Stacie Headshot with Books

This is my monthly roundup of books that I added to my shelves in May 2024. Some of the books came directly from authors or publishers, others were a purchase or a gift. You’ll find books from all kinds of genres including adult and children’s books. I’ll even share a few updates from our family’s life in the last month as well.

Family and Life Update

May was a FULL month. I had to just keep telling myself that I had to get through one more week or one more day. The end of the school year always includes a lot of subbing and we also had jam-packed week nights and weekends as well. One of the things that dominated our month was celebrating all kinds of graduations both with family and friends.

It was fun to have cousins together for a day to celebrate my great-nephew and great-niece’s graduations.

I had a quiet Mother’s Day at home but saw my mom the day before at the graduation parties.

May was also the month of moving! Reagan moved home for the summer!

Bennett moved to Des Moines and started his career as a financial analyst while living with his best friend from high school.

Patrick and Bekah bought a house in Pella and we are so happy for them for them to make lifelong memories in this home and community.

On Memorial Day we dedicated the crosses we had made for the Veteran’s graves in memory of my dad. He had made wooden crosses many years ago, but they have needed to be replaced. These crosses are a coated metal and will last for many, many years. It was emotional to see the crosses grace the 62 Veteran’s graves including my dad’s.

Now on to the books! 

As you can see, May didn’t leave a lot of downtime for reading. I’m certainly ready for lazy summer days of reading. I still finished 5 books this month and I’ve got some great books to share with you today. I haven’t watched much TV but I finished Survivor and American Idol. I’m completely thrilled that Abi Carter was chosen as the American Idol. I loved her from the beginning. I also cheered when Mackenzie won Survivor even though Charlie was my #1. Kenzie was my #2. It was such a great season! I also finished My Secret Octopus on Hulu. Wow. What a fascinating creature. It is just 3 episodes and is narrated by Paul Rudd. It’s just fantastic. We also saw the movie The Fall Guy and it was a funny and action-filled movie that we really enjoyed.


Be sure to follow me on Instagram, HERE to see snippets of what I’m reading or what’s going on in my daily life.

If you have missed any of my recent book reviews, you can see all of them by clicking, HERE.  Or you can stay up to date with my monthly Quick Lit Roundup.

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May 2024 Books


The Year of Living Constitutionally cover

One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Constitution’s Original Meaning
By: A.J. Jacobs
Published: May 7, 2024
Publisher: Crown
Format: Hardcover for Review

I really loved Jacobs’ book PUZZLEMAKERS. He is most known for the book THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY. This new book follows that same format. Jacobs attempts to get inside the minds of our Founding Fathers and live as close to the meaning of the Constitution as possible.

The New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically attempts to follow the original meaning of the Constitution in search of answers to one of the most pressing issues of our How should we interpret America’s foundational document?

Is the Constitution a living document that needs to evolve with the times? Or should we try to divine the original meaning that our Founding Fathers intended, and hew to that as strictly as possible, as present-day originalists suggest?

In The Year of Living Constitutionally , A.J. Jacobs tries to get inside the minds of the Founding Fathers by living as closely as possible to the original meaning of the Constitution. He exercises his Second Amendment rights by marching around Manhattan with a colonial musket. He asserts his right to free speech by writing his opinions on parchment and handing them out in Times Square. He turns his home into a traditional 1790s household by lighting candles, boiling mutton, and—because women were not allowed to sign contracts—taking over the household finances from his much more business-savvy wife.

The book blends unforgettable adventures—traveling to the Capitol to personally deliver a list of grievances to Congress, consenting to quarter soldiers in his apartment, and battling Redcoats as part of a Revolutionary War reenactment group–with dozens of interviews from constitutional experts from both sides of the debate. Much like he did with the Bible in The Year of Living Biblically , Jacobs provides a crash course on our Constitution as he experiences the benefits and perils of living like it’s the 1790s. In the process, he showcases the potentially dangerous effects originalism has on our democracy as well as the progress we’ve made since the time of its writing in 1789, when, for instance, life expectancy was forty-five years and married women couldn’t own property.

Now more than ever, Americans need to understand the meaning and value of the Constitution. As conservative politicians and Supreme Court Justices continue to argue for a more literal interpretation of the Constitution, A.J. Jacobs provides an entertaining yet illuminating look into how this storied document fits into our democracy today.

Your Forgotten Sons cover

By: Anne Montgomery
Published: June 6, 2024
Publisher: Next Chapter
Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback for Review

Based on a true story and set during WWII? I’m sold. A young soldier is assigned to the Graves Registration Service while also leaving behind a new wife with a secret past. I can’t wait to read this one.

Bud Richardville is inducted into the Army as the United States prepares to enter World War II in 1943.

A chance comment has Bud assigned to the Graves Registration Service, where his unit is tasked with locating, identifying, and burying the dead. Bud ships out, leaving behind his new wife, a mysterious woman who has stolen his heart but whose shadowy past leaves many unanswered questions.

When Bud and his men hit the beach at Normandy, they are immediately thrust into the horrors of what working in a graves unit entails. Bud is beaten down by the gruesome demands of his job and losses in his personal life, but then he meets Eva, an optimistic soul who despite the war can see a positive future. Will Eva’s love be enough to save him?

