5 Friyays: June 1

5 Friyays: June 1


Dr. Donnelly here this week with our celebration of awesome. I had a weird May – did anyone else? I traveled a lot, spent some time in waiting rooms, and did my fair share of hurrying up and waiting, so I barged through quite a few books. I read a lot – around 500 books annually – but I rarely talk about my favorites at a given time so I figured my top 5 reads for May would do nicely for today’s post. 

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

The story of an American Rhodes scholar in Oxford, I read this book in two sittings and finished with hope in my heart and tears in my eyes. It’s a gorgeous meditation on love – in many of its facets – and finding who you are. It may be a touch personal to me, as it deals with an American falling in love with a lad of the land where she goes to school (that’s my story with my husband) but there is also elements of chronic illness, adulthood, what exactly are ‘dreams’, how do we define family, all wrapped in a package that made me so homesick for that city of spires that I nearly was in pain. Stunning work and highly recommended.

Beard Science by Penny Reid

Cletus Winston is a meddler. He’d probably say he’s a fixer – as he fixes the lives of everyone around him, whether they consent to it or not. But he’s never meddled with Jennifer Sylvester, the Banana Bread Queen and that’s exactly what she wants him to do in this charming, quirky, kind romance from Penny Reid. In an industry where contemporary romances can often feel dime-a-dozen, Reid’s prose and characters sparkle.

The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley

Published back in 2011, this book is often spoken about by romance professionals as “canon worthy”. I knew it had to do with an hero who was on the spectrum, back in Victorian England when ‘spectrum’ didn’t exist, but beyond that I knew little when I picked it up from the library. Y’all. Y’ALL THIS BOOK. Do you like stories where people bring out the best in each other as they fall in love? Do you like watching folks who have been trained not to trust learn that they can trust the person in front of them? Do you have any affinity for ballrooms, corsets, and sparkling wit? You just may love this book like I did. As soon as I closed the page, I ordered the rest of the series from the library and have now finished the three subsequent books about his brothers – who are all strong Scotsmen brought to heel by sassafras and strong women. Just my cuppa tea, thank you very much.

A Higher Education by Rosalie Stanton

It is a truth universally acknowledged that I will read just about anything that claims to be an adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. They’re often pure crap, so when I find one I’m delighted by it is a gift. This is just such a tale. Set in university, Will is the son of a media mogul and Lizzie is on a scholarship, the two spar like they’re supposed to and the supporting characters all make appearances. I gave it a rave review, but have been told by friends of mine who holds the source material much more dearly than I do that she was frustrated by the liberties. So your mileage on this may vary.

Grant by Ron Chernow

Bit of a different vibe than the others, eh?! I can’t travel with this one since I bought the hard copy (mistake) and it is huuuuuuuuuge. So it’s been slow going through this masterwork, but worth it. I’m still not finished – this month I read most of the chapters on the Civil War – but I am learning so much about a president I never paid much mind to.


So that’s what I’ve been reading in May. As I head into June, I’m eager to finish the MacKenzie series, as well as dive into some others I’ve got on my ever growing pile. What have you read lately that you loved? Drop me a message using the link below and tell me! 


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