Okay y’all, I think I was maybe a little overambitious for this month’s TBR. At the end of the first week of June, I was finally reading one of my preorders, King of Fools, which is 599 pages long, and I was kind of looking over at my other preorder, Shadow & Flame, which is 496 pages long, and having a moment of oh shit what did I get myself into. Because damn. Just my TBR alone, altogether, is 2,466 pages with 4 out of 5 totaling 450 or more. I’ve then got my rereads, which are either 513 or 413, depending on which I pick; both of my Middle Earth reads, totaling 671; and I have two non-fantasies on my book cart just to keep things fresh, at 454 and 419. What in the holy hell? Well. Let’s see how I managed in the first half of the month, shall we?
What: Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive by Kristen J. Sollee
Review: This book is so important, and it needs to be read right now by so many people. Like, seriously. This is the book that Witch by Lisa Lister was trying to be. This dives into different words (witch, slut, feminist) that have been used as derogatory slurs toward women and discussing how we can reclaim those words. It also talks about what it means to be each of those things, and how it’s different for every person out there. It’s powerful, it’s difficult to swallow sometimes, and it’s in your face. This books does not apologize for anything, and I love it so much for that. It’s a fierce little book that needs to be read by a whole heck of a lot more people.
What: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
Review: Do you ever just put off starting a book for forever and a day, and then, when you finally start said book, you’re absolutely furious with yourself for that unnecessary delay? YES HELLO. This was so good! I’ve done this weird thing with Bracken where I’ve read her middle grade first and started in on her YA second, which is usually the reverse, but I’m here now, and I’m ready for more! Passenger, the first in a duology, follows two different characters–Etta, who has no idea that she has a natural-born gift for time traveling, and who is quite shocked to find herself on a ship in the late 1800s; and Nicholas, who has been exiled from traveling by the twisted family that still has its hooks in him, and whose plan to just hand Etta off to them is foiled when he realizes she’s here against her will.
This was so much more than I thought it was going to be, and that’s probably on me for not paying attention to the summary or something, but for some reason, I had it in my head that this was only going to take place in modern day New York and late 1800s at sea on a ship. But truthfully, this book is like if you smashed Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor together, and it’s excellent. Etta & Nicholas travel through several different countries and time periods, and each of them were so interesting to read. I absolutely adored how much Bracken paid attention to the difficulties of each period, too, and how she portrayed both Etta’s privilege and Nicholas’ hardships, both individually and together. It did take some doing to get me reading this more than just 50 pages a day, but once I finally dove in, I didn’t want to stop.
What: An Atlas of Tolkien by David Day
Review: Oh man, this was good. If you’re going to try to read The Silmarillion, I definitely recommend reading this first. This has given me such a better appreciation of the world and everything that happened in the beginning, and as I’m working my way through The Silmarillion over this month, I’m so grateful for this book. Not only is this gorgeous with all of the artwork that’s included, it starts at the very birth of the physical world of Middle Earth and carries us through all the way to post-War of the Ring. It talks about how the world was formed, what changes have happened over time, what battles affected where different people lived, and goes into great detail about the gods at the beginning. This is definitely only something to read if you have a big Tolkien interest (otherwise, I imagine it’s pretty boring), but I found it truly fascinating.
What: King of Fools by Amanda Foody
Review: My review for Ace of Shades is linked. WOW THIS WAS SO MUCH GAYER THAN I EXPECTED. Like, guys, ya girl forgot Levi Glaisyer was bi, and I was LIVING, but then all of that stuff happening in the middle and now I am dead? ALSO??? A GIRL GANG THAT WEARS WHITE LACE GLOVES? COUNT ME IN. Seriously, the women supporting women in this had me flailing. That one scene, where Levi does the thing to Enne (YOU KNOW), and all of her girls are like “we’ll kill him right now if you want us to” and they all just flock to her, and I can’t. They were amazing. This whole book was amazing. This only took me a solid week to read because I was doing eight million things all at once, but damn, once I finally had a chance to sink my teeth into this, I didn’t want to let go.
As the second in a trilogy, there’s some new world-building to do, some side characters to unravel a little more, and most importantly, one whole second to catch your breath. Seriously, this is a trip. I almost felt out of breath a few times, like holy moly, give them a hot minute to calm down, but nope. Every other part or so, we’d skip just a little into the future, get about a chapter of settling down, and then bam we’re back. This kept me hooked from start to finish, and at the end, I was left blinking stupidly at anyone who tried to talk to me. Cliffhangers are great and all, but you know what’s better? Cliffhangers with a side of impending doom. Damn. Can we preorder the third book yet?
What: Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Review: I keep picking this book up at bookstores and then putting it back down like some kind of idiot. I adored We are Okay, and I knew I was going to love this, as well, I just kept not buying it. But I finally did, and I binge-read the entire thing on Sunday after attending Boston’s Pride parade, which was exactly what I needed to decompress from that. This is, again, a fairly heavy topic as We are Okay–Caitlin is reeling after the loss of her best friend, and while trying to just go through the motions, she stumbles across a journal that Ingrid left her full of letters that unravel the way she was coming apart at the seams.
This was a quick read, but one I also had to put down several times to just walk around the house and take a breather. It was fantastically done, and I felt so raw and peeled open at times, but also very cathartic by the end. LaCour tackled the difficult topic of teen suicide with grace and honesty, and this is definitely going to be one of those books that I remember for quite some time.
The beginning of June was really lackluster for me, obviously. I spent a lot of time doing a final passthrough of my own novels, so that took up some normal reading time, and then my assigned Shakespeare reading stressed me out to the point where I just gave up, but that also took up all of my nighttime reading. I also haven’t even kind of started in on my TBR, though I am caught up to this summer for preorders. I’m already doing a lot better in the second half, though, so keep an eye out at the end of the month for some fun reads!
How is the beginning of your June going?