Challenge Check-In June

Challenge Check-In – June 2023

Welcome to Challenge Check-In for June 2023 which is kind of like a Monthly Wrap Up, but not quite. Here I focus on my progress regarding my reading goals (check out THIS post), and also offer 5-5 recommendations for 2 The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge prompts each month. It’s never too late to join if it catches your interest!

Well, if May was a month, I need to find a new description for June. Holy fucking shit probably would be accurate. Work was busy, as it was the end of the school term, so a lot of things had to be done. But that was expected. Thankfully my flat problem got solved quickly as the new buyer would prefer me to stay and continue renting which is absolutely fine by me. At least that’s one less thing to worry about.

It was time starting to plan for the summer, including a one day trip to Vienna in early July when I’ll be off of work. I was hoping to make it a bonding trip with my brother and we were about to start making plans. And then the accident happened at the end of the month, sending me to the hospital for a week, and forcing me to lay low for the rest of the summer in order to heal properly. Let me tell you, head injuries are definitely no fun. I managed to avoid breaking any bones for 35 years, only to manage to break my skull in three places at once. Knowing myself I’m not even surprised I made the most damage to my head. This has always been the case with me ever since I was a kid. I might have a small head, but it sure finds its way to hard surfaces. Geez.

On a more positive note, in June I was working on some DIY projects (no pictures yet, sorry) which I hoped to finish by the end of the month, but alas… Plenty of time for that in July. I also had 1 book mail from my May order.

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As for other blog stuff, Jen had an interview with Alexander Darwin, and Team Asylum had the first SPFBO 9 update from Olivia Atwater. I also started a series of spotlights for our SPFBO 9 authors and we had R. R. Hunter stuck in the pages, and chatted with Kate Schumacher.

So, after important life updates, here comes my Challenge Check-In for June 2023.

The Month in Reading

June 2023

For June 2023 my handy spreadsheet at the start of the month had 4 ebooks planned. June promised to be another productive reading month what with SPFBO kicking off. Currently, the June portion of my spreadsheet has 10 books listed. 4 of those were from my SPFBO slush pile, 1 I’m currently reading, 2 were ARCs, and I also had some audiobook rereads while catching up with reviews and while stuck in the hospital.

Before I get to what I read this month, here are some reviews for books I finished in May, but reviewed in June:

Gods of the Wyrdwood by RJ Barker

The Twilight Garden by Sara Nisha Adams

The Square of Sevens by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

TitleThe Square of Sevens
Author: Laura Shepherd-Robinson
Series: standalone
Publisher: Mantle
Release Date: June 22, 2023
Format: ebook
Status: Read
Rating: 5👑

Hands down one of my favorite books this year. I’m so happy and relieved that it lived up to my expectations. It was definitely worth waiting to get approved for an ARC.

The Square of Sevens is undoubtedly one of my favorite reads in 2023. It got everything I love – mystery, historical fiction, secrets, intriguing characters, and excellent writing. I could barely put it down and it kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. The Square of Sevens is a masterpiece that begs you to reread once you are done with it. Whatever Laura Shepherd-Robinson writes next, I’ll be in the frontline wanting to put my hands on a copy, because I just can’t get enough. I very highly recommend her books to any mystery/historical fiction lover.”

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A Rake of His Own by A.J. Lancaster

Title: A Rake of His Own
Author: A.J. Lancaster
Series: Stariel #5 / standalone
Publisher: Camberion Press
Release Date: October 28, 2022
Format: audiobook
Status: Read x2
Rating: 5👑

I’ve read this Stariel standalone novel TWICE this month. I guess that should tell you what I think of it. I’ve never been into M/M romance particularly, but boy do I love these two idiots.

A Rake of His Own was my favorite book in the series. These two grew on me more than I could have imagined and I’m 100% sure I’ll reread this one repeatedly whenever I’ll need a bit of lift me up. I will also make sure to keep an eye out for any upcoming books from A.J. Lancaster, who just got herself on my favorite authors’ list. The Stariel series had been the perfect escape and warm hug I needed this year. And while the first Stariel book, The Lord of Stariel filled a Downton Abbey-shaped hole in my heart, the fifth book, A Rake of His Own left a Marius and Rake-shaped one in its place.”

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Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Title: Book Lovers
Author: Emily Henry
Series: standalone
Publisher: Penguin/Berkeley
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Format: audiobook
Status: Reread
Rating: 5👑

Book Lovers made my favorite list of 2022, and as I needed a bit of break to catch up with reviews, I decided to reread this one.

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Four Season in Japan by Nick Bradley

Title: Four Seasons in Japan
Author: Nick Bradley
Series: standalone
Publisher: Doubleday
Release Date: June 22, 2023
Format: ebook
Status: Read
Rating: 4👑

I picked up this Literary Fiction novel set in Japan for a break from all the Fantasy, and I definitely didn’t regret it.

Four Seasons in Japan is a slice-of-life kind of story where we get a glimpse into the life of a rural city through a boy who thinks he failed, and his grandmother who is determined not to fail. Into the life of a translator living in Japan coming from a different culture. We watch how their life changes as the seasons do. It’s not a long book, and I breezed through it in a weekend (a rare occurrence these days), as I was hardly able to put it down.”

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Priest of Crowns by Peter McLean

Title: Priest of Crowns
Author: Peter McLean
Series: War for the Rose Throne #4
Publisher: JoFletcher
Release Date: August 4, 2022
Format: audiobook
Status: Reread
Rating: 5👑

Look, when you are in pain, why not add some emotional damage to the mix as well? This was one of my hospital rereads, and I have no regrets. I love this series both in book and audiobook form. Plus, reading about my kickass self definitely helped when in low, so there is that too, hah.

