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  • Writer's picturehaleylynnthomas22

MAY-JUNE Reading Wrap-up

1. The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh (YA Fantasy) (321 pages) (4.75⭐️)
Mina sacrifices herself to be the bride of the Sea God in order to save her village from deadly storms. While in the spirit world she must find a way to save the Sea God. The characters in this novel are so lovely with my favorites being Mina herself and an Imugi named Namgi. The world was one that is easy to get swept away in. My only complaint is the pacing is a little too rushed.
Full Review: COMING SOON!

2. Change of Heart by Clare Lydon (Adult Romance) (306 pages) (3.25⭐️)
Erin hires Steph to be her fake girlfriend for her parents' anniversary party. Real feelings ensue but the family's emotional reckoning about Erin's twin sister's loss could break them apart. I should have DNF'd this book because I really didn't feel the connection between Erin and Steph and if you're not liking the romance then a romance book is a dud. I kept reading for the setting of the Scottish Highlands and the grief plot line.

3. My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa (Adult Thriller) (372 pages) (2.75⭐️)
Eighteen years after being adopted from a Sri Lankan orphanage, Paloma's roommate is murdered and she believes she's being haunted by the ghosts of her past. I previously read Jayatissa's book You're Invited which was a 5 star thriller for me. I was super hyped to read this one and it had amazing atmosphere. I found Paloma to be a painful main character, though, and the twist/reveal was a real letdown for me.

4. A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman (Adult Mystery) (272 pages) (3.5⭐️)
Frances Wynn, the American born Countess of Harleigh, is enjoying her freedom after the death of her philandering husband. Then questions arise about his death. Meanwhile, someone is robbing the aristocracy. This is a book that caters to the cozy mystery lover NOT the reader drawn towards darker mystery/thrillers. The mystery itself actually takes a backseat to the characters. Most of the characters are likable but Frances was too naive and it was frustrating at times.

5. The Last Housewife by Ashley Winstead (Adult Thriller) (364 pages) (2.5⭐️)
Shay Deroy teams up with her childhood friend Jamie who has a true crime podcast to uncover the truth about her college roommate's death. I really liked Winstead's debut (In My Dreams I Hold a Knife) but this book reminded me heavily of They Never Learn by Layne Fargo (which I hated). It had a strong start but it went off the rails quickly. I am all for books with feminists themes as a feminist myself. Yet I fear sometimes authors forget subtly exists and feminists doesn't mean al men are evil and will hurt you.

6. What Have We Done by Alex Finlay (Adult Thriller) (358 pages) (5⭐️)
Jenna, Donnie, Nico, Arty, and Ben all grew up in the same poor group home and were bonded by their dark and desperate actions from 25 years ago. They are brought back together when being targeted by an assassin. I previously was unimpressed by one of Finlay's books but this one is my 5th favorite book of the year so far. It's high action so i was constantly holding my breath. In between all the fighting and running for their lives, though, Finlay still managed to flesh out the characters.

7. The Only Game in Town by Lacie Waldon (Adult Romance) (394 pages) (4.25⭐️)
Jess lives in the town of Redford, Georgia and their resident millionaire has just died and left 10 million dollars to be won in a series of games. Also competing is said millionaire's big city grandson (Carter). This book is the romance version of The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes in terms of some plot elements and themes. Yet it's also one of the most wholesome romances I've read to date with little of the dread miscommunication trope.
Full Review:

8. The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell (Adult Mystery) (398 pages) (3.75⭐️)
A year and some ago teen parents Tallulah and Zach vanished, leaving behind their infant son. Tallulah's mom, Kim, and a mystery novelist new to town (Sophie) are determined to find them. Atmospherically, this book is super chilling and ominous. The main drawbacks were the timeline (which was constantly shifting) and the limited potential answers presented which made the mystery too easy to solve.

9. Happy Place by Emily Henry (Adult Romance) (388 pages) (2.5⭐️)
Harriet and Wyn have broken up but don't want to ruin their friends' annual Main vacation (especially since it will be their last one) so they pretend to still be together. I am a Henry fan and this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Coupled with second chance being my second favorite romance trope and no one is more shocked than I that I really, really didn't like this book. Harriet and Wyn should have stayed broken up if you ask me.

10. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan (YA Fantasy) (380 pages) (5⭐️)
Lei is taken from her home and forced to become a concubine to the Demon King. She falls for one of the king's other concubines, Wren. This was actually my 4th time reading this book though it's been almost a year and a half since my last read. I was desperate for a good fantasy read and nothing was standing out to me so I fell back onto an old favorite.

11. Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien (Adult Mystery) (328 pages) (4⭐️)
This cozy mystery is set in a plaza containing a variety of Asian restaurants and stores. The property manager turns up dead after eating dumplings from Lana Lee's family restaurant. She tries to figure out who did it to clear her name. This is the first book in a cozy mystery series and I had so much fun reading it. I had so many evolving theories and suspects. I enjoyed this so much I picked up the entire rest of the series from my library.
Full Review: COMING SOON!

Total Pages Read (May): 3,881
Avg. Star Rating (May): 40.75/55⭐️ (3.70 Avg.)

1. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (Adult Historical Fiction) (346 pages) (3.5⭐️)
Four siblings (Varya, Daniel, Klara, and Simon) have their death dates foretold by a mystical woman on Hester Street in 1969. This information informs their decisions for the rest of their lives. This novel intrigued me because it's a common question - if you could know when/how you're going to die, would you want to? I had mixed feelings about the book as a whole with the writing format being pretty strong but some parts being unbaked.

2. After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Adult Romance) (334 pages) (4.75⭐️)
Married couple Lauren and Ryan's relationship has broken down from one of love into one of resentment. They decide to take a year apart to see if they can salvage their relationship. This is one of two of Jenkins Reid's contemporary novels that I think is worth the read. Her character development here is much more on par with her historical fictions than her other contemporaries which is why it's my favorite of the bunch.
Full Review: COMING SOON!

3. Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan (YA Fantasy) (397 pages) (4⭐️)
This is the sequel to Girls of Paper and Fire and follows Lei and Wren as they try to recruit allies in the war against the Demon King. This is undoubtedly the weakest link in the trilogy, but it also does do successfully what a second book should; progress the story along. I just wish it was more tonally consistent.
4. Dim Sum of All Fears by Vivien Chien (Adult Mystery) (291 pages) (3.75⭐️)
The second book in the Ho-Lee Noodle Shop mystery series this book follows Lana as she solves the murder of her new friend Isabelle and Isabelle's husband Brandon. This series is so much fun because just like the first book throughout the entire novel my theories are constantly changing. The ending was a little underwhelming in that it was too similar to the first book.

5. Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Adult Romance) (342 pages) (2.5⭐️)
The novel takes place in two parallel universes. In one Hannah Martin chooses to reunite with her high school boyfriend, Ethan. In another she chooses to move on. This was the worst of Jenkins Reid's contemporary novels. The story's messages were an oxymoron. I think you're likely to enjoy one story line more than the other leaving you restless for half the novel.
Full Review: COMING SOON!

6. Murdern Lo Mein by Vivien Chien (Adult Mystery) (304 pages) (4⭐️)
This is the 3rd book in the Noodle Shop Mystery series of books which is a cozy mystery series about Lana Lee who manages her family's Chinese restaurant. In this book Lana's family restaurant is competing in a best noodle competition when one of the judges is murdered. I don't ahve much new to say about this book compared to the first two. I liked the plot and there was some positive development in Lana and Detective Adam's romance which was good. Overall, it's a fun, solid series.

7. Girls of Fate and Fury by Natasha Ngan (YA Fantasy) (423 pages) (4.5⭐️)
This is the finale to the Girls of Paper and Fire trilogy and was a reread for me. This novel has both Lei and Wren's perspectives as the war against the Demon King comes to a dramatic conclusion. This is the second best book in the series in my opinion (after the first book). There's so many dramatic, tense moments and it's truly a conclusion worthy of what is, I'd argue, one of the best YA fantasy series out there.

8. Hot and Sour Suspects by Vivien Chien (Adult Mystery) (306 pages) (3.25⭐️)
This is the eighth book in the Noodle Shop Mystery series (which I accidentally read out of order). It follows Lana as she attempts to clear her friend's name after the suspicious death of her one night stand. This was my least favorite of the books so far because I really like Lana's friend Rina but her behavior in this book is so odd. The ending is also quite abrupt.

9. We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen (Adult Sci-fi) (330 pages) (3.25⭐️)
Zoe and Jamie both wake up without any memories of their previous lives but with extraordinary abilities. Zoe becomes a vigilante and Jamie a bank robber but the two become allies in their mission to uncover the cause of their powers and memory wipes. This novel had a strong start but slowly lost me as it continued. The characters are so compelling, but the plot is predictable.
Full Review: COMING SOON!

10. Belladonna by Adalyn Grace (YA Fantasy) (403 pages) (3.75⭐️)
Orphaned heiress Signa moves in with her recently widowed uncle and his children. Able to see ghosts and interact with Death, she must team up with Death to solve her aunt's murder. This kind of reminded me of A Series of Unfortunate Events. I loved the setting and Signa's abilities are very intriguing. This novel is a fantasy for mystery lovers!
Full Review: COMING SOON!

Total Pages Read (June): 3,476
Av. Star Rating (June): 37.25/50⭐️ (3.73 Avg.)


1. On a Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass (Read 193 pages)
This domestic thriller bored me senseless most of the time I was reading it. Then something actually happened and it hit a trigger point for me. I tried to push through because I purchased the book (albeit on sale) but it ultimately wasn't worth it for my mental wellbeing since I wasn't into either the characters or the story anyway.

2. Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (read 75 pages)
This mystery centers around a black Texas Ranger and a two murders that cause racial tension. This was a good book but it's obviously intense. I was going through some mental health struggles while reading it and I was gravitating more towards lighter cozy mysteries. I may give this book another chance at some point.

3. The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica (read 51 pages)
This was another domestic thriller. The very early pages had me interested but the main character was unsympathetic. I found reading from her perspective to be insufferable to the point that I had no desire to continue even though the setting and mystery was promising.

TOTAL PAGES READ (JAN-JUN): 22,795 (367.66 Avg. Book Length)
AVG. STAR RATING (JAN-JUN): 243.25/310 (3.92 Avg.⭐️)

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