Posts Tagged ‘May Must Reads’

May 2019 Must-Reads

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

Who is ready for all that summer reading? Today I’m sharing 8 books that I enjoyed this month and think you will too! This month’s stack includes a couple of incredible thrillers, a courtroom drama, a memoir, and some really fun women’s fiction novels that are begging to be added to your beach bag.

BTW- Did you see my FREE Summer Reading Guide I made for you? This guide should keep you very busy this summer with loads of beautiful reads.

follow my recommendations on Instagram

While you’re here, be sure to print out the 2019 MomAdvice reading challenge worksheet and join our free online book club! You can check out the 2019 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here. Don’t forget to send me a friend request over on GoodReads for more great book reviews!

Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? Grab your FREE book over here.

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Also Out!!

This month’s special: New members can now get their first book for $9.99 when they join using this month’s code: SUMMERVACAY and can cancel at any time.

A Nearly Normal Family by M. T. Edvardsson

Recursion by Blake Crouch (read my review on this one HERE)

Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand

Here are 8 must-read books I tackled in May:

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review- it allowed me to toggle between my hardback and Kindle this month. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

I do not typically turn to courtroom dramas for reading, but the premise for this one was so intriguing that I decided to make Miracle Creek my Book of the Month in April. Don’t worry, if you missed that one, you can probably still add this one to your box this month! Honestly, this book really blew me away with it’s smart twists that it surprised me that such seasoned writing could be found in a debut novelist.

If courtroom thrillers aren’t your cup of tea or if you haven’t picked up one since the Grisham days, I encourage you to give this one a spin!

The book opens with the court case so it is one of those right-out-of-the-gates kind of books that I tend to gravitate towards these days. The story centers around a family who have immigrated to the states and decided to open an experimental medical treatment facility that utilizes a pressurized oxygen chamber as a therapeutic device to treat complex medical cases like autism and infertility.

When the device, known as the Miracle Submarine, explodes, killing two people, everyone becomes a suspect and each have their own motives that could throw their innocence into question.

Told from alternating perspectives, Kim really builds layered characters that are real and relatable. I found the mother, who comes under scrutiny, to be among the most compelling because she is dealing with the heaviness of the day-to-day grind of appointments and struggles with her son and her need to escape from these burdens.

If you are a fan of Celeste Ng or loved Defending Jacob, I have a feeling you will love this book as much as I did. Kim really uses her own complex background in a way that makes you feel sympathy in the Yoo’s family struggles of trying to make their life in America and not always feeling welcomed or at home.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

Don’t you love a deliciously good thriller in the summer months? I have a feeling if you are a Liane Moriarty fan that you will adore The Mother-In-Law this year.

It’s no secret that the mother-in-law gets a bad rap sometimes in literature.  Hepworth though carves a marvelously complex character for her mother-in-law and builds all of these twists and tensions, among her family members, in a way that garners empathy for her role in the family.

Lucy knows right away that she is not the wife that Diana has envisioned for her son.  Lucy struggles with the distance that Diana seems to create within them, despite her charitable spirit and working tirelessly for others as an advocate for female refugees.

When Diana unexpectedly dies of suicide, her family is surprised, but also realizes that her cancer diagnosis may have just been too much for her.

The problem?

The autopsy shows that she never had cancer, but the body does show traces of poison and evidence of suffocation.

Diana’s complex relationships really come into play as you try to piece together what has happened. Told in alternating points of view, through past and present, you realize just how many people had a motive in Diana’s death and how many layers she really did have to her own personal story.

I couldn’t put this one down and would recommend it for a strong thriller that genuinely delivers on those complex thriller plot twists. Fans of The Other Woman, in particular, are sure to enjoy this one!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

Thank you to the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

I hope you are snagging those free Kindle First Reads that you are being offered up as a Prime member! The Overdue Life of Amy Byler happened to be one of those free selections and I can’t tell you what a welcome escape it was for this mom!

Amy Byler’s husband unexpectedly left her and for three years she has been raising her teen daughter and tween son all on her own.

When her husband comes back he offers to care for their kids for the summer, to make up for lost time. It’s why Amy decides to escape her suburban life to head to New York for a conference and to visit an old friend in New York City.

Her old friend is impossibly stylish and working for a magazine and thinks Amy’s getaway would make for an excellent piece. Nicknamed her Momspringa, to mimic the Amish teenage passage of Rumspringa, Amy receives a makeover and is encouraged to try dating again. Amy finds herself quite at home in the city and grapples with the blissful absence of responsibility and the welcome joy of having New York City all to herself.

Do I want to leave my family?

Absolutely not!

