I’ve been reading a lot lately. In fact, I’m about 10 books ahead of my goal to read 100 books this year, so it’s safe to say that I am flying through titles and finding a lot of time to read. I think living alone and not having cable allows for copious reading time. Oh, and having a special needs dog who doesn’t sleep well at night anymore, so I find myself up late reading as he tries to settle down. In any event, I decided I needed to change up my monthly book reviews from simply reviewing every title I read to picking out a handful to talk about. Basically, nobody needs to sit through 10+ book reviews, especially because not all of the books I read warrant talking about. I’d rather spotlight the few books that had the biggest impact on me to make these posts a bit more interesting and engaging.
So, instead of a review of every single book I read in May, I’m highlighting five great reads: my top read of the month, my top romance of the month, and three other notable reads that I think are worth checking out. At the end of the post, I’ll link to the other books I’ve read for those who are curious. This was a fun format to put together and I hope you enjoy!
Top Read of the Month
Grace Bradshaw is on death row for allegedly murdering her infant son. While she maintains her innocence, the evidence is stacked against her and she’s out of appeals. Due to a new governor who is cracking down on the prison system, her date of execution has been set. She’s been in prison for 17 years and for the last 11 of those years, she has been estranged from her daughter, who is now in her late twenties. She wants to reconnect with her daughter before her death and asks her attorney to find her. Her daughter, Sophie, is found – happy, healthy, and married to a plastic surgeon. But she wants nothing to do with her mother, whom she is convinced killed her baby brother. The story is told in alternating viewpoints between Grace and Sophie, and there’s the gut-wrenching yet hopeful tone throughout the story. I thought it would be a tough read for me because books about parents in prison bring up a lot of hard emotions (my dad has been in and out of jail my entire life), but it really wasn’t. It was the kind of story I tore through and couldn’t put down. I highly recommend adding this one to your TBR list. It’s worth a read. (Add to Goodreads.)
Top Romance of the Month
Jessica and John have a past. Once rivals at Quantico, they were both glad to go their separate ways when their training ended. It’s been six years and they are both accomplished FBI agents. John works in the Chicago field office and is on track to join the ranks of the elite Hostage Rescue Team, while Jessica is recently divorced from a Hollywood producer and looking for a fresh start… in Chicago. They are paired up to take down a corrupt Florida politician (of course it’s a Florida politician!), and that’s when they start to realize their constant sparring and competition has evolved into something much more than either of them bargained for. It’s a classic romance from Julie James – part romance, part thriller – and I loved every second of this novel. Julie James is one of my favorite romance novelists and I read her books the second they are released. She hasn’t released a novel in two years (which is way too long for me to go without one of her novels!), so I was especially thrilled with this new romance and it was perfectly written to fulfill all my romance needs. (Add to Goodreads.)
Other Notable Reads
Jason Dessen is content with his life. He’s happily married, has a teenage son, and is a physics professor at a college. And then a masked abductor knocks him unconscious and the next time he wakes up, he’s strapped to a gurney and surrounded by people in hazmat suits. He’s woken up in a new world, a world in which Jason is not married with a kid, but single. He’s not a college physics professor, but a genius in the physics world who has achieved remarkable success. And he has to ask himself: is this world a dream or is the life he thought he was living for the past two decades a dream? It’s a mind-bending novel that broke my brain in parts because there is so much to wrap your head around. But it also made me think about life and the choices we make. How one choice can determine our path… and what if we had chosen differently, what would our life look like then? If I had chosen a different college, studied abroad for a semester, fought for the relationship that ended too soon… how differently would my life look now? It’s such an interesting concept. The last 10% of the novel was a little too out there for my liking, but I still think this book is worth picking up because it’s really a terrifically written novel. (Add to Goodreads.)
Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, a rural town near Montreal, is found dead in the woods, and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called to investigate her death. While the locals in Three Pines are certain it was simply a tragic hunting accident, Gamache and his team of investigators aren’t so certain, and so begins the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny. This series has been recommended multiple times on the What Should I Read Next? podcast, so I finally picked it up and settled right in to this cozy mystery. It’s slow and meandering at times, but I found I didn’t mind that. It matched the setting and the characters. I loved Gamache, he’s a sensational character that you can’t help but adore. And I loved all the characters in this town – Clara and Ruth and Peter and Gabri – they were all so lovely. Most likely, my low expectations (I’ve heard the first three books in this series aren’t great) helped me while reading this novel because I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. But it was so wonderfully written and cozy, cozy, cozy. (Add to Goodreads.)
Sweet Little Lies starts a new series for Jill Shalvis – Heartbreaker Bay. We meet a new cast of characters, starting with tour boat captain Pru and pub owner Finn. Pru is new in town and used to being on her own. She lost her parents at the age of 18 and since then, it’s been Pru against the world. But enter Finn, enter all of Finn’s friends, enter a life without being alone all the time. It’s something she’s not used to. Especially having the attention of a guy like Finn – someone who wants to be there for her and support her, and maybe even love her. But Pru is hiding a secret and once it gets out, it could threaten this new foundation she’s building. I’ve read two different series from Shalvis (Animal Magnetism and Wilder) and this book felt like a departure from her usual tone. It reminded me of a Kristan Higgins novel. I love Kristan Higgins, so this is not a slight in the least, but just something to note. I loved this novel so much, though, and was sad when I finished it. I’m just glad there are more Heartbreaker Bay novels to read!
Other May reads: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (★★★★★), Falling for Her Fiance by Cindi Madsen (★★★☆☆), All I Want by Jill Shalvis (★★★★☆), The Trump Survival Guide by Gene Stone (★★★★★), Dare to Rock by Carly Phillips (★☆☆☆☆), Feel the Heat by Cindy Gerard (★★★★★), The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow (★★★☆☆), Unexpectedly Hers by Jamie Beck (★★☆☆☆), and Bridges by Maria Murnane (★★★☆☆).
What was the best book you read in May?