May 2023–Part One
Thank you for joining me here! I hope you enjoy this series and I’d love to hear from you about what you are reading these days.
Happy Place by Emily Henry (Length: 395 pages) This is the fourth rom-com that I’ve read by this author. It’s my second favorite (after Book Lovers). The premise is that Harriet and Wyn have been together for 8 years since they met in college. They break up but pretend to still be together for one last vacation with their college friend group. I found this novel a bit slow to start, and the not talking about WHY they broke up trope is in full swing here, but Henry’s snappy dialogue is here along with a cute setting (a small beach town in Maine) and those two things redeemed this novel for me. And, the chemistry between Harriet and Wyn is fantastic. I will read anything Henry writes going forward, of course, and I give her latest 4.5 out of 5 stars. It should go without saying that this is a perfect beach read.
The Guncle by Steven Rowley (Length: 336 pages). It’s only May and this will be on my top 5 of the year 2023. It’s THAT good! This VERY funny novel about a gay uncle who cares for his niece and nephew for a summer while his brother, their father, is in rehab is absolutely fantastic. Set in Palm Springs, I adored every detail from the Guncle’s caftans, his house, his throuple neighbors J.E.D. and I laughed out loud in several places. (He tells his niece he doesn’t eat bacon because pigs are our friends, and we don’t eat our friends. His niece replies, we do if they taste like bacon). The dialogue is snappy, the plot developments are heartwarming, the pacing is perfect (where I couldn’t wait to pick it up again) and I adore all of the characters the author introduced. This is truly memorable and I may even treat myself to a re-read, which I never do. Please pick this gem of a novel up!
Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica (Length: 353 pages). I listened to this thriller on my commute and WOW–it’s intense! The first chapter is pretty harrowing and involves a young child being held captive for several years, but once that chapter ends, it’s not quite as scary to listen to so push through because the payoff is worth it. The pacing is excellent and I enjoyed the narrator’s voice. The twists and turns are many, and it’s semi-believable but overall a really fun psychological thriller. I can’t say much more because it will ruin the surprises in store here. You can’t go wrong with this one.
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel (Length: 274 pages). This is an interesting mix of a dystopian, pandemic and time travel novel. It’s very well-written on the whole (I enjoyed the author’s Station Eleven), but it’s a bit odd. There are a handful of disparate storylines in the first 50% that don’t seemingly have anything to do with each other, but right at the halfway mark (when the author develops the moon colonies storyline) it gets way more interesting. It’s not my favorite novel I’ve ever read because it just is plain weird but I do understand why it has such a cult following. I will say it’s a memorable read and I won’t forget the various plot lines and characters, but I perhaps wasn’t in the best headspace to be reading this type of novel because of the concentration it likely requires.