May Reads

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

As you may have noticed (or, perhaps not), I did not create a post for my March or April Reads. Like everyone else (or most people) I was at home under the quarantine. Did I read a lot? Oh, yes, I most definitely did. I read my little heart out. However, I’m just going to jump right into May Reads, because honestly, why look back? At this point, I need to move forward with this year, because, holy cow. It has been a doozy.


Changeling knight in the court of the Duke of Shadowed Hills, October “Toby” Daye has survived numerous challenges that would destroy fae and mortal alike. Now Toby must take on a nightmarish new assignment.

Someone is stealing both fae and mortal children—and all signs point to Blind Michael. When the young son of Toby’s closest friends is snatched from their Northern California home, Toby has no choice but to track the villains down, even when there are only three magical roads by which to reach Blind Michael’s realm—home of the legendary Wild Hunt—and no road may be taken more than once. If she cannot escape with all the children before the candle that guides and protects her burns away, Toby herself will fall prey to Blind Michael’s inescapable power.

And it doesn’t bode well for the success of her mission that her own personal Fetch, May Daye—the harbinger of Toby’s own death—has suddenly turned up on her doorstep… 

Summary from Goodreads

An Artificial Night is the 3rd book in the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. I read the first and second during April, and opened up May with this third installment. I’ve read this series before, up until the latest book, so this was really just a pleasant “re-read” for me, something familiar in a fairly stressful time. Out of the entire series, An Artificial Night is one of my favorites. I love the atmosphere Seanan McGuire creates in this particular book: the chilling and deeply unsettling land of Blind Michael (not to mention Blind Michael himself), the hard path Toby has to take on this journey, the revelations and events that reverberate through the rest of the series. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, especially if you’re an urban fantasy fan, I highly recommend this series!

October “Toby” Daye, changeling knight in the service of Duke Sylvester Torquill, finds the delicate balance of her life shattered when she learns that an old friend is in dire trouble. Lily, Lady of the Tea Gardens, has been struck down by a mysterious, seemingly impossible illness, leaving her fiefdom undefended. Struggling to find a way to save Lily and her subjects, Toby must confront her own past as an enemy she thought was gone forever raises her head once more: Oleander de Merelands, one of the two people responsible for her fourteen-year exile.

Time is growing short and the stakes are getting higher, for the Queen of the Mists has her own agenda. With everything on the line, Toby will have to take the ultimate risk to save herself and the people she loves most—because if she can’t find the missing pieces of the puzzle in time, Toby will be forced to make the one choice she never thought she’d have to face again…

Late Eclipses is the fourth installment of the highly praised Toby Daye series.

Summary from Goodreads

When you read one October Daye book, it’s hard not to immediately read another. After this book, I put my reading of the October Daye series on hold to wait until closer to the publishing date of the newest book, which will come out in September of this year (new book!). However, this does not mean that this book made me grow tired of the series. This one is another knockout. Characters you grow to love are put in danger, the Queen of the Mists becomes even more of a thorn in October’s side (and the reader’s side, because it is very easy to hate this character, but she’s interesting nonetheless). This is also the book where October’s struggle with fairy is kicked into a higher gear, and she, and the series, enters into a new phase.

Yesterday, Special Agent Pendergast still mourned the loss of his beloved wife, Helen, who died in a tragic accident in Africa twelve years ago. Today, he discovers she was murdered. Tomorrow, he will learn her most guarded secrets, leaving him to wonder: Who was the woman I married? Why was she murdered? And, above all . . . Who murdered her? FEVER DREAM Revenge is not sweet: It is essential. 

Summary from Goodreads

One of the things I love about the Pendergast series as a whole is how Preston and Child pull their plots together. We see characters from previous books, with further character growth. We see threads from other books slowly, and still, being tied up. And the intricacies of the mysteries themselves, some elements seemingly coming from nowhere and out of left field, are endlessly fascinating. And very unique.A great read, and an all around great series! This installment left me almost breathless with the scope and detail of the plot. Things that I would have never connected before were put together in a fascinating way, and through it all we see the mercurial enigma that is the character Pendergast revealed to the reader layer by layer. The reader also sees him like he’s never been before in the hunt for his wife’s killer.

