The Siberian American: Eight Books I Liked in May

Monday, June 6, 2016

Eight Books I Liked in May

If you have read my book posts in the past, you know by now this has been the year of NetGalley for me. I’ve majorly toned it down on the requesting, and I still somehow have 84 books on my shelf. Usually I have great luck with NetGalley, but this month I’ve read a lot of three-star books. I’m not sure if that has more to do with the books or my frame of my mind, so I will include them and have y’all decide for yourselves.

I’m super excited to do Erin and Dani’s Read My Books challenge in June. Sadly, the timing is a bit off for me since the books I do have in Chicago are currently packed up for our move (and I had to leave most of my books back in Texas), but I am excited to read some Kindle books I bought years ago and NetGalley books that have already been archived. I’m currently reading The Good Girl by Mary Kubica, which has been on my list forever.

Anyways, enough commentary and on to my reviews:

Check out these great summer reads

Clouds in My Coffee by Julie Mulhern
(c/o NetGalley)
Clouds in My Coffee is the third book in the series, but it worked well as a stand alone novel. This might be a strange thing to say about a murder mystery novel, but I thought this book was fun! I really liked Ellison, her quirky family and the 1970s Kansas City setting. In this book, Ellison realizes after several near misses that someone is trying to kill her. On top of that, she must deal with two unwelcome house guests: Aunt Sis and her sister Marjorie. I liked this quick read so much, I'm going to go back and read the first two novels soon!

In the Light of What We See by Sarah Painter
(c/o NetGalley)
This book tells the story of two women set 80 years apart in Royal Sussex Hospital. In 1938, Grace Kemp becomes a nurse after being shamed by her family. In present day, Mina Morgan is brought into the hospital after a near-fatal accident and deals with severe memory loss as she tries to put her life back together. Told in alternating chapters, this story was engrossing, and I really liked both women and how their stories intertwined. I'm usually not a huge fan of the supernatural, but it was done really well in this novel. In the Light of What We See was one of my favorite reads so far this year.

That Darkness by Lisa Black
(c/o NetGalley)
This book is the beginning of a new series featuring Maggie Gardiner, a forensic investigator, and Jack Renner, a homicide detective...and a vigilante killer. The plot was interesting, but I didn't love Maggie's character (especially towards the end). Jack is a fascinating character, though, as he truly feels what he's doing is the right thing to do. I don't usually read detective series, but I am curious enough about this one that I will probably read the next book.

The House of Dreams by Kate Lord Brown
(c/o NetGalley)
I read a lot of WWII literature, so I was sad to find out I had never heard of America's Schindler, Vivian Fry, who helped over 2,000 artists (and other people) escape France to the United States during the war. Although he is not the main character in this story, it was interesting to learn about him and his mission. The main plot of this book was about an investigative journalist named Sophie who is determined to find out the full extent of her great-aunt Vita's connection to the famous artist Gabriel Lambert. Gabriel's story was beautiful, interesting, and heartbreaking. After I finished this book, all I wanted to do was read it again and recommend it to everyone I know who loves WWII historical fiction.

The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love
(I received a copy of this book courtesy of Blogging for Books, but all opinions are my own.)
This book was different than the description, but I still liked it. I think the romance part was weak, but it was interesting to learn about how England treated Italian immigrants before and during World War II. The character development could have been stronger, and the ending fell a little flat for me. Overall, I do not feel like I wasted my time reading it, but I think there are better World War II books out there.

Just Fall by Nina Sadowsky
(c/o NetGalley)
Ellie finds out on her wedding day that her new husband Rob is a killer. Can she love him anyway...and help him escape his past? With a description like that, I was hoping for more from this book than I got. It was a decent thriller, but it took a while to get into because it alternated between the "now" and "then" chapters so quickly. It oddly felt more like a light read than a thriller at times. I also wasn't super impressed with the twists at the end. I still think it is worth a read if you don't go into it with high expectations.

Saving Abby by Steena Holmes
(c/o NetGalley)
Claire and Josh have been hoping for a child for six years, but when Claire finally becomes pregnant, she receives a devastating diagnosis that forces her to choose between her life and that of her child. I'm conflicted about this book. I thought the conflict of Claire having to choose her life or her child's life would be a bigger part of the book than it was. I also expected this book to be a tearjerker, but the emotions fell flat for me, probably because of some of Claire's actions. That said, I read the book in a day, and it kept me interested. I was just hoping for a bit more than I got.

