JJ Reads

Memo Pad: May Books Wrap up

Another month is over and apparently it’s almost summer but it still feels like this year has only just started and oh god somebody turn the time off please!! Ummm, anyway. I had a much better reading month this month after a couple of dodgy ones so I’m very happy. It started with the awesome Baker Thief and then I continued to speed through a bunch of great books.

I’ve just reached the stage in my novel journey where my baby book is ready to be read by beta readers who will be giving me feedback to help me improve it. So that is going out to a few people which is very nervewracking. I’m going to be taking a couple of months off of the editing now while I wait, and so will hopefully have loads of time to read some amazing books that I’ve been meaning to get to.

I managed to only buy a couple books this month, but I’ll tell you about my new books at the end. First on to the reviews…..

All of these books were arcs in some way, some were from netgalley, some more directly from authors but as always, all the reviews are my honest opinions. And all links go to the books goodreads pages.

mp may 18

Read: 5


Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault *****

I picked this one up for two reasons, the aromantic rep and because it said thief in the title. Anyone who follows my reviews should probably know by now I have a weak spot for thieves. Going in I did think it might be light on the plot as sometimes character based indies that centre queer characters sometimes are but this book is equal parts adorable characters and action packed plot. I raced through it and not only the main characters but all of the supporting characters were brilliant, the action and intrigue kept me turning pages and needing to find out what happened next. The world created is inventive, and mixes science with magic, it has witches and a French inspired setting that felt real and vivid. But, just to warn you, one of the characters is a genderfluid (and aromantic) baker and they WILL make you crave croissants. I loved this book, I have a couple of other books by this author that I haven’t got around to reading yet but they’ve just moved up the pile if this is the kind of story I can expect.


Red Sky: Rising by Ben Archer *****

Straight from the first chapter of this book I was hooked. The mix of action and humour had me laughing and that great mix continued throughout the whole book. Hayden Flynn lives in a post apocalyptic world where humans and vampires live peacefully alongside each other. Mostly. Hayden is a vampire. And when a young girl gets kidnapped by a monster, he sets out to save her but finds out there’s a lot more problems in the world than he thought.

So I should start off by saying this is a gory book. There is a lot of horror and blood and guts here. But the mix of horror and humour was excellent. Haydens reactions to the things happening were hilarious and so relatable. And the humour never took away from the intense plot  Another thing to mention, this may be a book about vampires but there is absolutely zero romance plot. No love story. None. The relationship between the two main characters was excellent, they basically hated each other but cared for each other because they were stuck with each other and didn’t have anyone else. It was such a fresh and unique take compared to relationships in most books and I really loved it. Having two main characters who found the other SO annoying was actually really funny to read. The main reason this book didn’t get five stars for me is that the ending left me a bit unsatisfied. But this is the first book in a series and that does tend to happen for series sometimes. So if you want to read a funny, gory vampire book with zero romance I’d recommend it!


Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody *****

I am conflicted. This book got a lot of hype and I did really enjoy it. The world that was created was great. I loved the idea of talents and the way the magic was developed and inserted in the world. I’ve already mentioned I love thieves, and the plot revolves around card games, and cons and gambling houses. It’s exciting and draws you in from the start. I raced through it, it was easy to read and the mysteries and intrigue made it difficult to put down. The issue I had was with the characters. I felt the two lead characters were a bit wishy-washy. We’re told at the start that Levi Glaysier is the gang leader of one of the three gangs that rule the city of sin. He and his gang are introduced strongly and then…..? I never actually believed Levi could be a gang leader. We’re told he’s ‘different’ from the others but he had none of the presence or smarts or cunning that I’d expect. He made reckless decisions and felt out of his depth the whole way, as a character he’s great, I loved him, but I didn’t believe he was the leader of the Irons. Which brings me onto another point, this is a book that heavily features the idea of gangs and yet we rarely see any of the irons, a few very interesting characters are introduced early on and then barely showed their faces again. I wanted more of them. This book draws strong comparisons with Six of Crows, from the setting and the gang background to plot points along the way, but the difference is the characters and relationships in SoC were it’s strongest point, in this one, it’s the weakest. I came here for intense relationships and gang dynamics and was disappointed but still enjoyed a fast paced and intriguing story.


The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green *****

I really enjoyed this book, I raced through it over one weekend and I loved and cared about the characters but, I mean, this is pretty much the definition of generic fantasy YA. It’s multi POV, from the perspective of a thief, a princess, a demon hunter, a servant, and guard. Which all sounds pretty familiar but I didn’t care? I loved Tash, the demon hunter who was only concerned with earning enough money so she could buy those pretty boots she’d seen in town. And March, the servant who tries to fight his feelings for the boy who is supposed to be his enemy. And even the other characters, there were so many good ones. I won’t list them, because it would take me ages. I really don’t have much to say and this isn’t a great review but yes, it sounds generic, it is, but the characters were amazing and had me needing to find out what happened next.



Elefant by Martin Suter *****

I don’t normally read general fiction. But the idea of a mini glowing pink elephant made me have to pick up this book. The blurb said its about a homeless guy in Zurich who wakes up to find the little elephant and realises that it’s in danger from a circus and evil geneticist. Which sounds awesome but, I mean, that wasn’t really what the book was about? We do start with the homeless guy finding it but then the next….i don’t know 60% of the book is going back in time and finding out how the elephant came to be there in the first place (including a rather in depth description of them artificially inseminating the mother elephant which I really didn’t need to know). Once the story really got going I really did enjoy it. But it took a long time to get there (and a lot of full life backstories of every minor character we meet). I think the major thing here is that I just didn’t get on with the writing style, I thought it focused on the wrong parts of the story. Blurbs are sometimes my downfall because I expect a certain thing going in. The second half of this book was a four star read for me but I could have done without pretty much the whole first third. It is a lovely idea and the star of the story is the mini elephant which was adorable.

New books I acquired this month:

may new books

The Extinction Trials by SM Wilson // The Queen of All Crows by Rod Duncan // Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody // The Poppy War by RF Kuang


My favourite read of the month would have to be Baker Thief, it was brilliant. So what about you, what is your favourite read this month? Have you read any of these, and what did you think?

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2 thoughts on “Memo Pad: May Books Wrap up”

  1. Oh my gosh the books you read sound AMAZING! I haven’t actually heard of Baker Thief or Red Sky: Rising, but after reading you’re comments I’m certainly intrigued by them now 🙂 I’m glad to hear you’ve have such a nice reading month, and good luck with beta reading! I think my favourite read in May had to be The Wrath & The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh, although I did read some other solid books too~

    Liked by 1 person

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