I can’t believe how fast the summer is flying by! I’m glad to have read as much as I have though, and I’m working on incorporating more works by non-white writers and am really excited to read some of the titles I bought in June and July. I have been struggling a little bit with my place on the internet and what I want to do with my blog/Instagram, and a lot of this came from the allegations coming to light in the SFF community. I had promoted some of those writers and now feel weird about having done so without being more aware. And then there was the whole terrible hosting of this years’ Hugos that reinforced our need to move forward and do better as a community. I know nobody is perfect, and no piece of writing is free from bias, but I know we can do better as writers and readers to promote a healthy perception that allows for growth and change.
Now onto the reading!
In June, I read:
- Normal People, by Sally Rooney
- The Glass Magician, by Caroline Stevermer
- Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
- Midnight Robber, by Nalo Hopkinson
- Where Dreams Descend, by Janella Angeles
- Head Over Heels, by Hannah Orenstein
- Witchmark, by C.L. Polk
- Little Weirds, by Jenny Slate
- Romancing the Duke, by Tessa Dare
- Medieval English Lyrics, ed. Thomas G. Duncan
In July, I read:
- How to Be an Antiracist,by Ibram X. Kendi
- A Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah J. Maas
- Branwell, by Douglas A. Martin
- The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories, ed. Jay Rubin
- The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
- On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong
- Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, vol. 1, by Naoko Takeuchi
- March Sisters: On Life, Death, and Little Women, by Kate Bolick, Jenny Zhang, Carmen Maria Machado, and Jane Smiley
- What Cats Want, by Dr. Yuki Hattori
- The Echo Wife, by Sarah Gailey
Some of my favorite reads were Mexican Gothic, The Fire Next Time, Little Weirds, and Witchmark. I can’t stop thinking about Mexican Gothic and I’m going to be recommending this for a long time. I’m looking forward to reading Moreno-Garcia’s other/future work, and I have Gods of Jade and Shadow and Certain Dark Things on my kindle already! I haven’t really read anything from my personal challenges, and I’m looking at the calendar thinking there are only a few months left of the year, so I need to get on those!
What have you read in the last month that really stuck out with you?
Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the next several Fridays, I will be featuring titles I am going to hopefully read as part of my 12 Decades/12 Months/12 Books challenge (#12decades12books). I have been wanting to read Thomas Hardy for a few years now, and while I’ve bought several of his books, I’ve yet to read any of them. Whoops.
When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread, till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to mere chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun.
His Christian name was Gabriel, and on working days he was a young man of sound judgment, easy motions, proper dress, and general good character. On Sundays he was a man of misty views, rather given to a postponing treatment of things, whose best clothes and seven-and-six-penny umbrella were always hampering him: upon the whole one who felt himself to occupy morally that vast middle space of Laodicean neutrality which lay between the Sacrament people of the parish and the drunken division of its inhabitants — that is, he went to church, but yawned privately by the time the congregation reached the Nicene creed, and thought of what there was for dinner when he meant to be listening to the sermon. Or, to state his character as it stood in the scale of public opinion, when his friends and critics were in tantrums he was considered rather a bad man; when they were neither he was a man whose moral colour was a kind of pepper and salt mixture.
Title: What Cats Want: An Illustrated Guide for Truly Understanding Your Cat by Dr. Yuki Hattori
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing
Published: October 27th 2020
Buy: Bookshop(afflilate link)
Written by a top Japanese cat veterinarian Dr. Yuki Hattori, What Cats Want is an adorable guide to raising and caring for your cat. This an especially great introductory guide to new cat owners as it breaks down a lot of facts clearly and informatively, and it has a lot of good reference information about cat health and cat behavior for people who have had cats for pets for years. It’s fun, informative, and accessible. I hadn’t expected to read it in one sitting but I did, and I found myself learning a few things as well!
From the top feline doctor in Japan comes a fun, practical, adorably illustrated "cat-to-human" translation guide to decoding your cat's feelings.
When your cat's tail is upright, she's saying hello. If it's quivering? She's happy to see you. But if it swishes ominously from side to side across your living room floor? Beware-your cat is annoyed.
With nineteen bones and twelve muscles, cats' tails have countless ways of expressing their emotions. What Cats Want is here to uncover the meaning behind every movement, and the motivation beneath every quirk. Did you know, for example, that adult cats love to reconnect with their inner kitten? Or that cats prefer multiple watering holes over just one? Our cats are sophisticated-no matter what any dog lover says-and What Cats Want has the answers to every question asked by cat owners young and old.
An invaluable new guide filled with creative tips and darling illustrations, What Cats Want provides a much-desired glimpse into the minds of our most mysterious pets.
The illustrations alone make the book worth a look through, and I’m looking forward to purchasing my own physical copy once the book releases in October! The illustrator captures cat behavior, moods, and emotions <I>perfectly</i>, and I found myself recognizing several of the cats in my life in the pages. I especially loved the illustrations of cat moods, cat meows, and cat body language!
One thing I kept thinking while reading it was that this would make a perfect gift for new cat parents or longtime cat parents.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing and Netgalley for an advance digital review copy! All opinions are my own.
Title: Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein
Published by Atria Books
Published: June 23, 2020
Buy: Bookshop(afflilate link)
The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.
Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.
