What I Read in June 2021

Happy Friday, everyone!

I hope you’ve all had a great start to July! For my part, I’ve arrived in the new month looking like a zombie because I’ve been watching so much soccer instead of sleeping. Which maybe isn’t the best prerequisite for taking exams – my first one is roughly a week from now – but it’s not like I could miss the Euros!

Other than that, my life hasn’t really been all that exciting. I’ve mostly been coding a lot and trying to find “interesting data” in my results. I’m not so sure if any of the data really is all that interesting, but my advisor is very excited and thinks we might find something that could lead to a nice theorem, so I guess I’m going to keep going through it and hope for the best… πŸ˜…

All that to say: Between my thesis and soccer, I didn’t really have that much time left over for reading. Which makes it kind of miraculous that I somehow still managed to squeeze six books in! Seriously, guys, I’m amazed by my time management skills! Actually, no, I’m not, because my idea of time management is not sleeping if there aren’t enough hours during daytime to do what I need to get done. Shhh!

But anyway, without further ado, let’s get into details about what I read this past month!


The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (4/5 Stars)

I’ve been seeing this book everywhere, so eventually, I was bound to get intrigued enough to give it a try πŸ˜„ And then, when I read the synopsis, I was completely sold!

The Midnight Library follows Nora Seed, a 35-year-old woman who realizes she doesn’t really have anything left to live for. She’s achieved nothing, fulfilled none of the dreams she once had. She broke up with her fiancΓ© right before their wedding. Walked out on her band before it got big. She couldn’t even keep her cat alive. So, thinking that the world would be better off without her anyway, Nora decides to take her own life.

But Nora doesn’t die. Instead, she ends up in the Midnight Library. A place between life and death that allows her to experience stories. Stories that suck her in and allow her to experience what her life would have been like if she had made different choices. Stories that show her which futures might still be possible and waiting for her.

The idea behind this book was brilliant, and Nora was such a relatable protagonist! Obviously, I also have my fair share of decisions that I regret, and even apart from that, it would be really interesting to see what my life would be like today if I had done things differently in the past. To find out how one tiny decision might have affected my entire future.

However, while I did really like this book, I was kind of disappointed with the execution of the whole “Nora gets to try out alternate realities” thing. Nora is thrown into all of these parallel lives knowing nothing; she’s completely out of her comfort zone and behaves like a total weirdo. Intense second-hand embarrassment I suffered from because of this aside, I think this kind of defeated the purpose of Nora knowing how her life might have been different if she’d made a different choice. Because if you don’t get to experience this life from the perspective of the person living it, how would you really know how much you’d like it? How would you know if a decision ultimately led to your happiness or not?

Also, I do think the book gets a bit repetitive towards the end. Instead of exploring scenario after scenario, I would have loved if it had tied things together a bit more at the end and given us a bit more punch.

Still, all of this is high-level complaining 😁 This book was super interesting, well-written, and it really makes you reflect on your own life. Parts of it, especially the beginning, had me pretty close to tears. I can certainly see why it’s so popular!


The Library of the Unwritten (Hell’s Library #1) by A.J. Hackwith (2.5/5 Stars)

[Before you ask: No, I didn’t read two books about libraries in a row on purpose. It just kind of happened!]

The concept of this book is a stroke of genius. A library in Hell where books that haven’t been written yet are stored? Books whose characters sometimes come to life and have to be tracked down? Yes please, sign me up! πŸ€—

Somehow, though, this book never really clicked with me. Not that there was anything objectively wrong with it. It was a well-written, fast-paced story. The characters were interesting enough: There’s Claire, our hellish librarian. Her assistant Brevity, who happens to be a muse. Hero, an escaped unwritten character who thinks he’s just about the best thing that has ever graced the planet. Leto, a demon who might not be a demon after all. And Ramiel, a disgraced Fallen Angel. All of them get mixed up in a bunch of heavenly drama surrounding a strange book, and chaos ensues.

