What I’ve Been Reading Lately (June 2023)

My summer reading is off to an exciting start! Besides longer days and vacation plans, there is a summer book bingo reading challenge happening at work. We are an avid group of readers, not surprising considering I work at an elementary school, so lots of discussions and sharing around that.

The book bingo challenge has 25 prompts. My hope is to complete the whole board, but most likely I won’t read unique books for each prompt. I’m trying to find books that will check off prompts for other reading challenges as well. So far my reads have all been so different from each other and what I’ve recently read which is refreshing.

Planning and reading for this challenge, however, has overshadowed my 2023 Nordic Literature Reading Challenge. Sadly, no progress has been made on that this month.

How is your summer reading going?

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune 🎧
(Narrated by Daniel Henning)

This book was unlike any that I have ever heard before. I felt like I was being read a magical fairytale. There were heroes, villains, obstacles, magical beings, a happy ending, and of course a moral lesson or two. The narrator of the audiobook was fantastic; I was absorbed in his storytelling from start to finish. There were so many unique characters, all with very different personalities, and he read them all in a very nuanced and engaged way. I did feel the story went a little overboard with its sweetness and kindness and morality lessons at times, but that just played into my overall feeling of it being a fairytale for adults. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • #DiversityAcrossGenres: Queer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
  • Work Book Bingo: A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist and/or a book with magic

Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby  🎧📖
(Narrated by Adam Lazarre-White)

I completed this right after The House in the Cerulean Sea, and this was no fairytale filled with sweetness and kindness. What an abrupt turn in reading experiences! This was a crime thriller with brutal deaths, revenge, and graphic violence. It was also a heartfelt story of personal growth and an unlikely friendship. Two fathers, one black and the other white, both ex-convicts, are brought together in their quest for revenge after the deaths of their married sons. While hunting down the killers, they confront their own prejudices about their gay sons as well as each other. This was an action packed revenge story with heart; I really enjoyed it. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Girl with Seven Names: Escape from North Korea by Hyeonseo Lee 📖

This is a fascinating account of a 17-year-old’s defection from North Korea and her eventual resettlement in South Korea years later. The author lived a privileged life in northern North Korea along the border with China. Living so close to China, she had exposure to the outside world and started questioning her own world. What was supposed to be just a visit to China ended up being a trip with no return to North Korea or to her family. This story of her childhood in North Korea and then building a new life first in China, then in South Korea along with her efforts to reunite with her family was eye-opening and inspiring. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

It was particularly interesting to read this not long after having read Free: A Child and a Country at the End of History by Lea Ypi, a memoir in which the author recounts her childhood in Albania in the 1980s and 1990s, the same time period as this book and also a communist dictatorship. So many similarities, yet such different countries.

Lizards Hold the Sun by Dani Trujillo

This a contemporary romance novel about Xiomara, an Indigenous archaeologist from Mexico, who goes to a remote location in Canada to lead a project to excavate artifacts, relocate human remains, and create a museum of the area’s tribal history. In the process, she and Calehan, the museum’s architect, fall head over heals in love. What I really appreciated and enjoyed about the story was the focus on archaeology and that all the characters were Indigenous and many cultural aspects were included. The characters were diverse, smart, thoughtful, and very likable. I enjoyed the setting, but I had trouble pinpointing exactly where in Canada the story took place. It was remote, north, and there were islands (in contrast to the cover showing the desert). A map would have been helpful. Also, I struggled with following the elapsed time. Sometimes there seemed to be unexpected jumps. But overall, an enjoyable read. ⭐⭐⭐

What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in purchasing Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, visit my Scandinavian Ebook Deals page. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

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4 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Reading Lately (June 2023)

    • It was actually sitting on my kindle as well and I finally got to it because I needed a nonfiction by an Asian author!

  1. Once again, thanks for the tips and interesting reviews! I’ve enjoyed my summer reading! I really, really enjoyed Remarkably Bright Creatures. i was skeptical and almost didn’t pick it up. I’m glad I did! I have started 3 other books, however haven’t finished. Traveling to Sweden, company from CA arriving 2 days later and my daughter visiting etc has led to not much time for reading the month of June!

    • Family and friends coming to visit can certainly limit reading time! Glad to hear you enjoyed Remarkably Bright Creatures. Happy reading the rest of the summer!

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