This is my monthly roundup of books that arrived on my shelves in May. I also share a bit of what’s been going on in our family’s lives as well. I am beyond excited for summer and to read again as May was a bit busy for us.

Holy moly! I never thought I would make it through the month of May, but I did. So many big events happened, it was hard to keep my emotions in check. Patrick ran in the Iowa High School State Track Meet. He made it for both the 3200 meters and 1600 meter races. Unfortunately, he got a stomach bug and didn’t run his best races, but he was there and finished and we were so proud.

Our daughter, Reagan was confirmed and Patrick graduated from high school on the same day. We celebrated the graduation at our home the next weekend with friends and family. Even though it was a bit warm, we had such a great time and are so thankful to everyone who had a piece in making Patrick the wonderful man he has become. 

Summer is finally here and I can’t wait to get back to my reading life. I have gotten graduation-central mostly put away and I finally feel like I can enjoy my summer. I have some great books to tell you about that arrived in my mailbox last month. I wish I could read them all at once!

By: Karen White
Published: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Hardcover

I found out I loved Karen White’s writing when I read her story in the compilation of stories in GRAND CENTRAL- ORIGINAL STORIES OF POST WAR LOVE AND REUNION and then as she collaborated and wrote THE FORGOTTEN ROOM with two other favorite authors.

It’s been nine years since Larkin fled Georgetown, South Carolina, vowing never to go back. But when she finds out that her mother has disappeared, she knows she has no choice but to return to the place that she both loves and dreads–and to the family and friends who never stopped wishing for her to come home. Ivy, Larkin’s mother, is discovered in the burned-out wreckage of her family’s ancestral rice plantation, badly injured and unconscious. No one knows why Ivy was there, but as Larkin digs for answers, she uncovers secrets kept for nearly 50 years. Secrets that lead back to the past, to the friendship between three girls on the brink of womanhood who swore that they would be friends forever, but who found that vow tested in heartbreaking ways.

A Novel
By: Janelle Brown
Published: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Format: Paperback

I’ve been on a suspense/mystery kick and I thought this one sounded like a good one to keep me guessing.

Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are.

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan–a Berkeley mom with an enviable life–went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. Her body was never found, just a shattered cellphone and a solitary hiking boot. Her husband and teenage daughter have been coping with Billie’s death the best they can: Jonathan drinks as he works on a loving memoir about his marriage; Olive grows remote, from both her father and her friends at the all-girls school she attends.

But then Olive starts having strange visions of her mother, still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he understood about his wife. Who was the woman he knew as Billie Flanagan?

Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth–about Billie, but also about themselves, learning, in the process, about all the ways that love can distort what we choose to see. Janelle Brown’s insights into the dynamics of intimate relationships will make you question the stories you tell yourself about the people you love, while her nervy storytelling will keep you guessing until the very last page.

By: Debra Finerman
Published: June 6, 2018
Publisher: Stewart’s Grove Press
Format: Paperback

This is definitely not my usual choice of book. A person coming back to life as their dog? I decided that it might just be the perfect light summer read.

What do you do when you’re attending your own funeral but can’t tell the love of your life that you’re there, perfectly alive? Your wife doesn’t recognize you because you look slightly different. Well, more than slightly. You’re now a dog.

You Lucky Dog is the unlikely love story of Jake and Emma, a young couple thrown into a very unusual situation.

Jake and Emma appear to have everything going for them. A young married couple, they live with their dog in the leafy suburbs of Los Angeles. But after a horrible accident changes the course of their lives forever, Jake finds himself alive but living outside his body, and in the body of his dog.

What follows is a hilarious and heartwarming tale of misplaced identity. You Lucky Dog explores the mysteries of life and death, and the enduring power of love, in a heartwarming story for animal lovers and all lovers.

By: Michael Okon
Published: April 6, 2018
Publisher: Wordfire Press
Format: Paperback

I doubt I will read this one, but my son is interested.

After Monsterland has been destroyed, the entire world is thrown into chaos. Wyatt Baldwin and his friends must go beyond the boundaries of their small town to reestablish contact with the outside world. During their journey they discover a new threat released from the bowels of the defunct theme park. The danger of werewolves, vampires and zombies pale in comparison to an army of relentless mummies, Vincent Conrad’s reanimated monster and the menace of a life-sucking ooze they call The Glob.  Wil Wyatt and his friends survive when they reenter the scariest place on earth?

