June has been a month of highs and lows for me when it comes to books. Four of the books I read this month I gave four or more stars to and really loved. One I found fun and with a great concept, but the execution was lacking, and one I’m still baffled that there are people who actually like the book and don’t find it offensive, shallowly written, and dull. Still, after May where nothing I read really grabbed me, June was definitely a step forward.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston + Review
The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu + Review
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See + Review
The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich + Review
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio + Review
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers + Review
Book of the Month: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers – I enjoyed A Closed and Common Orbit even more than I did her first book, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. Despite the rushed ending, this book was a delight to read and the dual narrative structure worked much more effectively than the aimless vignettes of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.
Runner-Up: I can’t choose between If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio and Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston – They’re such different books, but I adored them both. Exit, Pursued by a Bear is unflinching in its portrayal of the aftermath of rape, but Hermione is a fabulous protagonist and I love that the book gives her a rock solid support system and that she ultimately regains the power she’s lost. If We Were Villains was surprisingly moving, with characters who I cared about and rooted for.
Least Favourite: The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu – Oh boy. With Liu’s first book in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past series it wasn’t to my tastes but I could understand why it was so critically acclaimed. With The Dark Forest I’m honestly at a loss. I struggled through its 500 pages and have no desire to continue with the series, finding the book uncomfortably misogynistic in its treatment of the female characters and all of the characters bland.
Reading the Hugos Challenge Update: 4/8 I’m two months into my challenge to read all of this year’s nominees for Best Novel and I’m half-way through! Unfortunately this is one challenge I won’t be able to complete. I really disliked The Dark Forest and I don’t have the willpower to suffer through nearly 600 pages of another Cixin Liu book just to tick it off a list, especially considering the reviews I’ve read of this book. I’m still planning to read the other nominees (Ada Palmer’s Too Like The Lightning, Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds in the Sky, and N.K. Jemisin’s Obelisk Gate) in July though.
Seen on Stage: June was a great month of theatre for me! Although the National Ballet’s version of Swan Lake is not my favourite, it was the first ballet I saw as an adult so seeing it again felt like coming full circle, and Emma Hawes (recently promoted to first soloist) made an impressive debut as Odette. The company premiere of A Streetcar Named Desire really impressed me with gorgeous performances by all of the opening night cast I saw and interesting choreography. I also spent a fabulous day at Stratford, taking in the enjoyable HMS Pinafore, and the highly anticipated The Virgin Trial, which was fabulous.
A Streetcar Named Desire (ballet) by the National Ballet of Canada – Review
Swan Lake (ballet) by the National Ballet of Canada
HMS Pinafore (musical) at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival – Review
The Virgin Trial (play) at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival – Review
Coming up in July: Some exciting news for me this month, the editor of My Entertainment World, a great website that covers theatre and other branches of entertainment with reviews, interviews, and even annual awards, read my review for Streetcar and asked if I would be interested in writing for them! Of course I said yes, so I’ll be covering the Toronto Fringe Festival next week and writing stage reviews for the My Theatre website. I’ve only seen a few Fringe productions in the past, so I’m excited and anxious about this new experience.
Since Fringe involves a lot of shows in a short amount of time, I’ve geared up by queuing some Spotlight on Stories posts in advance, so my posting schedule shouldn’t be interrupted, but I may be slow to reply to comments and I might fall behind in reading all of your lovely content.
My TBR tends to depend on when my holds come in from the local library, but this July I’ll definitely be reading the other three Hugo award nominees that I haven’t gotten to yet, as well as Now I Rise by Kiersten White, the sequel to And I Darken, as well as Mackenzi Lee’s The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.
What was your favourite read in June? What books are you planning to read in July?