Friday, June 2, 2023

Month in Review: May 2023


And somehow, it's June! How was everyone's month of May? It's been a weird year. I feel very lost this year for a multitude of reasons (especially since we've had exceptionally grey skies about daily since April?), so I'm really just trying to focus on being in the moment whenever I can and also trying to get lost in as many books as possible. I'm moving through books much more slowly than usual and have a harder time choosing books, but overall I do feel like I'm getting back into the groove a bit. 

Reading highlights from May include The Will of the Many, The Sword Defiant, and Maeve Fly! The Will of the Many is incredible and I can't stop thinking about it. The wait for the sequel is going to feel interminable and I'm so sad thinking about it, haha. I loved James Islington's previous trilogy, The Licanius Trilogy, and consider it one of my favorites, and now this new series is going to absolutely be a new favorite as well. I knew he was going to pull out something insane for the ending, and he did. 

Outside of books, my saving grace lately has been aerial! I just can't get enough of this new hobby (and I'm at that point where I'm starting to question if I could turn it into something more than just a hobby...) and I've loved how much it has helped me with my confidence and even just getting out of the house and interacting with more people, haha. I've been learning mainly aerial hammock so far, but I finally managed to take my first split silks class a week or two ago and had so much fun, so I'd like to pursue that more as well.

a flying snapshot

How was your month of May!? What books did you read? Let me know in the comments and feel free to link your own wrap-ups (or any posts, really!), and I hope you all have a wonderful June!

# books read: 9

The Will of the Many by James Islington
Source: NetGalley | Format: eARC
Thoughts: I loved this SO much. James Islington so far cannot miss with me. This was brilliant and just cements Islington as a favorite author. I cannot recommend this enough (or the Licanius Trilogy, which is also amazing!). 

The Sword Defiant by Gareth Hanrahan
Source: Publisher | Format: Physical ARC
Thoughts: Loved this new fantasy from Hanrahan! I enjoyed the slightly more classic fantasy style with the added darkness and unique take on some classic tropes. Highly recommended!

The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson
Source: Publisher | Format: Physical ARC
Thoughts: This was a really beautiful and thoughtful circus story that I think will be a big hit. I don't tend to love time travel and had a few issues with this one, but overall a really solid read that I'd absolutely recommend.

Maeve Fly by CJ Leede
Source: NetGalley | Format: Audiobook
Thoughts: This was so messed up and so brilliant. I loved it! My review is already up and I am dying for this author to write more now.

Camp Zero by Michelle Min Sterling
Source: Publisher | Format: Physical ARC
Thoughts: This doesn't have a lot of great reviews, but I really enjoyed it! It's definitely not for everyone and is on the slower side, but I thought it was really thoughtful and told an interesting story.

A History of Fear by Luke Dumas
Source: Library | Format: Audiobook
Thoughts: This was a very unexpected story. I was absolutely hooked for the first half of the book, but I felt things petered out a little bit by the end and it was a little predictable. That being said, still a really interesting story, if a bit repetitive at times. 

Saving Neverland by Abi Elphinstone
Source: Purchased | Format: Hardcover
Thoughts: This was a super cute Peter Pan-inspired story. It was majorly action-packed so it wasn't exactly for me, but I still really enjoyed it and will continue the series if there is more. 

Queens of Wonderland (Defender of Lore #2) by Gama Ray Martinez
Source: Library | Format: Audiobook
Thoughts: This was a great sequel to God of Neverland, and was just as fast-paced as the first book. I love this author's creativity and how they crafted this Wonderland. There's never a chance to be bored!

Island of the Lost: An Extraordinary Story of Survival at the Edge of the World by Joan Druett
Source: Gift | Format: Paperback
Thoughts: I love reading survival stories and have read quite a few by now, and unfortunately this was my least favorite. I felt as though there was too much detail in some areas and too little in others, and the author relied much too heavily on long quotes from journals/diaries. A fascinating story, but simply not my favorite telling.

