May Wrap-Up: My Favorite Reads of the Month
My very favorite Bossy May reads!
Here are the books I most loved reading in May:
Don't Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You, Lucinda Williams's gritty, frank memoir about music, love, and life;
The Trackers, wonderfully detailed historical fiction set during the Great Depression that centers around art, relationships, and journeys, by Cold Mountain author Charles Frazier;
Meet Me at the Lake, Carley Fortune's rom-com novel about loss, adjusting goals and the pictures of our life as we age, and second chances;
Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Gillian McAllister's fascinating time-twisting mystery, buoyed by the characters' complex relationships;
This Time It's Real, Ann Liang's funny and sweet young adult rom-com about fake relationships, allowing vulnerability, and living as your true self; and
Silver in the Bone, the first in Alexandra Bracken's young adult fantasy series of the same name, which offers Arthurian legends, dangerous journeys, and a brave young heroine.
If you've read any of these books, I'd love to hear what you think!
And I'd also love to hear: what are some of your recent favorite reads?
01 Don't Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You by Lucinda Williams
Lucinda Williams offers a gritty, honest, captivating, spare yet fully developed memoir in which she explores her musical influences and influential high and low moments in her personal life.
In Don't Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You, songwriter, singer, and musician Lucinda Williams shares stories of her childhood, her musical influences, and pivotal moments in her career and personal life.
Williams takes us along as she digs into her life's trajectory and the various conflicts, explorations, realizations, and challenges that have shaped her.
Her insights into her mindset and her creativity are often offbeat, and they always feel thoughtful. She writes songs about "sex, love, and the state of the world," and in one instance describes musical freedom as feeling like everything is “uncorked."
As she digs into the inspirations for her music she quotes her own lyrics--along with, occasionally, others' poems--and it all feels like truth-telling poetry--in her case, often set to music.
Don't Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You was wonderful--spare yet fully developed, often surprising, and always intriguing.
With wry humor, gritty honesty, and refreshingly candid reflections, Williams's singular voice comes through steadily here. I listened to Williams's Don't Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You as an audiobook and enjoyed hearing her tell her own story.
For my full review, check out Don't Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You.
02 The Trackers by Charles Frazier
Frazier offers an immersive story that morphs from a WPA-funded rural art commission to a leisurely country-wide search, an unlikely obsession, moments of brutality, strange connections, and, finally, an upended set of circumstances.
In The Trackers, Cold Mountain author Charles Frazier offers historical fiction featuring a Great Depression-era painter, Val Welch, traveling west to a small rural town in Wyoming.
As part of a New Deal grant, Val has landed the job of painting a mural on the Dawes, Wyoming, post office. In Dawes, he meets eccentric, wealthy art lovers John and Eve Long--mysterious, possibly hiding something, and certainly unpredictable.
When Eve takes off from Dawes with a piece of valuable artwork, Val agrees to follow her--and uncovers long-buried secrets that could change everything.
Frazier's writing is gorgeous, evoking the stark western landscapes Val passes through, gritty San Francisco, and the powerful cliffside ocean as well as lush, wild, wet Florida and its accompanying corruption and danger.
Click here for my full review of The Trackers.
03 Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune
Summertime is the backdrop to Fortune's Meet Me at the Lake, light fiction with an anchor in deeper issues, some steamy scenes, conflicting feelings surrounding coming home again, shifting dreams, and a satisfyingly layered resolution.
Thirty-two-year-old Fern Brookbanks has pinned most of her romantic dreams on Will Baxter--despite the fact that they spent only 24 hours together in their twenties.
A chance encounter blossomed into a glorious connection and a pact to meet up one year later at her family resort...but while Fern showed up to their romantic meet-up, Will did not.
Fern has moved on. Now she's coping with a tragedy--and guess who shows up to meet Fern, nine years late?
Within the book's summertime setting Fortune explores heavy issues related to mental illness, sudden death, unplanned pregnancy, substance abuse--and also the complicated joy of having friends like family, facing responsibility and challenge, and acknowledging when long-held dreams have changed.
The banter is fun, there are some steamy scenes, and I believed in the relationship and its ups and downs.
04 Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister
McAllister offers a smart, intriguing, twisty story that plays with time and offers second chances, revelations, betrayals, deep connections, and an unusual route to uncovering the truth. I loved it.
Gillian McAllister's twisty mystery Wrong Place Wrong Time plays with time, and I love books that play with time.
The story begins with a mother awaiting her teenage son's return home late one night. She peers out the window to see him walking down the street--then she sees that he is armed, and to her horror, she sees him kill another man on the street.
But when she awakens the next morning bracing to face the living nightmare her family has begun living in, she's relieved to find that her son hasn't killed anyone, he hasn't been arrested, and in fact, none of last night's events have happened after all. She must be losing her mind. But she knows that last night was real.
Somehow she's reliving yesterday again. She really and truly is. She can't explain what's happened, but she quickly realizes that now she may be able to stop the murder before it occurs. Can she shift the future by changing the past?
The story was fascinating and touching and chilling and sweet. I absolutely loved it.
Please click here for my full review of Wrong Place, Wrong Time.
05 This Time It's Real by Ann Liang
I was hooked by Liang's fake-dating, famous-everyday relationship duo setup, fantastically funny dialogue, and wonderfully imperfect characters with their hard-fought vulnerability and heartbreaking missteps. I devoured this in a rainy afternoon.
In Ann Liang's young adult rom-com This Time It's Real, when seventeen-year-old Eliza's class essay about young love goes viral, it leads to the offer of a competitive internship and soaring popularity at her new school. She should be on cloud nine.
The only problem is, she made it all up. She's never been in love. But the whirlwind around her pretend relationship is taking on a life of its own.
So Eliza makes a desperate deal with a famous actor in her class: if he plays the role of her fake boyfriend at school, she'll help him write his college applications. He's already seen how convincing her writing can be, after all--she's got everyone fooled.
When the line between acting and reality becomes blurred, will Eliza's grand plans end up in her own heartbreak?
I love a fake-dating premise and a famous-everyday dating premise, and here they are combined. Ann Liang's funny dialogue, characters' various interpersonal challenges and victories, and messy family dynamics had me swooning.
Yes to all of this!
For my full review, please check out This Time It's Real.
06 Silver in the Bone by Alexandra Bracken
Alternative Arthurian legends twist through this first in a young adult fantasy series, but what hooked me was the fearless, hardened, fiercely loyal, savvy, and crafty main protagonist Tamsin as she struggled to find her place in both worlds of the story.
In Alexandra Bracken's young adult novel Silver in the Bone, sorceresses and dark magical beings populate the underground beneath Boston. Tamsin Lark is separate from them all, as she was born without magic. She knows how to find things, she's crafty, she's ruthless, and she'll do anything for her brother Cabell.
But when her last remaining parent figure disappears without a trace, Tamsin is forced to go to great lengths and seek enchanted relics--of dubious provenance and with potentially disastrous power--in order to keep herself and Cabell alive.
Bracken's story offered sassy banter that I loved, a great enemies-to-(not-quite)-lovers setup, a strong young female protagonist with a heart of gold, female power all over the place, captivatingly creepy elements, and fidelity that in some cases are shown to be betrayals that take your breath away.
The book ends on a cliffhanger, setting up book two, which will hopefully be published in 2024 and which I can't wait to read.
For my full review, please check out Silver in the Bone.