The Best Book Club Books Out in May

I just finished the audiobook of Leigh Bardugo’s The Familiar, and phew, what a ride. The performance, plot, romance, and viciousness of it had me in a tizzy, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a fantasy book for your book club. It follows 16th-century peasant girl Luzia, who is in the trenches — like, literally, she sleeps in the dirt — and whose little bit of magic brings her a whole lot of trouble. I’m a big fan of Bardugo’s adult fantasy writing, which I feel has brutality peppered in in ways that provide just the right amount of turbulence and believability.

Speaking of The Familiar, it was actually one of my picks for the best book club books out in April, and now it’s already time for my list for May. The Time, she be flyin’.

Below, I have a funny queer coming-of-age novel with messy family trappings, a time-traveling romance, slice-of-life comedy, and spy thriller, all rolled into one, and more Crazy Rich Asians.

Nibbles and Sips: Vegan Mango Cheesecake

a slice of mango cheesecake

I’m not going to lie, mango cheesecake previously seemed to be a very involved thing to make, but the instructions for this don’t look too bad. Since it is vegan, you will need to soak cashew nuts overnight, so keep that in mind.

In addition to the cashews, you’ll need things like cookies, dairy-free butter, vegan cream cheese, mango pulp, coconut cream, and more. Holly Jade has the full list of ingredients and directions on her site. You can also watch a video here.

cover of Oye by Melissa Mogollon

Oye by Melissa Mogollon

This queer coming-of-age is funny, moving, and very very extra. It follows Luciana, the youngest in a large Colombian American family, who suddenly finds herself at the center of family mess, which is largely to do with the family’s eccentric matriarch, granny Abue. It’s Abue who refuses to evacuate once South Florida residents are ordered to leave before a hurricane hits, and it’s Abue who receives a damning medical diagnosis. Abue and Luciana bond once the older lady moves into her granddaughter’s room and Luciana starts serving as an interpreter at doctor’s visits. The still glamorous Abue is a handful, but some of her eccentricities start to make sense once she starts spilling the tea on why she doesn’t speak to a lot of family in Colombia.

cover of The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

I like a “busy” novel, and The Ministry of Time, with its promises of time-traveling romance, slice-of-life comedy, and spy thriller, sounds plenty busy. A little ways into the future, a civil servant is offered beaucoup bucks, but the new project that comes with this increase in salary is a little…weird. It involves her working as a “bridge” to a time “expat” — someone from another time in history. Her expat is Commander Graham Gore, a man from 1847 who was supposed to have died during an Arctic expedition. As he lives with the civil-servant-turned-bridge and adjusts to things like washing machines, music apps, and women’s constantly exposed calves, he falls in love. A zany cast of secondary characters — which include everything from a 17th-century film (and Tinder) lover to a former spy and a WWI captain — round out this everywhere kind of story.

cover of Magical/Realism: Essays on Music, Memory, Fantasy, and Borders by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal

Magical/Realism: Essays on Music, Memory, Fantasy, and Borders by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal

I just got a finished copy of this book in the mail, and I am so excited to start it. It seems to have all the inventiveness that makes similarly genre-blended memoirs so appealing. In these essays, award-winning poet Villarreal looks at her personal experiences — like a difficult childhood and divorce — colonial consequences, and migration, and analyzes them through a pop culture lens. In one piece, she’s looking at gender performativity through Nirvana and Selena, and in the next, the racial implications of Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow. She also looks at fantasy and considers collective imagination and how magic and ancestral teachings become invalidated through colonialism.

cover of Lies and Weddings by Kevin Kwan

Lies and Weddings by Kevin Kwan

Following up on the smash hit and cultural moment that was Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan is back with another decadently funny romance with bougie boos. Rufus Leung Gresham is in a pickle. Despite being the future Duke of Greshambury and having a former supermodel for a mother, his future is up in the air. The Gresham Trust that should have provided for him has been emptied and replaced with massive debt. His mom, though, is full of schemes and proposes he finds a rich woman to marry at his sister’s luxury wedding, where the who’s-who of the world will be. Thing is, even with a French hotel heiress and a venture capitalist extraordinaire as possibilities, Rufus really only has eyes for his neighbor Eden Tong, the daughter of a doctor. All these machinations surrounding his future nuptials get put on a temporary hold, though, when a volcanic eruption interrupts his sister’s wedding plans, and some family secrets get revealed.

Suggestion Section

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