Here are the books I've read in June. I've read some truly amazing YA books, the new Judy Blume and discovered a fascinating gender studies book!
The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi
I read this book as part of the Queer YA Scrabble at the beginning of June. This was a stand-out book for me as it dealt sensitively with a lot of themes that are important to me and that I don't see so much in YA books: sexuality, femininity and religion. The fact that it was set in a camp to de-gayify was also fascinating. You can read my full review here on Queer YA but this is a book that more people should be reading and I will be pushing it into many hands!
This is another book I read as part of the Queer YA Scrabble last month and it's been on my radar forever so I was so thrilled to finally get a chance to read it. This is another stand-out book for me in terms of YA. This book is utterly unique in its setting, characters and storytelling and I am in so much awe at Alaya Dawn Johnson's talent. The fantasy isn't your typical fantasy and there is a varied cast of characters. Brownie points for non-judgmental sex and masturbation scenes. You can see my full review here on Queer YA. If you love fantasy, this is one for you to discover this summer!
I read this lovely book for younger readers in one sitting, it was at times sweet and at others quite terrifying. Elspeth is a deeply lovable heroine and we can't help but root for her as she is trying to find out what happened to her parents while going about her daily life in the Show-Off School. Some of the characters are truly sinister and will remind you of the nightmarish characters in Roald Dahl's books. A lovely start to a soon-to-be classic series.
One by Sarah Crossan
This book utterly broke my heart and is written with such a light and powerful touch that I'm sure it will be sweeping up all the children's / YA awards this year. This verse novel about conjoined twins Grace and Tippi will take over your heart. This is a heart wrenching and heart warming story about sisters, love and identity and is such an amazing addition to the UK (and Ireland) YA scene. It will also convert you to verse novels. Perfect for fans of contemporary YA like John Green, Jenny Downham and Gayle Forman.
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
I read this as the author's new book, Fear of Dying, is out at the end of the year and I wanted to read her classic novel which I'd never read before. I think this is one of these books that can't be read without keeping in mind the context in which it was written. This was very much an instant classic when it came out for its portrayal of female sexuality and which resonated with a lot of women at the time. The novel is narrated by poet and writer Isadora who finds herself in Vienna for a conference. She ditches her husband of five years in search of a more fulfilling relationship and what she ends up finding is herself. Things have changed since it was written but I really liked the style and the feminist themes so I'm very much looking forward to reading the new book!
As ever, there isn't any month where I don't read an Agatha Christie! I was reticent to read Poirot at first, thinking the stereotypes on Belgians (and French people by extension) would be too annoying for me but I actually ADORE Poirot and even read his dialogue with a French accent in my head. This book is a collection of short mysteries that Poirot, Hastings and the famed little grey cells solve. I am always very proud to solve some of the mysteries myself and this was greatly enjoyable.
I'm doing some research on this period of history for something I'm writing and was hoping this book would be perfect but I didn't like this book as much as I'd hoped. Each chapter is about a different country for the years around 1492 and it was hard to put in perspective what happened simultaneously. It was interesting to read but I will be tracking down some other books on the subject to get more insight on some aspects of the period.
I loved reading this book. Joan Kelly is one of the first researchers in gender studies and she comes from a history background. It was so fascinating to read her essays - collected in this edition after her death - on looking at history from the point of view of women and how widely accepted periodisations in history can't apply to a history of women. Her essay on Renaissance and how there wasn't, strictly speaking, a Renaissance for women and this period of history was mostly about increased rights for men, was truly fascinating. This was a fantastic random find from the library and I'll be seeking more books by Joan Kelly in the future.
I adored this book! Loved it so so much! I'd only read Judy Blume's YA books and didn't know what to expect from one of her adult books but I totally loved it. The story is about three generations of family, friends and strangers in Elizabeth, New Jersey, after a series of unexpected events in the 1950s. I loved the variety of characters and what they were going through, especially Miri. I also loved the story, which was inspired by true events, and which is so topical and really makes you think. This is an amazing book and the perfect read for this summer. (Warning: not to be read on a plane or before a plane journey. You're welcome.)
What amazing books have you read last month?
In July I've already read a few Judy Blume classics in preparation for her event on 16th July in Edinburgh (SO EXCITED! Tickets here if you want to come!), as well as Naomi Novik's AMAZING new fantasy book Uprooted and Nancy Tucker's memoir about her eating disorder The Time in Between.