So many delightful books hit shelves in May that I’ve barely managed to keep up. For instance, you’ll have to wait a bit longer for my ‘Fool of Death’ review… But these seven absolute gems should keep you sated for a while, in order of release date:
Book Lovers by Emily Henry (5/3) – Give me a romance set in the publishing industry any day, even if not entirely accurate, and I’m a goner. Add narration from Julia Whelan, a solid enemies to lovers trope, a beautiful sister dynamic, and ALL the banter, and you’ve got Emily Henry’s latest, which I devoured in under 24 hours. A love letter to New York, the creative spirit, and sisterhood, Book Lovers is a delightful take on the ‘big city to small town’ Hallmark movie setup, except this heroine will choose the city every time. What I loved most was watching Nora learn to choose herself as well, a difficulty big sisters know all too well.
Book of Night by Holly Black (5/3) – A deliciously dark adult debut from Holly Black rife with occult imagery. The story jumped off the page and pulled me in, much like the shadows within. Charlie Hall is my favorite kind of anti-hero. Her and Vince’s backstories were woven beautifully into this tale of magic and mystery that came together in a wholly unexpected way (even though I certainly thought I knew what might come next). Black’s commentary on structures of power and trauma really shine in this one, but most of all, I loved the way she wrote the familial relationships, especially between Charlie and her sister, Posey. A marvelous standalone that has left me craving more.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston (5/3) – Casey McQuiston is the reigning champion of anthemic fiction and closing speeches; their latest is no different. While this one took a while to truly hook my attention (the pacing at the front end was tricky for me), the characters and their relationships to one another, especially over the course of the story, really shine. A+ banter. A+ queer discovery. I finished this with the biggest smile on my face, and the reminder that people can be turduckins. IYKYK
Everything for You by Chloe Liese (5/10) – Imagine, for a moment, that Ted Lasso is a queer romance set it in Manhattan Beach/LA. Now add a healthy dose of grumpy-sunshine and enemies to lovers, forced proximity and meddling family (blood & found), A+ banter and swoons, and heartfelt discussions of anxiety, chronic pain, and homophobia in sports. I could not put it down. The characters jumped off the page and pulled me in. Oliver got to showcase his prank prowess and his epic crayola uncle-ness. Gavin was the perfect Roy Kent FOIL with all his shades of grey and the most perfect friend group of poker grandpas. I just wanted to give both of them the biggest hugs as I quickly alternated between laughing so hard I cried and crying so hard I laughed. This one is quintessentially Chloe and I wouldn’t have it any other way. While EFU can be read as a stand-alone, if you have yet to read the Bergman Brothers books, I cannot recommend them highly enough. Read them in order, or not. But either way, I wish you endless giggles and swoons.
A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall (5/24) – Sheer perfection. The banter. The characters. The vibes. All of it. Completely and utterly perfect. Alexis Hall, we are not worthy. This one had me bookmarking left and right when I wasn’t too busy laughing hysterically, squee-ing, or misting up. The friendships that form and easy camaraderie between the women in this story are something to treasure, as is Little Bartholomew. Trans heroine. Friends to lovers with oblivious pining. Regency era. Need I say more?
Small Town Pride by Phil Stamper (5/31) – Phil Stamper’s middle grade debut takes all the heart and humor of his YA offerings and mixes in the perfect amount of gentleness. I adored this one – this small town group of friends (and at times undercover pride operatives) stole my heart. I loved how supportive Jake’s family is (to the point of accidental embarrassment & outing), how band-geeky his precocious best friend became, and I just wanted to squeeze Brett and tell him it was all going to be okay. There was something special (and oh so true) about the online world Jake was a part of leading him to create a better real world for himself and others. Watching him find his footing over the course of this story and fight to stay somewhere he loved vs finding acceptance elsewhere made my heart so happy. Oh, and did I mention the banter? *chef’s kiss*
Tokyo Dreaming by Emiko Jean (5/31) – Where Tokyo Ever After was about finding your family, ‘Tokyo Dreaming’ is about finding yourself amidst social and familial pressure. It was such a treat to visit with Izumi again and I loved the new characters and the fake dating trope, though I could have done with a different end game…