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Getting Played by Emma Chase

Title: Getting Played
Author:
Emma Chase
Series:
Getting Some #2 / standalone
Publisher:
Self-published
Release Date:
October 8, 2019
Format: audiobook
Status: Read
Rating: 3👑

I picked up this book on an Audible sale, I think. Mostly because of Zachary Webber who is one of the narrators. I have a huge crush on his voice, so I pick up almost anything he narrates. Even if that’s a steamy romance which is not my usual genre. Still, this book was nice entertainment for a day while stuck in bed.

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The Wise Men of Gotham by Craig Schaefer

Title: The Wise Men of Gotham
Author:
Craig Schaefer
Series:
The Midnight Scoop #2
Publisher:
Demimonde Books
Release Date:
May 28, 2023
Format: ebook
Status: Currently Reading

Well. I certainly hoped to be finished with The Wise Men of Gotham by now, but then the accident happened, and I still didn’t return to reading. I need to take things slowly. Definitely hoping to finish it soon, because so far I’m really enjoying it.

Womble's TBR Reduction

The prompt for June was “long reading days or longest nights”. We were required to read the longest book on our TBR. I skipped this challenge as I was catching up with ARCs and SPFBO reading, plus long books intimidate me…

The Sound of Madness

In June I decided to add a couple of books to The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge card. Here they are:

Here is what my card looks like right now:

The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge progress for June 2023

And as promised, I’m going to give you some recs for the next two prompts on this lovely card.

Have a Little Faith

This is the “religious/folklore” prompt of this year. Anything goes that includes faith, religion, folklore, belief (even self-belief!), gods, and everything in between.

A Rake of His Own by A.J. Lancaster

Title: A Rake of His Own
Author: A.J. Lancaster
Series: Stariel #5 / standalone
Publisher: Camberion Press
Release Date: October 28, 2022

A Rake of His Own has fae characters, a bit of folklore, and Rake and Marcus have to learn to have faith in each other.

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The Skin by J. E. Hannaford

Title: The Skin
Author: J. E. Hannaford
Series: Black Hind’s Wake #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: October 18, 2021

The Skin builds on the folktales of the selkie, plus our MC has to have faith in herself and her friends if she wants to find what was taken from her.

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Those Brave, Foolish Souls from the City of Swords by Benedict Patrick

Title: Those Brave, Foolish Souls from the City of Swords
Author: Benedict Patrick
Series: Yarnsworld #3
Publisher: self-published
Release Date: October 17, 2017

I hope you didn’t expect me to ignore the Yarnsworld series for this prompt. I could have picked any as all of them have folktales featured, but this time I choose Those Brave, Foolish Souls from the City of Swords.

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Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

Title: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal
Author: Christopher Moore
Series: standalone
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: March 1, 2002

One of my all-time favorite books HAS to be on this list. It’s the fictional life of Jesus or as he is called here, Joshua and his best friend Biff as they search for answers to what it means to be a Messiah. And also faith is a main focus.

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Faithless by Graham Austin-King

Title: Faithless
Author: Graham Austin-King
Series: standalone
Publisher: self-published
Release Date: June 30, 2017

I guess the title tells you all. This book is set in a temple or partly below the temple, shall we say, introducing a unique system of faith. I absolutely highly recommend this one!

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Misfits

This prompt is about a ragtag group of people who has to work together. Or not. It can also be a group of seasoned friends who for some reason stand out of their environment. A group of rioters, people who stand up against the system, or a villainous collective. So many options.

Salt in the Wound by Benjamin Aeveryn

Title: Salt in the Wound
Author: Benjamin Aeveryn
Series: standalone
Publisher: self-published
Release Date: May 9, 2023

I picked this book for this prompt because the characters are all misfits in their own way. Galahad and Elaine are in search of justice and eventually revenge, while Fay tries to find her place and also teams up with some young nobles, which is sure an interesting mix.

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The Thirteenth Hour by Trudie Skies

Title: The Thirteenth Hour
Author: Trudie Skies
Series: The Cruel Gods #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: September 29, 2021

There is a group of, well, let’s call them rebels who speak out against the gods and do everything they can to help those in need.

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The Crew by Sadir S. Samir

Title: The Crew
Author: Sadir S. Samir
Series: The God Dust Saga #1
Publisher: self-published
Release Date: November 29, 2022

Talk about the perfect book for this prompt. The Crew’s ragtag group definitely fits the bill. Plus it’s a huge amount of fun.

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Wolf's Head by Steven A. McKay

Title: Wolf’s Head
Author: Steven A. McKay
Series: The Forest Lord #1
Publisher: self-published
Release Date: July 2, 2013

Let’s add some historical fiction to the mix, shall we? The Wolf’s Head is the retelling of the most famous group of outlaws, the one which dwelled in the Forest of Nottingham.

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Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

Title: Kings of the Wyld
Author: Nicholas Eames
Series: The Band #1
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: February 21, 2017

I think one of the most famous group of adventurers in recent years, are definitely Gabriel and his mates who band together one more time to save their loved ones. They are old, they are tired and they are over their prime, but they still kick ass.

And that concludes my Challenge Check-In for June 2023. On the whole, it wasn’t a bad reading month, considering that I’ll expect to see at least two of these titles on my best of 2023 list. Let me know how you progressed with either my challenges or the ones you set for yourself!

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