Passing Strange, by Ellen Klages
It’s hard to talk about this novella without giving too much away. The story follows six women in 1930s San Francisco and their involvement in the lesbian counterculture there at the time—primarily artist Haskell and newcomer Emily as they fall for each other. The story is prefaced by Helen, one of the six women, in the present time settling her affairs as she is dying, including disposing of the last piece of art that Haskell created. It is a lovely story full of magic and romance with an ending, if not happy, at least satisfying. Definitely recommend.
If I Never Met You, by Mhairi McFarlane
I listened to/read a lot of great books in May, but this was probably one of my favorites. We follow Laurie as her partner of 18 years suddenly dumps her. What’s worse is that they are both lawyers at the same firm, then she finds that he was cheating on her. Devasted, but not willing to show it, she forms a pretend relationship with her firm’s lothario, Jamie, to prove how much she is not hurting, Laurie finds a comforting friend in Jamie and then some more. What I liked best about this book was Laurie’s relationship with her best friend and Jamie’s opening up to being in a loving relationship. You’ll cry, and cringe, and laugh, and you’ll have a very happy ending.
When We Were Vikings, by Andrew David MacDonald
What a wonderful book. Vikings stayed with me for weeks after I read it. The characters were so real and the story so vivid, I felt like I really knew these people. The story is told from the POV of Zelda, a young woman who is mentally disabled. She comes from a very broken home and she now lives with her brother, Gert, who takes care of her. Zelda is obsessed with Vikings and wants to create her own legend. This is hard for her to do living in poverty with Gert, who is involved in some shady dealings. But she has lots of friends and supporters who help her find her way. I highly recommend this book. However, there is some truly terrible violence towards the end. Just want to put that out there if that’s not your thing.
To Kill A Mocking Girl, by Harper Kincaid
I listened to this romantic mystery. It was cute but a bit too saccharine for me. Quinn has recently returned to her small hometown in Virginia. Reconnecting with her friends and family, she meets up with an old frenemy who winds up dead later that night. Cause of death is unknown but it mimics the death of a doctor a few months previous. Quinn feels obligated to look into the murder since she found the body which puts her up against Detective Aiden—her brother’s best friend and her long-time crush. The mystery was good, but all the shenanigans around it was fairly expected.
Still Life With Tornado, by A.S. King
If you haven’t read King’s The Dust of 100 Dogs, do yourself a favor. I hadn’t read any other A.S. King books beside that one and had picked this one up awhile ago. It was terrific. We follow teenage artist Sarah as she is going through a deep depression, has dropped out of school, and who keeps running into older and younger versions of herself as she walks about Philadelphia. Something bad happened at school that she’s not willing to face. Something bad happened to her 10-year-old self that she can’t quite remember. But if she is going to survive what’s going on, she will have to face all the versions of herself. Sarah’s story is vivid and captivating. Following her as she works to understand what’s going on felt real and true. Another book that I highly recommend.
Ahsoka, by E.K. Johnstone
In May, we watched the last season of the animated The Clone Wars, so I had to reread Ahsoka—the book that immediately follows the series and is all about my favorite Star Wars character. It was as great as I remembered. Ahsoka, a young woman trained as a Jedi but who rejected the Jedi order, is adrift on the Outer Rim after faking her death. She tries to lay low, but she can’t stop helping those who need it. It puts both herself and any new friends in danger so she has to move often. When she reaches a farming community that is taken over by the Empire, she realizes that she has to stop running and she has to fight for what she believes in. If you’re a Star Wars fan—especially if you’re a fan of media other than the movies—then you’ll like this book.
The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James
I tried to read this several times over the years and finally got through it. It’s a creepy book for sure, but so long winded that it’s hard to read everything without skimming. Screw is the first-person account of a young, inexperienced governess as she takes care of a boy and girl on a remote estate. The children are beautiful, yet silent. The governess soon discovers that there are evil spirits at work and that they have come for the children. The Turn of the Screw is worth a read to know the source material of so many different films and shows. It’s considered a novella, but is so wordy it felt like a much longer book.