Surprisingly enough, I ended up reading seven books this month, even though I went on a trip abroad for over two weeks. Without dragging on, my August 2023 book reviews will follow shortly.
But let me break down my reading for the month a little bit first.
I managed to catch up to the Lars Kepler books in the series with its latest installment, The Spider, which was released in Canada on July 25th. Now I can say I’m up to date in at least one of the series I’ve been reading for years.
I listened to a memoir on audio, read one physical book, while the rest of the books came from my Kindle. Since I traveled abroad this month, I wasn’t planning to use up precious cargo space with physical books. Especially since I had many advanced reader copies to catch up to.
Without further ado, let me review the seven books I read in August 2023.
Lazarus by Lars Kepler
The seventh book in the Joona Linna series, Lazarus is packed with action and a bit of gore, as per usual. In this installment, Joona is confronted with one of Sweden’s most notorious serial killers, Jurek Walter. Although Joona and his team thought he was dead, two recent victims prove that he’s still not finished his killing spree.
It was a very action packed book, like all the others in this series. Not for the faint hearted, if you can handle descriptive details about people getting killed, you should enjoy Kepler’s books.
If you’re new to Nordic Noir, Kepler might not be the first author you should start with. Further down this post there is another Scandinavian new-to-me author you might consider beginning your journey with.
I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jenette McCurdy
When I first heard of this book, I thought to myself: who is brave enough to give it that title ? That was before I read the synopsis, and having no context.
Then I listened to this book on audio, narrated by the author. Being the mother of a daughter who grew up watching “I, Carly”, her memoir intrigued me. It was such a truthful but sad story of a child actress my daughter idolized at the time.
It is a raw depiction of the abuse the actress suffered at her mother’s hand since she was a child. That goes to show you that what you see on TV is not an accurate portrayal of the actors’ real lives. Many of us think they live this charmed life when in reality, sadly, it is often very far from the truth.
You will find the following trigger warnings: parental abuse, substance abuse, bulimia, and a few others in this memoir.
It is a heart wrenching story that will make you feel all types of emotions. I know that I questioned myself and my decisions I took as a mother while reading this. Having said that, I always did what I thought was best for her at the time, not what suited my purpose.
If you’re familiar with the actress and the show, then definitely pick it up.
The Girl in the Eagle’s Talons by Karin Smirnoff
Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Random House Canada for my advanced copy to read and review.
I’ll start by saying that I wanted to love this book so much. It was my most anticipated read of 2023. I mean, if you weren’t aware, the millennium trilogy is the series I rave about any chance I get. It is my absolute favorite Nordic Noir series, but unfortunately its author died after the third installment.
The publishers then decided to continue with the series, commissioning David Lagercrantz to write the next three books. But he wasn’t nearly as popular as Larson. Then comes Smirnoff. Not only is she an acclaimed author, but that means that Lizbeth Salander, my very favorite female character ever is back!!
As I mentioned on Instagram, for those of you who follow me, I had a very hard time following the story due to formatting issues. I’ve read egalleys before, but this one was by far the most confusing.
Hence, until I read the actual physical book that is properly edited, I will give the book a tentative rating. If I have to base it on the arc, I would say that I’m very disappointed with the seventh installment. But hopefully once I reread the finished copy I can enjoy it more.
Nevertheless, I will still recommend you read this book if you’re a Nordic Noir fan and loved the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
The Mirror Man by Lars Kepler
This is book number eight in the Joona Linna series by the authors.
As per usual, the short chapters make this equally long book read fast. Kepler has a way of getting the reader engaged from the first chapter, and keeping them hooked until the very end.
I must say, there are a few trigger warnings you should be aware of such as sexual abuse, animal abuse, dismemberment. Those topics may be difficult to read for some people. But if you have a strong stomach, the story line is well thought out despite its gore. And the twist at the end was unexpectedly shocking.
This book in the Joona Linna series can also be read as a stand-alone, like most of their books. But if you want to follow the main characters’ lives, you should read them in order.
The Spider by Lars Kepler
Thank you NetGalley, Lars Kepler and Penguin Random House Canada for my advanced readers copy to read and review.
The latest in the Joona Linna series is as good as the duo’s latest works. Action packed and a bit on the gory side, as it is the writing couple’s signature style, the Spider follows Joona and Saga Bauer to a next adventure.
In this installment, as per usual, the book starts with a murder. Several other people end up dead before the team manages to solve the riddle the killer sent to them. But Saga and Joona seem to be at the center of the killer’s focus once again.
I will not spoil it for any of you who are not up to date in the series, but know that it will keep you on your toes.
Honestly, I’m not sure if I like this book or the Mirror Man more. It’s a toss-up. They’re both equally engaging and easy to read despite being over 400 pages. The couple’s books are all pretty hefty, be forewarned. But the action-packed plots, short chapters and fluid writing style makes you forget the books are really long.
The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn
This was the book selection for July-August for my Nordic Noir Readalong group.
I liked the Seven Doors, but didn’t love it, hence my three-star rating.
It was an engaging read, but I was a bit confused at the beginning about the relationships between the characters. I wasn’t sure who was who and what was going on at first. But then I found myself caught up in the story and couldn’t put it down. I read it in one sitting during my return flight to Montreal!
I wasn’t shocked about the ending, but the author still created enough of a surprise.
The family dynamics were pretty strange in this thriller. The daughter was downright insufferable, and Nina, the main character, started her own investigation into a disappearance the police were looking into.
Overall it was an ok book , not great. It was a typical Nordic Noir thriller that can be a great introduction to the genre for those of you not familiar with it. The psychological aspects of this dark thriller were its strong point. I still recommend it for the genre lovers, as it is a short book that can be read in one sitting. I rarely read books that fast any longer, but I managed to get through this one in under four hours!
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
This book was a reread for me, for the LoveLaughMurder book club’s May selection. I first read it back in 2018, if i’m not mistaken, not long after its release.
I loved the concept back then, but I honestly didn’t remember the book much. Rereading its details came back to me, but it was still as enjoyable as the first time I read it. As far as I heard from other reviewers, since this is the only book I read by the author, it seems that it is her best work.
I am planning to eventually read The Girl from Widow Hills, which I own, but not this year for sure.
There are a few things that I really enjoyed about this book.
First, I thought the concept that goes back from the last to the first day was cleverly executed.
Second, the writing style was fluid, engaging, and easy to follow.
Lastly, I thought the author managed to build up the characters well. They were not likable by any means, but very well developed for a thriller/mystery.
As far as negatives went, I didn’t find any. I didn’t rate it five stars, but I did think it was a decent book. If someone wants to get into the psychological suspense genre, I definitely recommend it.
And these are my seven August 2023 book reviews. Have you read any of these books? If you did, what are your thoughts on them? You can share them in the comment box below, or write to me in private on Instagram, if you’re not comfortable sharing your opinion publicly.
Until next month, keep reading my fellow bookworms.