Infinity Gate by M.R. Carey
I started this one and it just felt like it was nothing but info dumping and hard science and I was not in the mood for it at the time. I'm hoping it evens out a bit, but as it is I'm not exactly feeling a rush to get back to it... even though I really want to read it, haha. 

The Company by J.M. Varese 
I am enjoying this one, but it's a slower paced story and actually reads more like a classic Gothic mystery, so I'll probably come back to it when I'm more int he mood for that. 

Original Posts:
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Can't-Wait Wednesday:

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Killingly by Katharine Beutner & The Only One Left by Riley Sager


 Can't-Wait is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released! This meme is based off of Jill @ Breaking the Spine's Waiting on Wednesday meme.

This week's upcoming book spotlights are: 

Killingly by Katharine Beutner
Publication: June 6th, 2023
Hardcover. 360 pages.
Pre-order: Amazon |

From Goodreads:
"Based on the unsolved real-life disappearance of a Mount Holyoke student in 1897, Killingly weaves a haunting spell of intrigue, longing, and terror, perfect for fans of Donna Tartt and Sarah Waters.

Bertha Mellish, “the most peculiar, quiet, reserved girl” at Mount Holyoke College, is missing. One cold November morning the junior is spotted walking through the Massachusetts woods; then, she vanishes. As a search team dredges the pond where she might have drowned, Bertha’s panicked father and sister arrive at the campus desperate to find some clue as to her fate or state of mind. Bertha’s best friend, Agnes, a scholarly loner studying medicine, might know the truth, but she is being unhelpfully tight-lipped, inciting the suspicions of Bertha’s family, her classmates, and the private investigator hired by the Mellish family doctor. As secrets from Agnes and Bertha’s lives come to light, so do the competing agendas driving each person who is searching for Bertha.

Where did Bertha go? Who would want to hurt her? And could she still be alive?

Edmund White Award–winning author Katharine Beutner crafts a real-life unsolved mystery into an immersive, unforgettable work of literary crime fiction--a beautifully drawn historical portrait of queerness, family trauma, and the risks faced by women who dared to pursue unconventional paths at the end of the 19th century.

I'm intrigued that this is based off a true story, and I think this sounds like a perfect dark read. I'm also  always a little bit intrigued when something is "for fans of Donna Tartt,"--I always fall for it, haha.

Everything the Darkness Eats by Eric LaRocca
Publication: June 20th, 2023
Hardcover. 368 pages.
Pre-order: Amazon |

From Goodreads:
At seventeen, Lenora Hope
Hung her sister with a rope

Now reduced to a schoolyard chant, the Hope family murders shocked the Maine coast one bloody night in 1929. While most people assume seventeen-year-old Lenora was responsible, the police were never able to prove it. Other than her denial after the killings, she has never spoken publicly about that night, nor has she set foot outside Hope’s End, the cliffside mansion where the massacre occurred.

Stabbed her father with a knife
Took her mother’s happy life

It’s now 1983, and home-health aide Kit McDeere arrives at a decaying Hope’s End to care for Lenora after her previous nurse fled in the middle of the night. In her seventies and confined to a wheelchair, Lenora was rendered mute by a series of strokes and can only communicate with Kit by tapping out sentences on an old typewriter. One night, Lenora uses it to make a tantalizing offer—I want to tell you everything.

“It wasn’t me,” Lenora said
But she’s the only one not dead

As Kit helps Lenora write about the events leading to the Hope family massacre, it becomes clear there’s more to the tale than people know. But when new details about her predecessor’s departure come to light, Kit starts to suspect Lenora might not be telling the complete truth—and that the seemingly harmless woman in her care could be far more dangerous than she first thought.

I've enjoyed some of Riley Sager's past books, and the premise of this book sounds one hundred percent up my alley. 

What books are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Review: Maeve Fly by C.J. Leede


Maeve Fly by C.J. Leede
Publication Date: June 6th, 2023
Hardcover. 288 pages.

