May 2022 Novel Ideas: 30 Quick Lit Reviews
May 2022 Novel Ideas is pulling out ALL the beach reads! If you are ready for summer, we’ve got loads of amazing books for you to enjoy!
If you haven’t yet started the summer reading challenge, you still have plenty of time to begin! If you are more of a mood reader, you’ll find all kinds of options below
For more summer reading, look at the Beach Read Hub for all things related to summer reading or the Ultimate List of Beach Reads 2022 for the latest vacation reading.
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Kirsten’s May 2022 Novel Ideas
The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz
I want to scream from the rooftops about this family drama contemporary fiction set over the course of the lives of the Oppenheimer family. The Oppenheimer triplets have been averse to each other since they were born. On the brink of escaping to the freedom of college, their parents decide to have a fourth child.
Soon secrets are unraveling, choices are called into question, and sibling rivalry reaches a crescendo. This character-driven story is truly marvelous. Perfect for fans of Ann Patchett, Clare Lombardo, and family saga books.
Thanks to Celadon Books for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
The Good Left Undone by Adriana Trigiani
The sweeping story of an Italian family matriarch Domenica and her love story was charming. Her coming-of-age story told the tale of her life trials and was the anchor of this novel.
While her story covered the 1920s, WWII, and beyond, this book set in Italy also switched over to her daughter Matelda and Matelda’s granddaughter. Sadly, I found that portion of the story to be lackluster.
After seeing all Domenica went through over her life, the challenges facing her great-granddaughter fell flat. I would happily have cut out all the chapters without Domenica so I could spend more time in her fascinating story.
Thanks to Dutton for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand
This is my favorite Elin Hilderbrand EVER. As usual, Elin’s storytelling revolves around a large cast of characters, this time employees of The Hotel Nantucket.
As we spend a summer with the staff and select hotel guests, we get to see what goes on behind the scenes of a luxury hotel. We see romances unfold and fall apart multiple scandals, demanding guests, and a ghost story!
I love how everyone’s stories folded together while revolving around the glorious hotel. If only I could visit this beach town resort this summer! This is one of the contemporary fiction books that is perfect to read this summer!
Thanks to Little Brown for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow
April 2022 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick
**UPDATED** The author came after another book reviewer who said she liked the book but the men were trash, they are the abusers in the story. She then proceeded to drag the reviewer publicly. I can’t condone that kind of bullying behavior so I’ve lowered my rating on this one.
This harrowing story of violence against a family of black women was too compelling to put down. As each generation faces its own abuse, the prevalence of the violence perpetrated against them and their continued resilience is nothing short of remarkable.
These women have faced lynched husbands, sexual assault, and domestic violence and now, in Joan, all they preserved for is made apparent. Will she be able to face her trauma and rise to be the acclaimed artist she is meant to be?
Not a book for the faint of heart, this story will have you thinking about it for days after reading.
It All Comes Down to This by Therese Anne Fowler
The Geller sisters are reeling over the loss of their mother and the secrets she revealed at her will reading. They have to work together to sell their holiday home but their lives are unraveling in the process.
One sister is broke. One sister is going through a divorce. One sister is convinced her husband is gay. By the end of the month (and the story) each of their lives will look entirely different.
Will their mother’s death be the catalyst for changing their lives for the better or the wave that drags them under? If you are a lover of family dramas, this one is for you.
Thanks to St. Martins Press for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi
Don’t be fooled by the beachy vibe of this novel’s cover. Emezi has astounded once again with a searing novel about grief and the messy business of moving on after the death of a spouse.
Set against the lush backdrop of the Caribbean island, this contemporary fiction story finds Feyi traveling to stay with Nasir, whom she is sort-of dating while exhibiting her artwork. But when she meets his father, famed chef Alim, her interests are torn.
As she tries to heal away from her life in Brooklyn, her life becomes messier than she could have imagined. I loved Emezi’s raw prose about grief and was thoroughly entertained by the story they wove. I totally get why this Audie Awards 2023 nominee is considered one of the best audiobooks of 2022.
Thanks to Atria for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
When I heard about the prequel to The Hate You Give, I was very nervous to pick it up. Eventually, I decided to listen, and WOW. I was blown away by this historical fiction book for teens. Again.
