June Wrap-Up: My Favorite Reads of the Month
My very favorite books from June!
Here are my six favorite reads of the past month: contemporary fiction, young adult, nonfiction, fantasy, and light fiction titles, including several LGBTQ reads perfect for Pride month. If you've read any of these, I'd love to hear what you think!
And I'd also love to hear: what are some of your recent favorite reads?
01 A Marvellous Light (Last Binding #1) by Freya Marske
The first book in Marske's duology is full of Edwardian England detail, gay love, mystery, magic, wonderful dialogue and banter, and plenty of heart. I adored it.
A Marvellous Light starts with a devastating ending (the demise of a character, caused by nefarious magicians) and a less-than-promising beginning.
Robin is trying to keep the household afloat after the deaths of his parents, to support his bright, ambitious younger sister, and to date some handsome men along the way.
Marske offers immersive Edwardian England detail in this adorable, captivating, queer book that involves elaborate magical schemes and evil plots.
Robin and Edwin's love is romantic and sweet and heartbreaking and sexy; the mystery at the heart of the book seems only to be solvable by the biggest book nerd in existence; and the story's magical details are fascinating and odd.
I was completely hooked by A Marvellous Light, and I tried to slow down my reading to make it last. The amount of heart in this book was exquisite. And there will be a sequel!
For my full review, check out A Marvellous Light.
02 Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe
Keefe offers an infuriating, fascinating, meticulously researched account of the Sackler family and their collective responsibility for the ongoing, devastating opioid crisis.
I listened to Empire of Pain, Patrick Radden Keefe's exhaustive history of the Sackler family as traced through their modest beginnings, medical degrees, various interpersonal dramas, multiple marriages, handshake deals, amassing of vast wealth, and ruthless promotion of the family's legacy.
Empire of Pain is essential nonfiction that details the shocking narcissism, relentless ambition and greed, aggressive delusions, obscene negligence, and dogged maleficence that created our nation's opioid crisis and has led to hundreds of thousands of opioid-related deaths—a number that continues to grow.
Patrick Radden Keefe is a master of compelling, important nonfiction. His book Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland was one of my Six of the Best Nonfiction Books I read that year.
Keefe's new book is Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels, and Crooks. Stay tuned for that Bossy review.
Click here for my full review of Empire of Pain.
03 See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Rachel Lynn Solomon crafts another sweet, quirky, funny, romantic young adult story that plays with time and is centered around irresistibly imperfect characters.
In See You Yesterday, Rachel Lynn Solomon explores the first day of college for Barrett Bloom, who desperately needs a fresh start.
After being involved in multiple disasters in only her first day of classes, Barrett fears that college may be a ruination on par with the end of her high school career.
But she wakes up the next day...and finds that she's reliving her first day of college. She has the incredible chance to make the same decisions, or to consider her choices and do things differently. As the day keeps repeating—and she keeps running into the same cute boy, who is also reliving the day—Barrett considers who she is and who she wants to become.
Solomon is excellent at building wonderfully imperfect characters and irresistible premises that play with time. I loved Barrett and Miles's problem-solving and their discoveries about their own natures and capabilities, as well as the unorthodox team they make.
Do you like books that play with time? If so, you might like the books I list on the Greedy Reading Lists Six Second-Chance, Do-Over, Reliving-Life Stories or Six Riveting Time-Travel Escapes, or these Bossy reviews of books that play with time.
Click here for my full review of See You Yesterday.
04 The Change by Kristen Miller
The Change explores the power of menopausal women and the poignant strength of friendship; supplies satisfying revenge fantasies and camp; and winds it all through our middle-aged heroines' satisfying solving of a disturbing set of mysteries.
In Kristen Miller's novel The Change, set in Mattauk, Long Island, three women cope with various challenges surrounding aging, change, and unexpected new beginnings.
Nessa, Jo, and Harriet work together and use their newfound abilities to try to solve the mystery of a missing girl, along the way uncovering dark, disturbing patterns of abusive power and shining a light on the horrifically effective shields provided by money and privilege.
The tone of The Change is largely campy, as middle-aged women heroines unite against the book's sometimes caricature-like, purely evil bad guys by using their new-found fantastical powers. The revenge-fantasy element is particularly satisfying.
But what I loved most about The Change was the unapologetic embracing of the frequently fraught menopausal stage of life. Miller allows the frequently dreaded and bemoaned middle-aged shifts and changes to lead her female characters to realize their terrific strengths. Separately they're formidable, but together, they build a collective power that is the community's only hope to right terrible, horrible, longstanding wrongs.
Click here for my full review of The Change.
05 One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
McQuiston's love letter to New York offers charming song references, LGBTQ love, steamy scenes, character growth--and an irresistible playing-with-time element.
In One Last Stop, twenty-three-year-old August keeps to herself--she's kind of cynical, she doesn't have a lot of friends, and she's holding true to form after her recent move to New York.
But August's adorably quirky roommates and a mystery woman she keeps running into on the Q train might just bring her out of her shell and make her want to risk opening up her heart.
One Last Stop plays with time in a really fun, interesting way, and through the time-jump premise McQuiston's characters explore loyalty, love, connection, and heartbreak.
The book revels in wonderful LGBTQ love and tons of sexiness; fantastic New York-centric details; and enough musical references that multiple Spotify playlists have cropped up inspired by the songs in the book.
McQuiston is also the author of Red, White, and Royal Blue.
For my full review, check out One More Stop.
06 Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart
Young Mungo offers a striking story of disappointment, abuse, Protestant-Catholic conflict, and a young, gay love forged in the intensely unforgiving climate of working-class Glasgow.
In his second novel, Young Mungo, Douglas Stuart offers the story of a working-class Glasgow family and particularly the life of sensitive, kind, dreamy Mungo, who was named for a saint.
The story of Young Mungo largely alternates between an intensely disturbing, extended situation involving abuse, neglect, and danger and the blossoming of a forbidden young love, exploring the vulnerability of allowing one's self to be seen for the first time, overcoming lifelong Protestant-Catholic conflicts, and forging a meaningful connection.
Young Mungo explores ideas of masculinity and loyalty, a gay relationship forged in an intensely unforgiving social climate, brutality, and revenge, and it offers surprises as well.
Douglas Stuart is also the author of Shuggie Bain.
For my full review, check out Young Mungo.