A Heartfelt Guide for Grief, Healing, and Hope
By: Debbie Augenthaler
Published: May 1, 2018
Publisher: Everystep Publications
Format: Paperback

I’ve read a few books on grief lately. Since I used to work in Hospice, this topic has long been a special one to me. I have to be in the right mindset to read these though.

Are you grieving? Do you know someone who is grieving and you don’t know how to help them?
You Are Not Alone takes readers into Debbie’s personal journey of grief, from the first gripping chapter, when her husband dies unexpectedly in her arms. Throughout the book, Debbie takes readers by the hand and offers them gentle insights and suggestions for healing and hope, while sharing her powerful story of loss and the spiritual journey that led her to know love never dies.

The Surprising Science of Looking and Feeling Radiant from the Inside Out
By: Whitney Bowe, MD with Kristin Loberg
Published: April 17, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Format: Hardcover

I think I have done a pretty good job of taking care of my skin. But as I have hit the mid-40’s, I’ve noticed more and more changes to the moisture level of my skin, more age spots, and a dullness. I’m anxious to hear what this book has to say and what the 21-day plan is all about.

Every year, nearly 80 million Americans will consult their doctors about their skin. In fact, skin disorders beat out anxiety, depression, back pain, and diabetes as the number one reason Americans see their doctors. Unfortunately, however, the vast majority will receive only a surface-level treatment, leaving the underlying conditions at the root of their skin issues unresolved. Skin doesn’t lie; it reflects overall health in unimaginable ways.

In The Beauty of Dirty Skin, internationally renowned dermatologist and scientist Dr. Whitney Bowe shows readers that skin health is much more than skin deep. As a pioneering researcher on the cutting edge of the gut-brain-skin axis, she explains how the spectrum of skin disorders — from stubborn acne and rosacea to psoriasis, eczema, and premature wrinkling — are manifestations of irregularities rooted in the gut. Lasers, scalpels, creams, and prescription pads alone will not guarantee the consistently healthy, glowing skin we all seek. Instead, Dr. Bowe focuses on the microbiome — where trillions of microbes “speak” to your skin via the brain — and highlights the connection between sleep, stress, diet, gastrointestinal health, and the health of your skin. 

With simple explanations of the science, do-it-yourself practical skincare strategies, and a life-changing 21-day program, The Beauty of Dirty Skin is your roadmap to great skin from the inside out and the outside in.

By: Emily Ley
Published: November 21, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Format: Hardcover

I’m a huge fan of Emily Ley, her planner and her attitude on life. I just finished her first book, GRACE, NOT PERFECTION and took so many notes from it. I’m anxious to dig into this one. I purchased this one for myself.

In A Simplified Life, you’ll find Emily’s strategies, systems, and methods for permanently clearing the clutter, organizing your priorities, and living intentionally in 10 key areas—from your home and meal planning, to style and finances, parenting, faith life, and moreEmily will show you how to truly make the most of your days with realistic, achievable, and tactical tools.

Walk alongside Emily through each page of the book, working through her simple strategies toward your own goals as you simplify and make space for what matters most.

The True Story of a Real Fake
By: Frank W. Abagnale, Stan Redding
Published: August 1, 2000
Publisher: Broadway Books
Format: eBook

This was a Kindle Daily Deal and it also happens to be the musical our school is doing this coming Fall. I am not familiar with the story so I thought it would be a great idea to read all about it.

I stole every nickel and blew it on fine threads, luxurious lodgings, fantastic foxes and other sensual goodies. I partied in every capital in Europe and basked on all the world’s most famous beaches’. Frank W Abagnale, alias Frank Williams, Robert Conrad, Frank Adams and Ringo Monjo, was one of the most daring con men, forgers, imposters and escape artists in history. In his brief but notorious career, Abagnale donned a pilot’s uniform and copiloted a Pan Am jet, masqueraded as a member of hospital management, practiced law without a license, passed himself off as a college sociology professor, and cashed over $2.5 million in forged checks all before he was twenty-one. Known by the police of twenty-six foreign countries and all fifty states as ‘The Skywayman’, Abagnale lived a sumptuous life on the run – until the law caught up with him. Now recognized as the nation’s leading authority on financial foul play, Abagnale is a charming rogue whose hilarious, stranger-than-fiction international escapades and ingenious escapes – including one from an aeroplane – make CATCH ME IF YOU CAN an irresistible tale of deceit.

A Month – by – Month Guide to Classics and Crowd-Pleasers for You or Your Book Group
By: Elisabeth Ellington and Jane Freimiller
Published: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Format: eBook

This was a Kindle Deal and I love reading about a love of books.

