June Book Mini-Review Bonanza!

Wait, didn't we just do one of these? Sort of. I've been traveling a lot lately, so the blog hasn't been updated as much. For those of you who came out to see me in Cleveland, Nashville, or New York, thanks! I adore meeting you amazing peeps IRL! I hope to do a post on surviving BookCon soon. For now, though, let's get to the books!


Age of the Ashers by Diana Tyler (audio)
Young Adult, Mythology and Folk Tales, Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Buy it on Amazon
I reviewed Diana Tyler's Armor for Orchids about a year ago, and I really enjoyed the narration for that. The same person did the narration for Age of the Ashers, but for some reason it just did not work for me with this book. The quality was just as good, but I think maybe because this story is quite a bit more action-adventure-y, the narrator's soothing tone failed to get me excited. I think this is a book I would have enjoyed just plain reading better. As for the story, though, it was pretty good. I especially loved the world building. Diana pulled me into this alternate reality with ease, and the dystopian meets current day technology meets Greek mythology was really interesting. The cast of characters was an interesting choice too, as we meet Apollo and Hermes and Orpheus. This is a Christian fiction book very much in the same vein as The Chronicles of Narnia, and I always find it interesting the way authors who tackle this sort of story manage deities of other faiths and Jesus/God. I found myself curious about the Greek gods and want to know more about what the rest of them are up to. Artemis, anyone? Where's my girl Artemis at!?


Darkened Light by Sarina Langer (beta read, releasing August 20th)
Sci-Fi and Fantasy

This is a bit of a weird one because Darkened Light isn't available until August 20th, and given that I was a beta reader, it might change a bit. Lemme tell you guys, though, this story is awesome! I had so many feelings while reading. FEEEEEEEELS! And just look at that cover. 😍 I friggin LOVE it! Here's the blurb for the book: The death goddess Ithrean has led the dead to their rest and watched over them in Dunhă for centuries, but they are no longer at peace. Their souls turn the red grass black, and their corruption seeps into the world of the living. Naavah Ora is an elven mage who can enter Dunhă at will, and study its corruption like no one else can. Doran is a runaway thief who cares about nothing as much as the next treasure, even if it puts his own life in danger. 840 is the only male sacrifice in his village, longing for a chance to live. Ash is a troublemaker who is learning that he can’t burn his way through every obstacle. To halt the coming darkness, they need to work together. It’s too bad they are too different to get along.


The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
Young Adult, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Fairytales and Folklore
Buy it on Amazon
I almost didn't want to like this book because the tiny hipster that lives inside me resents the hype around Leigh Bardugo. I'd never read any of her other books before this one, but everyone I know adores her work. Everyone! I now see what all the hype is about. Leigh Bardugo's work is phenomenal! It's subtle and expertly crafted and graceful and beautiful. I want so badly to write as well as she does. #WritingGoals. This book takes popular fairytales and turns them on their head. The Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid retellings were my favorite, but they're all outstanding. I can't say enough good things about this book.


Vampires Drink Tomato Juice by KM Shea
Young Adult, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Paranormal
Buy it on Amazon
I have been looking for good urban fantasy lately. I don't mean shifter or vampire romance. I want it all! A friend of mine has a great phrase for the kind of thing I've been looking for: everyday fairy problems, and VDTJ totally hit the spot. It looks at the usual paranormal/fantasy stereotypes and, like Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove, smashes them with a hammer! A vampire who gets sick at the sight or smell of blood, an emo centaur obsessed with technology, and hot goblins. I enjoyed this book so much that, despite how series'ed out I am, I bought the other two already. I did have a big issue with 1) the way the main character enforced stereotypes and categorized high school cliques - that shallow crap annoyed me in high school and iit annoys me now - and 2) the formatting of the book. Now that might have been the publisher's decision, but the formatting was all over the place. Italics, ALL CAPS, bold. It was kind of a mess. A mess wrapped in a fun story, but a mess nonetheless.


The Girl Who Once Thrived by Lacy Marie
Young Adult, Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Buy it on Amazon
I had the opportunity to meet Lacy at Imaginarium last year, and she is such a lovely person. The Girl Who Once Thrived is a story of loss and healing. I immediately liked how Lacy shows how awful loneliness is. Loneliness is a prison that isolates you and convinces you that no one understands, no one cares, and you have no one and nothing to lean on. She also uses a grammatical person/tense that I've only ever seen used in The Night Circus, which created a very cinematic feel, like I was watching a film more than reading a book (1st person of some sort. Sorry, I don't actually know what this particular grammatical tense is called, so if anyone does, please let me know in the comments below). And while the fantastical world of Hesed in the book sounds amazing and is described with some really gorgeous imagery, a lot of pieces of the story didn't work for me. Firstly, the Watchmen in this world are just that. Men, and only men. All the men in this world become Watchmen, not women, which drives me insane. Can we please stop perpetuating this idea that women are incapable of things on the basis of their gender? Yes, men are generally bigger and stronger than women, but not universally. I have seen and met women who could break most people in half, so please stop with these sexist tropes. There are also a few points where the main character, from whose perspective the story is told, somehow just knows what another character is thinking. Nope, not unless you're a mind reader. This is something that makes me crazy when I'm reading a 1st person perspective book. It's a really interesting perspective, but it's also very limited in what the narrator can actually know. It can seem or look like someone is thinking something, or the narrator can guess or assume it or whatever, but they can't know it. And finally... y'all, I'm about to get super-duper real here... there's a line I will never be able to get behind.

"Death was too much for a six-year-old to have to process, but with the addition of his mother's extreme sickness and treatment, you can understand his detachment from reality."

Here's the thing. I was barely seven years old when I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. And I straight up asked my doctor, "Am I going to die?" He told me I had an 85% chance of survival. That math was easy even for seven-year-old me. I had a 15% chance of dying, and I processed it, the idea of my own death while undergoing chemotherapy. I feel like this line so undermines children's resilience. I saw it in all my friends who were also battling cancer. They don't process things the same way adults do, but they still process it. Not gonna lie. This line made me angry, but the book is very sincere about how important healing is, and I absolutely commend Lacy Marie for creating a story to spread hope to the world.

So those are all the books I read in June. I'm now currently reading Heartstone by Elle Katharine White and loving it so far. It's Pride and Prejudice meets dragons, though, so what's not to love? What were some of your favorite books from June and what are you currently reading? Let me know in the comments below.


Thanks for reading!