This month was full of SO MUCH READING and so many fast, fun, kick-off to summer books, and lots of YA, and a few duds too… but it was SOLID. The stack of books got a little out of control by the end of the month, but that’s the best problem to have, am I right?! Here’s to even more reading this summer!
Here’s what I read this May!
ps— affiliate links are included!
my top rec:
my 2019 goal progress:
19 books this month
Holding Up the Universe by Ruth Reichl
review: Trying desperately to get back to a better rhythm of reading this month after a sloooooow April, so I grabbed this for what i hoped would be a fun and easy read. It was easy, yes, but not the fun read I was hoping for. I wasn’t especially enameled by this one, sadly! There were sweet moments and some good messages tucked in there, but overall, it felt slow and and frustrating, and I wanted to see a lot more depth to Libby and Jack than I got. It had potential but didn’t quite get there for me!
The Book of Comforts: Genuine Encouragement for Hard Times by Kaitlin Wernet, Rebecca Faires, Caleb Faires, and Cymone Wilder
review: I got this one from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my review! // This book is so needed. So heartfelt, so beautiful, so grounded in truth, so solid. It is purposeful, not full of platitudes. It’s stunning and not at all cliche or shallow. I’m so grateful this book exists, for all who are grieving or mourning or walking through a hard season, for all who need comfort no matter the circumstance, for those in dark days where doubt reigns and the Lord and peace feel far away. It was such a balm to my soul as I read it, and I’m so glad to have this at hand for whenever the next storm comes.
All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin
review: Thanks for the free book, Random House! // This was a new kind of @emilygiffinauthor book— it felt more like @jodipicoult’s style, tackling a current issue through a story told in multiple perspectives. It was way less of a formulaic chick lit read than I’m used to from her, and I enjoyed it! The heart of the story is a drunken teenage Snapchat scandal, and it felt extremely timely, but I wanted the resolution and conclusion to be so much more than it was. With money and status and private school kids involved, I had a feeling some cliches would play out in this one, and wished there would have been a fresher and more convicting conclusion here. Overall, a solid read and a great new direction for Giffin!
Normal People by Sally Rooney
review: Thanks for the free book, Crown Publishing! // This one has gotten a LOT of buzz on the ole bookstagram, and i can see why! It was refreshingly unique and quirky, and felt a lot like a slow but steady indie movie (almost 500 Days of Summer ish?). It parallels two characters (Connell and Marianne) and the ways they continue to spin back into each other’s orbits over the years. There’s no punctuation around dialogue (of which there is a lot) which made it an interesting read, and it overall doesn’t have a ton of action, but as a character study of two flawed and troubled and wholly normal people? It succeeds in that regard, for sure. I’m not entirely sure if I actually liked it or not— I know some will ADORE it and some will totally hate it, and both are understandable. For an author my age to write such a uniquely crafted novel with such depth despite its seemingly simplistic plot structure is a feat, and I give this one (and that cover design especially) props!
The Selection series by Kiera Cass
rating: ★★★☆☆ (for the first three) + ★★☆☆☆ (for the last two)
review: Despite totally judging this series by the covers, I grabbed all 5 books from the library this week and flew through this one in less than a day! @hvdreads was right when she described it as an Esther + Hunger Games + Bachelor mashup— these books were light and fun and super quick reads that often ended on cliffhangers. The first three were great, the last two weren’t. I’d stop after the the third if I were you!
Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations that Will Help Your Church Grow by Carey Nieuwhof
review: My boss gave me this one my first week at this new job, and I finally dove in this week (thanks to my computer battery giving up its life and the Apple Store taking ages to repair it...) — found it SO relevant to my church communications work, to ministry life in general, to just straight up being part of a church. It was helpful, practical, wise, and really eye-opening about our current culture and how churches can engage well with both believers and nonbelievers to build the kingdom and grow our churches. Really enjoyed this one and took a lot of great notes from it!
Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum
review: I wanted to love this one since I’ve enjoyed other books by Buxbaum but this one wasn’t my jam. I was about ready to throw the book across the room if i read one more “Baby Hope” reference (a fictional famous 9/11 photo of a baby who grows up to be the main character). It just felt trite and forced to me, and didn’t have the YA sparkle I adore. It got better and a little more interesting toward the end, but overall? Not a favorite!
The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson
review: This one was like a Miss Congeniality + Parent Trap + Mary Kate & Ashley mashup, complete with a totally unbelievable love story and some classic twin switching, with the bonus of some solid literary references and jokes! It was light and fun, but totally not a book of real merit or substance— it would make for a great beach or poolside read!
review: I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my review! // I first heard Kate speak at an IF Gathering a few years ago, and have since read both of her books, and in the nicest way possible I’ve learned she just isn’t for me. Her story of losing her daughter is heartbreaking, but I find that her books focus on that a lot even when the theme and content seem like they should be broader. I just don’t resonate with her writing style, and have found both books to be suuuuuper similar to each other, and after hearing her talk, I haven’t learned anything new. Anyway— not for me.
Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke
review: Thanks to Random House for the free book! // First of all, the cover on this one is SO good. Those colors! That typography! Okay, so the book. I wasn’t totally stoked about it... I’m not really a horoscope or astrology person and that is a super big focus of this one. It’s definitely a romance at heart, but so much of the story centers around the stars, which didn’t really click with me. Basically, a journalist starts tweaking the horoscope of the man she wants to fall in love with her, and it sets off other events that are included in little inserted snippets like short stories in between the chapters of the main story... didn’t love that format. Overall, it was okay— slightly predictable, but fresh too in the take (if you like horoscope stuff!). Not for me but totally could see others loving it!
Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith
review: This book was SO CUTE. I flew through it, loved how it played out, and squealed at the ending. Big fan of sweet and charming YA love stories like this one. BIG FAN.
Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal
review: This one was a total dud for me. It felt like it was trying WAY too hard to be culturally unique and relevant, but it came across as over explaining and forcing it. I literally would skip massive chunks of pages, read a few lines, realize where I was in the classic P&P storyline, skip ahead again... it just didn’t work for me at all! Oh well
There’s Something about Sweetie by Sandhya Menon
review: Yes. Yes. Yes. There IS something about Sweetie— something charming and delightful and engaging and just so cute. This book was wonderful! A YA love story at its finest, with the added bonus of being written by a woman of color about Indian characters! BIG FAN. (ps— you don’t have to read When Dimple Met Rishi first, but there are some references to it since the male character in this one is Rishi’s younger brother! But you could totally just read either one on their own, just FYI!
review: I loved this one. It’s unflinching and frank, it’s hilarious and honest, and it’s SO GOOD. It’s like the enneagram and Urban Dictionary got blended up together and this book came out, or like an old personality type got a new makeover, complete with tattoos and piercings and a sassy new outfit. I have loved following Hannah on Twitter for a while, and am just so, so, so glad she poured her heart and soul into these pages for us to have and learn from and love forever. I mean, anyone who calls enneagram Ones “The Machine” is someone who GETS IT. This one isn’t for your grandma or your preteens, but it’s definitely for anyone who wants to dive deeper into who they are and how to be the best version of that self (and who isn’t afraid to get hit hard with the truth in the process). It’s feisty and fiery and fun and fresh and I loved it, loved it, loved it.
The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
review: Okay, ready for all of my random thoughts on this one? The second half of this one was better than the first, the layers of plot were helpful to keep it interesting since the characters were overall not likable or especially dynamic, it felt dry and slow mostly, I wanted more character development from the mother-in-law character, And i didn’t see the ending coming but it helped me give this one an extra star. I think had it been trimmed down, it would have felt more engaging and interesting to me!