Last month was a very mixed month of reading on a variety of fronts — genres, settings, and enjoyment. Luckily, I enjoyed the second in a series as much as the first; but unfortunately, I had to quit a multiple award winning book.
I’m excited about my upcoming summer reading plans. Besides longer and warmer days to enjoy reading outside, I have a new reading challenge to add to the mix (a summer book bingo for work) and as well as vacation travel coming up.
What do your summer reading plans look like?
The Secret Keeper of Jaipur (The Henna Artist #2) by Alka Joshi 🎧
(Narrated by Sneha Mathan, Ariyan Kassam, and Deepa Samuel)
I loved the first book in this series, and I enjoyed this one just as much. It was the perfect mix of admirable main characters, intriguing setting and culture, and unknown history. In this second installment, the story returns to India about 12 years later (1969), but this time the focus is more on Malik than Lakshmi. The first book was about the strength and perseverance of Lakshmi making her own way despite obstacles. This one was a suspenseful story in which Malik gets drawn into the scandal of the collapse of a newly built cinema. I loved how the story took place both in Jaipur and the mountain town of Shimla and incorporated so much of the culture of these places. Interwoven in the story was also insight into the importance of gold in Indian culture and the related gold smuggling trade. I definitely look forward to the last and final book in the trilogy, though I plan to wait a while to read it so I’ll return to this world with fresh eyes.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro 📖🎧
(Narrated by Sura Siu)
I got Never Let Me Go vibes from this one. Everything seemed kind of normal, but then mysterious references were made and I began to feel that something more sinister was going on. This is a dystopian science fiction story told from the perspective of Klara, a solar-powered Artificial Friend. She is selected by Josie, a high school girl, who often gets sick. Klara is very observant and surprisingly introspective and empathetic. I enjoyed her journey in trying to be the best AF possible for Josie. I read both the ebook and audiobook versions to finish in time for book club. I preferred the ebook because Klara’s voice in the audiobook was a bit too robotic. The story provided good fodder for our book club discussion!
- #DiversityAcrossGenres: Asian, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
The Prophets of Eternal Fjord by Kim Leine 🎧📖
(Translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken)
(Narrated by Elijah Alexander)
I was so intrigued and hopeful about this book. The time and places were new to me; I had no familiarity with this chapter of Denmark’s past, the late 18th century in Copenhagen and Greenland when missionaries went to convert the Greenlandic Inuits to Christianity (a brief history of Greenland). Also, it’s a prize-winning book. It won the Danish literature prize, De Gyldne Laurbær, in 2012 as well as the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2013. In addition, it made the shortlist for the Dublin Literature Award in 2017. Considering it was recognized for these prizes as well as others, I’m surprised and disappointed that I ended up not finishing it. I got just about 50% through this 576 page novel (tried both audio and ebook versions) so I feel I have a legitimate impression of both the book and the time and place it was about. Unfortunately, both the structure of the plot (jumps in time) and style of the writing (no quotation marks) were problematic for me. On top of this, the characters and events of the book were at times unnecessarily brutal and repulsive.
- Nordic Literature Reading Challenge 2023: Denmark / Nordic Council Literature Prize (2013) and Dublin Literature Award (2017)
- Book Voyage: Read Around the World: Island
The Man Burned by Winter (Rooker Lindström #1) by Pete Zacharias
This was an Amazon First Reads selection from last year that I picked because of the Nordic Noir connection. Set in Minnesota during winter, a police detective eager to prove she can handle her new promotion and an investigative journalist drinking himself to death join forces to catch a serial killer. The setting is cold and bleak, the crimes are gruesome, and the protagonists are troubled – so many Nordic Noir elements (including Swedish character names and food). The action was fast paced and engaging, though there were some loose threads and I did have a few unanswered questions at the end. Maybe book #2, The Man Trapped by Shadows, will answer them (pub date July 11, 2023).
What have you been reading lately?
By the way, if you’re interested in purchasing Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, visit my Scandinavian Ebook Deals page. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.