My Most Anticipated May 2020 Book Releases, Ranked

My Most Anticipated May 2020 Book Releases, Ranked

anticipated-reads

Hey there all you crazy cats and kittens! 😺 I know it’s literally more than halfway through April and I’m just now sharing my most anticipated reads for May, but better late than never, right?

By day I am a graphic designer, which means I have a lot of time to sit and listen to audiobooks while I push pixels around on a screen. Usually, I opt for podcasts, but this #quarantinelife has me reconsidering my priorities. Now, I alternate between podcast listening and audiobooks.

I love it! It allows me to get so much more “reading” done, which is important considering how long my TBR list is. Not everyone will prefer listening to books, but I don’t mind it.

That said, I hope to “read” at least my top 4 in the below list of books this coming May. So let’s just get into it! Here’s my list:

8. These Women by Ivy Pochola
In West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they’re referred to as “these women.” These women on the corner … These women in the club … These women who won’t stop asking questions … These women who got what they deserved … 

In her masterful new novel, Ivy Pochoda creates a kaleidoscope of loss, power, and hope featuring five very different women whose lives are steeped in danger and anguish. They’re connected by one man and his deadly obsession, though not all of them know that yet. There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a willfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.

I’m excited to see how this one goes. The subject matter seems like the kind of dark I like and I’m intrigued by the promise that the book will focus on women’s empowerment and highlight very specific struggles. Plus, it’s set in LA, and I’m so ready to be transported to another place…one with less snow (oh hello, Chicago). That said, it’s ranked lowest because honestly, it seems like it might be a little too dark and heavy.

 

7. Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Beauty. Wealth. Success.

She’s got it all.

And it all should’ve been mine.

When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half sister.

Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play.

The premise of this book actually sounds really cliche, but…I’m kind of in anyway! And because it sounds like a storyline that we’re all a bit familiar with, I’m thinking this will have some good twists and turns. I’m not at all acquainted with Hannah Mary McKinnon’s work, but her other book, The Neighbors also sounds like a real twisty thriller I might just have to pick up if I happen to enjoy this one.

 

6. The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

I’m kind of a sucker for cinematic-seeming thrillers. This sounds like a real page-turner, and I love books and movies that start (or end) with a wedding. Throw in a bougie group of friends, some jealousy, a dramatic landscape, plus a little murder…it’s gotta be good, right?

 

5. Pale by Edward A Farmer

“Some things just don’t keep well inside this house …”

The summer of 1966 burned hot across America but nowhere hotter than the cotton fields of Mississippi. Finding herself in a precarious position as a black woman living alone, Bernice accepts her brother Floyd’s invitation to join him as a servant for a white family and she enters the web of hostility and deception that is the Kern plantation household.

The secrets of the house are plentiful yet the silence that has encompassed it for so many years suddenly breaks with the arrival of the harvest and the appearance of Jesse and Fletcher to the plantation as cotton pickers. These two brothers, the sons of the house servant Silva, awaken a vengeful seed within the Missus of the house as she plots to punish not only her husband but Silva’s family as well. When the Missus starts flirting with Jesse, she sets into motion a dangerous game that could get Jesse killed and destroy the lives of the rest of the servants.

Bernice walks the fine line between emissary and accomplice, as she tries her best to draw secrets from the Missus’s heart, while using their closeness to protect the lives of the people around her. Once the Missus’s plans are complete, families will be severed, loyalties will be shattered, and no one will come out unscathed.

That synopsis sounds thick with drama and riddled with heavy themes I’m interested to see explored. I enjoy family drama, and while this subject matter tends to stress me out, I think I will also welcome the escape into problems that are (thankfully) quite different from my current ones.

 

4. Pew by Catherine Lacey

In a small unnamed town in the American South, a church congregation arrives to a service and finds a figure asleep on a pew. The person is genderless, racially ambiguous, and refuses to speak. One family takes the strange visitor in and nicknames them Pew.

