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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

June Wrap-Up: My Favorite Reads of the Month

My very favorite Bossy June reads!

Here are the six books I most loved reading this past month.

If you've read any of these titles, I'd love to hear what you think!

And I'd also love to hear: what are some of your recent favorite reads?


01 Rednecks by Taylor Brown

In this mix of fictional and fascinating historical elements, Brown crafts a character-driven story of the shocking, widespread, deadly West Virginia Mine Wars and thousands-strong labor uprising that took place in 1920 and 1921.

In Rednecks, Taylor Brown presents a historical novel centering around the real-life events of the 1920 and 1921 West Virginia Mine Wars. Ranging from the Matewan Massacre through the Battle of Blair Mountain, which pitted 10,000 desperate, fed-up miners against greedy, ruthless coal operators, state militia, and the U.S. government.

What brings the book to life are versions of the real-life figures of Mother Jones (the elderly woman once called The Most Dangerous Woman in America) and the sharpshooter Sid Hatfield; and characters like Doc "Moo," a Lebanese-American doctor (inspired by Taylor Brown's great-grandfather); Big Frank, a black World War I veteran fed up with fear and intimidation; and Frank's feisty grandmother Beulah.

The true events that inspired the book are shocking and often read like fiction--the cutthroat, sometimes deadly efforts of coal-company enforcers to subdue rebellion; the years of suffering for thousands of vulnerable mining families; and the hopeless trudge forward in a cycle of poor health, hunger, too-little pay and carefully orchestrated poverty, extremely dangerous work, and, often, death. By the time the uproar and intensive violence that shook West Virginia begin to take shape, Brown has laid the groundwork for the uprising.

For my full review of this book, please see Rednecks.


02 Bride by Ali Hazelwood

Ali Hazelwood brings her wonderful banter and an intriguing mystery to this steamy interspecies romance that has lots of heart and kept me hooked throughout.

Misery Lark is the only daughter of the most powerful Vampyre in the region, and she'd prefer to literally and figuratively stay in the shadows--but she's been called to take part in the building of a peacekeeping alliance between the Vampyres and the Weres--in the form of an arranged marriage between Misery and a Were.

Lowe Moreland is the Alpha of the Weres, and he's as unpredictable, volatile, and unforgiving as any Were stereotype Misery has ever heard.

As a child, Misery was given up by her family and community as collateral to keep the peace.

But Misery has her own reasons for willingly entering into this marriage--her best friend's safety may be on the line--and she's willing to do anything to get her questions answered.

I forgot how steamy Hazelwood's books are, and Bride and its interspecies love is no exception.

I listened to Bride as an audiobook. Ali Hazelwood is also the author of Love, Theoretically and other books.

Click here for my full review of Bride.


03 The Other Valley by Scott Alexander Howard

The Other Valley is literary fiction with a captivating setup: three adjacent valleys, each of which is a different timeline of the same world--and the complicated repercussions if interactions occur between them. Duty, love, redemption--I loved this.

In Scott Alexander Howard's The Other Valley, teenaged Odile lives in an isolated community that's bordered by two worlds: one in which her same community is living in the past and one in which it's living in the future.

Quiet Odile and her classmates are readying to apply for apprenticeships, and as she considers applying for the powerful Conseil, which makes decisions about who is allowed to anonymously travel between the worlds to observe loved ones from a distance, she accidentally sees and identifies visitors to her own world--and they're the parents of her young love.

The Other Valley builds from a captivating premise and kept me hooked--through despair, love, duty, and resignation--with quiet power until the slightly twisty ending, which I loved.

Howard's literary speculative fiction explores fate, free will, changing the past and implications for the future, and other fascinating issues.

Click here for my full review of The Other Valley.


04 The Rom-Commers by Katherine Center

Katherine Center offers a writing-focused story in which forced proximity, past secrets, complicated life circumstances, and a fear of vulnerability complicate the professional and personal lives of an unlikely writing duo.

Emma Wheeler writes romantic comedies, and she longs to be a screenwriter. But her life in Texas is complicated: her father requires a full-time caregiver, and Emma is it.

When, due to her promising talent and her best friend from high school (who's now a high-powered agent), Emma gets the chance to rework a script by the famous screenwriter Charlie Yates (whose works and quotes are posted all over her room), she bends over backward to make it happen.

Her sister steps in to help with their dad at home, and Emma moves to Los Angeles for six weeks of inspiring, career-building, lucrative, and life-changing work.

Only, the last thing Charlie Yates wants is someone changing his (terrible) script. He doesn't even believe in love, and he's quite certain that Emma is not a solution to any of his problems.

As in all good rom-coms, there's a conflict keeping the potential couple apart, and I appreciated the nuances of this one. Center doesn't rely on a miscommunication trope (my very least favorite), and I could see where both sides were coming from emotionally within their prolonged heartbreak of having to be apart.

Please click here for my full review of The Rom-Commers.


05 Grief Is for People by Sloane Crosley

Crosley's memoir traces a treasured friendship and the gutting loss of that dear friend. She's vulnerable enough to allow the reader in on her messy, sometimes fantastical, often poignant search for answers, meaning, and hope in the future.

In Sloane Crosley's memoir Grief Is for People, she explores life after the loss of her closest friend.

A month before that horrible loss, her New York City apartment is burgled, and at that time, all of her tenuous physical links to her past and family members--mixed though her emotions may be concerning some of them--are suddenly gone.

She obsesses over trying to track down the robber, can't let go of the fear that he might have targeted her specifically, and feels as though solving the mystery of who stole from her and why could resolve other, larger problems in her life.

Crosley mentally links the theft to the gutting death of her beloved friend, retracing the path of their friendship, her struggle to understand her friend's reasoning and unknown despair, and her deep, dark sense of loss.

I was intrigued by Crosley's mindset and the dark humor, devastating grief, and powerful memories she shares here.

I listened to Grief Is for People as an audiobook.

For my full review, check out Grief Is for People.


06 Wellness by Nathan Hill

Flawed main characters Jack and Elizabeth try to find their way back to an emotional connection in this literary fiction work. Wellness is wry and poignant, and the absurdities of modern life that Hill explores sometimes feel disconcertingly on point.

Jack and Elizabeth are strangers living across an alley in a gritty artists' area of 1990s Chicago, and they're immediately and powerfully drawn to each other.

As they grow older, their mutual rejection of societal expectations begins to soften. They marry, have a baby, and aim to own a house.

But somewhere along the way, they lose sight of each other--and of themselves.

Nathan Hill pokes fun at the absurd extremes of the search for modern wellness and the manipulative power of social media and the order of internet searches.

We learn about Elizabeth and Jack's histories and motivations, their stunted emotional statuses and the deep hurts inflicted upon them. They must dive into their own secrets, trauma, career weaknesses, faulted parents, and fractured families if they have any hope of salvaging their own marriage.

Wellness is darkly funny, intriguing, and, at times, poignant. I was frequently uncomfortable reading the grim truths about our world that Hill lays bare, but I smiled at the wry humor here as well.

I listened to Wellness as an audiobook.

For my full review, please see Wellness.


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