All the Glimmering Stars cover

By: Mark Sullivan
Published: May 7, 2024
Publisher: Lake Union
Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover for Review

Sullivan is best known for his book, BENEATH A SCARLET SKY, which I loved. This synopsis grabbed me by the throat and I knew I needed to read it.

Anthony Opoka and Florence Okori are coming of age in Uganda in the 1990s. Outstanding students, they believe in being good humans before they are kidnapped and forced into the fanatical Lord’s Resistance Army.

In a legion of young recruits, no one gets closer than Anthony to powerful messianic warlord Joseph Kony and his darkest secrets. To stay sane as he spirals through chaos, Anthony clings to his childhood lessons about being a good human. Florence’s upbringing grounds her, too, helping her keep her dreams alive even as she’s pulled deeper into the insanity of Kony’s war.

At the lowest points of their lives, certain they’ll never go home, Anthony and Florence meet by chance, fall in love, and begin to dream of surviving their captivity. They devote their lives to helping their fellow child soldiers escape bondage and return to their families and redemption by following the stars.

By turns tender, shocking, moving, desperate, and ultimately triumphant, Florence and Anthony’s story is an epic drama of humanity, a life-affirming tale, and an experience readers will never forget.

By Any Other Name cover

By: Jodi Picoult
Published: August 20, 2024
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Historical Fiction
Format: eBook for Review

I still pinch myself every time I receive a Jodi Picoult book for review. Her books are usually published in October (my birthday month) but this one is publishing this August. This is a hefty one at over 500 pages.

Two women, centuries apart—one of whom is the real author of Shakespeare’s plays—are both forced to hide behind another name to make their voices heard.

In 1581, Emilia Bassano—like most young women of her day—is allowed no voice of her own. But as the Lord Chamberlain’s mistress, she has access to all theater in England, and finds a way to bring her work to the stage secretly. And yet, creating some of the world’s greatest dramatic masterpieces comes at great cost: by paying a man for the use of his name, she will write her own out of history.

In the present, playwright Melina Green has just written a new work inspired by the life of her Elizabethan ancestor Emilia Bassano. Although the challenges are different four hundred years later, the playing field is still not level for women in theater. Would Melina—like Emilia—be willing to forfeit her credit as author, just for a chance to see her work performed?

Told in intertwining narratives, this sweeping tale of ambition, courage, and desire asks what price each woman is willing to pay to see their work live on—even if it means they will be forgotten.

Best Laid Plans #1
By: Grace Hitchcock
Published: May 21, 2024
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Christian Historical Romance
Format: eBook for Review

This is the first in an expected series. This isn’t my typical type of read, but I’ll give it a shot. This might be great for Jane Austen fans or Bridgerton fans but on the cleaner, closed-door side.

Sometimes the only way to outsmart a scandal is to find a crown big enough to silence it

Muriel Beau, country baker turned heiress, can’t stop instigating outrage. She discards two arranged engagements, then further antagonizes in Kent society by publicly proposing to a baron at a ball. His rejection leaves her with no choice but to flee to the city and to secure a coronet so splendid that her peers will forget her debacles. The glitter of the London courts convinces Muriel that it’s possible to find the future she dreams of, until she finds herself entangled in yet another escapade–one that may cost her more than her crumbling reputation.

After years of serving as a privateer under an assumed name, Captain Erik Draycott, heir to Draycott Castle and soon to assume his uncle’s title of Earl, returns to his London home to find it in disrepair thanks to his longtime nemesis. A staunch bachelor intent on returning to his ship, the captain now finds himself in dire need of a wife. But while his pauper status causes the potential London brides to turn their noses up at him, the captain is shocked when his mentor encourages him to retire and take a wife. But while his alleged pauper status causes the potential London brides to turn their noses up at him, the ladies of Kent have no such qualms and are eager to fill his coffers with their fathers’ wealth. When he encounters the unconventional Muriel Beau and she becomes embroiled in his risky undertaking, Erik is torn between staying put to protect this enchanting country lady and heeding the call of the high seas.

This Ain's No Promised Land cover

By: Tina Shelton
Published: March 19, 2024
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Christian Fiction
Format: eBook for Review

Set in 1980s Chicago, a mom leaves her children behind after a tragedy. It’s said to be similar to BLACK CAKE, which I loved.

No matter how far you run, you can’t escape yourself–or outrun the love of God

When her husband dies, Charlotte can’t face the things she’s done, things that could tear her family apart. So she drops a goodbye letter in the cookie jar and flees south to escape everything–her life, her three daughters, the mistakes she’s made, and the secrets that have been eating her alive. She’s desperate to find the peace she’s looking for somewhere out there.

Now Gracey and her sisters are alone on Chicago’s South Side with nothing but their home and their belongings, not a parent to be seen. They’re doing everything they can to stay together as a family. But three young girls–sixteen, fourteen, and twelve–aren’t meant to parent themselves. The close-knit community gathers around them to keep them fed and clothed with the utilities on, but it isn’t enough. The girls are struggling and making destructive decisions as a way of coping with abandonment.

