I have read so many books this year. Well, 74 to date. I dare say that I might hit the 100 till the end of 2020. Reading is one of my favorite hobbies and esp. in times like these I love to disappear in all those other worlds for a while. I admit that I mostly read books of the same genres, mainly cozy mysteries and fantasy novels. Sometimes a few other books when they interest me enough (or when I have to read them for school *cough*). Of the 16 books I read in June, 15 belong to my two favorite genres. I am a creature of habit – what can I say?!
June was also the first month that I subscribed to Book of the Month*. After Sephora stopped its monthly beauty subscription box, I was looking for something else and stumbled upon BOTM. They feature five books every month and you can choose one (or more). I particularly like that I can skip a month (just did it in July) and keep the credit. Anyway, in June I picked “The Vanishing Half” and “One to Watch”, but have only read the first yet.
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Brit Bennett: The Vanishing Half – The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
I loved this grasping novel. The narrator tells in detail about the whole Vignes family, even though the focus is on the twin sisters. Moreover, it covers many years and had me learn a lot about the discrimination of African Americans in the second half of the 20th century. Other issues besides BLM are also addressed: being a woman and emancipation, a violent husband, transgender. I enjoyed reading about this whole mix and couldn’t wait to find out how the story, but also the characters developed.
I started the Avery Shaw Mystery series in May and liked it so much that I finished reading all parts that have been published so far. Avery Shaw is a journalist and quite obnoxious. Let’s say I learned a good few new English insults from the books. Avery has really grown to me over the course of the so far 16 novels. Besides her character, her handsome boyfriend and her shrewd family, I also really enjoy reading about all the murder cases she uncovers.
Amanda M. Lee: Bylines & Skylines (An Avery Shaw Mystery #9) – Life is changing for Avery Shaw. She’s searching for a house with her boyfriend Eliot so they can officially move in together. She’s been gifted special passes to Macomb County’s comic book convention – and she couldn’t be more excited. She’s also been put in charge of her most hated enemy at work, and the power is going straight to her head. When Eliot lets Avery visit the convention center early, the duo stumble across a dead body and Avery’s happy week is thrown into turmoil. She’s determined to find answers and figure out who killed the victim, but she has her hands full with other things – including her personal life – as well.
Amanda M. Lee: Off the Record (An Avery Shaw Mystery #10) – Camping is supposed to be a peaceful and relaxing time … unless you’re Avery Shaw, of course. No, when you’re Macomb County’s most intrepid reporter, camping is akin to murder … or a very slow and painful death by disease-carrying bugs. That’s what Avery thinks as she takes a well-earned vacation with her boyfriend Eliot Kane. When the duo stumbles across a body at a local festival, Eliot has to force Avery to ease up on the suspicion and embrace the vacation decadence. She’s out of her coverage area, after all, and she’s supposed to be taking it easy. Eliot wants rest and relaxation but Avery is pining for adventure.
Amanda M. Lee: Unwritten & Unterwater (An Avery Shaw Mystery #11) – Avery Shaw is living the dream … kind of. She’s officially moved to her dream house and her boyfriend Eliot Kane is making her host a housewarming party to show off the new digs to her family. All is going well – other than the endless arguments over food and hiding from Avery’s family, of course – until one of Avery’s enemies comes calling. Avery’s former boyfriend Jake Farrell broke up with Cara Carpenter weeks before but she’s still stalking him … and Avery in the process. When Cara turns up dead at a high-profile event, not only is Jake a suspect, but Avery and Eliot are, too.
Amanda M. Lee: Extra! Extra! Dead All About It (An Avery Shaw Mystery #12) – The primary election is almost here and Avery Shaw is in her glory. Her boss has unleashed her on the leading candidates – including two of whom she downright loathes – and Macomb County’s leading reporter (and pot-stirrer extraordinaire) is about to turn the election on its ear. She just needs to find a story first. When her nemesis Tad Lancaster loses a volunteer, Avery sniffs out a bigger story … or at least she thinks she does. She has a pile of documents, too many insidious ideas to wrangle, and a long-suffering boyfriend who can do nothing but shake his head.
