May was an okay reading month for me, but it was nothing spectacular. It was more about quality rather than quantity, and I’m very happy about that. I managed to get through five books, so let me get right through my May 2023 book reviews.
The Light of Eternal Spring by Angel Di Zhang
This is as seen on Goodreads and Amazon:
“Amy Hilton, born Wu Aimee in the tiny Chinese village of Eternal Spring, has been living and working as a photographer in New York City for so long she’s started to dream in English. When in the fall of 1999 she received a letter from her sister, written in her birth tongue of Manchu, she needs to take it to a Chinatown produce vendor to get it translated. And so it is this stranger who tells Amy that her mother has died of a broken heart.
Amy blames herself. How could she not? Her mother has never recovered from her oldest daughter leaving her, first for school, then to pursue her art, and finally to marry a white man. Vowing to be there for her mother in death as she hasn’t been in life, she books a flight to China. Haunted by the folk stories her mother told her about a shaman’s journey to the underworld to retrieve her child, Amy undertakes a quest that strips away all the elements of her new identity, leaving her ready to make amends. But when she finally reunites with her family, things are far different than she remembers, and her loved ones are less than thrilled to welcome their prodigal daughter home.”
What a beautiful literary debut novel! This book is written in such a lyrical style it is hard not to fall in love with the story.
The Light of Eternal Spring is interwoven with indelible scenes from Amy’s childhood. It is a heartbreaking story of regret, mother-daughter relationships, and unspoken love.
Once she learns of her mother’s death, she tries to make amends with her. But once she flies back to China, she finds that there was no funeral. The family spread her ashes already, so Aimee feels she’s too late for everything. She can never say the things she wanted to her mother before she died, and she regrets the distance she created between her and her mother.
She is so devastated that she loses her sight until she learns to make peace with her decisions.
The way things worked out guided her to get on with her life and be happy.
A sad story that teaches us to tell our loved ones how we feel before it’s too late.
Fit to Die by Daniel Kalla
This is the book description you can find on all platforms:
“When Owen Galloway, the track star son of a prominent US senator, is found dead of an overdose in his bedroom, LAPD Detective Cari Garcia suspects that he’s just another teenager who hid a drug addiction.
In Vancouver, Dr. Julie Rees, an experienced toxicologist, notices a growing number of overdoses among the eating disordered and body builders, and mentions it to her boyfriend, Detective Anson Chen.
Then Rain Flynn, a famous pop star and social media influencer, dies in her Vancouver hotel room. She is showing the same symptoms of a fatally high fever and uncontrollable seizures as Julie’s other ER patients. That includes the co owner of a wildly popular wellness center with locations in both Vancouver and LA.
After an autopsy confirms that Rain overdosed on illicit diet pills containing a deadly toxin known as DNP—an explosive agent originally used in the trenches of World War I—the media gets hold of the story and runs wild with it. But who’s behind the online marketing and distribution of DNP? And how is the wellness center connected? The daunting challenge of putting the pieces together falls to Detectives Garcia in LA and Chen in Vancouver. Can they solve these crimes before DNP becomes the next viral TikTok challenge?”
The book was ok overall, not great. The topic was interesting and current, but execution was so-so.
The plot was basically about toxic diet pills and the deadly effects they have on women that suffer from body image issues. It also covers greediness and superficial partnerships that are based on common convenience. The storyline was well laid out, but it didn’t wow me.
What bothered me more were the unnecessary brand name droppings throughout the book. They served no purpose to the story whatsoever.
It felt like a poor attempt at character development, and it just didn’t work for me.
Overall it was an okay book, but not one I would recommend first hand to anyone asking.
It is surely entertaining, but that’s about it.
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
My favorite of the month, I absolutely adored this book!
