Welcome back, today I’m going to discuss everything I read in June. This month I read 7 books and a total of 2360 pages. Like last month, June has been a bit of a mixed bag in terms of genre, we have some contemporary, some YA, and a biography.
Without me blabbing on any longer, let’s discuss what I read in June!
Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney:
The first book I read in June was Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. This book follows the story of two college girls in Dublin, Frances and Bobbi, who are best friends but previously had had a romantic relationship. They become acquainted with an older couple (we’re not talking old here, just early-mid thirties) and we see how the different relationships between the four of them play out, including secret kisses and affairs, jealousy, and vulnerability.
The four protagonists are all intellectual and engaged with politics, not only does the book showcase many important topics from women’s health to feminism, to how we perceive the LGBT+ community, to mental health, it also allows the characters to have frank and honest discussions on these topics – conversations I’m sure many of us are familiar with having with our own friends.
I think it’s important here to highlight one conversation in particular that resonated with me when reading it last night given the current racial crisis we are trying to address:
“We talked one night about the endemic racism of criminal justice in the US, the videos of police brutality that we had all seen without ever seeking them out, and what it meant for us as white people to say they were ‘difficult to watch,’ which we all agreed they were although we couldn’t fix on one exact meaning for this difficulty.’
‘Melissa said she didn’t doubt we were all a part of the problem, but it was difficult to see how exactly, and seemingly impossible to do anything about it without first comprehending that.’
As you can see, the characters in the book are deeply aware of racial injustice and the violence black people face on a daily basis simply because of their skin colour. As Melissa says, we first have to realise that we are all a part of the problem – something which over the last week I’m sure we have all become distinctly aware of. Now that we are acutely aware and in a state of motion to fix the problems within our systems (not just in the US, but the UK, and all around the world) it is important that we all help to enact change. Here is a link to UK based BLM petitions you can sign, and here is a list of books to read by black authors.
The content of this book, whilst titillating in places – after all it is a book centered around extra-marital affair – really highlighted some of the most important issues in today’s society. The characters are predominantly selfish and self-centered but there was something that drew me to feel for them and their struggles all the same.
The novel is narrated by Frances, who throughout the story suffers from excruciating periods, an alcoholic father, self-harm, money problems, and also shows signs of an eating disorder. All the while she is conducting an affair with Nick, a married man, who suffers from his own mental health problems. Quite often in literature, I have noticed that characters are only faced with one problem, especially when it comes to health issues. I found it refreshing, especially given that I myself have suffered from numerous health conditions (some of which are chronic), that Rooney presented a character who struggled with health problems that lie in different realms and some which cannot be cured.
I enjoy Rooney’s writing style, she’s easy to read, she’s engaging, and she’s imaginative with the way she crafts her words. Whilst reading Conversations with Friends I felt entirely immersed in the world the protagonists were living in, whether that be in their home of Dublin, their holiday destination of Etables, or in their sphere of literary events.
I also liked how Rooney did leave the book completely wrapped up, as a writer she acknowledges that life, and especially love, is messy and that not everything within it can be resolved perfectly. That not everyone’s ending has to be final.
Ultimately this is a book on the reality of human nature, how we should treat people and respect people with the same kindness we ourselves want to receive. Given our current battles, I think this is an important message to take away.
This is a book I would highly recommend a read of. I gave it 4.5 stars.
Girl Online Going Solo – Zoe Sugg:
The second book I read in June was Girl Online Going Solo by Zoe Sugg. This is the third and final book in Zoe’s Girl Online series which follows Penny, a teenage girl with a passion for photography who struggles with anxiety. In the first book, Penny meets Noah, an American pop star, and the three books follow their relationship as well as Penny’s personal journey with anxiety and school.
I enjoyed Going Solo far more than the previous book, On Tour. Unlike the second book in the series, this book didn’t feel forced. Penny’s relationships seemed far more real and her character had grown massively in confidence, doing things like going to London on her own (which she wouldn’t have done in previous books).
One touch I really liked and appreciated in Going Solo, was how Penny’s friends dealt with her anxiety. In one scene Penny and her friends are at a party and as soon as one of them notices that Penny is having a panic attack, she grabs her and finds the nearest exit and helps her calm her breathing. The friend goes on to say that she always checks for the nearest exit when she’s out with Penny in case she does have a panic attack. As someone who struggled with bad anxiety at a similar age to Penny, I think having scenes like this in YA books really helps educate young adults on how to deal with mental health situations. I really wish my friends had read a scene like this at the time when I was struggling.