This is the story of Mav before he was a dad. Or rather, on the cusp of becoming a dad. We learn about his early life in his neighborhood, his high school years when he sold drugs, and the story behind the birth of his children.
As he struggles between gang life and the riches it brings, over the harder life of honest work, we go along for the ride. I loved learning what turned Mav, a favorite character from T.H.U.G., into the incredible father he became.
Thanks to Balzer + Bray and Libro.fm for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain
This charming contemporary fiction story is about a 65-year-old British postman being forced to retire. As he takes stock of his life, he realizes he is lonely and he doesn’t want to be in the closet anymore.
As she sets about changing his life for the better, we are privy to flashbacks of his strict childhood. You’ll be rooting for Albert the same way you rooted for Ove. It’s such a wonderful feel-good book. You can find more books like this in our list of Books Like a Man Called Ove.
Thanks to Recorded Books for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Before the Crown by Flora Harding
After all the royal reads I’ve read over the years, I can’t believe this is my first story about The Queen’s romance with Prince Philip. With the Jubilee coming up now in England, this was a perfect read!
I was wondering about how Philip won the heart of then Princess Elizabeth, and this fictional story filled in some fun details. Think of it as a prequel to the first episode of The Crown in the best way!
Every royal-obsessed person needs to add pick from Books about Queen Elizabeth II to their TBR list and check out our list of books like the crown!
Thanks to One More Chapter for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
The Wedding Ringer by Kerry Rea
Willa recently found her fiance in bed with her best friend, causing her to hit rock bottom. She wants to get out of town to heal her broken heart, but she’s broke. So when Maise offers to pay Willa to be a bridesmaid at all her wedding events, Maise accepts.
In the process of being a good bridesmaid-for-hire, Willa is able to turn her life around, make new friendships, and fall for the best man. This is such a fun book for wedding season!
A must-read for those looking for books about weddings!
Finding Me by Viola Davis
April 2022 Oprah’s Book Club Pick
Viola Davis’s life story had me entranced as I learned what she needed to overcome during her childhood, college, and her early career to become the powerhouse she is today.
Her thoughts on life in Hollywood were enlightening. Her deep love for her family and her roots shone through. And her story made it very clear that she takes nothing for granted.
Viola worked damn hard to be successful and she deserves every accolade she’s received and more. Her narration even earned her an Audie Awards 2023 nomination.
Violeta by Isabel Allende
How have I never read an Isabel Allende book before? SHOCKING! This is the story of Violeta, a woman whose life was bookended by two pandemics.
An ordinary citizen of South America, her life story swept me away. She goes from wealth to destitution during the Great Depression, experiences numerous marriages, and navigates the dramas of her children and grandchildren.
Ultimately, she lives a life rich in passion, loss, and joy. When the story ended, I felt like I was parting with a dear friend.
The Change by Kirsten Miller
May 2022 Good Morning America Book Club Pick
Kirsten Miller delivers a killer magical realism novel about a trio of women who receive powers after going through menopause. The point of their powers is to bring to justice men who rape and kill women.
I was thoroughly entertained by this beach town mystery that pit the women against billionaire men around them. As usual, GMA delivers with its latest pick. This contemporary fiction book will not disappoint. We think this is also an amazing book for book clubs!
An Island Wedding by Jenny Colgan
Mure Island Series #5
Colgan takes us back to Mure, Scotland in the 5th (!!!) book of the cafe by the sea series. This time, Joel and Flora are FINALLY planning their wedding, but they aren’t on the same page about what it should look like.
Meanwhile, Olivia, Jan’s famous sister wants to throw an over-the-top wedding on the Rock that is making Flora just a wee jealous, while creating tons of drama around the island.
We see Jan become almost unhinged with jealousy, Lorna still nursing her secret passion, and Fintan trying to get over his recent loss too.
Please let us get a sixth book in this series!!! For more books by Jenny Colgan, we’ve got a list of all of her books ranked for your enjoyment.
Thanks to Avon for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton
The 5th book about the Perez family once again delivered. This time we get a dual timeline story featuring Isabel Perez and her mother, Alicia. The story is told decades apart in Barcelona where both women fled in the early years of their marriage.
