Honestly, where did May go? If I look back on the books I read, it feels like I read them a long time back but it also feels like May began only a couple of weeks ago. I have lost my sense of time.

I read a bunch of excellent books in May, though. I was disappointed by too many books in the previous months so it was good to enjoy most of the books I read in May. I read a total of 13 books across 6 genres and had the time of my life jumping between different books.

as if i wouldn't fall by jessa kane

as if i wouldn't fall book cover

I don't know why I read this book because I have read two other books by this author before and absolutely hated them. I think I saw a reel on Instagram that convinced me to give this chance. It was available on Kindle Unlimited so I got it. Kane is a very popular author and I thought maybe, just maybe, there's a book by her that I will like. After this one, I don't have that hope anymore.

I regretted reading As If I Wouldn't Fall. It is about an obsessive romance between high school teenagers who try to act way older than they are but they make foolish decisions driven by lust. The guy has been "staring" or "looking after" the girl for years but hasn't ever spoken to her because he doesn't trust himself to not hold her back in life. She finally approaches him to fix her car and things explode from there.

Both of their minds were FILLED with lusty thoughts. Like, they barely had any regular thoughts. Reading from both their points of view was annoying. Especially the guy's POV. His thoughts were repetitive and he had basically no depth in character. The girl had a little more character only because she had trauma from her dad but that's it. Both the characters were basically cardboard cutouts and there's barely any plot except them having sex.

The little plot that was present was WILD. The book became worse as it went on. Reading this ruined my mood so much that I almost wanted to take a break from romance books entirely for a while. Or I needed something very different to read next.

Overall, the book was smutty trash. If you're into that, go for it. Otherwise, avoid all of Jessa Kane's books. It looks like all of her books follow a pattern and they don't have actual plot or chemistry building or relationship development. It goes from 0 to 200 within one page.

a little life by hanya yanagihara

a little life book cover

I'd been wanting to reread A Little Life for a few months because I read it two years back and I wanted to reread and annotate a lot more. As I said, I needed a change after the last book and I was also needing a good cry so I picked it up.

The last time I read A Little Life, I read it very fast. I felt all the emotions in two or three days and was left heartbroken. This time, I read it slowly and took my time annotating. It was just as beautiful this time, if not more.

While I loved the friendships in my first read, I appreciated it much more this time, especially the friendships that weren't the "main" ones. I loved each beautiful relationship that grew and strengthened over time. I loved seeing how people changed and also remained the same. And of course, I loved Jude and the main 4 even more.

Yanagihara has such a way with words. It's not directly poetry but the flow of the words and the scenes is like poetry. The book would randomly have flashbacks spanning multiple pages and I would be lost in it like the characters are lost in their memories. Part 4 was painful during the reread even though I knew what was coming. It was excruciating to go through. And reaching Part 5 was like finding an oasis in a desert.

I felt the emotions deeper this time because I took my time reading each part. I often reread paragraphs that I loved several times before moving on. I would read a good section and daydream about what happened and what is to come. And I fell more in love with each character.

Despite the pain and the tears, I wanted to flip back to the first page immediately after finishing the last line. I felt unmoored when I looked up after finishing the story. What a good book <3 The reread was useful because I could successfully convince a friend to buy the book a week later haha (and he's currently reading it!).

tangled expectations by sophie andrews

tangled expectations book cover

I saw this book on social media and saw that it had a surprise pregnancy romance so of course, I ran to Kindle Unlimited and got it. I am always on the lookout for well-written surprise pregnancy romance novels because while the trope is common enough, it's hard to find it done well.

Tangled Expectations was another "eh, it's okay" book. Wes and Maggie meet in a bar and have a one-night stand. Both hope to have more but fate intervenes and they are left with no way to contact each other. Months later, Wes meets Maggie on the street and does whatever he can to keep her.

I was not a fan of the male lead. Wes had a saviour complex which was not funny or endearing like it was meant to be. Maggie had familial trauma which was weirdly represented—it defined her and yet there wasn't much depth to the topic. I could not feel the chemistry between the two and I couldn't care less about their romance.

The premise had potential but the writing and the characters missed the mark. I wasn't impressed.

chain of gold by cassandra clare

chain of gold book cover

When I was in school, the Shadowhunter books were my favourite fantasy books. I loved the world-building, the characters, and the plot. I read them when only The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series were out so it wasn't too hard for me to catch up and love the books. I bought each of the books in The Dark Artifices as they were released and devoured them. And I actually read all of the novellas and spin-offs that I could get my hands on.

Once I moved on from the genre, I stopped being a huge fan and forgot a lot of the details. I did want to read the new series sometime, though. I finally picked up Chain of Gold since I was in the mood for something random and I remember Clare's books being easy to read. I didn't expect to love it but I did expect to have a good time.

