June Reading Wrap-up 2019

Sunday, July 07, 2019
2019 has been great in terms of my reading so I wanted to keep up the momentum and continue the streak of great books. Thankfully June was another fantastic reading month with an overall higher than average number of pages read and quite a few amazing books. I managed to read 18 books in the month of June which included a good number of non-fiction reads. I'm very happy with the amount of non-fiction I've been picking up this year! My favourite books of the month include: Good Omens, From Here To Eternity and Lady Killers.

*Gather The Fortunes by Bryan Camp (599 pages) ★★★
I was very kindly sent this book to review from the lovely people at Titan Books - just look at how beautiful that cover is! I will admit that the cover was part of the reason I wanted to request a copy of this book but the blurb was also very intriguing as it involves formidable magic, mythology and supernatural creatures.

We follow Renai, a psychopomp who has been brought back from the dead to ferry the recently deceased into the underworld. One day she is presented with a deal to find someone who has escaped death and it takes her on an adventure into the underworld to not only uncover the mystery of the missing boy but to find her missing memories as well.

I'll start with the positives and the main one for me (along with the stunningly beautiful cover) is the setting of New Orleans which is a location I haven't read about before. I adored the atmosphere and description of the setting as well as the mythical gods, magic and the underworld aspects of this book.  While it was a long book, one of the longest I've read for a while, it didn't fully feel like a 600 page read. Overall, I found it to be entertaining and I liked the character of Sal, however...

I did feel as though the story was massively drawn out and I think it definitely could have been shortened as it felt like a slog at the mid point! Also I didn't like the repetitive nature of the book and the repetition of a certain phrase 'Renai kissed her teeth' which occurred so often and frustrated me more than it should have, if I'm honest. Sadly I was a little disappointed but I would recommend it if it sounds like something you'd like.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (416 pages) ★★★★ 
One book I have had on my shelves for a while is Good Omens which is co-written by two of my favourite authors and I think that was the reason I was putting off reading it for so long as I didn't want to be disappointed. However, I didn't need to worry as naturally I adored this book which I should have guessed would happen as Terry Pratchett in particular is one of my all time favourite authors - I cannot recommend his Discworld series enough.

We follow Crowley (a demon) and Aziraphale (an angel) on opposing sides as the world is about to end and the antichrist has been...misplaced. Although in true Terry Pratchett style, we follow numerous storylines at the same time (including a descendant of a witch finder, a Stranger Things style gang of children and the four horsemen of the apocalypse) so if you aren't used to his writing then you might find the switching storylines/timelines a little confusing but I am very familiar with his writing and love it!

Some of the same positives I loved about this book were the same as the positives I attributed to Gaiman's and Pratchett's previous books in terms of the darkly comic and sarcastic writing, magical elements, vivid characters and intelligent humour with a throughly eccentric feel to it. It felt at times (up to the 25-30% mark) that so many characters were being introduced and there were too many lines to follow but naturally everything comes cleverly together in the end. However, despite a couple of negatives, I adored this read and I equally adored the TV show.
*The True History Of Chocolate by Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe (280 pages)
★★★ (3.5) 
We all know by now how much I love the publisher Thames and Hudson for their niche and quirky as well as beautifully published non-fiction reads and this one is no different. I was kindly sent it to include within my previous Easter Gift Guide but I'm finally getting round to it now. As the title would suggest, it's all about the history of chocolate from its South American origins to the mass produced luxury we all enjoy today.

Can we take a moment to appreciate the stunningly beautiful cover and how I should always match my nails to my books. Despite the in-depth information within this book, it was an easy to follow read and contained so much information that was completely new to me! I personally liked the latter half of the book the most, I loved the illustrations/photographs throughout and overall, it was an interesting niche non-fiction read that I think many will find fascinating. My only negative is that it seems to focus on the mesoamerican history, conflicts and politics more than I wanted/expected and it was a teeny bit bogged down at times, especially the first third or so of the book. However, if you love chocolate or food history then I cannot recommend this beautifully designed and well researched book enough.

