May 2024 – Book Reviews

Welcome to the May 2024 Book Reviews! As we approach summer, I’ve been immersed in crafting book blogs that highlight the best summer reads, spanning romance and thrillers. This focus on curating compelling recommendations has led to a slight delay in publishing this month’s reviews. However, without delay any longer, let’s delve into the reads from last month.

May 2024 - Book Reviews
May 2024 – Book Reviews

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1. The Crimson Moth (The Heartless Hunter) – Kristen Cicarelli – Fantasy

Synopsis:
May 2024 - Book Reviews
May 2024 – Book Reviews – The Heartless Hunter by Kristen Cicarelli

In the aftermath of a harrowing revolution that left witches hunted and magic diminished Rune must conceal her true identity to survive. By day, she masquerades as a shallow socialite, but by night, she transforms into the Crimson Moth—a daring vigilante rescuing persecuted witches. When a mission goes awry, Rune decides to mislead the witch hunters and gain crucial intelligence by captivating Gideon Sharpe, a handsome and relentless witch hunter loyal to the revolution, whom she unexpectedly begins to fall for.

Gideon despises the superficial world Rune embodies, yet he discovers that she uses her merchant ships to aid renegade witches. To infiltrate her circles and uncover more, he feigns interest in courting her. As they grow closer, Gideon finds beneath Rune’s beauty lies a fiercely intelligent and compassionate woman who seems perfect for him—until doubts arise about her true intentions.

In Kristen Ciccarelli’s *Heartless Hunter*, the first instalment of ‘The Crimson Moth’ duology, a romantic fantasy unfolds where the line between love and betrayal is dangerously blurred in a world where being a witch is perilous.

My Review:

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you write an outstanding fantasy book. Wow. I finished The Crimson Moth a few hours ago, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. There’s so much to cover, so let’s start at the beginning.

World Building –

Uncomplicated and beautifully written, this is what makes *The Crimson Moth* stand out among fantasy books. I live for world-building that is easy to follow, with past events masterfully woven into the storyline. Based on past experience, I find that some books focus too much on backstory, intending to hook readers. However, while this is necessary, if not done properly, the story can become repetitive and tedious. This was not the case with *The Crimson Moth*. It had just the right amount of backstory to understand the characters’ motives and the history that accompanies it, without dragging down the pace of the story.

Characters

Well-written characters cannot be perfect; they need their fair share of flaws to be relatable. You won’t find more complex characters than Rune and Gideon.

Rune is a kickass female character who, despite all her fears and guilt, displays copious amounts of courage. I love how the author made her so freaking relatable. We all have fears, but if you believe strongly enough in something, fear and doubt have to take a back seat, and that is exactly what Rune did. She is clever and determined, but also impulsive, which she soon learns is a weakness.

Gideon initially comes across as a complete ass. A handsome ass, but an ass nonetheless. His character development progresses at a slower pace, with the author gradually unearthing the depth of his character and the motives behind his actions. It was a pleasure to read his POVs and indulge in his internal conflict.

Enemies to Lovers Trope

Definitely one of my favourite tropes, but if not done correctly, it can spoil the whole book for me.

Luckily for me, and you, the execution of the relationship between our two main characters was top-notch. One of my pet peeves when it comes to romance storylines is insta-love. Example: they don’t like each other in the first chapter, but at the start of chapter two, they are madly in love. No, just plain NO.

With Rune and Gideon, there was just the right amount of physical attraction and sexual tension without it becoming overpowering. As a reader, it was clear to me from the start that both had mixed feelings about the other and that they also both had ulterior motives regarding their pursuit of a relationship.

The reason why I love the development of their relationship is because it is written unhurriedly, allowing you to become attached to both characters. Right in the middle of the book, I was rooting for their love story, even with all the obstacles they faced.

As far as smut goes, there was the ONE sex scene, and it was elegantly written. I am not a lover of smut, so when I read a romance book that has high levels of spice, I find myself rolling my eyes and skipping pages. Not this time, though. It was PERFECT.

The Magic System –

There was nothing complicated about it. It was straightforward, easy to understand, and cleverly written.

The core message behind this story is clear and simple: diversity. In Rune’s world, there is an infinite fear of witches and their magic, shaped by historical determinants. The mistakes of the past continue to influence present-day actions.

Rune and others like her are seen as different, hunted, and killed because of it. She fights tirelessly to change this, steadfast in her resolve to create a world where she feels accepted and, above all, safe.

I’ve always enjoyed a good witchy story, ever since my days of binge-watching the Charmed TV show. I’ve read many books in this genre, but *The Crimson Moth* has easily become my favourite.

With a well-paced plot, this book isn’t meant to be rushed; it’s meant to be savoured. And the cherry on top? A jaw-dropping plot twist towards the end that will leave you craving more and possibly suffering from a reading slump.

As an aspiring author myself, I aspire to achieve this kind of writing. For fantasy lovers, this story strikes the perfect balance with every element you’d want in this genre.

I, for one, cannot wait for the release of *The Rebel Witch* in 2025.

Buy Your Copy On:

2. The Inheritance Games – Jennifer Lynn Barnes – YA Mystery

Synopsis:
May 2024 Book Reviews -
May 2024 Book Reviews –
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Avery Grambs had a simple plan for a brighter future: navigate high school, secure a scholarship, and make her escape. However, her destiny takes an unexpected turn when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne passes away, leaving Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery is completely unaware of who Tobias Hawthorne is, let alone why he chose her.

To claim her inheritance, Avery must relocate to the sprawling Hawthorne House, a labyrinthine mansion filled with secret passages and adorned with the old man’s love for puzzles, riddles, and codes. Complicating matters, Hawthorne House is already occupied by the very family Tobias Hawthorne recently disinherited — including his four grandsons: enigmatic, charismatic, and brilliant young men raised with the expectation of inheriting billions.