I gave Girl Online Going Solo 4 stars.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid:
My next June read was from an author I had not read before, and that was The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
Normally I know so much about the books I’m reading, even before I turn the first page, but this book came in my Reposed box (I can’t remember for which month) and I had seen it so hyped on Youtube that I jumped right into it without exploring the premise first.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo follows Monique Grant as she interviews Hollywood actress Evelyn Hugo. Monique isn’t sure why Evelyn insisted on having her, but she listens as Evelyn tells her exclusive story of each of her husbands and reveals who the real love of her life was. There’s also a cheeky plot twist at the end of the novel that I did not manage to guess!
This book is so beautifully written and explores the many different kinds of relationships someone can have in their life, from platonic, to romantic, to passionate, to business, to parental. It also explores how gender, sexuality, and race can play a major part in our relationships. The message Evelyn Hugo gets across is that love is love, so whilst I wasn’t expecting anything like that to come from this book from its title alone, I was pleasantly surprised.
I gave The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo 5 stars.
Reasons She Goes to the Woods – Deborah Kay Davies:
I picked up Reasons She Goes to the Woods by Deborah Kay Davies last year after she came and spoke to us at uni. I’d previously read her book Grace, Tamar, and Lazlo the Beautiful as part of a module on my English Literature course.
After reading both books, I can see that Davies’ style leans towards creating disturbed child characters. In Reasons She Goes to the Woods we follow Pearl, a little girl who appears to suffer from anger issues, probably driven by a lack of attention from her parents and a strained relationship with her mother.
The book is written in a series of one page vignettes, each slightly further ahead of time, allowing us to watch Pearl as she grows into a young adult.
I was really intrigued by the format of this book but I’m sad to say I didn’t enjoy the novel. The character of Pearl was very disturbing, she actively sought to have power over others which left me feeling uncomfortable. I think this was Davies’ intention with this character but I was left not knowing whether she was meant to be a liked character or a disliked character.
Although I didn’t enjoy this book, I thought the format and the writing skill were very good so for that reason I gave it 3 stars.
Becoming – Michelle Obama:
The only audiobook I read in June was Becoming by Michelle Obama. I’d been waiting since January to get my hands on this audiobook from my library and it was well worth the wait! Michelle tells her story from childhood right through to the end of the White House.
I liked learning about all the things she did to put her own stamp on her time in the White House, but it was also interesting to hear how she wasn’t really into politics at all but knew her husband would make a great president.
Overall, listening to her story just solidified in my mind how normal and kind Michelle and her family are, which is what makes her so inspirational.
I gave Becoming 5 stars and I would so recommend giving this book a read.
Wilde Like Me – Louise Pentland:
Wilde Like Me follows Robin Wilde, a single mother in her late twenties, as she tackles the world of work, romance, family, and friendship.
I’ve watched Louise Pentland for a long time on YouTube, I’ve always thought she was one of the more down to earth of the OG vloggers. So I was interested to see how she did when she turned her hand to writing.
I enjoyed this book but I only gave it three stars. I’m more used to plot-driven novels, and I definitely think this is more character-driven. Throughout the novel we see Robin grow in confidence in her role as a makeup artist, a single mum to an 8 (I think) year old, and in romance.
I found the novel frustrating at times as there were things that were so obvious to me that Robin shouldn’t stand for that she was simply accepting, but I think this was Louise’s intention with this novel.
Although I liked this book I’m not jumping to read the rest. I probably will at some point but they’re not on my current tbr.
The Struggle (TVD) – L.J. Smith
The last book I read in June was The Struggle by L.J. Smith. This is the second book in The Vampire Diaries series.
I started reading The Vampire Diaries series last month when I discovered my library has them all as e-books. Having watched the tv show 3+ times I was really hoping to love the books as much, if not more so, but the characters are annoying and underdeveloped. We have teens declaring undying love after two conversations, getting engaged after two months, and so many other things that (even in a world where vampires exist) just aren’t believable.
I preferred The Struggle to the first book, The Awakening, but I’m still not a massive fan. However, I am still persevering and reading the rest of the books!
This was my lowest rated book of June at just 2.5 stars.
I hope you enjoyed learning what I read in June and my thoughts on all of the books I read! I’d love to know if you’ve read any of these. Please also let me know your top recommendations for books you think I would enjoy based on my review of these ones!
You can also catch up with everything I read in May if you’re looking for something else to read!