Wrap-Up

June 2019 Highlights

Welcome to the another post in my Monthly Highlights series, in which I talk about books, what happened this month, plants, and bookish news.


What I Read

June was exam month! I did as well as I possibly could have and also managed to read more than during any month so far this year. I also liked most of the books I read and all of them were queer in some way, so yes, I do consider this a good reading month.

So, numerically, this month I read 18 books:

  • 10 novels, of which 3 were ARCs (2 of them I DNFed but counted anyway because I stopped halfway through instead of 10% in)
  • 5 graphic novels, of which 1 was an ARC
  • 3 novellas, of which 2 were ARCs.

As usual for my highlight posts, I will only be talking about the books I really liked, and while you can find most reviews of the books I read this month scattered around this blog, I made a complete thread of Pride Reads on twitter, with ratings and reviews linked.

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Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell is a graphic novel about Freddie, an Asian-American girl, and her toxic high school relationship:

  • my favorite standalone graphic novel!
  • I was completely in love with both the art style and the characters
  • the part in which Freddie says “I know there are LGBTQIA activist out there who fought for centuries for me to have the right to fuck up like this. I am progress” = I love her so much and do I understand that
  • I really appreciated how it talked about love and how romantic relationship don’t exist to isolate a person
  • queer stories that aren’t happy romances and aren’t tragic but are just a reflection of how queer teens’ lives (and especially love lives) can be are so important

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The Weight of the Stars by Kayla Ancrum is a near-future story following Ryann, a girl who has always dreamed of space, and Alexandria, a girl whose mother has left earth forever to live in space, as they fall in love.

  • Ancrum’s books are so beautiful, they give me so many feelings
  • and I struggle to explain those feelings with words, because they don’t always use words to convey them!
  • There is so much in what isn’t said.
  • kind of mixed media format, but not really, it’s complicated
  • characters who are rough around the edges and very gay
  • found family! casual polyamory representation!
  • the more you go on and read, the more you can feel the terrifying maws of the void, which is definitely staring at you
  • I was upset. But also not?
  • It’s a weird one, maybe even weirder than The Wicker King, but I liked it more.

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The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite is a historical romance set in England around 1816.

  • science lesbian (astronomer) meets art bisexual (who likes botany, embroidery, and botanical embroidery)
  • I hate the concept of historical romances and yet here I am, this book is amazing
  • queer women living happy and fulfilling life despite sexism and homophobia!
  • What is the opposite of a slow-burn? Because that’s this book. Don’t say instalove, this is obviously not instalove, they have so much chemistry
  • (*rembers a certain sex scene*)
  • it did have pacing problems and at times it was boring but I’m yet to find an adult romance novel that isn’t at least some shades of boring so that’s probably more on me than on the book
  • maybe I should really get to that “reading romance as an aromantic” post

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This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone is an epistolary sci-fi enemies-to-lovers f/f novella set during a time travel war:

  • f/f stories making me emotional is the theme of the month
  • gorgeous writing, which sometimes gets too much, but if you don’t viscerally hate prose with a purple side to it, it will make you feel things!
  • some of the best descriptions and quotes I’ve read in months, and so many colors
  • excellent plotting too!
  • I struggled with the time travel aspect at first, but did it stick the landing with that.
  • you know who is gay? Time. Time is gay.
Other Books Worth Mentioning
  • Coffee Boy by Austin Chant: ownvoices trans man representation! Cute m/m workplace romance novella, and as always, novellas are the best format for romance. One of the happiest trans stories I’ve read.
  • Borderline by Mishell Baker: the plot and worldbuilding didn’t surprise me that much but I liked this main character so much that I almost didn’t mind. I’m considering continuing the series, and I almost never do that if the first book isn’t five stars and it’s not a companion series. Bisexual main character who has BPD and uses a wheelchair!
  • Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju: awkward biracial Sri Lankan lesbian Nima Kumara-Clark discovers her town’s drag scene (and herself, too). A really cute read, if you don’t mind a little secondhand embarrassment; the writing could have been better.
  • Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh: a forest fairytale inspired by the figure of the green man, with a sweet m/m romance. Loved the plant magic aspect and the atmosphere, didn’t feel strongly about the plot or the characters themselves.

The two books I DNFed were Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells (it was fine, but I have exams and don’t have time for “fine”), and All of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil (I was loving the writing and atmosphere, but seeing what the book was doing with the 10-year-age-gap “”romance”” involving a teen, I quit – and I also didn’t want to review it).


