May 27 2017 12:00pm

The 7 Women’s Fiction Best Bets of May 2017

The Man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them

Mark Twain

Are you going to take advantage of this month’s list of good books? Of course, good is subjective—but every base is covered in this month’s selection. There are books to challenge the way you think; books that incorporate a sweet romance; book that are pure escapism; and books that celebrate starting over—even when the heroine of the book doesn’t think she ready for that.  Grab your favorite beverage and your sunscreen and take some advantage of some “Me” time.

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

Lilian Girvan has been a single mother for three years—ever since her husband died in a car accident. One mental breakdown and some random suicidal thoughts later, she’s just starting to get the hang of this widow thing. She can now get her two girls to school, show up to work, and watch TV like a pro. The only problem is she’s becoming overwhelmed with being underwhelmed.

At least her textbook illustrating job has some perks—like actually being called upon to draw whale genitalia. Oh, and there’s that vegetable-gardening class her boss signed her up for. Apparently, being the chosen illustrator for a series of boutique vegetable guides means getting your hands dirty, literally. Wallowing around in compost on a Saturday morning can’t be much worse than wallowing around in pajamas and self-pity.

After recruiting her kids and insanely supportive sister to join her, Lilian shows up at the Los Angeles botanical garden feeling out of her element. But what she’ll soon discover—with the help of a patient instructor and a quirky group of gardeners—is that into every life a little sun must shine, whether you want it to or not...

Strengths: Humorous voice; Appealing characters; Uplifting and emotionally satisfying starting over story 
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Mood: Poignant and lighthearted
Why You Should Read this: The author captures the dich0tomy of moving forward, but reluctant to let go of the past perfectly. Great combination of character growth, romance and rewarding ending!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. 

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
The only way to survive is to open your heart. 

Strengths: Atypical heroine & hero; wonderful exploration of good & bad parents; Unique storyline; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Dash
Mood: Poignant
Why You Should Read this: Unpredictable and engrossing! 

All the Best People by Sonja Yoerg

All the Best People by Sonja Yoerg

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

Vermont, 1972. Carole LaPorte has a satisfying, ordinary life. She cares for her children, balances the books for the family’s auto shop and laughs when her husband slow dances her across the kitchen floor. Her tragic childhood might have happened to someone else.

But now her mind is playing tricks on her. The accounts won’t reconcile and the murmuring she hears isn’t the television. She ought to seek help, but she’s terrified of being locked away in a mental hospital like her mother, Solange. So Carole hides her symptoms, withdraws from her family and unwittingly sets her eleven-year-old daughter Alison on a desperate search for meaning and power: in Tarot cards, in omens from a nearby river and in a mysterious blue glass box belonging to her grandmother.

An exploration of the power of courage and love to overcome a damning legacy, All the Best People celebrates the search for identity and grace in the most ordinary lives.

Strengths: Complex characters; Compelling storytelling; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Dash
Mood: Poignant
Why You Should Read this: Wonderful exploration of  a taboo topic with realistic scenarios. 

The Simplicity of Cider by Amy Reichert

The Simplicity of Cider by Amy Reichert

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about a prickly but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.

Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.

Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country. Chance—or fate—led them straight to Sanna’s orchard.

Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.

Strengths:Appealing setting; Multi-generational characters; Sweet Romance
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Mood: Poignant & Lighthearted 
Why You Should Read this: If you in the mood for a prickly heroine, and engaging hero with an artless son then this book is a perfect fit!  

Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell

Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

When Clemency meets the brilliant Sam Adams, she could just about fall in love with him—if he weren't married. Three years later, Clemency has settled into her cozy home village of Cornwall to focus on her career. Everything is smooth sailing until Sam upends her entire showing up as her stepsister's boyfriend.

Caught in the midst of a love triangle, Clemency has to pretend she's never met Sam...and choose between the love of her life and the bond of sisterhood.

Strengths: Multiple HEA storylines; Engaging characters; U.K. setting; HEA
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Mood: lighthearted
Why You Should Read this: Because it is a perfect Chick-Lit escapismbook. Light & humorous!

