It’s time for another monthly book review and I’m excited to talk about the books I read this month. In May, I read nine books, putting me at 38 books read so far in 2016. I’m interested to see if I can read 100 books this year like I did in 2013, but I’m a little bit behind for that. Time will tell!
Let’s dive into my reviews!
Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis (★★★★☆)
This is the first book in a series, about a small-town community in Idaho. Lilah is a struggling kennel owner who is working her way through college after a series of events caused her to drop out when she was younger. Brady is a pilot-for-hire who is just stopping through to visit his foster brothers. The characters were a little stereotypical and the plot completely predictable, but I still loved this novel. Lilah was such a fun character to read about! Definitely a must-read for contemporary romance lovers.
The One & Only by Emily Giffin (★★★★★)
Perhaps it was the fact that I read many not-so-positive reviews of this novel, so my expectations were lower, but I loved this novel. I’m pretty sure it will make my top-ten list this year. The novel centers around a woman, Shea, and the football town of Walker, Texas, where she has lived her entire life. The story opens with tragedy and we see how the people react to what happened. I can understand some of the criticism because there’s a lot of loose ends that aren’t exactly tied up and I downright hated the relationship between Shea and her best friend, Lucy, because it was more contentious than loving. But, still, this novel gave me all the feels, which is why it gets five stars from me. Another criticism of the novel is all the football talk, but psht, that was probably my favorite part! I’m someone who will talk to you about football all day long if you let me, and I appreciated Shea’s knowledge of the game. This book is not for everyone, for sure, but I think this might be my favorite novel of hers. I’m okay with being in the minority. 😉
Playing to Win by Jaci Burton (★★★★☆)
This is the fourth novel in Burton’s Play By Play series, where we meet Cole, an NFL star who has a short fuse that gets him in trouble with the media often; so much so that many teams don’t want anything to do with him, even if he does have talent. Enter Savannah, an image consultant, who works with Cole to change his attitude and his relationship with the media. I loved that Cole was brash and petulant and stubborn – he was such an antihero in the beginning! And I loved Savannah and her sassiness. The chemistry between these two was smokin’ hot, and I enjoyed the way the romance played out in authentic, believable way.
This book reads a bit more slowly than the previous two books, but now that I’ve read the entire series, I know it’s because this novel sets the scene for what’s to come. We are introduced to Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, two key characters in the series, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Harry’s dad through people who knew him when he was Harry’s age. Snape is still the worst, though. I understand his character and why he is the way he is, but man, these first few books with Snape are hard to bear!
I kept hearing about this book through Book Riot; it sounded like something that would ring all of my bells, and boy, did it! It’s a Regency romance about a woman, Clarissa, who is being stalked by a powerful French diplomat so she agrees to marry her cousin’s best friend, the gruff and cynical Edwin, in the hopes that this would force this man to leave her alone. This book was feminist at its core and that’s what made it so wonderful. It’s well-written, historically accurate, and perfectly steamy.
This is the fourth novel in Kleypas’s “The Hathaways” series and it follows the story of Leo, a character who was very unlikable in the first few novels. Leo must marry and produce a male heir within a year, or else his entire family loses their home. So, Leo decides there’s no better woman to choose than his sisters’ paid companion, Catherine Marks. This book was such a delight, and I loved the back-and-forth between Leo and Catherine. I can’t say these books are entirely historically accurate, but eh, who cares… it’s romance! Stretching the truth a little is what makes this genre so enjoyable.
One morning, two girls go missing from their bedrooms. The girls are best friends and one of the girls is a selective mute. There are multiple narratives – from the parents of the girls, the girls themselves, the brother of one of the girls, and the deputy in charge of the investigation – which I thought flowed very well. My only criticism of the novel is that the voices between the narratives weren’t very different (i.e., the voice of a forty-something professor should be very different than the voice of a seven-year-old girl!) But, even still, it was a gripping novel that kept my attention from beginning to end.
This is a character-driven novel about what it’s like to have it all, but to lose the most important essences of you. Julia and Michael are in their thirties and highly successful, living in a multi-million-dollar mansion and experiencing all of the good – and the bad – that comes with such a high level of success. Then, Michael has a heart attack. He survives, but is a changed man, wanting to give away all his money and start over fresh. This was the type of book that I could set down easily and not feel the urge to pick it up again. The pacing is slow and it’s more about the characters and who they were/are, less about a fast-paced plot. It’s beautifully written and has a strong voice, but I didn’t find it particularly engaging – probably because I didn’t actually like Julia or Michael very much. Judging by the reviews on Goodreads, I’m in the minority with my opinion, so I’d recommend people who love a good character-driven narrative to pick this one up!
The Best Man by Kristan Higgins (★★★★☆)
Kristan Higgins is a pro at creating complex yet utterly endearing family relationships. I like the way she writes families because they seem so real – not completely dysfunctional yet not completely perfect. There’s jealousy and hurt feelings and good times and love and betrayal. In this novel, Faith comes back to her hometown of Blue Heron to stop her father from marrying someone who is 100% wrong for him and, in doing so, she realizes she has to confront her past in order to move forward into her future. It’s funny and heartfelt and romantic, even if some of the situations Faith got into felt a little too silly and overdone.
May Book Stats
- Number of books read: 9 (3,650 pages)
- Format breakdown: e-books (5), physical books (4)
- Genre breakdown: romance (6), fantasy (1), fiction (2)
- Number of diverse reads: 3 out of 9 (33%)
- Where I got my books from: Overdrive (5), a friend (1), library (3)
- Money spent on reading this month: $0 (yay libraries!)
- Where I visited:
Idaho (1), Texas (1), Missouri (1), Iowa (1), New York (2), and England (3)
How many books did you read in May? Which one was your favorite?