About Maeve Fly:

"By day, Maeve Fly works at the happiest place in the world as every child’s favorite ice princess.

By the neon night glow of the Sunset Strip, Maeve haunts the dive bars with a drink in one hand and a book in the other, imitating her misanthropic literary heroes.

But when Gideon Green - her best friend’s brother - moves to town, he awakens something dangerous within her, and the world she knows suddenly shifts beneath her feet.

Untethered, Maeve ditches her discontented act and tries on a new persona. A bolder, bloodier one, inspired by the pages of American Psycho. Step aside Patrick Bateman, it’s Maeve’s turn with the knife."

Maeve Fly is not for the fainthearted, and I really mean that. Stephen Graham Jones blurbed this as "gory and brutal and beautiful and painful and terrifying and a pure delight," and I couldn't agree more with that. This is horror that is centered around its characters, but that does not mean it is without plenty of gore, violence, and other things that the squeamish would probably prefer to avoid. There is a relentlessness to the sex and violence portrayed in this book and the perverse nature of it is certainly not going to be for everyone. That being said, if you are able to stick with it, it's going to be one ride that you are not going to be forgetting any time soon, and I would even go as far to say that you'll end up as riveted by it as I was.

Maeve Fly follows Maeve, a somewhat unsympathetic character who has recently moved in with her grandmother in Los Angeles and works as a meet-and-greet princess at a popular theme park nearby (yes, it's most likely what you're thinking of) with her fellow princess friend, Kate. There's not all that much in the way of hard plot going on outside of following Maeve in her new life and observing her adaptation, exploration, and descent of her own life, but it is this character exploration that really carries the story. Her grandmother is currently on her deathbed, unresponsive due to a recent medical event, and as Maeve struggles to come to terms with this development she instead spends her time at work and partaking in a variety of unique (and, uh, slightly concerning?) personal activities. Maeve cares deeply for Kate, and soon develops much stronger feelings for a man named Gideon who shows up in her life as well, which leads her down some difficult paths as she tries to make sense of her feelings. 

Maeve has a penchant for what most people would describe as 'dark things,' and this is hallmarked by her love for Halloween and Halloween music (which I'll agree is pretty fun), among other things. Maeve has a difficult personality to connect with and a somewhat stilted worldview, which makes her a fascinating character who brings something new to the table. She is very much someone who seems to be attempting to find herself and sort of throws herself into a variety of different things to do so, many of which are very questionable and seem to her left her with a somewhat misanthropic worldview at times, and she almost seems to treat the entire world as her own experiment (some of her free time is spent attempting to get random people 'cancelled' online and to ruin their lives, for example). I found Maeve absolutely fascinating, and I was so impressed by how well C.J. Leede was able to craft her narrative voice. She has an incredibly strong voice that I found utterly compelling, and as I listened to the audiobook I found myself nearly on the edge of my seating just waiting to hear what our protagonist would say next.

As mentioned, Maeve Fly takes place largely in LA and surrounding areas, and I really think Leede captured aspects of it incredibly well. I saw one blurb describe this as "a blood-soaked love letter to Los Angeles," and that's exactly what it is. It's hard to describe, but it almost felt as though as it was a bit of a blend of satire, commentary, honestly, and a hint of fantasy in its tone when describing LA. I grew up in the greater LA areas and currently live in the middle of LA and I found myself utterly entertained by Maeve's consistent narration of the city and its people. She really hits the nail on the head at times while also maintaining an extra layer of almost stereotypical perceptions that I think made this that much more fun.

The atmosphere is deliciously dark, at times almost nihilistic, and has a strong sense of morbid curiosity that is present throughout the entire story. Maeve Fly is a hard book to nail down succinctly, but I would say the tone often alternately shifts between being rather manic and unhinged and being contemplative and reflective. I loved the morbidity in this book and how Maeve (and therefore author) didn't really seem to find any topic off limits. Maeve wasn't afraid to try out the darkest and most unhinged thoughts that crossed her mind, and she explored the depths of depravity to her heart's content. Although this is not behavior that should be replicated, of course, I found a strange sense of awe watching her navigate her current life. 

