Monthly Memo: May 2018 / by Madeleine Riley

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Today I'm kicking off the new month with another Monthly Memo, featuring all of the new releases I have waiting on my shelf for the month of May!

I skipped over my April memo because I knew my TBR didn't have much room, but this month I'm hoping to tackle most of my May releases (and hopefully get to some of my backlog titles too)!

Here's the background on my memo series: I often don't get through my whole stack of new releases each month (I read a fair balance of new and old books), which means I don't always have reviews ready pre-release date. To remedy that, I'm aiming to put out a memo each month, featuring all of the books I have on hand that are coming out in a given month! I try my hardest to keep up with new releases, so keep an eye out for reviews here on the blog and on my Instagram @topshelftext.


NEW IN MAY 2018

Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo / Releases May 1, 2018

TST copy provided free by Catapult Books

When the army officer Chike Ameobi is ordered to kill innocent civilians, he knows it is time to desert his post. As he travels toward Lagos with Yẹmi, his junior officer, and into the heart of a political scandal involving Nigeria’s education minister, Chike becomes the leader of a new platoon, a band of runaways who share his desire for a different kind of life. Among them are Fineboy, a fighter with a rebel group, desperate to pursue his dream of becoming a radio DJ; Isoken, a sixteen-year-old girl whose father is thought to have been killed by rebels; and the beautiful Oma, escaping a wealthy, abusive husband.


Welcome to Lagos is a high-spirited novel about aspirations and escape, innocence and corruption. Full of humor and heart, it offers a provocative portrait of contemporary Nigeria that marks the arrival in the United States of an extraordinary young writer.

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Love and Ruin by Paula McLain / Releases May 1, 2018

TST copy provided free by Random House

In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha Gellhorn travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in the devastating conflict. It's the adventure she's been looking for and her chance to prove herself a worthy journalist in a field dominated by men. But she also finds herself unexpectedly—and uncontrollably—falling in love with Hemingway, a man on his way to becoming a legend.

In the shadow of the impending Second World War, and set against the turbulent backdrops of Madrid and Cuba, Martha and Ernest’s relationship and their professional careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must make a choice: surrender to the confining demands of being a famous man's wife or risk losing Ernest by forging a path as her own woman and writer. It is a dilemma that could force her to break his heart, and hers.

Heralded by Ann Patchett as "the new star of historical fiction," Paula McLain brings Gellhorn's story richly to life and captures her as a heroine for the ages: a woman who will risk absolutely everything to find her own voice.

Read This If You Want to Be a Great Writer by Ross Raisin / Releases May 1, 2018

TST copy provided free by Laurence King Publishing

This book demystifies the writing process, empowering you to write your own novel or short story. The author explains expert technique in a clear and jargon-free way, with examples from the fifty greatest writers of our time. 

For aspiring writers of all ages and abilities, Read This If You Want to Be a Great Writer will motivate and strengthen your writing talent.

P.S. This isn't the type of book to read cover-to-cover; I've already flipped through it and it has me inspired to try out some form of creative writing this month. I tend to write a lot in the summertime, but drop the habit during my busier school months. I think this step-by-step guide to crafting a great story will be a great resource for me this summer when I dive back into my own projects!

The Island Dwellers: Stories by Jen Silverman / Releases May 1, 2018

TST copy provided free by Random House

For readers of Miranda July, Rebecca Lee, and Mary Gaitskill, a debut short-story collection that is a mesmerizing blend of wit, transgression, and heart. 

A passive-aggressive couple in the midst of a divorce compete over whose new fling is more exotic. A Russian migrant in Tokyo agonizes over the money her lover accepts from a yakuza. A dead body on a drug dealer’s floor leads to the strangest first date ever.

In this razor-sharp debut collection, Jen Silverman delivers eleven interconnected stories that take place in expat bars, artist colonies, train stations, and matchbox apartments in the United States and Japan. Unforgettable characters crisscross through these transient spaces, loving, hurting, and leaving each other as they experience the loneliness and dangerous freedom that comes with being an outsider. In “Maria of the Grapes,” a pair of damaged runaways get lost in the seductive underworld beneath Tokyo’s clean streets; in “Pretoria,” a South African expatriate longs for the chaos of her homeland as she contemplates a marriage proposal; in “Girl Canadian Shipwreck,” a young woman in Brooklyn seeks permission to flee from her boyfriend and his terrible performance art; in “Maureen,” an aspiring writer realizes that her beautiful, neurotic boss is lonelier than she lets on.

The Island Dwellers ranges near and far in its exploration of solitude and reinvention, identity and sexuality, family and home. Jen Silverman is the rare talent who can evoke the landscape of a whole life in a single subtle phrase—vital, human truths that you may find yourself using as a map to your own heart.
 

What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine / Releases May 8, 2018

TST copy provided free from Harper Books 

In this darkly funny, striking debut, a highly unusual young woman must venture into the woods at the edge of her home to remove a curse that has plagued the women in her family for millennia—an utterly original novel with all the mesmerizing power of The Tiger’s Wife, The Snow Child, and Swamplandia!

Cursed. Maisie Cothay has never known the feel of human flesh: born with the power to kill or resurrect at her slightest touch, she has spent her childhood sequestered in her family’s manor at the edge of a mysterious forest. Maisie’s father, an anthropologist who sees her as more experiment than daughter, has warned Maisie not to venture into the wood. Locals talk of men disappearing within, emerging with addled minds and strange stories. What he does not tell Maisie is that for over a millennium her female ancestors have also vanished into the wood, never to emerge—for she is descended from a long line of cursed women.

