The month started off really slowly for me. Finishing the semester of Grad school took it's toll, but I ended up reading much more than I expected. Books have always been an escape and it looks like I needed one this month!
Here's what I read:
The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay - I absolutely loved this little book of essays. Ross Gay wrote every day for a year and turned it into these 102-ish short essays about things that delighted him. He's a poet, literally, and it shows in the prose. An incredibly life giving collection that will increase your awareness of the delights in your own days.
The Scent Keeper, by Erica Bauermeister - You can see my review here.
My Plain Jane, by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows - this is the second in a series of historical retellings, in this case a retelling of Jane Eyre. But! In this version Jane sees ghosts and is being recruited by a society not to far removed from the Ghostbusters. It's hilarious and I recommend the audiobook highly. The previous book in the series, My Lady Jane, is a retelling of Lady Jane Grey, but some people turn into animals. Also very funny.
My Lovely Wife, by Samantha Downing - this twisty thriller is not heavy on blood and gore, which I appreciated, and deals with a couple who have landed themselves in the situation of killing people. It's all the things a summer thriller should be: compelling, strange, almost unbelievable, and unputdownable. I read it in two sittings.
The Burning Issue of the Day, by T. E. Kinsey - the 5th in the Lady Hardcastle series, this is a delightfully funny and refreshing historical cozy mystery. I love this series for the cleverness of the mysteries, the female friendships, the characters, and the humor. I've mentioned before that Historical Fiction isn't my thing, but these are great. The series is free on Kindle Unlimited and is definitely worth it if you have that service.
Rogue Protocol, and Exit Strategy, by Martha Wells - the 3rd and 4th books in the Muerderbot Diaries. The 4th, Exit Strategy, is the final novella in the series but there will be a full length novel in the future. If awards matter to you, this series has won lots of them for good reasons.
A Study in Scarlet Women, by Sherry Thomas- the first in a new to me series, this is a gender switched Sherlock Holmes retelling, but also a historical fiction I very much enjoyed! The gender swap is interesting and well written, the writing is charming, clever, and compelling, and the mystery was clever. I'm listening to this series on Hoopla through my library, so it's worth checking yours for it too! There are three in the series at the moment, with a 4th planned for October.
The River, by Peter Heller - this is a phenomenal book. I love Peter Heller's writing and was nervous to read more for fear it wouldn't be as good as The Dog Stars. The River is as good and manages to be peaceful and thrillingly compelling at once. The story is of two college friends on a river trip who then encounter a suspicious situation, pressure from a looming wildfire and being far from civilization. It is a wonderful story that will expand what you thought fiction was capable of doing.
To Night Owl, from Dogfish, by Meg Wolitzer and Holly Goldberg Sloan - this is a charming epistolary novel aimed for children/tweens (there's a little talk of periods), but was delightful and entertaining for me to read also. It's the story of two girls who's dad's have started dating and want the girls to get to know each other at summer camp. One of the girls contacts the other to start planning how to ensure their families do NOT become united. A charming friendship ensues, and this book takes what you thought you remembered about the plot of The Parent Trap and turns it around into an absolutely lovely, honest, kind, and adventurous story of family found and growing, and the joys of summer possibility. Loved it.
The Valedictorian of Being Dead: The True Story of Dying Ten Times to Live, by Heather B. Armstrong - this was a fascinating memoir of a woman who has severe depression. She undergoes a treatment that basically turns the brain off and on again in an attempt to help lessen her situation's severity. I listened to this in audio and Heather narrates it herself. Her relationship with her mother was striking, her journey to and through this ordeal was fascinating, heartbreaking at times, and often jaw-droppingly moving. I especially remember the moments when she recalls feeling improvement the first few times after such a period of intense darkness. This is a great memoir of an unforgettable experience.
***Please be careful with yourself when going into this one. Heather describes things very accurately. If you've experienced depression it can be difficult and might be triggering for some people.
The Bride Test, by Helen Hoang - I really enjoyed Hoang's first book, The Kiss Quotient, and was excited to pick this one up. Contemporary Romances are still a little new to me, but they're really enjoyable. They're fun, dramatic, sexy, and have that same quality that make the best romantic comedies so endearing. The premise of this one is a little unbelievable, but that is part of what made it so fun to me. What I want to mention here, is that Hoang's characters express degrees of Autism, which comes from her own experience. She's doing really great things for the landscape of books and reading as a whole, and for the Romance genre in particular, by increasing representation in this area. It's wonderful for that reason, and her books are really a fun time!
***This is a romance novel with some steamy encounters, so know that going in.
People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Deadbeats, and Other Suburban Scourges, by Jen Mann - I was hoping for so much more from this book and I really did not like it. Where I wanted to find that level of self-aware snark I enjoy, I found annoying, hypocritical and judgmental rants about other women that Mann interacted with. There's no mention of competitive crafting either, which I was looking forward to. Skip this and read Jenny Lawson instead.
If Cats Disappeared from the World, by Genki Kawamura - picture it (no, not Sicily), you're about to die, and then the devil shows up in a Hawaiian shirt to make you a deal - for every day you extend your life, you have to chose something to disappear. What would you do? Translated from Japanese, this novel is about a young postman who has to deal with his mortality, his past, and what he is willing to give up for a future. It is really cute, charming, thought provoking, and unique. It's also really short so it'd be a fun one to add to your list if you don't mind having some feelings to go with it.
Phew! A great month of reading. What did you read in May? I'd love to hear.
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