July was a rollercoaster of a reading month that also felt pretty meh? The historical romances were entertaining to meh, the historical mysteries were enjoyable but nothing out of the ordinary. I read The Remix for a course, and I absolutely hated the presentation and perspective of it. Then the remaining three books of the month were gossipy and delicious (Glossy), immersive (The First Binding), and entertaining but not the best (Fourth Wing).
🔮 Brazen and the Beast, by Sarah MacLean 🔮 Daring and the Duke, by Sarah MacLean 🌠 Murder in Postscript, by Mary Winters 🌠 A Brush with Shadows, by Anna Lee Huber 💖 Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace, by Lindsey Pollack 🔮 Glossy: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss’s Glossier, by Marisa Meltzer 💖 The First Binding, by R.R. Virdi 💖 Fourth Wing, by Rebecca Yarros
Thornhedge is the tale of a kind-hearted, toad-shaped heroine, a gentle knight, and a mission gone completely sideways.
There's a princess trapped in a tower. This isn't her story.
Meet Toadling. On the day of her birth, she was stolen from her family by the fairies, but she grew up safe and loved in the warm waters of faerieland. Once an adult though, the fae ask a favor of Toadling: return to the human world and offer a blessing of protection to a newborn child. Simple, right?
But nothing with fairies is ever simple.
Centuries later, a knight approaches a towering wall of brambles, where the thorns are as thick as your arm and as sharp as swords. He's heard there's a curse here that needs breaking, but it's a curse Toadling will do anything to uphold…
Everything I’ve ready by T. Kingfisher has been excellent, and Thornhedge is a Sleeping Beauty retelling that I keep thinking about even though I read it back in June. This reimagines Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the ‘evil fairy’ of the tale we’re probably most familiar with, and it’s a twist I enjoyed a lot, especially now having read one of her The Saint of Steel paladin romances. Toadling, our fairy who has cursed the princess, was taken by the fairies at birth and given her name by the greenteeth and taught by the hare goddess.
The story opens after two hundred years of Toadling standing sentry of the castle surrounded by a thorn hedge, protecting what’s inside and protecting the world outside. She meets Halim, a soft-spoken paladin who tells her that he ‘mostly came for answers or maybe just the story,’ and the entire book is a reflection on the how truth becomes a story and how story holds threads of truths, and how we reconcile that with ourselves.
Even though the worldbuilding seems small, it is constrained by Toadling’s own view of the world, stuck in the same area for over two centuries and no real interaction with anyone over those two decades until Halim the paladin makes the effort. It wraps up neatly, with sharp violence contrasting with a sense of comfort, but it left me wanting more set in this world and more about Halim, more about Toadling, more fairy tales reimagined in such a way. This has a similar vibe to Paladin’s Grace, so if you enjoy the softer, slower, cozier kind of story that explores something in a vast world from a limited perspective, then I’d recommend The Saint of Steel series that I’m currently reading.
Overall, this is one of my favorites of the year, and one of my favorite reimaginings of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly discussion hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (and formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish). This week, I’m featuring my Fall 2023 TBR! I read only one off of my Summer 2023 TBR (and to no one’s surprise, it’s Fourth Wing). It’s been a weird summer, and I fell off the wagon for a lot of things. The only book carrying over from the previous list onto this one is T. Kingfisher’s Nettle & Bone.
Legends & Lattes, by Travis Baldree — I bought the BN exclusive paperback edition with the deckled edges last year and still haven’t read it. With the weather cooling down, I’m definitely in the mood for some cozy fantasy.
Payback’s a Witch, by Lana Harper — Another one of those that I bought when it came out because the story and the cover appealed to me.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, by Sangu Mandanna — I’ve been saving this since last year since I bought it after ‘spooky season’ was over! I’ve heard so many good things about it, so I’m ready to dive right in.
Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, by Juno Dawson — This one is another one that I wanted to save until the third book had a release date, but once I saw the second one out on the table at work and saw the third title of this trilogy, I knew I needed to add this to my fall TBR.
Certain Dark Things, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia — 2023 is the year of vampires for me, apparently, between all of the vampire books, movies, and video games (hello, Astarion) I’ve been consuming.
Nettle & Bone, by T. Kingfisher — every time I reached for this over the summer, something in my brain was like, no this is autumn, and I can’t wait to take a weekend day to read this with a hot chocolate
Summer Sons, by Lee Mandelo — this one I should have read in August, but I forgot about it and now that it’s spooky season, it’s time to read it!
