On The Shelf ~ May Books Read

Welcome to the first On the Shelf post! Each month I'll be share what books have been spending time on my bookshelf and helping my imagination to soar. Hopefully you will get some ideas of books to add to your To Be Read list!

On the Shelf Books Read During May - Middle Grade, YA, Adult Fiction, and Nonfiction

In May, I read quite a few books and I was surprised at the amount when writing this post. I am a little bookworm though! When my youngest saw this list, she asked if next month she could add her favorite book that she read to this list. I said of course! The hard part will be narrowing it down to one.

This post contains affiliate links. I will recieve a small portion of any sale in exchange for advertising these books.

On The Shelf ~ May Books Read

While making this list, it became quite obvious that I love spy novels and murder mysteries quite a bit. It will be interesting to see if making these lists will influence what I read. Will I branch out so you don't get bored by the same type of books each month? I guess we will see next month!

YA/Middle Grade Books

May Young Adult or Middle Grade Books

The Darkdeep - Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs (MG)
A group of tweens discover a mysterious island and try to figure out why it has been hidden for so many years. They find an abandoned houseboat full of curiosities...and a dark, deep mystery that will change their lives. Do they have what it takes to face the dark secrets that emerge?
My thoughts - A wonderfully written novel that older tweens and teens will greatly enjoy! It has adventure, friendship themes, mystery, and a bit of darkness to it that keeps you turning the pages.

Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover (Gallagher Girls 3) - Ally Carter (MG)
The 3rd installment of the fabulous Gallagher Girls series. Cammie is back with her friends at their spy training school and the book starts with a botched kidnapping and the introduction of a secret society who have evil intentions. When one of her friends is the target, how is Cammie going to keep her safe?
My thoughts - This is a series that I never tire of reading. My girls (14&11) find the characters inspiring and fun. It's a great story of sisterhood that you choose, not being embarassed by intelligence, learning who you are, and of course spycraft too.

Dangerous Deceptions (Palace of Spies 2) - Sarah Zettel (YA)
Peggy is a lady-in-waiting at King George's London court. She has survived a forced betrothal, royal scandals, and an attempt or two on her life. And now she has a new problem: her horrible fiancé has returned to claim her! To save her neck, or at least her hand in marriage, Peggy joins forces with her cousin Olivia and her sweetheart, Matthew. But if she doesn’t play her cards right, her career as courtier and spy might come to an end at the bottom of the river Thames
My thoughts - Peggy has a lot going on and life never seems to slow down for her. She has her court duties to attend to, an icky fiance to avoid, friendships to mend, as well as her spying on enemies of the court...all while wearing horribly uncomfortable ladies wear of the time. These books are exciting and fun for any age.

Legendary (Caraval 2) - Stephanie Garber (YA)
A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win. After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about―maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.
My thougts - The return to the mysterious world of Caraval. This time we see the story from Donatella's point of view. We join her on the search for not only Legend's name but clues to what happened to her mother years ago. Donatella is full of life and ready for adventure. My 14 year old couldn't put the first and second books down and we are both looking forward to reading the final book in the trilogy.
The Tesla Legacy - KK Perez (YA)
An action-packed, young adult coming-of-age adventure. A budding scientist Lucy has a fateful encounter in the Tesla Suite of the New Yorker Hotel which unlocks her dormant electrical powers. As Lucy struggles to understand her new abilities through scientific experimentation, she is thrust into a centuries old battle between rival alchemical societies. One side wants her help and the other wants her dead, but both believe she is the next step in human evolution.
My thoughts - I enjoyed the plot of this story and seeing how Lucy reacted to all the new things that happen in her life. I don't know how I would have handled all consipracies, finding out the truth of family history, and relationship drama. 

Guardian of Secrets (Book Jumpers 2) - Brenda Drake (YA)
Sure, jumping through books into the world's most beautiful libraries to protect humans from mystical creatures is awesome. No one knows that better than Gia Kearns, but she could do without the part where people are always trying to kill her. 
My thoughts - In the first book, Gia learns the truth about magic in the world and her part in it all. This second book adds more adventure, more questions about who to trust, and unfortunately a love triangle...or square. I will read the third one so I see how the the story is resolved...because I hate not knowing.

A Question of Holmes (Charlotte Holmes 4) - Brittany Cavallaro (YA)
Holmes and Watson think they’re finally in the clear after graduating from Sherringford…but danger awaits in the hallowed halls of Oxford. Charlotte is immediately drawn into a new case: a series of accidents befell the theater program at Oxford last year, culminating in a young woman going missing on the night of a major performance. The mystery has gone unsolved; the case is cold. And no one—least of all the girl’s peculiar, close-knit group of friends—is talking.
My thoughts - I really enjoyed this whole series. Charlotte is a tortured character because of things that happened in her past and Jamie sticks by her through the solving of cases. There is a good final resolution, which is always satisfying in a series.

