June ended up being a pretty good reading month for me, especially because when the month started I’d been in a bit of a slump.
I ended up reading 9 books, though I included Jane Eyre on my wrap-up stack because I’ll be finishing it soon and it’s my classic book pick for the month.
Of the 9 books I finished, so many of them I absolutely loved, and while a few of them I struggled to give some of them a starred rating, they were all four and five star reads for me.
My June reading goals took a dramatic shift, because while I initially thought this would be the month of the thriller for me, I didn’t finish a single one. Instead, I reassessed my reading, prioritized books by BIPOC authors, LGBTQ perspectives, and I unexpectedly fell in love with YA again. It had been a year since I’ve read a YA book, and I read three this month!
Despite my reading plans changing, I’m very happy with everything I’ve read and several of the titles have the potential to change ratings and earn my “all the stars” rating.
June Five-Star Reads
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
This book spoke to my heart more than I could ever have anticipated and also helped rekindle my love for the YA genre.
You can’t help but love Felix and root for him as he tries to navigate high school, his future, and figuring out who he is. And as a trans-boy none of that comes easily.
This is my first time reading a book from a trans perspective and as much as I loved the character, voice, and story, this book will forever stand out to me for the insight it provides about identity, marginalization, and how much the same we all are, despite our differences.
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness is a powerful book that explores author Austin Channing Brown’s experiences with racial inequality.
From her upbringing in a white neighborhood in Ohio to her career working in predominantly white offices she’s dealt with it all; microaggressions from “nice” white people, discrimination, being the target of racial slurs, and looks of disbelief that she is, in fact, the person in charge.
While I classify the book as a memoir, this isn’t merely a personal account of one Black woman. That’s not to say that all Black stories are the same, but rather that Brown has done a phenomenal job of discussing the broader scope of how these experiences are shared in the Black community, and examining why these problems exist & why they’re harmful.
This book reaffirms so much of what we’ve been hearing over the past month about structural racism, white fragility, & social justice. It’s a must-read for these times and those working to be a better antiracist ally. Check out my full review of I’m Still Here.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Beartown was one of those books I knew I was going to love, but put off actually reading for way too long.
Well, luckily I recommended it to a friend, which gave me the motivation to finally take it off my TBR.
Leave it to Fredrick Backman to give us characters that take up your heart, and a story that utterly destroys it.
This small hockey town will never be the same after what happens, and neither will I. Backman’s simple prose cuts right to the core and the book made me feel the full spectrum of emotions in such a visceral way. I look forward to reading more in this series.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Despite reading nothing but rave reviews about On The Come Up, I didn’t think it would be a book that interested me. I haven’t been reading much YA, I’m not especially a fan of rap music… blah, blah.
Well, I’m happy to say I could not have been more wrong. I absolutely adored this book, especially listening to the rap parts on audiobook.
On The Come Up has so much to say, and the message is especially relevant to the conversations about white privilege as Bri is profiled and mistreated by the security officers at her school.
This book is funny and full of heart as much as it is hard truths. I loved the characters Thomas gave us and especially that Bri is more focused on pursuing her passion than she is on boys. I’m looking forward to reading more from her.
The Last Train to Key West
I am a huge fan of Chanel Cleeton, so it should come as little surprise that I loved The Last Train to Key West and binged it in under 12 hours.
Cleeton has quickly become one of my favorite writers in the historical fiction genre, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Last Train to Key West and see what her latest adventure has in store for us.
As a Florida girl, I loved that Cleeton explored a little-known part of our state’s- and country’s history in the book. She brings us to the Great Depression Era and the Labor Day Hurricane that devastated the Keys in 1935, while the three women are under pressure from both natural and other destructive forces in their lives.
The Half Sister by Sandie Jones
“It’s funny what we thought the other one had.”
The Half Sister by Sandie Jones is a gripping domestic suspense novel perfect for fans of her earlier books and those who enjoy fast-paced novels exploring the dark secrets and inner workings of families.
Kate and Lauren have never been the closest sisters, but the months after their fathers’ death has only brought them further apart. Then one day a young woman shows up with the news that they share the same father, something confirmed by an online DNA test, and these four women; Lauren, Kate, their mother Rose, and half-sister Jess try to make sense of the man they knew and find the truth.
But with each of them guarding secrets from one another, will they ever find out what really happened? Or will they end up destroying each other in the process?
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press; Minotaur Books, and NetGalley for the advance copy.
June Four-Star Reads
The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochan
A strong lead, supportive female friendships, and plenty of steam… what more could you ask for from a contemporary romance?
Not only is the book a fun read, it also explores some important and relevant themes like the discrimination faced by black women in the workplace and the pressure society places on women to be with a man.
This book had great character development! I loved seeing Samiah and Daniel come together and look forward to reading the next books in this series.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Forever Publishing for the advance copy. Check out my full review of The Boyfriend Project here.
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall is a fun, flirty romance about Luc, a man finding himself in a bit of a mess. Though only peripherally famous- his parents were rock stars decades ago- the paparazzi still to catch him at his worst moments, much to the dismay of his job at a charity where he’s expected to appear to have it together for the donors he’s courting. To improve his image and keep his job, Luc needs the right man on his arm- so he sets out to find someone to be photographed with and take to his work fundraising event as his “boyfriend.”
The only person he can find is Oliver- the last person on earth he wants to spend time with. The complete opposite of Luc, Oliver has it all together. A rising career as a lawyer, a perfect body, a socially conscious world-view. They reluctantly begin “dating” but realize they may enjoy spending time with each other more than either of them realized.
While this book initially appears light and fun, there is some great character development here as Luc and Oliver both come to realize things about themselves that’s more than you’d expect from the average romance novel. There’s also the discussion of the homophobia and mistreatment the men are subject to in their personal and professional lives, making this a book.
While you’ll enjoy the fake-dating trope, British humor, and witty banter, this book has a lot more substance and is definitely one to read and think about.
Many thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca and NetGalley for the advance copy.
By the Book by Amanda Sellet
By the Book by Amanda Sellet is a charming modern retelling of Persuasion, and the YA book is sure to be enjoyed by teen and adult readers alike.
Mary Porter-Malcolm lives her life by the book, always looking to classic literature to find answers about life. While this is something many bookworms can relate to, she finds that her books don’t all translate well to public high school, and when she finds herself after a career at a smaller school. She’s got a lot to learn if she’s going to make it through high school in one piece. and with the new group of friends she sets out to learn about normal teenage experiences while introducing the girls to the lessons she’s learned from her beloved books. Some things, though, you just have to experience for yourself. The book is filled with quirky characters, myriad literary references, and plenty of moments that will make you laugh.
Many thanks to HMH Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for the advance copy.