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looking back on May.


I love going for runs! Image via my instagram account.

HELLO, JUNE! I think we’re all in agreement that May was pretty fantastic, right? Not only did I have stellar luck with books (if I’m remembering correctly – haha I guess we’ll find out in a minute!) but I did so many awesome things last month:

  • Roadtrip! My sister, nieces, and I piled into my car and drove from Pittsburgh to Maryland (and back that same night omg never again) for a wedding!
  • Hannah + Lindsay’s first dance + the view was unreal.
  • Matt and I went to see Neil deGrasse Tyson!! + x x The man’s super funny, super smart, and at one point the entire audience shouted out to correct him: in Pittsburgh we put coleslaw on our sandwiches, not sauerkraut, tyvm.
  • Mother’s Day means one thing in Pittsburgh: Race for the Cure!
  • My town held its first dog parade and do I really need to say more??

And some other Instagram favorites:

Was May awesome for you too??

REVIEWS
The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy was oh so lovely. Y’all know by now that I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, especially books set during the Civil War. The Mapmaker’s Children focuses on John Brown’s family, particularly his daughter Sarah, and follows the Underground Railroad! SO good. There’s also a second storyline set in the present day and there are recipes included! Sarah (the author – so many Sarahs with this book!) popped in for a bit during the #HistoricalFix chat and it was a delight getting to talk to her. ♥

Exquisite Corpse by Penelope Bagieu was a cute graphic novel complete with fantastic art and a cat named Gatsby. A writer fakes his death (and then rakes in the cash when ‘newly discovered’ manuscripts come forth. A woman in her early 20s stuck in a rut. Although this one was predictable, the Parisian setting more than made up for it – though the ending left me bewildered.

Hannah Dennison’s Honeychurch Hall series is great and I’m still kicking myself for waiting so long to read the first! My procrastination led to a super fun binge session though, so it all worked out! An estate in the English countryside, a cast of some pretty colorful characters, family secrets a mile long, and you know, a dead body or two. If you’re a fan of cozy mysteries, be sure to check out these books!

The Sound of Glass was my first Karen White novel but it won’t be the last! I’m a big fan of Southern fiction, especially when there’s a bit of a mystery involved! This novel jumps around in time from the 1950s to the present day and the plane crash that connects the characters (many of whom weren’t even born when the disaster happened!) Buried secrets is one of my favorite buzz phrases and this novel had them in spades. If you’re a fan of my girl Diane Chamberlain, Karen White is definitely an author to check out!

I featured two mini-reviews: a dud and a DNF. The dud was Chevy Stevens’ That Night, a novel that sounded great at first, but set my eyes rolling from the first page. The DNF was Paula Brackston’s The Silver Witch, another novel that sounded intriguing, but after 70 pages nothing had happened and I set it aside. That said, a month later I’m still thinking about it so maybe I’ll revisit it soon.

Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive is going to be the thriller to read this year! A hilariously cynical main character who reinvented herself after high school, the past that she just can’t shake, and the documentary in the works about what happened that fateful night at Bradley School. I’ll apologize now for the woefully vague review, but Luckiest Girl Alive is a novel I didn’t want to spoil! It’s a fun, dark, twisty ride with some surprises I wasn’t expecting!

I’m not a big fan of side stories, but Django Wexler’s The Shadow of Elysium changed my mind! This was an excellent introduction to his Shadow Campaign series (after reading this one I immediately requested the first two novels from my library) and I can’t wait to dive in! Fans of epic fantasy, take note!

In an attempt to boost my pitiful netgalley stats, I’m trying to go back to review older titles. Carla Buckley’s The Deepest Secret was one of those titles and…yikes. A boy with a rare (and fatal) disease is the only person who can help solve a crime. Tell me more, right? Sadly, Tyler’s illness seemed tacked on as an afterthought and didn’t really make much sense to the rest of the story. The ‘deepest secret’ is told up front in the opening chapters and the reader has to sit through 400+ pages to finally discover how the consequences will play out. There were also numerous storylines that were abandoned or forgotten and the whole thing felt like Ms. Buckley was trying to do too much here. If you’re looking for an engaging mystery, this is not the book for you.

If you’re a fan of the classics or maybe avoid them out of intimidation, do yourself a favor and read Elizabeth von Arnim’s The Enchanted April, her awesome, awesome 1922 novel about four women who take a break from their dull lives in England and rent an Italian castle for a month. So, so excellent!

Carla Stewart’s A Flying Affair was a quick and entertaining read about the early days of female pilots. As far as the romance goes, this one was fairly predictable, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. My only disappointment came from such a large focus being placed on the horse farm/racing instead of aviation.

May’s unreviewed round-up included three novels: two were lovely, one was a DNF. Courtney Walsh’s Paper Hearts came around exactly when I needed some brain fluff. Very, very cute and fun, though certain opinions and statements made by characters left me disappointed. Despite that, however, I adored this one! If you need a rainy day pick-up-me, Paper Hearts is for you! I also read my very first Patrick Ness: A Monster Calls and SHAME ON ALL OF YOU. Tears were streaming down my face and I was NOT prepared for the feels but I loved this one and am looking forward to reading more of his work! The DNF was Jan Ellison’s A Small Indiscretion. After nine chapters I still wasn’t becoming invested in the story and returned my copy to the library.

Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy is one of my favorite reads this year. It WILL be reappearing at the end of the month in the first part of my Top Reads of 2015 and, again, I’m sorry for the overly vague review! Southern fiction, a hint of something otherworldly, and a feud that stretches over two decades. My, oh my. I was angry and upset. I cheered on certain characters and wanted them to find happiness. I wanted justice to prevail. There’s SO MUCH to be said about this novel and I can’t because it’ll ruin it for everyone and I refuse to do that. Go buy this book.

Brenda Bowen’s Enchanted August is a modern retelling of The Enchanted April. While I loved the original a tiny bit more, this one was lovely as well – this time the four strangers rent a cottage in Maine. Enchanted August is the quintessential beach read.

FEATURES
weekly wrap-up 5/3
weekly wrap-up 5/10
weekly wrap-up 5/17
weekly wrap-up 5/23
weekly wrap-up 5/31

MISC
looking back on April.
Deborah Harkness giveaway! + the winners

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2 thoughts on “looking back on May.

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