Thousands of new books are published each year, and if you’re a book lover – or just book curious – choosing what to read next can seem like an impossible task. A Year of Reading relieves the anxiety by helping you find just the right read and includes fun and interactive subcategories for each choice, including:

– Description and history
– Extra credit
– Did You Know?
– Have You Seen the Film?
– and more!

A Year of Reading also gives advice and tips on how to join or start a book group, and where to look for other reading recommendations. Perfect for clubs or passionate individuals, this beautiful and concise second edition is the essential guide to picking up your next inspiring, entertaining, and thought-provoking book.

A Novel
By: Lorna Landvik
Published: April 19, 2005
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format: eBook

One of my favorite books is WELCOME TO THE GREAT MYSTERIOUS by Landvik. I’ve been wanting to read some of her backlist novels and this one was a Kindle Deal so I snagged it.

I am convinced that at birth the cake is already baked. Nurture is the nuts or frosting, but if you’re a spice cake, you’re a spice cake, and nothing is going to change you into an angel food.

Tall, slender Violet Mathers is growing up in the Great Depression, which could just as well define her state of mind. Abandoned by her mother as a child, mistreated by her father, and teased by her schoolmates (“Hey, Olive Oyl, where’s Popeye?”), the lonely girl finds solace in artistic pursuits. Only when she’s hired by the town’s sole feminist to work the night shift in the local thread factory does Violet come into her name, and bloom. Accepted by her co-workers, the teenager enters the happiest phase of her life, until a terrible accident causes her to retreat once again into her lonely shell.

Realizing that she has only one clear choice, Violet boards a bus heading west to California. But when the bus crashes in North Dakota, it seems that Fate is having another cruel laugh at Violet’s expense. This time though, Violet laughs back. She and her fellow passengers are rescued by two men: Austin Sykes, whom Violet is certain is the blackest man to ever set foot on the North Dakota prairie, and Kjel Hedstrom, who inspires feelings Violet never before has felt. Kjel and Austin are musicians whose sound is like no other, and with pluck, verve, and wit, Violet becomes part of their quest to make a new kind of music together. 

By: Allison Pataki
Narrated by: Allison Pataki
Published: May 1, 2018
Publisher: Random House
Format: Audiobook

I am always moved by these types of memoirs. They are my favorite types of audiobooks to listen to. My subscription is close to being up on Audible and so I cashed in my last credits with a few books I’ve been interested in. 

A deeply moving memoir about two lives that were changed in the blink of an eye, and the love that helped them rewrite their future

Five months pregnant, on a flight to their “babymoon,” Allison Pataki turned to her husband when he asked if his eye looked strange, and watched him suddenly lose consciousness. After an emergency landing, she discovered that Dave—a healthy thirty-year-old athlete and surgical resident—had suffered a rare and life-threatening stroke. Next thing Allison knew, she was sitting alone in the ER in Fargo, North Dakota, waiting to hear if her husband would survive the night.

When Dave woke up, he could not carry memories from hour to hour, much less from one day to the next. Allison lost the Dave she knew and loved when he lost consciousness on the plane. Within a few months, she found herself caring for both a newborn and a sick husband, struggling with the fear of what was to come.

As a way to make sense of the pain and chaos of their new reality, Allison started to write daily letters to Dave. Not only would she work to make sense of the unfathomable experiences unfolding around her, but her letters would provide Dave with the memories he could not make on his own. She was writing to preserve their past, protect their present, and fight for their future. Those letters became the foundation for this beautiful, intimate memoir. And in the process, she fell in love with her husband all over again.

This is a manifesto for living, an ultimately uplifting story about the transformative power of faith and resilience. It’s a tale of a husband’s turbulent road to recovery, the shifting nature of marriage, and the struggle of loving through pain and finding joy in the broken places.

By: Tina Fey
Narrated by: Tina Fey
Published: April 5, 2001
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Format: Audiobook

I wasn’t sure I would like this one, but more and more people keep telling me I need to read it, so I grabbed it with one of my last Audible credits.

Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon—from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

By: Lauren Graham
Narrated by: Lauren Graham
Published: November 29, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format: Audiobook

This one has also come up a few times as one I should read. I have watched a few episodes of “The Gilmore Girls” and really liked it. So, I used an Audible credit for this one too.

In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood—along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.

In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).

