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Features | June Reads

Having initially struggled with concentrating on books during the earlier days of lockdown, June unexpectedly saw me overcoming this and reading more books than any other month of the year so far.

The first book I wanted to talk about this month is Parachutes (Kelly Yang), a contemporary YA novel about teenagers Claire and Dani. Claire is a ‘parachute’, meaning that she has been sent to live and study in California whilst her parents remain at home in Shanghai. I decided to pick up this recent release as it sounded really interesting and I was so absorbed in the story that I ended up bingeing the audiobook over just one weekend. Whilst I really enjoyed the book, I wasn’t quite prepared for how heartbreaking parts of the story were going to be. Alongside themes of identity, wealth and friendship the book also tackles the topics of sexual harassment and assault, with the author’s note at the end of the novel revealing how her own experiences led her to tell this story. I can see Parachutes being very popular within the book blogging community and would definitely recommend adding it to your TBR.

Another audiobook I would highly recommend is the BBC dramatisation of Maya Angelou’s autobiographical title I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I haven’t yet read the full novel (although I do plan to do so), so I can’t speak for how this dramatisation compares, but I thought it was a great production of a powerful story. It’s only around one hour long and it’s certainly worth taking the time to listen to. I managed to get hold of the audiobook through my local library, but at the time of writing this post it is also now available over on the BBC website

I had been planning to pick up a Zadie Smith novel this year after hearing such good things about her writing, so when I noticed her short story collection Grand Union on my library app, I thought it would be the perfect introduction to her work. The book includes a varied and intriguing selection of 19 stories and it was unlike any other short story collection I’ve read. Based on this title, I’m looking forward to picking up one of Smith’s full length novels. I’m not too sure where to start, so if you have a favourite, or one you think I should read first, please leave a comment and let me know. 

Also over on my library app, I managed to get hold of a copy of Station Eleven author Emily St John Mandel’s latest release The Glass Hotel. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book and it’s difficult to explain the plot, but similarly to with Station Eleven I found that I really enjoyed how St John Mandel connected together the different character’s stories whilst taking the reader on a journey. Another one to add to your summer TBRs!

Similarly, I also really enjoyed Shadow Girl (Liana Liu), a YA novel that's part ghost story, part teen drama and certainly wasn’t what I was expecting! When the opportunity arises for Mei to work as an academic tutor to eight year old Ella, she jumps at the chance to earn some extra money during her summer break. Mei is invited to the family’s summer home, a dream property on the beautiful Arrow Island where she even has her very own room for the first time in her life, but can things really be as perfect as they seem? I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about this 2017 release but I’m really glad I picked it up this month (especially as it had been sitting on my shelf for almost two years!).

I couldn’t let this month’s roundup go by without including a little bit about The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes (Suzanne Collins), the highly anticipated new edition to the Hunger Games series. Like many other fans of the original trilogy, I was curious to find out how this story would connect to Katniss’ and what else we would learn about the history of the Hunger Games. Whilst I didn’t dislike the book, for me it just didn’t pack the punch that the first two books in the series did. Without going into any spoilers, I didn't feel much of a connection to any of the characters but the parts of the novel I liked most were those that explained a little bit more about how things we saw in the original trilogy, such as sponsors, came to be.

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