Everything I Read in May 2023.

I was in a real reading rut in the beginning of the month and I couldn’t really put my finger on why. None of the offending books are on this list but I found myself DNFing again and again. Things improved though, and overall it was a great month of reading. The highlights for me personally were Peggy Guggenheim’s biography, Between Two Strangers (a fast, fun thriller), and The Senator’s Wife (Liv Constantine is a favorite!!). Tell me what you read and loved this month in the comments section – I love your recommendations!

PS – Check out The Library for even more book recommendations + here is what I read in April!

Everything I Read in May 2023.

Swipe Up For More, by Stephanie McNeal

Admittedly, I read this over the summer but I saved my review for this month as it comes out June 5th! There are so many books about influencers (mostly fiction) but this one is unique as the author is a journalist and really took the time to sink her teeth in and spend quite a bit of time following (visiting, interviewing) the three influencers that are profiled within the book. I loved that she asked the tough questions but led from a place of curiosity vs. snarkiness and criticism. The book is juicy and intimate, but also funny and vulnerable: profiling three major influencers: Caitlin Covington (@cmcoving) of Southern Curls & Pearls, Mirna Valerio, and Shannon Bird.

McNeal spent THREE years with each of these women so you get true coverage of what these women’s lives are like (and how they have built their respective empires). I personally found the Mormon mommy bloggers parts the most interesting (probably because those women’s lives are so different from my own) and it made me see Shannon Bird in a totally different light. I loved this book and think you will really enjoy it too! Overall Score: A // Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.com

Kismet, by Becky Chalsen

This is such a cute book, and would make for a great beach read. And as I have said on Instagram stories, if you love Emily Henry, you will love this. Twins Jo and Amy have been best friends since birth. And when Amy married Ben, the three of them were thick as thieves… inseparable! Now though, everything seems different. It’s Jo’s wedding weekend at their family house on Fire Island. Amy and Jo haven’t spoken in months. Amy and Ben are estranged, we just know that something happened months ago that rocked their world.

Meanwhile, Jo seemingly barely knows her fiancé Dave, and Dave’s parents seem dead set on stopping the wedding. The cherry on the top? A man from Amy’s past has turned up at the wedding – the one who got away. She cannot stop thinking about him and begins to question her marriage. This one is packed with family drama and you just want to shake the main character (Amy) at times. I gobbled it up and loved the ending. You’ll want to read this in a single afternoon! Overall Score: B+ // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org.

Under the Influence, by Noelle Crooks (out 8/8)

This is a very fun read, especially if you are like me and will read any book about influencer culture. This one was more about self help influencer culture (so different from my world. I stalked the author a little bit only to discover she used to work for Rachel Hollis). It was FUN – like a Devil Wears Prada for the digital age. I read it on my overnight flight to Venice and did not want to put it down to sleep (I continued to read it when I got to Venice — ultimately finishing it at a sidewalk cafe while I waited for my boyfriend to arrive).

Harper is smart but unlucky with work; laid off from her last job and totally broke, struggling to pay rent. When she is offered a job working for a self-help influencer (Charlotte Green) where she’ll be paid triple her old salary, she jumps at the offer even though it means moving to Nashville. Charlotte is charismatic and optimistic, and has built a cult-like following. But some things are too good to be true. What starts out as a fun, refreshing workplace (afternoon dance parties and group bonding activities!) quickly turns toxic. The book explores some of the darker sides of the industry: assistants who don’t get credit, plagiarism, toxic positivity, I could go on. I really enjoyed this! Overall Score: A- // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org

Between Two Strangers, by Kate White

I received an advance copy of this book (it just came out mid-May!) and absolutely loved it. This is a very twisty thriller that is fast and fun and such a treat to read. The kind of book that will suck you in and hold your attention until the end… you’ll want to read it in one sitting (it is great for a long flight!) Skyler Moore is a struggling artist who is just making ends meet. One day she gets a suspicious call from a lawyer, finding out she’s inherited a large sum of money from a stranger, Christopher Whaley. Upon wracking her brain, she realizes that years and years ago, she’d had a one night stand with him. They’d never even exchanged phone numbers; why on earth would he leave her all this money!?