If We Were Villains, by M.L. Rio — to be fair, I have had a copy of this on my shelves for years – from way back when it initially made the bookstagram rounds, but this BN exclusive cover (and sprayed edges) caught my attention, and dark academia fits this season so well
The Last Heir to Blackwood Library, by Hester Fox — this came out in April?? I bought it as a birthday present for myself, but like Nettle & Bone, this feels like a very seasonally fall read, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Hester Fox’s work
A Certain Hunger, by Chelsea G. Summers — I have been thinking about this one for a long, long time, and I finally got my hands on it a few weeks ago!
June was a romance-heavy month for me! It wasn’t until I got everything entered into Goodreads that I noticed three (and a half) of the books I read featured a romance plotline, but June was also a weird month and I didn’t feel like I could focus on too many heavy reads in a row. Not the Kind of Earl You Marry and The Heiress Gets a Duke were my favorites of the romances I read, and The Perks of Loving a Wallflower was good but felt a little flat at times. The romance hints in Of Manners and Murder definitely had a hint of what is to come with the series, and I may borrow the second book from the library once it comes out even though I found the first to be a bit slow in the first half. Thornhedge is another winner from T. Kingfisher, and it has proven that I will read anything her and love it, so I need to get my hands on her backlist. The Future of Another Timeline is a riot of a read, and it makes me miss the riotgrrl days a bit. I loved the time travel concept in this, how history and the future can be and is changed even without time travel, and the writing in this has a buzz running through it. Linden’s The First Sister was a surprise read for me in how much I loved it! I recently purchased the sequel, and the conclusion to the trilogy comes out later this year – feels familiar but subverts a lot of science fiction tropes in a way I enjoyed. Green’s The Anthropocene Reviewed feels just like listening to him speak on social media, and it makes me want to listen to the audiobook in the future.
💖 Not the Kind of Earl You Marry, by Kate Pembrooke 🔮 Thornhedge, by T. Kingfisher 💖 The Future of Another Timeline, by Annalee Newitz 💖 The Perks of Loving a Wallflower, by Erica Ridley 🌠 Of Manners and Murder, by Anastasia Hastings 💖 The Heiress Gets a Duke, by Harper St. George 💖 The Anthropocene Reviewed, by John Green 💖 The First Sister, by Linden A. Lewis
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly discussion hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (and formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish). This week, I’m featuring my Summer 2023 TBR! (I missed the original date, but there’s no time like the present!)
Fourth Wing, by Rebecca Yarros — This is the book of the summer, and the hype machine behind it is HUGE. I love dragons in fantasy, and I’m glad I picked up a copy of this when it first came out because those sprayed edges are to die for!!
The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H.G. Wells — I want to read more classics in general, and I want to read this before I read Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s The Daughter of Doctor Moreau. It’s short, so it shouldn’t take too long, and I enjoy what I’ve already read of Wells!
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, by Hank Green — I’ve had this on my shelf for far too long, and in an effort to read and complete series, I added the duology to my TBR shelf!
You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight, by Kalynn Bayron — I’ve heard this called a callback to pulpy YA horror and that it has an amazing twist, and it sounds like it’ll be fun to read on a hot summer night!
Dead Eleven, by Jimmy Juliano — I didn’t realize until receiving this book from Dutton Books (thank you!!) that this author wrote a lot of creepypasta stories on reddit!! This sounds so interesting because why are people on this island stuck in 1994??
The Dead Romantics, by Ashley Poston — this has been on too many TBRs at this point, and I need to get it read!! Especially now that her second romance just came out!
The Shining, by Stephen King — another one on several TBRs and one on my 23 in 2023 list, but summer feels like the perfect time to read Stephen King for the first time.
Cemetery Boys, by Aiden Thomas — this is one is another one on my 23 in 2023 list, and I wanted to get to it in June, but I’m prioritizing it for this summer!
Nettle & Bone, by T. Kingfisher — this author has become one of my favorite writers that I’ve read recently, and I want to read everything on her backlist. I meant to grab this in hardcover but I never ended up doing it, but I just bought it the other day in paperback and can’t wait to dive in!
Yellowface, by R.F. Kuang — another one of the hyped books of the spring/summer, but I also love me some literary industry fiction/drama, and after reading Babel, I can’t wait to see how Kuang handles modern day fiction!