As the town spends the week preparing for a mysterious Forgiveness Festival, Pew is shuttled from one household to the next. The earnest and seemingly well-meaning townspeople see conflicting identities in Pew, and many confess their fears and secrets to them in one-sided conversations. Pew listens and observes while experiencing brief flashes of past lives or clues about their origins. As days pass, the void around Pew’s presence begins to unnerve the community, whose generosity erodes into menace and suspicion. Yet by the time Pew’s story reaches a shattering and unsettling climax at the Forgiveness Festival, the secret of their true nature—as a devil or an angel or something else entirely—is dwarfed by even larger truths.

This sounds deliciously mysterious. I like that the plot synopsis is perfectly vague, with the basic ideas laid out that leaves so much room for the book to really go anywhere. I’m hopeful it will branch out to explore the kind of eerie, small town, vaguely religious darkness that I enjoy in things like Twin Peaks, or Eve’s Bayou.

 

3. A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight

Lizzie Kitsakis is working late when she gets the call. Grueling hours are standard at elite law firms like Young & Crane, but they’d be easier to swallow if Lizzie was there voluntarily. Until recently, she’d been a happily underpaid federal prosecutor. That job and her brilliant, devoted husband Sam—she had everything she’d ever wanted. And then, suddenly, it all fell apart.

No. That’s a lie. It wasn’t sudden, was it? Long ago the cracks in Lizzie’s marriage had started to show. She was just good at averting her eyes.

The last thing Lizzie needs right now is a call from an inmate at Rikers asking for help—even if Zach Grayson is an old friend. But Zach is desperate: his wife, Amanda, has been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their Brooklyn brownstone. And Zach’s the primary suspect.

As Lizzie is drawn into the dark heart of idyllic Park Slope, she learns that Zach and Amanda weren’t what they seemed—and that their friends, a close-knit group of fellow parents at the exclusive Grace Hall private school, might be protecting troubling secrets of their own. In the end, she’s left wondering not only whether her own marriage can be saved, but what it means to have a good marriage in the first place.

As a married person who hopes hers will stand the test of time and is all too aware of the intricacies of a long term relationship, this book sounds perfect. Like a juicy page-turner exploring two marriages, with all their dark similarities and variances. I’m so ready to be engrossed in a story about close adult friend groups with potential secrets, a murder, and existential questions.

 

2. Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

From the New York Times bestselling author of American Wife and Eligible, a novel that imagines a deeply compelling what-might-have-been: What if Hillary Rodham hadn’t married Bill Clinton?

There is a much lengthier synopsis on Goodreads if you’re curious, but that one sentence premise: “What if Hillary Rodham hadn’t married Bill Clinton?” is pretty much all I need to be intrigued. I really can’t say why, though: I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, I avoid political biographies, and I’ve never been a huge Hillary fan, personally. I’m not really familiar with Curtis Sittenfeld, so I don’t know what to expect. I’m hoping this one resonates with me emotionally, or is at least a fun ride.

 

1. Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years–summers included–completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises a future of sublime power and prestige, and that its graduates can become anything or anyone they desire.

Among this year’s incoming class is Ines Murillo, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline–only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. Even the school’s enigmatic director, Viktória, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves within the formidable iron gates of Catherine. For Ines, it is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had. But the House’s strange protocols soon make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when tragedy strikes, Ines begins to suspect that the school–in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence–might be hiding a dangerous agenda within the secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.

I’m so ready for a modern Gothic tale, and ever since I read Donna Tartt‘s The Secret History, I am an easy sell for books about privileged kids being hedonistic at prestigious schools. 🤷🏾‍♀️ I like the idea that this school is so exclusive and cut off, that the administration seems to have complete control yet encourage an indulgent, chaotic exploration of self. Can’t wait to read what secrets are revealed.

Let’s discuss!

Does my May 2020 most anticipated new releases list look anything like yours? What books are you most eagerly anticipating this year? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,

K

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