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For the Love of Reading: May 2023

I love when I can do a monthly reading summary on the first day of a new month, it just clicks in a particular way for me! Here’s what I read in the month of May:

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What do we tell our grown children about our lives before we had them? What memories do we keep for ourselves and what ones do we share, knowing that by sharing they will be forever altered? This book beautifully addresses those questions and more. It’s about family, relationships, hopes, and dreams all told as a family struggles with boredom, isolation, and farm work during the pandemic. There is a longing for the freedom and fun of youth along with a deep appreciation for the wisdom and stability that comes with age. The latest novel from Ann Patchett is as wonderful and moving as you might expect and I highly recommend it.
I wish given an advanced copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Weyward by Emilia Hart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
We never thought of ourselves as witches, my mother and I. For this was a word invented by men, a word that brings power to those who speak it, not those it describes. A word that builds gallows and pyres, turns breathing women into corpses.
I loved this book about 3 women in different time periods, all fighting against the patriarchy. I found the story to be compelling and enjoyed the way Hart connected the natural world to witchcraft, women’s intuition and power. The men in the book are terrible and pretty stereotyped but it works to solidify the plot and ignite righteous anger on behalf of the women they abuse. The setting is atmospheric and borderline creepy (hello spiders who are pets) and the cover is probably one of the prettiest book covers I’ve ever seen. Recommended.

The Dog of the North by Elizabeth Mckenzie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
If you think your life is a struggle, meet Penny. She’s sort of homeless, has a crazy grandmother, and missing parents. This quirky romp is madcap but also poignant, portraying valuable lessons in learning who you can count on and when to let go. Recommended.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Charming, quirky, and utterly adorable, this book is an enjoyable read. Like many introverts, Nina thinks she’s her best self when she’s alone. However, she comes to realize that the connections we make with others create the spaces we need to grow. There’s romance and trivia contests, laugh out loud moments and plenty of book references, I recommend this one for when you need to read something uplifting.

You Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir by Maggie Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I didn’t want this lemonade. My kids didn’t want this lemonade. This lemonade was not worth the lemons. And yet, the lemons were mine. I had to make something from them, so I did. I wrote.
This memoir is heartfelt and heartbreaking and truly captures the hurt and confusion felt after a betrayal and breakup. Smith reveals just enough details to help us understand her situation but not so many that it becomes accusatory or maudlin. It’s not surprisingly that her prose is poetic and I highly recommend this for anyone looking to figure out how to make lemonade out of the crappy lemons they have gotten despite not wanting them.

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It is not Good vs Evil out here. It is varying degrees of bad, squabbling with conglomerates of the wicked.
I had mixed reactions to this book. At the onset, I loved it and found it reminiscent of Lincoln in the Bardo. And then I was bored and distracted by trying to understand a political climate and time in history of Sri Lanka that I knew nothing about. And then I became caught up in the story and theme yet again. I’ve thought about it many times since finishing it and think it may have been the case of a great book at the wrong time for me. I will say this: the writing is gorgeous and captures an incredible range of emotions. It’s tragic and raw, and the humanity of it all is heartbreaking.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sometimes I just need to read a trashy thriller to cleanse my palate and this book came along at just the right time. Fast paced and easy to read with a plot that kept me guessing (I did my level best to try to not figure anything out) I recommend this for fans of popular thrillers and those who read strictly for entertainment value and not literary merit.

And that’s a wrap on my May reading. I hope you found something here that you’d like to read, too.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. What a great reading month, Carole! I am eager for the new Ann Patchett book! And I so loved Maggie Smith’s memoir (and I am so glad you did too!)

  2. I’m looking forward to Tom Lake! I almost always enjoy Ann Patchett and this one sounds intriguing. I have Dog of the North on hold, but quirky and madcap usually translates to ridiculous and irritating for me, so I’m not sure about this one.

  3. I have been curious about Maggie Smith’s book and Ann Patchett is always on my list so I appreciate your thoughts

  4. As you know, I always enjoy your reviews Carole. I’m looking forward to Tom Lake and have added Weyward to my TBR list. I have Dog of the North on my nightstand – due back to the library in a few days and am trying to figure out if I should renew it or not. Maybe I should read a chapter or two and see how it goes….the Maggie Smith memoir looks good too.

  5. It looks like you had a great reading month! I look forward to reading Tom Lake and Weyward sounds like something I might like.

  6. Did you figure it out? If I remember I don’t think I did or perhaps just at the very end. I love your reviews Carole – I always get a TBR!

  7. Seven Moons was my favorite book of last year and I read it again in March and love it all over again. Your last sentence of the review was exactly why he wrote the book. I got a kick out of Dog of the North. The story was all over the place, but that seemed to be the way that family worked. In the end I thought it was great (glad it didn’t make the short list for Women’s Prize). I am looking forward to Tom Lake and I have the Maggie Smith on my shelf. Thanks for your great reviews!

  8. As always, great reviews, Carole! 🙂 (And you’re right — sometimes nothing will do quite like a trashy thriller!)

  9. I’m so glad to see another 5-star review of Tom Lake … and I’m loving my quick journey through her 8 backlist novels to remind me what makes her one of my favorite authors. I wish I liked trashy thrillers … Romance is usually my genre of choice for that – because I know I can read it before bed and NOT have bad dreams 🙂

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