*The Forgotten Past by Andrew Vinken (232 pages) ★★★ 
The first book I finished in June was an e-arc which was released recently and focuses on aspects of history that are often forgotten such as the true inventor of flight (years before the Wright brothers), an audacious conman and Hermann Goring's brother who was such an incredible person (unlike his brother) to the most decorated solider of the first world war who was an extremely brave stretcher bearer, strange coincidences throughout history, the practice of grave robbing royal tombs and much more.

If you've read my previous book reviews and wrap-ups then you might know that history centric non-fiction reads that focus on a very specific or niche topic are some of my favourite books to read and this one from Andrew Vinken ticks so many boxes. I loved the quick, short chapters each looking at a different event/individual/topic and the easy writing style, although I think it was a little too casual at times. I thought it would be a little more academic or formal in it's tone which was disappointing but I would recommend it as an easy and unusual non-fiction read.

*Speed Read Tour de France by Wilcockson (160 pages) ★★★ (3.5)
You might not know this about me but I love watching the Tour de France, especially over the past four or five years as I've watched it religiously. I adore the scenery and I am in awe of the physical abilities of the riders so I naturally had to request this e-book on Netgalley. The book is split up into tiny sections with various facts about individual riders, the origin of the Tour de France, the technology involved, crashes and more, all of which was very interesting and had me screenshotting facts to read to others. It explained terms well (even if you aren't very familiar with the tour) and provides so many interesting facts that I had no idea about. If you're looking for an easy but comprehensive book about the largest cycling race in the world then definitely pick up this book, especially as the tour starts soon.

Ricochet Joe by Dean Koontz (95 pages) ★★ 
Yet another Kindle In Motion ebook and it's a short novella by Dean Koontz in which we follow a rather bizarre young man who has a strange experience and his intuition causes him to stop numerous crimes around his small town. He is followed by a newly found friend, Portia, who explains that there's another reality involving a cosmic entity that controls humans. It definitely isn't my usual read and if I'm honest, I didn't love this book but what I did love were the moving illustrations throughout it. Thankfully the ebook was very short at less than 100 pages but sadly the story was just too bizarre and abstract for me to enjoy it. I think that if you like sci-fi/alternative reality stories then you might like this but it definitely wasn't for me.
From Here To Eternity by Caitlin Doughty (238 pages) ★★★★ 
My favourite non-fiction book of last year was Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty so I had to purchase her second book which focuses on death and burial practices around the world. Firstly, I love the cover as well as all of the illustrations throughout the book! As with her first book, this one has her unique personality throughout it which I love and she always manages to discuss difficult or darker topics with humour and an academic interest but also respect.

I personally didn't really know about different burial, cremation or death practices around the world so it was a very interesting and eye opening read that managed to combine an explanation of a certain cultural or societal practices with facts, interest and as little bias as anyone could. I found so many sections of this book to be moving, especially the way the Indonesian people cared for their dead and the Japanese view of suicide and death.

I'm not one to cry at books but certain aspects and sentences within this read definitely struck a cord with me and had me close to tears. I adore all of the books she has published, as well as her Youtube videos and I will continue to buy her books in the future as they're very well written with the perfect blend of compassion, information and personality. I cannot recommend this read enough, along with her first book, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes which was one of my favourite books of last year. Each book I read about this industry, the more I want to work within it, which might be another post for another day.

*A Garden Miscellany by Suzanne Staubach (220 pages) ★★★ 
Yet another non-fiction read for the month of June and it's an A-Z guide to all things garden related, from the structures you find in gardens to gardening terms and more. I am personally not the best gardener but I do have numerous houseplants and I'm starting to care for them as well as I can so I thought this book would be ideal for a beginner.

Firstly, the cover is beautiful but somehow the interior illustrations aren't quite so - perhaps that's because it is an ARC copy rather than the finished book. I found the information within the book to be interesting and quite specific but at times it was a little repetitive. I would definitely recommend it for gardening beginners as there is so much useful information and I think it is something I'll need to keep going back to.

Consorting With Dragons by Sera Trevor (306 pages) ★★★
My favourite book genre is definitely fantasy and it's even better if it contains LGBT characters, magic, dragons and an easy storyline which is exactly what I got with Consorting With Dragons. We follow Lord Jansen as he's taken to the capital city to take part in the annual courtly ritual of finding a wife/husband. What follows is a very sweet romance with the king, court intrigue, power play and best of all, dragons. I need to read more books with dragons! I loved this book, it's the book equivalent of candy as it's sweet and quick with an easy, entertaining (if a little cheesy) story. Books like this are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, it is just thoroughly entertaining, quick and escapist.

