Melissa Ratcliff’s May 2017 TBR: Haruki Murakami, Katie Khan and More

‘Men Without Women’ is finally here!

melissa ratcliff may 2017 tbr list katie khan hold back the stars

In honor of Haruki Murakami’s upcoming release, I originally intended for my May 2017 TBR to be dubbed, ‘Murakami Month,’ wherein I would explore a good portion of Murakami’s works. Although his latest short story collection, Men Without Women is most definitely on my radar for the month, I decided to take a different route and focus on new and upcoming releases.

While the decision to change my TBR for this month was a difficult one—because honestly, who wouldn’t want to dedicate a whole month to Murakami?—I’ve recently received a number of ARCs and decided to focus on them this time around instead.

Although I am still a little behind on last month’s TBR, which was rather ambitious (I will catch up eventually), I’m hoping to promote a few new releases from a spectrum of genres this month. From short stories and romance to suspense and young adult fiction, here are the books I’m hoping to get through this month:

Men Without Women, Haruki Murakami

haruki murakami men without women book review
Haruki Murakami

Synopsis: Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all.

Thoughts: It’s no secret that I love Haruki Murakami. There’s just something about his writing style that never fails to pull me in. It’s familiar, but at the same time, incredibly mystifying.

To say that I am excited about his latest translated work is a bit of an understatement. I have been looking forward to it for months. What’s even more exciting is the fact that this will be my first collection of Murakami short stories. To put it simply, I am counting down the days to May 9 in anticipation – I can’t wait to see how his magical realism translates into seven short stories.

Hold Back the Stars, Katie Khan

hold back the stars katie khan book review
Gallery Books / Katie Khan

Synopsis: Trapped in the vast void of space, Carys and Max have only ninety minutes of oxygen left to live. None of this was supposed to happen. After a freak accident, Carys and Max are left adrift in space with nothing to hold onto but each other. As they fall, they can’t help but look back at the world they left behind. A world whose rules they couldn’t submit to, a place where they never really belonged; a home they’re determined to get back to because they’ve come too far to lose each other now. While their air ticks dangerously low, one is offered the chance of salvation—but who will take it?

Thoughts: There are few things that will make me immediately interested in reading a book, and Hold Back the Stars is one of those rare books that managed to catch my attention right away. Not only is it a romance, but it takes place in outer space! (Little known fact about me – I love space. And stars. Anything with either will immediately draw my attention.) Not to mention, the UK cover is absolutely beautiful. I’m honestly slightly disappointed with the U.S. cover.

Anyway, while the premise and setting of Hold Back the Stars seems to be somewhat depressing, I can’t wait to learn more about these characters. Why are they trapped in space? Who are they? And, most importantly, what happens to them?

Come Sundown, Nora Roberts

come sundown nora roberts book review
St. Martin’s Press / Nora Roberts

Synopsis: The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family business, an idyllic spot for vacationers. A little over thirty thousand acres and home to four generations, it’s kept running by Bodine Longbow with the help of a large staff, including new hire Callen Skinner. There was another member of the family once: Bodine’s aunt, Alice, who ran off before Bodine was born. She never returned, and the Longbows don’t talk about her much. The younger ones, who never met her, quietly presume she’s dead. But she isn’t. She is not far away, part of a new family, one she never chose—and her mind has been shattered…

When a bartender leaves the resort late one night, and Bo and Cal discover her battered body in the snow, it’s the first sign that danger lurks in the mountains that surround them. The police suspect Cal, but Bo finds herself trusting him—and turning to him as another woman is murdered and the Longbows are stunned by Alice’s sudden reappearance. The twisted story she has to tell about the past—and the threat that follows in her wake—will test the bonds of this strong family, and thrust Bodine into a darkness she could never have imagined.

Thoughts: I’ll be honest. While I enjoy romance novels, I do so when they are paired with another genre. It’s very rare that you will find me reading a book that is pure romance. Many of the pure romance novels I have read in the past have had extremely similar plot lines and that’s just not fun. More recently, however, I have been reading novels that fall into the romance category. Last month, with Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited—arguably also a contemporary YA novel—and this month, with Katie Khan’s Hold Back the Stars, which is romance with a touch of science fiction.