Meanwhile, Chris’s family is upset — and extremely suspicious. His widow is convinced that they must have been having an affair and is convinced that Skyler must have been blackmailing him. She threatens revenge. Skyler’s apartment is broken into and she quickly realizes she’s being followed. She realizes she has to dig for the truth and figure out why the money was left to her. And as she does this, she realizes there were were even bigger, darker secrets at play. Alternating between past and present, this book is fast paced and fun. I highly recommend it! Overall Score: A // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org

Midnight is the Darkest Hour, by Ashley Winstead (out 10/3)

I really tried to hold off on reading this a little longer (it’s not out til October), but couldn’t help myself: Ashley Winstead is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I loved In My Dreams I Hold a Knife and The Last Housewife. She is not afraid to go really dark. This was described to me as Twilight meets Where the Crawdads Sing and that description is not wrong (just make it more of a thriller). It is set in Bottom Springs, small Louisiana town where a fire & brimstone preacher rules the roost (it felt like it could have taken place so long ago, except the main character loved Twilight so you know it’s set in present day).

Ruth Cornier has always been an outcast. A preacher’s daughter, bookish and small. Her closest friend is Everett, also an outcast/the boy from the wrong side of the tracks thanks to his violent, alcoholic father. When a skull turns up in the swamp, next to mysterious carved symbols, the town panics and is immediately thrown into uproar. Everyone thinks it must be The Low Man, a shadowy vampiric figure said to steal into sinners bedrooms and kill them in the night. Ruth and Everett must comb the town’s dark history to solve the mystery of what has happened… before the town turns on them! Well worth the pre-order. Overall Score: A- // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org

Confessions of an Art Addict, by Peggy Guggenheim

This is a fun little book. It’s very short (under 200 pages) and not the best writing (this was definitely before the age of ghostwriters), but it is just fun. Imagine your wealthy, eccentric great aunt just telling you all her stories about the art world in the 1940s and 1950s and you have what is an unputdownable little memoir. I absolutely loved it. I learned so much and it was also just FUN. Peggy had such an interesting life. The book spans her childhood (which was not very happy), her multiple marriages, how she started collecting art… her different galleries… and it’s also juicy! Think… Page Six but abstract/surrealist artists?

From talking about how Mondrian came into her gallery asking where he could go dancing, to her descriptions (and stories about) Brancusi, Giacometti, (of course) Jackson Pollock, and other artists.. I found myself utterly engrossed. It was also a fun book to read upon returning from Venice (she talked a lot about the art biennales and I could perfectly envision each of her stories). If you love art, or if you’ve just gotten back from Venice, this is the perfect book to read! Overall Score: A // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org

The Senator’s Wife, by Liv Constantine

I had pre-ordered this and was so excited for it as Liv Constantine is one of my favorite author duos (“Liv” is actually a team of two sisters that write together). You probably know them from The Last Mrs. Parrish which I loved. The perfect can’t-put-it-down thriller. This one was really satisfying for me as I guessed the twist(s) pretty early on BUT they have such a great way of keeping you guessing that I second guessed myself the whole time. It was addicting?

Two years ago, Whit and Sloane each lost their spouses in a tragic accident. Over the years they leaned on each other and now: they are married, and happily in love. Every day, Sloane pinches herself that she somehow managed to love two incredible men. Her life is pretty much perfect. But Sloane has some health issues: she needs a hip replacement and often experiences debilitating flares of lupus. When they decide to hire someone to help out with Sloane’s non-profit and also care for Sloane at home post-operation, Athena seems perfect.

But as Athena cares for Sloane, Sloane just seems to get sicker and sicker, her lupus flare-ups getting worse and worse. Meanwhile, it seems that Athena and Whit have taken to each other. As Sloane gets sicker and sicker, it seems that something evil is at play. I loved this almost as much as I loved The Last Mrs. Parrish. It is fun and twisty and will keep you on your toes. It’s also the kind of book that you kind of just have to read in one sitting: I found that I could not stop reading!!! Overall Score: A // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment


  1. Katie:

    I read Hello Beautiful this month and LOVED it, I think you would too!

    And very interested in learning more about Shannon Bird, I’ve seen her talked about on blogsnark and looked and some of her posts and was a little shocked, but interested to seeing any more context behind it.

    6.1.23 Reply
    • grace at the stripe:

      oooh looking it up, thank you for the rec, I always love your book recs, Katie!
      I think you’ll enjoy Steph’s book. I am currently re-reading as I am interviewing Steph for a digital event on the 14th!

      6.1.23 Reply
  2. Paula:

    If you like romance, Ashley Winstead has a great romance out now called The Boyfriend Candidate! A very fun, fast paced, political love story!

    6.1.23 Reply
  3. Cait:

    Love the dishwasher photo – very fun!

