Back atcha with another month of book reviews!
Last month I managed to read five books, which isn’t too shabby considering I didn’t read as much in the two months prior. I’m finally starting to feel like I’m getting back into the swing of reading, which is definitely a relief. As much as I hate writing slumps, reading slumps sometimes feel even worse.
Click on if you’re interested in seeing what I read during the month of May!
(all summaries and covers from Goodreads)
1. Beautiful Stranger by Christina Lauren
Escaping a cheating ex, finance whiz Sara Dillon’s moved to New York City and is looking for excitement and passion without a lot of strings attached. So meeting the irresistible, sexy Brit at a dance club should have meant nothing more than a night’s fun. But the manner—and speed—with which he melts her inhibitions turns him from a one-time hookup and into her Beautiful Stranger.
The whole city knows that Max Stella loves women, not that he’s ever found one he particularly wants to keep around. Despite pulling in plenty with his Wall Street bad boy charm, it’s not until Sara—and the wild photos she lets him take of her—that he starts wondering if there’s someone for him outside of the bedroom.
Hooking up in places where anybody could catch them, the only thing scarier for Sara than getting caught in public is having Max get too close in private.
3 out of 5 stars
Kicking off the month with a Simone Read What staple: yet another Christina Lauren book. I have no idea what I’m going to do when I run out of them.
Anyway, this is book #2 in the Beautiful series. And if you’ll recall, book #1 in the series started off as Twilight fanfiction and I have not been able to get the image of Edward Cullen out of my head since. Thankfully, I didn’t get the same Twilight vibes with this one. And, dare I say it… this book was actually pretty good.
While the dialogue was still cringey at times, it was a heck of a lot better than the first book, and the sexy-times were far hotter.
2. Club Rules by Andrew Trees
In Eden’s Glen, an iconic world of privilege and ease, the comfortable rituals of wealth and leisure have created an enclave almost untouched by time. But position is not easy to attain, or to keep. And quiet desperation has suddenly found its way into lives whose paths were always smooth before.
One family has indisputably stood atop Eden’s Glen for generations: the Winthrops. Invitations to their parties are the most coveted in town; the fortunes of many rise and fall on the whims of Winthrop Trust, the family’s bank; their favor dictates who gets into the country club—and who does not. But even the Winthrops are not immune to the pressures that underlie the clean, calm surface of life in Eden’s Glen. Chafing from the small disappointments of twenty years of marriage leaves Preston and Anne Winthrop—the town’s golden couple—unprepared to deal with a long-buried secret that bubbles up to shatter an otherwise uneventful summer of tee times and ladies’ lunches. As husband and wife struggle to come to terms with their changed lives, their teenage son’s misery goes unsoothed. And the events that follow reveal that even money and position cannot save their charmed world.
1.5 out of 5 stars
I ordered this book randomly from Book Outlet last year because the summary sounded intriguing and I liked the cover. I knew nothing about it or the author, but I added it to my cart anyway. It wasn’t until I was scanning my shelves for a physical book to read (so that I can put a dent in my physical TBR list) that I remembered I had it and decided to give it a chance.
As y’all already know, I consult Goodreads for a copy of the summary and the cover of the book to add to these reviews, so I was shocked to discover this book only had 36 ratings total. Now, I understand that this book is nearly a decade old at this point (it was published in 2010 by St. Martin’s Press) but that’s not a lot of ratings. And a lot of those ratings weren’t very good.
So let’s just say that going into this book, I was concerned. And then I read the prologue and all I could think was “hmm, yeah, I don’t know if I’m gonna like how this goes…” But I kept reading.
This is a book where you can really tell the female characters were written by a man. It was… uncomfortable, to say the least. Every woman is obsessed with how she looks, as if she has nothing better to worry about except how attractive she is compared to the next woman. And their husbands? Jesus Christ, every single one of them seems to hate their wife, and is just as obsessed, if not more, with how she looks. It’s so freaking gross.
And like… I get it! This is supposed to be a book about superficial people and the things they get up to, but my God, it could have been approached so much better. The sheer hatred of women that’s portrayed here as if it’s absolutely normal to think this way is so unsettling.
