July has been the worst blogging month for me in quite a while. There was quite a lot going on, I spent time with my family and to be honest, I couldn’t be bothered to even open my laptop. It was just really, really nice to take my mind off internet-stuff for a while and just concentrate on my personal life for a bit.
Which is why I’m a month late for the books I read in June. But that’s okay. After not talking about the books I read during the previous months at all, I guess coming back with a late post is better than no post at all? I don’t want to keep you any more, let’s head right into it, shall we?
In June, I took part in the Olympic Games, a readathon based on Camp Half-Blood from the Percy Jackson series. I was in the Hermes cabin. It was a lot of fun and while I didn’t stick to my original tbr at all, I managed to complete every challenge which made me quite proud.
NOTE: ADVERTISEMENT: books marked with a * are copies I received for free in exchange for an honest review!
The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
Bloomsbury | 313 pages | published 17.05.2020 | contemporay YA | gay rep | TW: loss of loved ones
Olympic Games Challenge: Journey to the world of the dead and complete a prompt that honors Hades > Death comes randomly and without warning: read a book from your tbr at random.
As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.
Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him. (goodreads)
What I think about it:
It was a short book that definitely wasn’t what I expected. I found Cal to be rather annoying and selfish and I thought the romance was too insta-lovey and not that well developed. I liked all the family dynamics, though, how they acted and reacted. I also loved the discussion and portrayal of mental illnesses and mental health. I wished there would have been a bit more space and less reality TV show drama, that was all a bit too much for me. It was a beautifully queer and enjoyable book with a very vintage-y vibe.
Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens
Simon Pulse | 374 pages | published 07.05.2019 | contemporary YA | rep: Sri-Lankan American lesbian MC, gay, black, possibly trans side characters | TW: homophobia, internalized homophobia | transphobia
Olympic Games Challenge: Make the god of thieves proud by stealing a book from someone else’s tbr.
Perpetually awkward Nima Kumara-Clark is bored with her insular community of Bridgeton, in love with her straight girlfriend, and trying to move past her mother’s unexpected departure. After a bewildering encounter at a local festival, Nima finds herself suddenly immersed in the drag scene on the other side of town.
Macho drag kings, magical queens, new love interests, and surprising allies propel Nima both painfully and hilariously closer to a self she never knew she could be—one that can confidently express and accept love. But she’ll have to learn to accept lost love to get there. (goodreads)
What I think about it:
I loved this book! It was so much I love in a story: it was fun and awkward, sensitive and soft. There was a wonderful drag queen mentor, a shy protagonist who is so much more than she thinks she is, characters who need to find themselves and push through the stuff life has thrown at them. This book is wonderfully queer, it shows characters reaching for more, characters growing and discovering themselves. Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens feels real in the best way, it breathes life. And I enjoyed every second of reading.
Live like Legends by Kate Cornell*
Entangled Teen | 400 pages | published 01.06.2020 | fantasy YA | TW: blood, death
Princess Kalista has known her role from birth. She’s spent her entire life preparing to be the socialite wife of a prince from a peaceful kingdom. But on her big day, she is shocked when she is instead forced to marry the warrior prince of a cursed land, who is as cold as the wintry kingdom he’ll one day rule.
Carson has a throne no princess wants to share with him. An immortal beast ravages their land, and he’ll do anything to stop it, even marry a complete stranger on the day she was supposed to wed her betrothed. Let her hate him for it, but Kalista is his only hope for peace.
Kalista knows she’s just a pawn on the chessboard of politics, but now she’s expected to kill an unstoppable creature because of some legend about her bloodline that Carson believes as truth. He trains her how to fight, and when lessons in swordplay lead to lessons in love, her destiny puts more than just her life at risk.
How far is she willing to go to save the prince she never wanted…but can’t imagine living without? (goodreads)
What I think about it:
I liked that this is a fantasy world where not everyone speaks every language and where actual problems arise because of language barriers, in this case between the protagonist and the love interest. It was interesting to read how they learn and grow to care for each other, despite not speaking the same language. The problem was, that it was basically the only thing I enjoyed about this book. The characters fell somewhat flat, I was desperately searching for the world building and the event that got the plot going was… not there? I really wanted to like this book and I did like the concept, but unfortunately not its execution.
Read my full review of Live like Legends.
Little Black Bird by Anna Kirchner*
Gurt Dog Press | 292 pages | published 20.06.2020 | urban fantasy YA | rep: ace, a-spec, questioning, bi, Korean-Polish | TW: blood, vomiting, death
Olympic Games Challenge: Travel: read a book that takes place somewhere you want to visit.
Magic is dying out, but it will not disappear without a fight.
Wiktoria is a seventeen year old with a secret: she has psychic powers. Her uncontrollable telekinesis hurts her and others, setting fires and throwing objects in the air, no matter how hard she tries to hold it back. All she wants to have is a peaceful, average life, but it’s difficult when you’ve been cursed to destroy the magical world.
