Books to Read This Month: May Edition

May is another one of my favorite months. Not only the weather starts turning into that comfortable weather that makes it ideal for walks and sitting in the park. But May is also a great time to start making your reading list for the summer! May always has a great selection of new releases that are perfect for “summer reading” and May 2021 is no different from any other. From World War II stories to time travel middle grade fiction, here are some great new releases that will get you excited for the hot weather:

Featured Book of the Month

Unsettled Ground By Claire Fuller

Expected Publication Date: May 18

Shortlisted for the 2021 Women’s Prize For Fiction

At fifty-one years old, twins Jeanie and Julius still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation in the English countryside. The cottage they have shared their entire lives is their only protection against the modernizing world around them. Inside its walls, they make music, and in its garden, they grow everything they need to survive. To an outsider, it looks like poverty; to them, it is home.

But when Dot dies unexpectedly, the world they’ve so carefully created begins to fall apart. The cottage they love, and the security it offered, is taken back by their landlord, exposing the twins to harsh truths and even harsher realities. Seeing a new future, Julius becomes torn between the loyalty he feels towards his sister and his desire for independence, while Jeanie struggles to find work and a home for them both. And just when it seems there might be a way forward, a series of startling secrets from their mother’s past come to the surface, forcing the twins to question who they are, and everything they know of their family’s history. (Credit: Tin House Books)


Second Place by Rachel Cusk

A woman invites a famous artist to use her guesthouse in the remote coastal landscape where she lives with her family. Powerfully drawn to his paintings, she believes his vision might penetrate the mystery at the center of her life. But as a long, dry summer sets in, his provocative presence itself becomes an enigma–and disrupts the calm of her secluded household. (Credit: Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The Glorious Guinness Girls by Emily Hourican 

Descendants of the founder of the Guinness beer empire, they were the toast of 1920s high society, darlings of the press, with not a care in the world. But Felicity knows better. Sent to live with them as a child because her mother could no longer care for her, she grows up as the sisters’ companion. Both an outsider and a part of the family, she witnesses the complex lives upstairs and downstairs, sees the compromises and sacrifices beneath the glamorous surface. Then, at a party one summer’s evening, something happens that sends shock waves through the entire household. (Credit: Grand Central Publishing)

African Europeans: An Untold History by Olivette Otele

Conventional wisdom holds that Africans are only a recent presence in Europe. But in African Europeans, renowned historian Olivette Otele debunks this and uncovers a long history of Europeans of African descent. From the third century, when the Egyptian Saint Maurice became the leader of a Roman legion, all the way up to the present, Otele explores encounters between those defined as “Africans” and those called “Europeans.” She gives equal attention to the most prominent figures—like Alessandro de Medici, the first duke of Florence thought to have been born to a free African woman in a Roman village—and the untold stories—like the lives of dual-heritage families in Europe’s coastal trading towns. (Credit: Basic Books)

Luck of the Titanic by Stacy Lee

Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise though, she’s turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese aren’t allowed into America.

But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is there, as is an influential circus owner, whom Val hopes to audition for. Thankfully, there’s not much a trained acrobat like Val can’t overcome when she puts her mind to it.

As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, perform for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America.

Then one night the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val’s dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival. (Credit: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)

The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga

Expected Publication Date: May 11

Cora hasn’t spoken to her best friend, Quinn, in a year.

Despite living next door to each other, they exist in separate worlds of grief. Cora is still grappling with the death of her beloved sister in a school shooting, and Quinn is carrying the guilt of what her brother did.

On the day of Cora’s twelfth birthday, Quinn leaves a box on her doorstep with a note. She has decided that the only way to fix things is to go back in time to the moment before her brother changed all their lives forever—and stop him.

In spite of herself, Cora wants to believe. And so the two former friends begin working together to open a wormhole in the fabric of the universe. But as they attempt to unravel the mysteries of time travel to save their siblings, they learn that the magic of their friendship may actually be the key to saving themselves. (Credit: Balzer + Bray)

Unsettled by Reem Faruqi

Expected Publication Date: May 11

When her family moves from Pakistan to Peachtree City, all Nurah wants is to blend in, yet she stands out for all the wrong reasons. Nurah’s accent, floral-print kurtas, and tea-colored skin make her feel excluded, until she meets Stahr at swimming tryouts.

And in the water Nurah doesn’t want to blend in. She wants to win medals like her star athlete brother, Owais–who is going through struggles of his own in the U.S. Yet when sibling rivalry gets in the way, she makes a split-second decision of betrayal that changes their fates.

Ultimately Nurah slowly gains confidence in the form of strong swimming arms, and also gains the courage to stand up to bullies, fight for what she believes in, and find her place. (Credit: HarperCollins)

V is for Victory by Lissa Evans

Expected Publication Date: May 11

It’s late 1944. Hitler’s rockets are raining down on London with vicious regularity and it’s the coldest winter in living memory. The Allies are gaining ground, but victory is certainly dragging its feet.

In a large house next to Hampstead Heath, Vee Sedge is barely scraping by with a herd of lodgers to feed and her young charge Noel, almost fifteen now, to clothe and educate. When she witnesses an accident and finds herself in court, the repercussions are both unexpectedly marvelous and potentially disastrous. Because Vee is not actually the person she’s pretending to be, and neither is Noel.

