Ah June. What a weirdly long, but quick month that put me in probably my worst reading slump of 2020. By June 28th, I had only completed 3 books…3! I had 3 others that I was about 30-50% done with so just like my good ol’ college days, I took the last two days of the month to cram them all in!
Luckily, I finished them all and man, they were GOOD!
In June, I started the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas as part of a read-a-long series that I am co-hosting on Instagram. I’m only a few books in, but am really enjoying it so far!
I also decided to start diving into more of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novels. I have only ever read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, but I have to say, the contemporary romances that I read this month blew that one out of the water for me.
Ready to check them all out?
June 2020 Book Reviews
All of my reviews include a star rating, the synopsis from Goodreads (because I’m bad at writing my own), a short and sweet review, the tropes associated with it, and a link to shop the book if it sounds like something you’re interested in!
Throne of Glass (ToG #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Description: After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier, 18-year-old assassin, Celaena Sardothien, is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers up her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a series of competitions to win the role of Royal Assassin.
Celaena begins her training with the captain of the guard, Chaol Westfall, and although they can’t stand one another, he’s the closest thing she has to a friend. But once the Crown Prince shows interest in her, things start to get interesting.
But as the competition goes on, contestants are mysteriously winding up dead. As the Celaena investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
My Opinion: About 50 pages in, I was really nervous I wasnt going to love this. After reading and adoring Maas’s ACOTAR series, the writing style and pacing felt really different, but overall, it did not disappoint!
Also, keep in mind that this book was written over the span of 10 years and began while Maas was in high-school. Once I know that, the slow beginning and immature writing style made a lot more sense and definitely progressed as the book went on.
As usual, Maas writes some amazingly fierce characters and the world-building is so rich. The level of detail in this is more-so than ACOTAR and the slower pace in the beginning was almost necessary to set the story and tell the history. Once I was about 200 pages in, I couldn’t put it down. I’m excited to see where this series goes!
Trope(s): Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Love Triangle
Genre(s): YA Fantasy
Crown of Midnight (ToG #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Goodreads Description: *Contains spoilers if you haven’t read the first book in the series*
Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become the King of Adarlan’s Champion. Yet, Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; knowing the man she serves is bent on evil.
Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince, Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.
Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.
My Opinion: This was such a fantastic follow-up to the first book in this series. While I did find that the first half of this book was a bit slow, the storyline picked up quickly in Part 2 and I loved watching all of the character progression and the relationships (both romantic and platonic) that started to develop.
I can honestly say that I really enjoyed all of the characters in this book, even the interesting ones. There are many times in YA fantasy that I feel like some characters are just placed in a story to fill a gap, but all of the characters and their backstories felt so intentional and well-developed.
Trope(s): Friends to Lovers, Forbidden Love, The Secret Heir
Genre(s): YA Fantasy
Assassin’s Blade (ToG Novellas) by Sarah J. Maas
Description: Written as a prequel to the series, this book contains 5 novellas that lead up to the beginning of Throne of Glass.
Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas, Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery.
My Opinion: I enjoyed this book SO much and I loved that it was broken up into five stories. It allowed me to really slowly devour it at my own pace.
This book was much more action-packed and plot-driven than the first few books in the Throne of Glass series. We get a deeper look into Celaena’s time with the Assassin’s Guild and understanding her backstory makes her so much more relatable as a character. It made me appreciate the other books SO much more because not only because we see how much she has progressed from book-to-book, but also because we get to witness many of the stories that she briefly references in Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight.
This book could also totally be read as a standalone. You don’t need any prior knowledge to the series to enjoy this one.
Trope(s): Enemies to Lovers
Genre(s): YA Fantasy
After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Description: After 6 years of marriage, Lauren and Ryan find themselves falling out of love and at a breaking point. In hopes to rekindle the spark they once had, they decide to take a year apart with no contact.
The story follows Lauren on her journey of self-discovery as she deals with the heartbreak from her separation and the self-awareness that comes with it.
My Opinion: This book speaks on the struggles of marriage and everything about this story felt undeniably raw and genuine. Taylor Jenkins Reid did an amazing job at creating such pure emotion and from the first to the last page, I felt every ounce of the love and anger and pain that our MC endured.
It’s a heartbreaking, but uplifting story and I think it’s SUCH an important read for anyone in a relationship. It made me want to go give my hubby a hug immediately after reading it.
The only thing that bumped it down to a 4.5 rating is that the ending felt a little rushed, but overall, this story felt pretty dang perfect.
PS…This was an audiobook read for me and I HIGHLY recommend the audio form.
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Description: After a hard few years, Emma has finally found happiness and is newly engaged to the love of her life, but nothing could prepare her for the call she receives one evening: Her high-school sweetheart, the first love of her life, and husband who went missing 3 years ago in a helicopter crash, is alive.
Now, with a husband and fiance, Emma must figure out who she is, what she wants, and navigate the feelings of loving two people at once.
My Opinion: I was at a loss for words when I finished this book. I consumed it via audiobook and the narrator did an amazing job at making every emotion in this story come to life.
At its core, this is a book about self-discovery, growth, and how deeply impacted we can be by the love and loss in our lives. It serves as a reminder that we will always carry those we love(d) in our hearts and we are the people we are today because of them.
“I am who I am because I loved you once.”
Overall, this book had me in all my feels so get ready to ride Reid’s emotional rollercoaster of raw pain and pure joy. It’s a wild ride, but one that I will never forget.
Trope(s): Second-Chance Romance, Love Triangle
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Description: This book tells the story of two identical light-skinned twin sisters who ultimately choose to live different lives, one living as black, the other passing as white.
Desiree and Stella grew up in small southern town that prides itself on it its light-skinned community, but at the age of 16, the twins run away to build a life in New Orleans. 10 years later, Desiree and her daughter move back to the town she tried to escape, while Stella lives in California with her husband and daughter, secretly passing as white. But even though Stella has worked hard to forget the life she once
My Opinion: This was an absolutely captivating story about identity. Whether from the choices they made or their biological makeup, almost every character in this book struggled with their sense of belonging and their desire for love and acceptance.
But beyond that, this story touches on racial inequities, gender constructs, sexuality, class, and the existence of unconscious biases amongst varying groups throughout the 1950’s-1990’s.
Overall, this was a phenomenal book. It was thought-provoking, well-paced, had a fantastic set of characters (definitely not always likeable) and was layered with depth.
If you haven’t read this, please do. Brit Bennett is an amazing storyteller and I need to immediately pick up her debut, The Mothers.
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Let’s Chat Books!
Overall, my favorite book of the month was One True Loves. It’s just a story that I think will stick with me for a long, long time.
What was your favorite read from June? Have you read any of the books mentioned in this list?
Leave a comment below and let’s chat!