May 2021 Novel Ideas: 24 Quick Book Reviews

Novel Ideas 42
May 2021 Novel Ideas: 24 Quick Book Reviews 27

Summer is upon us and our reading tastes are straying more toward beach reads and romances. May 2021 Novel Ideas has tons of books to add to your beach bag.

But if romances and beach reads aren’t for you, you’ll also find non-fiction, thrillers, historical fiction, fantasy, and contemporary fiction picks as well.

My personal favorite this month was Haven Point! I just adored it, but you can read why below.

Enjoy the quick book reviews in May 2021 Novel Ideas and let us know if you add any to your list!

Kirsten’s May 2021 Novel Ideas Stack

come fly the world

Come Fly The World by Julia Cooke

In this delightful book, we learn about uniforms, training, frolicking adventures, and the glamorous life in the air that had me picturing Gwyneth Paltrow in View From the Top.

It also discussed far more serious topics like hijackers, Vietnam war flights and rescues, and issues of discrimination toward women.

We talked with Julia about the research of this book, what surprised her most, and other fun things over on IG. Be sure to check it out.

Thanks to HMH Books for my review copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Her Three Lives

Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan

Her Three Lives focuses on Jade and her fiancé after they have been attacked after a home invasion in her private life. Jade is an influencer and she keeps the invasion from her public following.

She also keeps her secret life from her fiancé, but as his PTSD has him growing more paranoid, he starts to distrust her. Will she be able to keep her secret private for long?

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The Next Wife and other May 2021 Novel Ideas books.

The Next Wife by Kaira Rouda

Tish is the second wife of successful John, a start-up founder whose company just went public. Kate, his ex-wife, is the co-founder, and their daughter, Ashlyn, is planning to take over the family business one day.

But Tish is realizing her marriage may be falling apart and Kate is making a play to get her ex-husband back. Which wife will come out the victor? 

This one started off so strongly, I was hooked and flipping pages and then…it just stopped holding my attention. I’m not sure what else to say about it, but there it is.

Thanks to Thomas & Mercer for my free review copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
haven point

Haven Point by Virginia Hume

What a wonderful read. I truly can’t explain how much this book swept me away to Haven Point as I learned about four generations of the Demarest family.

This story focuses on the great-grandmother, grandmother (Maren), mother, and daughter (Skye) as they spend their summers in the waspy coastal town. Secrets unfold, loves bloom and fade, and the ties that bond are explored.

A wonderful beach read with heart, I hope you take a chance and get swept away too.

Thanks so much to St. Martin’s Press for my review copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
last summer at the golden hotel

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel is all about 2 families who own a resort in the Catskills and are thinking of selling or overhauling the Golden. This is the ultimate in family drama books.

Three generations of the Goldmans and Weismann clans have gathered to make the decision and family secrets are unspooling left and right in the midst of goat yoga, comedy shows, and salon catastrophes.

It was a pleasure to read it while staying at the Hyatt on the Chesapeake and experiencing some resort life of my own. This is on our list of 52 Best Books for Book Clubs to Read and had to be included in our summer camp books list!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
500 miles from you

500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan

This is Lissa and Cormac’s story and it’s one of the more unique romances I’ve read. Lissa and Cormac are both first responders who end of switching places.

Cormac heads to the hustle and bustle of London and Lissa heads to quiet, sleepy Scotland. They correspond via email and text without every having seen each other.

This book also deals with organ donation and transplantation in a lovely, meaningful way.

Now I need to go update out list of Jenny Colgan’s books ranked!

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Sunflower Sister

Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly

The third and final installment in the Lilac Girls series, Sunflower Sisters focuses on the Civil War.

I found myself pondering how much easier it is as an American to look at WW1 and WW2 as distant history, but the Civil War makes me so uncomfortable to read about.

I like to think that’s the work I’ve been doing to learn the history of slavery that is at the root of this country’s origin and examine my own privilege.

I did love this story and I learned more about slavery in the border states during the war and just how complex that issue was for the union.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
the last train to key west

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

Well I was not expecting this doozy of a book. Chanel Cleeton’s Cuba book series is wonderful, but this one left me with mixed feelings.