Yet somehow, I didn’t find myself caring about much of it. It felt like there was dramatic event after dramatic event, literary pun after literary pun, but strip all of that away and what remains seemed rather shallow. There was so much potential for going into depth and exploring heavy topics, but we were only ever given the barest glimpse. For example, we have a character who is in Hell because he was horribly depressed, committed suicide, and still hates himself. But apart from revealing this information, The Library of the Unwritten never explores any of this in great detail. The same goes for our snarky librarian who doesn’t do well with people, or the book character trying to become more than his story. There was so much potential for great character development, but I felt like that was largely pushed aside to give us a ton of references to other literary works…

Overall, I just wasn’t a huge fan. This book has been getting a ton of praise, though, so it might just be me. I can make do with no plot if a book is very character-driven, but do it the other way around and I’ll start to lose interest!


The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #1) by Natasha Pulley (4.5/5 Stars)

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I think the best way to describe this book is that it’s weird. A hundred pages in, I still had no clue whatsoever as to what was going on, and even after that, I was never sure what was going to happen next. WHICH I ABSOLUTELY LOVED! Books that manage to take me completely by surprise are getting rarer and rarer as I get older, so it was wonderful to simply sit back, relax, theorize, be wrong, and theorize some more 😊

Honestly, I think it’s probably best to go into this book knowing as little as possible, but for those of you who do want to at least get a gist of the plot: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is set in Victorian London, where we follow a young telegrapher who narrowly escapes death thanks to a mysterious golden watch someone left in his apartment. In an attempt to find out more about the blast that destroyed Scotland Yard and nearly killed him, Thaniel decides to track down the watch’s maker in hope for answers. Which is how he becomes acquainted with slightly eccentric Japanese immigrant Keita Mori. Meanwhile, a young woman named Grace is studying at Oxford university with dreams of becoming a great scientist rather than a housewife.

This book has lots of clockwork, a vibrant atmosphere, a dash of magical realism, and a mechanical octopus. It has a number of things I love to see in a story, such as luscious writing, random language trivia, and a whole bunch of science-y stuff.

[Speaking of science, though, I’m actually still trying to figure out if Mori was named after the mathematician. Apparently, Natasha Pulley once worked as a publishing assistant for Cambridge University’s math department, so I figure she might know what a genius Mori Shigefumi was. Seriously, I spent half of last year close to tears because Mori Theory was the most difficult thing I’ve ever encountered at university! My friend and I spent close to twenty hours a week going pouring over lecture notes and trying to solve at least one of our five weekly homework problems, and yet I still feel as though I barely understood anything…]

But anyway, back to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street… Because the best thing about it were definitely the characters! Of course, I was immediately sold on Grace. I can’t not love a nerdy STEM student because it doesn’t really get much more relatable than that πŸ₯° But the other characters, like Thaniel and Matsumoto, also slowly wormed their way into my heart, so that by the end of the book, I loved them just as much as Grace. Unfortunately, I can’t really tell you too much about Mori because I don’t know how that would even be possible without spoiling something, but just take my word for it that he’s very interesting. And Katsu! He’s so cool!! He was one of the best things about this book!

Anyway, I loved this. The only thing I could possibly complain about is that very little actually happens in terms of plot. If you’re a rather action-focused reader, this book is probably not for you. But I honestly didn’t care all that much 😁 If you’re looking for some good character-driven historical fantasy, read this!


Better Together by Christine Riccio (3/5 Stars)

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There’s nothing better for procrastinating on your own writing than watching other people write instead, so I’ve always really enjoyed Christine’s Novel Writing series that she does on her BookTube channel PolandBananasBooks. She always sounds so enthusiastic about her projects and obviously puts a ton of work into them, so I had to see what she had come up with this time!

And besides, the story also sounded really interesting! The moment Christine said it was like an adult version of The Parent Trap, I was intrigued. Because Erich KΓ€stner’s Das Doppelte Lottchen, the German children’s book the Parent Trap movie is based on, is one of my big childhood favorites. I absolutely adore it and have probably seen at least five different adaptations πŸ˜‚ I just love sibling stories, okay?

