June 2023 Reads and Reviews

Tell all ya friends and neighbors!

Sharing all I read in June and mini reviews of them all!

june 2023 reads graphic


Y’all June was a crap shoot.

I felt like I didn’t read hardly anything worth talking about, but I’m gonna talk about it anyway, just in case any of you may be interested in some of them.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin

tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow by gabrielle zevin laying on a brown pillow

Amazon rating: 4.4 stars

Goodreads rating: 4.23 stars

How I read it: Started with physical copy, then moved to Kindle

Read if you like:

  • Lots of characters
  • Lifelong friendship
  • DEEP storylines with lots of character development
  • Multiple POVs

What I loved: The last 100 pages or so; appreciated the LGBTQ representation and diversity

What I didn’t love: Super long, had a tough time getting invested, felt it drug on until the last 100 pages or so

Book Blurb

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom.

These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love.

My thoughts

You guys this was Goodreads’s BOOK OF THE YEAR, which was voted on by thousands of people so of course I had to.

It’d been on my TBR shelf for a really long time, but it popped up available at my library so I bit.

And I think I bit off more than I could chew.

I could not make myself care about this storyline.

I thought it was cool it spanned a lot of time, but it jumped back and forth with timelines which made it tough for me to follow AND I just felt like the story was going nowhere. More of us just looking in and watching these people grow up and fight and make up and et cetera.

I definitely appreciated the diversity in this book and the last little bit felt like it had the most action, but it just fell super flat for me and did not live up to the hype.

This is why I hate reading books that come SO highly rated and recommended because I feel so bad when I feel like I’m the only one who disagreed.

My rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

With My Little Eye – Joshilyn Jackson

screenshot of audiobook on Libby app

Amazon rating: 3.8 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.34 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Lots of characters
  • Multiple POV
  • Stalker trope
  • Slow to medium paced

What I loved: The final few chapters

What I didn’t love: Lots of characters; on audiobook, sometimes hard to tell which POV was being read if you weren’t paying super attention

Book Blurb

It started with the letters…

For actress Meribel Mills, disturbing fan mail is part of the price of fame. So when she starts getting creepy letters written in fruit-scented marker she is mostly unphased and diligently files them along with her other messages from unhinged fans. After all, she’s a single mom approaching forty, not the kind of hot young celeb who sparks dangerous obsessions. But there’s something different about Marker Man…

He’s been in her home…

Meribel’s sheets smell of unfamiliar cologne, and objects have gone missing around the house. Plus, the letters have become more perverse, with drawings of a naked Meribel tied up or chopped into pieces. While the police insist that stalkers hardly ever escalate to violence, Meribel has played the dead girl one too many times on TV to risk becoming her in real life. She and her daughter move from Los Angeles to Atlanta for a fresh start—but no distance is great enough.

He’s watching her…

Years of being in front of a camera have given Meribel a superpower—she can feel eyes on her, a creeping sensation like bees inside her skin. And someone definitely has her in their sights. Could Marker Man have followed her all the way across the country?

Who else might be watching—her ex-husband? The lover she left behind in LA? Her new neighbor? Suddenly, every man in her life is a suspect, but she can’t keep herself and her daughter safe from a monster she can’t identify. When the paths of all of these men collide, Meribel will find herself alone in the fight of her life, desperate to protect those she loves as danger closes in from all sides.
If he can’t have her, no one can.

My thoughts

I feel like this was almost two stories in one.

There was the storyline with Meribel/her daughter/Marker Man and then there felt like there was the storyline with the homeless girl and her quest to find justice for her sister.

Without giving too much away, it just felt like there were times the stories didn’t need each other or the characters at all so it clouded the actual plot.

The entire time I felt like I had it figured out, but will say I was surprised to learn the identity of the Marker Man, and it was a fairly easy listen but as I often say with books, it was pretty forgettable.

My rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Last Thing to Burn – Will Dean

Amazon rating: 4.5 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.8 stars

How I read it: Kindle

Read if you like:

  • Fast paced
  • First person single POV
  • Single timeline

Content warning: Emotional/physical abuse, human trafficking

What I loved: The tension this built OMG

What I didn’t love: The freaking man in this book

Book Blurb

He is her husband. She is his captive.

