Challenge Check-In May

Challenge Check-In – May 2023

Welcome to Challenge Check-In for May 2023 which is kind of like a Monthly Wrap Up, but not quite. Here I focus on my progress regarding my reading goals (check out THIS post), and also offer 5-5 recommendations for 2 The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge prompts each month. It’s never too late to join if it catches your interest!

Oh boy, May was a month. I don’t even know where to start with this one. We had Eurovision, where Finland got ROBBED (and I didn’t even like their song all that much). Then the gates for SPFBO 9 opened, and the 300 spots filled up in 41 MINUTES. Holy hell, that was a shocker.

When I finally thought the mad rush of the last few months ended, and I can get some well-earned chill time with some DIY projects, the universe had other ideas. First, my landlady let me know that she is planning to sell the flat I’m currently renting, so I need to find a new place over the summer. I could stay if she finds someone willing to rent it out, but that’s a gamble I can’t take, plus she wants to show the flat to potential buyers while I’m still living there, and… no thank you. Then we had the cover contest for SPFBO 9 that caused drama and thus ended the cover contests yet to come, which is a shame.

On a more positive note, May had some fun moments, and lots of panda pictures (I made a series of pictures of Tomas and Billy Puddles sporting all of my currently in-use beaded jewelry, and it’s glorious!), and a few book mails!

Talking about SPFBO, we introduced the Queen’s Book Asylum team (we have newcomers!) and also shared our SPFBO 9 page with all related info. I also continued spotlighting the SPFBO 8 finalists and we had Olivia Atwater and Alec Hutson trying their hands at What the Hungarian?!, while Trudie Skies got Stuck in the Pages.

May was also Wyrd & Wonder Month, celebrating all things Fantasy, hosted by a group of lovely ladies on Twitter. In honor of that we had a lot of fun posts on Queen’s Book Asylum: Gareth Hanrahan stopped by for a guest post, I chatted with D.H. Willison as part of a blog tour and Justin Lee Anderson celebrating the release of The Lost War, the Asylum Staff shared 25 Underrated Self-Published Fantasy Books, and Phil Williams also popped in to talk about the 5th anniversary of the first Ordshaw novel. Phew. Busy month indeed.

Wyrd and Wonder Month 2023. Artwork by Tithi Luadthong.
Artwork by Tithi Luadthong

So, after important life updates, here comes my Challenge Check-In for May 2023.

The Month in Reading

May 2023

For May 2023 my handy spreadsheet at the start of the month had 3 ebooks and 1 audiobook planned. Aril being a slow reading month, May ended up being a better one, though not as crazy as March had been. Currently, the May portion of my spreadsheet has 7 books listed. All finished (or not, because I had a couple of DNFs 😬 ). I was a good girl and checked out 1 book from my start-of-the-year reading list! I also had a couple of surprise ARCs in the mix… And I’m almost all caught up!

Before I get to what I read this month, here are some reviews for books I finished in April, but reviewed in May:

The King of Faeries by A. J. Lancaster

Salt in the Wound by Benjamin Aeveryn

Shanghai Immortal by A.Y. Chao

TitleShanghai Immortal
Author: A.Y. Chao
Series: standalone
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: June 1, 2023
Format: ebook
Status: DNF at 27%

I requested this book on an impulse because I liked the cover and the sound of the blurb. Alas, I couldn’t get over how much the MC annoyed me, and decided it was better to part ways.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Title: The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Series: The Bone Witch #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Format: audiobook
Status: DNF at 45%

This was a readalong for Wyrd & Wonder Month hosted by Annemieke at A Dance With Books. This had been sitting on my TBR for a while now, and when I saw the announcement, I knew I had to jump on it. Alas, it failed to hold my attention, and I was mostly bored and had no motivation to continue… I got to answer to the questions of Week 1 and Week 2, though.

Haggis MacBrawn's Dishy Secret by Karen McCompostine

Title: Haggis MacBrawn’s Dishy Secret
Author: Karen McCompostine
Series: The Edible Highlander #1
Publisher: self-published
Release Date: July 22, 2019
Format: ebook
Status: Read
Rating: 4👑

A book I never thought I’d read. A trashy comedy romance novel with a sprinkle of Fantasy. If you like absurd humor and books that make fun of tropes (romance in this case), then this one is highly recommended!

And it also made me ask more than once: “What the fuck did I read?”. Which I’m pretty sure was the exact intended reaction from the reader. And for that, I tip my hat to Karen McCompostine.

Gods of the Wyrdwood by RJ Barker

Title: Gods of the Wyrdwood
Author: RJ Barker
Series: Forsaken #1
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: June 27, 2023
Format: paperback/ebook
Status: Read / RTC
Rating: TBA

Unfortunately, Gods of the Wyrdwood turned out to be a mixed bag for me. My review is coming soon.

Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane

Title: Mad About You
Author: Mhairi McFarlane
Series: Standalone
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: April 14, 2022
Format: audiobook
Status: Read
Rating: 3.5👑

Not exactly the rom com I expected. While there is romance, it’s more about relationships, especially abusive ones and their effects on people’s lives.

The Modern Girl's Guide to Magic by Linsey Hall

Title: The Modern Girl’s Guide to Magic
Linsey Hall
Charming Cove #1
Bonnie Doon Press
Release Date:
June 2, 2023
Format: ebook
Status: DNF at 27%

Another DNF in May… no idea what was going on… This was another impulse request, as I wanted something light and funny, and witty. Well. While Karen McCompostine’s book was intentionally trashy, this was not.

The Twilight Garden by Sara Nisha Adams

Title: The Twilight Garden
Sara Nisha Adams
Release Date:
June 8, 2023
Format: ebook
Status: Read / RTC

A slice-of-life kind of story with a garden in the focus, bringing people together. My review will be coming soon.

Womble's TBR Reduction

The prompt for May was “crowning glory”. We were required to read a book about a revolution or a change of power. For this, I think I’m going to pick Gods of the Wyrdwood by RJ Barker. There is a revolution in this, sort of. A small town stands up to the power above them and even tweaks their noses.

The Sound of Madness

In May I decided to add a couple of books to The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge card. Here they are:

  • Salt in the Wound by Benjamin Aeveryn for JUSTICE
  • The Book That Wouldn’t Burn by Mark Lawrence for I’M STILL HERE

Here is what my card looks like right now:

The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge progress for May 2023

And as promised, I’m going to give you some recs for the first two prompts on this lovely card.

Shut Up and Dance

This being The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge, we can not have a prompt with something music related, now can we? Anything music related goes with this one, be it a character who plays an instrument, a ball scene, an impromptu dance scene, etc. A book with the word “dance” in the title would also be great.

Songbird by Karen Heenan

Title: Songbird
Author: Karen Heenan
Series: The Tudor Court #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: December 3, 2021

Songbird is set in Henry VIII’s court and follows the life of Beth, who is one of the singers, entertaining the king. There are a lot of scenes with music and dancing.

Kept From Cages by Phil Williams

Title: Kept from Cages
Author: Phil Williams
Series: Ordshaw #5 / Ikiri #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: September 22, 2020

Criminal jazz musicians. Do I have to say more?

Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie

Title: Songs in Ursa Major
Author: Emma Brodie
Series: standalone
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: June 22, 2021

Songs in Ursa Major is set in the summer of 1969, telling the story of an affair between two musicians. Loosely based on Joni Mitchell and James Taylor’s romance.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: Daisy Jones & The Six
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Series: standalone
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: March 5, 2019

Oh man, I loved this book. Set in the ’70s, a story about sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, fame, and family. The series based on this novel is now on Amazon Prime, and I have to say, they did a pretty good job with it, too!

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

Title: We Sold Our Souls
Author: Grady Hendrix
Series: standalone
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: September 18, 2018

What happens if you mix horror and heavy metal? Well, you can find out in We Sold Our Souls.



This would be a great prompt for a book where memories or an heirloom has a key role. Stories as a theme could work as well.

Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

Title: Daughters of Night
Author: Laura Shepherd-Robinson
Series: standalone
Publisher: Mantle
Release Date: January 28, 2021

One of my favorite reads so far in 2023, and I picked it for this prompt because the victim of the murder investigation had a pendant which proves to be an important clue. And also because it was something she hold dear as she got it from her late mother.

A Gamble of Gods by Mitriel Faywood

Title: A Gamble of Gods
Author: Mitriel Faywood
Series: The Order of the Dragon #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: November 11, 2022

There is an artifact in this novel, the Supreme Key of the Dragon which plays an important role in the story. And can lead the MCs to answers about their own past.

The Book That Wouldn't Burn by Mark Lawrence

Title: The Book That Wouldn’t Burn
Author: Mark Lawrence
Series: Library #1
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: May 11, 2023

This book is all about stories – duh. But also the library is a place where knowledge is held, to keep it for the coming generations.

The Six-Gun Tarot by R. S. Belcher

Title: The Six-Gun Tarot
Author: R. S. Belcher
Series: Golgotha #1
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: January 22, 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve read this book. An interesting mix of western, horror, and fantasy. One of the characters, a boy, Jim has a glass eye he got from his father (I think, my memory sucks), but nonetheless, it plays its part in this super wild story.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

Title: The Hound of the Baskervilles
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Series: Sherlock Holmes #5
Release Date: September 1, 1901

I was obsessed with this book as a kid. I don’t know how many times I read it. Funnily, this is the only Sherlock Holmes novel I ever read. The story starts as Henry Baskerville inherits Baskerville Hall and the old Baskerville legend with it about a curse and a hell hound.

And that concludes my Challenge Check-In for May 2023. On the whole, it wasn’t the best reading month. Let me know how you progressed with either my challenges or the ones you set for yourself!

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