June Book Wrap-Up

7/01/2020


My reading in June has been all over the place. I reread almost all of the Vampire Academy series (which I shan't review here as I've spoken about the YA series enough on my blog), I picked up a diverse range of books after getting a cold dose of reality that I really haven't been reading enough books by black authors this year. I gave so many books 4 or 5 star ratings, and yet.. I've been in a huge reading slump. I feel exhausted by the prospect of picking up a book, yet when I inevitably do I'm devouring hundreds of pages in one sitting. It's some sort of weird mental slump, I guess? Have you ever dealt with this kind of thing? Let me know, especially if you have any advice. 


From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home
by Tembi Lock
Memoirs are always a tricky thing to review as you usually go into them already knowing if you're going to want to listen to someone's life story for hours. But for me From Scratch was a whole new experience. I had never even heard of Tembi Lock prior to this becoming a Reese's Book Club x Hello Sunshine pick. I didn't even know she was an actress when I started the audiobook. I just thought this was a book about the cultural differences between a black woman and an Italian man and the overall effect that had on both their marriage and the joining of their families.This was so much more. As mentioned, I listened to this as an audiobook on Scribd (which I highly recommend) and just didn't want to stop. Firstly, Tembi is a beautiful writer. I smelt the garlic she described, I felt her grief in the pit of my stomach, and my heart ached for her and her daughter. I felt joy when I listened to her describe her marriage, and I felt grief stricken when she wrote about what it was like to lose her husband to cancer. If this has been on your radar at all, I urge you to pick it up. It's already going on my top books of 2020 shortlist. 


The House On Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros
Prior to moving to America I'd never heard of this modern classic. A crime! I enjoyed this coming-of-age story about a young Latino girl living in Chicago, and the process of her slowly discovering her true self. As this book was written as a series of vignettes, I definitely enjoyed certain sections more than others. It made me think, which I think is something that truly matters when it comes to stories written about race. Overall, I can see why it's a beloved classic.


The Scent Keeper
by Erica Bauermeister 
Emmeline lives on a remote island with her father, a man who collects scents in jars and stores them in his study. But as she gets older, less and less makes sense in her life. I'm going to sound harsh when writing about this one, so be prepared. This book read like a really bad version of Where The Crawdad's Sing. I do not get the hype around it. It felt silly, and incredibly unrealistic. I spent most of this book confused and frustrated. I still gave it 3 stars as the writing was very beautiful, but sadly the story let the entire thing down. I really wouldn't recommend this to anyone.


Year Of Yes
by Shonda Rhimes
I'm a huge fan of Rhimes's TV shows Grey's Anatomy and How To Get Away With Murder, so this book by her has been on my TBR for literal years but I was always reluctant to pick it up as it seemed a little like a self help book, which I've never had much luck with. However, I was an idiot. This book was incredible. It made me laugh so much, which wasn't expected. I finished it with a great ache to befriend Rhimes. I've gained so much respect for her as a human. If you enjoy her work at all, I definitely recommend giving this a read.


Peter Pan
by J. M. Barrie
This is of course the book that inspired the beloved Disney movie. I can't think to say more than... what a hot mess. I do not understand why people love this children's literature classic. Peter was an awful character, and the entire story felt cluttered and without reason. Maybe I would've gained more from this if I'd of picked it up when I was younger..? 


The Black Flamingo
by Dean Atta
This is a coming-of-age story about a young black boy living in the UK, and is primarily his story of finding acceptance and discovering his sexuality. This book was beautiful. Just, beautiful. Written in verse, with such powerful writing, and a YA book? Incredible. I truly believe that this should be required reading for teenagers. It read raw and yet felt pure. I laughed, cried, and didn't want it to end. I'll 110% be checking out the authors poetry collection I Am Nobody's Nigger.