(Plant-)Life Update

  • June 1st was the day my city’s botanical garden was open to the public! Last time I went there it was winter and it just wasn’t as interesting, but this time the Brazilian coral tree (Erythrina falcata) was blooming and I’ve never seen a more gorgeous tree in my life.
  • I also recognized the common myrtle (Myrtus communis) and the manna ash (Fraxinus ornus) easily and almost got the sessile oak (Quercus petraea; I was on the fence between that one and Q. robur because I couldn’t see any acorns) so I’m really proud of myself.
  • This month, I went for a few days in the Tuscan–Emilian Apennines and there were many beautiful things I expected – we went in a place that is famous for its beautiful beeches, and if you don’t think a beech (Fagus sylvatica) can be beautiful, you’re wrong – but what I did not expect were the fact that all the brooms (Cytisus scoparius) were blooming together.
  • nearer to the towns, there were also some impressive Spanish brooms (Spartium junceum) but I didn’t take pictures of those.

Cover Reveals!

This month there have been several remarkable cover reveals, and here are my favorites:

A Phoenix Must First Burn, edited by Patrice Caldwell: the best cover of the month, maybe even of all the 2020 covers revealed so far. I love it so much, and also this is an anthology of Black speculative fiction featuring so many authors I’ve read and loved both novels (Ibi Zoboi, Elizabeth Acevedo, Somaiya Daud) and short stories (Justina Ireland, Alaya Dawn Johnson, L.L. McKinney) from.

The Silence of Bones by June Hur: historical mystery set in Korea in the XIX century? This sounds unlike anything I’ve ever seen in the YA age range and the cover is a sad kind of quiet – it has my interest, for sure.

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez: apparently the author illustrated her own cover? That’s so cool, and the result is both original and charming. Can’t wait to hear more about this Bolivian-inspired fantasy novel!

We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia: the first one was prettier, but you know what? If you put them together, they kind of look like sunset and sunrise, which might have been the intention. Or a rainbow, which also could have been the intention, because gay, and I really need to get to that first book, don’t I.


How was June for you?

10 thoughts on “June 2019 Highlights

  1. I really want to read Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, The Weight of the Stars and This Is How You Lose the Time War (boy, those are three long titles) this month. So I’m so happy to hear you loved them all! Sounds like I have another great and gay reading month ahead!

    My June was a total mess, but I did read a lot of amazing books for Pride. Now I just have to get around to writing about them…

    I hope you’ll enjoy We Set the Dark on Fire! It was definitley my favorite thing I read in June and I’m SO excited for the sequel. The ending was intense.

    I love the covers for A Phoenix First Must Burn and Woven in Moonlight! The latter kind of gives me the same folklore vibes as The Bear and the Nightingale. Which is probably not a good reason to want a book, but when has that ever stopped me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. they are weirdly long titles, and if one tries using only the initials, they end up looking more like a keyboard smash with caps lock on than an acronym.

      Woven in Moonlight does kind of remind me of the UK cover of The Bear and the Nightingale, too. And that’s good to know about WSTDOF (…another weirdly long title. Is is an f/f book thing?), I really want to get to it – maybe closer to book two’s release date, though.
      And I can’t wait to see your wrap-up!

      Like

  2. I absolutely loved this is how you lose the time war. The prose is purple and I don’t even normally like that but it was SO beautifully written and so different to anything I’d read. Also gay.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so glad you had such a great reading month!! Mine was… well, I don’t want to talk about mine lmao. (I just finished writing my June wrap-up and I barely mentioned my reading, what a tragedy.) But I agreed that June was such a good month for cover reveals. A Phoenix Must First Burn and Woven in Moonlight covers are [chef kiss] beautiful. We Are Totally Normal by Rahul Kanakia cover is another favorite of mine as well!

    Also, I really *need* to read We Set the Dark on Fire. It’s been on my top priority list for a while, and now that the cover for the sequel is revealed I’m even more excited to read it. I agree that the cover for the first book is prettier, but they both look so good!

    I hope you’ll have a wonderful July ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same about We Set the Dark on Fire – now that the sequel is closer, I have no excuse (but I am kind of glad that there are enough interesting f/f releases this year that I struggle to keep up with them)

      Ohh I had forgotten We Are Totally Normal! It is really beautiful, I love this style and color scheme – it kind of reminds me of a few covers I’ve seen recently (mostly The Gravity of Us) and I definitely wouldn’t mind if this were the new YA cover trend.

      And thank you! I hope July will be a better reading month for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Time is gay.” Heck. yes. 😀

    And oooh I don’t think I’ve seen a cluster of brooms that large before! They’re so gorgeous ❤ And oh my god, I've been obsessing over The Silence of Bones since I first heard about it, and I just about died when I saw that cover reveal. A YA book set Joseon Dynasty?? In MY lifetime?? What sorcery is this???

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They were so beautiful! I hadn’t seen so many in one place before either, especially not on a mountain.
      And I’m so glad that we’re finally getting some “realistic” (contemporary and historical) books set in non-western countries even in YA. I hope they keep coming.

      Liked by 1 person

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