Friday, June 1st.  What a great day for a book review.  I love that the first day of the month fell on a Friday because that’s a great day for me to share reviews of all the books that I read in May.  That gives you the entire weekend to get on Amazon, the bookstore, or the library if any of my suggestions strike your fancy.  Nothing makes me happier than that, other than actually reading and reviewing them, of course.

I only read half as many books in May as I did in April, but I still have six books to share with and review for you.

As always, these are my honest opinions about these books.  No one has paid me to read or review them–I just do this because…well, I’m going to read anyway.  May as well share with all of you what I thought to help you decide if you want to read them, too.  Let’s do it, shall we?

An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle is the fifth book in the Time Quintet, and the only one I had never read.  To be totally honest, this book started my month out poorly.  And to be even more honest, the only good book in the series is A Wrinkle in Time.  The only other passable took, in my opinion, is Many Waters, but even it is not all that spectacular.  This final book in the series, though, is exceptionally poor.  It was an absolute chore to read and was not enjoyable at all.  As I read this series as an adult, the nostalgia from my youth, my memories of reading A Wrinkle in Time did not help me enjoy these books.  Now…if you have kids that like sci-fi or fantasy, I would recommend the Time Quintet for them.  It’s kid-friendly fare, with themes that almost any parent would approve of, and they’re easy for all audiences.  But that’s about the best I can say about them.

History of the Rain by Niall Williams helped my losing streak continue.  I was super excited to start this book since I had heard so many wonderful things about the book and the author.  However, the writing was overly lyrical and repetitive, and it read like the beginning of The Bible (he begat him begat him…).  It was very difficult to get into and even more difficult to care about.  And, honestly, by the time I got to the end, I was just glad it was over.  This book makes me want to be completely honest, and I’ve said this on other sites, like Litsy, but it seems like the type of book someone would recommend in order to seem smart or well-read.  It’s just not an enjoyable book with enjoyable characters that many would want to read.  I’m sure there is someone that would enjoy this book, but I had a hard time thinking of anyone that I would recommend it to.  Ultimately, I would recommend picking this up at the library, or on a free service like Libby before purchasing it.

Circe by Madeline Miller helped to kill my losing streak for the month of May.  This was a charming narrative created from the mythology of the Goddess Circe, the daughter of Greek Titan Helios and the Oceanid nymph Perse.  It was fun, dramatic, driven, informative, funny…just a fantastic narrative about an overlooked piece of Greek mythology.  From the very beginning, you can’t help but fall in love with Circe, feel her happiness, her enormous sorrow, and find yourself flipping through the pages, begging to know what happens.  Now, of course, the narrative is based on the mythology surrounding Circe…so if you enjoy Greek mythology like I do, you probably won’t be surprised by any of the events in the book.  You’ll essentially know how it ends.  However…Madeline Miller weaves her narrative so astutely that you feel as though you are reading the biography of an old friend.  An absolute recommendation for all!

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan is an absolute triumph in storytelling.  Not that this book will win a Pulitzer or go down in history as “One of the Most Important Novels of All-Time” or anything.  However, this is a book that gets you right in the gut, tells the story in a way that is extremely engaging and endearing and has the reader dying to know the ending.  Absolute truth?  I figured out the mystery in this story halfway through the book.  Did I care? No. Why? Because Matthew Sullivan unfurled his plot twist and characters’ stories in the climax expertly–delivering a punch to the gut that will have you clutching the book to your chest.  It’s absolutely breathtaking and an absolute recommendation.  All books should be written by such capable authors.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough was another book that kept my winning streak going.  Full disclosure–I rolled my eyes heavily throughout 99% of this book.  Less than a third of the way into the book, I knew what the solution to the mystery was, I knew why things were happening the way they were happening, and I was just wanting to get the book read and over with so that I could move onto something else.  Then I read the last chapter.  Which is five pages long.  And a twist that had me saying “What the fu…” was delivered in those five pages.  Everything I thought I felt about this book literally changed in just five simple pages.  I have never had a book do that to me before.  If you want to read a book that will be engaging but predictable–and then get slapped across the face in the last five pages (and I mean that in the best way), this is the book for you.  I cannot recommend it enough.

 Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini is a book that I had been wanting to read since it came out.  I just never found the time until this last month.  This was the last full book that I read before the end of the month.  And it was a doozy.  Leah Remini comes off as no-nonsense, engaging, funny…a “real broad”.  Unlike other similar autobiographies, this one doesn’t make the author sound like a complete crazy person.  Leah Remini helps the reader to understand why someone would get involved with and stay in a cult, how Scientology is structured and how it works, and what it means to be on the good and bad side of those in charge of the cult.  While the bulk of the book deals with Leah Remini’s relationship with Scientology, the stories of her childhood, trying to break into acting, and relationships with her family members and friends are completely charming.  It’s a fun, easy read, but also doesn’t spare the reader the dark details of being an actress who also happens to be in a cult.  The message of hope, courage, and strength will resonate with readers.

And, if you need other recommendations, why not try this little fella out, too?

Zephyr Klynick and Dayl Mayeaux are best friends and partner together to investigate unusual and even paranormal oddities that inflict their North Central Texas town. Life events from their past have led them to become righters of wrong—with each case becoming more and more odd than the previous. Business is never normal. Things get even more unusual when a mutilated cow carcass is found in a field in a highly populated area of town. Then a prominent religious leader and his brother-in-law come up missing. The police desperately need help from Mayeaux-Klynick Private Investigations—and the mayor does anything but make life easy. Zephyr and Dayl both know they need to solve the cow mutilation mystery to appease the mayor, but they also need to find the missing religious leader. Bit by bit, the case set before Zephyr and Dayl gets more and more complicated. It quickly becomes clear that a nefarious plot has been set in motion and only Mayeaux-Klynick Private Investigations have the skills to solve the case.

Until next time…