Victory is coming. Yet the end of the war won’t just mean peace, but discovery . . .(Credit: Harper)

While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams

Expected Publication Date: May 11

Avery Keene, a brilliant young law clerk for the legendary Justice Howard Wynn, is doing her best to hold her life together—excelling in an arduous job with the court while also dealing with a troubled family. When the shocking news breaks that Justice Wynn—the cantankerous swing vote on many current high-profile cases—has slipped into a coma, Avery’s life turns upside down. She is immediately notified that Justice Wynn has left instructions for her to serve as his legal guardian and power of attorney. Plunged into an explosive role she never anticipated, Avery finds that Justice Wynn had been secretly researching one of the most controversial cases before the court—a proposed merger between an American biotech company and an Indian genetics firm, which promises to unleash breathtaking results in the medical field. She also discovers that Wynn suspected a dangerously related conspiracy that infiltrates the highest power corridors of Washington.

As political wrangling ensues in Washington to potentially replace the ailing judge whose life and survival Avery controls, she begins to unravel a carefully constructed, chesslike sequence of clues left behind by Wynn. She comes to see that Wynn had a much more personal stake in the controversial case and realizes his complex puzzle will lead her directly into harm’s way in order to find the truth. While Justice Sleeps is a cunningly crafted, sophisticated novel, layered with myriad twists and a vibrant cast of characters. Drawing on her astute inside knowledge of the court and political landscape, Stacey Abrams shows herself to be not only a force for good in politics and voter fairness but also a major new talent in suspense fiction.

We Need New Stories: The Myths That Subvert Freedom by Nesrine Malik

Expected Publication Date: May 11

In 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump declared: I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. Reeling from his victory, Democrats blamed the corrosive effect of identity politics. When banned from Twitter for inciting violence, Trump and his supporters claimed that the measure was an assault on free speech. In We Need New Stories, Nesrine Malik explains that all of these arguments are political myths–variations on the lie that American values are under assault.

Exploring how these and other common political myths function, she breaks down how they are employed to subvert calls for equality from historically disenfranchised groups. Interweaving reportage with an incendiary analysis of American history and politics, she offers a compelling account of how calls to preserve free speech are used against the vulnerable; how a fixation with wokeness, political correctness, and cancel culture is in fact an organized and well-funded campaign by elites; and how the fear of racial minorities and their “identity politics” obscures the biggest threat of all–white terrorism. What emerges is a radical framework for understanding the crises roiling American contemporary politics. (Credit: W. W. Norton & Company)

When The World Was Ours by Liz Kessler

Expected Publication Date: May 18

Three friends. One memory.


Vienna. 1936. Three young friends–Leo, Elsa, and Max–spend a perfect day together, unaware that around them Europe is descending into a growing darkness and that they will soon be cruelly ripped apart from one another. With their lives taking them across Europe–to Germany, England, Prague, and Poland–will they ever find their way back to one another? Will they want to? (Credit: Aladdin Paperbacks)

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

Expected Publication Date: May 18

For 150 years, high above rocky Scottish cliffs, Caldonbrae Hall has sat untouched, a beacon of excellence in an old ancestral castle. A boarding school for girls, it promises that the young women lucky enough to be admitted will emerge “resilient and ready to serve society.”

Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie: a 26-year-old Classics teacher, Caldonbrae’s new head of the department, and the first hire for the school in over a decade. At first, Rose is overwhelmed to be invited into this institution, whose prestige is unrivaled. But she quickly discovers that behind the school’s elitist veneer lies an impenetrable, starkly traditional culture that she struggles to reconcile with her modernist beliefs–not to mention her commitment to educating “girls for the future.”

It also doesn’t take long for Rose to suspect that there’s more to the secret circumstances surrounding the abrupt departure of her predecessor–a woman whose ghost lingers everywhere–than anyone is willing to let on. In her search for this mysterious former teacher, Rose instead uncovers the darkness that beats at the heart of Caldonbrae, forcing her to confront the true extent of the school’s nefarious purpose, and her own role in perpetuating it. (Credit: St. Martin’s Press)

That Thing About Bollywood by Supriya Kelkar

Expected Publication Date: May 18

You know how in Bollywood when people are in love, they sing and dance from the mountaintops? Eleven-year-old Sonali wonders if they do the same when they’re breaking up. The truth is, Sonali’s parents don’t get along, and it looks like they might be separating.

Sonali’s little brother, Ronak, is not taking the news well, constantly crying. Sonali would never do that. It’s embarrassing to let out so many feelings, to show the world how not okay you are. But then something strange happens, something magical, maybe. When Sonali gets upset during a field trip, she can’t bury her feelings like usual–instead, she suddenly bursts into a Bollywood song-and-dance routine about why she’s upset!

The next morning, much to her dismay, Sonali’s reality has shifted. Things seem brighter, almost too bright. Her parents have had Bollywood makeovers. Her friends are also breaking out into song and dance. And somehow, everyone is acting as if this is totally normal. (Credit: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Every Body Shines: Sixteen Stories about Living Fabulously Fat edited by Cassandra Newbould

Expected Publication Date: May 25

An intersectional, feminist YA anthology from some of today’s most exciting voices across a span of genres, all celebrating body diversity and fat acceptance through short stories.

Fat girls and boys and nonbinary teens are: friends who lift each other up, heroes who rescue themselves, big bodies in space, intellects taking up space, and bodies looking and feeling beautiful. They express themselves through fashion, sports and other physical pursuits, through food, and music, and art. They are flirting and falling in love. They are loving to themselves and one another. With stories that feature fat main characters starring in a multitude of settings, and written by authors who live these lives too, this is truly a unique collection that shows fat young people the representation they deserve. (Credit: Bloomsbury YA)



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