Better Together follows two young women, Siri Maza and Jamie Federov, who stumble across one another at a retreat in Colorado just as everything in their lives seems to be going wrong. Siri, a ballet prodigy, has just had a severe injury stopping her from ever dancing again, and Jamie, who aspires to be a stand-up comedian, recently suffered one of the most embarrassing nights of her career. Neither of them was super enthusiastic about going to a “Rediscover Yourself” summer camp, but then Jamie recognizes Siri. Her long lost younger sister, whom she hasn’t seen since their parents dramatically split up so many years ago! Soon, the sisters have hatched a plan to trade places, and helped along with a touch of magic, it works better than they ever could have dreamed.

Overall, this book was fun. I enjoyed myself reading it. But there was also a bunch of stuff that had me rolling my eyes. The magical realism – The sisters just happen to find a glitter bomb in the woods that explodes over them and magically makes them look like each other? – was mediocre at best and left thoroughly unexplained. The characters’ reactions to everything were extremely over the top and kind of inconsistent. The parents’ reasons for splitting up their kids were never properly explored and felt very unbelievable. It was kind of insta-lovey. Siri’s dramatic back injury apparently only stopped her from doing ballet but was otherwise conveniently absent from the book.

And maybe my pettiest complaint: Siri and her mom make a huge deal about not using swear words, so they replace all of them with synonyms: “excrement” for “shit”, “intercourse” for “fuck”, “gluteus maximus trench” for “asshole”, “underworld” for “hell”… You get the picture. And oh my savior, I’m fine with people having their weird quirks and all, but reading “intercoursing excrement” every couple of pages was annoying as underworld. I mean, if you hate swearing so much, just don’t swear! You don’t have to use these weird words all the intercoursing time! [See what I’m talking about? I can’t be the only one who is driven nuts by this, right? πŸ™ˆ]

Still, I had fun reading this! Better Together may not be a literary masterpiece, but it’s a quick summery read if you’re looking for something to cheer you up.


A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (5/5 Stars) and Good Girl, Bad Blood (4.5/5 Stars) (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #1 and #2) by Holly Jackson

Okay, okay, I get it now! I see what you guys were all going on about! These books are absolutely amazing, and I ended binging through both of them because I just couldn’t put them down. This is easily the best YA mystery series I have ever come across! 😍😍😍

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder follows British teenager Pippa Fitz-Amobi, who has chosen to reinvestigate her town’s most infamous murder case for a school project. Pip promises her teacher that all she wants to do is harmless research, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Because while the whole town is positive that Salil Singh killed schoolgirl Andie Bell five years ago, Pip just can’t reconcile cold-blooded murder with the kind-hearted boy she once knew. And she’s determined to prove that Sal didn’t do it.

Honestly, this book was pretty much perfect. Pip was a very relatable main character, but she also makes some rather questionable decisions that make her feel all the more real. The suspense was off the charts. The writing was excellent, with case files, interview transcripts, and other clues providing an interesting addition to the main narrative. There’s lots of diversity, but not in the way that makes it feel forced. All the family relationships and friendships were adorable. Also, I JUST LOVE RAVI!!

The only thing I could complain about was that the ending felt a tad contrived, but since I suppose things could have happened that way, we’re just going to ignore that πŸ˜‡ I definitely highly recommend A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder to any crime lover, no matter what their age!

And the sequel, Good Girl, Bad Blood, was also excellent. We’re back with some of our favorite characters, dealing with the repercussions of what happened in A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, and, although Pip has sworn to steer clear of crime, she just can’t say no when a friend of hers asks her to search for his missing brother… Pip’s second case, if possible, might be even darker than her first one, and I stayed up way to long because I just had to know how it ended.

However, I do think we could have gotten a bit more focus on a few of the side characters and Pip’s friends in this one – after all, some of them were dealing with some pretty serious consequences from what Pip had unearthed in A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, and I would have loved to see more fallout from that. Also, this book was a tad more predictable than the first one, and I also feel like one character got a major backstory addition that was never even hinted at in the first book, which made things seem a bit contrived. Sure, it could have happened this way, but I think if Holly Jackson had given us clues earlier, the ending would have been even stronger.

