When it comes to reading, I will always pick a physical book over reading on a Kindle or listening to an audiobook. A physical book has always been and will always be my favorite form of reading. With that being said, I still listen to audiobooks and read on my Kindle and May was one of those months that I exclusively read on my Kindle. This is definitely because of all of the traveling throughout the month (traveling with a stocked Kindle is so much easier than packing multiple books!), but I also recently discovered Amazon First Reads so I had quite a few books to catch up on.
And maybe my Kindle needs to be in my regular rotation because last month, I read five books! The first of which was Erin French’s book, Finding Freedom. I had heard so many good things about this one and was excited to finally read it! I also read Mitch Albom’s latest novel, The Stranger in the Lifeboat, which I had high hopes for (I have loved everything he’s written!) but it didn’t hit the mark for me. The Love of My Life and I’ll Be You were both books I spotted at the airport and am definitely happy I got them on my Kindle through the library (Libby is the best for this!). And finally, I read Worlds Apart, one of the recent Amazon First Reads I picked!
P.S. What I read in April
What I Read in May
FINDING FREEDOM BY ERIN FRENCH
Long before The Lost Kitchen became a world dining destination with every seating filled the day the reservation book opens each spring, Erin French was a girl roaming barefoot on a 25-acre farm, a teenager falling in love with food while working the line at her dad’s diner and a young woman finding her calling as a professional chef at her tiny restaurant tucked into a 19th-century mill. This singular memoir–a classic American story–invites readers to Erin’s corner of her beloved Maine to share the real person behind the “girl from Freedom” fairytale, and the not-so-picture-perfect struggles that have taken every ounce of her strength to overcome, and that make Erin’s life triumphant.
In Finding Freedom, Erin opens up to the challenges, stumbles, and victories that have led her to the exact place she was ever meant to be, telling stories of multiple rock bottoms, of darkness and anxiety, of survival as a jobless single mother, of pills that promised release but delivered addiction, of a man who seemed to offer salvation but in the end ripped away her very sense of self. And of the beautiful son who was her guiding light as she slowly rebuilt her personal and culinary life around the solace she found in food–as a source of comfort, a sense of place, as a way of bringing goodness into the world. Erin’s experiences with deep loss and abiding hope, told with both honesty and humor, will resonate with women everywhere who are determined to find their voices, create community, grow stronger and discover their best selves despite seemingly impossible odds. Set against the backdrop of rural Maine and its lushly intense, bountiful seasons, Erin reveals the passion and courage needed to invent oneself anew, and the poignant, timeless connections between food and generosity, renewal and freedom.
My Review: This memoir of born-and-raised Mainer is absolutely beautiful. Author, chef, and restaurant owner Erin French shares her story of growing up in rural Maine, finally escaping the small town she grew up in only to return pregnant and alone. She experienced the highest highs and lowest lows, and takes us along on the journey of her life. As you read Finding Freedom, you’ll find yourself rooting for Erin and the relationships and community that lift her up along the way. An absolute must-read!
My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
THE LOVE OF MY LIFE BY ROSIE WALSH
I have held you at night for ten years and I didn’t even know your name. We have a child together. A dog, a house.
Who are you?
Emma loves her husband Leo and their young daughter Ruby: she’d do anything for them. But almost everything she’s told them about herself is a lie.
And she might just have got away with it, if it weren’t for her husband’s job. Leo is an obituary writer; Emma a well-known marine biologist. When she suffers a serious illness, Leo copes by doing what he knows best – researching and writing about his wife’s life. But as he starts to unravel the truth, he discovers the woman he loves doesn’t really exist. Even her name isn’t real.
When the very darkest moments of Emma’s past finally emerge, she must somehow prove to Leo that she really is the woman he always thought she was . . .
But first, she must tell him about the other love of her life.
My Review: This is one of those books that immediately sucks you in. While on the outside, Emma and her husband seem to have a perfect life but Emma’s hiding something, a big something. Throughout The Love of My Life, we follow Emma’s husband Leo (an obituary writer) as he uncovers what exactly Emma is hiding. It is definitely a slow burn but in a good way. I truly had no idea what was going to happen next and these types of books usually have a predictable outcome. The only reason I gave it 4 stars and not five is that it feels like the writer wasn’t super intentional with the style of writing or the speed. The beginning was slow but reads like contemporary fiction before reading like a mystery/thriller. The end felt a little rushed and read like a typical fiction novel.
