Hello and welcome to my first ever monthly reading wrap-up! I generally don’t do these posts because 1) I read too many books and I’m lazy to write about them all and 2) my wrap-ups would be too long for anyone’s liking. This blog may be called the wordy habitat but I know when I’m being too wordy lol.
June was a slump-ish month for me. I didn’t read anything for the first week and then slowly picked up reading after that. I’m still not back to reading as much as I used to. I’m not sad about it, though. It’s alright to read lesser.
My slump is the reason I’m writing this post too! I only have 8 books to talk about so this post won’t take me a month to write lol. And it’ll be short enough to not bore you.
- 1 if we were villains by m. l. rio
- 2 stay by sarina bowen, elle kennedy
- 3 sweethand by n. g. peltier
- 4 the spanish love deception by elena armas
- 5 the secret keeper of jaipur by alka joshi
- 6 a spark of white fire by sangu mandanna
- 7 if this gets out by sophie gonzales and cale dietrich
- 8 hold me by courtney milan
if we were villains by m. l. rio
This was my first book of the month and it was a great pick. In order to get out of my slump, I wanted something that wasn’t romance (I know, I feel like I’m betraying my favourite genre) in order to get myself interested in reading again.
If We Were Villains was like a tangled spool of thread which we struggle to untangle but it can be fully pulled apart from one specific point. Following a group of seven friends studying theatre in university, the book is about friendship, love, obsession, and jealousy.
The main focus is definitely on how they lose themselves in Shakespeare and the characters whom they play on stage. Their roles bleed into real life and they often talk in Shakespearean dialogues. Lines between life and stage blur until it all feels the same. I loved how everything makes sense at the end. Until then I thought something else. Only in the end did I realize what everyone revolved out.
The book has an open ending which I loved. It leaves room for theories and discussion. People’s preferences over what they envision clearly show where their hearts lie. I spent a long time discussing the book with Saimon when I finished. It was brilliant.
stay by sarina bowen, elle kennedy
After IWWV, I didn’t want another book that would make me think lol. So of course I turned to romance. I read this recommendation list by Nick and Stay stayed in my head.*
This book is an online-to-real-life romance. Hailey owns a virtual assistant company that Matt uses often. They both flirt a little online until they finally meet one day, and of course, the sparks are even better in real life.
The plot did not live up to what I was expecting but the romance was quite good. It would have been really great if one part in the third act didn’t exist. It was not necessary. Hence, my opinion of the book is a little sour.
*get it? lol I’m bad at this.
sweethand by n. g. peltier
I heard a LOT about Sweethand from people I follow on twitter so I bought the ebook a couple months back. All I knew was that it has a baker main character.
Sorry to report that this book did not live up to my expectations. I didn’t even expect that much, to be honest. It was supposed to be a good romance with food descriptions.
I did NOT like Cherisse, the main character. She was annoying and I could care less about her. My other problem was the third act breakup. I saw it coming from the start and dreaded it throughout. When it happened, it was unnecessarily messy. And the final make-up was too rushed. It happened in two minutes.
I’m not impressed with the book. I understand why it is liked but it’s just not for me.
the spanish love deception by elena armas
This was my best book of June! I generally don’t like office romances so I was wary about this but it was a delightful exception.
The Spanish Love Deception has rivals-to-lovers, fake-dating, only-one-bed, and grumpy x sunshine tropes. And all of them were done SO WELL. I absolutely loved the romance. It was a slow-burn romance and we all know I enjoy that. The dialogues were awesome. The chemistry between the characters was really nice. I’ll definitely be rereading it as a comfort read.
It is not a perfect book, though. There were a couple parts that I didn’t like, and at least one which could’ve been done better. But overall, it was a great romance book.
the secret keeper of jaipur by alka joshi
I read The Henna Artist as an audiobook and highly enjoyed it. It was dramatic and messy and entertaining. When I got the chance to read The Secret Keeper of Jaipur on libro.fm, I jumped on it. Unfortunately, this book highly disappointed me.