Lady Killers by Tori Teller (327 pages) ★★★★
Another non-fiction read I finished in June is one that I've been meaning to read for a while and how could I not want it read it with a title like that! The book focuses on various women throughout history and the brutal crimes and murders they committed or had others commit for them. Historic figures such as the infamous Erzbsebet Bathory to more modern day female serial killers are explored, most of which I hadn't heard of before.

The author doesn't just look at each individual and their crimes but also how they were perceived, how they are viewed now and the general view of female killers in the media. I loved the writing style as it was engaging, comprehensive and interesting without being bogged down in details or repetitive. I finished it in record speed and found pretty much every second of it to be throughly interesting, entertaining and well written as well as disturbing and shocking. I'd heard of a couple of women within this book but most of them were new to me and I also liked the discussion around how female killers are viewed as sexual, evil or are given excuses for their behaviour because of their gender. I cannot recommend this book enough!
*The Colorado Kid by Stephen King (208 pages) ★★★ 
Another book I was sent to review is a newly illustrated edition of a previously published short story from Stephen King. We follow a couple of reporters and a forensic student as they are trying to piece together the mystery of a body washed up on the coast of Maine. From that premise, I expected a gritty detective/crime focused short story but it's actually a retelling of the crime from two older journals to their protege. It wasn't what I expected at all but it was an extremely quick read with full page illustrations throughout. While there are aspects about this republished short story that I loved such as the cover, illustrations, quick and easy writing and the overall story...it was just boring, in my opinion. I loved Stephen King's Carrie but this one just wasn't as amazing as I'd hoped it would be. I would recommend it overall but it doesn't seem to be one of his best books. I cannot wait to read his more famous novels though!

Widdershins by Jordan Hawk (224 pages) ★★★ 
Another ebook I finished in June was a supernatural, slightly Frankensteinesque novel with LGBT characters. We follow Whyborne, a reclusive and awkward archeologist and Griffin, an ex-detective as they try to uncover the mystery behind a series of robberies from the museum, a cult-like group and mysterious resurrected creatures. I loved the Frankenstein and Egyptian archaeology aspects of this book along with the darker topics, the easy writing and adventure. However, there were numerous cringy sections of dialogue, I can't stand insta-love and it was more than a little cheesy at times. I enjoyed it overall but I won't carry on with the series.

The Pied Piper by Harold Schechter (69 pages) ★★★ 
Within June I started Amazon Prime so I thought I'd check out some of the non-fiction books on Prime Reading and there are so many of these short non-fiction true crime books from Harold Schechter available. Each book within his series focuses on a series of crimes and their famous perpetrators. I haven't read many books at all concerning true crime so I think these short reads are a great introduction to the genre.

The Pied Piper follows the crimes of Charlie Schmid in the US during the 1960s in which he killed three women. I personally hadn't ever heard of these crimes or of Charlie Schmid so it was interesting to read about that time period within an easy to follow, illustrated and quick read. It's part of the 'kindle in motion' series so the cover illustrations move which is something I haven't come across before and I think it looks amazing. I'd definitely recommend this super short non-fiction true crime read for fans of the genre.

The Pirate by Harold Schechter (54 pages) ★★★ 
Another Harold Schechter true crime ebook I read follows the crimes of Albert Hicks (which happens to be the name of one of my ancestors...) who looted and murdered during the 1800's. As with the previous book, it's a Kindle In Motion read so the cover moves and it contains numerous photographs. It's a very quick, easy read about a rather horrific crime and an individual that I had never heard of! Again, if you like true crime then check out these super short ebooks.

Cloaked In Shadow by Ben Alderson (330 pages) ★★★ (3.5)
One of the quickest 'average length' books I read in June was the very enjoyable Cloaked In Shadow by Ben Alderson. It was another ebook from the Kindle Unlimited/Prime Reading free selection and it sounded fantastic so I had to check it out for pride month. We follow Zac as along with other elves from his village are taken to the capital for royal celebrations but what happens involves royal subterfuge, attacks, military training, an uncovering of magical abilities and an unexpected romance with the prince.

