A bit of a slumpy month again for me here - I only read eight books! EIGHT! What a pathetic number. And a bit of a slumpy month in terms of quality, too - of my eight books, three were nailed-on stinkers and two are making it into my Worst of 2020 list, and there were no real stand-out excellent reads.
I'm not sure what's gotten into me, but I am struggling to stay on top of my reading goals lately. When lockdown first started I thought it would be a good chance for me to knock my numbers out of the park and really get down and dirty with my TBR shelf, maybe even discover some new favorites and get a real head start on my Top 10 of 2020 list, but instead I've just been so flat. It's like the hopelessness I feel at everything in the world right now has translated to my usual escapist routes, and I can't even drown my loneliness or my sadness in my books anymore the way I used to.
Dear God, that was a depressing intro. Thank God I've started going back to therapy lately.
Right, anyway, on to some more cheerful topics: so many bad books this month! And only a few really good ones! Most of my reviews have been me just bashing poor writers, which I do find incredibly cathartic, if I'm honest.
Please read on for my June wrap-up - and hopefully I can do some more posts next month, as I know my faithful readers (hi, Claire!) have been languishing.
Best book of the month: The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty. In a terrible reading month, this was a good, refreshing, enjoyable finish to one of my favorite recent series.
Most 'pleasant surprise' book of the month: None. See above.
Most disappointing book of the month: La Sorcière, by Camilla Läckberg. A thriller that was not thrilling and fell horrifically flat. And it was so stupidly long. Also L'Énigme de la chambre 622. I wanted to like it so much because I loved Joël Dicker's first two thrillers; but this was so bad.
Worst book of the month: The Happy Ever After Playlist, by Abby Jimenez. Let us never speak of this again.
Guns, Germs & Steel (4★/5), by Jared Diamond: I was prompted to re-read this book after finishing Civilizations by Laurent Binet, which obviously took this book's hypothesis as its starting premise. The fact that I knew Diamond's main thesis already didn't diminish the interest of this book for me, and I re-discovered a lot of nuggets in there that have made me want to read books about other aspects of the scientific history of humanity (specifically linguistics) - but Diamond does write a bit simplistically, and he pretty drastically dumbs things down for the non-scientists reading his book, which I find less than palatable. A good, interesting, engaging nonfiction read that I definitely think needs to retain its place as mandatory assigned reading for any student of history - and also quite possibly all students everywhere, anyway.
The Happy Ever After Playlist (0★/5), by Abby Jimenez: A bad book. A very, very bad book. You can read more about why I think that at my review here. I think might be the only book I've ever felt doesn't even deserve any fraction of a star.
La Sorcière (1.5★/5), by Camilla Läckberg (trans. Rémi Cassaigne): I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. I love Scandi noir mysteries. But reader, I did not. You can read my review here.
Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power (4.5★/5), by Stephen Greenblatt: An excellent, if perhaps a bit too short book that analyzes the way Shakespeare used his history plays to explore the pitfalls of absolutist power. It could've been a lot longer and I would have enjoyed it just as much. His analysis of Julius Caesar was a bit too short for my taste, but his analysis of Coriolanus was interesting and excellent. All in all, a short, poignant, crisp work that does a good job of explaining why Shakespeare is so relevant to so many areas, and why we should still study him today.
The Empire of Gold (5★/5), by S.A. Chakraborty: The concluding book of the wonderful Daevabad trilogy. You can read me gushing about it here.
L'Énigme de la chambre 622 (0.5★/5), by Joël Dicker: A horrendously disappointing, slog of a 'thriller' that I had such high expectations of but has instead succeeded in completely turning me off this author for good. My full, very angry rant is here.
You Deserve Each Other (4.2★/5), by Sarah Hogle: A lovely, cute little romance. The banter is good and fun, but the stakes and momentum of the story do go a bit flat after the big reconciliation - it loses the snappy, zingy spark that made the escalating prank war so much fun. Also, not enough sex.
The Book of Longings (3.8★/5), by Sue Monk Kidd: A bit of an uneven read for me, this one. My review is here.