Hello, reader friends! I haven’t done a monthly wrap up in literally forever, so I thought now that we’re halfway through the year, I’d start doing it again! (Please note the mild case of sarcasm and self-loathing in the previous sentence…) May ended up being a really great reading month, and I read twelve books! I also updated my personal book bullet journal and realized I set up some challenges for myself that I don’t know if I ever announced on my blog, so I’ll be writing a little bit about those and giving a status update. Sometimes I think publicly making some kind of announcement/commitment is the only way I’ll follow through with half the things I want to do… so anyway, without further adieu, here’s the list of books I read in May!

  1. Star Wars: Poe Dameron, v.1: Black Squadron – Chris Soule (purchased) – 4/5 stars
  2. A Job You Mostly Won’t Know How to Do – Pete Fromm (arc from publisher) – 4/5 stars
  3. Exhalation – Ted Chiang (arc from work) – 5/5 stars
  4. Work Optional – Tanja Hester (finished copy from publisher) – 3/5 stars
  5. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – Fred Rogers (e-arc from publisher/Netgalley) – 5/5 stars
  6. The Unquiet Heart – Kaite Welsh (e-arc from publisher/Netgalley) – 4/5 stars
  7. Rooftoppers – Katherine Rundell (finished copy/borrowed) – 4/5 stars
  8. Wicked and the Wallflower – Sarah MacLean (finished copy/borrowed) – 4/5 stars
  9. Descendant of the Crane – Joan He (purchased) – 4/5 stars
  10. Bibliophile – Jane Mount (purchased) – 4/5 stars
  11. Ask Again, Yes – Mary Beth Keane (finished copy from publisher) – 4/5 stars
  12. The Kingdom – Jess Rothenberg (arc from work) – 4/5 stars

The average rating for my May books is 4.08/5! I think I put some half stars here and there in my blog reviews, but I’m going off of my Goodreads ratings for this average. I think I had a decent reading month! It didn’t feel like I read a lot, but so far May is the month with the most reads!

I’ve really been enjoying blogging more as it makes me feel more accomplished about what I’m doing with my reading, but I definitely want to stay in the groove of posting 3-5 times a week (or more). I also want to start posting on Instagram more, and last week I took a ton of photos to use for this month and next month. I’m going to try taking more this week just so I can have a steady backlog, and I might see about using Planoly to help with keeping a nice “grid” and to help with reminders to post. I have a scatterbrain, and sometimes I just don’t remember unless I have a reminder. Setting up with Planoly might help as I can use my laptop to type out captions and all that jazz, and that’s so much easier to do than with a phone keyboard… I also will be updating some of the pages on the blog and maybe adding the challenge lists I have in my book journal so I can keep track here as well!

Last year, I set up some yearly challenges for me to follow through with, and I did about half of them. I wanted to read twelve Star Wars books (I read four), twelve Star Trek books (I read zero), twelve “classics” (I read three and then included the eighty Penguin Little Black Classics in increments of 10 to account for most of them; I ended up “reading” eleven by that justification), twelve non-fiction (I read twelve!), and twelve science fiction books (I read eight). I also tried to do 30 days of 30 short stories, but I just sort of stopped around story fifteen. I think it’s because I didn’t mention anywhere that I was doing it, and I had no follow up publicly with myself over it. Overall, and especially considering I read eighty of those Little Black Classics, I think I did all right.

This year, however, I want to read twelve Hugo/Nebula award winners to tie in with #sffreverb (of which I’ve severely let myself down with across the board and have only read one), twelve romance (last year I got into the genre a lot, and I want to read more; I’ve read one so far), twelve NYRB Classics (I’ve read zero), twelve classics (I’ve read zero), twelve historical fiction (I’ve read five), and twelve YA (I buy so much of it but I haven’t read much of it at all, especially last year?? Why am I like this? I’ve read five so far). These are the official lists I have in my book bullet journal, but I also “unofficially” want to read more middle grade, works by LGBTQIA+ writers, works by marginalized writers, and non-fiction books about space/astronauts/the space race (it’s been fifty years since the moon landing?? ahh). One of these days I’ll make a post of my book bullet journal and the lists I’ve made myself, so you can see that!

I also did Whole30 during May, and it helped me realize a lot about my eating habits in general. Reintroduction has been fine, so I’m also happy I don’t seem to have any sensitivities to food. I just need to keep instilling those better eating habits!