Hundreds of miles away, Charlotte is trying to keep her own head above water. She’s made a close friend who talks to her about God in a way Charlotte’s never heard before. But when her demons catch up to her, she must face her past head-on. Will she be able to find the courage to embrace motherhood? And will that be enough not to lose her family altogether?

Love Overboard cover

By: Shannon Sue Dunlap
Published: May 21, 2024
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Christian Romance
Format: eBook for Review

Not my typical read but sounds like a fun one for summer.

A snort-laughing, cruise ship romance takes readers into topsy-turvy waters. When a group of four quirky friends retire on a neverending round of cruises, their attire consists of more than floral shirts and gaudy skirts. Armed with walkie-talkies and battle plans, these relationship experts–who’ve dubbed themselves the “Shippers”–target hostess Lacey Anderson and director Jonathan King in their romantic schemes. But the young couple refuses to cooperate. They’ve been on the “love boat” together before, and it went down in flames.
Boss matchmaker Emily Windsor has orchestrated multiple romantic successes, and these two upstarts certainly won’t get the best of her. The chemistry between Lacey and Jonathan is obvious, but the couple rebuffs every outlandish plot and “coincidental” meeting, forcing the matchmakers to chart a new course to true love–all while inadvertently thwarting drug smugglers threatening to ruin their floating home on the ocean.

The Days I Loved You Most cover

By: Amy Neff
Published: July 30, 2024
Publisher: Park Row
Historical Fiction
Format: eBook for Review

Jodi Picoult and Pam Jenoff have already raved about this novel. That’s enough of a reason for me to read it and it’s Neff’s debut novel. That is high praise!

In the summer of 1941, on the New England shores where they were raised, Evelyn and Joseph fell in love. Now, more than sixty years later, with a lifetime between them, they have gathered their three grown children to share the staggering news: she has received a tragic diagnosis, and he cannot live without her. So in one year’s time, they will end their lives on their own terms.

As the couple comes to grips with their fate, they retrace their past—the joys and regrets, the laughter and the sorrow—that brought them to this moment. They embark on a journey to live out their greatest dreams and to comfort and connect with each of their children before they’re gone. But as their final days draw closer, they must confront the stark reality of what they are about to do, and make peace with the legacy they will leave behind for their family.

Spanning the twentieth century from World War II to 9/11 and beyond, The Days I Loved You Most is a timeless tale of unwavering devotion — a moving tribute to the enduring power of love and a reminder that even in the darkest moments, there is always hope and beauty to be found.

Guilty Creatures cover

Sex, God, and Murder in Tallahassee, Florida
By: Mikita Brottman
Published: July 23, 2024
Publisher: Atria
Non-Fiction/True Crime
Format: eBook for Review

After reading COLLEGE GIRL, MISSING, I thought I might try another true crime read.

On the face of it, Denise Williams and Brian Winchester had the perfect, quintessentially Southern lives. The two were hardworking devout Baptists and together, with their respective spouses, formed a tight-knit friendship that seemed unbreakable. That is, until December 16, 2000, when Denise’s husband Mike disappeared while duck hunting on Lake Seminole on the border of Georgia and Florida.

After no body was found, it was assumed that he had drowned and was consumed by alligators in a tragic accident. But things took an unexpected turn when Brian divorced his wife and married Denise. Their surprising marriage was far from happy and in 2018, he confessed to police he killed Mike with Denise’s help nearly two decades earlier.

Now, the full, shocking story is revealed by Mikita Brottman, acclaimed true crime writer and “one of today’s finest practitioners of nonfiction” ( The New York Times Book Review ). With tenacious investigating and clear-eyed prose, she exposes the dark underbelly of far-right conservative Christianity and how it led Brian to choose murder over adultery. A fascinating and in-depth page-turner, Guilty Creatures is destined to become an instant classic in the true crime genre.

Dear Eliza cover

By: Andrea J. Stein
Published: October 8, 2024
Publisher: Flashpoint
Format: eBook for Review

I love family stories with secrets.

Ten years after her mother’s death, Eliza Levinger never imagined she’d hear from her again. But then The Letter arrived.

Eliza’s world broke apart when she was sixteen and her mom died of cancer. Now, years later, she has rebuilt her life to include a director-of-development job at a nonprofit, a Manhattan apartment, and an easy-on-the-eyes bedroom buddy—just the kind of no-strings relationship she wants, even if it’s less than her best friend, Mo, thinks she deserves. But when Eliza’s dad dies unexpectedly, her beloved aunt Claude arrives at the shiva with a letter from her mom—to be opened only after her father’s death. Inside the letter? A bombshell.

Suddenly, all of Eliza’s relationships are upended. Her brother is angry, her stepmother is threatening to disinherit her, and Mo—who has always been her rock—doesn’t seem to understand what she’s going through. But as Eliza struggles to cope with the shocking news, she finds an unexpected ally—her brother’s best friend, Josh—her high school crush, whom she’s tried hard to forget. It’s not in Eliza’s nature to trust . . . but maybe it’s time for that to change. Perfect for fans of Emily Giffin, Katherine Center, and Jennifer Weiner, Dear Eliza explores the meaning of family, the complexities of grief, and the beauty in finding your way again.