Amanda M. Lee: On Deadline & Under Fire (An Avery Shaw Mystery #13) – There’s nothing Avery Shaw loves more than a challenge … at least when it comes to tracking down a story. The challenge she’s facing this time is the one thing she might not be able to overcome, though. Vacation. That’s right, not only is Southeastern Michigan’s busiest reporter off work for a week … but she’s also on the receiving end of a visit from her boyfriend’s mother. Eliot Kane is tough as nails but he’s obviously nervous about the two most important women in his life crossing paths. The fact that he’s nervous makes Avery agitated … and she worries about very little other than who she can upset and how quickly she can make her enemies cry. As luck would have it, Avery stumbles on a story when she should be enjoying her time off. A high-rise apartment fire leaves one dead … and ties to organized crime are abundant. The only thing Avery knows about the mob is what television and movies have taught her. That doesn’t mean she’s not keen to learn.
Amanda M. Lee: Above the Fold & Below the Belt (An Avery Shaw Mystery #14) – Avery Shaw has taken on her fair share of jerks.
Often, she’s considered the jerk when she takes them down … a role she gladly relishes. Now, though, she’s taking on a whole faction of jerks. It seems a battle of the sexes is brewing in Macomb County. A local shock jock, a man who believes women should be home tending children and keeping the house clean while men bring home the bacon, is on trial for sexually harassing his underlings. His followers believe he’s innocent. Every female empowerment group in the state – and ultimately the nation – believes he’s guilty. That means it’s a media circus, and there’s nothing Avery likes more than a circus. She has her hands full with this one, though. She very clearly agrees with one side but there seems to be something wrong with the underlying story. When one of the radio personality’s followers is shot in the middle of a rally, ensuring he’s a martyr for the cause, Avery realizes there’s a path to follow … and it’s long and winding.
Amanda M. Lee: Oracles & Obituaries (An Avery Shaw Mystery #15) – Halloween is Avery Shaw’s favorite time of year. What’s not to love? Slasher movies, hot chocolate and corn mazes. She’s addicted to them all. During a visit to one of those mazes, she runs across several men trying to kidnap a teenage girl. In true Avery fashion, she intervenes … resulting in a severe injury. While she’s on the mend, she starts tracking information on a group of people working in the area. Avery can’t decide if she’s on to something or imagining things. The attack leaves her weaker than she would like, something she refuses to acknowledge, and questioning her investigative mind.
Amanda M. Lee: New Media & Old Grudges (An Avery Shaw Mystery #16) – Avery Shaw likes to win. Unfortunately, her single-minded focus on being declared victor tends to get her into trouble. That’s never more true than when she decides to take on her archnemesis Tad Ludington. With an election coming up, Avery is ready to let her freak flag fly in an attempt to get Tad to show his true colors on television … thus sabotaging his chance at getting into office. That backfires when, after a truly epic meltdown, Tad is shot and left for dead in his own home.
I saw some advertisement for the Harley Merlin series, naming it a Harry Potter for adults. Well, it is good, but not Harry Potter great. Sorry. Now that we have cleared that up: It is a good fantasy series about Harley Merlin who learns only as a young adult that she is actually a witch. As soon as she has moved into the San Diego Coven, it turns out that her aunt is a megalomaniac threatening the world order. All books are about Harley’s and her friends’ fight against the evil aunt. The novels are gripping, but I found the language a little clichéd. It is also good that there is so much awesome action because I feel that the story becomes flimsy when it is about the characters’ thoughts and developments.
Bella Forrest: Harley Merlin and the Secret Coven (Harley Merlin, #1) – Harley Merlin can sense people’s emotions, among other things. It’s how she snagged her first job pinpointing cheaters at a casino. But she has no clue where she got these freakish powers because she spent her childhood jumping from home to home in the foster system, and her father left her with nothing more than a cryptic note. Then she crosses paths with a terrifyingly real monster. Which is when a mysterious and annoyingly arrogant young warlock named Wade Crowley steps in, introducing her to a hidden world of beasts, magicals, and covens riddled with secrets—as well as clues about her murky past. Whether she likes it or not, this new world is where she belongs. But after a disturbing twist of events, Harley quickly realizes that her past is darker than she could ever have imagined. And that someone in the coven is out for her blood. With the help of Wade and her new friends, she must figure out who the traitor is and why they’re targeting her… Before the human and magical worlds dangerously collide.
