My very favorite books from June!
Here's the gist of each of the books I most loved reading during the past month, in the order in which I read them:
Namesake is Adrienne Young's second and, sadly, final book in her duology about the wonderfully strong, ruthless, clever young seafaring woman, Fable;
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor, one of my two favorite reads of the month: Hank Green's second book in his quirky, lovely, character-driven, big-hearted science fiction duology;
A Song for the Road by Kathleen Basi; it involves messy feelings and grief, yet it isn't maudlin or sappy despite the tragedy and yearning at the book's heart;
Soulmate Equation, my other favorite read of the month, Christina Lauren's heartwarming, funny story featuring strong friendships, plus it's steamy and romantic at times without being dramatic. I loved this one for a summer read!;
The Last Thing He Told Me, Laura Dave's great mystery that offers unexpected (but not manipulative) twists and turns and explores wonderfully complex relationships;
One of Us Is Next, Karen M. McManus's great, character-driven sequel to her young adult mystery One of Us Is Lying; and
The Great Mistake, Jonathan Lee's lovely, tragic, wonderfully detailed story around the forgotten, real-life figure of Andrew Green and his essential contributions to New York at the turn of the twentieth century.
What are some of your recent favorite reads--or books you've read recently that weren't for you? Let's do some Bossy book talking!
01 Namesake by Adrienne Young
Namesake is the second and, sadly, final book in Young's duology about a wonderfully strong, ruthless, clever young seafaring woman.
I adored the first book in the series, Fable, in which the title character relied heavily on her survival skills and guts.
In Namesake, Fable discovers the truth behind looming secrets whose answers her mother took to her grave, establishes the link between the mysteries and dangers facing her crew, and must decide whether to prioritize her lost-and-found love or the makeshift family toward whom she's come to feel loyal.
I love Young's tone and the characters she's created in this series. Namesake was fantastic--although I didn't completely buy the wrap-up at the end and had a few other nitpicky issues.
02 A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green
This was one of my very favorite reads of the month!
The ending to Green's duology has tremendous heart without ever flirting with sappiness, deep meaning without being pedantic, and it felt blissfully, naturally, and gloriously quirky and lovely.
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor is Hank Green's sequel to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and the final book in his Carl saga. It features the fantastic characters from book one, and the plot picks up with a new version of the fight to save humanity from interfering extraterrestrials.
I just love love loved A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor so much. The author is brothers with the prolific and talented young adult author John Green, and the two also put out science videos on YouTube.
03 A Song for the Road by Kathleen Basi
Miriam lost her husband and teenage twins a year ago and, unsurprisingly, since then she hasn't been able to face any semblance of moving forward with her life. In fact, she's in danger of imploding her career as her beloved church's music director and alienating her friends, and she isn't sure how to cope.
When she stumbles across her daughter's elaborate road trip plan, which Talia created for her then-soon-to-be-empty-nester parents, Miriam feels compelled to take the trip. She brings along her family members' musical instruments, envisioning a sort of musical pilgrimage (this is not too easy and is quite lovely), and she meets unexpected characters along the way, encounters dangerous weather, and begins to come alive again--despite her reservations and guilty feelings about breaking from her dedicated mourning.
Basi treats the reader with respect and doesn't insert melodrama into an already complex and fraught setup.
I received a prepublication digital edition of this book courtesy of Alcove Press and NetGalley.
For my full review of this book, please see A Song for the Road.
04 Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
This was my other favorite book of the month.
The Soulmate Equation is the latest book from the writing pair known as Christina Lauren, and I loved it.
Single mom Jess is a data analyst. She's good at crunching the numbers for work, taking care of her daughter, and leaning on her grandparents (who raised her) for help, but she's not comfortable with the idea of dating again.
But then her daring best friend (who writes sexy romance novels!) pushes her to consider a DNA-based, data-driven dating program that makes sense to her--and she receives an unheard-of 98 percent compatible romantic match with an unlikely partner.
The story is steamy and romantic at times without being dramatic. I love the tone the writing team of Christina Lauren struck with this one!
I received a prepublication digital edition of this book courtesy of Gallery Books and NetGalley.
For my full review of this book, please see The Soulmate Equation.
05 The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
In The Last Thing He Told Me, Hannah has just celebrated her one-year anniversary of marriage to Owen, she may be making the slightest inroads with her teenaged stepdaughter Bailey--and she may finally be getting used to living on a houseboat too.
But then a stranger shows up at the door with a cryptic message for Hannah, the news says Owen's company was fudging its numbers, and Owen is suddenly nowhere to be found.
Laura Dave sets up a well-rounded, fascinating mystery; Hannah and Bailey are pushed to work together to try to find Owen; a US marshal and federal agents are eager to locate him and to pressure his family for information; and the only lawyer Hannah knows to turn to for help is her ex-fiancé, who she left at the altar years ago. The story is wonderfully interpersonally complicated.
Dave explores powerful messages of loyalty, acts of true love and sacrifice, and bravery. I didn’t see where this was going and I loved the gutsy, smart power play toward the end. Great, great book.
For my full review of this book, please see The Last Thing He Told Me.
06 One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus
Last year, in McManus's great young adult mystery One of Us Is Lying, the Bayview Four cut through the destructive gossip app taking down reputations and revealing secrets, and they managed to trace a mysterious murder to its source.
This year, gossip problems and power plays are back, in the form of forced Truth or Dare. Friends and siblings are pitted against each other, and some of our main protagonists are faced with crises of their own.
McManus offers the wonderful established characters of Maeve, Nate, Phoebe, Bronwyn, and Knox from book one--along with other old favorites and new faces--in a set of intertwined, mysterious circumstances.
McManus offers a little of everything in a fantastic mix of teamwork, a health scare, sibling tensions, some teenaged foolishness that leads to trouble, glimpses of satisfying romance, and wonderfully complicated loyalties and betrayals. I listened to this as an audiobook and I couldn't wait to find out what happened.
07 The Great Mistake by Jonathan Lee
Andrew Green has been shot dead in front of his stately New York City home at the age of 83. He was an elderly man but remained an opinionated spitfire who hadn't felt finished making incredibly significant contributions to society.
The real but forgotten figure of Green was involved in a gloriously and absurdly extensive array of essential projects—the creation of Central Park, the founding of the Met Museum and the Natural History Museum, putting Boss Tweed behind bars, securing a more equitable New York public school system, establishing the New York Public Library, and combining Manhattan with Brooklyn and Queens into a greater New York.
Lee's detail is just fantastic in terms of Green's emotions, hopes, dreams, everyday life at the time, and everything else in this epic story.
The Great Mistake feels like a love letter to turn-of-the-century New York and a captivating story.
I received a prepublication digital edition of this book courtesy of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and NetGalley.
For my full review of this book, please see The Great Mistake.