A week late posting, but with the holidays approaching, I’ve been a little busier than anticipated. But here goes my tally of November reads.
November is a dreary and gloomy month, yet it’s my favorite time of year. You might think I’m weird, and that’s okay because it’s Nordic Noir November!!!
Just in case you haven’t read my previous posts, Nordic Noir just speaks to me. It is my absolute favorite genre, and this year, I participated in a challenge on Instagram, #nordicnoirnovember. I also made a post just a few days ago, which I dedicated to one of my favorite, and unpraised authors, Samuel Bjork.
Check it out here.
Now for my selection of books I’ve actually read this month, there are a couple of great ones, one that really did not work for me, and a new Icelandic author I’ve discovered.
Shari Lapena, The End Of Her
I really wanted to like this book by a fellow Canadian author, but unfortunately, I really didn’t.
I read one of her novels, The Couple Next Door, almost three years ago, and I didn’t remember whether I liked it or not. But after double-checking on Goodreads, that was only a 3 star for me, and I was probably more generous back then. For this one, I only gave it 2 stars.
The writing was mediocre, to put it mildly, the plot was unbelievable, and I can go on and on.
Although the plot was weak at times, it probably would’ve worked, but she made characters very unlikable and utterly fake. There are times while I was reading that I found myself cringing at the ridiculousness of the story.
Let me sum it up for you:
Patrick and Stephanie, a young couple that married recently and have newborn twins. Sleep-deprived, they both know they have a good life. But things unravel as soon as a woman from Patrick’s past enters the picture. She came looking for him and claiming the death of his first wife was deliberate.
It still sounds pretty good, right? I thought so too. But then the back and forth accusations, lies, stupid decisions, and overall mistrust just spoiled the whole thing. I will not totally give it up, because you might still be intrigued, and you might even like it. I just didn’t. It really did not work for me.
To be honest though, even though the writing was borderline terrible (I never wrote a novel and I probably could’ve done a better job), I was intrigued until the end. But that too was disappointing.
Even the editing was bad about three-quarters in. I had to look back towards the beginning to double-check the names of the twins because on several occasions they changed one of the girls’ names. Most likely a typo, but still…
That’s why I don’t understand how the book got pretty decent ratings. Ah, well, can’t love them
All in all, I don’t recommend it.
We Are Not Like Them By Cristine Pride and Jo Piazza
Although much better written than the previous book I read, this one’s subject matter is very unfair, frustrating, and altogether infuriating. It depicts today’s reality of white cops killing young black men in the US. Very sensitive topic, and one that will surely not leave you without having a whole bunch of emotions all at once.
Riley and Jen are two childhood friends One Black and one White, race never really got in the way of their friendship until a tragic incident alters their friendship forever.
The storyline follows the two friends’ perspectives about how they both see race and how things in America are unjust.
Riley is a Black young woman, a journalist, whose family took Jen in as their own when the girls were in preschool. Riley’s grandmother is the one who basically raised Jen. Seen as her own single mother who struggled to make ends meet and had to work odd jobs in order to survive, she used to be at Riley’s family’s house all the time.
Jen marries at a young age and is currently six months pregnant, years after trying unsuccessfully. Kevin, her husband, becomes a police officer, mostly due to family pressures. Things are starting to look up for the young couple until the fatal incident shatters their lives.
While on duty, Kevin, along with his rookie partner, ends up shooting an unarmed Black teenage boy.
The scandal that follows does have an impact on the two best friends’ lives and relationships. That their relationship is put to the test is an understatement. Their bond is strong though, and after months of real testing waters, they manage to salvage their lifelong friendship.
The writing flows, and it makes the book easy to read. Having said that, and although I gave this book four stars on Goodreads, I think I will stay away from similar books in the future.
It was very hard not to get emotional while reading this book, even knowing it is a work of fiction. As a human being, I cannot fathom the justifications those cops have in “defending” themselves against unarmed Black men, in this case, a teenager.
The book was a nice attempt at trying to see things from both races’ perspectives, but sometimes it was hard not to cringe at the dialogue.
Still, the book was ok, not great though, but I do recommend it.
The Creak On The Stairs, by Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir
A new read by a new favorite Nordic Noir Icelandic writer. Now we’re into familiar and favorite territory for me. I could read Nordic Noir at any time of the year, but November seems like the perfect gloomy month for this type of reading.
Chief investigator Elma has returned home from Reykjavik to her hometown of Akranes following a break-up. Not enough time passes for her to settle back in that the body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse.
So the investigation begins, and she realizes that the secret the victim held onto for years will come out, even though she was murdered in order to preserve it.
The crimes that took place in her community since her childhood are atrocious, and like all small towns, its residents turned a blind eye to it for decades. But now that the truth surfaced, everyone is shaken up and has to make a lot of changes in order to this way of life.
This new author has written a true Nordic Noir book that checks all the boxes. Atmospheric scenery, dark chilling crime committed, flawed detectives, and so on.
I absolutely loved the way Eva made us feel like we were right there, in a small community, trying to discover what exactly prompted this murder to happen. Most characters were suspects at one point, which is another clever way for her to make us wonder who the culprit was until the very end.
A book that came very close to getting five stars on Goodreads from me. If you’re looking to discover a new Icelandic writer, give Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir a chance.
The Sandman by Lars Kepler
The fourth installment in the Joona Linna series, and my fourth read of the month.
A man is seen walking along a railway bridge in the middle of a cold winter night in Stockholm. He is brought to the hospital, where he is diagnosed with hypothermia and Legionnaires disease.
But when he is identified, the police realize that he was supposedly dead, at least according to a birth certificate in his name. He is identified as the victim of serial killer Jurek Walter, who has been in total isolation in a forensic psychiatric facility for the last seven years.
Detective Inspector Joona Linna reopens the case they believe was closed, but their findings put them and their families in imminent danger. They run against time, as the killer seems to be one step ahead of the police at all times, and they try to prevent more people from dying.
The ending is shocking, and there were so many twists and turns, I really did not see it coming. Without spoiling anything, I will just say that Lars Kepler kept me on my toes from the first page to the last, and so far, this is my favorite book in the series. A solid four stars on Goodreads, and it might even make my top ten favorites of the year!
Silver Tears by Camilla Lackberg
The second installment of a new series by a beloved author is a different read than the other books she had written in the past. The Erica Falck and Patrick Nordstrom series is what made Camilla Lackberg what she is today.
Faye, the submissive wife that framed her ex-husband for the death of her daughter in the Golden Cage is back. This time, her company that she worked so hard to get from the ground up is threatened to be taken away from her.
When she finds out who is behind the takeover, she fights the fight of her life. A mystery man that seems too good to be true makes his appearance, but can she trust him completely after what she has been through with her ex?
I don’t know what happened to Camilla Lackberg and her clever plots that were present in all her Erica Falk series, but someone please bring her back.
The plot was ridiculous, and at one point I thought I was reading a mild version of Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m sorry, I really didn’t see the need for the explicit sex scenes in a supposed thriller. I’m no prude, but it was totally unnecessary, not to mention out of place.
All in all, the only reason she got two stars is that she does write very fluidly and I happen to like her. If she started her writing career with those two books, I think it would be a very short-lived one…
There you have my list of books that I ended up reading in November 2021.
All in all, it was a pretty good month reading-wise, so I can’t complain.
Have you read any of those?
Stay tuned for my December reads, as well as my favorite books of 2021!