I love the way the stories dovetailed at the end. The final page had me grinning ear to ear. If you are interested in Spain’s history and its impact on Cubans at the time, this is the Historical Fiction story for you!
Thanks to Berkley for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
True Biz by Sara Nović
April 2022 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
True Biz is an eye-opening look at the life of deaf high schoolers in boarding school. The ins and outs of deaf society are fascinating and made me realize I knew so little about the deaf community.
I learned about the ASL vs hearing aids debate. I learned about the politics and drama that go into running a deaf school. I learned that there is a black version of ASL and it’s possible to be racist when signing.
And of course, I fell for the romantic entanglements and blooming friendships between the students.
I can’t award it a full 5 stars because too many questions went unanswered at the end of the book. Still, this is the perfect book for your next book club!
The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton
A fantasy historical romance about pirate assassins with magical powers? SIGN ME UP!
I gravitated toward this story because of the gorgeous cover, but I was hooked from the first page. I loved all the women in The Wisteria Society. I loved how they could fly around their homes like ships, how they stole and plundered with abandon, and how they did it all while making sure they were the picture of polite womanhood.
The love story was charming, but it was the antics of Cecilia and her quest to save her fellow society members that kept me turning the pages.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
This epic book series from Sarah J. Maas was started when Sarah was still a teenager! It’s all about Celaena, an imprisoned assassin who is offered freedom by acting as the champion for Prince Dorian.
As she prepared to earn her freedom in the competition, she begins training sessions with the captain of the guard. As she tried to acclimate to court life, the prince is drawn to her, and a love-triangle forms.
The series gets better and better with each book! A total must-read for ACOTAR fans and a must-read if you love fae books. Or head over to our guide on all of Sarah J. Maas’s books.
If you love this one, you’ll love our list of books for fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses, also written by Sarah J. Maas.
The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn
Kate Quinn’s stories of the women heroes of WWII continue to dazzle every time. The subject for this story is Soviet Sniper Mila Pavlichenko, commonly known as Lady Death.
The story flashes between her time in on a diplomatic tour of the U.S. when she befriended Eleanor Roosevelt and her life leading up to and during the war. We learn about what motivated her to become the most decorated sniper in the army, what life was like on the battlefields of war, and how love plays a role in her life.
But the tension is really heightened by the narration of an assassin out to kill President Roosevelt and frame Mila for the murder. Another amazing story by Quinn.
For more books like this one, head to our list of WWII books.
Jackie’s May 2022 Novel Ideas Stack
The Cartographers by Peng Sheperd
There is so much to this book that I do not even know where to begin. Nell Young is a cartographer who has not talked to her father in seven years since he humiliated her, fired her, and ruined her reputation over a seemingly worthless map.
Now, he is found dead in his office at the New York Public Library with the worthless map he fired hidden in his desk. Now Nell is curious about the real meaning behind the map. When there is a break-in at the library the next day, Nell is in more danger than she thinks. I do not want to ruin anything but this mystery, dark academia, magical realism book has it all and I loved it.
Gilt by Jamie Brenner
Nothing says summer like a new book from Jamie Brenner and every book keeps getting better and better. This story is told in dual timelines and will keep you turning the pages!
The Pavlin family is synonymous with the diamond engagement ring. When a publicity stunt pits the three daughters against each other, the winner will receive the Electric Rose- a massive pink diamond.
Now, 10 years later, Gemma Maybrook is devastated at the loss of her mother and is searching for the Electric Rose. The remaining two sisters are no longer speaking, the Pavlin name is in jeopardy, and Gemma is looking for answers.
Thanks to GP Putnam for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Acts of Violet by Margarita Montimore
I absolutely loved the GMA book club pick Oona Out of Order and it was on our list of the best of the year. I was so excited to read this book and it did not disappoint.
When the famous magician Violet Volk disappears without a trace, nobody can figure out where she went. Now, a decade later, her sister is wondering if Violet will finally reappear and if she can get some answers. Her fans still love and adore her but Sasha wants answers. Their relationship has left so many questions. As Sasha searches for answers, she will have to come to terms with the past.