What Time the Sexton's Spade doth Rust

Flavia de Luce #11
By: Alan Bradley
Published: September 3, 2024
Publisher: Bantam
Format: eBook for Review

I’ve only read the first book in the Flavia de Luce series, but I loved it. So, I guess I need to read the next 9 novels so I can get this new one read! I will probably try to do most of them on audio since they are usually quick reads.

In the absence of adult supervision, Flavia has taken on the mentorship of her “pestilent” younger cousin Undine. Undine too seems fascinated by mayhem. Flavia has nigglings of doubt about her motivations. Has Undine inherited her dead mother’s darkness? Or worse?

A mysterious villager, Major Goodinall, a virtual hermit and former public hangman with stomach-curdling deeds in his past, has been found dead, killed by ingesting poisonous mushrooms.

In her search for the murderer, Flavia becomes entangled with the families of those who have lost relatives to the dead man, only to be led to the most unlikely of suspects.

In all honesty, some of the books I’m sharing today were found on my trip in late April. Due to timing, I had to save them for this month’s post. On Independent Bookstore Day, the last Saturday in April, I spent the morning with my nephew walking around Bemidji. We ventured into their bookstore, Four Pines, and shared our favorite books with each other. Of course, I made a purchase as well. Magically, we happened about a sale at the local senior center selling puzzles for $2! TWO DOLLARS! But, they also had a huge book sale in the back where you could fill your sack for $3. So, many of this month’s books came from that book sale as well as a few thrift stores in Minneapolis.

Bug Music cover

How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise
By: David Rothenberg
Published: April 16, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Format: Thrifted Paperback

I don’t know anything about this author. He also wrote WHY BIRDS SING, which I also need to add to my list. But, I love the idea of music coming from communication between bugs. I have no idea how technical it is or isn’t, but I’m definitely curious about it. Especially with the cicada emergence that will be happening here soon.

In the spring of 2013 the cicadas in the Northeastern United States will yet again emerge from their seventeen-year cycle—the longest gestation period of any animal. Those who experience this great sonic invasion compare their sense of wonder to the arrival of a comet or a solar eclipse. This unending rhythmic cycle is just one unique example of how the pulse and noise of insects has taught humans the meaning of rhythm, from the whirr of a cricket’s wings to this unfathomable and exact seventeen-year beat.

In listening to cicadas, as well as other humming, clicking, and thrumming insects, Bug Music is the first book to consider the radical notion that we humans got our idea of rhythm, synchronization, and dance from the world of insect sounds that surrounded our species over the millions of years over which we evolved. Completing the trilogy he began with Why Birds Sing and Thousand Mile Song, David Rothenberg explores a unique part of our relationship with nature and sound—the music of insects that has provided a soundtrack for humanity throughout the history of our species. Bug Music continues Rothenberg’s in-depth research and spirited writing on the relationship between human and animal music, and it follows him as he explores insect influences in classical and modern music, plays his saxophone with crickets and other insects, and confers with researchers and scientists nationwide.

This engaging and thought-provoking book challenges our understanding of our place in nature and our relationship to the creatures surrounding us, and makes a passionate case for the interconnectedness of species.

Home Work cover

A Memoir of My Hollywood Years
By: Julie Andrews with Emma Watson Hamilton
Published: October 15, 2019
Publisher: Hachette
Format: Thrifted Hardcover

I have loved Julie Andrews for a very long time. Mary Poppins is one of my all-time favorite movies. Her memoir has been on my list for a long time and this was a favorite find from that weekend.

In Home, the number one New York Times international bestseller, Julie Andrews recounted her difficult childhood and her emergence as an acclaimed singer and performer on the stage.
With this second memoir, Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years, Andrews picks up the story with her arrival in Hollywood and her phenomenal rise to fame in her earliest films–Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Andrews describes her years in the film industry — from the incredible highs to the challenging lows. Not only does she discuss her work in now-classic films and her collaborations with giants of cinema and television, she also unveils her personal story of adjusting to a new and often daunting world, dealing with the demands of unimaginable success, being a new mother, the end of her first marriage, embracing two stepchildren, adopting two more children, and falling in love with the brilliant and mercurial Blake Edwards. The pair worked together in numerous films, including Victor/Victoria, the gender-bending comedy that garnered multiple Oscar nominations.

Cowritten with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, and told with Andrews’s trademark charm and candor, Home Work takes us on a rare and intimate journey into an extraordinary life that is funny, heartrending, and inspiring.

The Book of Famous Iowans cover
Version 1.0.0

By: Douglas Bauer
Published: January 1, 1997
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Historical Fiction
Format: Thrifted Paperback

I’ve never heard of this book but it had to come home with me. It only has 1 rating on Amazon and 64 on Goodreads, so it’s a pretty unknown novel yet it’s from a big publisher.

Will Vaughn looks back in a painful retrospective at the controversy surrounding his mother’s love affair and subsequent departure from the small town of New Holland, recounting the story of his parents’ marriage, life on the farm, and their final break

The Stranger in the Lifeboat cover

By: Mitch Albom
Published: November 2, 2021
Publisher: Harper
Format: Thrifted Hardcover

I love Albom’s books even though I haven’t read one lately nor have I ever shared his books that I’ve read on the blog. I think I’m pretty far behind in reading his recent releases. But, his stories are also page-turners and full of life lessons. This one sounds especially interesting to me.