The beginning of Chain of Gold wasn't good. It was as if the author expected that anyone who read the book would have read all the previous books (including the novellas) and remembered all the details. There was almost no world-building done and most characters were introduced with their relation to characters from other books rather than as themselves. The book randomly threw us in and directly started the plot. The reader is not given time to acclimate or understand the several characters and the various relationships between them.

The book became better once I got familiarized with the characters and the setting. It was very easy to read and I zoomed through the book. It did not feel like a 500+ page book. It is mindless reading because the reader doesn't need to think or wonder, there's zero foreshadowing and everything is directly told.

The book being easy to read was probably the only real plus point. The plot was alright. The writing wasn't great. Some of the scenes were abrupt and weird. There was one scene in the middle that looked like it was written for adult audiences but the book is for young adults. There was barely any character growth. The author kept dropping references to other books and bringing in characters for fun cameos instead of fully focusing on the current plot.

Overall, the book was alright. Not good but not too bad either. I did not enjoy this anywhere close to how I enjoyed The Dart Artifices books. I'm not sure if the book is bad or if I grew out of the series. I do want to read the next book, though. It will be good as an easy fantasy read when I'm in the mood for it.

once upon a broken heart by stephanie garber

once upon a broken heart book cover

I read and loved Caraval when I was in college and mildly enjoyed its two sequels. I wasn't going to pick up another book by the author but I heard so many good things about Once Upon a Broken Heart that I had to try it.

The book was exactly the kind of magical fantasy that I expected but I couldn't enjoy it. The plot was good enough but the writing wasn't engaging and I found myself waiting for something to catch my attention for the entire book. The main character was annoying and boring, the love interest was annoying and sorely average, and all the supporting characters were annoying and weird. (I was basically annoyed the entire time.)

I didn't know that this book was a spin-off of the Caraval trilogy until a friend told me when I was around 70% into the book. I had forgotten the story of Caraval entirely and didn't recognize the common character. I also didn't care by then. The male lead could have been a very interesting character but was reduced to a blueprint that could resemble any other average lead in YA fantasy books.

The plot had potential with all that it had going on but the twists didn't land well and there were weird lulls in the story. The pacing was bad and the writing completely ruined the potential of the story.

Overall, the book was underwhelming. It was nothing like what the hype led me to believe. I do not recommend it.

perfect strangers by j. t. geissinger

perfect strangers book cover

After two fantasy books, I wanted to switch genres and I wanted something interesting that would actually capture my attention. I saw this book being praised on Instagram and immediately went for it because the last book I read by the author was VERY interesting. I hoped for something similar.

Perfect Strangers is a romance between an author who isn't able to write because she's grieving her daughter and a mysterious, handsome artist who seems to have gone through a lot. The chemistry between the characters leaps off the pages, there are a bunch of very steamy scenes, but the book is much more than a romance. In fact, I wouldn't classify the book as a romance but I can't tell you why without giving spoilers.

I will tell you this: if you want a book that pulls the rug under your feet and keeps your mind spinning, read this. I thought Pen Pal was wild but this book was even wilder. Once the twists started, they hit one after the other and I was losing my mind. I couldn't put the book down and actually took it to the office with me to read it when I had free time. It probably wasn't a good decision because I was losing my mind at the office and had my mouth open in shock for at least 10 minutes.

Overall, the book gave me what I hoped for and much more. I enjoyed it so much. If you're a romance book lover, then this might not be for you because it doesn't end like regular romance books with a simple happily-ever-after. This book will make your brain go through a roller coaster under the guise of romance.

in too deep by jade church

in too deep book cover

I read the synopsis and thought it might be something like Fake Empire so I got it. Honestly, the premise on Goodreads is not accurate to the story so I felt misled and confused for a bit.

In Too Deep follows Rose and Blake—two apparently very wealthy people (through generational wealth) who are treated like celebrities even though their actual jobs aren't worthy of the press coverage. When someone starts stalking and threatening Rose, Blake steps up and moves her into his house. The proximity leads to them falling in love.

Rose is one of the "boss women" but doesn't do it well so I was caught between being annoyed by her and wanting to root for her. She was often plain rude and I couldn't ship her with Blake because he was so nice. Blake was an angel and took care of her but she kept icing him out and blamed him for everything.

The hate-to-love romance was... okay. There was good chemistry between the two characters but she seemed to childishly hate him for no reason so I couldn't take her seriously. And since Blake clearly never hated her, it wasn't a proper hate-to-love romance. It was annoying that the book lasted so long only because Rose kept pushing him away for no reason.

However, the book wasn't all too bad. I liked the intrigue and danger aspect. I liked that Rose had anxiety and her taking anxiety meds was normalized. I liked Rose when she wasn't annoying. Overall, an okay book. It had its good and bad parts.

the art of creative thinking by rod judkins

the art of creative thinking book cover

I saw this on a bookstore trip and flipped through some of the pages and found it very interesting so I got it. I actually spent over two months reading this book.