In June, I’m not going to give myself a set TBR. I have a lot going on, and I’m just going to read on a whim (with exceptions to review copies that I want to have reviews done for on time) and work on whittling down my Netgalley queue and my physical TBR. It’s summertime now, and I should have a less structured month! (But let’s be real, most of my reading months are entirely unstructured…)

How was your reading May? What are you going to do for June?

BOOK REVIEW: The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan, by Caitlín R. Kiernan

BOOK REVIEW: The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan, by Caitlín R. KiernanTitle: The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan by Caitlín R. Kiernan
Published by Tachyon Publications
Published: February 18th, 2019
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 432
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley

"One of our essential writers of dark fiction."―New York Times

Caitlín R. Kiernan is widely acknowledged as one of dark fantasy and horror’s most skilled and acclaimed short fiction writers. Here in this retrospective volume is her finest work, previously only collected in sold-out limited editions. Kiernan’s tales are visceral, sensual, devastating, and impossible to resist: a reporter is goaded by her girlfriend into watching people morphing into terrifying art; a critic interviews an elderly model from a series of famous mermaid paintings; a moviegoer watches a banned arthouse film only to discover exactly why it has been banned.

When I read “The Maltese Unicorn” in The Unicorn Anthology, I wanted to read more of Caitlín R. Kiernan’s work. Tachyon on Netgalley had The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan up for download, so I loaded it onto my kindle and started reading a story or three. I was really captivated by a lot of her work because it’s a little creepy, unsettling, and grotesque, but in a way that showcases truths that sometimes we’re afraid to face or don’t know how to face.

My favorite stories in the collection were as follows: “The Maltese Unicorn” (of course, because you really can’t go wrong with lesbian unicorn noir), “A Child’s Guide to Hollow Hills,” “The Ammonite Violin,” and “Hydrarguros”. “The Ammonite Violin” has such a masterfully and terrific thrill to it that I read it twice. I knew the story was leading up to something, and the revelation was perfectly executed.

I had never read any of her work before her story in The Unicorn Anthology, and I think it’s because I don’t often dabble in the “horror” genre. I am hesitate to label Kiernan as “horror” in the traditional sense because so many of her stories were a quiet, creeping sort of horror rather than a shock and scare sort of thing that I generally tend to associate with “horror.” Her work is more an examination of the human existence in all its forms, from light to dark, and I think this collection of her work shows the broad scope of her abilities.

Thank you to Tachyon Pub and Netgalley for a digital review copy! All opinions are my own.

BOOK REVIEW: Ask Again, Yes, by Mary Beth Keane

BOOK REVIEW: Ask Again, Yes, by Mary Beth KeaneTitle: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Published by Scribner
Published: May 28th 2019
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the friendship between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are two NYPD rookies assigned to the same Bronx precinct in 1973. They aren’t close friends on the job, but end up living next door to each other outside the city. What goes on behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne, sets the stage for the stunning events to come.

Ask Again, Yes by award-winning author Mary Beth Keane, is a beautifully moving exploration of the friendship and love that blossoms between Francis’s youngest daughter, Kate, and Brian’s son, Peter, who are born six months apart. In the spring of Kate and Peter’s eighth grade year a violent event divides the neighbors, the Stanhopes are forced to move away, and the children are forbidden to have any further contact.

But Kate and Peter find a way back to each other, and their relationship is tested by the echoes from their past. Ask Again, Yes reveals how the events of childhood look different when reexamined from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

Sometimes when I go into a book I just know it’s going to be one of those hit books of the summer. Ask Again, Yes is such a compelling character portrait of what happens when the lives of two families are entwined and changed from the beginnings of their children’s lives until the end.

Aside from the synopsis on the back and a little bit of early buzz from people I follow on social media, I didn’t know what to expect when I started this, and there’s a pivotal scene in the book that had me left in a little shock. I mean, I kind of knew it was coming, but the pacing of that scene was absolute perfection. The novel mostly follows what happened after in each of the character’s lives, after the Gleesons and Stanhopes recover; through the rest of high school, college, and beyond for their children, Kate and Peter; and how one reconciles the past with the present and future.

Keane handles mental illness, everyday violence, and love, forgiveness, and hope found within these characters with profound tenderness and empathy. This isn’t a sentimental novel, but it will certainly make you feel things throughout it all. Especially at the end.

Once I dug into this, I read it in about a day and a half. I had to know how things resolved, what happened to the characters, and to bask in the clear, fresh prose. If you enjoyed the tone of Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, consider this your next read.

Many thanks to Scribner for sending me a copy of this to review! All opinions are my own.