But one day Maisie’s father disappears, and Maisie must venture beyond the walls of her carefully constructed life to find him. Away from her home and the wood for the very first time, she encounters a strange world filled with wonder and deception. Yet the farther she strays, the more the wood calls her home. For only there can Maisie finally reckon with her power and come to understand the wildest parts of herself.

Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston / Releases May 8, 2018

TST copy provided free by Harper Books

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States.

In 1931, Hurston returned to Plateau, the African-centric community three miles from Mobile founded by Cudjo and other former slaves from his ship. Spending more than three months there, she talked in depth with Cudjo about the details of his life. During those weeks, the young writer and the elderly formerly enslaved man ate peaches and watermelon that grew in the backyard and talked about Cudjo’s past—memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda, and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War.

Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo’s unique vernacular, and written from Hurston’s perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth-century, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture.

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Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall / Releases May 8, 2018

TST copy provided free by MCD Books

A spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.

This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely, life before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job; he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his e-mails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move, he’ll know just when to come to her rescue . . .

Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin / Releases May 15, 2018

TST copy provided free by Random House

Carl Louis Feldman is an old man who was once a celebrated photographer. That was before he was tried for the murder of a young woman and acquitted. before his admission to a care home for dementia. Now his daughter has come to see him, to take him on a trip. Only she's not his daughter and, if she has her way, he's not coming back . . .

Because Carl's past has finally caught up with him. The young woman driving the car is convinced her passenger is guilty, and that he's killed, other young women. Including her sister Rachel. Now they're following the trail of his photographs, his clues, his alleged crimes. To see if he remembers any of it. Confesses to any of it. To discover what really happened to Rachel. Has Carl truly forgotten what he did or is he just pretending? Perhaps he's guilty of nothing and she's the liar. Either way in driving him into the Texan wilderness she's taking a terrible risk. For if Carl really is a serial killer, she's alone in the most dangerous place of all . . .

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll / Releases May 15, 2018

TST copy provided free by Simon & Schuster

From Jessica Knoll—author of Luckiest Girl Alive, the instant New York Times bestseller and the bestselling debut novel of 2015—comes a blisteringly paced thriller starring two sisters who join the cast of a reality TV series. One won’t make it out alive. So…who did it?

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her castmates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

The Favorite Sister explores the invisible barriers that prevent women from rising up the ranks in today’s America—and offers a scathing take on the oft-lionized bonds of sisterhood, and the relentless pressure to stay young, relevant, and salable.

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The Plastic Magician (Paper Magician #4) by Charlie N. Holmberg / Releases May 15, 2018

TST copy provided free by the author.

Alvie Brechenmacher has arrived in London to begin her training in Polymaking—the magical discipline of bespelling plastic. Polymaking is the newest form of magic, and in a field where there is so much left to learn, every Polymaker dreams of making the next big discovery.

Even though she is only an apprentice, Alvie is an inventor at heart, and she is determined to make as many discoveries—in as short a time frame—as she can. Luckily for her, she’s studying under the world-renowned magician Marion Praff, who is just as dedicated as Alvie is.

Alvie’s enthusiasm reinvigorates her mentor’s work, and together they create a device that could forever change Polymaking—and the world. But when a rival learns of their plans, he conspires to steal their invention and take the credit for it himself.

To thwart him, Alvie will need to think one step ahead. For in the high-stakes world of magical discovery, not everyone plays fair…

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The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware / Releases May 29, 2018

TST copy provided free from Gallery Books

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

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Another Side of Paradise by Sally Koslow / Releases May 29, 2018

TST copy provided free by Harper Books

In 1937 Hollywood, gossip columnist Sheilah Graham’s star is on the rise, while literary wonder boy F. Scott Fitzgerald’s career is slowly drowning in booze. But the once-famous author, desperate to make money penning scripts for the silver screen, is charismatic enough to attract the gorgeous Miss Graham, a woman who exposes the secrets of others while carefully guarding her own. Like Fitzgerald’s hero Jay Gatsby, Graham has meticulously constructed a life far removed from the poverty of her childhood in London’s slums. And like Gatsby, the onetime guttersnipe learned early how to use her charms to become a hardworking success; she is feted and feared by both the movie studios and their luminaries.

A notorious drunk famously married to the doomed Zelda, Fitzgerald fell hard for his “Shielah” (he never learned to spell her name), a shrewd yet softhearted woman—both a fool for love and nobody’s fool—who would stay with him and help revive his career until his tragic death three years later. Working from Sheilah’s memoirs, interviews, and letters, Sally Koslow revisits their scandalous love affair and Graham’s dramatic transformation in London, bringing Graham and Fitzgerald gloriously to life with the color, glitter, magic, and passion of 1930s Hollywood.

Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber / Releases May 29, 2018

TST copy provided free from Flatiron Books

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.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more―and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. 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.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval...the games have only just begun.


As I mentioned, I'm hoping to get through more than a few of these titles this month, but I'm also picking up some fun new children's lit that I can't wait to share with you. If there's a title here that you'd like to see a review for on TST, just check the box below! I'll take your votes into account as I pick out books throughout the month of May!

Which new release are you most interested in hearing more about on TST? *