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

There are good moms and bad moms—and then there are hot-mess moms. Introducing Ashley Keller, career girl turned stay-at-home mom who's trying to navigate the world of Pinterest-perfect, Facebook-fantastic and Instagram-impressive mommies but failing miserably.  

When Ashley gets the opportunity to participate in the Motherhood Better boot camp run by the mommy-blog-empire maven she idolizes, she jumps at the chance to become the perfect mom she's always wanted to be. But will she fly high or flop? 

With her razor-sharp wit and knack for finding the funny in everything, Bunmi Laditan creates a character as flawed and lovable as Bridget Jones or Becky Bloomwood while hilariously lambasting the societal pressures placed upon every new mother. At its heart, Ashley's story reminds moms that there's no way to be perfect, but many ways to be great.

Strengths: Sardonic Humor; Motherhood challenges; Imperfect Heroine; HEA
Measure of Love: Dash
Mood: Lighthearted
Why You Should Read this: Pure entertainment along with a great use of humor to challenge our societal expectations of motherhood. 

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

Meet Ginny Moon. She’s mostly your average teenager—she plays flute in the high school band, has weekly basketball practice, and reads Robert Frost poems in English class.

But Ginny is autistic. And so what’s important to her might seem a bit…different: starting every day with exactly nine grapes for breakfast, Michael Jackson, her baby doll, and crafting a secret plan of escape.

After being traumatically taken from her abusive birth mother and moved around to different homes, Ginny has finally found her “forever home”—a safe place with parents who will love and nurture her. This is exactly what all foster kids are hoping for, right?

But Ginny has other plans. She’ll steal and lie and exploit the good intentions of those who love her—anything it takes to get back what’s missing in her life. She’ll even try to get herself kidnapped.

Told in an extraordinary and wholly original voice, Ginny Moon is at once quirky, charming, heartbreaking, and poignant. It’s a story about being an outsider trying to find a place to belong and about making sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up. Taking you into the mind of a curious and deeply human character, Benjamin Ludwig’s novel affirms that fiction has the power to change the way we see the world.

Strengths: Fascinating main characters; Unique insights into different type thinking;Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: N/A
Mood: Poignant and lighthearted
Why You Should Read this: While not truly women’s fiction, Ginny Moon is a fascinating character, and this book will definitely keep you turning the pages. Original and compelling read!  

H&H Editor Picks:

Join the H&H E-Book of the Month Club!

6 Women’s Fiction Best Bets of March 2017

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May 2017 Romance New Releases







Scarlettleigh, blogger.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Lee Brewer
1. LeeB.
I've read the titles by Jill Mansell and Abbi Waxman -- both very enjoyable reads. The Eleanor Oliphant story is very well done but at times a very emotional read. Will check out the other titles.
Maggie Boyd
2. maggieboyd66
Thanks for posting this. It looks like a great list and Confessions of a Domestic Failure sounds really interesting.
3. Kareni
I'm currently about halfway through The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman. It's an enjoyable read.
4. Scarlettleigh
@LeeB-- I can see why you would think Eleanor Oliphant is Completely find is an emotional read- -but I thought there was enough humor in the story to balance it out. I thought it was a great read and I definitely will be reading more books by Gail Honeyman. I liked it so much I bought the audio book too and just finished listening to it.

@maggieboyd66 --let me know how you like Confessions of a Domestic Failure. The author has a wicked wit!

@Kareni --The Garden of Small Beginnings is a wonderful book. Except I have to say that I agree with the character about worms<g>. Don't like them.
5. Kareni
I'm with you 100% on the subject of worms, ScarlettLeigh! I fijnished the book and enjoyed it very much. I'll happily read more by the author.
6. Scarlettleigh
@Kareni - You should try Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine next. Check it out from your library in case you don't like it -- but I think you will.
7. Kareni
Thanks, Scarlettleigh! I've put myself on the library's hold list for
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
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