The Art of Creative Thinking is a book filled with anecdotes and short chapters that are meant to be read randomly. The author encourages readers to pick up the book and read a random chapter whenever they need a dose of inspiration. The chapters aren't numbered or interconnected and each of them can be read in 5 minutes.

This was my first time reading such a book and I loved it. A lot of the chapters have interesting examples and topics so I annotated a ton as well. I didn't always agree with the author but almost every chapter did get my brain ideating. I enjoyed reading a few random chapters with random advice every day.

While I enjoyed it, I have a few criticisms:

  • All the anecdotes or stories were about popular people which worked well because they drove the point in but they were all about White people and mostly about White men. Where are the stories about people of colour? Of people from marginalized backgrounds? I'm sure there are popular people of colour whose stories would be more inspirational than people born with silver spoons in their mouths.
  • It was clear that the author had a bunch of ideas and simply found the examples that would go with them. After a while, it feels like the book is about all the anecdotes instead of the points about creative thinking. The chapters could have been restructured and written better so that they ended with proper conclusions with actionable items or suggestions. Instead, the reader has to read the chapter and figure out how to implement what was said.
  • While I initially liked the stories as examples and came across interesting ones through this book, they became too much at times. There were chapters that would be filled with 4 to 5 examples one after the other and the reader has to figure out the point. We don't need so many. For most chapters, one example and proper writing about the point with an actionable sentence would have worked better.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and will have it on my shelf for years to come but it isn't one of the best books on creativity out there. It simply put across the points in an interesting way.

'tis the season for revenge by morgan elizabeth

tis the season for revenge book cover

I spoke about this last month and I mentioned that just talking about it made me want to reread it. Well, I came across a quote from the book online and took it as a sign to reread it.

It was soo cute even this time around. I absolutely loved the main character and I fell in love with their romance. Their relationship development is one of the best I've ever seen. I liked that it wasn't too Christmassy for a Christmas novel and I can read it without feeling disconnected since I don't celebrate Christmas.

One thing that surprised me during this read was how the story is actually an age-gap romance. Damien is 14 years older than Abbie which somehow did not stick in my head during my first read. I assumed he was a young lawyer who made it big because of his skills and connections. It surprised me because I generally hate age-gap romances. This one was good because it didn't make the age gap a part of the plot. There were no "oh he's so older than me" or "she's too young for me" monologues. It was two consenting adults falling in love and I loved it.

I can see this becoming one of my comfort books. I already want to read it again.

echoes of you by catherine cowles

echoes of you book cover

Bouyoued by the good romance that was 'Tis the Season for Revenge, I decided to try another romance book. I think I got Echoes of You because I saw an Instagram post about it. I am not fully sure. But yeah, it wasn't on my TBR.

The book is a best-friends-to-lovers romance about two people who reconnect after years. Maddie didn't have a great childhood so she tried to run away from the town. After years of being in an abusive relationship, she finally breaks away and returns. Nash is overjoyed to see her again because they've been slowly becoming more distant. When he finds out about her relationship, he refuses to leave her side and they finally admit their feelings for each other.

The romance was pretty average but I liked the focus on Maddie's past and healing journey. I especially liked how Nash and others helped her without making a big deal of it or asking questions or saying what she should have done. The book was a good view of what one should do in case a loved one is in the same situation.

It was really nice to see Nash's family wholeheartedly supporting and helping Maddie like there was no gap in their friendship. She was brought into the fold and loved like everyone else. The friendships were also nice.

Overall, the book was a nice read.

babel: an arcane history by r. f. kuang

babel: an arcane history book cover

Since I loved The Poppy War trilogy, I was super excited for Babel. It also had a LOT of hype. Assuming that I'd love the book, I preordered a very pretty custom spray-painted edition. I received it months back but I waited for the hype to die down before picking it up.

Unfortunately, I didn't love Babel. The first part of the book was super interesting. I loved the commentary on London, on colonialism, on translation, and on etymology. Reading the language discussions was super fun. But after about 30%, it's pretty evident that there was not much of a plot besides that.

The plot existed only to take us from one etymology lesson to another. There was no character development for most of the book. There was no depth in any of the relationships portrayed—especially the friendships. All the time was spent talking about the classes so there was no space to flesh out other parts of the book.

It also had one thing I hate in any book: a lot of things were directly told instead of shown. The book told us about the toxicity and depth of the friendships but barely showed it. It told us about the revolution but didn't show it for most of the book.

In fact, 70% of the book was geared towards academia and language and translation. The last 30% removed them and crammed everything else in. It was as if the author remembered that a fictional book needs a plot only at that point. The last bit was so rushed that I didn't even enjoy it. Honestly, by that point, I knew that I was disappointed by the book.