Adrift in a raft after a deadly ship explosion, ten people struggle for survival at sea. Three days pass. Short on water, food and hope, they spot a man floating in the waves. They pull him in. “Thank the Lord we found you,” a passenger says. “I am the Lord,” the man whispers. So begins Mitch Albom’s most beguiling novel yet.

When the Emperor was Divine cover

By: Julie Otsuka
Published: October 14, 2003
Publisher: Anchor
Historical Fiction
Format: Thrifted Paperback

I’ve read two of Otsuka’s books, THE BUDDHA IN THE ATTIC and THE SWIMMERS. This one was her debut novel. She has a unique writing style and her short books always pack a punch.

Julie Otsuka’s commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese internment camps unlike any we have ever seen. With crystalline intensity and precision, Otsuka uses a single family to evoke the deracination “both physical and emotional” of a generation of Japanese Americans.

In five chapters, each flawlessly executed from a different point of view “the mother receiving the order to evacuate; the daughter on the long train ride to the camp; the son in the desert encampment; the family’s return to their home; and the bitter release of the father after more than four years in captivity” she has created a small tour de force, a novel of unrelenting economy and suppressed emotion.

Spare, intimate, arrestingly understated, When the Emperor Was Divine is a haunting evocation of a family in wartime and an unmistakably resonant lesson for our times. It heralds the arrival of a singularly gifted new novelist.

Bel Canto cover

By: Ann Patchett
Published: May 22, 2001
Publisher: Harper
Format: Thrifted Paperback

This book has been talked about a lot lately. I have mixed feelings about it, but so many people that I trust say it is a must-read. Plus, can Ann Patchett write anything bad?

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxane Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening—until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots, intimate friends, and lovers.

The Stars are Fire cover

By: Anita Shreve
Published: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Knopf
Historical Fiction
Format: Thrifted Hardcover

Anita Shreve is a powerhouse of a novelist and you can’t go wrong with one of her books.

In October 1947, after a summer-long drought, fires break out all along the Maine coast from Bar Harbor to Kittery and are soon racing out of control from town to village. Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her husband, Gene, joins the volunteer firefighters. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie’s two young children, Grace watches helplessly as their houses burn to the ground, the flames finally forcing them all into the ocean as a last resort. They spend the night frantically protecting their children and in the morning find their lives forever changed: homeless, penniless, awaiting news of their husbands’ fate, and left to face an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists. In the midst of this devastating loss, Grace discovers glorious new freedoms–joys and triumphs she could never have expected her narrow life with Gene could contain–and her spirit soars. Then the unthinkable happens and Grace’s bravery is tested as never before.

Due to some hard-to-pass-up book deals, I may have also made a few purchases this month. My shelves are overflowing, but I couldn’t pass up some of these deals.

Within Arms Reach

By: Ann Napolitano
Published: April 30, 2024
Publisher: Dial Press
Format: Paperback purchase

Napolitano has become a must-read author and this is her newest. It was part of a sale at Barnes & Noble and it is also their monthly pick for June which made it a must-buy for me. I really enjoyed HELLO, BEAUTIFUL.

No one in my mother’s family ever talks about anything that can be categorized as unpleasant or as having to do with emotions. . . .

This spellbinding debut by bestselling author Ann Napolitano is a poignant reminder of how connected we are to those we love, even when we cannot find the words to say it. The unforgettable story of three generations of a large Irish Catholic family, Within Arms Reach is another rich and deeply satisfying novel from the author who captured the many dimensions of grief in Dear Edward and the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood in Hello Beautiful.

Book #1
By: Robert Thorogood
Published: May 3, 2022
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Format: Paperback purchase

I was convinced to buy this from my favorite guy at Barnes & Noble. We always have the best book chats and he convinced me that since I loved THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB series (I just finished Book #2), then I had to read this one. This is the first in a 3 book series.

To solve an impossible murder, you need an impossible hero…

Judith Potts is seventy-seven years old and blissfully happy. She lives on her own in a faded mansion just outside Marlow, there’s no man in her life to tell her what to do or how much whisky to drink, and to keep herself busy she sets crosswords for The Times newspaper.

One evening, while out swimming in the Thames, Judith witnesses a brutal murder. The local police don’t believe her story, so she decides to investigate for herself, and is soon joined in her quest by Suzie, a salt-of-the-earth dog-walker, and Becks, the prim and proper wife of the local Vicar.

Together, they are the Marlow Murder Club.

When another body turns up, they realize they have a real-life serial killer on their hands. And the puzzle they set out to solve has become a trap from which they might never escape.

The Seed Keeper cover

By: Diane Wilson
Published: March 9, 2021
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Format: Paperback purchase

This book won the Minnesota Book Award in Fiction. It’s an Indigenous story and one my nephew recommended. He teaches high school English at a reservation school in Northern Minnesota so I take his recommendations seriously.

