It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Summer Reading Time
Put some of these May releases on your TBR for the summer
What a nice weekend I had; I hope your weekend was fun, relaxing, and productive—whatever that means for you in your life. I hurt my knee in early March, and it’s not improving. I’ve been to the doctor twice, and x-rays show no bone damage, so I started physical therapy yesterday, and hopefully, this will provide the solution to the pain.
I had every intention of writing a “new books in April” newsletter, and I had the books picked out that I wanted to share, but working seven days a week for a few weeks got the best of me. There are so many interesting books publishing in May; such a good problem to have, but not enough time to read all of them. I can’t wait to tell you about the ones on my radar, so let’s get started.
The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese (5-2-23) - I read Cutting for Stone several years ago, and while I don’t remember many of the details, I remember how it left me feeling when I turned the last page. From the reviews I’m reading, Verghese’s latest book has the power to do the same again for me. From author Dani Shapiro, “This majestic, sweeping story of family secrets―their curse, their legacy, and their cure―is intimate and profound. Verghese takes us on a journey across nearly a century and more than one continent, dazzling with his rich, elegant prose.” I’m looking forward to all the “feels” again.
Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley (5-2-23) - I’m a fan of Young Adult books that aren’t filled with teenage angst, and Boulley’s debut book, The Firekeeper’s Daughter,” was a hit for me, and I can’t wait to read this one. I’m reading reviews that say this book follows some of the same characters several years later, and the reviews say it’s helpful to have read the first book before reading this one, but not necessary. Head back to Sugar Island and settle in with the laid-back, troublemaker twin as her family becomes embroiled in a high-profile investigation that leaves her questioning everything she thought to be true.
No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister (5-2-23) - This author is quickly becoming one of my favorites. From author Nina de Gramont, “Bauermeister has written a gloriously original celebration of fiction and how it deepens our lives. Each story in this cycle stands alone and, at the same time, carries the arc—not only through the novel that's its central character but a cast of recurring players who connect in the most unexpected and satisfying ways. With its beautiful parts adding to a brilliant whole, No Two Persons made my reader's heart sing."
The Secret Book of Flora Lee by Patti Callahan Henry (5-2-23) - One of my favorite historical fiction authors has a new WWII historical fiction novel, and I can’t wait to read it. Set in 1939 in war-torn London, sisters Hazel and Flora are sent to the countryside to escape the war, and Flora disappears. Twenty years later, Hazel discovers a book that leads her to believe that Flora may be alive after all. This book and the one above are two of our monthly book club books in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club this summer, and I’m excited for the author talks for each.
Yellowface by R. F. Kuang (5-16-23) - I have never read anything by this author, but the premise of this book and the reviews I’ve read so far sound really good. Two authors, both up-and-coming stars, but only one is making it big. When a tragedy happens to one, the other steals her unfinished manuscript and makes it her own, and the fallout begins. From author Jesse Q. Sutanto, “A brilliant and unflinching take on white performativity and publishing. I'm not exaggerating when I say that Kuang is one of the most important voices in publishing today." This book deals with so many of today’s topics such as racism, diversity, cultural appropriation, and more.
The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren (5-16-23) - I’ve read and enjoyed two of author duo Christina Lauren’s previous books. The new romance begins when Fizzy, a romance novelist, realizes she isn’t practicing what she preaches; she’s never been in love. A filmmaker needs to produce a hit quickly and teams up with Fizzy to create a reality TV show where Fizzy is the star. There are plenty of pop culture references throughout, sparks fly continuously, and romance readers will love it.
Built From the Fire by Victor Luckerson (5-23-23) - I’ve read several books about the Tulsa Race Massacre, and this narrative nonfiction is one of the best. I discovered Luckerson in my early days as a reader on Substack through, his newsletter discussing his research, reporting, and writing of this book that hits the shelves a week before the 102nd anniversary of this horrible event. He not only tells the story of the massacre but also details the rebuilding of Black Wall Street and the current happenings trying to locate the mass graves and the reparations many people feel are needed. If you are interested in this topic, this is a great book to read to understand better what happened and what was lost.
Rogue Justice by Stacey Abrams (5-23-23) - This is Abrams’ second legal thriller and the sequel to While Justice Sleeps. I read the first thriller, and I enjoyed it. I found myself lost a few times while reading. I remember feeling this same way when I read The Firm many years ago. I don’t know if it was because of my lack of knowledge of the inner workings of the highest court in our legal system or my inability to concentrate while accidentally reading myself to sleep at night. It picks up with Avery Keene four months after the previous book ends and immediately presents her with a new political thriller with espionage, extortion, and terrorism. I want to understand this sequel better than the first book. I may re-read the first book before reading this one and try to stay awake while reading.
Drowning by T.J. Newman (5-30-23) - On a good day, I’m a nervous flyer. I wanted to read Newman’s first book, Falling, but I’m afraid I’ll never want to fly again. And here she comes with her second aviation thriller, Drowning, and I find myself with the same desire and dread again. From author Eric Rickstad, “Drowning is a full-throttle adrenaline rush, a relentless, full-speed thriller that will keep you riveted and breathless. Hang on tight for what’s sure to become a classic summer smash hit.” I’m sure I’ll read both of these at some point, but it’s likely to be later rather than sooner unless someone can convince me otherwise.
The Celebrants by Steven Rowley (5-30-23) - I’m a big fan of this author; I wrote about him and his previous three books here, and I can’t wait to put this on hold through Libby. This is a story of a decades-long friendship between college buddies, and after the death of one of the friends at a young age, the group decides to celebrate each other with “living funerals.” Character-driven, thought-provoking, and heartwarming, the group gathers periodically to celebrate a friend to help them through a difficult time. I’m on a friendship quest and looking forward to reading this book about friends.
I’m excited about these May releases and many more that aren’t on this list. I have usually read a few of the new releases, but tax season only allowed for one this time. Are any of these books written by any favorite authors of yours? Did you put any of these on your TBR or library hold list? Tell me in the comments below what you think about these and any other May releases that have caught your eye.
One of my favorite bookish festivals is the Newburyport Literary Festival, and this year’s online portion on Sunday was the best from all three years I’ve watched. In 2020, they shifted quickly to online because of Covid, and it has been online since then.
For 2023, they announced that it would be back in person. I knew there was at least one online event as my friends Mel and Dave from Strong Sense of Place were making a return visit and interviewing author Amy Tector, but I had no idea that the entire Sunday program would be online. I registered for all eight events and spent the entire day happily immersed in author talks from some of my favorites, such as Rebecca Makkai, Will Schwalbe, and J. Ryan Stradal. There were sessions with audiobook narrators discussing the tricks of the trade, authors writing coming-of-age novels, and so much more. As with the prior three years, I’m sure all these events can be found online this week after they’re uploaded. Next year, I will be at this festival in person for the entire weekend of events, and I plan to spend a few days before and after being a tourist.
This became a much longer newsletter than I had initially planned; thanks for sticking around until the end. There were so many new books that it was difficult to decide which ones made the cut. I hope you have a wonderful week and upcoming weekend, and I’ll be back next Tuesday with another jam-packed newsletter. Happy reading!
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