May 2024 In Review

Posted June 1, 2024 by meezcarrie in children, Christian, clean, contemporary, cozy mystery, devotional, historical, middle grade, mystery/suspense, romance / 6 Comments


May 2024 in Review

Hello, reading friends! Well, the heat has hit Atlanta and I saw my first blooming crape myrtle of the season so I guess summer is upon us! Before we look ahead to a new month, the end of the current month means it’s time for my May 2024 in Review post where I look at the books I read and reviewed in that time period. I had SUCH A FABULOUS reading month with several 5-star reviews! The books I read in May also represent a wide mix  – cozy mysteries, romantic suspense, historical fiction/romance and contemporary fiction/romance, as well as a middle school novel and a devotional.

All total, in May 2024 I read twenty-eight books and reviewed twenty-four! These are listed in the order I reviewed them, with snippets of my reviews (in case you missed some), and the ones I haven’t reviewed yet will be at the end. It was another fantastic reading month! June is another full month for the review calendar, including some books I’m very eager to read. Like, Hidden in the Night by Elizabeth Goddard, Moonlight on the Mississippi by Stephenia H. McGee, Bitter and Sweet by Rhonda McKnight, Truth Be Told by Patricia Raybon, Rocky Mountain Journey by Misty M. Beller, and Her Part to Play by Jenny Erlingsson!


Secrets & Scandals by Piper GlendaleSECRETS & SCANDALS by Piper Glendale // Cozy Mystery (mild content warning)

From the very first page of Secrets & Scandals, I was hooked on Piper Glendale’s witty writing voice and the engaging characters she created. Emily Delaney, our intrepid protagonist, felt relatable in her flaws as well as her strengths, and I was rooting for her to embrace Gilman as the home of her heart once more. The layered mysteries are expertly plotted and unpredictable, and there was no ‘dead weight’ when it came to the supporting characters, the red herrings, or the legitimate clues. Everything, even the dialogue, served to move the story forward, and the whole book whet my appetite for more of this series. Fortunately, there are already two more books waiting for me!


Summer Suspicions collectionSUMMER SUSPICIONS collection by Alana Terry, Cynthia Hickey, Robin Patchen, Terry Toler, Mary Alford, Adam Blumer, Lesley Ann McDaniel, Linda K. Rodante, Camy Tang, Jan Thompson // Romantic Suspense

Ten different novels. Ten different suspense authors. Ten stories of danger, intrigue, faith, and romance. Summer Suspicions is the perfect way to introduce yourself to new authors and reacquaint yourself to familiar ones, the full-length novels each giving you a good taste of that author’s writing voice and how he/she delivers a romantic suspense story! I enjoyed each book in the collection and look forward to reading more by these authors in the future. If you’re looking for another great romantic suspense to read, how about trying ten instead with Summer Suspicions available for preorder at only $0.99!!


A Run at Love by Toni ShilohA RUN AT LOVE by Toni Shiloh // Contemporary Romance ⭐ 5 stars ⭐

A Run at Love by Toni Shiloh is everything I want in a ‘friends to more’ romance, and then some. Tucker and Piper are so cute together (sorry, you two, but it’s true) and I loved how they supported each other. Their story is swoony and sweet and a little sassy. But it also tackles some serious topics like Piper trying to find her place as not only a transracial adoptee in a very white world but also a trailblazer in horse racing and a disillusioned daughter. I was delighted to see the return of the text conversations between Tuck and his friends/accountability partners Lamont and Chris – I love the way they encourage each other in their respective relationships & walks with God, plus their banter is hilarious and on point. Find a fancy hat (or a going-out Stetson), a slice of Derby pie, and a cup of mint julep and curl up with A Run at Love post haste!


For a Lifetime by Gabrielle MeyerFOR A LIFETIME by Gabrielle Meyer // Romantic Historical Time-Crossing Fiction ⭐ 5 stars ⭐

I love everything about this series and about For a Lifetime. Gabrielle Meyer is truly a genius at creating fresh and captivating storylines that align the fictional concept of time crossing with a deep exploration of faith and history like I’ve never encountered before. Knowing that they each have to choose a timeline before their 25th birthday kept me on pins and needles – and with tears in my eyes – the closer we got to that date because any of the choices seemed impossible to make. I loved Grace and Hope (and though I felt more of a kinship with Grace, my family would probably say I was more like Hope haha). I was fully immersed in their stories, with all the complications and emotions and losses and gains involved. A million little writing choices on the part of the author reinforced my belief that she is just brilliant, and I am impatiently waiting for book 4 now – is it November yet?!?!?