Her carefully maintained facade of normality starts to unravel when she’s hunted down by local sorcerers and their Guardian, and accused of unleashing banished demons back into the human realm. When a murder shakes up the magical community, everyone agrees that the only way to save the world is to kill Wiktoria.
Her only ally is a boy who can read her mind, shares her dreams and makes her question her sexuality. Together, they face mythical creatures and uncover ancient legends, and they soon realize that there is no such thing as simply good or evil. Whether they break the curse or allow it to fulfil its destiny, the magical world will be forever changed. (goodreads)
What I think about it:
I loved this book! It has wonderful characters, shady ones and mysterious ones, helpers and a certified cinnamon roll™. There aren’t many straight characters which is great! And it’s set in Poland and so very Polish, with little quirks and Polish food and history and slavic mythology and tons and tons of action. Give those characters a break, they deserve it. But also don’t because I want to read more about them throwing punches left and right.
Read my full review of Little Black Bird.
All for the Game series by Nora Sakavic
The Foxhole Court
self published | 251 pages | published 2016 | contemporary YA/NA | Rep: gay | TW: mention of suicide, alcohol, drugs, suicide, homophobia, slurs, abuse, violence, overdose, loss of loved one, blood
Olympic Games Challenge: Read a book that features a sport.
The Raven King
self published | 328 pages | published 2016 | contemporary YA/NA | Rep: gay | TW: death, violence, grief, rape, torture, trauma, drugs, mental and physical abuse, homophobia, blood, alcohol
The King’s Men
self published | 556 pages | published 2016 | contemporary YA/NA | Rep: gay, demi | TW: death, violence, blood, trauma, mental and physical abuse, drugs, alcohol, murder
Olympic Games Challenge: Read a book with a character whom you would not get along with.
Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.
Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.
But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for. (goodreads)
What did I think about it:
Ok, this is my newest obsession. I loved this series. I originally planned on only reading the first book, The Foxhole Court, but I got so obsessed that I couldn’t even wait until my physical copies of book 2&3 arrived, I downloaded them on my Kindle and read them right away. They’re dark, highkey problematic but they’re like the drugs everyone in this story seems to consume: addicting. I couldn’t get enough of these characters. Because they are what makes this series so good. They all have a dark past, they’re all troubled but they have each other’s backs. Just thinking about it makes me want to reread the whole series right now. Just… wow. I loved every second and I’m still obsessed.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Alex Stern #1 | Gollancz | 458 pages | published 08.10.2019 | paranormal/urban fantasy | Rep: Jewish MC | TW: blood, death, drugs, rape, murder, manipulation
Olympic Games Challenge: Caduceus: read a book with a snake on the cover.
Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. (goodreads)
What I think about it:
I had some problems getting into the book in the beginning. There was a lot of information given and it was a bit slow. But I got more invested when the story picked up speed. I’m not the biggest fan of throwbacks, especially when they’re about a character not otherwise introduced, so I had some problems with that as well. But I found the characters and especially the world building very interesting and I’m curious to see where all of this is going and what magical worlds will be explored.
Descendant of the Crane by Joan He*
Titan Books | 400 pages | published 16.06.2020 | fantasy YA | Rep: Chinese inspired characters | TW: murder, loss of loved one, blood, vomit, slavery
Olympic Games Challenge: Capture the Flag: One of your most anticipated books.
Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.
Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high? (goodreads)
What I think about it:
It took me a few pages, but I enjoyed this book so much! It has complex characters, with flaws and their own motives and secrets. It also has court intrigues en masse. Like the characters, the reader never truly knows who to trust, which makes this a quite exciting experience that never gets boring. There are also swords and magic and just a little dash of romance. I loved it!
Read my full review of descendant of the Crane.
Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins
Royals #2 | Penguin | published 12.05.2019 | alternative reality contemporary YA | Rep: lesbian, bi | TW: homophobia
Olympic Games Challenge: Canoeing: a book with a blue cover.
Millie Quint is devastated when she discovers that her sort-of-best friend/sort-of-girlfriend has been kissing someone else. And because Millie cannot stand the thought of confronting her ex every day, she decides to apply for scholarships to boarding schools . . . the farther from Houston the better.
Millie can’t believe her luck when she’s accepted into one of the world’s most exclusive schools, located in the rolling highlands of Scotland. Everything about Scotland is different: the country is misty and green; the school is gorgeous, and the students think Americans are cute.
The only problem: Mille’s roommate Flora is a total princess.
She’s also an actual princess. Of Scotland.
At first, the girls can barely stand each other-Flora is both high-class and high-key-but before Millie knows it, she has another sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend. Even though Princess Flora could be a new chapter in her love life, Millie knows the chances of happily ever afters are slim . . . after all, real life isn’t a fairy tale . . . or is it? (goodreads)
What I think about it:
So, I have very mixed feelings. On one hand, I enjoyed this book a lot, it being fun and fluffy and cute and something easy to read. But it’s also so very American. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about it but it read like something through American glasses. It reproduces stereotypes about Scotland and Britain and it just irks me. But nevertheless, it was hilarious at some points, beautiful at others, but overall highly enjoyable and a quick read.
Proud by various authors, compiled by Juno Dawson
Stripes | 352 pages | published 07.03.2019 | YA LGBT+ anthology | Rep: gay, enby, trans, black, bi, lesbian, Indian-American, queer | TW: homophobia, transphobia
A stirring, bold and moving anthology of stories and poetry by top LGBTQ+ YA authors and new talent, giving their unique responses to the broad theme of pride. Each story has an illustration by an artist identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Compiled by Juno Dawson, author of THIS BOOK IS GAY and CLEAN.
A celebration of LGBTQ+ talent, PROUD is a thought-provoking, funny, emotional read.
Contributors: Steve Antony, Dean Atta, Kate Alizadeh, Fox Benwell, Alex Bertie, Caroline Bird, Fatti Burke, Tanya Byrne, Moïra Fowley-Doyle, Frank Duffy, Simon James Green, Leo Greenfield, Saffa Khan, Karen Lawler, David Levithan, Priyanka Meenakshi, Alice Oseman, Michael Lee Richardson, David Roberts, Cynthia So, Kay Staples, Jessica Vallance, Kristen Van Dam and Kameron White. (goodreads)
What I think about it:
I loved this collection of stories, poetry and art. There were very different stories and very different art styles, there were light stories and those that hit you right in the feelings. But they all make you think. Proud is a wonderful anthology of queer people celebrating queer people and putting a light on LGBT+ issues queer people have to deal with every day. I’d definitely recommend this one!
And that is what I read in June! Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What have you read in June?
Until next time,
Good that you ended up getting into ninth house and that you liked descendent of the crane- I really want to read both of those!
I hope you’ll like them! <3
I feel you, though it’s more like every few weeks I just totally lack motivation for blogging. I still do, kind of, I love blogging but I lack the energy to blog and it feels like too much effort and I don’t know? I kinda miss it, though.
But I think it’s totally fine to take time off, especially if you had another great stuff in the “real world”, and sometimes it’s kind of nice to not spend so much time on the Internet. ^^
“Little Black Bird” sounds awesome and I feel like it’s another book on my wish list thanks to you. (You’re such a bad influence for my wish list. Or a great one, rather. Thanks for that and all those great books you make me aware of.)
Btw, I’m still obsessed with TFC and I really have to keep myself from re-reading it and I still don’t know how to explain why, exactly, I love this series so much but I do? It’s like a weird sect you cannot get out of?
“Ninth House” is still on my wish list and probably will be for some time as I plan to read “King of Scars” before, but I’m glad to read that you liked it. 🙂
Love, Dana <3
Yeah, exactly that. Everytime I open my blog to write a post I just sit there and go “nah, I’ll do it tomorrow” but I do this every day and this way I manage to publish about one post a week max. And after self isolation and being in another city for 6 months it just felt incredibly good to see my family and spend time with all of them and be outside in nature, I didn’t even really think about blogging that much? The time off was so good!
Yes, please read Little Black Bird! I swear I’m such a wonderful influence for your wishlist. Nothing bad about adding good books ot that list 😀
Omg, me too!! The weird sect really fits. I find myself at 1am, just minding my business when my brain goes “whyyyyy don’t you reread tFC????” and really all that’s keeping me from it is being afraid I’ll fall asleep and not being able to read it in one go. This series really has become a serious obsession 😀
I hope you’ll like both King of Scars and Ninth House! <3
Oh my god, SAME. Like exactly, I’m sitting there just thinking “okay nvm I’ll do it tomorrow” for like weeks, and with Insta it’s even worse?
But I think it’s totally fine if you feel like other things are more important! I also feel like restarting socializing is more exhausting (or perhaps it’s just me being introverted and all). Spending time with your family and in the nature sounds awesome!
You’re a good influence in making me aware of so many awesome books and a bad influence in making my wish list explode like when am I supposed to read all those books?! (Also, I sometimes feel like reading less YA and then I discover another interesting YA book on your blog like nvm.)
Also, I have this weird obsession of wanting EVERYONE to read the book. People around me are seriously starting to hate me because I start out of the blue with “But have I told you about this awesome series which is dark and problematic but great and you just have to love it even though there is so much violence but the characters are adorable” (“yes, Dana, you mentioned it like a hundred times before” “ok but it’s great though”).
oh yes, don’t even remind me of insta. I post regularly there but not regularly enough for the algorythm? or something? Idk, I just can’t really think of good captions and I need 500 years until I find literally any words. Ugh, the effort of it all.
Yeah, I understand that. The wishlist is ever growing. And yeah, I’m very into adult romance at the moment and sometimes can’t really be bothered with YA haha. But I always come back to YA somehow.
Haha, I feel that! 😀 A lot of my friends don’t read in English and I’m always like “I know it’s English but please do yourself and especially me a favour and read those books. They’re fucked up but you’ll love them.” The obsession is real lol.