Books I Read – May 2021

It’s been a long month, and while I’ve been exploring Tirana, I got a bit of reading done. Check out the good and bad from this month’s selection of books I read.

Books I Read - May 2021 | Poppies and Jasmine

The People We Hate At The Wedding – Grant Ginder

The People We Hate At The Wedding - Grant Ginder | Books I Read - Poppies and Jasmine

This book was…not good. It was very slow-moving and hard to get into, and those issues were exacerberated by the fact that the characters were not very likeable. Honestly, I had to put this book down because…just no.

The Swap – Robyn Harding

The Swap - Robyn Harding | Books I Read - Poppies and Jasmine

I really wanted to like this book. I really did, and I did hold out to the end. But it was just weird and never really fit. Considering there are three main characters, one of them should have been likeable, but one was a creepy stalker, one was whiny and needy, and one was just cruel. By the end, I honestly just wanted them all to drop dead and put me out of my misery.

The Best Of Us – Sarah Pekkanen

The Best Of Us - Sarah Pekkanen | Books I Read - Poppies and Jasmine

The book follows a group of old college friends as they travel to an island for a week-long birthday celebration. Now adults, they all have their own lives – marriages, divorces, children, and so forth – so it’s somewhat interesting to see how their lives develop. That said, the only characters who are actually worthwhile tend to get the least time on the page. On top of that, the characters who are less likeable mostly face issues of their own making, and still still none of it is riveting. I think the basic plot had a lot of potential and it just didn’t play out.

Charlotte Walsh Likes To Win – Jo Piazza

Charlotte Walsh Likes To Win - Jo Piazza | Books I Read - Poppies and Jasmine

Charlotte Walsh was, at best, mediocre. A book about a female politician campaigning against a racist, sexist, Northeastern version of Storm Thurmond should have been interesting – and instead, she was basically unlikeable, with only minimal issues from the opponent. On top of that, the book is utterly forgettable.

Adequate Yearly Progress – Roxanna Elden

Adequate Yearly Progress - Roxanna Elden | Books I Read - Poppies and Jasmine

I am not having good luck with books this month. Since I’ve enjoyed several books about teachers in the school system, I had hoped to break a bad book streak with this. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t interesting either. Just…mediocre.

The Regulars – Georgia Clark

The Regulars - Georgia Clark | Books I Read - Poppies and Jasmine

This book was just weird. Just plain weird. Three friends take a magical potion that makes them wildly beautiful, and the novel follows how that beauty changes their lives. While I think that beauty does unfortunately have a drastic effect on how people experience life, I think this take was unrealistic. It just didn’t hit the mark in any way.

Chasing Harry Winston – Lauren Weisberger

Chasing Harry Winston - Lauren Weisberger | Books I Read - Poppies and Jasmine

This book was good, slightly better than fine. I’ve liked other books by Lauren Weisberger, but this didn’t live up to those; however, it was better than other books I’ve read this month. Following three friends as they try to change their lives, most of the book felt…generic. I never really connected with the characters, which made it somewhat hard to care about their journey. I will say, the ending was actually pretty solid. I think all of them ended up in the right place, despite a mediocre middle.

Trophies – Heather Thomas

Trophies - Heather Thomas | Books I Read - Poppies and Jasmine

As you can tell, I haven’t been having a very good reading month. This book actually turned it around somewhat. While not stellar, Trophies was all in all pretty good. Six rich “trophy” wives in California band together to support each other through hardship while vying for status. The novel definitely bordered on cheesy at times, but it was still super fun to read. Toss this in your bag to read at the beach.

Troubling Love – Elena Ferrante

Troubling Love - Elena Ferrante | Poppies and Jasmine

Oh. My. God. Soooo bored. I knew continuing was a mistake when I was a quarter of the way into the book, and didn’t care. Following a woman in the wake of her mother’s death as she searches for answers, this book has an interesting premise – until you actually pick it up. Absolutely pass on this.

Make Or Break – Catherine Bennetto

Make Or Break - Catherine Bennetto | Poppies and Jasmine

This book was cute. It’s not spectacular, it’s not deep, it doesn’t really excel in any category, but it is fun enough to take on vacation with you. Following a girl as she attends a wedding in South Africa, she faces several life changes in one fell swoop – and that’s enough to rock anyone’s balance. To some degree, I found the main character a bit annoying, but it wasn’t so severe that I hated her or anything. Regardless, there’s not all that much character depth – across the board, what you see is what you get – but the book holds up just fine.

The Overdue Life Of Amy Byler – Kelly Harms

The Overdue Life Of Amy Byler - Kelly Harms | Poppies and Jasmine

This book was cute. I like that there was some actual character development in it, I like that the main character didn’t settle, and I liked that the plot was fun throughout. This is another book that isn’t wildly deep, but frankly, day-to-day? I just want a nice light book escape, and this fulfilled that.

Dirty Genes – Ben Lynch

Dirty Genes - Ben Lynch | Poppies and Jasmine

I have a huge interest in genomes because my family has a couple of mutations that seem linked to some health issues. Between my mother’s Parkinson’s disease and the fact that my endo seems to have a genetic cause, genes matter – plus, we have the MTHFR gene mutation, and yeah, it’s a motherf**ker. I was excited to read Lynch’s book, and I think it’s a good place to start. However, I think he also wildly overstates the success of dietary changes and such, and while he claims the approach he recommends is personalizable, it’s very very general. Honestly, I think that the explanation of how genes can screw you is excellent, but as far as management – I think everyone needs to take his actual advice with a grain of salt. For gene mutations, there is no one-size-fits-all, and it’s a lot of trial and error. In my mother’s case, we worked with a geneticist and a dietician, as well as her normal team of doctors, and we still haven’t hit a gold-standard treatment plan.

12 books – not great, but not terrible. I continued a streak of mediocre books that started in March, so let’s hope that changes next month!


  • Ellie-M
    June 1, 2021 at 5:22 pm

    Holy moly you read a lot in May! I’m lucky if I get one book down a month haha. I love your honesty, that you give your honest opinion of all the books. I think Trophies would be the one for me if I had to pick one.

    • jasmine
      June 4, 2021 at 6:26 pm

      Trophies really was good, which surprised me some. I think you’ll like it!


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