Still, I think both of these books absolutely deserve the hype they’ve been getting, so if you’re still unsure as to whether or not you should read them: You definitely should!!


Anyway, that was it for today!

If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to hear what you thought of them. Do you agree with my assessments? Do I have any controversial opinions? Let me know in the comments!

Also, I’d love to hear what your favorite book of the month was! Mine was most definitely A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, but The Watchmaker of Filigree Street was a close second 😊

30 thoughts on “What I Read in June 2021

  1. Line says:

    Watchmaker of Filigree Street!! 😍😍 I’m so happy you liked it! I was worried your love for Grace was going to make you hate the ending because my own tiny criticism of the book was that I wished her motivations had been clearer. And now that you mention Mori Theory, I actually remember that you mentioned it a long time ago and almost gave me a heart attack because I only know of one Mori πŸ˜‰
    I hope you liking that book so much also makes up for me recommending The Library of the Unwritten to you πŸ˜… Really sorry you didn’t care for that one. I do like my literary puns and cannot hate a book that has a character like Hero in it. But yes, it does have a bit more plot than books I usually like.

    And my favorite book of the month? Nothing even comes close to The Kingdom of Copper 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      I actually didn’t think Grace’s motivations were that unclear, so that part of the ending didn’t surprise me all that much. I just wish we had gotten to see more of her earlier on in the book! The person who I couldn’t read at all was actually Mori – I was constantly torn between thinking he was a kind, misunderstood, lonely man or an evil mastermind assassin luring Thaniel into his clutches. I didn’t trust him at all for the entire duration of the book πŸ˜… And regarding the Mori Theory thing – for me it was exactly the other way around; I couldn’t read this book without having intensely traumatic university flashbacks, so thanks for that, Natasha Pulley 🀣

      And don’t worry about The Library of the Unwritten! There’s a very fine boundary between me absolutely adoring literary references and me hating them when I think they take over the story too much, so without me actually reading the book, there’s no way to tell whether I would have liked it πŸ˜‰ And Hero and Leto were actually some of my favorite things about the book! I just wish we had gotten more of their thoughts and feelings, you know? But either way, we were bound to hit something you love that I didn’t eventually! To be honest, it this actually makes me feel a lot better about recommending Addie LaRue to you 😁 And yes, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street definitely made up for it! πŸ₯°

      Also, I am obviously beyond thrilled about your favorite book of the month πŸ€— Not that I wasn’t expecting that, but it’s nice to hear all the same! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • Line says:

        You saying that about Mori has me thinking that you’re either going to love or hate the second book πŸ˜‚

        I liked Leto too, and I actually think I liked the sequel a little less than the first because he wasn’t in it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • abookowlscorner says:

          WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! You can’t raise the suspense this much when I’m simultaneously watching soccer, I’m already nervous enough! But now I desperately want to start The Lost Future of Pepperharrow because I need to know what is up with Mori! I guess I’m back to still not trusting him 🧐

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Lesserleaf says:

    Watchmaker of Filigree Street sounds really intriguing. But I just can’t start another series at the moment, I’ve got to many that I haven’t finished and want to catch up on… Maybe I’ll start when I’ve caught up on one of my ongoing series. I’ll keep it in mind.
    I’ve also always loved Das Doppelte Lottchen and have seen lots of film adaptations. I’ve seen and liked The Parent Trap in German but had no clue that this was the English title. The German title is boring in comparison — another case of what was the translator thinking? πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Haha, I definitely relate to your struggle πŸ˜‚ There are so many series out there that sound interesting, but there also seem to be hundreds I’m still in the middle of. At least it feels like it πŸ˜…
      And oh my god, “Die VermΓ€hlung ihrer Eltern geben bekannt”??? 😳😳😳 I just had to google the title since I’ve only ever seen the movie in English, but that’s absolutely horrible! At least the remake is called “Ein Zwilling kommt selten allein”, but that’s only slightly better. I am starting to get genuinely concerned for our translators…

