Recent Reads, May 2023

I shared last week that I was in a bit of a reading slump this month, but I did still read some books that I really loved… it just took me a little longer than usual. I’m definitely looking forward to more patio reading next month and all summer long. Here’s everything I read in May!

The Spectacular by Fiona Davis

(I got this as an ARC through NetGalley – it will be published on June 13, 2023.) I’ve read a few books by Fiona Davis, and this one isn’t bad, but isn’t my favorite of hers, either. It’s set in the 1950s, and follows Marion, a dance teacher who is fired and decides to follow her lifelong dream of actually performing by auditioning to dance with The Rockettes. At the same time, there’s a series of bombings set off by the “Big Apple Bomber,” who claims to be targeting the Metropolitan Power Company where Marion’s dad and sister work. Marion finds herself (somewhat puts herself!) in the middle of the search for the bomber, and works to follow her leads when the police refuse to. There’s a split timeframe between most of the plot in the 50s and some in current day, looking back, and the story just added a lot in the last chapter that didn’t feel totally necessary (and was borderline ableist, in my opinion!). I did, however, love the description of Radio City and The Rockettes!

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

(Content warning: abuse) This is a dark academia book (one of my favorite genres) with a Shakespeare twist. A group of students studying at an elite Shakespearian acting conservatory have become close on stage and off – they live in almost a constant state of method acting, slipping Shakespeare lines into their every day conversations and finding themselves becoming a little too similar to the characters they play. But cracks begin to form in their tight knit friendship, and after tragedy strikes, they have to band together to convince the police that they’re innocent. I loved the way the story was set up – broken into “acts,” just like a play, and also partially told looking back on the past and everything that had happened. It was a little slow at times, but I loved the vagueness of the ending!

Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

I love Carley Fortune’s romances! Fern and Will spent one magical day together years ago, when both had partners, and haven’t seen each other since. Which is why Fern is shocked when Will shows up at the lakeside resort she’s recently taken control of after her mother’s death, only to learn that Will had met her mother there the summer before and agreed to help her make some changes to the property. Fern agrees to let him help, and the two start to get close again, but the memories of what happened years ago still loom over their heads. Is it too late for them now? This was sweet and yet deep, too – the ending was maybe a little quick, but it’s a perfect summer read.

Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

This duology is part of the Grishaverse, the series by Leigh Bardugo, but follows the Crows – kind of a ragtag group of thieves led by Kaz Brekker. Kaz and the rest of his crew (Inej, Jesper, Wylan, Nina, and Matthias) set out on a heist they’ve been told is impossible, because the reward is too great not to try. They succeed (not without great cost), only to find that they’ve been double-crossed and now have a whole new situation to deal with back home. I really, really loved this duology – Kaz walks with a limp, and uses a cane, and there are some really perfect passages about his disability and his life that really hit me right in the gut! Also some really powerful relationships between the Crows.

Happy Place by Emily Henry

At this point, I will read anything and everything that Emily Henry writes! Harriet and Wyn have recently broken off their engagement… but no one knows, including their close friends from college, who they’re reuniting with to spend a week at their friend’s lake house (Harriet’s “happy place”) before it’s sold. They have to spend the week hiding their breakup from their friends and pretending like everything is fine, while trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) not to slip back into old relationship habits. The storyline jumps back and forth between present day to various points in the history of Harriet and Wyn’s relationship, as we try to understand what exactly went wrong. As someone in her 30s, I also really loved the storyline about college friendships growing and changing as people grow and change, and needing to figure out that new dynamic, too. I really loved this, but it’s not exactly a light rom-com – Emily Henry compared it to Maroon by Taylor Swift, and that feels right.

Shop the books:

Leave a Reply