Daughter of the Pirate King - Tricia Levenseller (older YA)
Pirate captain Alosa has a mission to find a map that leads to a treasure trove. She allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. There is one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.
My thoughts - I liked the story of this book, but as we learned more about Alosa and the training she endured from her father I was torn. I admired her strength but didn't understand how she could still support him and do what he asked. I liked her crew of supportive, smart, and strong women. This book is listed as YA, but I would put it toward the upper age limit as there was descriptive violence.
Daughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King 2) - Tricia Levenseller (Older YA)
Alosa has recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, and the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Riden is a constant distraction, but now he's under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father's justice. Vordan exposes a secret Alosa's father has kept for years causing Alosa and her crew to be in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. In Daughter of the Siren Queen, Tricia Levenseller brings together the perfect mix of thrilling action, tense battle scenes, and a heart-pounding romance.
My thoughts - The action keeps the story moving along quickly. Alosa spends quite a bit of the book trying to figure out more of her siren side as well as why being around Riden helps her. This book didn't have as much descriptive violence, but it had much more sexual discussions that I think are better for older readers. 

Chrysalis (Project Nemesis 3) - Brendan Reichs (YA)
Fire Lake's sophomore class have managed to survive the first two phases of the Program--and each other. They are at the dawn of a new Earth that's full of otherworldly dangers and challenges. Facing these challenges should force Min, Noah, Tack, and the others to form new alliances, but old feuds die hard. When they discover that they may not be alone on the planet after all, they'll have to decide if they're going to work together . . . or die together.
My thoughts - I feel sorry for these kids. They think they have things figured out, then it up and changes on them again. Danger seems to be coming at them from every side and it's hard to know who to trust. From the first pages, you won't be able to put this down so make sure you have hours to devote to this exciting book.

Killing November - Adriana Mather (YA)
At the mysterious Academy Absconditi, there's no electricity, no internet, and a brutal eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include knife-throwing, poisons, and the art of deception. The students are training to become assassins, spies, and master manipulators. November doesn't know why she's been sent to this place, or the secrets that make up its legacy, but she'll quickly discover that allies are few in a school where competition is everything. When another student is murdered, all eyes turn to November, who must figure out exactly how she fits in before she is found guilty of the crime...or becomes the killer's next victim.
My thoughts - How would you feel if you wake up not knowing where you are, what is expected of you, and when you will see your family again? This is what November is dealing with in the book. Mind games, intrigue, lies, and twists abound in this fascinating YA book. 

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is in love with her boyfriend Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried; and Margot’s coming home for the summer. Change is looming on the horizon. And Lara Jean can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?
My thoughts - The last book in this wonderful series doesn't disappoint. Lara Jean goes through quite a bit of growth and has big decisions to make that will affect her future. Can she let go of her planned path to be open to something that may be better? The sweetness of her relationship with Peter is as enjoyable as it was in the first two books.

Adult Fiction Books

Adult Fiction Books Read in May

Carrot Cake Murder - Joanne Fluke
Murder comes to town when, during her business partner's family reunion, a long-lost uncle is found dead with two slices of Hannah's infamous carrot cake next to his body, a discovery that soon becomes a recipe for disaster. 
My thoughts - Each Hannah Swensen mystery continues to be enjoyable and it's neat to read the recipes, including the authors personal notes for each one. I'm always amazed at how many murders happen in this small town though. I think I would move! 

Mr. Churchill's Secretary (Maggie Hope 1) - Susan Elia MacNeal
London, 1940. War rages across the Channel and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. None of this deters Maggie Hope. She possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.
My thoughts - Maggie is an intelligent and brave woman who is initially considered not good enough because of her gender. She doesn't let that stop her though and she proves invaluable in thwarting a plot that endangers the Allies in WWII. I can't wait to read her continuing story.

The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax - Dorothy Gilman
Mrs. Virgil (Emily) Pollifax of New Brunswick, New Jersey, was a widow with grown, married children. She was tired of attending her Garden Club meetings. She wanted to do something good for her country. So, naturally, she became a CIA agent. She takes on a “job” in Mexico City. The assignment doesn’t sound dangerous at first, but then, as often happens, something goes wrong. Now our dear Mrs. Pollifax finds herself embroiled in quite a hot Cold War—and her country’s enemies find themselves entangled with one unbelievably feisty lady.
My thoughts - This was our neighborhood Book Club read for May. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Mrs. Pollifax and seeing her journey from widow with an everyday life to finding joy and excitement and being a spy. Who would suspect a sweet 63 year old woman as a spy? She is able to use her personableness to get to know people and put herself in situations where she wouldn't be suspected of espionage. I liked this so much that I have continued to read more adventures with Mrs. Pollifax.

