The month of May was pretty decent reading-wise. I ended up reading a total of six books, one of which was a five-star!
Then I had three four-star books and two books that I gave three stars. Overall, I can consider it a successful month.
Let’s see which books I’m talking about.
The Harbor by Katrine Engberg
In the third book in the Korner and Werner series, it seems like Engberg’s writing is getting better and better.
Maybe because I’m used to her style now, or I’ve grown really fond of the characters.
Regardless, it is her best work yet, in my opinion. If you want to get started with this particular series, The Tenant is her first book, followed by Butterfly House. You can read them as a stand-alone, but it’s always better to follow the sequence.
Fifteen-year-old Oscar Dreyer-Hoff never comes home after school on a Friday evening. The middle child of a wealthy family, they don’t even realize he’s missing until the following day when none of his family and friends hear from him. There’s a strange note that is left at the parents’ house. Detectives Annette Werner and Jeppe Korner start an investigation, but time is running against them.
Since Nordic Noir is my favorite genre, I loved this book. Katrine Engberg is becoming one of my go-to Scandinavian authors.
The way she sets the scene and works the story is her own, and I find her plots to be captivating and intriguing. She gives the main protagonists flawed characteristics, but that’s what makes them more approachable. Seeing how their personal lives are just as messy as the people they’re investigating is what keeps me interested and looking forward to the next installment.
I really hope there will be at least a couple more books in this series.
Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner
A great debut novel by Katherine Faulkner. It started a bit slow for me, and I was questioning myself as to where exactly the story was going but did it ever come through at the end! An explosive finale that definitely made up for a few slower parts throughout the book.
In her first prenatal class, Helen meets Rachel, a young expecting mother who doesn’t seem very maternal to Helen. As the two women form a sort of relationship, Rachel’s behavior seems erratic and unpredictable for a mother-to-be. Some strange events make Helen’s friends suspect that Rachel sought her out for some weird reason. How are the two women connected?
Strange at first, I wasn’t sure if I should power through this book. But the gothic vibes and increasingly interesting plot got me curious. And I’m very glad I did read it through to the end because that’s where the whole story entangles. The second half of the book was super addictive and I flew through it.
I won’t ruin the ending for you, but it was so unexpected that it caught me by surprise. I gave it four stars on Goodreads, so you should grab it if you get a chance.
Lucky by Marissa Stapley
This book is not what I usually something I would’ve picked on my own, but since it was a Reese’s Book Club Pick, I decided to give it a go.
The book is about Lucky, or Luciana, a young woman who was raised solely by her thieving dad. So she grows up with a criminal mentality that allows her to survive. As she becomes an adult, she meets Cary, who is also the result of a similarly conniving mother. The young couple attempts to give normal life a go, but something always seems to be pulling them back into criminal activity.
Now in Vegas, Lucky found out that the lottery ticket she bought is the winning one. But if she cashes it in she will be recognized by the authorities.
Her dilemma is: does she cash it and face the possibility of prison time, or keeps staying low profile and manage to go on with life as she’s been accustomed to?
Although the story was interesting and caught my attention, it was only three stars for me. It didn’t wow me, but it did keep me intrigued and rooting for Lucky until the end. I did like her character and her perseverance, even though she was struggling at times. I quite enjoyed her internal dialogue which seemed very mature, even when she was a little girl.
It definitely deserves a chance, because it is well-written and it’s an easy book to binge since it’s only 232 pages long.
The Ballerinas, by Rachel Kapelke-Dale
Five stars plus a gorgeous cover make this my favorite book of the year so far.
It is the perfect blend of ballet and female bonding with some dark psychological undertones. It reminds me of the movie Black Swan in a lot of ways. If you’re a big fan of ballet just like I am, you will probably enjoy it.
The story follows three ballet dancers that met in ballet school while they were in their teens and all the way into adulthood. The main protagonist, Delphine, leaves her spot as a soloist for the Paris Opera Ballet for a chance to follow her lover to St. Petersburg. There, she also gives her choreographer’s career a chance to take off. A few years later she returns to Paris, but her two best friends seem different, and things are surely not like they used to be.
The book is very focused on the complexities female relationships go through, as well as the strive for perfection professional dancers experience.
I loved everything about this book. The way author delved into the intricate relationships between the three friends. Even after everything they’ve been through, their bond is unbroken.
This book made me crave those close female friendships I nurtured in my twenties and thirties that have now taken a backseat to my life.
The author touches on a few important themes. As a woman, the constant need for validation and approval is still present, and the way she approaches the subject is certainly clever. All we want is to be visible, to be able to say our piece and be heard. The author gave those women a voice and allowed them to stand up for themselves.
It contained a little female-empowerment vibe, but the focus on ballet was what made me love this book as much as I did.
The Lion’s Den by Katherine St. James
This book is quite an unexpected thriller, if I may call it that. Character-driven and addictive, you want to scream at some of the characters at times. Nevertheless, an entertaining read.
Belle or Isabelle is a young struggling actress whose friendship with Summer is put to the test when she gets invited for a week-long cruise on the French Riviera.
Her best friend Summer always seems to attract rich guys, but her latest boyfriend is also old enough to be her father.
Although things haven’t been great between the two friends, she can’t pass up the chance for a real vacation, all expenses paid.
Once she gets on that yacht Belle feels that something is off, and she can’t stop until she figures out what exactly is going on.
The story is far-fetched and unbelievable, but I found it quite entertaining. I loved Belle and the way she thought. Her internal dialogue was unnerving at times, but at other times I found it pretty amusing.
The way the author developed the story was also interesting. She has two parallel stories going on. One is as the present trip is happening, and the other storyline starts at the end and takes you back to the beginning of the story. It seems a bit confusing at first, but it really comes together nicely and makes total sense.
Toward the last few pages I could kind of figure out where that story was going, but the ending still surprised me.
And she wrapped it up a little too nicely and gave it a happy ending, which is unusual. Still, it’s a good beach read in my opinion.
The Start-Up Wife by Tahmina Anam
This was a nice book to end the month with. With a great concept, the plot was interesting and entertaining.
Meet Asha, a tech geek that fells in love with her now-husband Cyrus back in high school. Cyrus is a very weird guy, but they somehow work together. Cyrus has a best friend, and they are inseparable.
Asha is a coder who came up with the idea of an app that personalizes rituals for everyone. Overnight, their app takes off and people start looking up to Cyrus as a sort of messiah.
Although it was her original idea and she’s the one who put in most of the work, she allows Cyrus to become the face of their tech start-up. After a preventable incident takes place, it makes the couple reassess their relationship. Will they be able to overcome all challenges that are thrown their way? Or will she resent him forever?
The idea was excellent as far as I’m concerned, and the storytelling was good. I could not stand Cyrus, not only as an individual but also as what he represents. So caught up in his own bubble, he had no empathy and no ability to see things as they were. He also took credit for a lot of the work that Asha did, and I think that’s the part that disturbed me the most. A lot like most men in general.
I think the author created his character (Cyrus) with the intention of making the reader see how little some men think about their significant other.
The way the author made me look at feminism was refreshing.
The new reality of how our world is changing was what I enjoyed most about this book. Maybe unrealistic, but it would actually be cool to happen in real life.
A current work of fiction that touched on a few global issues, without becoming overwhelming. And it was written with a touch of humor, which is always a plus in my book.
All in all, my birthday month brought me a few joys. A few sunny, warm days, a few great books, an amazing one, and quite a lot of coffee cups! Even some cake to start off my new year!
Until next time friends, keep reading, and let me know if you’ve read any of the books I’ve mentioned here or in any of my previous posts.
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