I love the Florida Keys setting of this story and the elements of this Hurricane novel. I was not expecting the domestic abuse one woman experiences (I mention this as it might be a trigger for some,) and while I liked most of the plots, I wasn’t a fan of the mobster storyline. 🤷‍♀️

Still, it was a fun read for a stormy summer day at the beach.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Opal Nev

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton

This book was compared to Daisy Jones and The Six and I see why. It’s told in interview format and is about a band from the 70s. The comparison makes sense… and yet….

This book is wonderful in it’s own right! No comparison needed. It looks at sexism and racism in the music industry during this time period and is as thought-provoking as it is entertaining. It is a total must-read.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
The Royal Governess

The Royal Governess by Wendy Holden

Well this was a juicy bit of royal historical fiction!!! I had no idea that Crawfie, Queen Elizabeth II’s governess wrote a book about their time together later in her life, essentially banning her from the royal fold.

This work of historical fiction is based on the information gleaned from that book as well as Mary Crawford’s own history. It was so interesting to see the lives of the Queen and her sister through the eyes of their governess. This is perfect for royal lovers!

Love royal reads? Check out our list of Royal Read or Books like the Crown.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Echo and other May 2021 Novel Ideas books.

Echo by Pam Ryan Munoz

I listened to this with my kids and WOW. We were all completely blown away by this story. It’s three tales woven together in one with a magical harmonica at the center.

I can’t recommend the audiobook version enough. Music plays throughout the story and adds such depth to the tale. This is perfect for a family road trip.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Namesake and other May 2021 Novel Ideas books.

Namesake by Adrienne Young

This book was better than the first one in the series and that’s saying something because Fable was wonderful!

Namesake picks up right where the first book left off, with Fable being kidnapped. We learn more about her mother and find out how her story ends. If you love a good YA adventure, pick up this series!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Jackie’s May 2021 Novel Ideas Stack

Tokyo evr after

Tokyo Every After by Emiko Jean

What a fun quick book by Emiko Jean. I feel like this book was one part Princess Diaries and one part Crazy Rich Asians.

Izumi Tanaka does not feel like she fits in as a Japanese American in her mostly white California town. When she finds out that her unknown father is actually the crown prince of Japan, she is determined to meet him.

This book about royalty was an entertaining and light summer read that will satisfy your desire to escape into a royal getaway.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Duke and I

The Duke and I (Bridgerton #1) by Julia Quinn

I watched the show and LOVED it so much. I previously read some of the others in the series but I really wanted to read this first book in the Bridgerton book series and I have to say, it was my favorite.

There is something about Daphne and Simon that I adore. This book is a perfect historical romance. The Netflix book adaption smashed records and caused a boom in book sales.

Daphne Bridgerton is the fourth of eight children and is beginning her first season in the ton. As young women of marrying age search for a husband, Daphne is not quite like other girls.

When the eligible Simon Bassett suggests they begin fake dating to allow them both a chance to breathe. However, things do not always go as planned. To make matters more complicated, Lady Whistledown always seems to know the truth and the information ready for everyone to read. This is one of our fake dating books of all time.

Are you a fan of Bridgerton? We’ve got a list of books like Bridgerton you will love! And if you love romance books, we have Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Books in Order: Complete Guide to 20 Books.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
the guncle

The Guncle by Steven Rowley

Steven Rowley is a writer who has mastered the art of storytelling. With his signature wit and humor, this book tackles love, loss, and growth.

When Patrick’s sister-in-law dies and Patrick’s brother needs to go to rehab, Patrick takes custody of his niece and nephew for 90 days. Patrick is basically David from Schitt’s Creek with snark and sass. He treats the kids like mini-adults in the most delightful way.

I am such a fan of Steven Rowley and each book provides depth and insight into people at their best and worst. While this is a book about grief, you will find yourself laughing out loud multiple times throughout. It’s a poignant reminder of the importance of family. If you have not read this contemporary fiction book yet, what are you waiting for?

Thank you to Putnam for my free review copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
It had to be you

It Had to Be You by Georgia Clark

I loved this book. When a wedding planner dies, he leaves the business to his partner/ wife AND his mistress. The story that follows is not what you would expect. It is not a story of revenge or anger. Instead, it is a heartwarming love story.

It is a love story that reminds me of the movie Love Actually. it is smart, fun and you will not want to put it down.

Thank you Atria for my review of the book. All thoughts are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Come Fly the World and other May 2021 Novel Ideas books.

