Your TBR pile is towering, and you don’t know what to read next. Who do you turn to? Your fellow readers, of course! When the Bookish team is looking for new books to pick up, we browse BookishFirst—a platform where readers can earn points by leaving reviews of upcoming books and use those points to win free books. Here, the Bookish editors have selected the top reviews of May releases from BookishFirst readers. Check out what real readers had to say about these buzzy new titles (including their star ratings), and then visit BookishFirst for an excerpt from each book!
Psst: If you want the chance to win books and be featured here, sign up at BookishFirst.com!
The Tubman Command by Elizabeth Cobbs
Informative, Interesting, and Well-Researched— 5 stars, monnie
“During all of my years at a public school, it was a man’s world. I don’t recall learning a thing about any women who made history. Once I got out and about, graduated from college and joined the ranks of the feminist movement, though, that changed. The area to which I moved boasts stops on the Underground Railroad, and I soon became familiar with other suffragette names like Harriet Taylor Upton and Harriet Tubman (notably, the Upton House, her home from 1887 to 1931 and now a museum, is in Warren, Ohio).
Given that proximity and my longstanding commitment to women’s rights, I was delighted to have an opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. I knew a bit about Tubman’s work with the Underground Railroad; but until now, I had no clue as to her very important work as a spy for the Union Army. In fact, as detailed in this book, General David Hunter put her in charge of directing and leading the largest plantation raid of the entire Civil War. Reluctantly, she had left her husband and child to carry out her mission, even while knowing that what the future held was nothing short of daunting. Known far and wide as ‘Moses,’ she already was a wanted woman who no doubt would be put to death if captured; nonetheless, she was determined to get behind enemy lines to set bondsmen free and recruit them to fight for the Union cause.
The research it must have taken to even begin pulling together a book like this is amazing to me. Turning that mountain of information into an educational yet highly readable format makes it all the more special. Although it is based on facts, it is a novel; the author does an outstanding job of adding details and emotion-filled dialogue that bring the story to life and make it far more interesting than a dry rendition in a history textbook. In short, well done and highly recommended.”
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
Highly Recommended— 4 stars, 2lz
“The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson was a very touching historical novel about a woman named Cussy who is ostracized due to her blue skin. She defies societal restrictions, earning her independence delivering books on horseback to poverty-stricken areas in Appalachia, Kentucky in the 1930s as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal education program.
There was so much to like about this story. There were well-developed, relatable characters; some of them touched this reader’s heart and some of them broke it. This was a substantial story that was engaging, heartwarming, and heartbreaking. Cussy is a character I will remember for a long time. She could have been bitter and resentful due to her circumstances but instead was tender, kind, and brave. She may have lived in a small, provincial town, but she found a path for herself despite significant personal risk, delivering books to remote communities. The charming, quirky friends she met along the way positively impacted how she saw herself and the life that she lived.”
How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox
Great mental illness rep!— 4 stars, mmrios9
“The first time I saw this book, I assumed it was an adult novel and put off reading it. Later, I saw it listed under the YA titles and decided to give it a shot based on its pretty cover (shallow I know) and its interesting synopsis.
There’s a lot to unpack in this novel. It somehow manages to walk the fine line between sad and hopeful. This is very much a book that will speak to anyone who has ever faced grief or loss of any kind. The main character Biz faces these obstacles in her own life and is haunted by memories of her father leaving and by her own childhood. She feels her grief so deeply in the book that it’s hard to not sympathize with her.
It’s very rare that I read a book with mental illness rep in YA that speaks to me as much as this book did. Biz provides readers with a deeply personal look at depression and how it impacts someone and the people around them. I love that books like this are becoming more prevalent in our society. There was a time when the topics addressed in this book would have been considered taboo and off the table.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and hope that people from all backgrounds will pick it up and read it.”
Please note that some reviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.