July 2022 Wrap Up: SFF reads, cozy mysteries and good romances

July was such a good reading month and I’m hoping that it’s a sign that my reading slump is finally going away. Not only did I read a lot in terms of the number of books, I also read a few really long ones and I discovered that reading long books – which is the opposite of what I have been doing- may be what I need to get out this reading slump because it makes me feel more invested in the characters and plot. It’s sonething i’ll take into account going forward.

But without further ado, let’s talk about the books:

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine (4 stars): While I liked the first book more than this one, I think this sequel did a good job and continued the story successfully. This is such a thought-provoking sci-fi series, full of political maneuvering and intrigue, clever and interesting characters, and worldbuilding that is complex without being hard to understand. I really appreciated the addition of new pov characters in the second book, it added so much complexity to the story, it allowed an exploration of the different political factions within both the Teixcalaanli Empire and Lsel Station, and it expanded the world so much in comparison to the first book. This sequel includes some interesting discussions about empires and ethics, cultural assimilation vs cultural isolationism, the value of ancestral knowledge and collective memory, power dynamics in romantic relationships and so much more.

A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark (4 stars): I have been slowly making my way through the novellas and short stories in this series this year and while I have always recognized that the world and characters are fantastic, the short format wasn’t working for me. But this full-length novel was SO GOOD. I got to see more of the two elements that I liked from the novellas: the complex and fascinating world and the flawed but easy to root for characters, while getting a longer mystery plot that I could get invested in with more characters involved and with more moving pieces. Even if the reveal wasn’t that surprising, it was still fun to read.

Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree (3,5 stars): This was good, but I had heard so many amazing things about it that I went into it expecting too much. I loved the characters and the found family, there was interesting world-building, and I appreciated that it was a cozy fantasy book, but I think I needed a bit more plot-wise. Still, I would read more books set in this world and I will check out other books by this author.

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher (3 stars): I have so many conflicting feelings when it comes to this book. I still think this series is a fun, entertaining and easy-to-read series set in an interesting and complex world. At this point, I’m invested in the characters, so I like seeing how the different characters and relationships evolve. But after the way the last book ended, I thought we would see more of this world and Harry would be more involved with the bigger picture of what’s going on, but it didn’t really happen, there were again only glimpses of that. Because of that, this book feels at points formulaic and repetitive. Honestly, all the plots of the books in this series are starting to feel very similar to me. Lastly, I know these books have a lot of sexism passing for chivalry and hypersexualization of female characters. Nonetheless, this book took it to another level that made me really uncomfortable because there’s hypersexualization of a 17-year-old.

Everything for you by Chloe Liese (4 stars): This is a great grump/ sunshine romance between two professional soccer players who don’t like each other all that much but are forced to be co-captains of their team. I loved the pent-up sexual tension, the amazing chemistry between them and how slowly they started to open up to each other. They shared some very vulnerable moments and they were there for one another, which made their romance believable and realistic. Beyond the main couple, I loved the glimpses we got of the rest of the Bergman family.

I had two minor issues with this: It dragged a tiny little bit in some parts and the love declarations got a bit too cheesy for me at end. but nothing that was a big deal.

To Marry and To Meddle by Martha Waters (4 stars): This book cemented me as a big Martha Waters fan. I have enjoyed all three books in this series so much. This book is a funny, entertaining, and quick read. Both of the main characters were easy to root for, the romance was sweet, without unnecessary conflicts or miscommunication, and there were some good steamy scenes.

How to Fake it in Hollywood by Ava Wilder (3,5 stars): Honestly, for the first 60%, I actually really enjoyed this and thought it was really entertaining. Nonetheless, this ended up being a lot darker and sadder than I thought it was going to be and the ending was so rushed, they resolved a big issue that was the source of conflict throughout the entire book off the page and that didn’t work for me. (full review)

Just Folking Around by Penny Reid (3,5 stars): This was a quick, fun, steamy read that worked perfectly as my palate cleanser after three long SFF books. I really liked both of the main characters and their dynamic and I can’t wait to read the full-length novel about them.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (4,5 stars): This book is not going to be for everyone, but it worked perfectly for me. It was a charming, quirky and quick read. Seeing a group of old people in a retirement home trying to solve a murder was fun, I liked all the characters, and I was interested in the mystery the entire time. Yes, a lot of convenient things happened but I didn’t care, I still enjoyed the story. The only reason it didn’t get 5 stars is that I didn’t love the ending, but I didn’t hate it either. Out of the three big reveals right at the end, I only liked one, the other two were kind of random and felt forced.

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman (4 stars): This was a quick and entertaining book. I continued with the series mostly to see the characters again, they are quirky, funny, sweet and clever and I have so much fun reading about their adventures. I didn’t find the mystery in this book nearly as interesting as the mystery in book 1, because the scope of the mystery was so big (spies, mafia, drug dealers, stolen diamonds) that the story, and especially the ending, felt incredibly unrealistic. But as I mentioned before, I read this for the characters, so I didn’t really mind that much.

An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn (3,5 stars): This was better than book 5 but still not as good as the first 4 books in the series. The mystery plot was ok, the problem was that in the first 50% not a lot happened, Veronica and Stoker didn’t uncover too much, everything was left for the last half of the book, and particularly to the last 20%. So the pacing felt weird and the first half dragged a little. Also, I didn’t really guess who the villain was but that may have been because I wasn’t completely invested in the mystery plot. I still enjoyed this because I love Veronica and Stoker and there were some good moments between them. 

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie (3,5 stars): The mystery in this was entertaining, and there were so many likely culprits which is always fun. Nonetheless, this is my third Miss Marple book and I was left with the same feeling that I had when I read the other two, I wish Miss Marple showed up more and not only occasionally and at the end when she appears with all the answers to everything, which she pulled out of thin air.

Goddess of Filth by V. Castro (4 stars): This wasn’t scary but it had creepy and gross moments and it was a very different take on possession. I appreciated how it discussed the stereotypes around and the dangers of being a young Latina, as well as the roles that religion, sexuality and female friendships play in the lives of young Latinas. My one issue with this book is that some of the dialogue involving the Goddess was kind of corny and that took me out of the story at times.

What are the best and worst books you read in July? Was July a good reading month for you?

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