I have loved every single one of Hannah Orenstein’s books since her debut Playing With Matches, and I have it on good authority that I will love every single book she’ll write, too. Head Over Heels follows the (now-alternate universe) trajectory of Avery, a former gymnast with the Olympics in view, becoming a coach to an up-and-coming gymnast when Avery moves back to her hometown after a breakup and a need to start fresh in some way. However, when Avery returns home, she feels like she’s living in the shadow of her former life. Reconnecting with her past and reconciling the future that never was, Avery has to confront everything she has tried to leave behind — her childhood friend who ended up going to the Olympics and doing everything she dreamed of doing, her parents, her former coach, her former crush, and all of the intricacies and difficulties associated with what she has tried to leave behind.
One thing that Orenstein does really well in each of her books is a balance between that perfect rom-com fluff and an engaging amount of emotional and thematic depth. To me, the characters and their reactions and responses to the world in which they live seem true and well-balanced. The settings in which these characters exist and the world created for them feels like something I could watch on a big, cinematic screen and in which I could get lost for a few hours. I don’t know the first thing about gymnastics aside from a casual viewing here and there whenever the Olympics are on television, but Orenstein makes you care and makes you want to know more, and it’s obvious this is a subject dear to her heart. She tackles the heavier subjects and the #metoo movement within the gymnastics sphere incredibly well and with a lot of grace, and that’s something I think is difficult to achieve.
This is a well-rounded contemporary romance that kept me hooked from the first page, so if you’re looking for a bright summer romance with a lot of heart, check out Head Over Heels, and then read the rest of Orenstein’s fiction if you haven’t yet!
Many thanks to Atria for sending me an advance reader’s copy; all opinions are my own!
Title: This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman
Series: Bow Street Bachelors #1
Published by St. Martin's Press
Published: October 29th 2019
Buy: Bookshop(afflilate link)
Introducing the Bow Street Bachelors―men who work undercover for London’s first official police force―and the women they serve to protect. . .and wed?
WILL A FALSE MARRIAGE
Shipping heiress Georgiana Caversteed is done with men who covet her purse more than her person. Even worse than the ton’s lecherous fortune hunters, however, is the cruel cousin determined to force Georgie into marriage. If only she could find a way to be . . . widowed? Georgie hatches a madcap scheme to wed a condemned criminal before he’s set to be executed. All she has to do is find an eligible bachelor in prison to marry her, and she’ll be free. What could possibly go wrong?
LEAD TO TRUE AND LASTING LOVE?
Benedict William Henry Wylde, scapegrace second son of the late Earl of Morcott and well-known rake, is in Newgate prison undercover, working for Bow Street. Georgie doesn’t realize who he is when she marries him―and she most certainly never expects to bump into her very-much-alive, and very handsome, husband of convenience at a society gathering weeks later. Soon Wylde finds himself courting his own wife, hoping to win her heart since he already has her hand. But how can this seductive rogue convince brazen, beautiful Georgie that he wants to be together…until actual death do they part?
A wealthy heiress who needs to marry and become a widow to run her business in peace? YES. Georgiana chooses a prisoner on death row to marry, though little does she know she’s chosen an earl. I’m not entirely up to par on writing about romance since I had avoided the genre for too long, but I really enjoyed the chemistry between Georgiana and Benedict. The dance they do after Georgiana figures out he’s not only a prisoner, but an earl working as a Bow Street runner, feels realistic and drew me in immediately.
When I had requested and been approved for To Catch an Earl, I hadn’t realized it was the second in the series, so I borrowed this from the library as soon as I could! I read it in like two sittings because I wanted to know how everything developed and resolved, and I was left completely satisfied.
Title: To Catch an Earl by Kate Bateman
Series: Bow Street Bachelors #2
Published by St. Martin's Press
Published: June 30 2020
Buy: Bookshop(afflilate link)
A case of secret identities finds reunited lovers on opposite sides of the law in this fun, flirty Regency romance.
There's only one case Bow Street agent Alex Harland, Earl of Melton, hasn't cracked: the identity of the mysterious woman who stole a kiss from him before he left for war. He's neither forgotten—nor forgiven—her for leaving him wanting. When he starts investigating the Nightjar, an elusive London jewel thief, he keeps running into the alluring Emmy Danvers, who stirs feelings he hasn't felt in years.
Even though Emmy's loved Alex for years, she can’t risk revealing her heart, or her identity as the Nightjar. With Alex on her case, Emmy knows that her secrets are in danger of being discovered. Their cat and mouse game heats up with every interaction, but when Emmy’s reputation—and life—is at risk, will Alex realize that some rules are made to be broken for love?
The second of the Bow Street Bachelors was not as strong of a connection between the main characters as I felt there was with the first. Emmy, for a jewel thief, wears a personalized signature scent even when she’s thieving, and it seems a little obvious that if, narratively speaking, she excels at this work she wouldn’t wear such an obvious tell? Alex, having inhaled that scent four years previously, is driven to distraction by that scent in his memories until he meets Emmy again.
The tension and connection didn’t seem as polished or as well developed as I felt it was in the first in the series, but the twists and the plot otherwise kept me engaged! The enemies to lovers trope didn’t play out as promised on the cover copy, and I felt Alex had it figured out too soon (with little reaction between both of them about it until much later), so I felt like it dragged in some places as well because of that. It’s an enjoyable read nonetheless and sets up for the third in the series.
An advance reader copy was provided by the publisher and Netgalley; all opinions are my own.