Wondering what to read now? Here are all the hot new May 2021 book releases for you. I’ll let you know what I’ve read, what I can’t wait to read, and what’s getting all the attention this month.
In case you’re new to Booklist Queen, every month I cover all the hottest new book releases. I try to read as many new book releases as I can to give you an honest perspective on what to read and what to skip.
However, I realize that my to-read list might not exactly match yours. That’s why, this year, I’ve decided to also include some of the most popular May 2021 book releases from your favorite authors.
Enough from me. Let’s get on to the May 2021 book releases so you can fill up your to-read list.
The highlights of the month:
- A Highly Anticipated Sci-Fi Story
- Four Sweeping Historical Fiction Novels
- A Gen-Z Princess Diaries
- Three Summer Beach Reads
Have I got you interested? Then keep scrolling to see our picks for the best of the May 2021 book releases.
Top May 2021 Book Releases
In a last-ditch effort to save Earth from an extinction-level event, a group of astronauts is sent on a desperate mission in a cobbled-together spacecraft. But when Ryland Grace wakes up, he has no memory of his mission or why the rest of the crew is dead. The sole survivor, he must take on an impossible task with no margin for failure.
Andy Weir returns to many of the elements that made The Martian a best seller: a desperate space mission where a sarcastic protagonist MacGyver’s his way through with science. Unfortunately, Project Hail Mary doesn’t have the mass appeal of The Martian. Ryland Grace is an annoying version of Mark Watney, the mission was less realistic, and the science was overwhelming at times. I didn’t connect with the story until over halfway through, and would only recommend this book to strong science fiction readers.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Ballantine Books through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Although the official response to COVID-19 was that there was no need to worry, skeptical scientists knew that something terrifying was on the horizon. From a teen girl’s science project to a dissenting group of scientists called “The Wolverines,” Michael Lewis’s nonfiction thriller details the roots of the current coronavirus pandemic as a race against visionaries and medical authorities.
A suburban mom struggling to understand her dissatisfaction begins to mistakenly receive emails meant for someone else. To Daisy, Diana Starling seems to have the perfect life as a successful single businesswoman. When Diana invites Daisy out to her Cape Cod home, a friendship blooms that turns out to not be as accidental as Daisy thought.
In Boston in 1662, a young Puritan woman plots her escape from an abusive marriage. Yet, Mary’s refusal to accept the hypocrisy of the colony raises the suspicions of the community. When tainted objects are found in her garden and a boy she treats with herbs dies, Mary must act swiftly to avoid accusations of witchcraft.
Just in time for summer comes this year’s perfect beach read. On the remote Frick Island in the middle of Chesapeake Bay, Piper Parrish had a perfect life – until her husband died. But Piper kept carrying on, acting as if he was still alive, and the townsfolk decided to play along with the grieving widow. When an ambitious podcaster arrives in town, he feels like he has the story of a lifetime, until he starts to fall in love with Piper. With quirky characters, a cute love story, and thoughtful plot twists, The Invisible Husband of Frick Island is a poignant story about grief and the things we’ll do for those we love.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Berkley through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Rutherfurd’s new historical saga takes on China, beginning at the start of the opium war in 1839. From there, Rutherford follows Chinese history through Mao’s Cultural Revolution and modern-day China, highlighting the nation’s beautiful, but sometimes violent, heritage.
Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein
Why do two doctors in the same city give different diagnoses to the same patient? Or a judge gives different sentences for the same crime in the afternoon versus the morning? Noise examines the variability of decisions that should be the same, exploring why people make bad judgments and how to control both noise and cognitive bias.
Book of the Month – May 2021
Receiving my blue box from Book of the Month Club is a highlight of every month.
Here’s how it works – each month, they pick 5 books and you get to choose one book or skip until the next month. If you want to add any extra books, then you get them at a discounted price.
Each month is usually a mix of new releases and advance copies of unreleased books. If you are interested in joining, right now you can use my Book of the Month Club affiliate link to get your first book for $5!
The May Book of the Month selections are:
See the Complete List of Upcoming Releases!
