Happy May! I’m hoping this good weather is finally here to stay because I’m thriving in it. April was one of the best months of the year so far — which also ended up being true last year when we found our apartment. I started and love my new job (!!) and I get to do so much more of what I like to do and feel like I’m good at. Right after that happened, we had a trip to Florida, which was beautiful and gave me some extra reading time. I ended up reading 12 books this month, which more than recovers my four from last month. Here’s what I read, what I loved, liked, and should have passed on.
Tangerine by Christine Mangan (4 stars)
This one was of my most anticipated books of the year, and it didn’t let me down. It was such a tense book, you were almost nervous to turn the page. Christine Mangan definitely nailed the “psychological” part of this book. I’m hesitant to call it a thriller because it really isn’t. It’s tense, creepy, and has one of the most insanely obsessive female friendships I’ve ever read.
You’ll be feeling the Tangier heat as you read, and you’ll definitely be on the edge of your seat while you do it. I envision this is many summer beach bags.
The Verdict: Read it!
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi (4 stars)
Another one I was really anticipating, Emergency Contact is a YA contemporary about two early college students who meet by accident and exchange numbers. Their relationship starts with texting and slowly progresses from there. When I first read it I gave it three stars, but since then I’ve found myself thinking about it and realizing I liked it a lot more than I originally thought.
The verdict: Read it!
Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall (2 stars)
I was SO excited for this one. Gillian Flynn raved about it. Not a marketer using her name to compare Gone Girl to this. The Queen Herself. But this ended up being a complete dud. As the book started, I was definitely hooked through and through. But, as the book progressed, it was clear nothing was going to be resolved or even made sense. I thought it was going to be an Unraveling Oliver (which I LOVED) situation, but it was far from it. I don’t know why people are raving about the ending, because there honestly isn’t one.
The Verdict: Skip it!
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (5 stars)
I read a lot of great books this month, but The Poet X is definitely high on my list of favorites, and one I can see being on my best books of the year list come December. Written in verse, this book brings to life so many charaters in such little space it will blow you away. The book focuses on Xiomara, a wannabe slam poet, the daughter of an immigrant, and a Catholic. But she’s also a young woman with her own ideas and desires, and seeing her come to terms with all these identities is amazing. It’s a book you’ll immediately want to hand to someone and talk about. It’s a book I’m just glad exists for kids in the world who need to see themselves in books!
The Verdict: Please read this book!!
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (5 stars)
This was on just about every single “best of” list at the end of last year, but at the time I was sure I wouldn’t like it. Historical non-fiction and true crime weren’t my thing. I still don’t know what made me pick this up this month, but I’m SO happy I did. It started off a little slow, but really picked up after about 100 or so pages, and once the FBI was formed and involved, I couldn’t put it down unless it was to read pieces out loud and yell “do you believe this!?” to my confused boyfriend. This definitely showed me that non-fiction and true crime can be enjoyable (which you’ll see from the rest of this list).
The Verdict: Believe the hype! Read it!
The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel (4 stars)
Another incredible true story, The Stranger in the Woods follows Christopher Knight, who walked into the Maine woods one day and then never came out. He built himself a home, and kept himself fed by breaking into summer homes and a camp when he needed to. He never went into occupied homes, and only took what he needed. Over time, people knew he was there, but no one could catch him. 27 years later, this is the story about a “hermit,” the man who catches him, and the writer fascinated by him.
A short book, but one I couldn’t put down.
The Verdict: Read it!
If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson (3.5 stars)
I picked this up because I wanted something new by Jacqueline Woodson, and I didn’t know where to start. I remember reading some or all of this in elementary or middle school, but remembered almost nothing.
This was asquietly beautiful like all of Woodson’s writing it, and I enjoyed it. I wish it was a little bit longer though!
The Verdict: Read it! But don’t start your journey into her books with this one.
The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines (2.5 stars)
I’m a HUGE Chip and Joanna fan, and couldn’t believe this was still unread months after I bought it. Ultimately though, while I liked learning a little bit more about them as people and how they got together, but it started to read like a Hallmark card or self-help book once they got into their actual life. “This terrible thing happened but we came together and it was fine” over and over again. We get it. There just wasn’t any depth to it.
The Verdict: Read it if you’re a die-hard Chip and Jo fan, pass otherwise.
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (5 stars)
I love this book. I’m almost ten years late to this book. But it’s truly amazing. Dave Eggers is a truly incredible writer, and he takes a devastating subject(s) and makes nonfiction read like a gripping novel. This book takes a look at Louisiana in the days before and after Hurricane Katrina, through the eyes of one Syrian family, the Zeitouns. Seriously a new favorite of all time.
The Most Dangerous Animal of All by Gary L. Stewart & Susan Mustafa (3 stars)
So, after Killers of the Flower Moon, I knew I wanted more true crime, so I grabbed this one, not knowing what to expect. It was definitely bloodier than I was expecting (even though it’s about the literal Zodiac Killer so I don’t know what I was thinking). Gary Stewart finds his birth mom later in life, and it makes him curious who his birth FATHER could be. One guess who it is.
I liked this one, but expected a lot more emotion with a realization that your father is the Zodiac Killer, and that was missing.
The Verdict: Skip it, there’s better true crime out there.
A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out by Sally Franson (3 stars)
I brought this on vacation because look at that cover, it basically begs to be read in the sun. Also, the synopsis reads like my life. A book-loving, former English major gets a job at an ad agency to tell stories. I MEAN! From there, she struggles to decide if this is really the life she wants, falls in love with an author, and rekindles friendships.
This made me laugh out loud going into it, and I definitely felt like I was reading about myself at times. A great summer read.
The verdict: Throw it in your beach bag and read it!
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers (5 stars)
The Monk of Mokha is an unbelievable story about one man’s quest to bring Yemeni coffee back to the forefront of American coffee roasting. It’s about one young man’s extremely crazy-sounding plan coming to life, but it also goes deep into he processing of growing and roasting coffee, the crisis in Yemen, and race in America and overseas. It reads like a novel, and just like Zeitoun, I can’t recommend it enough.
And now, I NEED to try Port of Mokha coffee.
BOTM Pick: Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall. Bummer
Best Books of the Month: Both Dave Eggers books and The Poet X.
Favorite Bookish Posts:
Behing the Scenes of a Book Blogger (Sarah’s Bookshelves)
Celeste Ng Recommends 27 of Her Favorite Books (Bustle)
11 Ways to Spring Clean Your Blog (Perpetual Page Turner)
Is Booktube Educational? (Ariel Bissett)
What did you love this month?