My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’LL BE YOU BY JANELLE BROWN
As children, Sam and Elli were two halves of a perfect whole: Gorgeous identical twins whose parents sometimes couldn’t even tell them apart. They fell asleep to the sound of each other’s breath at night, holding hands in the dark. And once Hollywood discovered them, they became B-list child TV stars, often inhabiting the same role.
But as adults their lives have splintered. After leaving acting, Elli reinvented herself as the perfect homemaker: Married to a real-estate lawyer, in a house two blocks from the beach. Meanwhile, Sam has never recovered from her failed Hollywood career, or from her addiction to the pills and booze that have propped her up for the last 15 years.
Sam hasn’t spoken to her sister since her destructive behavior finally drove a wedge between them. So when her father calls out of the blue, Sam is shocked to learn that Elli’s life has been in turmoil: Her husband moved out, and Elli just adopted a two-year-old girl. Now she’s stopped answering her phone and checked in to a mysterious spa in Ojai. Is her sister just decompressing, or is she in trouble? Could she have possibly joined a cult? As Sam works to connect the dots left by Elli’s baffling disappearance, she realizes that the bond between her and her sister is more complicated than she ever knew.
My Review: I’m not typically one for the child star trope but the mystery/thriller aspect of I’ll Be You intrigued me and I’m glad I read it! In the novel, we follow grown identical twins, Sam and Ellie. Growing up, they were inseparable but as their views on acting changed and they entered high school, they began to drift apart. While they always remained in contact, their lives couldn’t be more different and one booze-filled evening of Sam’s actions finally tore them apart. A year later, their parents ask Sam for help with a niece she wasn’t aware of and Sam is very skeptical of her sister’s whereabouts. This is when things get iffy. Told in dual perspectives, we find out what’s really going on and it’s probably not what you expect! Overall, it was a good read but I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likable.
My Rating: 3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️
THE STRANGER IN THE LIFEBOAT BY MITCH ALBOM
Adrift in a raft after a deadly ship explosion, ten people struggle for survival at sea. Three days pass. Short on water, food, and hope, they spot a man floating in the waves. They pull him in. “Thank the Lord we found you,” a passenger says. “I am the Lord,” the man whispers. So begins Mitch Albom’s most beguiling novel yet.
Albom has written of heaven in the celebrated number-one bestsellers “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” and “The First Phone Call from Heaven”. Now, for the first time in his fiction, he ponders what we would do if, after crying out for divine help, God actually appeared before us. A fast-paced, compelling novel that makes you ponder your deepest beliefs, “The Stranger in the Lifeboat suggests that answers to our prayers may be found where we least expect them.”
My Rating: 3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️
WORLDS APART BY JANE CRITTENDEN
An emotional and hopeful debut that Can first love survive 18 years, 11,000 miles, and a lifetime of misunderstandings? Eighteen years ago, teenage Amy fled England, pregnant and heartbroken, to start over in New Zealand with her parents. Now Chris, the love she left behind, has walked into her beloved café by the beach and thrown her life into turmoil. As far as Amy’s concerned, Chris chose to ignore the child she was carrying when they last met. She brought up their daughter alone and created a happy home for them both on the other side of the world. But with Chris suddenly back in her life, she can no longer ignore the past and begins to wonder what really happened all those years ago. Old secrets and new revelations cast Amy’s world into doubt. What if this is her last chance at something truly meaningful? Can there really be a happy ending for everyone?
My Review: This was one of my Amazon First Reads books last month and while I had high hopes, it wasn’t quite there but I still enjoyed it! 18 years ago, Amy fled England, pregnant and heartbroken to start over in New Zealand with her parents. Now, 18 years later, Chris, the love she left behind reappears in her life. As far as Amy is concerned, Chris left her and his daughter behind to pick up the pieces but that’s not quite what happens. Throughout Worlds Apart, we follow Chris and Amy as they make amends and get a second chance at love. At times, I definitely found myself silently yelling at Amy for making the decisions she did and for taking so long to tell Chris the truth but it all works out in the end, so that’s something, right?
My Rating: 3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️