This book is a sequel to The Henna Artist and is supposed to be about Malik who was my favourite character in book 1. While it started out that way, towards the end there was more about Lakshmi than Malik. It didn’t feel like Malik was the star of this book.
It’s almost as if the author simply wanted to write more about her star character Lakshmi and made up this book for that. Nimmi, one of the supposed main characters, was barely there. She wasn’t given enough attention. I think she was used for diversity points, honestly.
This was clearly a plot-driven book but even the plot wasn’t interesting. Things resolved too quickly in the end. Lakshmi came and saved the day by talking to people. It was so disappointing.
a spark of white fire by sangu mandanna
Despite being an underrated book with less than 1000 ratings on Goodreads, I have heard a LOT about this series. So many people that I follow have been praising this series and pushing it on others. It interested me too because it is inspired by the Mahabharata and set in space. I finally picked up book 1 as a buddy read with Ari.
While I like the overall concept and plot, I couldn’t enjoy this book much. It is a blueprint YA fantasy book. The writing and the characters take me back to the Divergent era. And that is fine as long as it is enjoyable to read, but it wasn’t for me. There was zero subtlety and foreshadowing. Whenever something is mentioned, it happens within the next few pages. There is no drawn-out satisfaction.
One good thing about the book was that it was super easy to read. I finished it over the weekend even though I was still in a slump. There were multiple things that bothered me but I shut my brain and just read it.
Will I read the rest of the series? Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. I don’t feel like continuing it now though.
if this gets out by sophie gonzales and cale dietrich
The ARC of this book was sitting in my Kindle for a long time before I actually got to it. While this took me a while to read due to my slump, I still really enjoyed it.
If This Gets Out is about a 4-member boy band who are one of the most popular groups in America. Two of the members are best friends but as time progresses, their relationship evolves into a romance which may crumble everything that they worked for.
I could feel that the boy band concept was clearly inspired by Kpop bands. It was easy to recognize since I’m a BTS fan. Boy bands are not like this in America generally. This book portrays the bad side of the industry. These boys are overworked and not cared for enough. They don’t have the freedom to do anything because they have to keep up the brand that has been established for them. They’re packaged and promoted as potential boyfriends to female fans. So of course when two of them start dating, it puts a strain on everything.
While reading this, I was watching the Kdrama Her Private Life which is about fangirls. So I was consuming two pieces of content that show the two different sides of boy bands and fans. It made me think a lot about the concept of Kpop groups and their positive and negative sides. An essay slowly forming in my head. I want to write it but let’s see haha.
I really enjoyed this book. It has a great story but it also gives food for thought if you want it. I especially loved the writing and the characters. The characters were consistent throughout, down to every single dialogue. I do wish the book wasn’t focused on the romance and gave us a view of the entire band, but oh well.
hold me by courtney milan
The last book that I read was an impulse read. I found a random book recommendations thread on twitter with online-to-real-life romance pairings. Hold Me was highly recommended so I picked it up.
Maria and Jay do NOT get along in real life but they get along very well on the internet under pseudonyms. It provides for two types of relationships growth which becomes messy when they find out the truth, but it also makes so much sense.
I loved how Maria and Jay were flawed characters who go through growth in this book. It is a romance but there is enough focus on each individual character, their pasts, and their transformations. The romance was SO GOOD. It was slow and deliberate and hesitant. I liked that it was hesitant because the characters learnt about each other and changed the way they do things. It wasn’t perfect from the start. They became an amazing couple.
The book also takes on many other topics. Through Jay, we see workplace exhaustion, the pressure put on by Asian families, and the loneliness of working in academia. Through Maria, we see trans experiences, how people relate femininity with not being smart, and learning to set boundaries. There is also a focus on how men reward themselves for being feminists with the wrong definition. Jay is used as an example and he learns, accepts, and grows.
On the whole, this is a great romance book with diverse characters and amazing characterization. It was the perfect book to end the month with. Even though I had a few days to read after this, I did not want to move on from it.