Welcome to my monthly wrap-up post covering all the books I read in June. I came so, so close to finishing this month’s TBR on time; in the end, I finished my last book on the 1st of July. I’m really happy despite that though!
I knew at the beginning of this month that I wasn’t going to be reading quite so much towards the end, as I had an exam on the 29th of June to prepare for. Perhaps that is why I ended up reading so much at the beginning of the month. I also managed to squeeze in a couple of audiobooks too!
My TBR for June was a little bit different, as I couldn’t decide what to pick up and read. I had one commitment, which I ended up setting as my only ‘fixed’ book on my TBR. The rest, I pencilled in provisionally but allowed myself the option to change. Incidentally, I didn’t change any of the books, but it was nice that I have the flexibility if I wanted to. And I think I needed that. Clearly it has worked out very well for me as I’ve made very good progress this month. I’m very happy with where I’m at with my reading.
I’m considering taking this approach a bit more in future; but I’m certainly going to try it out again to see if it continues to work for me.
Wolf of Mercia
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: 7 Jun 2022
My first priority of this month was to read my only ‘fixed’ book of the month, Wolf of Mercia by MJ Porter. I had agreed to take part in a blog tour for this sequel; the first book I read earlier this year. The thing I love the most about this series is that it offers a unique perspective in a period of history where violence is almost expected. Our protagonist Icel does not relish battle or even killing in his own defence, but in this sequel we got to see a new side of him – one that acknowledges his duty, but also sticks to his roots of healing people wherever he can.
If you enjoy books like Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom, then this is something I would recommend to you. I picked up this series initially because of my love of that, and it really works for me!
Genre: Mythology; short stories
Publication Date: 6 Mar 2018
After Wolf of Mercia, I swiftly moved on to Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. I wanted to pick up this book, however, I will admit I was sceptical as to whether I would like it or not. I haven’t had the best experience with books written by Neil Gaiman overall. However, Norse Mythology really worked for me.
Perhaps it is because this book is his own retelling of classic norse stories that this ended up being really safe ground. I enjoyed how these were written. Given that the book is just a collection of short stories, it was a very quick read for me; I managed to read it in just a couple of days. I was pleasantly surprised!
Publisher: Harper Voyager UK
Publication Date: 27 Mar 2014
I have been meaning to try Robin Hobb’s books for such a long time, but never quite gotten around to them. However, I finally did it and I am so glad I’ve taken the plunge! These books have come highly recommended in general, but also more specifically from friends of mine.
One of the main elements I look at with fantasy books is character and world-building. These boxes were well and truly ticked in Assassin’s Apprentice, and I really enjoyed the storyline that unfolded in this book. It had elements of magic that I really liked, but also hints at the wider storyline that I trust will unfold throughout Hobb’s ‘The Realm of the Elderlings’ books.
From very early on in the narrative, we as the reader are sympathetic towards Fitz. He is a royal bastard who is left with his father‘s man Burrich as a child. He does not fit in to life at court and so he remains largely unacknowledged… but when he is, it’s not really for the better either.
I really enjoyed this book and I’m going to be continuing with this series very, very soon!
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publication Date: 14 Jan 2021
The biggest selling point for me about The Appeal is that the story is told through written communications between characters. If you are looking for something that is not traditional prose, then this format is one I’d recommend you try. I really liked this change of pace, and the storyline behind the emails/messages etc between the characters is engaging in and of its own right!
The beginning of the story is a bit of a slow burn. You go into it knowing that a murder has taken place, however it does not take place until a significant way through a narrative. I expected it to happen a little bit sooner, however it comes about that the context and events we see occur in the beginning are very much relevant to what happens in the end.
What is also clever about the way this is written is that you have to read into the subtext. These people meet in person and there are interactions that we don’t see in between, but can only speculate as to what occurs. As it turns out, there is a lot more going on under the surface and whilst there were some twists I did anticipate, there were others I did not at all! This was another fantastic read, and I cannot believe that this is a debut.
I will definitely be continuing with this author’s work!
Publication Date: 6 Nov 2018
I started reading Skyward on or around the 20th June, so this is the book I read the slowest over the course of the month. However, as I mentioned above, this was expected with my exam. Just because it was read the slowest, it does not mean I did not enjoy it!
Skyward is quite different to all the other Brandon Sanderson books I have read to date. Where they have sat firmly in the fantasy genre, Skyward is (expectedly) very hard leaning into the science-fiction genre. It is also written for a young adult audience. Some people have said they felt the writing was dumbed down a little, but I didn’t pick up on this too much. The nature of our protagonist definitely appeals to a younger audience, and perhaps the plot line is a little bit less sophisticated than some of his other fantasy books. But, other than that, I felt this read just as well.
I already have a copy of the sequel, Starsight, on my bookshelves just begging to be read.
Pages: 606 (20hrs 6mins audio)
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Publication Date: 5 Mar 2015
During the month of June I started listening to Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien de Castell again. I had started this audiobook previously, but I go through phases with audiobooks and I will binge-listen for a while, then practically stop completely. It’s a cycle that comes and goes, and I’m finally back in the ‘listening’ phase.
Even though it had been a little minute since I first started this audiobook, I was able to pick it up again really easily. The storyline and what has happened previously is unique and so it was very easy to return to the world and remember what has gone before.
I really enjoy the storyline and the witty perspective of our protagonist. I had no idea how this particular book was going to play out, after the events of the first book in series. However, it was written very well and it was a pleasure to listen to. I feel a grander storyline coming into play in comparison to the first book. As a fan of epic fantasy, this obviously appeals to me!
Genre: Non-fiction; memoir
Pages: 272 (7hrs 6mins audio)
Publisher: Pan Books
Publication Date: 24 Jul 2003
The second audiobook listened to this month was completed in full, although admittedly, it only weighs in at about seven hours of listening time. Honestly, if it hadn’t been recommended to me I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. However, I’m glad I did!
This is the first prison diary written by Jeffrey Archer, and it recounts his experience of being imprisoned in HMP Belmarsh. This was a bit of an eye-opener for me. It’s not the kind of non-fiction book you would expect to pick up. However, the author’s experience of being imprisoned here, for a charge far less severe than that of his inmates, goes to show the unfairness and inefficiencies of the British legal system.
There are further prison diaries that the author wrote during his time, and I will also be listening to these in the future.
That is a lot of books to feature in one monthly wrap-up post! I had originally planned to share my mid-year review at the same time as this post. However, it’s already long enough, so I’m going to split that back out again and share that in the next day or two.
What have you been reading this month? Have you got any good book recommendations? Have you read any of the books I’ve featured today? As always, I’d love to hear from you!