Books I Read May 2021

by - Wednesday, June 02, 2021

 May was a great month of reading. I finished 11 books -- 8 regular books and 3 audio books -- and 3 of them were five star reads!

I credit all the extra reading with the week I spent working at the beach earlier in the month. I loved shutting down my computer at the end of the day and plopping onto the sand with a book.

Books May 2021

Five Stars

The Good SisterThe Good Sister by Sally Hepworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I could not put this book down and tore through it in two days mainly because I had to stop reading for work and sleep. This book tells the story of Rose and Fern and their unique relationship as twins. We get Rose's point of view through her journal entries and Fern's story is told in real-time. Rose has always looked out for Fern. Fern feels she needs Rose because Rose knows just how to help when noises get too loud, lights get too bright or clothes feel scratchy or constricting. But when Wally enters the scene and expresses interest in Fern, the sisters' dynamic changes and you realize that there's something a bit darker going on behind the scenes. While I saw the twist coming, I still couldn't wait to see how things resolved themselves at the end. Highly recommend for a fun and suspenseful read.

The Midnight LibraryThe Midnight Library by Matt Haig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I liked this book not only for the story, but for how much it makes you think about what constitutes a "good life." As the main character waffles in a suspended state between life and death, she visits a library, where each book represents a different version of her life depending on the choices she made at the time. She can revisit old regrets and see if her life would have turned out differently if she'd made different choices. This book will definitely leave you thinking.

What Comes AfterWhat Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just couldn't put this book down. It was beautifully written, flipping between first person and third person narration for the two main characters -- letting you dive deep inside their minds. After the death of two teenage boys rocks a small town, the young girl who mysteriously appears could further tear things apart. This book examines how people try to move on after a tragedy and rebuild a semblance of a new life.

Four Stars

The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious, #2)The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finally got some answers to some of the biggest questions I had after the first Truly Devious book. But of course, not everything was figured out and there's still the big lingering question of what the heck happened to Alice. I liked that this book tied up some of the loose ends from the first book, and didn't end with quite such an obvious cliffhanger. But there's still mystery to be solved in the third book that I'll hopefully get from the library soon.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First CenturyNomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was equal parts depressing and inspiring. In a country as well-off as the United States, no one should find themselves forced to live in a van, traveling around the country looking for temporary work in unforgiving conditions. At the same time, hearing the stories of many people the author met in her years reporting this book, you can't help but be inspired by their outlook and at times very creative approach to unfortunate events in their lives.

An Unwanted GuestAn Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book gave me some serious Agatha Christie vibes. A group of guests all arrive at an isolated hotel for their vacations. Quickly a winter storm knocks out the power, and the guests are trapped together. Then one by one they start dying. Has someone secretly infiltrated the hotel or is one of the guests the killer? This book was fun, fast-paced and kept me guessing.

The HoldoutThe Holdout by Graham Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ten years ago, Maya was the lone juror who did not think Bobby Nock was guilty of murder. But despite the note guilty verdict, amateur detectives continued to investigate that case. When a true crime podcast brings the jurors back together to reveal a new big clue, one of Maya's fellow jurors ends up dead in her hotel room. As she fights to defend herself, we flash back and forth in time to the original trial. Though the ending was a bit predictable, this was an enjoyable book.

Northern SpyNorthern Spy by Flynn Berry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book -- a fictional account of the violence taking place today in Northern Ireland. It's a great companion to the nonfiction "Say Nothing." But while "Say Nothing" was set in the heart of the Troubles, Northern Spy is set in modern times. I had to keep reminding myself of that several times while I was reading this book because the way Berry portrayed the IRA operations read just like some of the real-life scenes in "Say Nothing." This book is a good reminder that just because history tells us the Troubles are over doesn't mean things are peaceful.

Three Stars

But You're Still So Young: How Thirtysomethings Are Redefining AdulthoodBut You're Still So Young: How Thirtysomethings Are Redefining Adulthood by Kayleen Schaefer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book had an interesting premise that I was excited to read about, but I felt its delivery was kind of meh. I think it was missing some deeper reporting on major societal shifts. While the stories told through the various people in the book, hooked around the five big milestones of adulthood, were interesting, I expected more research-backed fact and slightly less anecdotal story-telling.

Pretty ThingsPretty Things by Janelle Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Despite that fact that this book got so much praise, it took a while for me to get into it and at times felt a little slow. Nina is a grifter who has followed in her mother's footsteps as a con artist. She's become quite good at ripping off the lavishly wealthy. She wants to get out of the game, but she needs to run just one last con in order to pay for her mother's cancer treatments.

Summer PeopleSummer People by Elin Hilderbrand
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been slowly going back and reading some of Elin Hilderbrand's older books over time, and it's sometimes funny to see how certain things hold up (or don't) over time. The fact that not a single one of the characters in this book had a cellphone and had to keep running to the phone booth in town to make calls was one of those funny little quirks. Overall I thought this book was OK, but man did some of the characters drive me nuts. When a family returns to a summer house on Nantucket after just losing their dad/husband, they are all grieving and trying to heal in different ways. Eventually secrets come out that threaten to disrupt the healing process. This is a light and fast read, but I didn't love it as much of some of her other books.

View all my reviews

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