Exposure to a Billionare by Ann Menke
courtesy of the author
I don’t usually post about books I didn’t like at all, but I am making an exception for this one since it was a Literary Ladies book club read. There's no way to sugar coat it: this book is just not written well. It's extremely repetitive, full of awkward phrases, and lacked a real plot. I got so tired of hearing how Stuart was like family and the two pilots were like brothers to her.

The French really bothered me. If you don't speak French, please don't put a phrase into Google Translate and put it into your book! Plus, there is no way you would address someone you love with the "vous" tense all the time! Plus, there was no consistency, even with someone as simple as nicknames. Jean Michael randomly became Mitch and then JM, and the author would use all these nicknames interchangeably. Then, Anna randomly became Annabelle for a bit. It was really odd. 

There was no real character development. All I can tell you is Anna was thankful for her job, Stuart Manning was apparently perfect, Vanessa was beautiful and kind, and Jean Michael was charming. 

The only positive thing I can say is I did enjoy the descriptions of Anna's travels. That's the only thing that moved the book from one star to two stars for me.

Favorite reads in May: The House of Dreams, In the Light of What We See, and Clouds in My Coffee.

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?


  1. Thanks for the reviews! I will add House of Dreams to my to-read list. It seems like lately I can't get enough WWII fiction so I'm sure I'll love it. Have a great Monday! Tanya @The Other Side of the Road

  2. I always look forward to these posts-I know I'll get to add some to my to-read list each month!

  3. These sound great! Thanks for sharing!

    Lauren Elizabeth
    Petite in Pearls

    1. Yay! Thank you so much for stopping by, Lauren Elizabeth! :)

  4. I'm glad that I'm not the only one that's gone overboard with Netgalley! I feel like I have to make myself stay off their website otherwise I would have hundreds of books on my shelf! I'm definitely adding In The Light Of What We See and The House of Dreams to my list! They both sound really interesting, and I'm always looking for a new WWII book to read! 100% agree with you about Exposure To A Billionaire. It just wasn't written well at all!

  5. I felt the same way about Exposure to a billionaire and I couldn't even bring myself to write about it because of that fact...I 100% agree with your review! I actually described it exactly the same way to Gary when I was reading it - like no one talks like this!! I want to read Just Fall...sounds interesting! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  6. Ugh. I'm in the same camp with Exposure to a... It was awful :( It sounds like you had some other great reads this month, though!!

  7. Is it weird that I just want to read Exposure to a Billionaire because of how bad every review has been? Like, I want to see just how bad it actually is. Haha! I really liked The Good Girl, hope you do too!

  8. It sounds like everyone agrees about Exposure to a Billionaire. I don't speak French, but if I did I am certain that would annoy me too. I'll be posting about it tomorrow & I'll be interested to see who does the same. Sounded like some people didn't bother to finish it because they thought it was so bad.

  9. Love when you do book features! Adding Saving Abby and The House of Dreams to my Goodreads list!


  10. 84 books?!?!!?!?! oh my word. i have like 15 and it's freaking me out.
    i hated exposure to a billionaire.
    the house of dreams sounds interesting, i love WWII fiction, though to be honest I rarely read anything from an american POV if that makes sense. not that i am against it, i just tend to gravitate towards the stories from france, germany or the uk.

  11. In The Light Of What We See and The House of Dreams both sound right up my alley! Definitely adding them to my list :)

  12. Totally intrigued by The House of Dreams as I'm all about WWII fiction :-D
    Green Fashionista

  13. In the Light of What We See sounds amazing! I can't believe you read 8 books in May - that's so awesome. I'm working on reading more too :)

  14. I almost got that girl from paradise ballroom this month, but went with another one! And that clouds in my coffee sounds right up my alley! I think murder mysteries are so fun to read!! :)

  15. Oh adding House of Dreams to my reading list! I love books like that. Thanks for sharing. Seems everyone didn't like Exposure to a Billionaire which is too bad.

  16. I think the general consensus is that Exposure to a Billionaire was not a good book. I struggled to get through it. I'm a fan of WWII era novels too so I'm putting House of Dreams on my list!

  17. I just started using NetGalley and I have no idea how many books is normal to have on your shelf. I have three right now and thought I had to hurry and read those haha. I've read two so far, so one more to go. I'm feeling like reading some actual books to take a mini Kindle break like I do often, so I'll hold off on requesting more! Although it's always cool to see books in a store that you've already read through NetGalley. The House of Dreams sounds interesting. I don't read a ton of WWII fiction, but I like it occasionally.

  18. I’m always looking for new books to read and can’t wait to check these out!

  19. I've read a couple of reviews today on the Exposure to a Billionaire book and it sounds like it is definitely a hard pass from everyone. Good to know! I'm glad you read some other good ones, though! :)


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