BOOK REVIEW: The Unquiet Heart, by Kaite Welsh

BOOK REVIEW: The Unquiet Heart, by Kaite WelshTitle: The Unquiet Heart by Kaite Welsh
Series: Sarah Gilchrist #2
Published by Pegasus Books
Published: February 21st 2019
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 288
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley

Kaite Welsh's thrilling THE UNQUIET HEART is the second in the gothic Sarah Gilchrist series, following a medical student turned detective in Victorian Edinburgh.

Sarah Gilchrist has no intention of marrying her dull fiancé Miles, the man her family hope will restore her reputation and put an end to her dreams of becoming a doctor, but when he is arrested for a murder she is sure he didn't commit she finds herself his reluctant ally. Beneath the genteel façade of upper class Edinburgh lurks blackmail, adultery, poison and madness and Sarah must return to Edinburgh's slums, back alleys and asylums as she discovers the dark past about a family where no one is what they seem, even Miles himself. It also brings her back into the orbit of her mercurial professor, Gregory Merchiston - he sees Sarah as his protegee, but can he stave off his demons long enough to teach her the skills that will save her life?

I read the first Sarah Gilchrist book last year? The year before? And I fell in love with it. Sarah Gilchrist is a medical student at the University of Edinburgh, and in this second installment of the series, Sarah is trying not to marry her fiance Miles. In the midst of the drama surrounding her upcoming wedding, Miles is arrested for a murder Sarah is sure he didn’t commit, and she becomes his ally in trying to clear his name while maintaining the delicate balance of her own reputation.

I love Sarah’s voice. She’s a strong-willed individual who finds it difficult to balance what she wants in her life while trying to balance what’s expected of hers by others. She knows she’ll never be able to live up to those expectations, and her professor Gregory Merchiston encourages Sarah to find her own way. Welsh weaves in traditional mystery tropes with historical fiction and feminism, and the writing and the story is fresh, engaging, and wonderful. I also loved the weaving in of what happened in the first book without it feeling like an info dump, because there were some details I had forgotten or was glad to be reminded about. The hint of romance near the end is swoon-worthy, because who doesn’t love a quietly-pining, broody someone?

If you’re interested in feminist historical fiction with strong characters with a setting that feels like you’re completely immersed, definitely check out this series.

Thank you to Netgalley and Pegasus Books for the digital advance copy! All opinions are my own.

Waiting on Wednesday, SFF edition!

Oof, the last time I did a post like this was back in October! Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine (though it seems as though it’s been a while since she updated that particular blog, so if you know of the current host, if there is one, please let me know) that highlights upcoming releases that we’re impatiently waiting for. This week I’m highlighting some new/upcoming fantasy books that I can’t wait to read!


Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth “unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.” Rebecca Roanhorse calls it the “Gothic space fantasy” she didn’t know she needed. Um. GIVE IT TO ME. September is TOO FAR AWAY. It releases September 10, 2019!


Being a sorcerer is a death sentence. But “when a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy knows how to stop it. To do so, she’ll have to rely on newfound allies—a swordmaster, a silversmith, and her own thieving brother. And they’ll need the very thing that could condemn them all: magic.” Magic and politics and an amazing cover? Yesss. I actually preordered this one, and I’m going to read it soon! It released May 21, 2019.


The “Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore” and it’s set in the Jazz Age? Give me those fairy tales, and give me them set in the Jazz Age because I think it’s a perfect setting for some “modern” fairy tales. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s The Gods of Jade and Shadow comes out July 23, 2019.


I’ve followed Sam for a long time on Twitter and I think he’s hilarious, and I still haven’t read any of his books. I bought The City Stained Red forever ago, but something about Seven Blades in Black is calling to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for stories told by people after the fact and I like somewhat unreliable narrators. She was “betrayed by those she trusted most, her magic torn from her and awaiting execution, Sal the Cacophony has one last tale to tell before they take her head. All she has left is her name, her story and the weapon she used to carved both.” It came out April 9, 2019!


I read Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest ages ago as part of my “must read all the fairy tale retellings” (and now that I’m thinking about it, I’m due for a reread of some of those books), and I remember really falling in love with the world she created. When I saw that she was coming out with a new series about a WARRIOR BARD who needs to find and retrieve a “precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone mysteriously missing” AND “if the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the people could revolt. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom.” As soon as I read that, I WAS LIKE SIGN ME UP.

Are any of these on your radar? What are you looking forward to reading in the upcoming months?