Bella Forrest: Harley Merlin and the Mystery Twins (Harley Merlin, #2) – Harley Merlin has a lot of unanswered questions in her life. What drove her father to kill her mother? How can she know the true extent of her magical abilities? Has Wade Crowley always been this annoying? After the violent gargoyle incident that left many dead, Harley fears what other evil tricks her psychotic aunt has up her sleeve. When she discovers that magical foster kids like herself are in danger, she knows she must do whatever it takes to protect them.
Bella Forrest: Harley Merlin and the Stolen Magicals (Harley Merlin, #3) – How does one become an all-powerful Child of Chaos? That’s what Harley desperately needs to find out before her unhinged aunt raises the death toll. All she knows for sure is that magical kids are missing, and they somehow fit into Katherine Shipton’s grand scheme. Now that Harley is an official member of the San Diego Coven, she feels more responsible than ever for its protection—and that of the magical world. But she’s got a whole lot more on her plate than that. There’s a traitor lurking within the Coven. She still yearns to know the secrets contained within her parents’ Grimoire. And there’s also the fact that she might actually have feelings for a certain stubborn, green-eyed dude…
Bella Forrest: Harley Merlin and the First Ritual (Harley Merlin, #4) – Five rituals to control Chaos. That’s all it takes. Now that Harley knows her enemy’s grand plan—to become a godlike Child of Chaos and punish those deemed “unworthy”—she’s got to figure out what the heck to do about it. Many of the missing magicals are still out there, and Katherine has vowed to kill everyone Harley cares about and make her watch. So that’s fun. Just when it seems like things can’t get much worse, one of the most precious monsters of the Bestiary escapes, and Harley is sure that Katherine has her dirty hands involved. But that crazy witch had better be ready because Harley has finally figured out a way to unleash her powers—although the cost might not be worth it.
Bella Forrest: Harley Merlin and the Broken Spell (Harley Merlin, #5) – Magic always comes at a price. Harley is a ticking time bomb, ready to detonate with uncontrollable magic. The only solution? Find the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, make some risky deals, and balance the Light and Darkness within her—before she’s torn apart, atom by atom. If only she didn’t have a million other problems standing in her way. The new Director of the San Diego Coven isn’t exactly friendly, and Katherine has already gained untold power. More than ever, Harley needs answers about the rituals Katherine plans to perform to become like Eris, goddess of discord and destruction.
Bella Forrest: Harley Merlin and the Cult of Eris (Harley Merlin, #6) – Consume the Spirit of Thine Greatest Enemy, in the Land of Erebus, on All Hallows’ Eve… Harley has a game plan to stop the third ritual: infiltrate the Cult of Eris and steal back her mother’s soul. But her only way in is through her devious half-brother Finch—the same guy who was Katherine’s most devoted bootlicker not too long ago. Joining a cult counts as sibling bonding time, right? Left with no choice but to break Finch out of prison, Harley must play the part of a loyal cultist. Within Katherine’s inner circle, deadly initiation trials and watchful enemies make every moment a battle for survival. Harley hasn’t forgotten that Finch once belonged to the cult himself, and she wonders if she’ll end up with a valuable new ally… or a knife in the back.
Bella Forrest: Harley Merlin and the Detector Fix (Harley Merlin, #7) – Even a demigoddess must have a weakness. On the run from the Coven she used to call home, Harley Merlin knows that Katherine’s power and influence are spreading like a poison. And she has no doubt that Katherine will follow through with her promise to torture and kill her friends, one by one. Then Harley discovers that the key to her enemy’s undoing might be hiding in a familiar place—her parents’ Grimoire. With Finch, Wade, and Garrett by her side, Harley vows to steal Hester and Hiram’s final gift. Liar. Rebel. Jailbreaker. Why not add “thief” to the list?