Reading Recap: May 2024

Trying to keep up with the last two months of reading more than six books, I ended up doing just that – fully reading six books. Though I did DNF one, it was past the halfway mark, so that at least counts as half right?

In this reading recap, there are mini reviews for two recent releases, in addition to dabbling in dark romance – this definitely lent to an interesting month of reads.

Skip To The End by Molly James – This book was a random selection on my last trip to Barnes and Noble solely based on the premise. Amy Daniels has a secret – she can see into the future of her relationship with anyone she kisses for the first time. While this may seem cool to anyone (including myself), to her, it’s a burden. Especially since she hasn’t gotten a single positive premonition. Leading with a bit of fear, Amy is very selective of who she kisses in anticipation of heartache at the end of each one. At her best friend Charlotte’s wedding, her other best friend May suggests she play fast and loose with her visions and dares her to kiss multiple men under the guise that maybe one of them would be positive. So she does, drunkenly, and ends up kissing three men and does indeed have one positive premonition about one of them. The problem? She doesn’t know which three men she kissed nor who her happy ending actually is. I enjoyed the premise of the story as I love me a little magical realism. Her friends are so supportive of her and know what she has to deal with every time she meets a guy. I will say that it does kind of suck – mild spoiler alert – that she doesn’t spend that much time with the third guy in the story. I will say, I knew from very early on who her guy would end up being so it was more of a waiting game for me. Still, I was entertained and found the read enjoyable.

When I Think of You by Myah Ariel – I had high hopes for this one as it’s a new release and Myah Ariel’s debut novel but it unfortunately fell flat for me. The story follows two former college sweethearts, Kaliya and Daniel, who cross paths again after seven years, as Daniel embarks on his biggest project yet. Daniel, the son of famed movie director Nathan Prescott, is directing the movie he’s known in his heart he has to put out: the love story of his parents. Upon seeing Kaliya at the studio that will be producing his movie, he can’t help but want to offer her a job on his set. She reluctantly agrees despite the obvious tension between them and soon, Daniel and Kaliya have to answer the question: the film or another chance at love? The premise seemed promising but the characters fell flat for me – borderline cardboard cutouts – which made the story feel boring overall. The entire story is told from Kaliya’s point of view in first person, so we only get to see one perspective and even then, I felt like I didn’t know enough about Kaliya to connect with her character and the rest of the story. The story felt focused on moving the plot of their romance forward where it lacked sufficient character building to help bring things together. Even so, the character growth is only alluded to towards the end and not actually part of the story, which is a bummer.

Butcher & Blackbird by Brynne Weaver – This is my first foray into dark romance and I can’t even say I was influenced by social media; I picked this up randomly on my last trip to the bookstore and despite the descriptions in the summary, I picked it up to try it. To add to that, this is my first read with a list of trigger warnings – that span a page and a half – so I was intrigued and oddly excited to get into it. Butcher & Blackbird is the story of Sloane Sutherland and Rowan Kane, two morally gray serial killers who end up teaming up to partake in their hobby in the form of a game. In the midst of this game, Rowan and Sloane become friends and eventually more until their game threatens more than their relationship. I did enjoy the romance part of the book. The way Rowan loves Sloane stuck with me, especially when he affirmed her and pushed her to be honest and vocal. I will say to take the trigger warnings at the beginning of the book seriously if you’re squeamish; there’s some things in this book that you can’t un-read. That said, I will most likely not continue the series. I planned on picking up the second book when it comes out in June, but ultimately decided not to. It’s not my cup of tea but if you do enjoy a romance with a serial killer subplot, then this book is for you.

One More Shot by Anise Starre – This is the third and final book in Anise Starre’s Flights and Feelings series. I was happy to finally close out the series I started and this one may be my favorite of the three. One More Shot follows Dane Clarke and Elliot Rayne. If you’ve read One Week in Paradise, then Dane’s name should look familiar as he’s Bailey’s brother. Elliot meets Dane on a night out with her best friend, who is her wingwoman for the night as she is on a mission: find the guy that can give her an orgasm. She’s never orgasmed with a partner and hopes that she can find the person to do it that night. She meets Dane and their attraction was immediate, so he obviously becomes the candidate. All is going well until it doesn’t and they never see each other again. That is, until Elliot is hired for Bailey’s engagement party and she runs into Dane. As much as she wanted to avoid him, it became inevitable. Not trying to repeat history, she tries to keep him at arm’s length until they end up becoming friends and then into something more. The story was cute. I identified with Elliot and how she is the go to person for her family without really having anyone who worries about her. Dane showed her that and more, genuinely, through their friendship. This was a good end to the series and if you’re interested in three great examples of successful Black women who find love, then I recommend this series.

How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang – When I first started reading this book, I expected it to be a romance but it felt like contemporary fiction before I realized it was actually a romance. What do I mean by that? How to End a Love Story starts with a funeral for Helen Zhang’s sister, Michelle, when they’re in high school. She unfortunately dies in a car accident where fellow student Grant Shepard was driving. Now in present times, Helen is a successful author who is having her book series adapted into a TV show. One of the writers on the show is none other than Grant Shepard. Obviously there’s animosity here because they have a complicated history – he drove the car that accidentally killed her sister though her death was actually a suicide. However, they are stuck as co-workers and have to figure out a way to work together amicably. Helen is super rigid and angry at first, which makes her unlikeable on the onset, understandably because she’s very much still grieving her loss. And then you have Grant, who’s like low key a cinnamon roll or at least trying to be, both in general and regarding Helen. He tries his best to find middle ground so that the writing experience isn’t absolutely miserable for the entire duration. She’s reluctant at first but ends up softening up to Grant and the other writers. There’s an attraction between them that they both wanted to ignore at first but go head first, despite their complicated past. I thought it would be too awkward for them to end up together given the circumstances but it was an accident at the end of the day and it wasn’t completely his fault. I do think that without this connection, them getting together might not have been probable; they’re sort of trauma bonded (which they mention in the actual book). I enjoyed the story for being nuanced and complicated, and felt like Helen was relatable once she became less rigid. However, if you’re not into a dual POV story written in third person, consider skipping this one.

Kaleidoscope Hearts by Claire ContrerasDNF at 68% – Hardly a review considering I did not finish but I called it quits on the book because Elle, the main character, was way too hot and cold and then Oliver, the love interest, was kind of a creep. He appeared too hypersexual out the gate with her and while I know they have history, it didn’t come off as endearing or anything of the sort. They also lacked chemistry and didn’t seem like there was anything between them outside of physical attraction. Had I finished the book, it probably would have gotten 2 or 3 stars but I didn’t want to waste any more time on the story.

Holding Back the Years by Kasha Thompson – This was a quick read as it’s a short story. Holding Back The Years follows Seraphina Jacobs, a former reporter trying to piece her life back together after needing to move back home to Michigan. She bided her time by visiting her grandpa at an old folks home, capturing the compelling stories of his lifetime in hopes that his history won’t be forgotten. At the old folks home, she meets August Gardner, who’s there visiting his mom. After another chance meeting at a bar, things get steamy between Seraphina and August. As they figure out how to handle their newfound closeness, Seraphina uncovers some family secrets from her grandpa that may put her relationship with August at risk. Given that it’s a short story, things go 0 to 100 quite fast between August and Seraphina but not in a way that overwhelms (worth mentioning that there are open door scenes, if you catch my drift). There’s still enough background for the characters where they still feel three dimensional and realistic, and even the plot doesn’t feel super farfetched. I enjoyed the story; it felt like I read a full 300 page book even though the story was about half that length – though I could argue that this could have been just as long and equally as compelling.

Share the Post:

Related Posts