Although Come Sundown promises at least a little mystery, at its heart, it is a romance. I entered the Goodreads giveaway for this novel on a whim, as, a few years ago, I read Nora Roberts’ Honest Illusions as a recommendation from a friend and absolutely loved it.

While I will admit that, based on the synopsis for Come Sundown, I would never pick up this novel on my own, I am interested in the mystery behind Alice. I also find it extremely interesting that romance is not the focus of the synopsis. In fact, there is nothing that implies romance at all, so I am looking forward to the surprise.

The Girl on Mill Street, Peter Gilboy

the girl on mill street peter gilboy book review
Thomas & Mercer / Peter Gilboy

Synopsis: Nineteen-year-old Annie Taylor has a dark story to tell, one of sex, betrayal, and homicide: her family’s story. Ten years ago, her beautiful and well-loved mother disappeared. Her father, a famous sex therapist and loving husband, was charged with the murder.

But Annie stubbornly believes in her father’s innocence. She follows in his footsteps and studies psychology, desperate to understand the tragic event that has shaped her life and to exonerate the man she believes was wrongly convicted.

Annie, who will fight for the truth no matter what it reveals, starts discovering more sinister details about her family’s history. Why did her peace-loving mother have a police record? Who could explain her father’s fear of mirrors? What about the other woman in her father’s past, who is also missing? And what about her father’s warning to others of a darkness that is hidden inside each of us?

Thoughts: Recently, I have become more and more interested in mystery and thriller novels. Before, I used to read them sparingly, but after reading a few, I have found them to be incredibly interesting and fast reads (mostly because I need to know what happened as soon as possible).

In a very small way, the synopsis for The Girl on Mill Street reminded me of Katee Roberts The Devil’s Daughter and prompted me to enter the giveaway. There’s something about the hidden mysteries of a small town, or a family, that has the ability to pull me in. As such, despite mixed reviews, I am looking forward to uncovering the secrets behind Annie’s family.

The Lost Letter, Jillian Cantor

lost letter jillian cantor book review
Riverhead Books / Jillian Cantor

Synopsis: Austria, 1938. Kristoff is a young apprentice to a master Jewish stamp engraver. When his teacher disappears during Kristallnacht, Kristoff is forced to engrave stamps for the Germans, and simultaneously works alongside Elena, his beloved teacher’s fiery daughter, and with the Austrian resistance to send underground messages and forge papers. As he falls for Elena amidst the brutal chaos of war, Kristoff must find a way to save her, and himself.

Los Angeles, 1989. Katie Nelson is going through a divorce and while cleaning out her house and life in the aftermath, she comes across the stamp collection of her father, who recently went into a nursing home. When an appraiser, Benjamin, discovers an unusual World War II-era Austrian stamp placed on an old love letter as he goes through her dad’s collection, Katie and Benjamin are sent on a journey together that will uncover a story of passion and tragedy spanning decades and continents, behind the just fallen Berlin Wall.

Thoughts: Earlier this year, I experienced a new found love of historical fiction novels thanks to Jessica Shattuck’s The Women in the Castle. Shortly after reading it, I decided to search for historical fiction novels with similar styles and landed upon the giveaway (I have been winning a lot of things on Goodreads, I know) for The Lost Letter.

In a similar fashion to Shattuck, Jillian Cantor promises the reader a dual-view at the effects of World War II. However, Cantor promises to take it one step further. Not only will we see how a different country (Austria) was affected by the war, but we will see how people learn about history and war from different angles and perspectives.

I am really looking forward to taking a look at The Lost Letter, as it seems like another promising read that will offer a very different perspective on World War II.

Have you read any of the books on this list?!

Tell us which books you’re most looking forward to reading in the comments below!
Be sure to keep up with the Paperback Paris Team’s monthly TBRs!


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Written by Melissa Ratcliff

Reader, Writer & Translator. Cats, books and video games are my life.