Exciting New May 2021 Book Releases
From the author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky comes a World War II novel about a young couple caught between two warring armies. Emil and Adeline Martel come from a long line of Ukrainian farmers of German heritage. In March 1944, as the Soviet army marches on Ukraine, they must decide whether they want to again live under Stalin’s regime or retreat with the hated Nazi army.
The Last Green Valley is based on a true story, which makes it an inspiring tale but doesn’t offer the nail-biting action a truly fictional story might. The slower pace and heavy-handed focus on Emil’s religious transformation made chunks of the story drag. Yet, I was fascinated reading about the harsh realities of living in Eastern Europe in the first half of the 20th century. I don’t foresee The Last Green Valley ever becoming a bestseller, but it’s a story worth telling and will do well with those who love World War II historical fiction.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Lake Union Publishing and through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Jean Hanff Korelitz
A story so good you can’t help but steal it. Jacob Bonner was once a promising young novelist, but now he’s a down-on-his-luck professor struggling with writer’s block. When one of his students dies, Jake decides to use that student’s sure-fire plot. Yet, with success comes threatening messages that make Jake realize he got in deeper than he ever intended.
Korelitz’s book hinges on the premise that with a plot so good, anyone can write it. Yet, I’ve found the opposite to be true. Good writers can make watching paint dry interesting whereas poor writers can screw up even the best of stories. Sadly, The Plot falls more into the latter end of the spectrum.
The entire book consists of the protagonist worrying about his guilty conscience. With no red herrings and a tiny cast of characters, the ending was obvious from the beginning. Or rather the middle since the story developed so slowly. I kept wanting to read Jake’s sure-fire story from the book rather than the book I was reading.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Celadon Books. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
To escape being typecast as a romantic lead, actress Hadley Baxter accepts a role in a biopic of Marian Graves, a female pilot who disappeared in Antarctica. Marian was rescued from a sinking ocean liner as a child and later began flying as a teen, supplementing her pilot lessons by working for a notorious bootlegger. The more Hadley learns about Marian’s attempt to circumnavigate the world, the more she realizes their fates are connected.
The Princess Diaries meets Crazy Rich Asians in Emiko Jean’s new young adult story about a Japanese-American teenager who learns her birth father is the Crown Prince of Japan. Suddenly, Izumi is swept away into a life of royalty and struggles to fit in as a princess. Can she bridge the gap between being too Japanese for America and too American for Japan while still getting her happily ever after?
Tokyo Ever After will be a delightfully fun read for modern teenagers, and I predict it will quickly get a film adaptation. The story is essentially an updated version of The Princess Diaries set in Japan with a more feminist Gen-Z protagonist but the same cute premise.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Flatiron Books through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
A fictionalized account of the life of Evangelina Cisneros, an imprisoned revolutionary who became the rallying cry for Americans after William Hearst described her as “the most beautiful girl in Cuba.” At the end of the nineteenth century, Hearst assigns Grace Harrington to cover Evangelina’s story. With the help of Marina Perez, a courier secretly working for the revolutionaries, Grace tries to free Cisneros. When the United States and Spain start hurtling toward war, the three women must risk everything in their fight for freedom.
Number-crunching single mom Jess has troubling trusting others but decides to try a new DNA-based matchmaking service. When she scores an unheard of 98% compatibility score with the service’s founder, she is astounded. For she already knows Dr. Pena, and she can’t stand him.
In the small town at the edge of the sea, Corayne an-Amarat discovers she is the last of an ancient line – the last hope to save the world from destruction. She unites together with unlikely companions to save the realm in this new fantasy series by the author of Red Queen.
After three years of marriage, Tish Nelson fears that her husband John is starting to fall back in love with his first wife, Kate. After John and Kate’s business successfully goes public, Tish whisks him away to a romantic getaway. When John dies of a heart attack, Tish and Kate battle over control of the company pushing each other to the edge. With stilted dialogues, stiff characters, and poorly thought-out plot, The Next Wife did not have the quality I expect from books I read, and I recommend skipping it.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas & Mercer. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
See the Complete List of Upcoming Releases!
Popular May Upcoming Releases
What May 2021 book releases are you most excited to read?