Rosalie Iron Wing has grown up in the woods with her father, Ray, a former science teacher who tells her stories of plants, of the stars, of the origins of the Dakota people. Until, one morning, Ray doesn’t return from checking his traps. Told she has no family, Rosalie is sent to live with a foster family in nearby Mankato–where the reserved, bookish teenager meets rebellious Gaby Makespeace, in a friendship that transcends the damaged legacies they’ve inherited.

On a winter’s day many years later, Rosalie returns to her childhood home. A widow and mother, she has spent the previous two decades on her white husband’s farm, finding solace in her garden even as the farm is threatened first by drought and then by a predatory chemical company. Now, grieving, Rosalie begins to confront the past, on a search for family, identity, and a community where she can finally belong. In the process, she learns what it means to be descended from women with souls of iron–women who have protected their families, their traditions, and a precious cache of seeds through generations of hardship and loss, through war and the insidious trauma of boarding schools.

Weaving together the voices of four indelible women, The Seed Keeper is a beautifully told story of reawakening, of remembering our original relationship to the seeds and, through them, to our ancestors.

The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson

By: Ellen Baker
Published: February 20, 2024
Publisher: Mariner Books
Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover purchase

Set in Minnesota, circus setting, and family drama? I’m all in. This was a purchase from Four Pines Bookstore in Bemidji, Minnesota on Independent Bookstore Day.

In 1924, four-year-old Cecily Larson’s mother reluctantly drops her off at an orphanage in Chicago, promising to be back once she’s made enough money to support both Cecily and herself. But she never returns, and shortly after high-spirited Cecily turns seven, she is sold to a traveling circus to perform as the “little sister” to glamorous bareback rider Isabelle DuMonde. With Isabelle and the rest of the circus, Cecily finally feels she’s found the family she craves. But as the years go by, the cracks in her little world begin to show. And when teenage Cecily meets and falls in love with a young roustabout named Lucky, she finds her life thrown onto an entirely unexpected—and dangerous—course.

In 2015, Cecily is now 94 and living a quiet life in Minnesota, with her daughter, granddaughter, and great-grandson. But when her family decides to surprise her with an at-home DNA test, the unexpected results not only bring to light the tragic love story that Cecily has kept hidden for decades but also throw into question everything about the family she’s raised and claimed as her own for nearly seventy years. Cecily and everyone in her life must now decide who they really are and what family—and forgiveness—really mean.

Sweeping through a long period of contemporary history, The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson is an immersive, compelling, and entertaining family drama centered around one remarkable woman and her determination to survive.

The Bible in 52 Weeks cover

A Yearlong Bible Study for Women
By: Dr. Kimberly D. Moore
Published: February 20, 2020
Publisher: Callisto
Christian Non-Fiction
Format: Paperback purchase

This has been on my list for a few years. I’m longing to dive into a deep Bible study and I finally decided to purchase this one as part of a book sale.

When you need to lift your spirits or tackle life’s challenges, the Bible is always there to offer guidance. This inspiring approach to Bible study for women combines a daily reading plan with weekly opportunities to reflect, discuss, and explore how God’s wisdom can be applied to your daily life.

Go beyond other Christian books for women

Themed readings―All verses for a given week tie together with themes that relate to modern women, like persevering through challenges, moving on from mistakes, and more.

Your favorite translation―The included reading plans work with any translation, allowing you to use your favorite Bible to connect with God more deeply.

Ways to study―Explore the interactive questions, Bible journaling prompts, and prayers on your own or in a group setting of any denomination.

Get to know the Word in a new light and strengthen your relationship with Christ in this Bible study for women.

Slow Birding cover

The Art and Science of Enjoying the Birds in Your Own Backyard
By: Joan E. Strassmann
Published: October 25, 2022
Publisher: TarcherPerigee
Format: Hardcover purchase

Well, since I am over 50, it’s pretty much required that I am now a bird watcher. LOL! For real though, I’ve always loved birds and am thankful my husband keeps the feeders full in our backyard.

A one-of-a-kind guide to birding locally that encourages readers to slow down and notice the spectacular birds all around them.

Many birders travel far and wide to popular birding destinations to catch sight of rare or “exotic” birds. In Slow Birding , evolutionary biologist Joan E. Strassmann introduces readers to the joys of birding right where they are.

In this inspiring guide to the art of slow birding, Strassmann tells colorful stories of the most common birds to be found in the United States—birds we often see but might not have considered deeply before. For example, northern cardinals thrive in the city, where they are free from predators. White brows on a male white-throated sparrow indicate that he is likely to be a philanderer. This essential guide to the fascinating world of common, everyday birds
Slow Birding is the perfect guide for the birder looking to appreciate the beauty of the birds right in their own backyard, observing keenly how their behaviors change from day to day and season to season.

Trusting God in All the Things cover

90 Devotions for Finding Peace in Your Every Day
By: Karen Ehman & Ruth Schwenk
Published: April 5, 2022
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Christian Non-Fiction
Format: Hardcover purchase

I trust both of these Christian authors. This devotion has been on my list and I grabbed it as part of a book sale.

When Life is Filled with All the Things,
Begin Your Days with the Most Important Thing of All

Life is just . . . a lot . Relationships are hard. Responsibilities are piled high. And it seems like all the things are distracting you from the very best things of all. There’s little time left for yourself–or for connecting with Jesus.

