I think it’s fair to say that June was my best month for reading yet. I liked, if not loved, every single book that I picked up and I just could not get enough of reading in general.
As always the end of the month means time for some more mini book reviews on what I read. For more in-depth thoughts you can hop over to my June Wrap Up Video but here I keep the reviews super short and honest.
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A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles
Let’s start as we mean to go on; this book blew me away. Historical fiction set in Russia which begins in the 1920s we are following the story of Count Alexander Rostov who is placed under ‘house arrest’ in the Hotel Metropol where he is expected to see out the remainder of his days. You’d think a book set entirely within the confines of a hotel would be boring but this is anything but. The Count is a fantastic protagonist aided by a host of wonderful side characters (Nina being my other favourite) and the narrative of this book is absolutely exquisite.
It’s a slow burner to be sure, so not for those who love plot driven, pacey novels but I absolutely adored it.
Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams
This was the first choice for my new book club and I’m really pleased I picked it up (despite the fact that I had a really hard time rating it!). This is gritty literary fiction following a British black woman called Queenie. At the beginning of the novel we discover Queenie has broken up with her long term boyfriend and is having a hard time adjusting. What follows is a journey of self-discovery for Queenie mixed in with her honest experiences of racism, micro-aggressions and mental health along with strong family ties and good female friendships.
There are some graphic sex scenes in the first half of this book which make for uncomfortable reading and I struggled to connect with Queenie as a character initially but it certainly ticked the box for bumping me out of my comfort zone and putting me in the shoes of someone whose life experience is completely different from my own. The second half of this book blew me away and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon
I don’t often pick up YA Contemporary but I had a hankering for a fluffy, light-hearted read and this fit the bill; I read it in one sitting. Maddy is a 16 year old girl who is allergic to the world. As such she lives in a ‘bubble’ with only her mum and a nurse for company. Then a family move in next door and Maddy ‘meets’ Olly; they begin to IM and a relationship blossoms.
There was an interesting twist at the end which I kind of guessed but on the whole this was a likeable book about likeable characters. It wasn’t perfect but it was short and to the point and just what I needed at the time. I’ve since read a number of reviews which talk about this book’s problems, one being the issue of ableism and I found that to be quite eye-opening. Certainly something to keep in mind as you read.
The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2) – Mary E Pearson
This is the second book in a YA Fantasy trilogy so I can’t go into too much detail without spoiling the first book. You can read my review of that here. This picks up immediately where the first book ends and we are again following the story of Lia, Kaden and Rafe.
This is fast-paced and interesting and I really liked how the story began to move on and take shape. My issues remain the same as the first book; it has some hints of ‘girl needs to be rescued by male hero’ which doesn’t sit well with me and we got a second female perspective in this book which I thought fell flat and wasn’t different enough from our main character.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid
And finishing on a high this is another book I absolutely adored. Evelyn Hugo is a Hollywood icon who rose to fame in the 1950s but has become something of a recluse in the present day. Until she picks a relatively unknown journalist to tell her story.
We begin as Evelyn starts out in her career and follow right through to the present day, uncovering plenty of secrets along the way.
I loved this so much; TJR has such an authentic way of telling stories and I would often find myself stopping to look something up before realising it didn’t actually happen. I did manage to guess both the major twists a couple of chapters in but this didn’t really diminish the story for me and I thought it was fantastic. And whilst I loved the Hollywood glamour, that is really just a backdrop. This is a story about what is important in life: love, fame, family, fortune, being true to oneself. And Evelyn is just a bad-ass character to boot (yes, she’s selfish and narcissistic but she owns it and i just liked reading about her journey)
So there you go, a pretty good reading month if you ask me. And it puts me three books ahead of my Goodreads goal which is not bad going (although don’t ask me how many books I’ve managed to read in July. Not so impressive!)