Grayson Hawthorne, the heir apparent, is convinced Avery is a fraud and is determined to expose her. His brother, Jameson, sees her as their grandfather’s final enigma — a complex puzzle to unravel. Surrounded by opulence and danger at every corner, Avery must navigate this world of privilege and peril, relying on her wits to survive the game that has been thrust upon her.

My Review:

I don’t know why I waited this long to read this book. Probably because it’s aimed at YA, and recently, I haven’t come across a YA book that I could honestly give a 5-star rating to. However,  *The Inheritance Games*? Let’s just say I devoured its pages like my life depended on it.

I’m not going to lie, the child in me was totally captivated by the Hawthorne Mansion. A bowling alley, a games room, and even a spa are fine, all well and good. But a mansion with multiple libraries and hidden passages? It well and truly got my attention.

The core of the story revolves around the inheritance mystery. Why Avery? What’s the connection to the deceased? The author cleverly plotted the narrative to keep readers turning pages, in search of answers. The clues, the riddles, it all came together beautifully. 

The relationship dynamics between the four brothers and Avery was so well executed, that I can’t even decide which brother is my favourite. Let’s just say they each carry their own individual charm. 

All in all, this was a great read, and without a doubt, I will be continuing with this series.

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3. Bride – Ali Hazelwood – Fantasy Romance

Synopsis:
May 2024 Book Reviews – Bride By Ali Hazelwood

Misery Lark, the daughter of the powerful Vampyre councilman of the Southwest, finds herself once again an outcast. Her days of blending in among humans are abruptly ended when she’s tasked with upholding a crucial peace treaty between Vampyres and their mortal enemies, the Weres. Reluctantly, she prepares to surrender herself in exchange, anticipating the challenges ahead.

The Weres, led by the ruthless Alpha Lowe Moreland, are known for their unpredictability. Lowe rules his pack with unwavering authority tempered by a sense of justice and compassion not typically seen among the Vampyre Council. His distrust of Misery is palpable as he closely monitors her every move, unaware of how justified his suspicions truly are.

Yet Misery harbours her own motives for agreeing to this arranged alliance, motives rooted deeply in personal desires rather than political strategy. Her singular focus drives her to contemplate a future in Were territory, willing to endure solitude if it means reclaiming what matters most to her—even if it means living alongside the enigmatic wolf Alpha.

My Review:

When I heard that Ali Hazelwood was releasing a romance book based on werewolves, I wasn’t too sure if I would read it. While I love her rom-coms, especially *The Love Hypothesis*, and appreciate her witty, hilarious, and well-structured writing, I was afraid of being disappointed. 

I needn’t have worried. As it happens, I was gifted *Bride* by a friend, and so I had no other choice but to read it. I can honestly say she pulled it off as she always does. Hazelwood gave her own spin to the werewolves and vampires in her story, which made it automatically stand out and feel like a breath of fresh air. 

The chemistry between her two main characters was brilliantly executed, and the banter from her previous works remained, giving the book a feel-good atmosphere. The spice level was acceptable—not too much, but not too little either—with her own unique twist (no spoilers here, but let’s just say the werewolves’ anatomy is slightly different in Ali Hazelwood’s world).

As always, Hazelwood never disappoints in delivering an easy, feel-good read with all the romance trimmings and laugh-out-loud extras.

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4. More Confessions Of A Forty-Something F##k Up – Alexandra Potter – Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:
May 2024 Book Reviews – More Confessions Of A Forty-Something F##k Up by Alexandra Potter

Life isn’t a destination where everything magically falls into place. It’s a messy journey of ups and downs, mistakes and epiphanies. Nell is back, still navigating a life that refuses to follow her carefully laid plans. She grapples with profound questions that offer no easy answers:

1. Why is falling in love effortless, yet staying in love so challenging?

2. How do you navigate friendships when they’re pushed to their limits?

3. Can we truly embrace the present while letting go of the past?

4. When everything goes wrong, do you crumble or escape to LA with Cricket, an octogenarian widow and your best friend?

5. And when all else fails, can celebrity-scented candles, smashed avocados, and Instagram filters save the day? (*#onlyjoking #sortof #LOL*)

In this uproarious sequel to the bestselling *Confessions of a Forty-Something F##k Up*, now adapted into the hit TV series *Not Dead Yet*, Nell embarks on a journey filled with laughter, life lessons, and unexpected joys. Get ready for more confessions from Nell as she navigates through the hilarious twists and turns of life.

My Review:

The sequel to Confessions Of A Forty Something exceeded all my expectations. 

Seriously, this is probably the most down-to-earth and relatable book I have read this year. As a forty-something myself, there were parts of this story that highly resonated with me.

The raw, vulnerable, and honest portrayal of Nell’s journey was the most compelling aspect for me. When a story revolves around authentic topics infused with a hint of humour, the end result, if executed correctly, is always destined to be a winner. 

The pace of this book was spot on, and Alexandra Potter beautifully captured its essence in her writing. She certainly hit the mark with this sequel. While I’m unsure if there will be more books featuring the same characters, one thing is certain—I’ll be eagerly reading more of her work in the future.

Read my review for Confessions Of A Forty-Something F##k Up.

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Books I’ve Opted Not to Review

I’ve recently decided not to review books that, in my humble opinion, fell short. Why? Well, after facing the harsh reality of how much work writing a book involves while working on my own novel, I’ve chosen not to critique books I didn’t enjoy. Ultimately, it’s my perception, my opinion, and I don’t want to dissuade anyone from exploring a book they might otherwise love.

One of the books I read in May was ‘The Lies Among Us’ by Sarah Beth Durst. If you’re curious and would like to read the synopsis, simply click on the book title.

Happy reading x

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