Book Reviews May Wrap Up

Mini Book Reviews | May Wrap Up

This post may contain affiliate links for products and services I recommend. If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission.

Hello readers! I have 10 mini book reviews for you in my May monthly wrap up. That is the highest number of books read in a month that I have ever tracked. So, let’s just say as far as the amount of reading, May has been my best month yet!

On the other hand, it is hard to believe that it’s already June. But yet, time truly seems to be going so fast. I am returning to work in my library branch this week. I have spent the last 2.5 months working exclusively at home. Even though it feels like it’s been ages since I have seen my library branch and sat at my desk there, it also feels like the time of quarantine has gone so fast. Can you relate?

As my life and routines change yet again, I don’t know if I’ll read as much in June as I have in May. However, I am always surprising myself. I already consider myself an avid reader, but I am still finding that I want to read even more and watch television, Youtube, and movies less. In May, reading was added to my new morning routine. I am also reading more in every format and I enjoy audiobooks on walks or while cleaning the house. Reading eBooks on my iPad, both ones that are advanced readers copies (ARCs) from publishers and ones that are borrowed from my library, is starting to feel normal too. But I still cherish a physical book and it will always be my preferred reading format. But sometimes it’s not an option.

I’m learning that even when you are an avid reader, your reading life will always see changes. Before you know it you are reading ten books in a month, when your average has always been 5 or 6. After all, change is constant right?

So, here is my wrap up of May 2020 with my ten mini book reviews for what I read this month.

bestseller books

Book #1 – Deserted πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ 

by: Heather Hartzog

Book #1 Deserted

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This is a quick-paced, full of adventure novel. Heather was only 16 years old when she wrote it, and she did an unbelievable job! The story centers around Brooke, a high school senior who is embarking on a senior class trip with her closest friends, including Peyton, the boy she is crushing on. When their plane crashes, it’s a fight for survival as they end up stranded on a deserted island.

This is a novel where a reader’s worst fears and nightmares are played out before your eyes. It’s a page-turning story with strong characters, teenage romance, and hard-hitting themes. I could hardly put it down. A month later, I can still remember the story so vividly. I was just blown away by this book.

I want to thank the author for reaching out to me via social media and submitting a request for me to review her novel. Heather is from Newmarket, Ontario and I like to support Canadian and local authors. I have no idea if Heather plans to write more books but she certainly has a knack for creative writing!

Available to Purchase from Amazon

If you are an author or publisher with a book you think I should read, please read my review policy and considering reaching out.

Book #2 – The Billionaire Murders: The Mysterious Deaths of Barry & Honey Sherman πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ 

Book #2 - The Billionaire Murders

by: Kevin Donovan

Genre: True Crime
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

In The Billionaire Murders, I was dumped into the true-crime world again. This is only the second true crime book I’ve ever read. My first was The Forest City Killer by Vanessa Brown which I read in 2019. Since this story is about a Toronto murder case and written by a Canadian journalist, it was my choice for my next foray into the genre.

Here’s a bit of background info: Barry & Honey Sherman were found dead in their Toronto mansion in December 2017. Their deaths were first described as murder-suicides. But nothing about that made any sense to their family, close friends, and business partners. The Shermans were both entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Their wealth was worth billions. However, there are two sides to every story and what police may have painted as a murder-suicide may have in fact been homicide. Kevin Donovan, an investigative journalist, chronicles their lives, interviews those in their circle, and presents some information and talking points about this tragic event.

Unfortunately, I was a bit bored by this audiobook. I only enjoyed the beginning and end, and I found the middle really dragged on. I was interested more in the Shermans’ deaths and the investigation, rather than their history as a couple and their career backgrounds. It does point fingers at detectives because of how the investigation was mishandled, which I found fascinating. Their murder and death is still an open investigation but there are a lot of unanswered questions about who could have been responsible. I appreciated the author’s attempt at providing research and facts to readers. I just wish it was done so in a more interesting way.