Come Fly the World: The Jet Age Story of the Women of Pan Am by Julia Cooke

This is a delightful, true story of five women who were stewardesses during the Jet Age. And yes, these women do prefer to be called stewardesses and take pride in that title. Not only did these women have to be able to serve food but, they also had to navigate through the Vietnam war, hostage situations and discrimination. This is an enlightening, page-turner.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
of women and salt

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

I understand why this book was chosen as the GMA book club for April. It is a story that captures the heartbreak and betrayals that have shaped the lives of the women in this story with wonderful writing and metaphors woven throughout.

The writing in this story is beautiful but the story is heartbreaking. At times, I had trouble following the non-linear timeline with so many characters. For me, it took away from the writing and the story as a whole.

Thank you Macmillian Audio for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
the maidens

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

What an amazing thriller. Alex Michaelides did it again! This secret society book was insane with twists and turns. It kept me on the edge of my seat and my heart beating a little faster! 

Mariana is a therapist who is still grieving the loss of her husband when she gets a call from her niece, Zoe. Zoe’s best friend Tara is missing and Zoe is afraid something has happened to her. 

One by one, When women start dying at Cambridge and Mariana gets deeply involved as she tries to solve the mystery. This Addicting Dark Academia Book is perfect to read before this creepy thriller book becomes a tv show.

Thank you to Celadon Books and Macmillian Audio for my review copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
arsenic and adobo

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

From the very first page of this book, I was completely hooked. I loved this book and could not put it down. This book is the perfect mix of cozy mystery and scrumptious food. I felt like Lousie Penny met Jenny Colgan to write this book

When Lila moves home to help her family with their restaurant, she never dreamed that she would be put in the middle of a murder investigation.

Thank you so much to Berkley Publishing for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
People we meet on Vacation

People we Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Do you believe Harry (from When Harry Met Sally) when he said “women and men can’t be friends.” ?

We are sure that he’s wrong, but one of our favorite tropes is friends to lovers. People We Met on Vacation is the latest beach read from Emily Henry and it’s addicting.

Poppy has been best friends with Alex since a car ride home from college a decade ago. Since then, they’ve gone on vacation together every year until 2 years ago when it all came crashing down.

Will they recover their friendship with one more trip or will their relationship be irrevocably ruined? This is the perfect beach, poolside read, or vacation read. You should be sure to add it to your summer reading romance books list.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
That summer

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

I love Jennifer Weiner and always look forward to reading her books every summer. That Summer did not disappoint. When Diana heads to the cape for a summer of babysitting, she thinks it will be the summer of her life.

Years later, she begins a friendship with another women named Diana when their email addresses are confused but, it is more than just mere coincidence. This is not the lighthearted story that I thought it would be but, it was sooo good.

Thank you to Atria for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Magic for Liars 1

Magic For Liars by Sarah Gailey

Did someone say Harry Potter for adults?

This YA fantasy book is about a magic school and a chosen one wrapped up in a murder mystery with a not-so-lovable PI, Ivy Gamble.

Ivy has never had magic unlike her twin sister Tabitha. When Ivy is hired to investigate a murder at the school where Tabitha teaches, two worlds come together and Ivy must confront her past. This book was such a fun read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
One Last Stop and other May 2021 Novel Ideas books.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

I absolutely loved Casey’s first book and had very high hopes for this one. Thank you to for my copy.

August moves to NYC and into a house filled with weird roommates. When she meets Jane on the subway, sparks fly immediately and riding the subway becomes the best part of her day. The twist? Jane is displaced from the 1970’s and cannot get off the train.

I enjoyed this book but, I felt that there were some parts that dragged on a bit. It is very hard to find new ways to talk about a relationship that can only take place on the train. I loved the premise of this book but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
39 clues 6

39 Clues #6: In Too Deep by Jude Watson

We started this series in the car on a trip with my kids and somehow we are on book 6. I may have skipped a few books in the middle but, it actually did not make a difference since I didn’t miss anything.

I enjoy these books as a quick listen but, I wish they had more depth. There is the same premise in every book- they are betrayed, they live, they keep looking for the treasure.

I wonder if the multiple authors of the series is the reason the books don’t delve a little deeper into the plot and characters.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

That concludes May 2021 Novel Ideas. Did you find any books to add to your to-read list?

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