I read 14 books in June for a total of 5,157 pages. There were some highs and lows, but overall it was a strong month of reading. You will get a sneak peek into how my Summer of Sequels is going- I have finished two series and caught up on another one, so I am happy with my progress. As always, I will be talking about these books in order of my least favourite to my favourite.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
American Gods is the book that has been on my physical TBR the longest- at least 10 years. I had built it up so much in my head, especially since I have loved everything else I have read from Gaiman, but, sadly, it fell flat for me.
I was not invested in Shadow or his story, so I ultimately didn’t care what happened to him. I thought some of the themes were interesting, especially the war between the old and new gods, but I actually wished that it went further. The ending wasn’t as satisfying as I was hoping it would be. Also, I am not someone who shies away from vulgar or explicit scenes, but I felt that some things were included just for shock value. If you know you know!
There is no denying Neil Gaiman is an incredible writer and I will not let one bad experience stop me from exploring more of his work. I think I will pick up Neverwhere next! Anyway, I am just happy I finally got to this and can stop talking about how much I need to read it now!
Authority and Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer
I finally finished the Southern Reach Trilogy, and though I am happy that I did, the first book, Annihilation, continues to be my favourite in the series. If you have read the first book and you don’t feel tempted to complete the trilogy, I honestly don’t think you need to. I was left with more questions than answers by the end. It was an interesting experience though and a good reminder of how much I enjoy weird fiction. I also had a great time reading theories on Reddit. Both Authority and Acceptance felt so different and were told from different perspectives, and the more that I think about it, the more I realize I liked Authority quite a bit more, which I know is an unpopular opinion. I preferred hearing about the politics at play and all of the bureaucracy that goes on behind the scenes. I would like to try something else by Jeff Vandermeer, and I hear he is working on a fourth book in this world, so I hope that provides more clarity.
Acts of Violet by Margarita Montimore
Acts of Violet was one of my five-star predictions for the year, and I am sad that it didn’t live up to my expectations. However, the audiobook experience was five stars and I would recommend listening to this one if you can. I don’t know that I would have pushed through if I had been reading it physically. The story follows the disappearance of Violet, a stage magician, who vanished during an act ten years prior. A podcast is created to investigate what happened and that is what makes this a fun listen. It does feel like a podcast!
I just was not invested in the relationship between Violet and her sister, and I thought there were some pacing issues. I also thought that the ending was a little bit convenient and silly!
That said, this was a fun time and unlike anything else I have listened to! I will read more from Margarita Montimore because I really did love Oona Out of Order!
Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan
We have finished our Memoirs of Lady Trent read-a-long! The live show will be happening soon but we have yet to solidify a date. I will keep you posted on that. Also, we have decided to start a book club- details to come!
I have such mixed feelings about how this series wrapped up and I wanted to love Within the Sanctuary of Wings so much more than I did. The entire series was leading up to this big reveal and then it came out of nowhere and I think it changed the tone of the series as a whole. I don’t know how to feel about it!
Also, a lot of the characters I had fallen in love with (especially in the fourth book!) were hardly present in this final novel, which was disappointing. A lot of what didn’t quite work for me I would consider spoilers, so I will save all of that for the live show!
Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler
Home Field Advantage was a sweet YA contemporary romance that I listened to in one sitting! If you were a fan of She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen, you have to read this one.
I love a sports romance, and the fact that this was a sapphic love story between a quarterback and a cheerleader was so much fun! I will say that this is a book that reads younger but is perfect for the target audience. I would have absolutely loved this when I was a teenager because I would have related to that strong desire to fit in.
While this is a sweet romance, I think it is important to be aware that there is a lot of homophobia and misogyny directed toward Jack in particular, as she is the quarterback of a previously all-boys football team. It can be hard to read.
Deep in Providence by Riss. M. Neilson
Deep in Providence is a strong debut from Riss M. Neilson, and I cannot wait to read her 2023 release, I’m Not Supposed to Be In the Dark.
On the surface, this is a witchy novel, but it is ultimately a book about grief and female friendship. We are following three girls who have lost their friend in a car accident and want to use magic to bring her back to life. Each of them is facing their own struggles both internally and at home. It was devastating and so bittersweet.