Also, there were so! many! characters! Way too many POVs, many of them unnecessary. Not to mention every character was awful. Not a single redeeming quality about any of them.
Still, I read the whole thing and found myself engrossed in the drama, but all of it just made me angry. Especially that cheap ending. Depressing and incredibly dumb. Ugh.
3. Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau
I’m a pretty simple guy. When I’m not writing a science fiction novel, I’m watching a good movie or reading a book. Alone. I like my reclusive life. That is, until my only friend asks for a favor—pretend to be his baby sister’s boyfriend on a couples’ getaway. Her ex is going to be there and she needs me as a buffer.
I should have said no, but Naomi is bubbly, energetic, and beautiful. She also means everything to her brother. But now, our fake romance is starting to feel all too real, and I find myself stuck between the promise I made to my friend and risking my heart to the one woman who might actually get me…
3.75 out of 5 stars
I knocked this light-hearted interracial romance out in about two hours, and honestly, it was the kind of low-drama, low-stakes book that I needed. It’s got fake-dating and the brother’s-best-friend tropes, which are definitely my favorite, and this was executed pretty darn well.
I identified a lot more with Will, our grumpy introvert writer MMC, than I did with Naomi, our kinda under-developed FMC, but she was still fun. The only thing that kept me from rating this one higher was the fact that I didn’t feel much of a connection to the story as a whole. It felt like a slightly fleshed-out outline, not a final draft. But then again, it was a pretty short book, so any sort of exposition would have made it much longer.
Still, here are a couple random things that I loved:
Will going through his Goodreads reviews and trashing the people who give books bad ratings for extremely stupid reasons, like swearing.
And introverted Will’s thoughts of, “I like my f*cking shell, thank you very much.” I feel you, bro!!!
4. Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.
The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.
3 out of 5 stars
This series has existed in my periphery for a long, long time. I was far too young to read it when the first seven or so books came out, but I always remembered hearing about it, especially during the whole Twilight craze. I gotta say, I love vampires. I love the lore and I love ~the danger~ that goes along with them, and I doubt I’ll ever get sick of them.
So, of course, I had to start this series. However, I was a little concerned when I opened the book.
Anytime a book starts out with a super long glossary, I get a little iffy about continuing. Like, you expect me to remember all that sh*t???? I’m not gonna remember all that sh*t. So you better explain it in the dang text as well. ESPECIALLY since this is supposed to be the first book in a series.
I gotta say though, despite some cringey phrases/dialogue and some over-the-top concepts, I was pretty much hooked right off the bat. I knocked out 100 pages (of the 500 pages the ebook has) in one sitting, which is pretty good for me since I pretty much only have the attention span to read about 50 at a time.
And speaking of cringe-worthy, hooooo BOY, these names! I could barely stop laughing enough to read the next sentence whenever “Vishous” or “Zsadist” appeared. My goodness.
Of course, we had some supernatural-insta-love, which, I mean, we’re already suspending disbelief here when it comes to the existence of vampires, so why not take it further with everything happening within the blink of an eye timeline-wise.
So yeah, I enjoyed it for what it was. Am I gonna read the rest of the books in the series? Why the heck not, vampires are too much fun to pass up.
5. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
4.25 out of 5 stars
I’ve been following Victoria on Twitter for nearly a year now because I find the stuff she posts to be so incredibly relatable and she has a wealth of knowledge to share… but I had never read any of her books before. Wild, I know.
And wow, was I missing out. This was a feat of world building, exciting characters, and some of the most spectacular writing I’ve read in a while. The way she strings words together is truly amazing. Like, I’m legitimately jealous.
While this was a fantastic read, I have to admit, I did find myself lacking an emotional connection to both Kell and Lila. It felt like something was missing, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what. That said, they were both well-developed and I definitely plan to read the rest of the series, but I was just missing that spark that makes me really love a book.
I’m hoping to keep this reading pace for June as well, but it’s definitely going to be a busy month for me, so we’ll just have to wait and see!
Have you read anything interesting lately? Any recommendations you want to share? Let me know in the comments!