Mrs. Pollifax Unvieled (Mrs Pollifax 14) - Dorothy Gilman
Mrs. Pollifax on Safari (Mrs Pollifax 5) - Dorothy Gilman


non-fiction books read in may

Since Square Foot Gardening was first introduced in 1981, it has helped millions of home gardeners grow more fresh produce in less space and with less work. Now, based largely on the input and experience of these millions, the system has been even further refined and improved to fully meet today's changing resources, needs, and challenges. With over 150 new photos and illustrations, this new edition makes it easier than ever to achieve nearly-foolproof results in virtually any situation: 100% of the produce; 20% of the water; 5% of the work.
My thoughts - This book had so much good information on gardening in general. I think that the tips shared could be beneficial for anyone that wants to maximize their gardening space. I used these guidelines to plan my new garden and I was able to plant so many more vegetables and herbs than I have in years past.

The Bread Bible - Beth Hensperger
The last word on every kind of bread imaginable, The Bread Bible is the one baking book no kitchen should be without. The Bread Bible offers a foolproof, step-by-step, easy-to-follow recipe for it. Busy cooks will also appreciate the excellent selection of recipes for bread machines and food processors. Nothing says home like fresh bread warm from the oven, and until now, no book has offered so many delightful ways to say it.
My thoughts - There are so many amazing recipes included in this book. The book starts you out on the basics and increases in difficulty as the book continues - assuming that you will become more proficient as you practice.

Flour, yeast, water, and salt ―even with the simplest of ingredients, making homemade bread can be a daunting task if you’ve never done it before. From total scratch to your first batch, Bread Baking for Beginners offers simple, user-friendly tutorials and recipes to mix, knead, and enjoy freshly baked loaves at home. Bonnie Ohara preps home cooks with clear explanations of the bread making process and basic techniques. Complete with photographs to help guide you, this bread cookbook offers 32 recipes for kneaded breads, no-knead breads, and enriched breads that prove you can bake your bread, and eat it too.
My thoughts - The way that Bonnie writes was so enjoyable. It made me want to pull up a chair in her kitchen and chat while making fresh loaves of bread. Maybe what makes her relatable is the fact that she is a home baker, a regular person that has years of experience of trial and error in her kitchen as she lovingly perfected these techniques and recipes.

Upcycling Outdoors - Max McMurdo
Discover your inner genius and learn how to transform unwanted junk into unique and creative garden designs with designer, upcycler and entrepreneur Max McMurdo. Following the success of his first book Upcycling, Max has turned his thoughts to the outdoors with this truly inspirational collection of inventive projects, each built from recycled materials and unwanted 'spare parts'. Whether you want to create a firepit from bicycle wheels, an outdoor plant display from a painted dressing table, or fashion a potting shed from three vintage doors, Max provides invaluable know-how on the tools, techniques and materials required to take you on an outdoor creative journey.
My thoughts - I've had this book for a year and pulled it out to look at the fun projects again. We are making improvements to our backyard and I wanted inspiration for some projects to work on. I think I will be on the hunt for interesting outdoor lighting options to recreate the project in the book.

Southern Living Party Cookbook - Elizabeth Heiskell
This new essential guide to entertaining is divided by occasion, offering a fresh lineup of menus and ideasfor every celebratory scenario life serves up. Packed with delicious recipes from the original book like Smoked Salmon Canapes, Hot Cheese Squares, and Brandy Alexanders, the book also includes popular picks from the current pages of Southern Living as well as Elizabeth’s treasured recipe box.
It is an entertaining handbook loaded with lifestyle tips along with lush photography to help you get the look from table setting to plated dish.
My thoughts - This was a book I received to review here on my blog. It has so many wonderful tips and I love that the menu for different parties are already created for you. I struggle with deciding what foods pair well together, so this will be so useful at upcoming BBQs, luncheons, and parties.

Under the Tuscan Sun - Frances Mayes
Frances Mayes introduced readers to a wondrous new world when she bought and restored an abandoned villa called Bramasole in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. Under the Tuscan Sun inspired generations to embark on their own journeys--whether that be flying to a foreign country in search of themselves, savoring one of the book's dozens of delicious seasonal recipes, or simply being transported by Mayes's signature evocative, sensory language. 
My thoughts - Each year when the temperature starts to warm, I pull out my copy of Under the Tuscan Sun. It inspires me to work in the garden and try something new each year, it makes me want to visit the local farmers markets to see what fresh offerings I can add to make our meals a bit more delectable, it sends me on the hunt for vintage linens at thrift stores and garage sales. Of course, it also makes me want to hop on a plane and visit the Tuscan countryside and enjoy the slower pace of life and get to know the people in the villages. One day I will make it there!

I hope you found a book or two that you would like to read. Leave a comment or send me a message letting me know which you are looking forward to reading. See you next month for a whole new book list!

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