Waiting For Tom Hanks
by Kerry Winfrey
Annie is a twenty-seven year old woman waiting for her Tom Hanks. When she manages to get a job on a movie set, she finally gets her meet cute. But what happens when the guy that ought to be the perfect man for her, falls flat compared to big-shot movie star Drew? This was a really cute rom-com book. It gave exactly what it sold itself as. However, I found the characters all a little too cheesy and predictable. It was overall meh. Not bad, but not very good.


Watch Us Rise
by Renee Watson & Ellen Hagan 
When two teenage girls feel unheard by their respective after-school clubs, they decide to create their own club/blog focusing on the problems facing women. It quickly goes viral which starts a domino effect on the school. This YA contemporary was everything I wanted it to be. The inserts of their blog posts were really entertaining and I had to continuously stop myself from looking up the blog in the hopes that it had become real. I cared for both main characters, which is rare for me, and I liked how many boxes this book managed to tick without ever really preachy. A wonderful example for what happens when a YA does it right. I'll definitely be keeping up with whatever else this author duo writes. 


Out Of Love
by Hazel Hayes
This was my most anticipated book of 2020 and it didn't let me down. Marketed as a love story told in reverse, this is a look at how complicated a breakdown of a relationship can be. I have always loved Hazel Hayes's way with words, but this was next level. You can sometimes tell when an author puts their love and blood into writing a deeply personal novel, fiction or not, and that was the case with this. I haven't read such an authentic contemporary in a long time. 


Clap When You Land
by Elizabeth Acevedo
A plane goes down and there are no survivors. Two young woman lose their fathers on the flight, Camino and Yahaira. The tragedy brings the girls together in a way that neither could expect. This is another novel written in verse, which seems to be a new love of mine. Elizabeth Acevedo is already on her way to being a writer of modern classics. Her novel Poet X is loved hugely in the book community, which is making my fingertips itch with the desire to pick it up soon. I loved Clap When You Land. It touched my heart in a way that I didn't expect, and I instantly made my husband read it. 

Lou In Lockdown
by Jojo Moyes
If you've been reading my blog for a while now, you'll already know that the Me Before You series by Jojo Moyes is my guilty pleasure. I adore these books mainly for the protagonist Louisa Clarke. She's been the most relatable character for me throughout my reading journey, so they hold a place in my heart. This is a short story that Moyes published for free online. I adored it. I laughed multiple times, cried even more, and it gave me a huge desire to reread the series. If you want to give it a read, I'll link to it at the bottom of this blog post! 


Artemis Fowl
by Eoin Colfer
Artemis is an 11-year-old evil genius. He's cold, unashamed of his intelligence, and is willing to do just about anything to get his way. But he may of met his match in the form of Holly Short, a fairy he kidnapped. Silly me thought that it'd be necessary to read this book before watching the movie.. err.. that would've only be beneficial if the movie stuck with the plot of the book and didn't instead transform itself into a hot mess. My husband described the movie as "It's like the writers had a kid on a sugar rush explain the book to them and then still ignored the advice." and I can't agree more. But anyway, this is a review of the book. I liked it, it was okay for a children's book and though I didn't particularly care for any of the characters or the plot, I was reasonably entertained. A little bored, but not overly so. It was just 'okay'.


Americanah
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but ends up in London. This is one hell of a book. For me, it was very much like the reading experience of A Little Life by Hayna Yanagihara. It was a one hell of a journey. The writing was flawless, I often kept reading just for the writing style and not the story itself. However, I think my main problem with Americanah was the main two characters. They were so unlikable to me, which made it hard to root for them separately and most definitely together. Ifemelu became incredibly self entitled in a bitch way and not necessarily in a feminist way. And Obinze was just insufferable when it came to his love life. I wanted to read the book from literally any other character's POV. I can't in good faith give this novel less than a 4 star rating as, again, the writing and story-telling was flawless. But it's definitely a story that has had a lasting place in my brain. 


So, yeah. Quite a mix of books this month, but some real gems. What was the last 5 star book you read? I'd love to know! 



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