Monthly Wrap-Up – May 2023
I’m excited to share today’s monthly wrap-up post for May 2023! I’ve had a fantastic reading month with lots of books, so make yourself comfortable!
In my May TBR post, I shared that I will be picking up no less than eight books throughout the month. The first of those was a carryover from April. But, the rest were from scratch. In the end, I read all but one of the books on my reading list; I do have a DNF to tell you about this month.
Shall we take a look at what I’ve been reading?
The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi
Picking up where I left off last month, my first aim was to finish The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi. As of the beginning of the month, I was approximately half way through the book.
It ended up being an okay read, but nothing spectacular either. I wanted to pick up this book to read as a standalone before committing to trying another series by this author. Based on my experience of this book, I’m not sure if I’ll go ahead with that series. As I say, it was okay to read. It was fun, and I enjoyed that the setting is Eastern inspired as opposed to Western. Overall, I found the book a little bit too whimsical to my taste.
Wolf of Wessex
Looking for a complete change, I then decided to pick up Wolf of Wessex as my next read.
This also ended up being a middle of the road book. Wolf of Wessex was a really quick read, in part because it is full of action. However, in my opinion, it is a little lacking in plot in character development. I still enjoyed the book as a light read. Maybe I’ll pick up more books by the author if I was looking for a light read from a genre I’m familiar with.
I generally prefer a bit more depth to the books I pick up, but this kind of read definitely has its place as well!
The Waste Lands
My luck turned around when I picked up The Waste Lands by Stephen King. Rather spookily, I started this book exactly 4 years after I finished the previous book in the series. It was quite a long time since I finished that book, so I had to refresh myself on the events that have taken place so far before diving in.
Thankfully, the edition I have recaps events in a dedicated section in the first few pages. That was a great help. What also made this really easy to get back into is that the events in the third book naturally reminisce on what has happened before. Although it had been a number of years since I started this series, that ultimately didn’t matter. I got back into this book very quickly… and I read it just as quickly!
Thanks to some scheduled time off work, I was able to pick up and read good chunks of this book in one sitting. I read this near 600 pager in just four days. Needless to say, I loved it!
My next read was Death Magnanimous by Michael Martin.
I got my hands on a copy of this book via Netgalley, a site I don’t use much outside of blog tours nowadays. I ended up browsing the site on a whim, and it was the cover and synopsis of this book that caught my attention.
The rest of the book lived up to the expectation. This is not a light read by any stretch of the imagination. It is a book that deals with difficult themes, including, but not limited to, chronic pain, trauma, and euthanasia. Despite these difficult topics, I really enjoyed how they came together in this narrative.
There is a good level of humour, as well as an element of mystery, that also add to this this narrative. Death Magnanimous sits outside of the conventional genres I read, but it is a good example of why it’s important to push the boundaries now and then.
After quite a few longer reads, I then decided to pick up a short story anthology. I had already committed to reading the book this month in order to provide a review (which you can find here if you are interested).
Taking Liberties proved to be a great palette cleanser. Especially after reading such a ‘dark’ book just before, it was a great experience to flit between little characters and shorter stories. All of these stories are loosely based around the theme of freedom. However, that is where the comparisons end. Each contributing author in the anthology has taken a completely different perspective on that theme. I read this book in approximately 24 hours. It was just what I needed.
Another book I picked up this month, with my 2023 goal of continuing series in mind, is Starsight by Brandon Sanderson.
I just started his Skyward series fairly late on last year and I really took to the first book. Spensa is an interesting and captivating protagonist. Although Starsight differs from the set up of Skyward significantly, I think the second book excelled for jumping out of the boundaries already built up.
An experience I’ve had with many Sanderson books is that he’s not afraid to take a world, book or setting he’s already established, and then push the boundaries to make it better. I’ve readily enjoyed his second era Mistborn books for the exact same reason. It’s great to see him doing it again!
A huge indicator of just how much I enjoyed Starsight is the fact that I read the second half in one sitting alone! I was really invested in Spensa’s mission and I had to know how it all went down. Based on this latest book, I expect I will pick up the next in the series, Cytonic, before long!
As Long As the Lemon Trees Grow
I listened to the audiobook version of As Long As the Lemon Trees Grow, as this was the book chosen for Ezeekat’s book club this month. I will hold my hands up and admit that I probably wouldn’t have picked up the book where it not effectively chosen for me. I’m glad that it was! As Long As the Lemon Trees Grow is probably one of my favourite, or at least standout, books of the year.
The book is set in Syria, and puts the human face back onto the conflict we are aware of at a distance. The protagonist Salama is thrown into the thick of chaos, when she is effectively promoted from a pharmacist to a doctor due to a shortage of medically trained people. Whilst she continues to treat the victims that come through the hospital doors, she is also battling against her conscience in wanting to leave her country for safety.
I really enjoyed this change of setting, and the author certainly did her job in making me as a reader aware of what exactly is going on in Syria! The book is beautiful in its descriptions of Syria and the people that make her.
Against All Gods
The last book I picked up this month was a little disappointing. I really liked the sound of this book based on the synopsis. Greek mythology mixed with fantasy could have been a great combination. However, in the 20% of the book I read before ultimately putting it down, it didn’t work for me. Other than one character’s personal mission for vengeance against the gods, as well as a general simmering of discontent among mortals, very little happens. As far as the gods go, there is the usual murder and debauchery that Greek myth has taught us to expect… but again, little else.
The seeming lack of plot was disappointing. I had far higher hopes for the book. I was struggling to read it for days, and I had no inclination to find out what was going on. So, I ultimately made the decision to stop. I think I’ve made the right choice for me.
I’m really pleased with the reading progress I made this month, even if it was tarnished slightly by ending with a DNF. It’s not the end of the world though, because I’ve moved on to my first read of June… and it is a re-read of a favourite!
If you want to find out what else I’m going to be reading throughout the month of June, I will be sharing my monthly TBR on Friday!