Available to Purchase from Indigo Books / Amazon

RELATED POST: True Crime | The Forest City Killer

Book #3 – My Dark Vanessa

by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Book #3 - My Dark Vanessa

Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This is probably one of the most buzzed-about books that I have seen this Spring. My Dark Vanessa is a debut novel about a tumultuous relationship between a smart yet naive teenager and her charming and much older private school teacher. Told through alternate timelines, we are brought along for the ride of this relationship as if we were reading Vanessa’s private diary of thoughts. It’s thought-provoking, yet also troubling and dark. Before reading, I knew it would be heavy and I knew it would be difficult. But, I wasn’t ready for how it made me feel. ⁣

I have had past relationships with older men and I did feel wrecked after one of them ended. So reading this book brought up some of my own romantic illusions that I had about those relationships. That’s why I found it difficult to read this book for a longer stretch of time, preferring to read it in small chunks. It’s one of those books that has a topic that you have to read and empathize in to fully understand it, but that you wish it wasn’t necessary to have to read about at all.

However, the writing is excellent and I do hope that the author writes more in the future as she is a skilled storyteller. I have no doubt that I will always remember this book and my reading experience.

Available to Purchase from Indigo Books / Amazon

Book #4 – A Mind Spread Out on the Ground πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ 

Book #4 - Mind Spread Out on the Ground

by Alicia Elliott

Genre: Political Nonfiction & Essays
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground was a fascinating and insightful critical and narrative essay collection. The writing is powerful and it’s the type of book that has words that hit you hard and make you think. Alicia’s essays cover a range of themes and topics including depression & mental health, man vs. woman stereotypes, colonialism, sexual assault, abuse, and trauma, and Indigenous culture. There is so much to unpack from this book. It’s one of the most insightful essay collections that I’ve ever read. However, the final essay threw me for a loop.

This book should be read by any Canadian interested in social issues and the way that the world thinks. Alicia Elliot is an acclaimed Tuscarora writer from Six Nations of Grand River living in Brantford, Ontario. πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ 

Available to Purchase from Indigo Books / Amazon

Book #5 – You Deserve More! How to Reinvent Yourself at Any Age πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ 

by Jill Hartzog

Book #6 - You Deserve More!

Genre: Self-Help
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This book is a great starter guide to goal setting, making life changes, and self-improvement. It covers self-improvement in every area of your life, from career to healthy eating and fitness, to finances and more. There are tools and worksheets to help you along the way. As you read, you set your goals, determine what could hold you back, and create an action plan to push forward. It’s an intro to self-improvement and it helps you figure out what areas of your life you might want to dive into further.

As someone who isn’t a stranger to self-improvement books, there wasn’t alot in here that I didn’t already know. But it did jumpstart a new practice in my morning routine. I implemented quiet reading time into my morning. So now when I first wake up, I spend about 15 minutes reading some sort of personal or professional development content. I am finding this helps me ease into my day and it gets me started with both a reflective and a growth mindset.
⁣
Thank you to Jill for reaching out to me on social media and submitting a request for me to read her book. This one will also be on my shelf for future reference. Jill is from Newmarket, Ontario πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦.

Available to Purchase from Amazon

If you are an author or publisher with a book you think I should read, please read my review policy and considering reaching out.

Book #6 – East Coast Girls

by Kerry Kletter

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

East Coast Girls is about best friends Hannah, Blue, Maya, and Renee who were each other’s chosen family growing up as they navigated their toxic and neglectful blood family relationships. They were inseparable. Until a tragic incident occurred in the summer of their senior year of high school, changing everything. Twelve years later, the friends reunite (although not all willingly) in the place where they spent that fateful summer – Montauk Beach. Told through alternating narrators, we get a glimpse into the resentment filled lives of each character. What is the mysterious tragic incident that changed their lives forever? And how are they coping from their world being tossed upside down? Those are the questions each reader seeks to answer.

Unfortunately, this is a book that claims to be more than what it is. I actually found the “tragedy” to be far fetched and unrealistic. When it was revealed, it felt like watching a bad movie. These women are very stuck in the past. I couldn’t relate to any of them, except for Hannah (and only her constant worry and heightened anxiety). The writing was average. The perspective changed a lot but there was no difference in writing style. Unless I totally missed something, the official synopsis makes this book seem more than what it is.

Regardless of my rating, a bit thank you to Netgalley and MIRA/Harlequin for an advanced digital copy in exchange for an honest review. The publication date for this title was May 26th, 2020.