The Song of Sourwood Mountain by Ann H. GabhartTHE SONG OF SOURWOOD MOUNTAIN by Ann H. Gabhart // Historical Fiction

In The Song of Sourwood Mountain, Ann H. Gabhart lovingly brings the hills of Appalachian Kentucky to life, fully immersing readers in the cadence of the unique dialect and the complex community dynamics. The characters are vividly drawn with deep emotions and yearned-for dreams, and readers will find themselves hurting for and rejoicing with Mira, Gordon, and Ada June as they fall in love with each other – and as we fall in love with them. I came to really adore this fictional holler and its people, and I am tucking away in my heart several faith reminders from this story. Oh – and I thought the epilogue was perfect! If you love Christy by Catherine Marshall, Appalachian Song by Michelle Shocklee, or the Blue Ridge Romances series from Pepper Basham, you will love The Song of Sourwood Mountain too!


Secondary Target by Angela CarlisleSECONDARY TARGET by Angela Carlisle // Romantic Suspense

Angela Carlisle bursts onto the romantic suspense scene with Secondary Target, a compelling debut novel that also quite nicely kicks off a brand new series. And I’m already eager for the next book because it involves two of my fave supporting characters from this one. The layered plot hooks you right away and keeps you riveted to the pages as you devour every word, knowing that you can (probably) count on a happily-ever-after resolution but not at all sure what the characters will have to go through to get there. I also appreciated the faith thread and Carlisle’s willingness to let Corina and Bryce share their doubts and raw emotions with readers and with each other. If you’re a fan of Patricia Bradley’s Pearl River series, Lynn H. Blackburn’s Gossamer Falls series, or Laura Scott’s Smoky Mountain Secrets series then you absolutely need to read Secondary Target too!


The Minor Miracle by Meredith DavisTHE MINOR MIRACLE by Meredith Davis // Middle School Fiction

Humor, heart, and super heroics – along with some great life lessons – await young readers on the pages of The Minor Miracle by Meredith Davis. Noah, Haley, and Rodney are a terrific trio of friends, and they navigate some crazy things in the most important way – together. The scattered illustrations from Billy Yong add to the comic book vibes and I thought they were really fun. Boys in particular will enjoy the middle school humor, but this story will appeal to girls too, especially those who dream of being Carmen Cortez or Storm or even Hermione Granger. I am excited to hear that a second book is on the way, and I hope for a variety of reasons that Rodney gets his own adventure (that he’ll remember) this time.


An Escape Goat by Janna RollinsAN ESCAPE GOAT by Janna Rollins // Cozy Mystery (mild content warning)

An Escape Goat by Janna Rollins combines farmyard mayhem, yummy food, engaging main characters, and a layered mystery to kick off a brand new series that readers will want to follow. I loved the goats (from a safe distance behind the pages of my book) and their hilarious personalities, as well as the romance potential between Callie and Levi for the future. Callie’s first customers were a mix of complicated friends who prove that money can’t buy happiness (or kindness, in most of those cases), which leaves a long list of plausible candidates for the killer among them. An enjoyable new cozy mystery that will appeal to fans of the Farmer’s Daughter mysteries by Peg Cochran and/or the Farm To Table mysteries from Amanda Flower!


Cornbread, Ribs, and Murder by Brenda Whiteside & Joyce ProellCORNBREAD, RIBS, AND MURDER by Joyce Proell & Brenda Whiteside // Cozy Mystery (mild content warning)

Cornbread, Ribs, and Murder is an enjoyable collaboration between not only authors Joyce Proell & Brenda Whiteside but also sisters Nicole and Emma! High drama among the hotel staff means the suspect list is long when one of their own is murdered, and the blend of red herrings with legitimate clues is cleverly done and nicely paced. Along with the murder, the sisters are each on the cusp of great professional adventures, and I was cheering both of them on in their pursuits because they’re very likable characters. A nice combination of several cozy tropes (culinary, hotel, sisters, etc.) and seamless co-authoring.