Lastly, the fact that this book had footnotes was a big deal. Well, the footnotes were mostly a waste. They didn't stick to what footnotes are actually supposed to be. A ton of them simply told shorter stories of the characters that we didn't get to see on the main page. The footnotes tried to make up for what the main writing missed but it didn't.

Overall, I liked the language, translation, and colonialism bits and disliked everything else. Babel could have been a non-fiction book written in the form of dialogue or conversation instead of a haphazard fiction story. I'm lowkey afraid to pick up Yellowface now because its hype far surpassed Babel's and I'm not sure if I should trust it.

5 rounds by nikki castle

5 rounds book cover

After the disappointment of Babel, I needed a quick book to lift my spirits. I came across 5 Rounds on an Instagram post that posted quotes from different romance books and went to grab it from Kindle Unlimited.

5 Rounds is a hate-to-love romance between mutual best friends. Remy and Tristan have the same best friend Jax but they can't stand to be in the same room without throwing insults. When Remy's asked to suddenly move out of her apartment and find a new one, she stays at Jax and Tristan's place for a week while Jax is travelling for work. The proximity brings out all the insults but soon, their chemistry turns into a new direction.

I had no clue that this was the author's debut because 5 Rounds blew me away. I mainly loved the characters. Although the book is a romance, we closely learn about the characters and see their individual journeys.

Remy studied English and dreamed of being a writer but got sucked into the corporate world and has been losing her passion because of the toxic work environment. We see her realizing that she's far from where she wanted to be, struggling with the decision of leaving because of the pay, and craving her dream. We also see her passion for MMA fighting and training. She doesn't want to compete but she loves being in the gym with people working on themselves and loving the sport like her. Reading about her absolutely killing it in physical training was inspiring and made me want to do more myself.

Tristan is an MMA fighter and is training heavily every day for a shot at UFC. He can't afford any distractions and only does one-night stands or casual relationships. He puts his everything into his training despite his family not supporting his career choice. Tristan is also practical enough to know that he can't fight forever and has the future planned. It was inspiring to read about him tirelessly working for his dream while thinking of the future. This book made me want to find a gym like theirs to feel that environment and to work that hard.

Both Remy and Tristan are impeccable people but together? They're explosive. Their chemistry was off the charts and the way they slowly bonded and fell in love was super swoony. I liked the conversations that they had and how they supported each other. The relationship development—although over only a week—felt natural.

My only disappointment with the book was how we saw Remy write only once and the ending suddenly had her being a bestselling author. There was a gap there.

Overall, I loved the book. I immediately downloaded book 2 because its story technically started at the end of book 1. I already love the characters so I'm very excited to read it.

yours truly by abby jimenez

yours truly book cover

I saw this book making rounds on social media for a while but finally picked it up only when a romance book club I'm a part of chose it as the book for May.

Yours Truly is a very very very sweet romance with the fake-dating trope. When Jacob transfers to Briana's hospital, she initially hates him. He didn't make a good first impression on any of the staff and she thought he was after the promotion that should be hers. But after Jacob is surprisingly sweet to her once and a couple of her trusted people vouch for him, she gives him a chance and the rest is history.

Firstly, I absolutely loved both the characters. They were so fricking adorable. Briana is the cheeriest and friendliest person. She cares about everyone and will fight for her loved ones in a heartbeat. She is getting over her divorce and caring for her sick younger brother when Jacob brings an unexpected light into her life.

Meanwhile, Jacob feels like she brought light into his life. He has anxiety and struggles with new environments and people. She inadvertently makes him feel comfortable by simply noticing his behaviour and goes the extra mile to care for him when she learns about his anxiety. And Jacob is the sweetest man. He is so cute when he's in love with Briana, I wished I had the paperback because I wanted to draw hearts on every single page.

Jacob asks her to fake date him so that his family will believe that he is over his ex-girlfriend who is marrying his brother. But as they spend more time together and even move in together to continue the charade, they don't want it to end. It was so cute reading from both their POVs because they were absolute simps for each other. They do work together and I generally hate work romances but I liked it here!

Usually, the miscommunication trope is annoying but it actually fits in this book. Based on each character's past experiences and insecurities, the miscommunication felt natural. It was hard to watch but it was a necessary bridge for them to cross.

Overall, I absolutely loved the book. I foresee it being one of my comfort reads. And I totally envision them as grandparents telling their story to their grandkids and caring for each other the same way forever. I highly recommend this book.

illustration of an open book on a wooden tray with a coffee, phone, and airpods near it.

chat with me!

What did you read in May? Have you read any of the books I mentioned or are you adding any of them to your TBR? Let me know in the comments!

photo of Sumedha

Sumedha spends her days reading books, bingeing Kdramas, drawing illustrations, and blogging while listening to Lo-Fi music. Read more ➔

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