I read it in record speed, the writing was very quick and easy and the story moved at a great pace. I loved the magical fantasy world, the relationship between Zac and Hadrien and I always love the trope of a character discovering their magical abilities! It was an entertaining, very quick fantasy read with a M/M romance. It's the first book in a series and all three are free to read on Kindle Unlimited so I might carry on with the other two books.
*Crowfall by Ed McDonald (464 pages) ★★★ 
Next up is the third book in the Raven's Mark series, the first two of which I read last year. I rated Blackwing four stars and Ravensmark three stars. Crowfall follows on from the events of the previous book and we find Ryhalt in a bit of a dire situation in Misery. I don't really want to say more than that as I don't want to spoil the first two books but I'll say that it has the same gritty, grimdark and unusual content as the others...however, it's on another level!

I personally love the world that Ed McDonald has created as it's incredibly vivid, wonderfully dark, grotesquely unique and unlike any other series I've read! I like the writing, the setting and various characters, in particular, Ryhalt and Maldon but I didn't love this third book nearly as much as the others sadly. The first book will forever be my favourite in the series, closely followed by the second and Crowfall comes in last unfortunately. Compared to the other books in the series, it felt very abstract and repetitive which isn't a style I'm a fan of. Overall, I cannot recommend the first book enough and if you like it then maybe carry on with the series.

The Sleep Tight Motel by Lisa Unger (48 pages) ★★★ 
A couple of years ago I read Ink and Bone by this author and liked it so when I came across this Amazon Original novella by her, I had to read it, especially as it's incredibly short. We follow Eve, a women trying to escape a violent lover, as she arrives at an empty motel. I did enjoy the quick pace, easy writing and the eerie (almost claustrophobic) tone of the book but it felt very rushed and a little throwaway sadly. If you have Amazon Prime then maybe check it out as it is free to read.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them: Illustrated Edition (160 pages) ★★★ 
Another Kindle in Motion book I read was one that I have wanted to read for a while as it's all about the magical creatures within the Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find them world. I loved the first film and I love anything Harry Potter related so I read this in one day. I thoroughly enjoyed this very short and easy read which was massively enhanced by the amazing moving illustrations throughout the book. Unlike the previous Kindle in Motion ebooks I've read this month, the moving illustrations aren't just on the cover but on every few pages of the book. I think the Kindle in Motion books are amazing and I cannot recommend them enough.


Have you read any of these books? Are you following me on GoodReads

*Gifted

17 comments

  1. I don’t read books at all but reading this post has got me thinking on what I’m missing out on! Thanks for sharing x

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  2. Good Omens sounds brilliant! I keep going to watch it on Amazon but forgetting. Might read the book first though.

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  3. From Here To Eternity sounds so interesting! I'm always amazed by how many you manage to get through a month x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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  4. How do you read so many books? I read two books on holiday and thought that was impressive! ha ha! xx

    Beautylymin

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  5. These books sound like really great reads. 💜

    With love, Alisha Valerie x | www.alishavalerie.com

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  6. I need to add some of these to my list for my holiday x

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  7. Ah you have some fab things here! I had an ex that always read Terry Pratchett xx

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  8. From Here to Eternity sounds right up my street. xxx

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  9. I'd love to read Good Omens x

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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  10. I've heard so many amazing things about the Terry Prattchet book!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

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  11. Wow so many! I've not read any of these actually xx

    Tiffany x www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

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  12. That's such an eclectic mix of books! I need a new read so I'll keep these suggestions in mind
    Em x

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  13. From Here To Eternity sounds like such an interesting read!
    Chantelle x
    The Girl In The Tartan Scarf

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  14. Good Omens has been added to my list with all the hype around the show.

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  15. I definitely want to read Good Omens before I watch the show :) I used to love Neil Gaiman

    Jasmine xx



    Jasmine Talks Beauty

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  16. Such a great variety of books you have read.

    https://littlemissmelanie.com/

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  17. I need to read good omens! I LOVED the show!

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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