No wonder you feel anxious in your mind and hurried in your heart. You desperately long for calm amidst your clamoring duties, stacked schedule, and life’s unexpected circumstances. But where do you begin?

More than anything else, your heart needs a refreshing encounter with God each day. Trusting God in All the Things offers women like you a way forward so you can experience the confident calm you crave.

These 90 encouraging devotions will help you face life with God’s peace and renewed strength.

Start your day here, on these pages, where you’ll find the calming reassurance of God, who is the only One who can truly be trusted in all the things.

May 2024 Children's Books


Hoops cover

By: Matt Tavares
Published: March 13, 2023
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Middle Grade Fiction
Format: Paperback Graphic Novel

Tavares based this story on a real-life team. With everything that is going on with women’s basketball, this is a must-read for kids who can’t get enough basketball.

It is 1975 in Indiana, and the Wilkins Regional High School girls’ basketball team is in their rookie season. Despite being undefeated, they practice at night in the elementary school and play to empty bleachers. Unlike the boys’ team, the Lady Bears have no buses to deliver them to away games and no uniforms, much less a laundry service. They make their own uniforms out of T-shirts and electrical tape. And with help from a committed female coach, they push through to improbable victory after improbable victory. Illustrated in full color, this story about the ongoing battle of women striving for equality in sports rings with honesty, bravery, and heart.

Camouflage Mom cover

A Military Story About Staying Connected
By: Sarah Hovorka
Illustrated by: Elif Balta Parks
Published: July 1, 2024
Publisher: Cardinal Rule Press
Format: Paperback Picture Book

It’s rare to see stories about moms in the military, especially written for young kids.

Sarah is happy to finally see her mom after two months of boot camp but she feels a distance between them that’s more than the physical space that separates them. Is that her mom who stares straight ahead in a line of soldiers when Sarah calls out for her? Is that her mom who stomp stomp stomps in big, heavy boots and hides in camouflage clothing? Using the analogy of links in a chain, CAMOUFLAGE MOM is the story about how Sarah reconnected with her mom after her mom joined the military.

Maria Mariposa cover

By: Karla Arena Valenti
Illustrated by: Ana Ramirez González
Published: July 16, 2024
Publisher: Chronicle Kids
Format: Hardcover Picture Book

It’s hard to be the new kid, let alone be the new kid while trying to adjust to living in a new country. Such a great story to help kids understand immigration and how to be welcoming to others.

A gift from Mexico alights on María Mariposa’s windowsill on her first day of school in a brand-new country “¡Una mariposa!” / “A butterfly!” And with the butterfly, in comes magic. Filled from her toes to her new butterfly wings with memories of home, María knows exactly who she is. But when everything at school is different and strange, doubt begins to make María’s confidence fade away. The place she comes from, the community she loves, the magic inside her . . . does any of it really belong in her new life in the United States?With courage and compassion, this picture book confronts the most difficult moments—and feelings—of being new, sweeping readers up in a powerful celebration of the magic we each contribute to the world.

Oh Are You Awake cover

By: Bob Shea
Illustrated by: Jarvis
Published: April 2, 2024
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Format: Hardcover Picture Book

A new bedtime story for those kids who are never ready for bed.

It’s sleepy time for Lion and Penguin. Correction: it should be sleepy time for Lion and Penguin, but Lion’s eyes aren’t tired, and his ears would like a story. Penguin, however, is tired and nods off into sweet candy dreams—until a noise wakes him. “Oh, are you awake?” asks Lion sweetly, seated before a drum set. “Let’s have that story, then!” “Not now. It is time to close your eyes and dream dreams.” And so it goes, with an ever-more-disgruntled Penguin trying to nod off while an exuberant Lion innocently practices his drumming, bounces on his squeaky trampoline, and munches on his crunchy chips. Will Penguin need to resort to extreme measures to get his friend to sleep, or has the answer been there all along? 

Go and Get with Rex cover

By: David LaRochele
Illustrated by: Mike Wohnoutka
Published: May 7, 2024
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Format: Hardcover Picture Book

A fun read-aloud that incorporates a game that kids will want to play after reading.

Jack, Jill, and Rex are excited to play a game of Go and Get! The rules are simple: on the count of three, each player must go and get something that begins with a certain letter. While Jack’s and Jill’s picks always fit the bill (What starts with F? Frog! Fish!), Rex keeps getting it wrong (a duck?)—or does he?

Else B in the Sea cover

The Woman Who Painted the Wonders of the Deep
By: Jeanne Walker Harvey
Illustrated by: Melodie Stacey
Published: June 4, 2024
Publisher: Cameron Kids
Format: Hardcover Picture Book

How have I never heard of this artist before? What a fascinating life story this is to share with your kids. Jeanne Walker Harvey also wrote a children’s book about Edith Head, DRESSING UP THE STARS.

Else Bostelmann donned a red swimsuit and a copper diving helmet and, with paints and brushes in hand, descended into the choppy turquoise sea off the coast of Bermuda. It was 1930, and few had ventured deep into the sea before. She discovered a fairyland six fathoms below the surface—fantastic coral castles, glittering sunbeams, swaying sea plumes, and slender purple sea fans. And fish! Flashy silverfish, puckering blue parrotfish, iridescent jellyfish.

