May 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

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So this is going to be a quick wrap-up. I only read three books this month and they were all from the same series. And they were all rereads. Well, I also read some of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab but I haven’t finished it yet. Still, may was the month of Schwab seeing as she’s all I read.

I’ll also be discussing two books I DNF’d. Unless I’m forgetting something, I believe these are the first books I’ve DNF’d all 2020.

Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Reread)


Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

This was my third time reading Shades of Magic and I love it just as much as I did the first time. How can I even begin to explain how much I love these books, how much they mean to me? Reading Shades of Magic feels like coming home.

The characters, the writing, the world, the plot… everything about this series is perfect to me. This latest reread has cemented Shades of Magic as my favorite series of all time.


Annotation 2020-06-05 192242

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas


Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life— working hard all day and partying all night— until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose— to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion— one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

I actually DNF’d this book in April, but I forgot to include it in last month’s wrap-up. And I basically DNF’d it for all the reasons I knew I wouldn’t like it in the first place. I don’t like SJM’s writing style or her characters. This book, as much as it tries to pretend it’s something new, is just more of the same.

But honestly? I feel like this book is worse than SJM’s other series. The info-dumping here is so unnatural. SJM pays lip service to calling out the alpha males that plague her books without actually changing anything. There’s a character that literally only exists to insert girl hate into the book. Seriously, a member of Danika’s pack is mentioned once as someone who hates Bryce for no discernable reason and then she dies.

I got to just under 200 pages into this book before I accepted I’d only continued reading because, as much as I didn’t like what I was reading, it’s addictive. But I’ve decided I’m not going to waste time on a book I know I’m going to give 1 star. On the upside, I was able to return the book and get my money back.

Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone


A wildly successful innovator to rival Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, Vivian Liao is prone to radical thinking, quick decision-making, and reckless action. On the eve of her greatest achievement, she's trying to outrun those who are trying to steal her success.

In the chilly darkness of a Boston server farm, Viv sets her ultimate plan into motion. A terrifying instant later, Vivian Liao is catapulted through space and time to a far future where she confronts a destiny stranger and more deadly than she could ever imagine.

The end of time is ruled by an ancient, powerful Empress who blesses or blasts entire planets with a single thought. Rebellion is literally impossible to consider— until Vivian arrives. Trapped between the Pride, a ravening horde of sentient machines, and a fanatical sect of warrior monks who call themselves the Mirrorfaith, Viv must rally a strange group of allies to confront the Empress and find a way back to the world and life she left behind.

I went into this book fully expecting to love it. Max Gladstone co-wrote This is How You Lose the Time War, which was one of my favorite books of 2019. But I guess it was Amal El-Mohtar’s influence that made it good.

Vivian feels aggressively like a stereotypical Woman Written by a Man. There wasn’t anything that seemed particularly objectifying in the bit I read, but the vibe was still there. I also just don’t really want to read about a billionaire Chosen One. I want to eat the rich, not read about them. I quickly realized this book wasn’t going to be for me and noped out. At least I got it on sale.

What did you read in May? Have you read any of these books? Did you DNF anything? Let’s discuss in the comments!


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