I will say though that Amy’s fictional escape was just what this Amy needed. Escaping the day-to-day grind sounds pretty flipping amazing when I’m in the thick of end-of-school-year commitments. It also, equally, made me sweet on my kids and hubby again to be reminded of just how beautiful it is to be home and loved unconditionally.

I laughed out loud, there are loads of bookish references and nerd humor, an incredibly beautiful friendship,  and a Nora Ephron-worthy love story all in one delicious little read. It is the perfect palate cleanser between some heavier reads. I have a feeling you will adore this as much as I did, especially if you loved Matchmaking for Beginners.

5 out of 5 Stars

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes (available for pre-order, available on June 25th)

Thank you to the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

NPR Pop Culture fans definitely won’t want to miss this heartfelt debut novel from Linda Holmes, hitting store shelves on June 25th! I’m a big fan of Linda Holmes and her thoughts on pop culture and couldn’t wait to get my hands on her first novel.

Evvie is recently widowed and has decided that taking in a tenant will be a great way to help her pay her bills. Dean, a former Yankees pitcher, happens to be on the hunt for a new place and is looking for a quiet place to escape from his own reality. Dean’s career is now struggling, as he has lost his ability to throw straight, and this apartment is a place for him to escape both the big city life and the media circus that follows.

What the two didn’t realize though is how these holes in their life can be filled with their friendship and how this friendship will lead them back to themselves and to each other.

Holmes has such a way with words and has created a perfectly charming story that will have you rooting for each of these sweet characters. If you appreciate a good comeback story or happen to be looking for a little rom-com for your beach bag, this book is it.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

If you are on the hunt for an audiobook for the summer, I highly recommend adding, The Night Olivia Fell, to your earbuds. This isn’t your typical shallow thriller, it has a deep and compelling storyline that really builds believable twists and is filled with rich character development.

Abi Knight receives a call in the middle of the night that her daughter, Olivia, has fallen off a bridge. Upon her arrival, she is informed that Olivia is brain dead and, as an enormous surprise to her mother, she is also pregnant. The doctor believes that they *may* be able to keep her baby alive if they keep Olivia on life support and want to do their best to give her child a fighting chance by keeping the baby in her womb as long as possible.

The police rule her death as an accident, but Abi is troubled by the bruising around Olivia’s wrists and begins to stumble upon a web of secrets that Olivia has been keeping from her. With the help of a detective, she has to confront her own troubled past, find out who the father of Olivia’s baby is, and figure out who would have a motive to kill her daughter.

McDonald writes Abi’s journey with such raw honesty that it brought tears to my eyes. The relationships between our children is so layered and much of the book focuses on her own reflections and guilt for not being enough to her daughter, despite being an incredible and protective mom.  I was completely swept away in this story and McDonald builds believable motives that leave a reader guessing right up until the very end.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Thank you to the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

There are good summer reads and then there are PERFECT summer reads and I have to say that, The Unhoneymooners, fell into the PERFECT camp.

Twin sisters Ami & Olive couldn’t be more different. Ami seems to always have the absolute best luck and Olive is her poor unlucky sister. When the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, at Ami’s wedding, Ami decides to forfeit her honeymoon to Olive and Ethan (the brother-of-the-groom) to both go in their place. After all, Ami won the honeymoon free of charge (of course she did!) and this vacation is nonrefundable.

Unfortunately, Olive & Ethan have never gotten along, but decide to form a temporary truce to take advantage of the free vacation. Being together in such close quarters definitely muddies the waters and they begin to uncover hidden layers to each other…and their siblings.

If you have been struggling to get back on the reading bandwagon or if you are just looking for something light and funny for your bag, I can’t recommend this one enough. This is my first Christina Lauren novel, but it won’t be my last. I was laughing out loud through the entire book at the antics of Olive & Ethan. It is, truly, what summer reading is all about!

5 out of 5 Stars

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

I decided to use my Book-of-the-Month credit on, “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone,” and I’m so glad that I did. Although I am not a big nonfiction reader (and maybe you aren’t too?), I found this book to read as easy as fiction while being incredibly compelling and thought-provoking. It is the type of book that you read and then immediately hand off to someone who might need the sage advice and wisdom of a good therapist too.

What makes this story unique is that the therapist, Lori, is now in a difficult break-up with a boyfriend and finds herself needing a therapist of her own. With the blurred boundaries of working in the very profession you need, Lori finds herself seated in Wendell’s office. Wendell is a therapist she discovered through a colleague by pitching to her an imaginary client that she was searching for the right person for him to talk to. Everything in his office is different than Lori’s, including some of his tactics to understand her better, and Lori is both equally bewildered and admiring of Wendell’s abilities to get to her own hidden truths.