Available to Purchase from Indigo Books / Amazon

Book #7 – If You Must Know

Book - If You Must Know

by Jamie Beck

Genre: Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

If You Must Know by Jamie Beck follows the Foster family. Life turns upside down for sisters Amanda and Erin Foster who couldn’t be any more different. Amanda is a pulled-together, part-time early childhood educator, and expectant wife to her real-estate mogul husband Lyle. Erin is a struggling yoga-teaching, bath-bomb making free-spirit. ⁣However, the family’s separate but happy lives are all twisted by lies. Then a scandal breaks out involving Amanda’s husband that forces the family to come together, while also struggling with grief over the loss of their patriarch a year prior. ⁣

The biggest strength of this book was its fleshed-out female characters. I enjoyed the sister-sister and mother-daughter dynamics as they were untraditional from what I’ve seen before. However, the writing of this book was lacking. It was very simplistic and it didn’t have enough descriptive details. It is also a slow read. ⁣
⁣
RELATED: Full Review of If You Must Know

Available to Purchase from Indigo Books / Amazon

Book #8 – Girl Logic: The Genius and the Absurdity

Book - Girl Logic

by Iliza Shlesinger

Genre: Memoir/Humour
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

I am an Iliza Shlesinger fan. I enjoy her personality and her comedy. I’ve watched all of her Netflix comedy specials. Her humour amplifies her spot-on observations and insights of the modern-day woman. She’s blunt, does voices and impressions, and she gets excited when she talks. Iliza is my comedic flavour.

I enjoyed this book on audio and it was like listening to one of her stand-up shows. She was intriguing and laugh out loud funny. As women, we are known for our sometimes irrational way of thinking. Our minds are complicated thought webs. I know I’m prone to over-thinking, over-worrying, and over-complicating. Iliza recognizes those common behaviours in women and she seeks to explain them with real-life examples and observations. However, her book does focus mostly on single women and the dating world. I found this a bit hard to relate to since I’ve been with my boyfriend for over four years. But the essence of truth is still there and I could understand her points well enough. She talks a lot about girl power, voicing how and why we need to love ourselves first and not let others (mostly men) get inside our heads.

I’d recommend watching some of Iliza’s stand up before reading this book to make sure you enjoy her humour. But if you do, then this book should definitely be on your radar!

Available to Purchase from Indigo Books / Amazon

Book #9 – Get Your Sh*t Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do

by Sarah Knight

Book - Get Your Sh*t Together

Genre: Self-Help / Nonfiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

I joined the Thrive Bloggers Book Club this month to read and discuss this book with fellow bloggers. Get Your Sh*t Together is a straight forward guide to living your best life. It’s full of easy and to the point advice about how to organize your life in order to get more done and pursue your dreams.

I didn’t love this book. Not because it wasn’t blunt and full of sound advice. But because I felt burnt-out on the “live your best life” topic. Again, there wasn’t a lot in this book that I felt was new advice to me. I also felt like Sarah was trying way too hard to be funny. However, I did enjoy the conversation and discussion I had with others in the book club. My key takeaways from Sarah are 1) set goals that motivate you and that you can break down into small manageable chunks and 2) prioritize those chunks. Plan them into your day. Make sure you take action. And don’t get caught up in perfectionism because that cycle won’t get you anywhere.

So here’s a book that can motivate you to take action if you feel stuck, overwhelmed, and like you just want to get your head above water and start swimming.

Available to Purchase from Indigo Books / Amazon

Book #10 – The Home For Unwanted Girls πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ 

Book - Home for Unwanted Girls

by Joanna Goodman

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

It’s 1950’s Quebec and Maggie is fifteen years old when she has an unplanned pregnancy and is forced by her parents to give the baby up for adoption. Elodie winds up in a Montreal orphanage and is later declared mentally ill, like thousands of other orphans after a new law is passed. This book tells their stories through alternative perspectives as both navigate their hardships and circumstances throughout this tumultuous time in Quebec. It’s a story about mothers and daughters and the bond that can never be broken between them.

To everyone who told me this book was excellent, you were right! The writing was beautiful and enjoyable. I was engaged from the first few chapters. The story is engrossing and detailed. I can’t believe that I was unaware of this part of my country’s history. Also, I appreciate that this fictionalized story is based on real facts and stories of mothers and orphans. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but when I do I want it to be based on real events.

I look forward to reading more from Joanna Goodman, including the follow-up novel The Forgotten Daughter which will be released in October 2020!

Available to Purchase from Indigo Books / Amazon

There you have it! May is wrapped up with my ten mini book reviews for the books I read this month.

How was your reading month? What was your best read? And have you added any of these books to your own future TBR lists? Let me know in the comments below!

You know I love to chat with you about your reading life.

Until next time,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *