In news that is of no interest to anyone, I have completed my Goodreads Challenge! Yes, dear reader, I have, for no obvious reason, read 151 books this year, despite there being a whole 6 months remaining. I guess I have no excuse not to read Middlemarch now.
Here’s what I read in June:
- Dumplin‘ by Julie Murphy
I completely loved this; Willowdean is my new idol and the whole message of the book is empowering and lovely. It’s also incredibly quotable and will make you sing Dolly Parton songs. What’s not to like?
- An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
This had a bit of a Rebel of the Sands vibe but became much darker. I was mainly fascinated by the creepy school for crazy assassins; how come I never got my Blackcliffe letter, hmm?
- If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Although I complain all the time about books being too long, this one was a little too short to really grab me; it was interesting reading about a trans character, post-transition, however, especially from a writer who has gone through that experience herself.
- PopCo by Scarlett Thomas
This was crushingly disappointing; I’ve really enjoyed a couple of Thomas’ other books but this was basically all about maths and nothing really happened. It does have a beautiful cover though.
- Civil War by Mark Millar
My investigation into whether or not I can actually read graphic novels properly (i.e. by remembering to look at the pictures) continued with this, which I thought I might as well read as actually seeing the film seems a distant dream until it’s out on DVD. Ahh, the parenting life. Anyway, this was pretty good; I’m a fan of Captain America and, having seen how he’s drawn here, Daredevil. Hello.
- Little Bits of Sky by S.E. Durrant
I read a few middle grade-type books this month in my search for new material to teach next year. This story of a young brother and sister in care was really touching and I’ll be recommending it to my youngest students.
- Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman
I really liked how weird this was; set in a creepy, isolated settlement, with people randomly speaking French and freaking out about monsters, it was an intriguing and unpredictable read, although seriously can people start just writing ONE BOOK rather than stupid trilogies? Thanks.
- The Bricks that Built the Houses by Kate Tempest
This was excellent; gritty but also sometimes gorgeous, economical with description but detailed in its depiction of the lives of its characters. I strongly recommend.
- This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab
I feel like I waited about a thousand years for this and it was so worth it. It’s scary and violent with no romance whatsoever, showing obvious stylistic similarities with Schwab’s other brilliant books, but at the same time creating an entirely original world of monsters and horror.
- Perijee and Me by Ross Montgomery
This was really funny and sweet, and has won the impressive accolade of being my class text for year 7 next year. It’s the stuff that all authors dream of.
- We Are Giants by Amber Lee Dodd
This was a decent, quick read: a middle grade story about a girl whose mother is a has dwarfism.
- Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Another book I’d been eagerly awaiting; this was a bit like Wink Poppy Midnight in its weirdness and ethereal nature. I’m not sure I entirely understood what was going on, but I really liked it up until the magical realism stuff started and then my head broke.
- The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
This was ok; I’ve seen it get great reviews and comments on Twitter but I wasn’t that into it. It reminded me of The Girl from Everywhere (another hyped book I didn’t love), and although it has beautiful pages, I didn’t find it very memorable.
- Hotels of North America by Rick Moody
This was really entertaining; written in the form of hotel reviews by the fictional Reginald Morse, the book is very funny on irritations like bedbugs and free cookies, whilst also being touching when dealing with Morse’s relationships. It’s a book that’s very different and just about sustains your interest.
- Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence
I can see this appealing to teenage boys; the gang stuff and dialogue didn’t fully convince me but I did end up getting quite involved with the story.
- Harley Quinn, Vol 1: Hot in the City by Amanda Conner
This was disappointing; what I’ve read about the Suicide Squad film had made me interested in Harley Quinn, but this collection is all over the place, both tonally and thematically. The first part, in which Harley argues with the artists who draw her, is cleverly meta, but the rest of it was a mess.
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
This was a favourite of mine as a teenager and university student, but I’ve not read it for a few years. This time round, I was a little more understanding of the less positive responses to Holden, but I still love the book; I was in a really bad mood when I picked it up and young Mr Caulfield is perfect company in that situation.
- The Wicked and the Divine, Vol 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen
Another graphic novel, but, this time, one that I really enjoyed. The premise of gods taking over human bodies ever 90 years is pretty out there, but the story was exciting and I was fascinated by the characters. I impulse-bought the next two books straight after finishing.
- The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder
This was just pure, unadulterated loveliness; set in New York, it follows Pen, a slightly nerdy and weird teen who falls for an obviously horrible boy while ignoring the very nice one she already knows. It’s predictable in the best way; like a really good teen movie that makes it really easy to guess what’s going to happen but is a delight while you wait for it to happen. I’ve not felt so warm and fuzzy about a book since Simon Vs.
- Nina Is Not OK by Shappi Korsandi
I really struggled with this and do not harbour happy memories of reading it. There are obvious similarities with Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It, but that was compelling where this was just unpleasant. I need to order my thoughts properly to review it, but I’m still working on that.
- Low, Vol 1: The Delerium of Hope by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini
Oh, let’s make all the women naked; that will be fun. I’m pretty sure this was the sole bit of planning that went into this graphic novel, which made no sense and was pretty offensive in its representation of women.
- Ways to Stay Alive by Sally Nicholls
This was deeply sad, which was pretty inevitable given that it’s about an eleven year old boy with leukaemia. Nicholls manages to make it uplifting too though, through the lovely central character.
- Lions by Bonnie Nadzam
Not very much happened in this short book about a one-horse town and its inhabitants, but I really enjoyed the style and mood; it reads like an Annie Proulx story, which can never be a bad thing.
- This Raging Light by Estelle Laure
I read this in one sitting and really enjoyed it; it’s a deceptively easy read considering the seriousness of the subject matter (seventeen year old forced to care for her younger sister when their mother abandons them).
- The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth Mckenzie
This was excellent; really quirky and odd, but with relatable characters and dysfunctional families. And people talking to squirrels.
- Darius and Twig by Walter Dean Myers
This was a bit too short to fully develop anything but made its point about the challenges facing black teenage boys effectively.
- How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon
I finished this last night and am still processing it; it’s a remarkably powerful work of non-fiction, with Laymon’s essays detailing a range of formative and adult experiences. It doesn’t beat you around the head with its agenda, but is hugely effective and brilliantly written.
So that’s June. I finish school for the summer next week, so I’m hoping to take advantage of some lie-ins and being able to stay up a bit later to read some hefty books; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americannah is on my TBR, along with recent biographies of Ted Hughes and Marys Wollstonecraft and Shelley. I’m also planning to reread Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, which I loved at uni but haven’t read since.