Resort to Murder by Annie McEwenRESORT TO MURDER by Annie McEwen // Cozy Mystery

I instantly fell in love with author Annie McEwen’s writing voice from the very first chapter of Resort to Murder, and I stayed charmed all the way through this great series starter! Emmy is super relatable, and I loved her adorable personality as well as the hilarity that ensues when she teams up with her BFF Whitney and their mutual friend Marcus-with-the-mullet. Other highlights for me were the endearing dogs, her relationship with her family, the romance potential with swoony Dean, and the picturesque setting. Speaking of which, the Wisconsin Northwoods were a fave vacation spot for my family when I was growing up in Northern Illinois so tagging along with Emmy to her hometown brought back many fond memories. The mystery is very well plotted, grabbed my interest right away, and kept me guessing. This book is just full of heart, and I can’t wait to read the next book!


God Is Our Help by Patricia RaybonGOD IS OUR HELP by Patricia Raybon // Devotional

In God Is Our Help, Patricia Raybon takes us to the throne of grace and invites us to reach out to the One who came to rescue us. Each devotional reading is insightful and encouraging, reminding us with well-chosen Scriptures and engaging stories that we aren’t alone and that He meets us where we are. I really enjoy this author’s writing voice – whether it be in fiction or non-fiction – and this book is no exception. It felt like sitting down to talk about Jesus over a cup of hot chocolate, and I appreciated the multi-generational and multi-cultural perspectives. God is Our Help would be a marvelous addition to your morning devotional routine, or given as a gift to someone who needs a Rescuer.


The Diva Goes Overboard book reviewTHE DIVA GOES OVERBOARD by Krista Davis // Cozy Mystery

The Diva Goes Overboard continues Krista Davis’s winsome Domestic Diva Mysteries with a multi-layered plot that was packed with surprising twists. Family drama, unexpected secrets, copious rumors, and an increasing murder count kept Sophie on her toes and kept me absorbed in the story. I enjoyed, as always, hanging out with down-to-earth Sophie and her inner circle because I love their camaraderie and various personalities. And don’t get me started on all the delicious-sounding food in this book! The fact that Davis can still develop a fresh and unique mystery for book seventeen in the same series is quite impressive, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Sophie!


Courting an Amish Bishop by Mindy SteeleCOURTING AN AMISH BISHOP by Mindy Steele // Contemporary Romance

What a delightful story this was! With a fan-inducing first kiss that had my heart all twitterpated! Simon and Stella were such layered characters, and I loved watching their instant attraction slowly turn into a deep love. Author Mindy Steele also filled Courting an Amish Bishop with engaging supporting characters (like even Ellie the dog) and compelling side stories (like Carl) that had me fully invested in this community along with the romance I was originally here for. Humor and heart both characterize this charming story, and I hope we get to see Simon and Stella again.


Show Me Deceit by Ellen E. WithersSHOW ME DECEIT by Ellen E. Withers // Dual Timeline Mystery

Be prepared to trust no one as you dive into the mysteries waiting for you in Show Me Deceit by Ellen E. Withers! No matter which timeline you’re in – present day or 1862 – your sleuthing senses will be buzzing as you try to root out the persons who aren’t who they claim to be. They’ve fooled a lot of people so far – will they fool you too? Once again, Liesl is a strong heroine with a determined spirit and a warm heart, and I enjoyed reacquainting myself with her & other characters I met in book one. I also enjoyed meeting new faces like Enid, who is equally as brave and kind in 1862 as Liesl is in the present day. The dialogue is sometimes too formal or does too much ‘telling’ in places, but it’s easy to overlook those minor preference issues when the mysteries and the characters are so engaging. Looking forward to more visits to past & present Mexico, Missouri, with this series!


A Gamble at Sunset by Vanessa RileyA GAMBLE AT SUNSET by Vanessa Riley // Historical Regency Romance (mild content warning)

In A Gamble at Sunset, author Vanessa Riley immerses readers in a Regency world that is at once both familiar and unfamiliar. Compelling history begs you to further study outside the fictional realm and opens your eyes to things you may not have learned about in school – but should have – through the beauty of a well-told story. Not only does this book entertain with a sweet romance and an engaging plot, it also sets the stage so well for the rest of the series, ensuring that readers will be invested in knowing what’s in store for the rest of the Wilcox sisters and their duke. Subtle notes of faith run throughout as well, if you’re watching for them, and I appreciated those added elements. I loved the Wilcox sisters for their communal heart and strength, as well as their individual personalities, and I look forward to visiting with them again.


