May Wrap Up

May 31, 2018

May Wrap Up

May Wrap Up

My intention with this blog is to bring you the BEST of what I’m reading and to use Goodreads for the total of what I’m reading. I’m committed to offering 4 & 5 star reviews for reading recommendations on the blog. My greatest fear is that you’ll see a cover in a book store (or Target!) and think “Oh, I saw that book on Reading Ladies!” and not remember that it was a book that I rated less than 4 or 5 stars and be disappointed with the read. So for me, it feels risky to post the entirety of my reading on the blog.

That being said….I’m following in the footsteps of other bloggers at month’s end and presenting all of my month’s reading along with my star ratings. Two of the seven titles I’ve reviewed on the blog and I’ll provide those links for you. There’s at least one more title that will receive a full feature review soon. (I actually read 8 books this month, but I’m not listing one because I can’t recommend it in any way even though I gave it 3 stars.)

Keep in mind that my 3 star reads have been rated higher by other readers, so check out the Amazon or Goodreads reviews.

The reading experience is subjective and I share my ratings knowing that if you’ve read the same selections, our opinions will vary greatly.

*Books listed in order by my star rating

Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
(full review coming soon)
Genre: Fiction (categories: music, inspirational, a touch of fantasy/folktale)
My Rating: 5 Stars
My Brief Thoughts: I loved the life story of Frankie and his musical talent told from Music’s perspective (including a touch of fantasy and folk tale)….thanks for the recommendation Patti Iverson! Look for my full review on the blog soon!
Recommended for music fans, for Mitch Albom fans, and for readers looking for a creative, well written, unique read.

the music shop

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce (previously reviewed here)
Genre: Fiction (categories: music, memorable characters)
My Rating: 5 Stars

My Brief Thoughts: In the spirit of A Man Called Ove, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and Britt-Marie Was Here, this is a poignant and heartfelt story of a quirky and lovable music shop owner who is dedicated to the preservation of vinyl and finds love and healing through music. (there is a playlist on Spotify to accompany the book) See my full review here.
Recommended for music lovers and for readers who appreciate quirky characters who struggle to create a better life for themselves.
*Language Alert

the way of beauty

The Way of Beauty by Camille Di Maio (previously reviewed here)
Genre: Historical Fiction (categories: family, romance, New York City, Penn Station, Suffragettes)
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
My Brief Thoughts: Set in New York City around historic Penn Station, this is a thoughtful and memorable story of family and romance told from two perspectives (mother and daughter). See my full review here.
Recommended for readers who appreciate multi-generational stories, for readers who love New York City, for those who love stories about strong independent women, and for those who like themes involving sacrifice, persistence, determination, romance, symbolic architecture, and the Suffragette Movement.

beneath a scarlet sky

Beneath a Scarlett Sky by Mark Sullivan
Genre: Historical Fiction (categories: WW11, Spain)
My Rating: 4 Stars (3 for writing quality, 5 for engaging)
My Brief Thoughts: This is an unputdownable story that explores WW11 from Spain’s perspective; the main character is compelling and brave and can cleverly think or maneuver his way out of any difficult situation.
Recommended for readers who like fast paced, page turners and who are looking for a compelling historical fiction read.

the vines we planted

The Vines We Planted by (debut author) Joanell Serra
Genre: Fiction (categories: family, romance, wine country)
My Brief Thoughts: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and all opinions are my own (my full review can be found on Goodreads). This fast paced story set in California’s wine country is packed with well drawn characters and many story lines and themes.
Recommended for readers who want an engaging read from the first paragraph, for those who appreciate a California wine country setting, and for fans of romance and family sagas.
*Language Alert

last train to istanbul

Last Train to Istanbul by Ayse Kulin
Genre: Historical Fiction (categories: WW11, Jewish, Turkey, France)
My Rating: 3 Stars
My Brief Thoughts: I often give 3 stars to reads that are OK but could have been better in some ways (3 stars are usually a mixed bag for me). Because I enjoy historical fiction, I appreciate the historical perspective of Turkey working earnestly to spirit its Jewish citizens out of France and away from the Gestapo; however, I have a few concerns. I felt like too many characters were introduced, too many story lines were left dangling, and it could have been better written (or perhaps better translated).
Recommended for readers who appreciate diverse reads by authors from another country and for fans of WW11 historical fiction and its various perspectives.

I am I am I am

I Am, I Am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell
Genre: Nonfiction (category: Memoir)
My Rating: 3 Stars
My Brief Thoughts: Three stars reads are a mixed bag for me. They are usually OK reads but could have been better for me in some ways. Even though I enjoy memoirs and Maggie O’Farrell is a gifted writer, I struggled with this read and skimmed many chapters. I probably attempted to plow through too much of the book in one sitting. I think it would have been better for me to read one chapter and then set it aside for the day.  Some of the chapters were more interesting to me than others, and some of the content caused me to ponder my own fears. Although I appreciate her creative structure and unique approach to a memoir, the chapters are not in chronological order and this began to bother me after a while because I lost track of what had happened before or after. My final take is that the content of this memoir was too heavy or discouraging for me and I started to feel anxious. If she had written something lighter or humorous in between the traumatic experiences, I think it would have been an easier read.
Recommended for readers who are fans of Maggie O’Farrell.

Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

PBS: The Great American Read

How many books have you read of the hundred on the list? Which ones will you vote for? Were you surprised by any on the list? Do you plan to vote on your favorite reads? I’ve already voted once for Gone With the Wind!

Looking Ahead:

Come back tomorrow (Friday) when I’ll be discussing summer reading opportunities for children and families.

I started Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordana today. (It’s received mixed reviews so far.)

I’ll soon be reading Backman’s new release Us Against You……sequel to Beartown….. releasing 6/5).

Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

 Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear about your May reading in the comments.

Also, I’d love to hear your choices for The Great American Read sponsored by PBS.

***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.





  1. I loved I Am, I Am, I Am, but I can see why it wouldn’t be for everyone. I’m looking forward to reading the Music Shop. Your review inspired me to place my library hold!

    • I liked some of it and then it was too much or too heavy….I started feeling anxious. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it! She’s a gifted writer 👍 Thanks for commenting! I hope you enjoy The Music Shop!

  2. HI Carol– We’re talking through Beneath the Scarlett Sky at our Lit group next week. It was a real page turner– but I can hardly believe that one person could actually survive all the crazy adventures he went through. I read (I can’t remember where) that it’s going to be made into a movie. Love getting your monthly lists! You’re my best source of book recommendations for the library now days! thanks thanks. Hope you have a great summer lined up ahead. Any plans?? travels?? xox

    • Yes… Beneath the Scarlett Sky was a little fantastical ! Is that a word?! Lol My newest fav book that I haven’t yet written a review for is The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom. Have you read it? On the other hand I’ve read a few duds lately 😩 I can’t wait for the release to Beartown in just a few hours! 👍 I’m reading Force of Nature this week (sequel to The Dry). No special plans for summer yet…..Are you traveling more this summer?

      • Hi Carol– I don’t know if fantastical is a word, but it describes that book perfectly! This summer am traveling just to see our kids– in San Francisco this week (have 2 kids who live here and one out here from Wisconsin!) and then Larry and I will spend a long weekend in Wisconsin end of July. Haven’t seen The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto –off to Amazon right now to check on it. thanks for the recommendation Carol! Happy Reading! xox

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