I’m finally posting the second half of my May wrap up, but I just want to make it clear that Black lives still matter and we need to continue working toward systemic change. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund could always use your money if you have some available and working on change at the local level usually means sending letters to city council or town boards and I encourage you to look into that.
So while things are not returning to normal anytime soon because we won’t allow it, I do want to continue telling you about the books I’ve read for both your sake and mine. Also, real quick, let me tell you my overall stats for the month. In May, I read 21 books, one physical, 13 ebooks, and seven audiobooks. Eight of the books I read were ARCs and 10 were by authors of color. Two of the books featured LGBTQIA+ characters (both own voices) and I read five five star books. The one unfortunate thing about that is that most of my five stars were rereads… I reread five books in May. Oh, and my favorite book last month (aside from my rereads) was Chaos Reigning. So, let’s talk about the books!
Chaos Reigning by Jessie Mihalik
I posted a Series Review about these books because of how much I love the series, but last night’s Date Night with Alyssa Cole, Nalini Singh, and Jessie Mihalik (hosted by Loyalty Books, a Black owned bookstore in the DC metro) has me really desperate to reread the whole trilogy. Anyway, Chaos Reigning follows Catrina, who is the youngest sibling, and the one who intentionally tries to ensure people underestimate her. I love her charm offensive and the way she uses her strength in such different ways. Bianca, her older sister, sticks her with two body guards for this House Party, one of which (Alex) is to pose as her lover. Sparks obviously fly between them, but also the space adventures were so fun and so intense! I loved it and think it was such a strong conclusion.
Wildfire by Ilona Andrews
Well, I did tell y’all I did some rereading in May. Wildfire is book three in the Hidden Legacy series and the conclusion of Nevada’s trilogy. It’s really remarkably done and I just love everything about this series. If you haven’t tried it yet… Do? Lol.
Misadventures with a Professor by Sierra Simone
I picked this up entirely on a whim and I have zero regrets. Y’all already know Sierra Simone writes some SEXY books and this was definitely not an exception to that rule. Essentially, Zandy is in London for a day before she goes off to work for this professor for the summer and she’s determined to finally lose her V-card. (I’m a big proponent of virginity being a social construct and while that idea seems incompatible with this book, I thought it treated it relatively well.) Anyway, she accidentally winds up propositioning this man she meets on the street and convinces him they should have sex. There’s spanking involved and it’s angsty and obviously that random guy on the street winds up being the professor. If you like Sierra Simone, I can’t imagine this book not working for you; if you’re new to Sierra Simone, this might actually be a good place to start since it’s fairly tame, but will give you a good taste of her writing style. Oh! And Zandy is definitely a curvy heroine, which I appreciated.
Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
Sapphire Flames is the first installment in Catalina’s trilogy within the Hidden Legacy world and I love it. Catalina is such an incredibly unique character for this sort of paranormal romance mixed with urban fantasy world. She’s anxious but tries so hard to portray confidence and she delegates because she has to. I just adore her. And I am so excited to learn more about Alessandro in Emerald Blaze and would really appreciate if August would HURRY UP and arrive. I’m getting a nephew and Emerald Blaze in the same month, so… I have a need. Anyway, I re-read this book when I did alongside Aarya for the Sapphire Flames readalong she hosted on Twitter. Here is my thread.
Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
You can see my review of this in the May ARCs, Part Two post. Essentially, I really enjoyed the book despite how incredibly slow the romance is. And when I say this book is a slow burn, I mean it is a sloooooooooooow burn. But I really liked Emma and Jo, so I really enjoyed it all in all. I bought myself a physical copy of it, if that tells you anything. Anyway, this is a Sapphic romance between Jo, a Chinese American Hollywood director/writer(?), and Emma, Jo’s white assistant and right hand woman. When Jo brings Emma to the SAG Awards to serve as a buffer, they have a moment on the Red Carpet that is captured by the press and they determine the two women are definitely dating. A lot of the book is about each woman processing their own emotions surrounding the other woman and determining, yes, there might be feelings, but what does that mean? There have been several people who haven’t really enjoyed the book, so maybe check out some other reviews to decide if you think it will work for you or not. Personally, it’s the only book I’ve ever read where I was desperate for fan art immediately upon finishing, so I clearly liked it.
(Im)perfectly Happy by Sharina Harris
I actually bought this book from Loyalty Bookstore after the first Date Night with Alyssa Cole, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Sharina Harris, and Mia Sosa. It’s a women’s fiction (but with HEAs) about four Black women who have been best friend’s since college realizing that at some point, they all stopped following their dreams. Raina brings them all back together and tells them that they’re going to start going for it and they start making it happen. The book explores a lot with their four characters all pursuing their dreams. I stayed up way too late reading it because I just wanted to know that they all found happiness. CWs for grief and alcoholism and cheating. Oh, and discussion of childhood sexual abuse.
The Girl Next Door by Chelsea M. Cameron
This Sapphic romance is also featured in my May ARCs, Part Two round up and was also a slow burn, though not as slow as Something to Talk About. Set in Maine, this book features Iris, a woman who has returned to her parent’s home after “failing” to make it in Boston, and Jude, the woman living next door to Iris’s parents and working as a lobsterwoman. Jude is grieving and a bit standoffish, but Iris is somehow sunshine-y despite her sadness, worries, and anxiety over what she’s doing with her life. I loved the way this book explored the small town aspect of things and I enjoyed the romance between the two women. I would recommend picking it up if you want a soft romance between two women that takes a while to evolve. Also, there’s an interior decorating aspect to this book that I was truly obsessed with and I think I may have a problem. I miss HGTV.
Until the End by Juno Rushdan
This is the third, but hopefully not last book in the Final Hours series and it was QUITE the ride. I’m still not totally sure what my feelings are on this particular installment as a romance, but I can tell you that the suspense part was excellent. I want this series to be turned into a TV show because it was dramatic with it’s twists and turns and the moral greyness of the concept overall really stood out to me. Government corruption, falling in love and taking risks and whether or not you should follow orders… This series was really great and so I really do not want it to be over. The only reason I’m not sure if this book worked for me is that there was a secondary romance in here that just betrayed me and I am still reeling. So, it definitely made me have a lot of feelings! You can read more about my feelings in the May ARCs, Part Two round up.
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
The final book I completed in May was Magic Burns, which was a re-read because I want to actually make it through the Kate Daniels world. I started over with book two this time and stuck with my three star rating and a desire to continue with the series, so that’s good. Aarya had recommended Dani start here, which is why this is where I chose to re-start the series. I really like the dynamic between Kate and Curran, but I want more of it. This is an urban fantasy series with a world I can’t really begin to explain more than to say that it’s set in Atlanta and sometimes magic works and sometimes it doesn’t. There are shifters and vampires, but the vampires aren’t normal, and also witches. But witches seem to be different than Kate, who also has power. Again, I’m not really sure how to describe the world, but the characters are definitely compelling.
And that’s all from me! What was your favorite book you read in May? Have you read any of these? If so, let me know what you thought!