June Wrap-Up + July TBR

Hey guys. I know I usually post on Tuesdays, but I wanted to get this one up as close to the beginning of the month as I could, since it’s a pretty time-sensitive post.

Anyway, this one is probably going to be a bit long, so here we go.

Over the course of June, I managed to complete four books, three of which were actually on my TBR for the month, which I’m pretty proud of. These four were The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North, Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, and Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone. Below, I’ll give a mini review of each one before jumping into what I want to read in July.

 

The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

My Rating: 4/5 stars

This book is about a girl named Hope Arden who the world forgets. She can be with someone all day, have hours-long conversations with them, but as soon as they turn away for more than a couple of minutes, they forget they ever saw her. Even her own parents don’t remember her anymore. As you can imagine, this makes living a normal life hard for Hope, but it makes being a criminal incredibly easy. The book is about Hope dealing with her condition, slowly coming to a better understanding of herself and the world around her.

I loved this book. It was thought-provoking, and Hope is such an interesting character. She’s such a strong person—and I don’t mean in the whole macho, kick butt and take names kind of way. She just has such strength of mind. She could easily become a hermit, lock herself away somewhere and never come out. No one would remember her long enough to check on her. But she doesn’t do that. She goes outside, she talks to people. She introduces herself to the same people, over and over again, every day, and she does a pretty good job of not letting that forgettability get to her too much.

The thing that knocked it down to four stars, though, was that the book was pretty slow at times, and sometimes Hope’s existential thoughts were a little much for me, personally. Also, fair warning—this book is not for kids, or for anyone sensitive to profanity. There is quite a bit of that in this book, particularly the f-word, as well as some other adult content. Other than those things, though, I absolutely loved this book.

 

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

This is set in a world where, for thousands of years, the same million souls have been reincarnated over and over again. Our main character, Ana, is a new soul. That premise alone was enough to sell me, and the book is good, for sure. It’s the first in a series that I definitely plan on continuing. The world is really cool—it’s got dragons and a creepy temple whose walls pulse like a heartbeat. I like a lot of the characters. It just didn’t really have a wow factor for me. Sometimes the conversations felt a little stilted, and some of the ways people interacted felt unrealistic to me.

Personally, I think I would have understood the book, and especially Ana’s reactions to the other characters, better if it had started a little earlier, in spite of what most writing advice says. Ana is supposed to have grown up with a pretty abusive mother, and she shows that in the way she reacts to most of the characters she meets—not understanding their kindness, or assuming the kindness has some ulterior motive—but the book starts with her leaving her house, and we never actually see what her relationship with her mother is like, and why it is that Ana reacts this way. Ana constantly tells us that her mother was abusive and terrible, but it’s not really shown. Not that I want to see someone get abused—I’m not a monster. I just think having one chapter that showed what Ana’s life was like before she left would have given me a better understanding of where she was coming from, why she acts the way she does throughout the book.

 

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

My Rating: 3.75/5 stars

This is my second time attempting to read this book. The first time I read it on my own, with a physical book, and I couldn’t get into it. The second time, though, I listened to the audiobook, which is read by the author herself and not only did I finish it, I gave it nearly four stars. I’m still not sure I would call it a favorite, but it was definitely good. I still had some trouble with how… clichéd the characters were, but of course that was the point. The story is set in an alternate version of the modern world, and it centers around these beauty pageant contestants whose plane crash-landed on a supposedly uninhabited tropical island while they were on their way to the final show. The story is very obviously a commentary on the materialistic society we live in, as well as the unrealistic expectations placed on women’s beauty and temperaments.

I got all of that, and I appreciated what the author was saying. I understand why most of the characters feel fake, like caricatures or over-the-top stereotypes. That’s the whole point of the story, and as it goes on, the characters start to become less like stereotypes and more like real people, as they slowly let themselves be real, and not just the perfect dolls that they’ve been taught to be. The fact that they start to feel more real is actually what bumped my rating up from 3 stars.

 

Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone

My Rating: 5/5 stars

This book is about two girls, Hannah and Emory, who are next-door neighbors and ex-best friends. They are both in their senior year of high school, preparing to go off to college and leave all of their friends, and each other, behind. All they want to do is talk to each other again, but they haven’t spoken in 3 months, after a really big fight, and it takes something huge to bring them back together again.

This book is incredible, and for me, personally, it was incredibly relatable. I usually steer away from contemporary books, simply because they often hit a little too close to home, and I prefer my books to be an escape from the real world, not a constant reminder of it. This book, though. It was relatable in all the right ways. And not just with one of the characters. I identified with both of the characters in different ways. Hannah, the daughter of a pastor, struggles with her Christian faith, and wants to find real, concrete answers about what to believe. Emory is counting down the days until she and her boyfriend have to part ways and go off to college. These sentiments are things I can definitely relate to, though my experiences are obviously not the exact same as those in the book. I know what it’s like to question your faith, to worry about the possibility of losing someone you love. Both are things I still struggle with sometimes.

 

***

 

Okay! Those are all the books I read in June. For July, I decided to go with a more reasonable goal of four books. Let’s just get right into them.

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

First on the list, this book is about a girl who is helping plan her sister’s wedding, and not everything goes exactly to plan. I’ve read a book by Morgan Matson before and I didn’t love it, but this one sounds like it’ll be fun, and I’ve heard it’s good, so I wanted to give it a try.

 

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Save the Date is the only book on this list that I definitely know I want to read, but I thought I’d add some others I’m interested in right now, and see what happens. I don’t know much about this book, but from what I can tell, it’s about what happens to kids after they get back from magical worlds. It’s essentially about a sort of rehab center for kids who have to deal with the real world after they come back from Narnia, or places like it. It sounds like something up my alley.

 

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

This one was on my last TBR, and I didn’t get to finish it before the end of the month, but I started it, and I’m hoping to finish it this month. It’s set in a world where there are alternate versions of London—Red, White, Grey, and Black London—but Black London doesn’t exist anymore. No one talks about it, and no one can get to it. Kell, who is from Red London, has the magical ability to travel between these worlds, and he acts as a messenger between the monarchs of the Londons. On the side, though, he also does some smuggling. I’m not very far into the book, so I really don’t know much more than that, but I’m pretty excited to find out.

 

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

I checked this book out from the library recently, so I definitely need to read it soon or I won’t be able to. It’s set during the gold rush era in America, and the main character is a girl who can sense gold in the ground. Other than that, I know nothing about this book.

 

Well, there you have it. Those are the four books I read in June, and the four books I want/need to read in July. If you’re still with me after this super long post, I applaud your resilience.

Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next time.

-Ariel

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