This is a book that really draws on the idea of a gradual descent from dark longings and occasional questionable missteps to what eventually become sudden shifts from sanity to absurdity. It's that idea of having dark thoughts, tentatively acting some out, then one big things happens out of necessity, and after that it's almost a deluge of events that make it harder and harder to maintain a grasp on reality.

The ending of Maeve Fly was one of the most brutally tragic and heartbreaking for so many different reasons, and its one that readers can almost see coming, but you still have to wait and find out along with Maeve how it's going to pan out anyway. This book is not afraid to test boundaries and to make a mark, and I think it absolutely succeeded in both of those. It's weird sometimes to say that I loved a book like this because of how fucked up it is, but I did. This book spoke to me on a weird level and I had a hell of a time on this adventure. 

If you're ready for heavily graphic scenes and open discussion of dark topics, then I would absolutely recommend this one. It was ultimately a rewarding and unforgettable experience and sure to be one I'll re-read. I read the audiobook version and it was perfect. Sosie Bacon did an excellent job and I would highly recommend the audio version if you like audiobooks. Overall, I've given Maeve Fly five stars!

*I received a copy of Maeve Fly courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon |

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Anticipated June 2023 Releases!


Well, after having to skip last month's anticipated releases post due to simply not having enough time (sorry!), I'm happy to be back sharing some exciting new books coming out next month! This year has just been packed full of amazing books and I'm really looking forward to a lot of these. So far, I've only had a chance to read Maeve Fly and The First Bright Thing, and they were both amazing, so I have high hopes for the rest. I'm hoping to get through my ARCs of Gods of the Wyrdwood, Maddalena and the Dark, The Antiquity Affair, and Night Will Find You before their respective publication dates in June, but we'll see if that works out for me, haha. Let's take a look at (some of) June's releases!

Gods of the Wyrdwood by RJ Barker  || June 27th -- Amazon

Maeve Fly by C.J. Leede  || June 6th -- Amazon

Everything the Darkness Eats by Eric Larocca  || June 20th -- Amazon

The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson  || June 13th -- Amazon

The Grimoire of Grave Fates edited by Hanna Alkaf, Margaret Owen  || June 6th -- Amazon

Wolfpack by Amelia Brunskill  || June 13th -- Amazon

The Antiquity Affair by lee Kelly, Jennifer Thorne  || June 6th -- Amazon

The Only One Left by Riley Sager  || June 20th -- Amazon

Killingly by Katharine Beutner  || June 6th -- Amazon

The Surviving Sky by Kritika H. Rao  || June 13th -- Amazon

Night Will Find You by Julia Hearberlin  || June 20th -- Amazon

Shanghai Immortal by A.Y. Chao  || June th -- Amazon

The Edge of Sleep by Jake Emanuel  || June 20th -- Amazon

Lady Tan's Circle of Women by Lisa See  || June 6th -- Amazon

Speak of the Devil by Rose Wilding  || June 13th -- Amazon

Maddalena and the Dark by Julia Fine  || June 13th -- Amazon

The Library of Broken World by Alaya Dawn Johnson  || June 6th -- Amazon

Night's Edge by Liz  || June 20th -- Amazon

The Spectacular by Fiona Davis  || June 13th -- Amazon

The Last Lifeboat by Hazel Gaynor  || June 13th -- Amazon

My Murder by Katie Williams  || June 6th -- Amazon

The Faint of Heart by Kerilynn Wilson  || June 13th -- Amazon |

You Won't Believe Me by Cyn Balog  || June 27th -- Amazon |

The Warning by Kristy Acevedo  || June 6th -- Amazon

The Wind Knows My Name by Isabel Allende  || June 6th -- Amazon

Hotel Laguna by Nicola Harrison  || June 20th -- Amazon

The Beach at Summerly by Beatriz Williams  || June 27th -- Amazon

What are your anticipated June releases?