Top 5 May & June 2022
Historical Fiction, High Fantasy, Mythology Inspired Fantasy, and YA Contemporary
Halfway through 2022 already? Unbelievable. July is starting (aka my birthday month) and that calls for a monthly wrap-up as we have made a tradition on this blog 😉 . I hope everyone has been spending their time well, that you’re all safe and sound and as always, taking care of yourself and dedicating time to the things you enjoy!
As I mentioned in my last post, I spent June in a family trip abroad! It was very fun and I was able to visit a bookstore and acquire my most recent book treasure: The Priory of the Orange Tree (check out the pictures on my Instagram! @thebookssmuggler) which was tiring to carry around the airport (it looks and weights like a brick xD) but VERY worth it lol 😀 . I don’t know how long it will take me to read this +800-page book but I will give it a try. Stay tuned!
Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to read during my trip; I could only read 2 books in June. That’s why I’ve made this a companion wrap up, “May & June,” because I did read much more books in May! 5 to be specific. That makes for 7 books in total, hence why, today I am discussing my top 5 books for the wrap-up. From historical fiction to high fantasy and YA contemporaries, I hope that these mini-reviews and my opinion about these books can spark your interest and make your TBR for July a little bit higher.
If you want to, you can also check out my Top 5 April Reads !
Now, let’s get started…
Top 5 May & June Reads
1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
As you can see my pseudonym online is: The Book Smuggler, and ‘smuggler’ is a synonym for ‘thief.’ I OBVIOUSLY had to pick up The Book Thief at some point so it was only fitting to do so 😉 . And as many of you warned me, I did have my tissues ready before I started reading this one, and EFFECTIVELY: they were needed. I was a sobbing mess by the last part of this novel.
This book is so incredibly well written with an original and unique narrator and a charming and heartwarming cast of characters. The flow of the storyline and the powerful message it sends make this an absolute gem. I completely enjoyed it and I do recommend, I believe it is a story that had to be told and that will always spark a lesson in everyone 🙂 .
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still. By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object: “The Gravedigger’s Handbook,” left behind there by accident. With her first act of book thievery, so begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library and wherever there are books to be found.
But when Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down. An astounding, well-crafted writing that burns with intensity. PLEASE READ THIS! Though, it can be a very graphic and violent at times so I can’t recommend it to everyone. Please check out the trigger warnings before picking it up.
2. Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran
I live for royalty-set fantasy books and this one did not disappoint 😀 . A YA fantasy novel packed with political intrigue, murder mystery, high court setting, vengeance and a spy x royalty romance. If this sounds like your cup of tea, definitely check it out; it is bewildering! I believe the writing is very well done: from the smooth introduction of the main characters and dual POV, the action packed storyline, and keeping the reader hooked with twists and political elements in the plot. Definitely enjoyed it!
When teenage queen Lia inherits her corrupt uncle’s bankrupt kingdom, she brings a new spymaster into the fold who takes the job to avenge their murdered father while also preventing a treason against the crown. Faced with dangerous plots and hidden enemies, can Lia and her newly-appointed spy learn to rely on each another, as they discover that all is not fair in love and betrayal? In a world where the throne means both power and duty, they must decide what to sacrifice for their country and for each other…
This was a very enjoyable, entertaining and exciting read with lovable main and side characters and the romance was *chef’s kiss*. My only takeback is that I would’ve liked the ending to flow a bit better with the last few chapters. Aside from that, absolutely would recommend 🙂 .
3. Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi
If you read my wrap up for April, then you know my #1 read was Aru Shah and the End of Time which I absolutely ADORED and won’t ever stop recommending. In May, I read the sequel and also enjoyed it A LOT! I am obsessed with this world that Roshani Chokshi has created and I can’t wait to start book 3. You can read that post here, so you can understand what book 1 is about (and pick it up yourself too 😉 )
Don’t worry, no spoilers ahead, just a little review of the sequel. Aru is just getting the hang of the whole Pandava deal, when the god of love’s bow and arrow go missing. If that weren’t bad enough, Aru gets framed as the thief. If she doesn’t find the arrow by the next full moon, she’ll be kicked out of the Otherworld along with her companions in this quest… Together they’ll have to battle demons, travel through a glittering and dangerous serpent realm, and discover that their enemy isn’t at all who they expected. I ABSOLUTELY ROOTED FOR THIS TEAM! The found family in this book is exquisite and it had me entertained all the time. No stops.
This series just keeps getting better and better. Urban fantasy, middle-grade novels, based off Hindu Mythology and legends that will have you gripped from start to finish. IT IS SO ADDICTIVE AND LEGENDARY! I promise you, this is a win.
4. That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger
One of my best friends told me I HAD to read this book and she went on a 30-minute-long monologue about all of the things she learned from this novel and it absolutely convinced me. I have to say it is a very powerful and sensitive topic that this book deals with, so I can’t recommend it to everyone, BUT if you are interested, check out the trigger warnings. “That’s Not What Happened” is a potent story of six survivors of a school shooting. Emotionally heavy to read, realistic, dark and tense, but with an influential message of owning your story and not letting yourself be silenced.
It’s been three years since the Virgil County High School Massacre and Lee’s best friend, Sarah was killed in a bathroom stall during the mass shooting. Everyone knows Sarah’s story, that she died proclaiming her faith… but that is not true. Now, Sarah’s parents are publishing a book about her and his might be Lee’s last chance to set the record straight and tell the truth about what happened that day. But she’s not the only survivor with a story to tell about what did, and didn’t, happen that day.
I definitely believe this is an impactful read with an incredible writing style and unique portrayal of characters (plus, it has great disabled representation), but, I know it is not a book for everyone because it deals with a lot of heavy topics and PTSD. Again, be sure to check the trigger warnings beforehand 🙂 .
5. If You Still Recognize Me by Cynthia So
Elsie has just graduated high school and is excited for her summer-before-college experience. There’s travelling with her best friend, finding a job she loves (in a comic book store), meeting new people, keeping up with her favorite comics and chatting to her internet friends who are also fans of these. But then there’s also her grandmother from Hong Kong, a woman she hasn’t seen since childhood, staying in her house after the loss of a grandfather she barely knew. Also, her childhood best friend is returning after years of radio silence when there are still many family secrets no one will share.
This book is a story of family, friendship, love, loyalty and self-discovery (and fandom too, the focus that the author gave to the comics that Elsie is obsessed with is amazing to read and a feeling we can all relate to 😉 ), which make it a unique and comforting story for young adults who are also in that stage between teenage and adulthood. In a summer of repairing broken connections and building surprising new ones, Elsie realizes that she isn’t nearly as alone as she thought. But now she has a choice to make after discovering her family’s secrets… This book is perfect in all the sense of the word. Absolutely recommend: comforting, cozy and heartwarming. An epic, evocative novel that is also a heartfelt love letter to comics and storytelling <3.
I promise you that all the books in today’s monthly wrap-up are all worth it and marvelous stories. I can’t stop recommending them! Especially “If You Still Recognize Me” which has become a new favorite 😀 . If you do read any of these feel free to let me know, I always enjoy talking with you guys about books and bookish themes.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Please stay tuned for new updates, I always post about it on my Instagram story so head over there and have your notifications on :). I am excited to write new blog posts and hopefully an incoming review too; now that I am home I have more time to spent on this blog. As always, make sure to check out the books I included in the “Other Books I Read” section because they were all amazing too.
Wishing you all the best for this new month and second-half of the year, spend your time nicely & spread love always book lovers. Happy reading from The Book Smuggler!