Her husband calls her Jane. That is not her name.

She lives in a small farm cottage, surrounded by vast, open fields. Everywhere she looks, there is space. But she is trapped. No one knows she is there. Visitors rarely come to the farm; if they do, she is never seen.

Her husband records her every movement during the day. If he doesn’t like what he sees, she is punished.

For a long time, escape seemed impossible. But now, something has changed. She has a reason to live and a reason to fight. Now, she is watching him, and waiting…

My thoughts

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve wanted a character in a book to die so much.

It’s been an even longer time that I had to actually read a little bit of the ending to make sure a certain character did not die.

I saw someone describe this as her “heart being in her throat the entire time she read it” and I could not agree more.

I flew through this and added Will Dean to my list of authors whose entire collection of books I want to read.

My rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Black Cake – Charmaine Wilkerson

screenshot of Libby app with audiobook playing

Amazon rating: 4.4 stars

Goodreads rating: 4.12 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Family drama
  • Alternating timelines
  • Historical fiction
  • LGBTQ representation
  • Multiple POV
  • Slow story with lots of character development

What I loved: The story arc was good overall; great little nuggets of good little life lessons

What I didn’t love: Lots of characters (including name changes); hard to follow at times; never. gotsuper into the story

Book Blurb

We can’t choose what we inherit. But can we choose who we become?

In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage and themselves.

Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor’s true history, and fulfill her final request to “share the black cake when the time is right”? Will their mother’s revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?

Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names can shape relationships and history. Deeply evocative and beautifully written, Black Cake is an extraordinary journey through the life of a family changed forever by the choices of its matriarch.

My thoughts

Last month, this was actually on my DNF list because the audiobook returned on my Libby app and I didn’t finish in time so I had to wait until it became available again.

This feels like one of those important books that I’m supposed to like and that I just couldn’t get in to.

The jumping back and forth with timelines and the fact that it spanned 50+ years was hard to follow.

I liked the storyline in general, but it wasn’t one of those books that I’ll find myself trying to get everyone I know to read like a Jodi Picoult novel.

I had really high hopes for this and I appreciate it for what it is, but it was already out of my genre of choice and it. was SOOOO LONNNNNG and I feel like I was waiting for it to go somewhere and it just didn’t do it for me.

In the same breath, this was a debut novel and if this is what she started out with, she’s got a long career ahead of her for sure.

My rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Night Swim – Megan Goldin

Amazon rating: 4.3 stars

Goodreads rating: 4 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Dual POV
  • Podcast element
  • Alternating timelines

Content warnings: Sexual assault

What I loved: This was SO fun on audiobook because it had the transcripts of the podcast episodes; production value was great

What I didn’t love: Kind of predictable (at least for me)

Book Blurb

Ever since her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall has become a household name—and the last hope for people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The new season of Rachel’s podcast has brought her to a small town being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. A local golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season 3 a success, Rachel throws herself into her investigation—but the mysterious letters keep coming. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insist she was murdered—and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody in town wants to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases—and a revelation that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this and highly recommend on audiobook.

I love how the chapters that were the audiobook transcripts sounded like a real true crime podcast and I loved the dynamic of Rachel and her little assistant!

The alternating POV kept the storyline moving at a good pace as well.

I wouldn’t say this was fast paced, but it also wasn’t slow either.

I read Stay Awake also by Megan Goldin back in November and really liked her writing style and would say this one was another hit too! Not life changing, but really enjoyable as I was reading it.

My rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

My Wife is Missing – D.J. Palmer

my wife is missing by dj palmer laying on brown pillow

Amazon rating: 4.2 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.8 stars

How I read it: Started with physical copy (that I borrowed from my local library), moved to Kindle, then moved to audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Family drama/domestic thrillers
  • Psychological suspense
  • Dual POV (3rd person)
  • Dual timeline (before and after the wife goes missing)
  • Unreliable characters

What I loved: The dual timeline and POVs kept the story interesting

What I didn’t love: Felt a little slow in some parts; predictable (at least for me)

Book Blurb

A family vacation turns into a nightmare for Michael Hart when he discovers his wife and two children have disappeared from their New York City hotel room. Horrified, he fears they’ve been kidnapped. Michael’s frantic search to find them takes a shocking turn when he discovers that his wife, Natalie, appears to have left quite willingly, taking their children with her. The police want to know why, and so does Michael. But there may be a reason why Natalie ran, something Michael can’t tell the police—the truth about his past.