Unforgiven by Shelley Shepard GrayUNFORGIVEN by Shelley Shepard Gray // Suspenseful Contemporary Romance

Unforgiven is another heartfelt and layered story from Shelley Shepard Gray with absolutely engaging characters you’ll love right away. Along with the charming romance (plus a bonus), there’s an air of underlying danger and fear that lurks around Tabitha, thanks to her ex-husband, that gives the book a dash of suspense to keep tensions high. The perfect excuse for Seth’s teddy bear heroic side to come out, something which certainly put a grin on my face, but for Tabitha to find her own inner strength as well (which also made me smile). This book really does have it all – including an adorable hund – so make sure you’ve added it to your TBR list!


The Road Before Us by Janine RoscheTHE ROAD BEFORE US by Janine Rosche // Romantic Women’s Fiction ⭐ 5 stars ⭐

The Road Before Us by Janine Rosche is everything I want a road trip story to be – and more. Not only did it sweep me up in a profound exploration of the complexities of love and family and life in general, it also played triumphant tribute to finding our purpose & place. I experienced all the emotions as I rode down Route 66 with Jade, Benny, and Bridger, sometimes with laughter and other times with tears but always with joy in the story itself. The same story that let me play tourist, treated me to two swoony love stories, left me pondering some newfound perspectives, and kept me thoroughly entertained! These three characters have permanently etched themselves on my heart, and I’ll be thinking about them for a long time to come.


With Each Tomorrow by Tracie Peterson & Kimberley WoodhouseWITH EACH TOMORROW by Tracie Peterson & Kimberley Woodhouse // Historical Western Romance

With Each Tomorrow is another example of how well Tracie Peterson & Kimberley Woodhouse write together. Montana serves as a gorgeous supporting character, one that is easy to fall in love with, and I find myself wanting even more to visit those mountains. I liked Carter and Ellie’s respective personalities (though I wanted to shake them both at varying points haha), and I could easily picture Ellie pedaling around town on her bicycle and Carter dodging the melee (however unsuccessfully) the day Ellie arrives in Kalispell. These two may be at different places in their Jesus stories but they both are wrestling with very real questions of faith that are relatable to nearly everyone in some form or fashion, and this is where the novel truly shines. A dash of suspense and the planning stages of the Glacier National Park round out this story even further, ensuring that readers have lots to love about With Each Tomorrow!


Every Time We Say Goodbye by Natalie JennerEVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE by Natalie Jenner // Historical Fiction (mild content warning)

Nothing about Every Time We Say Goodbye played out the way I expected it to but the story ended up being so much more meaningful because of the unexpected turns it took. As with the other book I have read by Natalie Jenner, I closed this one with a deep sense of thoughtfulness, pondering the lessons can be gleaned as well as their continued relevance. I enjoyed reacquainting myself with Vivien and other familiar faces from Bloomsbury Girls, and I equally enjoyed the parade of new personalities that Vivien encounters in the world of Italian cinema. Some parts of the novel dragged a bit in the middle, in my opinion, overladen with more telling than showing, but not so much that I lost interest in the overall story. Mainly due to the fascinating profile of the young, female assassin for the Italian Resistance – it  completely captivated me, and I loved the way that Jenner intersects this character with Vivien’s story too. Another meticulously researched and immersive novel from a rising star in historical fiction.


Tracking the Truth by Dana MentinkTRACKING THE TRUTH by Dana Mentink // Romantic Suspense

Tracking the Truth by Dana Mentink is a high-stakes fight for survival, a witty comedy, a touching story of faith & found family, and a sweet romance all in one. The star of the show (and don’t tell me otherwise) is Wally, the remedial bloodhound with a personality as big as his nose. I always love the way Mentink writes her dog characters, but Wally may have just edged out Sweetness as my fave. Watching Roman and Emery work through their layered backstories, including their shared trauma, made their romance all the sweeter, and the exploration of forgiveness rang true. Fast-paced, action-packed suspense rounds out the mix to keep you on the edge of your seat, and I’m already eager for the next book in the series!