Devastated by the discovery that his wife, Helen, was murdered, Special Agent Pendergast must have retribution. But revenge is not simple. As he stalks his wife’s betrayers– a chase that takes him from the wild moors of Scotland to the bustling streets of New York and the darkest bayous of Louisiana– he is also forced to dig further into Helen’s past. And he is stunned to learn that Helen may have been a collaborator in her own murder.

Peeling back the layers of deception, Pendergast realizes that the conspiracy is deeper, goes back generations, and is more monstrous than he could have ever imagined– and everything he’s believed, everything he’s trusted, everything he’s understood . . . may be a horrific lie.

Summary from Goodreads

Cold Vengeance started with (excuse the pun) a vengeance. It continues the harrowing mystery of the murder of Pendergast’s wife, Helen, with Pendergast in mortal danger from the very first few pages. In this second book of the trilogy (11th in the overall series) the plot becomes more complicated, and the mystery of Helen’s murder is found to be the fruition of a decades long scheme that could have an impact on the wider world. Pendergast is now not only racing against time to solve his wife’s death before the hard-fought for clues disappear in a slew of deaths and misinformation, but he is also now in a race against time to stop a criminal organization that has the destruction of the world as we know it in mind.

*First paragraph of summary redacted due to major spoilers

But when a string of bizarre murders erupts across several Manhattan hotels-perpetrated by a boy who seems to have an almost psychic ability to elude capture-NYPD Lieutenant D’Agosta asks his friend Pendergast for help. Reluctant at first, Pendergast soon discovers that the killings are a message from his wife’s kidnappers. But why a message? And what does it mean?

When the kidnappers strike again at those closest to Pendergast, the FBI agent, filled anew with vengeful fury, sets out to track down and destroy those responsible. His journey takes him deep into the trackless forests of South America, where he ultimately finds himself face to face with an old evil that-rather than having been eradicated-is stirring anew… and with potentially world-altering consequences.

Confucius once said: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, first dig two graves.” Pendergast is about to learn the hard way just how true those words still ring.

Summary from Goodreads

Two Graves brings to a close a mystery that has haunted Pendergast more than any other before. And, oh boy, the plot twist! The revelations! And weirdly, I’m also loving the ruffling of Pendergast’s usually serene exterior, though I’m sad as to why. But this new intensity of his definitely brings an edge to his actions that makes the suspense sharper than ever. I’m also loving the continued presence of Corrie. She’s always been a fave character of mine, and one of the things I love about what Preston and Child do with the Pendergast series is how they bring in characters from other books in the series, some we haven’t seen in a book or two, and how even though many of the books have a stand-alone plot, the characters and the overarching plot surrounding Pendergast carry connecting threads throughout the series.

A young widow restores a dilapidated mansion with the assistance of a charming, eccentric genius, only to find the house is full of dangerous secrets in this effervescent Gilded Age debut novel

It’s 1875, and Alva Webster has perfected her stiff upper lip after three years of being pilloried in the presses of two continents over fleeing her abusive husband. Now his sudden death allows her to return to New York to make a fresh start, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion, and hopefully her reputation at the same time. However, fresh starts aren’t as easy as they seem, as Alva discovers when stories of a haunting at Liefdehuis begin to reach her. But Alva doesn’t believe in ghosts. So when the eccentric and brilliant professor, Samuel Moore, appears and informs her that he can get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds Liefdehuis, she turns him down flat. She doesn’t need any more complications in her life―especially not a handsome, convention-flouting, scandal-raising one like Sam.

Unfortunately, though Alva is loath to admit it, Sam, a pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, is the only one who can help. Together, the two delve into the tragic secrets wreathing Alva’s new home while Sam attempts to unlock Alva’s history―and her heart.

Set during the Gilded Age in New York City, The Widow of Rose House is a gorgeous debut by Diana Biller, with a darkly Victorian Gothic flair and an intrepid and resilient American heroine guaranteed to delight readers.

Summary of Goodreads

When I’m deep in a series like the Pendergast series, I like to sometimes dip out of the series to prolong the experience, so I moved on to this stand-alone novel. This was a fun read. The story did touch on some serious issues (i.e., domestic violence), but the story kept its focus on the present romance while tying up loose threads from the main character’s past. So, romance with a little ghost story on the side made a fun, feel good combination. If you’re looking for a romance with just a tinge of spice, I recommend this book.

A Finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, Agatha Award, and Lefty Award

“A subtly but relentlessly unsettling novel.” —TANA FRENCH, author of The Witch Elm

It was the perfect place to disappear…

One sultry summer, Maureen Haddaway arrives in the wealthy town of Opal Beach to start her life anew—to achieve her destiny. There, she finds herself lured by the promise of friendship, love, starry skies, and wild parties. But Maureen’s new life just might be too good to be true, and before the summer is up, she vanishes.

Decades later, when Allison Simpson is offered the opportunity to house-sit in Opal Beach during the off-season, it seems like the perfect chance to begin fresh after a messy divorce. But when she becomes drawn into the mysterious disappearance of a girl thirty years before, Allison realizes the gorgeous homes of Opal Beach hide dark secrets. And the truth of that long-ago summer is not even the most shocking part of all…

“A heart-wrenching and suspenseful novel of betrayal and revenge. Stunning!” —Carol Goodman, award-winning author of The Night Visitors

“Featuring a brilliantly executed dual timeline with two unforgettable narrators, One Night Gone is a timely and timeless mystery that will keep you obsessively reading well past your bedtime.” —Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World

Summary from Goodreads

The reader is allowed a glimpse into Maureen’s life during the summer before her disappearance, as well as Allison’s attempts to pick up the pieces of her life. Then things get increasingly unsettling. What I really like about Tara Laskowski’s writing is that she could make the most mundane things seem like a creepy foreshadowing of danger to come. I also honestly did not see the real culprit coming, and I did think I had it all figured out! I really enjoyed this read!

New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams recreates the New York City of A Certain Age in this deliciously spicy adventure that mixes past and present and centers on a Jazz Age love triangle involving a rugged Prohibition agent, a saucy redheaded flapper, and a debonair Princetonian from a wealthy family.

When she discovers her husband cheating, Ella Hawthorne impulsively moves out of their SoHo loft and into a small apartment in an old Greenwich Village building. Her surprisingly attractive new neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement at night. Tenants have reported strange noises after midnight—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano—even though the space has been empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the place hid a speakeasy.

In 1924, Geneva “Gin” Kelly, a smart-mouthed flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway known as the Christopher Club. Caught up in a raid, Gin becomes entangled with Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather Duke Kelly, one of Appalachia’s most notorious bootleggers.

Headstrong and independent, Gin is no weak-kneed fool. So how can she be falling in love with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent when she’s got Princeton boy Billy Marshall, the dashing son of society doyenne Theresa Marshall, begging to make an honest woman of her? While anything goes in the Roaring Twenties, Gin’s adventures will shake proper Manhattan society to its foundations, exposing secrets that shock even this free-spirited redhead—secrets that will echo from Park Avenue to the hollers of her Southern hometown.

As Ella discovers more about the basement speakeasy, she becomes inspired by the spirit of her exuberant predecessor, and decides to live with abandon in the wicked city too. . . . 

Summary from Goodreads

This was the last book of May, and what a book to end the month on. The Wicked City is, honestly, just written so well. Ella’s POV is third person and written with a richness of description that I really enjoyed. Ginger’s POV is first person, and it’s her POV that I was really impressed with. I’ve put down books where the setting was in the 1920’s before because the rhythm and speech patterns were, frankly, annoying. Chock full of 1920’s slang terms to the point where the dialogue suffered. Beatriz Williams writes Ginger’s first person POV with a rhythm and verve that is not only readable, but frankly a joy to read. I loved Ginger’s voice and how Williams used that voice to bring 1920’s New York to life through Ginger’s eyes. Fair warning: there are some scenes in this book that deal with sexual abuse. While it is not overly graphic, certainly there’s no “blow by blow” detail, and the first scene is in fact a flashback, the situation alone, for sensitive readers, can be graphic in and of itself. The second scene is a bit more graphic in nature, but again, not overly graphic, and in both scenes, the reader is given clear indication, through context, of what is coming (in case, perhaps, you may want to skim or skip over the scene). This did not deter me from finishing or enjoying the book, while usually I would avoid this sort of subject matter like the plague. The character that does the abuse is clearly defined as the villain, and neither the abuse nor the abuser are in anyway used merely for dramatic effect. Just to be clear, I did enjoy this book, and I am in fact beginning the second book very soon.

That’s all for my May Reads. Now on to June!

*Originally posted on previous blog June 3, 2020

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