May Reads

Month Count: 7 texts, 3 audiobook, 10 total
Year to Date: 30 texts, 10 audiobooks, 40 total

Goodreads profile HERE!

Bookstagram profile HERE!

Book of the Month Referral Link HERE!

Catch up on previous month’s read recaps: January – February – MarchApril

Professional Troublemaker by Luvvie Ajayi Jones I started this about a month ago and I realized very quickly I needed to take my time and take notes. There are so many good reminders, good perspectives, so much good advice, and I often found myself imagining Luvvie reading to me. Definitely a manual to have in hand for a while! Especially being in a white-male dominated industry that has conditioned women to not speak for themselves, or speak up for themselves.

A few weeks ago our women in the craft beer industry started banding together even more than usual to get shit done. It created a lot of conversation (and a shit ton of controversy) around sexism in the industry and as a female leader of a very guest facing team (who has been loud about diversity and equity since *DAY ONE*), I found a lot of strength in her words. To be fair, I feel very supported in my current company, and I wish every woman could experience the support I feel here. I think this company still has a little ways to go, but I feel like we are at least traveling the right pathway (albeit slowly).

Here are a few chapter headlines that I really feel resonate with me:
Know yourself
Be too much
Fail loudly
Get your money (louder!!!!!)
Draw your lines
Take no shit (on repeat)
Fuck fear (again, on repeat)

I think many women could really use this as a manual and I fully intend to bring it back into practice, and refer to it over and over again. I could quote the shit out of this and made notes and highlights all over my copy.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, narrated by Shvorne Marks via Libby. Description: Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year old Jamaican British woman living in London. After a breakup with her longtime boyfriend, she goes through a period of pretty self-destructive behaviors, hits a form of rock bottom, and works toward recovery.

Discussion: Queenie was recommended to me by my dear friend, Mary (@akuffo8 ) quite sometime ago and I finally got around to it. It reminded me a bit of Bridget Jones’s Diary at first, and definitely took me town some toxic behaviors that I unfortunately identified with.

Queenie also hosts a very honest viewpoint of a young black woman in a predominantly white culture. I’d like the say the subtle (or not so subtle) racism was shocking, but sadly it wasn’t. It was important to read Queenie’s dialogue navigating these situations and “hearing” how she felt, but I so badly wanted to step in and stand up for her, or call out the shit people were saying or doing to her. The biggest one being the little shit kid at the pool with the white mom not even having her kid apologize and then calling Queenie out for her “behavior”. A simple and reasonable request turned into Queenie being perceived as aggressive when this white woman’s child was in the wrong.

Even though I wasn’t able to identify with every part, I empathized with Queenie’s struggles and felt WAY too close to many of her encounters with sexual harassment.

Rating: 4.5/5. Would recommend!

Favorite quote: “I wished that well-meaning white liberals would think before they said things that they thought were perfectly innocent.” Heard…

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna on Kindle through the library. Definitely fell outside of my comfort zone, with a fantasy genre; however, it caught my attention and I loved the strong female lead. It’s a really powerful book with almost flawless character development and I’m hoping the movie option that just got picked up gives it more power and does it justice. I will absolutely read the follow ups to this one!

The Hunting Wives by May Cobb… my first BOTM book! It was a little jarring going from some historical fiction (been on a genre kick), to something so contemporary but May Cobb kicks it off quickly!

DESCRIPTION: Sophie is a new stay at home mom trying to kick off a lifestyle blog and business. Her and her husband moved to a quiet, wealthy town in Texas (read: gentrified) to settle down after years of hustle in the Chicago-area. She quickly tries to attach herself to the “elite wives” of the group, but isn’t prepared for the drama that unfolds and the mess it creates in her life.

DISCUSSION: it was fascinating and terrifying watching Sophie self-destruct. I wanted to jump through the page and shake her! I loved trying to predict the twists, and found them pretty clever! As much as I could see this as a movie, I don’t think it would land as well as the book did for me.

#QOTD : did anyone else embarrassingly recognize some toxic social media behavior? 🙈

Solid 4/5 stars. Would recommend, but probably not to my MIL Hahahha

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead, via LibbyApp – narrated by the author, Joshua Whitehead. Holy. Shit. What a ride.

DESCRIPTION: Jonny is a young Native American two-spirit in Canada, trying to get home to support his mother after the death of her husband. It bounces between “current day” Jonny, as he peddles cybersex via social media apps to make money for the return trip, and stories of his youth woven in as memories leading us to where he is now.

DISCUSSION: Right out of the gate, it can be uncomfortable, and because the author is the narrator, it was hard to separate that this was a fiction novel, because Joshua himself is a two-spirit storyteller. I think that’s why this felt like such an important read, for me… to support an author and a story that are neither well represented in the literary world. It also probably wouldn’t have been read as good with anyone else narrating. Similarly, I think I would have been just as captivated if I were reading it versus listening.

The content is challenging to hear. As a straight, white female who grew up with a Rez in my backyard, and Native Americans representing just about the only diversity in my hometown. It was hard not to think about my friends that may have lead similar lives in one way or another.