Else painted under the sea! She painted what she saw with her own eyes, and, back on land, she painted the never-before-seen deep-sea creatures described by world-renowned scientist William Beebe on his momentous 1930s bathysphere expeditions for the New York Zoological Society’s Department of Tropical Research. It was a daring and glamorous adventure and a dream come true for Else B., who shared this new, unfathomable world with humankind.

Just Like Millie cover

By: Lauren Castillo
Published: March 27, 2024
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Format: Hardcover Picture Book

Another great story about a young girl adjusting to a move to a new community while struggling with being shy. Lauren is the illustrator of Jane Smiley’s children’s book, TWENTY YAWNS.

A young girl and her mother move to an apartment in a new city. Despite her mother’s efforts to take her out, the girl would rather play by herself in their cozy home—she feels just fine on her own. Introductions to children her age have her hiding behind her mother’s legs, and invitations to group activities have her in tears. That is, until she meets Millie, a rescue dog who is not too big, not too small, and kisses her arm when the girl nervously reaches out. With Millie, saying hello to new people isn’t so scary . . . and maybe making a friend isn’t either. 

The Digger Series
By: Joseph Keufler
Published: June 25, 2024
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins
Format: Hardcover Picture Book

This looks to be the fourth in the Digger series of books, this one focused on bedtime for the machinery.

After a long day’s work, Digger and the other big trucks are ready to tuck themselves into bed. They wash, they brush, and they sing a goodnight song. But before they can fall asleep, two mischievous raccoons appear. And they are not tired—at all.

Surely, just a few more minutes of playtime won’t hurt…will it?

Earnest Sandpiper's Great Ascent cover

By: Timothy Basil Ering
Published: May 7, 2024
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Format: Hardcover Picture Book

I love watching the sandpipers when I am at the beach. For kids who have ever been afraid to try something for the first time. Side note: this author is the famed illustrator of THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX by Kate DiCamillo.

“Breathe . . . try . . . jump . . . FLY!”

With trademark energy and warmth, acclaimed creator Timothy Basil Ering delivers another picture book hero for young children to root for and relate to. The time has come for three young sandpipers to soar, but Earnest seems tied to the ground. He has wings and tail feathers just like his brother and sister; what makes him so afraid? Magic will happen, Mom promises, when he’s ready. But no matter how much she and Dad coach him or his siblings cheer him on, Earnest’s efforts only lead him into danger. Perhaps, with his family’s support and a little trust in himself, they’ll lead him out again.

Terrible Horses cover

By: Raymond Antrobus
Illustrated by: Ken Wilson-Max
Published: May 7, 2024
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Format: Hardcover Picture Book

For kids who always seem to be arguing with their siblings, this story might shed new light on their relationships.

My sister is cooler than me.
I want her friends to be my friends.
I want her things to be my things.

For one little boy and his older sister, fights are always waiting to happen—when he takes something without asking, jumps on her bed without asking, even wanders off without asking. And when they fight, they don’t use words: it’s all push, pull, hurt, hide. To cool off after, the boy retreats to his room to write and draw stories—stories about terrible horses trampling and galloping, while he is a lone pony unable to compete or speak or sleep. One morning, the boy wakes up to find his sketchbook missing, taken by his sister. What now? Will this make things worse, or could it help them to finally understand each other? With empathy and simplicity, Terrible Horses has much to say about using creativity to rein in anger, reflect, and see life through someone else’s eyes.

Gray cover

By: Laura Dockrill
Illustrated by: Lauren Child
Published: May 7, 2024
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Format: Hardcover Picture Book

oday I feel gray.
But that’s OK.

Some days you may feel sunshine yellow or orange-balloon bright. Other days you’re gray, or even night-sky black—like a dark scribble on a page, a storm in the clouds, or a puddle in the road. Gray is when you don’t feel like yourself, or like you don’t belong. But however you feel, there are big hugs (red) and loving lullabies (blue) waiting, and even the grayest sidewalk is a canvas for you to fill with the colors you choose.

How to Spacewalk Cover

Step-by-Step with Shuttle Astronauts
By: Kathryn D. Sullivan and Michael Rosen
Published: June 6, 2023
Publisher: MIT Kids Press/Candlewick Press
Format: Hardcover Picture Book

A thrilling look into astronaut training from the first American woman to walk in space!

What is it like to walk in space—to use cutting-edge equipment and conduct experiments in a 280-pound space suit? How do you get there in the first place? Would-be spacewalkers will find enthusiasm, vibrant encouragement, and a host of amazing facts, photos, drawings, and descriptions in this engaging guide cowritten by three-time shuttle astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan and children’s book author Michael J. Rosen (who also provides illustrations). From detailed info about how to train (sometimes underwater!) to descriptions of the emotions spurred by seeing Earth from above, this guide will leave readers inspired and excited to start their own journeys into space.

May 2024 All Books

Which books are you adding to your reading list?

Click HERE to see all the posts featuring new books on my shelves.

So many books, so little time!

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