I had lots of plans for my Pride Month reading, and then my brain decided not to cooperate. Ugh. It's been so frustrating the last couple of years when this happens—all I want to do is get lost in a book (and I have so many waiting for me!) and it just doesn't work. I did get a little reading done, though most of it wasn't the books I planned to read.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh: I wasn't sure if I was in the mood for this book (and I hadn't planned to read it in June) when my library hold on the audiobook came in. But, library holds must be read, of course, so I dove in on my morning walks. And this ended up being a wonderful listen. A retelling of a Korean tale, this story gives us a village that sacrifices a young woman every year, throwing her into the sea to be the Sea God's bride in the hope the god will stop the storms destroying the village. Mina isn't supposed to be the bride that year, but she jumps into the sea in the place of the woman her brother loves. She's carried away to the spirit world and the Sea God's city, where things are not as she might have imagined and the Sea God needs saving. The world building is lovely, and the story is a beautiful combination of adventure, romance, and fantasy with a focus on family (blood and chosen) and the power of storytelling.
Kinship and Kindness by Kara Jorgensen: This historical paranormal has been on my kindle for far too long. especially considering how much I ended up enjoying it! Fox shifter and transgender man Bennett has traveled to Louisiana at the beginning of a gathering of werewolves to see their leader and plead his case that a union for non-wolf shifters is needed for their protection. Only he finds that the man is away and his son Theo is standing in for his father. Theo doesn't feel he can fill his father's shoes because of his epilepsy, but he'll do anything he can to protect his family and those depending on them. (He also stress-bakes, which makes him instantly relatable to me.) I loved Bennett and Theo, and Bennett's fox who has his own fun personality. The relationship that developed between them was lovely.
The Botanist's Apprentice by Adren Powell: This novella is quick, easy read. Set in an alternate 1920s where magic seems to be the norm (I say seems to be because there isn't a ton of world building in this short), the story introduces us to Eli who has graduated college and comes to a reclusive botanist in search of an apprenticeship. The romance between the two is sweet—there's an age gap and some mutual pining and ultimately sex pollen (sort of) leading to a steamy encounter. I'm looking forward to reading more in the series and learning more about the world.
Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly: Love & Other Disasters was my only contemporary romance read last month. The premise—two competitors on an amateur cooking competition show falling for each other—sounded fun, and it was, though I had some moments of acute secondhand embarrassment at the beginning that almost had me putting the book down a couple of times! Recently divorced from the guy she'd been with since high school, Dahlia quits her job (though she can't afford to) to travel across the country to be on the show and figure out who she is and what she wants. Convinced while drunk by their twin sister to try out for the show, London is the first openly nonbinary contestant on, and they're determined to do their best and prove haters wrong. The book is fun and adorable and charming, as is the relationship between London and Dahlia. The relationship forms the bulk of the story. Issues with London's dad not accepting who they are and a bigoted competitor on the show are there in the background, but the focus is on London and Dahlia. (And there were definitely a few times this book made me want to cook/bake.)
What have you read and loved lately?