What is in my Book Bag – May Reads

I had high expectations that I’d end up reading at least 5 books this month because I read the first three books by the 15th of May. But then came that lull that accompanies a slow read and I lost my pace. I did end up reading 4 books this month which is my monthly target for the year. I picked up some varied genres and enjoyed reading all the books though some I liked better.

Here is what I read in May 2022:

The Family Upstairs By Lisa Jewell

Plot: Libby Jones inherits a mansion on her 25th birthday. The mansion belonged to her birth parents who were found dead in the said mansion. As Libby digs into her birth family’s past – she starts uncovering the horrific story involving the three families living in that house almost 25 years back.

Review: THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING! I was literally hooked to the book and kept wanting to turn pages to unfold the mystery. If you have read my previous monthly book reviews, you know that I’m a sucker for thrillers. This book had all the elements that make it a fun and intriguing read. The pace of the book was great. I did feel like some storylines weren’t properly explored and seemed like plotholes. But overall I totally recommend this book. I can’t wait to read part 2. (TW: Rape)

Verdict: Give this book a read. 9/10

The Overnight Guest By Heather Gudenkauf

Plot: Wylie Lark is a novelist who is holed up in an isolated farm trying to complete her latest novel. She finds herself stuck alone in the house in the middle of a snowstorm. But she soon discovers she isn’t alone when she finds an unconscious child outside in the storm. Who is the child? How did he wind up there in the middle of the storm? And what else lurked outside?

Review: Another great thriller read. The suspense and storyline had me hooked. The timeline shifts between the past and present but in a beautiful manner that pieces the puzzles of the story together. There are a lot of interesting characters who kept the suspense elevated. It was a captivating read and I definitely recommend this book. (TW: Rape)

Verdict: Yay to another great thriller read! 8/10

Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater

Plot: Bravely is based on the Disney movie Brave and carries forward the story of Merida. Life in DunBroch has settled into a lazy pace. The Gods watching are not pleased with how nothing is changing in the DunBroch castle including its inhabitants – King Fergus, Queen Elinor and the triplets. And Merida is given one year to change everything and everyone. But will Merida be able to pull everyone out of complacency?

Review: If you read my favourite animated movies post, you probably know how much I loved the movie Brave and the character of Merida. When I heard of this book, I had to read it. The book is the kinds you’d want to curl up with on a rainy day with a cup of hot chocolate. It is warm and will leave you feeling so good inside.It is a book that will be equally enjoyed by kids and adults. I didn’t totally love the ending but the book overall left me feeling so happy.

Verdict: LOVE LOVE LOVE the book! 9.5/10

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Plot: It is 2002 and the post 9/11 world isn’t a great world for 16 year old, hijab wearing Shirin. From dirty stares to abuses to physical violence – she has experienced it all. As she starts off in a new school, she wants to lay low and just get through the school day. And then she meets Ocean.

Review: I didn’t love the book, I didn’t hate the book. The storyline just doesn’t move along – the pace is so slow that I almost DNF-ed it. I think teenagers and YAs might like the book but to me it felt very shallow and not well written. For one, I didn’t feel an iota of compassion for Shirin. Ocean’s character seemed dumb and almost annoying. I also hoped that the story would be more focused on Shirin’s journey but it was just another high school romance filled with drama. Even something like – why Shirin chooses to wear the hijab – the explanation is short and not meaningful at all. There were also some unnecessary characters that just disappeared in the story. And her parents were pretty involved in her life (like most brown parents are) but were absolutely clueless (and kind of careless) about her struggles? I just think I was expecting the book to move me but it had no emotional depth. It is a light and easy read.

Verdict: It is a one time read. 6/10

Bravely and The Family Upstairs were my favourite reads this month. What was your favourite read this month? As usual, I need book recommendations. Please share!

15 Comments Add yours

  1. akshita1776 says:

    Bravely does sound really good
    Ooh, I read lots of books this month but I hugely recommend Fangirl, The Mortal Instruments series and All the Places I’ve Cried in Public.
    Also, if you like thrillers, have you read Paula Hawkins?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy Panda says:

      All the places I’ve cried in public – damn, that should be the title of my autobiography!! Jk!

      I’ve read ‘the girl on the train’ – didn’t loooove it. Any other books of hers which you recommend?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. akshita1776 says:


        I loved Into The Water, you could try that. Or you could even try books by Ruth Harrow, she’s really good


  2. Aahna Yadav says:

    I am sure to buy the first one the next time I visit a book shop! Thank you for these HP!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. petespringerauthor says:

    I know you don’t throw large numbers around, and I paid attention to the book you gave a 9.5 rating. It doesn’t sound like it’s in my favorite genres, but I may give it a read anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy Panda says:

      haha – it is very hard to find a book at deserves that high a rating! Oooh- but I’m sure some students might enjoy the book since it is based on a Disney movie!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. bosssybabe says:

    In May I started 3 books but never finished them.. I used to feel guilty about this but I have now allowed myself to feel no ways about it.. sometimes the book you pick up is not the right one for that moment in your life, you may pick it up again someday and love it then or you may not … either way, you move on and that’s what I’ve done! šŸ™‚ I am hoping to get back into the swing of reading more…

    I read The Family Upstairs about a year ago I think, I really enjoyed it as well.. very engrossing!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy Panda says:

      I totally get it. I have atleast 5 books from this year that I DNF-ed because I just couldn’t read them. I’m sure you will get back at it when you find that right book. That’s how it happened for me.

      Righttt? Part 2 is out in July I think. I’m glad there is a part 2 because some story lines needed more explanation!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. nushhe says:

    wow I like the overnight guest book, the thriller and the plot is too good

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Juliette says:

    How amazing that you managed to read 4 books this month! I’d be very curious to know what is your “reading routine”! If I read one book in 1 month it is already great for me!! Anyway, the books you recommended seem amazing and really makes me want to read thrillers again! One amazing book that I read recently is The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker. It is a 700-pages page turner that I basically read in 4 days. Everyone that I know who has read it loved it too so I highly highly recommend it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Happy Panda says:

      700 pages in 4 days? Wow! I’m definitely going to check out this book.

      My routine is that I start a new book every weekend – usually Friday nights. If it is an amazing book, I usually end up staying up late and finishing the book that weekend itself. If it isn’t, I drag it out through the week but usually try finishing it before next Friday night. I read for an hour before sleeping every day (almost every day) and on weekends I think I spend 2-3 hours reading per day.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Juliette says:

        Oh yes I highly recommend it!
        That seems like a great routine! I think I’ll try to create my own taking inspiration from yours! Thanks a lot!


  7. These days I’m reading “how to win friends & influence people” by dale Carnegie

    Liked by 1 person

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