’s father is killed for being an illegally practicing Catholic, she discovers treason wasn’t the only secret he’s been hiding: he was also involved in a murder plot against the reigning Queen Elizabeth I. With nothing left to lose, Katherine disguises herself as a boy and travels to London to fulfill her father’s mission, and to take it one step further–kill the queen herself.
Katherine’s opportunity comes in the form of William Shakespeare’s newest play, which is to be performed in front of Her Majesty. But what she doesn’t know is that the play is not just a play–it’s a plot to root out insurrectionists and destroy the rebellion once and for all.
The mastermind behind this ruse is Toby Ellis, a young spy for the queen with secrets of his own. When Toby and Katherine are cast opposite each other as the play’s leads, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another. But the closer they grow, the more precarious their positions become. And soon they learn that star-crossed love, mistaken identity, and betrayal are far more dangerous off the stage than on.”
By this point I was really feeling a break from YA fantasy, so the rest of the books this month are a little more mixed in genre and age group. The first one I picked to break the mould was An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason, which is a YA historical fiction following a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare’s company. I adore the Tudor period and I love Shakespeare so I was really excited about this one, but it ended up being just okay. The plot wasn’t great, it was okay, the characters were okay and the romance was fine. Just nothing standout. It mirrored A Midsummer Night’s Dream (the play Shakespeare was working on during the book) in that the MC was a woman disguised as a boy and the main love interest fell for her as a boy, later to find out she was a girl. This felt a little queerbaity so I didn’t adore it, it was just okay as far as romances go.
4. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – 4.5 Stars
“Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She prides herself on being loved by everyone at work – except for imposing, impeccably attired Joshua Templeman.
Trapped in a shared office, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game, The Mirror Game, The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything – especially when a huge promotion is on offer.
If Lucy wins, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she questioning herself? Maybe she doesn’t hate him. And just maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or is this just another game . . . ?”
This was my wildcard of the month, the game changer. I don’t read much romance or contemporary but after feeling the need to stay away from YA fantasy for a bit but being let down by my previous read, I decided to pick up The Hating Game! I’ve heard great things about it and it seemed like the complete opposite of everything I was a bit bored of, so I gave it a go and I’m so glad I did because I have discovered that I LOVE adult romance! This book was adorable and fun and heartwarming and steamy and just everything I wanted it to be! I only knocked half a star off because there were a couple of comments that made me a little uncomfortable but that may just be a personal taste thing.
5. Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff – 5 Stars
“Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.
When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.”
HOLY CRAP I LOVE THIS SERIES SO MUCH. I am dead. I am so glad that this lived up to how incredible Nevernight was – this series is definitely one of the best adult fantasies every written. Godsgrave introduced new characters, revisited old, and gave Mia a new f/f romance that was so complex and interesting to read. I just can’t wait to get my hands on the final book in September, because the ending of this killed me and I must know what happens next (although considering that the first page of the first book tells us that our MC Mia dies at the end, I am also terrified for this next book).
6. The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – 5 Stars
“Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.
But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly-imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…”
Something light to wind down was DEFINITELY required after the shitstorm that was Godsgrave, so on the back of my new adult romance hype, I picked up The Flatshare in a 99p kindle sale. I loved this so much – the characters were so sweet and lovable and the story was so sweet whilst still having so much depth. I won’t say too much on this one, because I have a full review on it which you can read here.
7. The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson – 3.5 Stars
“Every winter, Wren Silke is chased through the forest in a warped version of a childhood game. The boys who haunt her are judges, powerful and frightening pursuers, who know nothing of her true identity. If they knew she was an augur, their sworn enemy, the game would turn deadly.
But Wren is on the hunt, too. Sent undercover as an intern to the Harkness Foundation – enemy headquarters – her family’s survival rests on finding a secret meant to stay hidden. As the enmity between two ancient magics reaches breaking point, Wren is torn between old loyalties and new lies. And trapped in the most dangerous game of her life.”
Again, I have a review on this which explains the nuances of my very mixed feelings towards this book much better than I could summarise here. The very short is that I felt a bit confused by this overall and wanted more from it and the characters, however the setting and Irish folklore that this story was steeped in was gorgeous and I loved it. You can find my full thoughts here.
8. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – 5 Stars
“Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism!
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.
But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.”
Nimona was a really fun read and a total surprise for me. I don’t read many graphic novels, but of the ones I’ve read this has definitely been my favourite. It’s a fantasy that focuses on villains and their rivalry against the corrupt institution at the head of the kingdom. The art was so beautiful, I loved the character design and also loved how Noelle Stevenson managed to pack so much nuanced character development and relationships into the format. I highly recommend this for those of you who want to try graphic novels and don’t know where to start! I also hear it’s being turned into an animated movie….
9. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – 4.5 Stars
“It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.”
I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to start this series! I’ve heard so much about it but never picked it up and I just decided on a whim to give the first book a go! I adored how whimsical and magical this felt. It’s so strange because it’s set in contemporary America, yet it feels so magical and steeped in old British mythology. I loved the vibe and enjoyed meeting the characters, though I feel there is so much more development to come. It was just a fun, magical romp and I’m really looking forward to diving into the rest of the series.
10. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – 4 Stars
“If you could steal things from dreams, what would you take?
Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself.
One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams.
And sometimes he’s not the only one who wants those things.
Ronan is one of the raven boys – a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school, Aglionby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan’s secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface – changing everything in its wake.”
I carried straight on from The Raven Boys into the second book of the series, The Dream Thieves. I liked this one slightly less than the introduction simply because I loved the adventure, discovery and atmosphere of the first books, whilst this one was more character based. We did get so much more development of the magic system and characters though, especially Ronan, which was pretty cool to see. I’m looking forward to continuing this series in June!
So there we are! Another month gone and another great set of books. If I had to pick a favourite, I think it would have to be Godsgrave! How many books did you read this month, and what was your favourite?