In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she’s aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls (“If you’re meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you’ve already set the bar too high”), and she’s a card-carrying REI shopper (“My bungee cords now earn points!”).

Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and—of course—talking as fast as you can. 

By: Nora Carpenter
Illustrated by: Mark Chambers
Published: May 29, 2018
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Format: Hardcover

I think yoga is great for adults and kids. I’ve used yoga poses when I’m subbing in elementary classrooms to give kids a brain break.

Frog loves to practice yoga. And he will inspire kids to enjoy doing yoga, too. Follow Frog’s yoga flow, from warming up to cooling down. Start with the mountain and chair poses, then work into giraffe, cat-cow, downward-facing dog, butterfly, and bridge. End with the quieting happy baby and savasana poses to help your muscles relax before going to bed or starting your day. For fans of Yoga Bunny and I Am Yoga, Yoga Frog’s simple, meditative text is complemented by playful yet instructive illustrations by Mark Chambers to teach youngsters how to start their very own yoga practice–and to have fun while doing so, too.

By: Amy Dixon
Published: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Format: Hardcover

This sounds like a great middle-grade novel.

Eleven-year-old Annie Brown is used to being on the losing end of comparisons to her almost-always best friend Savannah. Savannah is MVP of the track team, has straight As, and, predictably, wins the most coveted school spirit award on the last day of 5th grade. Fortunately, Annie does have one very specialized skill.

Inspired by As Seen on TV commercials, Annie likes to invent products and write clever sales pitches to go along with them. So when an opportunity arises to audition for a local web show called The Cat’s Meow, Annie knows her future is set. She’s going to wow those producers with her fabulous writing and made-for-TV announcer voice.

Of course, things don’t happen quite according to plan, and soon Annie is worried about losing both the opportunity she’s been training for her whole life and her best friend.

STARTALK – Young Readers Edition
Everything You Need to Know About Space Travel, Sci-Fi, the Human Race, the Universe, and Beyond
By: Neil deGrasse Tyson and Charles Liu
Published: March 20, 2018
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books
Format: Paperback

I always find these types of books so fascinating. Even though they are marketed to kids, I always learn lots of new things!

For decades, beloved astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has interpreted science with a combination of brainpower and charm that resonates with fans everywhere. In 2009, he founded StarTalk, the wildly popular podcast that became an Emmy-nominated talk show on the National Geographic Channel in 2015. Tyson’s pioneering book takes the greatest hits from the airwaves to the page in one smart, richly illustrated compendium for young adult readers. Featuring vivid photography, thought-provoking sidebars, enlightening facts, and fun quotes from science and entertainment luminaries like Bill Nye and Josh Groban, StarTalk reimagines science’s most challenging topics–from how the brain works to the physics of comic book superheroes–in a relatable, humorous way that will attract curious young readers.

How to Ace an Interview, Change a Tire, Talk to a Guy, and 97 Other Skills You Need to Thrive
By: Erica and Jonathan Catherman
Published: May 15, 2018
Publisher: Revell
Format: Paperback

This would be a great book to gift for graduation, new job, etc.

There’s a lot a girl needs to know as she grows up and makes her way in the world. Having a reference guide of practical how-to life skills and character traits can empower her to become a confident and capable woman. Coauthors Erica and Jonathan Catherman offer this collection of step-by-step instructions on 100 things girls need to succeed, including how to

– introduce yourself
– change a flat tire
– respectfully break up with a guy
– leave a tip
– apply for a job
– ask for a promotion
– behave during a police stop
– create a personal budget
– calculate square footage
– wash your face
– clear a clogged drain
– iron a shirt
– wear a scarf
– shoot a basketball
– sharpen kitchen knives
– and much more

In fact, if it’s in here, it’s an important skill or character trait practiced by capable and confident women. With great illustrations and sidebars of advice from world-class experts, this all-in-one reference tool for young women in the making is the perfect gift for birthdays, graduations, or any occasion.

I’m linking up with THE DELIBERATE READER for her monthly feature NEW ON THE STACK. To see other bloggers’ new books from May, click HERE.

Phew! That is a lot of books! I’m excited to dig in and share my thoughts with you soon!

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1 Comment

  1. Tina on June 4, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    You have some good books lined up! I have several of them on my to-read list. I will warn you that Catch me if you Can is written from the point of view of a young man who only lusts after one thing – women! You'll get an eye roll out of it here and there and it's a bit different from the movie but I wanted to know the story.

    Congrats on the celebrations and graduation!

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