While untangling his deceptions might be the key to locating Natalie, Michael knows it could also be his undoing. To find his wife, he must now turn to the one person capable of exposing all that he’s been hiding. Natalie thinks she has Michael all figured out and has hatched a plan to escape from him permanently. One detail, though, threatens to derail her efforts: sleep—or more accurately, the lack of it. Since the moment the shocking revelations about her husband came to light, Natalie’s insomnia has worsened to the point that she now suffers from delusions.

Are her fears about Michael valid—or a symptom of her condition? With her children’s lives at risk, the stakes for Natalie could not be higher. On her own, running low on energy and resources, avoiding increasingly close calls with Michael—who is on the hunt and closing in fast—Natalie needs someone to turn to for help. But who can she trust when she can’t even trust herself?

My thoughts

I didn’t mean to read this book in every way it is available, but it happened by accident.

I checked it out at my library, it was overdue so I got it on Kindle, but I was already reading a book so by the time I got to it, I only had a few days before it returned as well so I got it on audiobook.

This was a good domestic thriller, where you felt that both characters were hiding something or were somewhat deceitful, but I enjoyed it as I read it.

I will say I had the person pegged as being involved, but wasn’t quite sure the level so that was a fun surprise.

I also appreciated the epilogue that wrapped up everything quite nicely and the twists and crescendo of everything at the end was a fun ride.

I’ve heard D.J. Palmer’s other book called The New Husband is a good read as well, so I’ve added that to my seemingly never ending TBR.

My rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The House in the Pines – Anne Mette Hancock

Amazon rating: 3.6 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.16 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Psychological thriller
  • Bit of magical realism element
  • Single POV (3rd person)
  • Dual timeline

What I loved: Ummmm……

What I didn’t love: Didn’t like the magic aspect; storyline was only okay

Book Blurb

Maya was a high school senior when her best friend, Aubrey, dropped dead in front of the enigmatic man named Frank whom they’d been spending time with all summer.
Seven years later, Maya lives in Boston with a loving boyfriend and is kicking the secret addiction that has allowed her to cope with what happened years ago, the gaps in her memories, and the lost time that she can’t account for. But her past comes rushing back when she comes across a recent YouTube video in which a young woman suddenly keels over and dies in a diner while sitting across from none other than Frank. Plunged into the trauma that has defined her life, Maya heads to her Berkshires hometown to relive that fateful summer—the influence Frank once had on her and the obsessive jealousy that nearly destroyed her friendship with Aubrey.
At her mother’s house, she excavates fragments of her past and notices hidden messages in her deceased Guatemalan father’s book that didn’t stand out to her earlier. To save herself, she must understand a story written before she was born, but time keeps running out, and soon, all roads are leading back to Frank’s cabin. . . .
Utterly unique and captivating, The House in the Pines keeps you guessing about whether we can ever fully confront the past and return home.

My thoughts

I’m done with Reese’s Book Club picks.

Nearly every one she has picked has been hella overhyped and has ended up being trash to me (looking at you Where the Crawdads Sing).

There have been a couple that haven’t been terrible, but I would just love to know what goes into her criteria because I usually end up disappointed and this is no different.

I don’t know what I was expecting this book to be but this was NOT IT.

It promised to be a really great thriller about a girl who watches her friend drop dead in front of a guy and then 7 years later watches another girl die in front of him on CCTV.

Eh. I mean it was okay, but I struggled to stay into this between the alternating past and present timeline and then with the “magical” element to it all was like, yeah no thanks.

My rating

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Top 3 Reads of June

I struggled a lot this month and didn’t get through that many because several books I felt like held me back with their length and boring-ness.

Which means picking my top 3 was not hard at all.

3 – My Wife is Missing by D.J. Palmer

2 – The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

1 – The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean



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