      Like

  3. Strawberrys Corner says:

    This is awesome, all the books sound amazing and I want to read all, apart from Better Together. I don’t swear and say eff if I’m reading something out loud that has that word in it but…All that is just dumb, also just saying hell isn’t so bad, it’s more of a location than it is a swear word haha
    But I really want to read the first book you mentioned so much! It sounds so cool, very think about your mortality which I love.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. hopewellslibraryoflife says:

    Midnight Library–I agree with you–it did get repetitive at the end. And “total weirdo” was exactly the right description, LOL. Overall though I really liked the book, which as a bit out of my usual comfort one. Nice reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      It’s nice to see someone agrees! 😊 And hahaha, yeah, I was cringing so badly during some of the parts – like that press conference she gave as a swimmer πŸ™ˆ It was horrible! I feel so bad for Nora’s alternate selves who will have to go back and deal with the fallout of her decisions… But yes, overall I really liked the book as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Rabeeah says:

    Euro Fever is indeed taking over, and I’m not even a great football fan. I read a bit of Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig once and didn’t like it, but considering The Midnight Library is fiction (and you’ve rated it so highly!) I might check that one out. Hopefully it has a happy ending, however…

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      I’m glad to hear that even as a non-great football fan, you’re not immune to the hype 😁
      I’ve never heard of Notes on a Nervous Planet before – the only book by Matt Haig that I’ve read is The Midnight Library, so I don’t really have anything to compare it to… But despite some minor complaints, I enjoyed it a lot and hope you will, too, if you do end up checking it out! As for the ending, my lips are zipped… 😁 You’re just going to have to find out yourself!

      Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Thanks, Aanya! I’m so glad you also love A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder 😊πŸ₯° I can’t believe it took me this long to read it after you’ve all been telling me how good it is – I should have trusted you sooner!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ahaana @ Windows to Worlds says:

    naemi!! omg i’m so late to this post but hi!! you had such a productive june omg. my dad has also been watching the euros, and unfortunately due to the time difference he’s up really late watching, and forgets to wake me up in time for my classes πŸ˜‚ my time management is SO bad that’s literally what all my teachers comment on during parent teacher meetings so juggling watching the euros with your thesis and reading six books is A LOT – at least for me πŸ˜… so i’m proud of you πŸ’•

    the midnight library sounds really different from what i usually read but i’ve been seeing good ratings for it almost everywhere, so i’m thinking of checking it out soon! the library of the unwritten also sounds like such an interesting book, so i’m sorry it didn’t live up to your expectations! ALSO OMG I CAN’T STOP LAUGHING DID YOU REALLY HAVE TO READ THE WORDS INTERCOURSING EXCRETEMENT BACK TO BACK HAHAHAHA I CAN’T STOP πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

    i also loved reading a good girl’s guide to murder a while ago, so i’m glad you did too!! i hope july treats you well!! ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Oh gosh, I can’t even imagine how tired your dad must be! I was already about to drop dead on my feet after some of the later matches that ended up lasting all the way through penalty shootouts, and at least all of them took place in my time zone πŸ˜… Though I guess it’s good practice for your time management skills 😜🀣 You always come across as very organized on your blog and YouTube channel, so I never would have guessed you had trouble with that! πŸ˜‚

      And yeah, The Midnight Library was definitely interesting! It’s not my favorite thing I’ve ever read, but it makes you think and reflect on your life so much, which I really appreciated! And OMG, the intercoursing excrement πŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆ YOU HAVE NO IDEA!! It popped up every five pages, at least! And then all the other characters thought it was so cool and quirky that they started using it, too 😫 I COULD NOT TAKE IT SERIOUSLY!

      And aaaahhh, I’m so happy you loved A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, too, Ahaana! I hope your July also turns out awesome as well, and hope you can get that time management under control! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

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