Summary: Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers. She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income.
Jennette recounts her life in unflinching detail—just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true. Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly, she is thrust into fame. Though Mom is ecstatic, Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing, which manifest into eating disorders, addiction, and a series of unhealthy relationships. These issues only get worse when her mother dies of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants.
Genre: nonfiction, memoir Rating: ★★★★★
I was in high school when iCarly came out, so I knew very little about Jennette McCurdy before reading this memoir. I’m certainly not a non-fiction reader, and I generally find memoirs to be too dull for my liking. Admittedly, the shocking, uncomfortable title is what drew me into this book.
Jennette never dreamed of being an actress – it was her mother’s dream that she never got to fulfill, so she forced it upon her daughter. I’ve always been curious about the abuse that child actors endure, and it was horrifying to see how deeply and rapidly Jennette’s life spiraled. This book is not for the faint of heart. Jennette’s story depicts child abuse, disordered eating, terminal illness, hoarding, bulimia, gaslighting, narcissistic parents, alcohol abuse, and more.
Summary: Hazel Sinnett is a lady who wants to be a surgeon more than she wants to marry. Jack Currer is a resurrection man who’s just trying to survive in a city where it’s too easy to die. When the two of them have a chance encounter, Hazel thinks nothing of it at first. But after she gets kicked out of renowned surgeon Dr. Beecham’s lectures for being the wrong gender, she realizes that her new acquaintance might be more helpful than she first thought. Because Hazel has made a deal with Dr. Beecham: if she can pass the medical examination on her own, the university will allow her to enroll. Without official lessons, though, Hazel will need more than just her books – she’ll need bodies to study, corpses to dissect.
Lucky that she’s made the acquaintance of someone who digs them up for a living, then. But Jack has his own problems: strange men have been seen skulking around cemeteries, his friends are disappearing off the streets. Hazel and Jack work together to uncover the secrets buried not just in unmarked graves, but in the very heart of Edinburgh society.
Genre: historical fiction, romance, young adult Rating: ★★★★★
Anatomy: A Love Story is aptly named, because, as such, when you read this book, you will promptly fall in love with it. Seriously, I am swooning. The cover is breathtaking; Hazel is a fierce, young woman who won’t let society’s standards and expectations of her stop her from chasing her dreams; her relationship with Jack is dreamy and cutesy; the ending completely swept me off my feet and left me unsure of everything I assumed I knew. This book truly had everything, and I could not get enough of it.
Summary: Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.
With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.
Genre: fantasy, retelling Rating: ★★★
The Stardust Thief was my BOTM pick, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this because it sounded so promising. It’s loosely based on stories from One Thousand and One Nights, and all the storytelling and history of jinns were so beautifully crafted. There was so much potential here and so many great pieces to the story, but unfortunately I found myself disappointed in the end.
It feels good to finally be back into the swing of things when it comes to reading. While I didn’t read every book selected for the Pride Month Readathon, I was able to read four of them! I’m still slowly chugging away at my BOTM pick (The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah – a hefty first book in a trilogy based around One Thousand and One Nights), but I managed to read a total of eight books in June! I’m now at 31 out of my goal of 50 for the year, seven ahead of schedule!
I already wrote a full review of Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand, and I’ll be doing smaller reviews for the other books that I finished in this readathon. I also had a bonus book that I wasn’t anticipating reading but definitely checks all the boxes of this readathon, so I’m including a review for that as well.
Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find. Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is. Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.
Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires. Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.
Genre: horror, young adult, fantasy, lgbt Rating: ★★★★★
Sawkill Girls has been on my TBR list for four(!) years, and I finally forced myself to read it for my LGBT+ reading challenge for the month of June. First, I am pleasantly surprised by the amount of gay horror books out there and will absolutely be reading more of those. Second, I’m low-key mad at myself for waiting so long to read this, because I am obsessed with it.