Recent Reads: 12 Mini Reviews from April & May 2020

woman reading in spring with flowers


Wow, these last two months have been hard, no? Thank the good Lord we have books to help keep us sane. Here is what I have been reading along with some (short) reviews.

You will find this post crammed with entertaining books and probably a little light on the serious and the sad. Which, to be honest, is where I typically land with my reading even WITHOUT the events of the past few months.

So, you can imagine how silly my reading has gotten under current circumstances. I am LOVING it so much I might never go back to reading anything serious again. Just kidding.

Anyway, I have done a few escape reading posts here and here so if you are like me and taking a break from heavier topics (or maybe just need a break IN BETWEEN heavier topics!), check ’em out!

I added in a few down at the bottom that were DNFs (books I did not finish) as I seem to be doing that more lately. Happy reading!

Note: My focus on escape reading does not mean I am not trying to listen, do the work and ensure I am informed about events or society. It just means that my reading life is typically where I go to escape the world. I do sometimes reach for books that deal with tougher issues or subjects, and I constantly (like, every single day) read news articles and stay informed on important issues. For more up to date info on my thoughts on current events, you can follow me on Instagram or read my weekly Slice of Life post that comes out each Friday.

Books from April & May 2020 I Loved

Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires book cover

Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

This book was everything in April. I got lost in Hendrix’s vivid, atmospheric writing about the South, and the deliciously evil vampire story. Even dealing with some tough issues (racism and sexism to name a couple), this felt like escape reading at its finest which I think is the true sign of something special. Of course, horror is high up on my favorites list, so I am tempted to put in a warning for people who do not love that genre. EXCEPT that this book has received raves from pretty much every one of my book friends, no matter their genre preferences. Read it!

Yes Please book cover

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

This was a re-read on audio, and it was the perfect escape. Her take on life (and especially motherhood) is so funny while also poignant and meaningful at the same time. I rarely re-read a book, and when I do, I have recently found that audio is the way to go the second time. Poehler reads it herself and delivers it with her signature crazy voices and talented comedic timing. It is so good I might have to listen a third time.

Open Book Memoir book cover

Open Book by Jessica Simpson

I will admit I was skeptical about this one at first. However, so many trusted sources raved about this memoir, and I decided to give it a chance. I have always liked her and admired her honesty. This book gave me a peak into her life and helped me understand more about her while also feeling very uplifting and encouraging (plus all the stuff about John Mayer was dishy!).

Sun Down Motel book cover

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Ghosts at a run-down old motel….a creepy and unsolved disappearance in the past….shifting perspectives telling a story that draws you in from page one….sign me up! Even with all of that, I just liked (did not love) this book, although I am having a hard time putting my finger on why. Maybe there was too much of the story revealed in the synopsis and the first few pages? It was the first I read by St. James, but I have heard many book friends rave about another of her books, The Broken Girls, so I am listening to that on audio now and loving it so far.

Jane Doe book cover

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

Super fun and dark tale with the protagonist, Jane Doe, planning the entire book to revenge-murder her friend’s ex-boyfriend (this is not a spoiler). On Instagram, I called her a “sociopath with a heart of gold” as Jane is one of those delicious characters thriller/horror lovers, like me, adore. Supremely entertaining!

Family Upstairs book cover

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

An old mansion in London…a woman who does not know her past….this one is dark, twisty and made me realize that I need more Lisa Jewell books in my life.

Dad is Fat book cover

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Loved and constantly cracked up through this entire comedic book of essays about life raising five kids in a teeny apartment in New York City. I have always loved his stand-up comedy and am now hoping to get to Food: A Love Story and also his wife’s book When Life Gives You Pears soon.

Dead Girls Club Book Cover

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

I loved this well-written and creepy story with an “I know what you did last summer” feel. I did not love the end but was so creeped out by the scary ghost story at the heart of it that I was forced to designate my reading time to daylight hours only. It takes a lot to freak me out or scare me, so I feel like that is pertinent info.

Books from April & May 2020 I Did Not Love

Haunting of Hill House book cover

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Her short story, The Lottery, was one of the first dark tales I was majorly drawn to as a young reader. I recently ready We Have Always Lived in the Castle and adored its quirky characters and gothic horror feel. This one, however, fell really short for me. Her writing remains one of my favorites (across all genres) but this story seemed disjointed, and I got tired of all the characters droning on and on. Still, I am happy to have read it and thoroughly enjoyed her haunting prose (plus, the creepy ending.)

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

A downloaded this one on a whim over Memorial Day weekend when I saw it was on sale. I used to read a lot of YA but have not found much that appeals to me lately. I was super curious from page one to find out who did it, so I finished the book. Oh, and the title has literally nothing to do with the actual book. That is about all I can say.

A Few Books from April & May 2020 I DNFed (Did Not Finish)

100 Year Old Man That Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared book cover

The 100 Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

I had high hopes for this one as I blew through the first few chapters and kept thinking, why have I not picked this one up sooner? However, I quickly tired of the story which the publisher says is perfect for fans of Forest Gump and A Man Called Ove. Honestly, it might have been just the wrong book at the wrong time as many other book friends love this one.

Recursion by Blake Crouch

Nothing shocked me more than how much I disliked this one. All my reading buddies have given it raves, and I thoroughly enjoyed and flew through his previous book, Dark Matter. For some reason, though, I could not get into this one or connect with his writing style. With Dark Matter, I felt the same way about the writing but the creative, fever-pitch story won out. For some reason, I did not have the same experience with Recursion.

What recent books have you read and loved (or not so much)?


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