The Romance Recipe by Ruby Barrett
I feel like I have spoken about The Romance Recipe a lot since I read it, but I just hope that it gets the attention it deserves when it comes out on July 12th.
As you know, I love a foodie romance, and this one felt a little bit different from the others that I have read. So many of the foodie romances I pick up revolve around a cooking show, which this one does a little bit, but the main focus of The Romance Recipe is about the highs and lows of running a restaurant.
The mutual pining is this one is strong, so if that is your thing, please give it a try!
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Last Night at the Telegraph Club was the last book I read in June and what a way to end the month! I was not prepared for it to make me so emotional.
I think that this is an important book and so many readers will feel seen through Lily’s journey, even though the book is set in the 1950s. We follow Lily as she realizes that she might like girls and we see her fall in love for the first time. All of this is happening in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 50s, so there is a lot working against Lily and Kath as a couple. The direction this went brought a tear to my eye. I don’t often say this, but you must read the author’s note for this one!
There were only a couple of things that kept this from being a resounding five stars for me. I felt as though there were a lot of questions left unanswered. At times, it also felt like Kath was more of a caricature and that we as readers never truly got to know her. I wish we did because I think I could have loved her character!
Sense and Second-Degree Murder by Tirzah Price
Sense and Second-Degree Murder is the second book in the Jane Austen Mysteries series and I think I might have preferred it over Pride and Premeditation, which is a book I read last year and had such a good time with.
This is obviously a Sense and Sensibility retelling and is also a murder mystery! I loved the strong sense of sisterhood in this installment and I found myself quickly turning the pages. It made me want to drop everything and watch the 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility! That is a testament to the author because she managed to tell a different story but the characters felt so true to how they were in the original. I felt the same way about the first book as well!
I cannot tell you how excited I am for the third book, Manslaughter Park!
Elektra by Jennifer Saint
I have read quite a few Greek myth retellings at this point, but I have never read one as quickly as I did with Elektra. There is something about Jennifer Saint’s writing this is so accessible. I think whenever someone asks me where to start with Greek myth retellings, this will be the one that I recommend. It makes me so excited to read the author’s debut, Ariadne.
This story is told through the perspective of three women, one of them being Elektra, of course. I knew nothing about Elektra going into this one, so it was nice to read about a familiar story through her eyes because it added a different layer to it. Even though she was frustrating at times!
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher
T. Kingfisher is having a moment and I am loving that for her! What Moves the Dead is coming out on July 12th and I definitely recommend the audiobook. Avi Roque, the narrator, managed to capture the creepy tone of the story perfectly! They also narrated Cementary Boys, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.
This is a retelling of Poe’s story The Fall of the House of Usher. I was not familiar with that story at all and I didn’t feel as though I was missing anything.
Fans of Mexican Gothic are going to love this! It is that kind of eerie.
D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins
My love for D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding has grown over time! I think this is one of the most fun romances I have read in a minute.
I love romances that revolve around reality shows, and this one was so unique. D’Vaughn and Kris are strangers who have to convince their families that they are engaged. If they can make it to the alter with everyone believing they are a real couple, they win $100,000. This leads to a lot of shenanigans!
D’Vaughn and Kris have instant chemistry and it was fun to read about. There are also some amazing side characters, Kris’s family in particular. D’Vaughn is using the show as a way to push herself to come out to her family, and seeing how supportive Kris was of her was the sweetest thing. This is everything you would want in a lesbian romance!
This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede
I never would have predicted that This Vicious Grace would be my best book of the month! There were tropes in here that I wasn’t so sure about, such as the bodyguard trope and “her touch kills”, but they both worked for me in this story.
I cannot believe that this is Emily Thiede’s debut! The writing is so crisp and engaging and I understood this world and the magic system perfectly. What I wasn’t expecting and really loved was the found family that we get! The romance is adorable- so much banter.
I appreciated how this book ended. It sets us up for a sequel but I felt satisfied and didn’t feel like there was a cliffhanger.
What was the best book you read in June?