Jana Says and Life According to Steph all year through Show Us Your Books. I keep promising myself I'll start writing this post the weekend before I schedule it to go up. Go ahead, you can laugh along with me - it hasn't happened yet. Check out the rest of the fabulous book bloggers who join in the linky each month!
In May 2020, I finished 14 books (keeping in mind this was the second month of staying home most of the time). This May, I finished nine, and a few were really just for me (as opposed to most of the books I read for the purpose of reviewing). Goodreads still says I'm around my 10 books/month goal.
So here's the nine books I finished in or around May 2021. My book titles link to Goodreads, and my full reviews are posted either here at SweetlyBSquared, or over at Books I Think You Should Read. Thanks to the participating publishers or NetGalley who provided me with five of the seven books in exchange for my unbiased review.
The Atmospherians by Alex McElroy - This satire was a story of a disgraced social influencer and her childhood friend starting a cult together to try and turn their lives into something successful. Maybe. Parts of it were a bit slappy and amusing, but much of the satire and humor did not hit the mark for me. I'd imagine it may be better for someone who enjoys social commentaries, abstract philosophy, and not needing happy endings. My full review for 2 out of 5 stars is here. ⭐⭐
Across the Winding River by Aimie K. Runyan - After swearing off WWII historical fictions - and then realizing I had already promised to read/review this one - I was pleasantly surprised. This story did a great job of telling three different viewpoints across two timelines. Max and his love struggled to find time together while he served as a medic, and then Max and his daughter in the modern story trying to find out whatever happened to his first love. As much as I've said I'm over WWII stories, I gave this one a high 3 out of 5 stars in my full review and definitely recommend it for those who enjoy books set in this time period. ⭐⭐⭐
Three Martini Afternoons at the Ritz: The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton by Gail Crowther - I think I originally expected more of a storytelling about the interactions of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton (and martinis), but this was more of a parallel biography of both women, pointing out some of the similarities of their lives as contemporaries, and the differences. I gave this one 3 out of 5 stars in my full review. I think it left me with more questions than it answered, but sometimes that's okay too. ⭐⭐⭐
The Invisible Husband of Frick Island by Colleen Oakley - I loved this charming story of the quaint Frick Island and its quirky residents. Anders isn't sure at first if maybe he's the crazy one, as all the residents talk to Piper's husband Tom. It's the like the Emperor's new clothes, but as the outsider, he doesn't want to be the one to publicly ask if they're crazy or if it's him. As Anders spent more time on Frick Island, he and the villagers learned a lot about life, strangers, and the nature of grief. I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars here. It's a super cute summer read. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Girl One by Sara Flannery Murphy - I keep trying to think this is an older book than it is, but it was published June 1, 2021, and I read my advance copy partway through May. Instead of a classic dystopian where parts of the population are eliminated, this takes another angle - partheogenesis (again, I probably keep getting that word wrong..) - creation without a male gene/contribution. But somehow, a man was still in charge of it all. Go figure. Nine mothers and their essentially cloned daughters lived on a plot of land called the Homestead. There were people who thought they were brilliant and above the rest of the world, and there were those who hated and feared their disruption of the natural order of things. When the Homestead burned to the ground, with two lives lost, the remaining survivors scattered and mostly tried to blend in, until Girl One's mother (Mother One) disappears. Girl One starts putting together the real story of the Homestead. My full review gives it 3 out of 5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐
Vera Kelly is not a Mystery (Vera Kelly #2) by Rosalie Knecht - Vera is such a fun character! It was interesting to have a book mostly written like brain candy, but about an out-of-place lesbian in the late 1960s. The book starts out with her losing her job (because being a lesbian violate the morals clause or whatever) and having her girlfriend leave her. Talk about a bad run of luck! Apparently in the first book, Vera was abandoned on a CIA mission, so her skill set lends just fine to her hanging out her shingle as a private investigator - although it isn't a very ladylike career. That would have been fun enough, but then one of her first case ends up with her trying to rescue a young boy, but not necessarily for the people who hired her. The plot thickens! Find out why I gave it 3 out of 5 stars in my full review here. ⭐⭐⭐
Dead Dead Girls (Harlem Renaissance Mystery #1) by Nekesa Afia - Louise Lovie Lloyd was quite the heroine. Her back story made me wonder if it was already a book, but alas, this is number one for the Harlem Renaissance Mystery series. Her background does make her recognizable, and there may be a killer trying to drag her back into the spotlight. I thought I'd love this roaring 20s book more than I did, but it was adequately entertaining, and if you think you'd enjoy getting a feel for a story in this time period, I'd recommend it. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars in my full review. ⭐⭐⭐
The North Face of the Heart by Delores Redondo - I think this was my favorite read this month. I'm amazed that the author's books are so beautiful, as they are even translated. I can't help but think they'd be absolutely stunning in her native Spanish. This was actually a prequel to the Baztan Trilogy, which I think is on Netflix already. While I read it as a new release, I think it's only a new U.S./English release, and has been out in other locations much longer. If you love thrillers written well enough to be striking contemporary fiction, this book is for you. Also, most of it takes place in my favorite city, New Orleans, but during Hurricane Katrina. Talk about a unique setting for a story! My full review gives it 4 out of 5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (follow the full review link for a giveaway ending 6/8/21!)
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins - This one got in just under the wire. Yes, I read it in June. So sue me. :P I always write what I read right up until I write the post, so my memory is a bit more fresh. Anyway, the book. The reviewers before me went on about the stuff they recognized from the books (that technically follow this one, but were written first). Again about my memory - yeah - it was years ago that I read the original Hunger Games books. So while I remember the main premise and a little about the characters, I couldn't say anyone besides Snow sounded familiar to me in this one. And this is about Snow's growing up years, so I found it interesting, even if I didn't remember a lot of characteristics of his adult character. That being said, I really enjoyed the book and its story. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the Hunger Games at all. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars in my review here. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Right now I'm reading a print copy of Act of Negligence by John Bishop (which publishes June 15). I've read one other book in the series, and this is number four, so they stand alone just fine. Dr. Jim Bob Brady is quirky and amusing, and he and his wife have a level of love and devotion to each other that is admirable. Mostly, though, the books are medical procedural mysteries and I find them quite intriguing.
I'm also reading a kindle copy of Here She Is: The Complicated Reign of the Beauty Pageant in America by Hilary Levey Friedman. It's an interesting non-fiction that tells the history of pageants, overlapping with how they and feminism have evolved independently, and in response to each other.
I think I'm almost caught up with my June reviews, but I'm pretty sure that my book club which meets via zoom near the end of the month is discussing The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I've been interested in this history and this book for a long time, so I'm excited to finally have the motivation to read it.
So excited to finally be able to spend some afternoons out on my porch, watching my hummingbirds, orioles, and red-wing blackbirds, and reading. My roses are already budding!! Hope your summer is kicking off just like you want it to.