5/5 stars, would 100% recommend- but it’s not for the faint of heart… Joshua Whitehead is very detailed and descriptive.

Favorite quote: “humility is just humiliation you loved so much it transformed.”

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave was a buddy read with my dear friend Mary. I feel like this was a VERY hyped book for the month of May; however, it might be that I paid more attention to Reese’s Book Club as a result of Mary mentioning she wanted to read this one… Either way, the hype paid off and I took the bait.

DESCRIPTION via Amazon:

A gripping mystery about a woman who thinks she’s found the love of her life—until he disappears.

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated.

DISCUSSION: Twist after turn after twist and then some. I’ve mentioned it time and time again, I always try to predict which way these are going to end up and there was so much here that I didn’t anticipate or I got wrong. IN A GOOD WAY!

Lisa Jewell does it again with The Family Upstairs. This is my second novel of hers, and she has my complete attention. DESCRIPTION: Adoptee Libby Jones finally has the answers to all her questions when, around her 25th birthday, she receives a letter confirming her identity. Little did she know, it would create Ann entire new world of dark twists and turns, possible cult involvement, and motte than one deep family secret that has been hidden since shortly after her birth.

DISCUSSION: The Family Upstairs jumps seamlessly between 3 different plot lines, and 2 different time frames… and it totally works. I loved the twists and turns. I’m always trying to predict them and Lisa Jewell not only surprises me every time, but she weaves whole worlds together in what seems like effortless storytelling.

There were definitely some triggers, as you might almost come to expect; however, Lisa tip-toes on and around boundaries with grace and it never felt vulgar.

4.5/5 stars. Absolutely would recommend!

FAVORITE QUOTE: The weakness of men lay at the root of every bad thing that had ever happened.

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover and – surprise surprise – Queen CoHo does it again. This one ripped my heart out, shoved it back in, and then ripped it out again.

DESCRIPTION via Goodreads:

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up— she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

DISCUSSION: I’ll get a little picky, but I didn’t love the transitions when there was an argument. The first time it cut to Lily, after the first incident, I had to reread the section a couple of times to get what I was missing. Then I realized it’s just not there. I don’t want to get too detailed and risk spoilers, but it was disjointed for me.

I loved a lot about this book, and in true CoHo fashion, I couldn’t put it down. It was more important to read her voice at the end (after finishing the book), and get a little history about the “inspiration” behind this one. It took it closer to home for me and I feel like she really did it justice. With every book I read that is authored by her, I compare it to my assumptions about her writing after my first book of hers last year, Verity. It was such an intriguing first novel to start with, and she proves over and over again that she cannot be lumped into one style.

RATING: 4/5, would recommend with the caveat that there are triggers for domestic violence, though I think Hoover navigates that well enough that it wasn’t graphic or gruesome.

FAVORITE QUOTE: In the future… if by some miracle you ever find yourself in the position to fall in love again… fall in love with me.

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman via LibbyApp, narrated by Sutton Foster. Overall, it was entertaining. I wouldn’t call it riveting, but it did take me back to my years of extreme lady-crushes on Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock in Practical Magic. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a prequel before. I was also not aware that Practical Magic was a book before it was a movie. (wait, is it a book? I still don’t know… Okay, yes it is a book. and word on the street is the movie was better, so there’s that.)

If you remember Practical Magic, Sally and Gillian Owens (Sandra and Nicole respectively) are sisters who are being raised by their aunts in a coastal Massachusetts island town. Also, if you remember, the Owens women are subjected to a centuries-old curse that any man they fall in love with is doomed.

Magic Lessons goes back to the era of the Salem Witch Trials and the origin of that curse with Hannah Owens, her adopted daughter Maria, and Maria’s daughter Faith.

I’m also just now made aware that there’s another Hoffman book in the series called Rules of Magic, which follows the aunts from Practical Magic, so perhaps I’ll go back and read or listen to that one as well.

How Lucky by Will Leitch was a random pick for my May Book of the Month subscription (Fire Keeper’s Daughter was an add-on… coming soon!).

DESCRIPTION: Daniel unknowingly witnesses a potential abduction during his regular morning routine. Through his challenges communicating to the police, he posts on Reddit and believes the kidnapper has responded.

DISCUSSION: This is a super fast read! Mostly because I was able to skim whole paragraphs (almost pages) of fluff that didn’t add to the story or character development. It was good, creative, and I liked the new elements of perspective through Daniel’s eyes (if you know, you know… trying not to spoil it here). But overall, I wanted more depth and detail.

RATING: 3.5/5 stars. Read it if you need a palate cleanser. I did recommend to my 14-year old son, so there’s that.

FAVORITE QUOTE: Stay kind, kid. No one will see it coming.

WHEW! That was a doozey of a month! I’m so far behind on my blog, my reviews, and my bookstagram posts. I also haven’t had a very strong start to this month for reading; however, I have some AMAZING June hopefuls and with my hubby and son heading out of town leaving just me and my little lady, I think I’ll have plenty of time to catch up. (If I don’t get sucked into watching too many episodes of The Crown). 🙂

What were your favorite reads last month? What are you working on for June? And most importantly, what are your summer vacation hopefuls??

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