    I am flying to London in 2 weeks and I went nuts loading up on thrillers.
    1) The Chateau
    2) I Didn’t Do It
    3) She Started It
    4) The Revenge List
    5) The Senator’s Wife – I love Liv Constantine too!
    6) The Last Word
    7) What Lies In The Woods
    8) Never Saw Me Coming
    9) All Her Little Secrets – I think I got this rec from you too!
    10) Her Dark Lies
    11) Between Two Strangers – yay glad you liked it so much and rec it for a long flight 🙂

    6.1.23 Reply
  4. m:

    I’m currently reading The Personal Assistant because I wanted to read a thriller that takes place in Atlanta. I totally agree with your assessment. It’s not a literary masterpiece but I’m totally invested in the mystery so far. The local name drops are fun too. Thanks for the recommendation!

    6.1.23 Reply
  5. Heidi:

    Obsessed with:
    1) the Daydreams. I can’t stop reading it. Thanks for the rec last month!
    2) the dishwasher photo.

    6.1.23 Reply
  6. Mel:

    Currently reading no two persons! Its a compilation of short stories but her writing is so good! Loved the scent keeper by the same author as well – both so thought provoking.

    Read advika and the Hollywood wives too—curious what you would think about it. Felt it was a slow burn that fell flat but curious what you think!

    Can’t wait to read the daydream – I ordered it and currently on my TBR!

    6.1.23 Reply
  7. Curtis:

    I’m interested in reading a thriller book and recently picked up “Menacing Angels” by Carolyn S. Tanner. The story is inspiring and I highly recommend give it a read. You can read more about it here: carolynstanner.com

    6.1.23 Reply
  8. Lacey:

    Drowning by TJ Newman! It was my fave read of May. All the stars, highly recommend.

    6.1.23 Reply
  9. CD:

    I have been in a bit of a DNF rut as well. I was trying to force myself to power through a few things so I could finish them because I was so mad at how any books I was picking up, reading a few chapters, and then going “nah” and putting aside. But then I just said, “life is too short! if you don’t want to read this now, pick up something you DO want to read.” Maybe I will come back to a few I have paused (most recent DNF is A.S Byatt’s Possession and my Everest, Wolf Hall for some inexplicable reason).

    However, I *did* recently finish and recommend:
    – The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton – a historical mystery set on a shipping vessel in the 1600s. (I also LOVED the 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by the same author)
    – Euphoria by Lily King – Literary romance loosely based on anthropologist Margaret Mead

    I am also currently reading and ABSOLUTELY LOVING Atomic Habits by James Clear. I know you have read this one, Grace, and I am so glad I finally picked it up! Also reading and loving Helgoland by Carlo Rovelli.

    6.1.23 Reply
    • CD:

      Oh! I am also re-reading An Echo in the Bone (book 7 of Outlander) because I am obsessed with the series and wanted to reread this in prep of the new season of the show. Highly recommend the series if you like historical literary romance.

      6.1.23 Reply
      • CD:

        One more thing! LOL

        A few months ago, I read The Cloisters by Katy Hays. If you haven’t read it already, I think this would totally be your jam!

        6.1.23 Reply
  10. Erin:

    I love reading all your book recommendations each month and just picked up the Senator’s Wife, can’t wait to start it. This past month two books crushed me (in a good way) Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro and Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano. I couldn’t put either down and the writing was so wonderful.

    6.2.23 Reply
  11. Lisa:

    I’m interested in reading a thrilling book and I recently finished Menacing Angles by Carolyn S. Tanner. The story was inspiring and I highly recommend giving it a read. You can check it out:

    6.2.23 Reply
  12. Emily:

    Kate White is my favorite for thrillers that suck up your attention and you can’t put down. I’ll have to check out her latest. If you haven’t read her other books, I think you would like them.

    6.2.23 Reply
  13. Danielle:

    Thank you for sharing, I will have to check them out.

    Danielle | thereluctantblogger.co.uk

    6.3.23 Reply
  14. Jessica B:

    I’ve just started Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum. It’s everything I want in a summer read….wealthy people at their summer beach houses behaving very badly. I cannot put it down!

    6.4.23 Reply
    • grace at the stripe:

      This sounds right up my alley – ordered!

      6.5.23 Reply
      • Tara:

        In a similar vein, I just DNF’d “The Guest” by Emma Cline. Also beach homes and bad behavior but I just started losing all empathy for the troubled main character. But it might be someone else’s perfect read!

        6.5.23 Reply
        • grace at the stripe:

          Oh man that is a bummer, I had pre-ordered it!

          6.5.23 Reply
          • Tara:

            Maybe you will like it? Look forward to hearing your thoughts! 🙂 I really enjoy all of your reviews and recommendations. I am trying to get back into reading more and you are a great role model (though I imagine it’s been tricky with the kitten!).