Weaved in, Lori shares about some of her most compelling clients and a bit of the psychology of our own actions and how we can learn to understand the motives of others.  Honestly, the insights are worthy of a good highlighter and a revisit through the tougher times in our lives. I found myself to be quite teary-eyed, particularly through a difficult case of a woman facing cancer. Lori shares her most difficult cases and how to love people even when they seem unworthy of it.

I doubt you could read this and not take away something that would make your life a little better. We also can look forward to this one coming to television, telling Lori’s stories through an ABC series.  I would definitely encourage you to read this one and to also pass it on to someone who could benefit from these lessons too.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

We read The Friend for this month’s book club chat. This one was selected because it won the 2018 National Book Award and I was really excited to read something that had garnered this award.

The story is about a woman who unexpectedly loses her friend and finds herself burdened with the unwanted elderly dog he has left behind. Although she initially doesn’t want to connect with this animal, they both find companionship with one another as each of them deal with the grief and loss. Unfortunately, she is threatened with her own potential eviction because dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

The story of this narrator and the dog was what I connected most with and I think that is where the story, truly, shined. There were gorgeous passages and the idea of these two finding one another through this grief was really beautiful.

Where it didn’t shine, for me, was the rambling rants that the story would trail into that felt as though you were reading someone’s stream of thought. It felt more like a memoir of Nunez and how frustrated she is with the craft of writing and literature. At just 212 pages, I had a hard time concentrating amidst her stream of consciousness and it pulled me away from the story I really wanted to hear.

Our book club seemed pretty divided on this one- they either REALLY loved it or they REALLY hated it.

This was definitely not my favorite in the stack, but I do think it can connect with people who crave a meatier piece of literature.

3 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 2019 Must-Reads

April 2019 Must-Reads

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

May 2017 Must-Reads

Monday, June 5th, 2017

May 2017 Must-Reads from

We are in the final week of our school year which means this month has been CRAZY and my reading time has felt limited.  I am looking forward to camping out in a lounge chair at our community pool with a big stack of books and nothing to do this summer. I have so many advanced readers coming in to share with you and can’t wait to work through my stack and share some more reviews with you on what is hitting the shelves this summer.  For today, I have seven more recommendations to share with you of must-read books that I tackled in May.

Are you working through our MomAdvice Reading Challenge? I am loving the added challenge it is bringing to add more diversity to my book stacks. I managed to tackle a few more categories this month again and love checking those little boxes off as I finish my books.

Just as a reminder, I read many more books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks.  If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there too! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

PS- Don’t forget to join our FREE book club! It’s so awesome!

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I fell in love with this wildly original novel that explores a work partnership between two women animators that are trying to be successful in a male-dominated industry. The two best friends, Mel & Sharon, bond in college and then decide to work together on an adult animated movie.

The yin and yang in this partnership is what makes it work so well. Sharon is steady and reliable while Mel brings a chaotic wildness to her work. When Sharon becomes ill though, they find their roles must be reversed and work has to be on pause until Sharon can return. It is through Sharon’s private journal that their next animated film takes shape and brings them back to Sharon’s hometown for answers.

Will everyone love this? Probably not! It’s crass and dark and, perhaps, the story goes on just a tad too long. However, all readers should have an appreciation for such an ambitious debut as Whitaker not only writes the book, but the animated movie plots that unfold for these animators. It is unlike anything I’ve read and I love the exploration of a female partnership carving their place in this artistic field.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book about art

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Bandit by Molly Brodak

Bandit by Molly Brodak

I have been trying to add more memoirs to my stack and I have a feeling that if you were a fan of The Sound of Gravel you will find this book to be similar in nature and the emotions it brings.

Brodak’s father is a convicted bank robber and was arrested for robbing eleven banks when she was just thirteen. He served time for seven years, was released, and began robbing more banks just a few years later.

His daughter documents the two sides of her father as she tries to understand his motives and habits. His charisma is so charming that he easily manipulates those around him, including his children. With raw honesty, Brodak just wants to make sense of her childhood and what qualities she has that are her father’s.

The story is raw and real. This isn’t someone who has necessarily made peace, but it is the story of someone trying to heal.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A memoir from someone you have never heard of

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Into the water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Let’s just say that Into the Water was the book I was most excited to read and was my least favorite in this month’s stack. I feel bad saying this, but this book will be easily forgotten by me. I should say that it REALLY will be forgotten since Hawkins tries to incorporate a million characters into a rather weak plot about a river that has killed many of the town’s residents. I am including it in today’s round-up though because I know many of you were curious about it.

Here is what I will say. The mystery does get solved, but Hawkins lost me in the process.  I plowed through hoping that the plot would pick up, that there might be a dramatic twist and big reveal…yeah, nope.  Police procedural books aren’t usually my favorite, but I had hopes she could weave a compelling story that would hook me.

