My May 2023 reads

May was another great reading month.

I became a flight attendant flying from London to Paris, I enjoyed the competitiveness and complicated relations at a community swimming pool in the northern Virginia suburb of Washington, DC. Next, I traveled on to Poland to “party like it’s 1999”, following an art heist in the last days before the new millennium. And finally, I journeyed to England and a stately home in Surrey, where a blended family from opposite sides of the tracks tries to overcome the ghosts from the past.

May 2023 Reads reads


These were all enjoyable reads. Michelle Brafman and Clare Boyd were new-to-me authors. These were then second novels I read from authors Helga Jensen and Carolyn Korsmeyer … and I already look forward to their next novels.

Three of the four novels I read in May were NetGalley reads. One of the four from a fellow Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

All in all, another great month of reading!


Fly Me To Paris coverFly Me To Paris

Helga Jensen

Cautious introvert Penny leads a quiet life in Wales. She has a secure but unchallenging sales job and a long-term boyfriend who doesn’t want to commit. Having turned fifty, she reflects on what her younger self would have imagined from life: mostly travel and adventure. When her boyfriend unceremoniously dumps her, she wonders if it’s too late to embark on that life she’s always dreamed of.

A chance encounter with an airline stewardess gets her to apply for a cabin crew position. To her surprise, she’s selected and begins her training. Through the process, she learns to challenge herself and kickstarts her life, one filled with work she loves, new friends and plenty of travel across Europe… and even a possible new love interest on the horizon.

This is a light, fun romance about changing your life and embarking on new adventures … no matter your age.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


The Wedding Night coverThe Wedding Night

Clare Boyd

Amy and her daughter Tess have been struggling to make ends meet in London, but when they move into the stately Surrey home of Amy’s new fiancé, William, their lives change overnight. Amy and Tess are eager to start off on a new foot in their new, blended family. Tess, whose own father is distant, gets along well with William, and with her new, teenage “brother”, Hal.

But as Amy and Tess settle into their new life, doubts begin to emerge. William appears to be keeping secrets, and why does Amy always hear a baby’s cries when none of their neighbors have young children? And while Tess appreciates her new, expensive school and a wider circle of friends, are her privileged classmates truly better off?

This novel had a lot of enjoyable elements: William’s complicated past and his ties to the old home, Amy and Tess’ hopes for their new lives, Amy’s determination to dig up long buried secrets, and the difficulties in forging strong ties in a blended family. These all worked well for me and I enjoyed following these storylines. But the overall story felt a bit cluttered. The chapters by an (initially) unknown narrator and the plotline of Hal’s best friend didn’t work as well for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


Swimming with GhostsSwimming With Ghosts cover

Michelle Brafman

“The pool’s a drug to her: the aroma of chlorine and sunscreen, the thick awning of trees that shades the water when the sun starts to retire, the swimmers answering the call of the ice cream truck. The pool holds a charge even on a quiet day like today.”

A pool and swimming addict myself, I picked up this novel thinking it would be a very different book. Although the northern Virginia community pool of the story is the glue that binds the entire story together, I was intrigued when the entire tale (to my mind) took off in an entirely different direction, and I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Most of the story takes place over one (optimistic) summer in 2012, as the Manta Rays community swim team gets ready to kick off another season.

The story moves quickly through the alternating perspectives of four narrators. Uber-organized Team Mom Gillian is a doyenne of the Red River swim club, a fixture of the local swimming community, following in the footsteps of her own larger-than-life father. Gillian’s husband, Charlie, recently unemployed, has never taken much interest in Gillian’s pool obsession, but something changes when the team is left without a coach. Charlie throws himself into coaching and obsessing about catapulting the fledgling team to regional champion status. Gillian and Charlie’s son, Justin, is home from college over the summer to lifeguard and coach, and grows wrapped up in the new competitive vibes. And wealthy, sexy Kristy, another Team Mom, is Gillian’s closest friend and relies on her guidance and mentorship. Their friendship is so close that they are affectionately known as “Krillian”.

It quickly becomes apparent the careless summer days at the pool simply mask the complicated ghosts of the past, with all narrators struggling with complicated, dysfunctional family histories, addictions and obsessions that are slowly revealed throughout the story and come to a head during a freak summer storm. A highly enjoyable novel about the complexities of family, relationships and of simply being being human. Highly recommended.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


Little Follies coverLittle Follies: A Mystery at the Millennium

Carolyn Korsmeyer

I loved this multi-character novel set in the heart of historic Krakow, Poland in the last months of the twentieth century. As 1999 winds down and the world awaits the onslaught of the Y2K virus that will wreak havoc on the planet (an earlier version of “Trust The Experts”), Adam and Joan set off for the charming Polish city.

At his American university, Adam has discovered tantalizing hints about new source documents he hopes might shed light on Polish military leader and engineer Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a hero of the American Revolutionary War. Adam has recently met Joan. Despite their fledgling relationship, she decides to follow him to Europe. As Adam burrows into a Polish archive researching documents of a travel companion of Kosciuszko, Joan explores the ancient and mysterious city as it emerges from its hibernation under the Iron Curtain. Joan meets a quirky cast of characters and unwittingly becomes a front row observer to an intricate art heist, thereby putting herself in danger.

This was an absolutely beautifully written novel, filled with a mélange of odd characters, quick flowing dialogue and luscious descriptions. As someone who lived in a neighboring country in the early nineties, Korsmeyer gets the eclectic post-Wall atmosphere and mash-up of foreigners coming to live in eastern Europe pitch-perfect. I loved the multiple points of view, the knowledge of art and historical research and the tantalizing religious and philosophical themes contained within this quickly-paced novel.

An absolute delight. Highly recommended.

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