Here we are, halfway through the year. Sometimes, I feel like the time has skipped by, and other times, I feel like May was a year ago. I want to blame it all on 2020, but in reality, this is how I feel every year.
As with last month’s wrap-up (which I think I managed to write a week or two ago) I will include only some of the books I read in June, as others will get their own posts. 🙂 I am grateful for my first summer “off” (I’m about to embark on another round of continuing education courses) to be able to really focus on reading and writing.
Nancy Drew #5: The Secret of Shadow Ranch by Carolyn Keene
Since January, I have been participating in an Instagram-based book club called the #NancyDrewBookCrew, started by the awesome @emileereadsbooks. In January, we started with a biography on the women who created Nancy–which I will be rereading next month for an encore discussion of the book. Each month since, we have read a book from the series in order. As an added challenge, I have been reading both the original version (did you know that existed? I didn’t until reading the biography!) and the revised version. I have LOVED this and it is so interesting to see the changes between the two versions. Anyways, to this book. I will say, I actually preferred the revised version to the original. It was more straightforward and didn’t have a lot of wandering storylines. Additionally, while in the original text the mystery felt like it was thrown in here and there at the last minute, the mystery in the revised version felt much more present and fleshed-out. I loved the setting–a ranch in Arizona–and the romantic backstory of the mystery. This particular book is also special because in it, Nancy’s friends Bess and George are introduced to readers. If you are at all familiar with Nancy, you will know that they are fixtures in almost all, or all, of her later mysteries. Recommended if you are a fan of Nancy and her stories and want some nostalgia, and/or if you have a younger reader who has never read Nancy Drew before.
Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness
Okay, I loved this one. Jonathan Van Ness, or JVN, has been a favorite of mine since the Queer Eye reboot started five seasons ago. Since then, I have followed him on all social media outlets and have listened to many episodes of his podcast Getting Curious (also highly recommend). He is hilarious and empowering and I loved listening to his book (which he narrates) because he shows you a completely different side of himself. This book is not all rainbows and puppies. There are dark and sad moments and his life has not been easy or full of sunshine. What you don’t see on Queer Eye is how hard he had to hit rock bottom to get where he is today. Some of the tougher topics discussed involve addition, sexual abuse, bullying, and death. Honestly, listening to this only made me love him more, and feel inspired by his journey. Plus, he talks almost nonstop about gymnasts and ice skaters and it is hilarious and endearing. If you are a fan of Queer Eye, memoirs, comedians, and Olympians gymnasts and ice skaters, definitely give this a read (or listen).
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
I have mixed thoughts about this mystery/thriller. On the one hand, I thought it was good. It was a quick read, it held my attention, there was depth, and I definitely didn’t see the “gasp” moment coming. One the other hand, despite those things…how much did I like it? When I gave a mini-review on my Bookstagram account, I rated it 4/5, or “really liked it.” However, the more I have thought about it and talked about it off and on since then…I think it might be demoted to a 3/5…which still means I liked it. The main character, Theo, is a psychotherapist who starts a new job at a mental health facility–a job he takes solely because Alicia, a painter convicted of shooting her husband multiple times in the face, is there. She has not spoken since the murder, and Theo is convinced he can “fix” her. However, all is not what it seems, and that’s where I will leave you. It’s difficult to talk about why I have some issues with the book without revealing the ending. What I will say is this: if you like mysteries and suspense, give this a go. It’s quick and definitely interesting. If you read it, send me a message when you are done and we’ll talk! 🙂
The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley
Oh, my dear Flavia. This is the second book in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series, and I found it just as wonderful as the first book. (Link to my review of the first book here.) In this one, our deal eleven-year old, poison-loving sleuth finds herself wrapped up in another mystery when a well-known puppeteer and showman is murdered…during a show he was putting on for the people in Flavia’s village. As so often happens, his murder connects to a previous death in the village, and Flavia takes it upon herself to figure out what’s what. I’m a huge fan of this series so far, primarily because I find Flavia to be one of the most original and fascinating characters I have read. The story is well-thought out and the cast of characters is great, although I find her family irksome. Why are her sisters so awful toward her? Will her dad ever open up? These are questions that I hope get answered as I continue reading the series. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
That’s all for June! Stay tuned for more reviews soon. 🙂