I will still give Hawkins another try on her next book, but this one just didn’t do it for me. Reviews seem to be pretty mixed on this- people love it or they hate it so you might not want to take my word for it especially if you are a fan of police procedural books. I would love to hear your thoughts though either way on this one!

3 Out Of 5 Stars

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear & the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

If you are looking for the next The Snow Child, then I’d love to suggest this book as something you might enjoy. Arden’s debut novel is a Russian fairytale that about a little girl named Vasilisa and her family. They live in the wilderness where the winters are cold and she loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears to claim unware souls.

When Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father brings home a bride who forbids their family to continue honoring the household spirits. This lapse causes many bad things to happen and Vasilisa must defy everyone she loves and use the gifts she has long concealed.

This book is a beautiful escape for any fairytale lover.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Beartown is one of the most anticipated books this year from Fredrik Backman. If you are looking for another Ove novel, this one is not it and is very different than anything Backman has written before. I love it when a novelist take risks and Backman does just that with this new novel.

Beartown is set in a small forest town obsessed with hockey.  The Bears of Beartown win and they have their strongest team yet and a true possibility of winning the national semi—finals. Just as they approach their biggest game of the season, a violent act occurs that threatens the reputation of the strongest player on the team. To make matters worse, the family involved in this act also happens to be in charge of the hockey team. A father is then placed in a position he could have never conceived especially when an entire town is ready to demonize anyone who would ever speak against their star player.

Much like Into the Water, Backman has taken on a large cast of characters and the first half of the book feels mostly like introductions to each person to set the stage for the turning point in the plot. Although I love Backman’s writing, the first half felt sluggish. As so many other readers had promised, when reading other reviews, the second half was much better once the plot actually got moving.

This is still a solid read, but you have to have the patience to power through the first half to get to the meat of the plot.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have read every single book that Taylor Jenkins Reid has written and I have loved each of them in their own way. This book is markedly different than anything she has ever written and is an absolutely spellbinding book filled with old Hollywood glamour, celebrity secrets, and the power of real and true love.

Evelyn Hugo is an aging starlet who has decided to hire a magazine reporter to write her biography. As someone who has been very private, it is the chance of a lifetime for a virtually unknown writer to be given the story that is worth millions of dollars.

Evelyn’s love life has been something that Hollywood has often been speculated on, but no one could ever guess who captured Evelyn’s heart and how she was able, at times, to make her relationship work with the love of her life. Unfortunately, living in the spotlight often gets in the way of real living. This couldn’t be truer in Evelyn’s life and she is ready to divulge all of her secrets to Monique, in exchange for her writing her biography and publishing it upon her death.

I cannot rave enough about Reid’s ability to write real and relatable love stories. Each of her love stories has connected with me in some way and this book is no exception. I was swept away in Evelyn’s retelling of her life and Reid weaves smart plot twists in the end that I have a feeling you will really enjoy. In fact, I’m still thinking about them.

You must add this book to your book stacks stat!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Want to snag this one for a steal? This one was one of the incredible selections available in the Book of the Month Club! You can join for just $10 a month for the first three months and then cancel at anytime! 

The only disappointment, for me, is the fact that I have to wait for her next book.

Be sure to read my interview with Taylor in our Sundays With Writers series to learn more about how she crafts her beautiful love stories.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

Many moons ago, my husband and I watched an incredible documentary on PBS called The Poisoner’s Handbook. Radium was one of those things that we discovered that had been an additive to many household products because people thought radium had health benefits. In this book, Kate Moore does an incredible exploration of the women who were most affected by the use of radium in a radium-dial factory and how corporate greed became more important than the safety of its employees.

Women often had to start working in their teen years, since educating women wasn’t a worthy investment in the 1920’s, and many soon discovered that the job that was paying the most was working in a radium-dial factory. These women were in charge of painting the faces of watches with this glow-in-the-dark paint and the quicker and more they could produce the work, the more valued they were as an employee. They found by licking the tips of the paintbrushes (as was even encouraged by their supervisors) they could paint much quicker and do a better job in the details of these watches. Since radium was heralded as being healthy, the girls had no problems ingesting it and even were known to paint their teeth, lips, and eyes with it for a fun night on the town.

When the girls began becoming ill and dying, doctors could not figure out why their patients were dying in such horrific and painful ways. When they began to suspect that their factory jobs may have something to do with it, the corporations continued to ignore their concerns and did not change their safety standards, putting more women at risk every single day.

This story documents these girls and their stories as well as the court battle that they endured after they were convinced that radium was to blame. It is a heartbreaking read that I had a difficult time with, but am so thankful I read. These women were true heroes and Moore’s writing is captivating and compassionate as she tells their stories.

If you are planning on reading just one nonfiction book this year, let it be this one!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A nonfiction book

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 2017 Must-Reads from

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

Pin It