Muffalettas and Murder by Jann FranklinMUFFALETTAS AND MURDER by Jann Franklin // Cozy Mystery

Muffalettas and Murder by Jann Franklin is an often-hilarious and layered small town mystery with endearingly quirky characters, a sweet new canine sidekick, and loads of Louisiana charm (and food). Ev’s inner monologue had me giggling (when I wasn’t laughing at Shorty’s antics), but I also appreciated how naturally her thoughts slipped into a prayer from time to time. It’s clear that her faith in God affects her life but it’s not done in a preachy way, and I even loved watching Shorty be affected by Ev’s faith too. The cold case murder mystery they’re solving kept me guessing and held my interest, and I can’t wait to read the next book at my first opportunity to see what these two unlikely friends get up to next.


The Rancher's Secret by Megan Easley-WalshTHE RANCHER’S SECRET by Megan Easley-Walsh // Contemporary Western Romance

The Rancher’s Secret by Megan Easley-Walsh is a sweet romance with gentle notes of faith and an emphasis on second chances. I enjoyed the characters and their journeys, as well as the natural ways their faith affects their lives. It’s clear that Lauren and Grant still have chemistry between them, even after fifteen years apart, and the moments when they were at ease with one another were especially fun to imagine their faces lit up with happiness. My reading flow was interrupted several times by vague or abrupt transitions (so I felt disoriented as to time or place) and I wish some of the layers had been explored a bit more deeply but overall I still thought this was an entertaining story of found family, purpose, faith, and of course romance!


Starry Nights by Angela Ruth Strong, Carrie Padgett, Tabitha Bouldin, and Bell RenshawOUT OF PLAY by Angela Ruth Strong // Contemporary Romantic Comedy ⭐ 5 stars ⭐

I have been reading some phenomenal books lately, and Out of Play by Angela Ruth Strong is yet another to add to my ‘best of 2024’ list. All of the story elements came together to fill my reader heart like opening a bag of assorted Starburst and discovering they’re all the strawberry flavor (my best possible scenario). I loved the humor, the faith, the characters, and of course the romance (swoonyswoon) but my favorite part was the greater Love story being spoken over each reader, too. I plan to keep reading the Starry Nights collection and the Bright Lights one as I have time, but Out of Play definitely gave me a great preview of what’s in store. Prepare to laugh out loud, fall in love with a whole tiny soccer team, be reminded of Jesus’ love for you, and swoon over a deliciously fun romance when you read Out of Play by Angela Ruth Strong!


The Crown Conspiracy by Connie MannTHE CROWN CONSPIRACY by Connie Mann // Romantic Suspense/Intrigue

If you are a fan of the movie The Italian Job or the TV show Leverage, then you absolutely must read The Crown Conspiracy by Connie Mann. This fast-paced treasure hunt across Europe combines intrigue, adventure, suspense, and romance with a decades-old royal mystery, and it all had me glued to the pages. The Crown Conspiracy by Connie Mann is a riveting and multi-layered story that I didn’t want to put down. The author masterfully weaves several high-stakes plot threads into a cohesive flow, putting readers in the middle of the action as she reveals just enough at one time to ensure that your attention stays riveted to the book & your mind stays whirring with possibilities. With engaging characters and their compelling backstories – and some really swoony kisses – this novel perfectly sets up the series as a whole, and I am eagerly waiting for the next book! I thoroughly enjoyed The Crown Conspiracy and easily recommend it.


may 2024 reads that I haven’t reviewed yet

 

 


What about you? What were some great books you read in May 2024? Which of my May 2024 in Review titles have you read?

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6 responses to “May 2024 In Review

  1. Janice Moore

    I’ve read and loved the 2 of the 3 books here by Jessica Patch! They are wonderful and I can’t wait to read the third!

  2. Melissa Romine

    Wow! You’ve been busy! I’ve read Toni Shiloh’s and Janine Roche’s and all of Jessica Patch’s books – every one of them great! I am currently reading Secondary Target (yes!). One of my favorite May reads was Loyally, Luke by Pepper Basham – classic Pepper, completely delightful.
    Now if I could just learn to write reviews like you do! 🙂

    • I am doing a series review for all of Pepper’s Skymar books in the next few days – can’t wait. I love these characters!!

      (And don’t pressure yourself to write the kind of reviews I write – just your honest thoughts are enough!!)

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