Month Count: 4 texts, 1 audiobook, 5 total
Year to Date: 34 texts, 11 audiobooks, 45 total
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The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley. HO. LEE. SHIT. A: Go buy this ASAP B: Don’t let it sit on your TBR list any longer and C: HO. LEE. SHIT. This is definitely a top contender for me for best book of the year. It was so beautifully written and I connected to it in a number of ways.
Firstly, I’m from Northern Minnesota, born and raised in a tiny town on the edge of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Many of my friends growing up and in school were Native Americans from this Tribe. Since the main character, Daunis, is also Anishinaabe and the setting takes place right around 2003/2004 in Northern Michigan on the waters of Lake Superior, it felt very close to home. I often found myself reading her Auntie’s voice in that of so many friends’ family members back home, with strong accents.
I loved the identification of respect Daunis has for her Tribe. I think this is something I witnessed many friends struggling with growing up. I have a perspective that the reservation I lived near has seen a bit of a resurgence in tradition and respect. Unfortunately, there’s probably a lot of similarities to the drug and alcohol problems expressed throughout the book as well. I wonder if The Firekeeper’s Daughter resonates with others as much as it hit home for me.
I graduated from a Tribal college with my Associate’s Degree, and was required to take several classes in Anishinaabe. It has stuck with me for years and I suspect this book will do the same.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid, via Audible app narrated by Julia Whelan
DESCRIPTION: 80’s era fiction around a dysfunctional famous family. Mick Riva is a famous singer who ditched his wife and kids for “the life.” His children – Nina, Jay, HUD, and Kit – grow up loving surfing, but definitely living through some struggles of being discarded by their father, and really having to raise themselves with an alcoholic mom.
Though Malibu Rising tells the story of their lives, struggles, and successes, it centers around one evening of all the family drama coming to a head during the oldest sister’s (Nina) annual summer bash.
DISCUSSION: Alright, a feel-good summer read right here. Put me in the mood for the beaches, transported me to the Hollywood 80’s lifestyle, and I really enjoyed the main character’s development throughout the book.
Was it completely riveting or compelling? No. But it was entertaining. I liked it better than Daisy Jones and the Six… I was progressively underwhelmed throughout the last few chapters though. Just didn’t pull me in with the party and it felt like a weird shift from learning about the Rivas and being invested in them, to being a fly on the wall in several places throughout this disaster of a party.
3.5/5… would recommend!
FAVORITE QUOTE: “She was a woman, after all. Living in a world created by men. And she had long known that assholes protect their own. They are faithful to no one but surprisingly protective of each other.”
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson was lent to me by my friend, Carrieann. She was the one who recommended The Pull of the Stars, which I devoured and have since recommended to a million and a half people. This was a young adult genre, which I don’t mind. I would also consider it to be partial fantasy. That little nugget took me a few chapters to “get” but once I made that connection, I was really able to get into it more.
There’s always something about fantasy that takes my brain a minute to process. I often wonder if it’s me just not being as creative and imaginative as I used to be? Anyway, it was really a great book about twins, Jude and Noah, who are so connected they practically are a single person. When something tragic happens, they lose that connection and each go down separate paths to understand themselves as individuals, as well as reconcile their relationship to one another.
DISCUSSION: It’s told in dual timelines, each chapter flip flopping from 13-year old Noah’s perspective to 16-year old Jude’s perspective. When the reveal comes and you understand how the disconnect happened, it only strengthens the tie for the book.
4.5/5 stars- I loved this, especially the ending!
FAVORITE QUOTE: “What if I’m in charge of my own damn light switch?”
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner was a recent library waitlist release. I’ve seen it make its rounds on Bookstagram with high praise and it pulled me in from the get-go.
DESCRIPTION: A dual plotline of 1700’s Nella and Eliza, with present-day’s Caroline weaves seamlessly back and forth around a secret apothecary shop.
A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course. Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.
Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.
One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.
In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.
DISCUSSION: Firstly, I cannot believe this was a debut novel! It captivated me so instantly, and I read it very quickly (even skipping my workouts to find out what happens next!). Nella was seemed so tender, to hold her mother’s legacy in the apothecary to take care of women, but to also empathize with women who have been so wronged by men.
Eliza was so innocent, yet brave and mature (I have a 14-year old lol). I can’t imagine being shoved off to a home to serve at such a young age. It seemed so simple that she would know about menstruation, but instead – the coincidental timing creates an entirely different narrative, as it would!
Caroline reminded me a little of myself. I loved history, but so quickly that as a career or degree option was thrown out because there wasn’t anything you could do with it. That didn’t change her interest, but she allowed so many other people and circumstances to deter her from figuring out her passions and purpose, and instead ended up stifling a lot of herself along the way.
Caroline’s husband, James, absolutely made me roll my eyes. Not out of disbelief, but out of pure exhaustion having dealt with men like him. Someone who is always able to turn it around on you!
For as much as I loved this book, I found myself nodding along with one particular – and thorough – one star review on Goodreads by Claire Smith. While it’s entertaining, and I certainly enjoyed the book, I found so many of Claire’s points to be… ON point; however, I’m glad I didn’t see it until after I finished the book. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much otherwise. I’ll only pull this passage out, because it made me literally LOL:
Anyway, after college, Caroline seems to be angry that reading books and ~historical documents~ didn’t immediately get her a job. A twist no one saw coming. She almost applies to Cambridge but then doesn’t because she marries James the Jackass—and we all know that you can either have a degree or a husband. She chooses husband and her husband wants to stay in the states. Little known fact I learned from this book, literally no university in the states offers a master’s degree. They only count if they’re from Cambridge. Oxford isn’t mentioned so unclear if their masters’ degrees count for anything.
While I still recommend it, I was fully prepared to give it five stars, until I digested it slightly more and knocked her down a notch. What do you think? Were you a raving fan, or did it annoy you almost as much as Ms. Smith? (Also, please read her review in its entirety, it really hit the nail on the head over and over again. I loved the personality and quips with **checks notes** and how she pointed out the odd fascination on pregnancy throughout the novel… now that you mention it, yea, that was a lot of odd focus on that and didn’t really do any of the women any justice).
Okay, fine 3.5/5 stars…
FAVORITE QUOTE: “First, there was trust. Then, there was betrayal. You cannot have one without the other. You cannot be betrayed by someone you do not trust.”
The Maidens, by Alex Michaelides was a June book of the month pick. I had read his novel, The Silent Patient, and there was so much hype around The Maidens on IG that I honestly couldn’t have picked anything else for June.
Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike―particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.
Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.
Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?
When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything―including her own life.
I really don’t feel like I can write a valid review for this one. So many people have already read it, almost every review has already been written and even though it was technically only just released, so many friends had access to early copies. I’ll just leave it at this: it lived up to the hype, I really liked it, and probably more than the Silent Patient…
Four out of five stars, and favorite quote: “Don’t glorify the events of your life and try to give them meaning.”
So overall, a very light month in June. I certainly thought I would have had more time to read; however, we started working toward reopening my department at work, plus I’m helping run another department and filling in low-staffing gaps. Additionally, when my husband travels for work, I always anticipate that I’m going to have more time to spend in the books, especially with Landon being with my family in Minnesota; however, it ended up just being a really nice escape to watch some of **MY** shows on Netflix. That, plus spending a lot of extra time on my phone connecting with him and Landon while they’re away, makes it hard to sit quietly and read.
I have a good start on July so far, but I wonder if it will slow again with expected travel toward the middle and end of the month. I guess we’ll see! What were your favorite reads for June? And what are you looking forward to reading this month??