I loved this book. It is so original and unlike anything that I have read. It is magical realism at its best which is not surprising coming from this author.
Thanks to Flat Iron and Macmillan Audio for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
As soon as I saw what this book was about, I knew I wanted to read it. I love Emily Henry books. Nora is a literary agent who is a shark for her clients. Her life is books and will stop and nothing for her job or her little sister, Libby.
When Libby begs Nora to take her to Sunshine Falls, the setting of one of her most famous books, she reluctantly agrees. When they get there, the town does not look anything like the book describes. In addition, her literary nemesis, book editor Charlie Lastra is in Sunshine Falls.
Now, Nora and Charlie find themselves together in a plot twist neither of them could see coming. This amazing romance about books is perfect for our list of Books Like The Love Hypothesis and is a must-read if you loved the book.
Thanks to Libro.fm for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan
I adored this romance. Nora is a mother of two kids who writes romance novels for television. When her husband leaves her, she writes it into a script that is being made into a movie.
Enter handsome movie star who asks if he can pay her to stay at her house. He needs to get away from the scene. The romance that takes place is sweet and doesn’t follow the usual formula.
I loved reading this book. It wa hard to put down.
Thanks to GP Putnam for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
This book is my May pick for our reading challenge to read a book about a carnival or circus. I have to say that while I was happy to read this book that has been on my stack for som long, I didn’t love this book.
I felt like nothing good happened and the story was too outrageous for me. Did anybody else feel differently?
The Book of Night by Holly Black
I have read Holly Black for years and love her so I was so excited to read this adult fantasy. This fantasy is complex and dark which I should have guessed from the name.
Black is able to make our world into something else and make it seem entirely plausible. In this world, shadows can be manipulated and changed into something else. They can be removed and controlled.
Charlie is a Con artist who finds herself pulled into something that is over her head. Desperate to save herself and her sister, Charlie will do almost anything.
Thanks to Macmillan Audio for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
Olive Smith is a Ph.D. student who does not believe in her ability to be in love. When her best friend develops a crush on someone she dated briefly, she decides to kiss the first man she sees in order to prove she is over him.
That one kiss happens to be with THE Adam Carlsen, an academic genius. The two decide to fake-date and what starts out as pretend, becomes something more- for Olive. I loved this fake dating, office romance novel and it has a well-earned spot on its list of the best romance novels of all time. If you love this book as much as we did, check out our post: Books Like the Love Hypothesis to Obsess Over
The Emma Project by Sonali Dev
I love that Emma gets a different twist with this adaptation. Vansh Raje takes on the role of Emma in this fresh new perspective.
If you have read Dev’s other books, these characters will be familiar to you by now. I liked this book and I love the way Dev changes the story while still being true to the heart of them. I do not love Naina and this story involves her a lot.
While we get to see things from her perspective, which makes her more likable, Dev did too good of a job making me dislike her in the last book.
Thanks to Avon for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Four Aunties and A Wedding by Jesse Q. Sutanto
I read Dial A for Aunties and I LOVED it. It ws one of my favorites of the year. This book, unfortunately, missed the mark for me.
Meddy and Nathan hire wedding planers for their upcoming wedding whom seem to be perfect. Until Meddy hears one of them talking about a “Target”. Rather than talk to Nathan about it, Meddy finds herself in a bind as she tries to stop the “hit” during her wedding. The lying and deceit throughout this book ruined it for me.
The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais
I am a huge fan of Ms. Marais’ writing. I read her previous two books and was so excited to read this one because fantasy is my favorite genre. This book did not disappoint. The writing is beautiful and very much Marais’ style and the witches in this book are hilarious. They are witty and funny and there is never a dull moment in the Manor.
The magic in this book is woven seamlessly into the story that has non-stop surprises. The book begins with the people of the town descending onto the manor with a wrecking ball to destroy it and the distillery and leave the witches homeless. They are left with less than two weeks to save their house but in order to do so, they must reveal long-kept secrets.
I do not want to give anything away. This family drama book made me laugh out loud often and shed a few tears as well. I absolutely loved this witch book and it is a definite must-read from our list of ultimate beach reads 2023.
Thanks to Mira Publishing for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.