You can read a similar description on most platforms:
“William Waters grew up in a house silenced by tragedy, where his parents could hardly bear to look at him, much less love him—so when he meets the spirited and ambitious Julia Padavano in his freshman year of college, it’s as if the world has lit up around him. With Julia comes her family, as she and her three sisters are inseparable: Sylvie, the family’s dreamer, is happiest with her nose in a book; Cecelia is a free-spirited artist; and Emeline patiently takes care of them all. With the Padavanos, William experiences a newfound contentment; every moment in their house is filled with loving chaos.
But then darkness from William’s past surfaces, jeopardizing not only Julia’s carefully orchestrated plans for their future, but the sisters’ unshakeable devotion to one another. The result is a catastrophic family rift that changes their lives for generations. Will the loyalty that once rooted them be strong enough to draw them back together when it matters most?”
Such a lovely narration of what it means to be loved, to be accepted for exactly who you are. Hard to read at times, the book will make you sympathize with the characters and feel their emotions.
Ann Napolitano has a way of getting you tangled up in the family’s story and understanding each of the members point of view. Not many authors succeed in developing their characters as well as she does. This is my first book by the author, but it will surely not be my last.
You can read my full review here:
Know My Name: Chanel Miller
This memoir by Chanel Miller is amongst the best audiobooks I ever listened to. It is very authentic and told with brutal honesty.
As seen on Amazon and Goodreads:
“She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral–viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time.
Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways–there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.
Know My Name will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing. It also introduces readers to an extraordinary writer, one whose words have already changed our world. Entwining pain, resilience, and humor, this memoir will stand as a modern classic.”
Chanel Miller’s story will remain imprinted into our hearts for years to come.
She recounts the whole traumatizing event and the effects they had on her and her family. From the moment she woke up in the hospital until the end of the trial, she tells the reader how she felt, and her raw emotions can be felt through her storytelling. I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by the author herself.
To be honest, the story got me mad at times because of the way Chanel was failed by the justice system. But the worst of it all is the way Brock Turner, her assailant, failed to own up to his actions the whole time. As an assault victim, the most important step towards healing is to feel heard and validated. Chanel, unfortunately never got it from Brock, so this memoir is her way of expressing everything she had to work through in order to heal and move on with her life. I highly recommend this book to anyone who reads! A very moving story that will make you look at the unfair way sexual assault victims are still treated today.
The Widowmaker by Hannah Morissey
This is the second book b y the author, and I liked it as much as the first one.
As seen on Amazon and Goodreads
“Ever since business mogul Clive Reynolds disappeared twenty years ago, the name “Reynolds” has become synonymous with “murder” and “mystery.” And now, lured by a cryptic note, down-on-her-luck photographer Morgan Mori returns home to Black Harbor and into the web of their family secrets and double lives. The same night she photographs the Reynolds holiday get-together, Morgan becomes witness to a homicide of a cop that triggers the discovery of a long-buried clue.
This could finally be the thing to crack open the chilling cold case, and Investigator Ryan Hudson has a chance to prove himself as lead detective. If only he could stop letting his need to solve his partner’s recent murder distract him. But as Morgan exposes her own dark demons, could her sordid history be the key to unlocking more than one mystery?”
This second Black Harbor book is just as engrossing as the first one in the series, Hello, Transcriber. Although the only character we see from the first book is Kole, the setting is the same.
I love the way the author weaves the story to keep us wanting for more, and
But I thought Hannah would continue exploring the relationship between Hazel and Kole in this second book. I was a bit disappointed she only briefly mentioned Hazel, but no explanation or follow up. Unless I missed something at the end of Hello, Transcriber, then I truly apologize. I read that one last year, so it’s possible I forgot the ending!
Kole is still part of the book as a supervisor, but we don’t know what happened with Hazel.
Other than that, the book was well structured and the characters were developed just enough for us to get involved in the story. I also enjoyed the ending, which provided us with enough climax to surprise us.
If you haven’t read her first book, this one can be read as a stand-alone.
These are my May 2023 book reviews. This month was not great quantity wise, but quality wise it was pretty decent.