Ranking All the Books I Read Between Apr – Jun 2023

As a part-time Booktuber, I aim to provide quarterly reviews ranking the books that I read. This post contains the YouTube video, relevant links, and a full video transcript.

YouTube Video

Ranking All the Books I Read Between Apr – Jun 2023

Book Links

Here are the Amazon affiliate links to the books that I read:

If you’re not into Amazon, I love Thriftbooks, and here is my referral link so you can get a free book.

YouTube Video Transcript

Here you will find the complete transcript of the video in the previous section. There are time stamps for every minute if you want to navigate to a certain part and hyperlinked references/citations.

Introduction

[00:00:00] Hi everyone! In this video, I’ll be ranking all the books that I read between April and June. If you’re new here, my name’s Smiti and I’m an archaeologist as well as an avid book lover. Now, I read fairly broadly, so if you’re looking for your next read or just really into booktube, this is the video for you.

The Dead Romantics

So, let’s get into it. Coming in at 3. 25 stars is The Dead Romantics. This book follows Florence Day, who’s a millennial ghostwriter for a famous romance author. She’s gone through a terrible breakup, doesn’t believe in love, her father’s just died, and when she goes back to her hometown, this handsome, familiar ghost shows up, and the story goes on from there.

Now, romance isn’t my go to genre, but I do try to read it now and then, and that brings us very well into the disclaimer of this video. All these rankings are subjective. There are some books… That I probably love that you might not, or there are books you love that I didn’t really vibe with and that’s completely okay.

The rankings are just for friends, so please take this with a grain of salt. So while I’m not really into romance books, I thought the premise of this book was quite intriguing. [00:01:00] However it left. me wanting in a couple areas. First off, I wish Florence talked to other ghosts. I completely get that the handsome ghost guy is going to be her main preoccupation, but it would have been really cool to see how she interacted with other ghosts in the book.

I also wish there was less repetition of certain parts of Florence’s feelings and experiences. This is not to invalidate them. It’s just when they were repeated, nothing else was really added for me personally. So it just felt I also wish that other relationships between Florence and her family were developed a bit more because the main part of this book is Florence returning to her hometown after so long and reconnecting with people there.

So it would have been nice to see some of those relationships fleshed out a bit more. At the end of the day, it’s a quick and light-ish read, so if you’re into the romance genre, it’s worth checking it out.

Flowerheart

Next in at 3. 25 stars is Flower Heart by Katherine Bakewell. This book follows Clara, who’s an aspiring witch.

However, she has quite wild magic, and there’s this council that’s determining whether or not she can keep her magic. In the midst [00:02:00] of all this, she accidentally… touches her father and poisons him with these poisonous flowers, hence the title Flower Heart. And she needs the help of a childhood friend, who she hasn’t seen in a while, to teach her this complicated spell and hopefully allow her to become a witch.

Now I can appreciate a low stakes witchy read, and there’s a lot of things that this For example, I really liked the flower descriptions in this book. As a plant lover and an archeobotanist, I thought the descriptions were artfully done, and I could really imagine the flowers that the author was talking about.

I also really appreciated the LGBTQIA plus representation in this book. book, it felt very seamless and not representation for representation’s sake. Finally, there is a bit of romance in this novel, and I did appreciate seeing how romantic consent was modeled. There were some things I didn’t love about the book, and the main thing was that I felt that it left tension.

There was a buildup to this big revelation, however, I felt it was a bit anticlimactic [00:03:00] because we kind of knew where things were going. I also felt that some of the characters were a bit one-dimensional, so it made it harder to kind of understand. So, the other part that kind of rubbed me the wrong way was that even though Clara and Xavier were childhood friends, for most of the book they’re in this kind of teacher-student mentor-mentee dynamic, and I don’t really love that power dynamic as it relates to romance.

Overall, it’s a cozy, whimsical read, and if you’re interested, In cottage core fantasy, I would check this one out.

A Stash of One’s Own

Next in at 3.75 Stars is a stash of one’s own. Now, this is in my anthology, edited by a prominent knitting writer named Clara Parks. She gathers 21 knitters to write about a subject that’s of particular importance to knitters, which is their yarn stash.

Now, I thought the topic of this anthology was quite interesting because I’m not a knitter, so if this was about something more technical, I probably wouldn’t have followed. But the idea as. Stashing, collecting, especially something that you use often, whether it’s for [00:04:00] functional reasons or for pleasure, that was just absolutely fascinating to me.

It was so interesting to hear how these knitters diverged and converged about their opinions and perspectives of yarn. I also appreciated that one of their short stories explicitly mentioned a metaphor to archaeology. This book made me think of all the other types of archaeological objects that I might study.

So ceramics, stonewares, metal objects. And just how many different perspectives people in the past might have had towards these objects and where they again might converge and diverge in their experiences and perspectives. Now with any anthology, there are some stories that I really liked and others that I didn’t connect with as much.

However, the one thing that I wish that this anthology had more of were perspectives from people who identify as part of a historically marginalized group. Now, I’m not a knitter, and I really don’t know the ins and outs of this world, but it really felt that there were key perspectives that were being missed.

As a doctoral [00:05:00] student, my PhD advisor loved anything to do with weaving. So she would always point out studies from around the world having to do with the fiber arts. This book got me curious about knitting traditions in the U. S. I came across this New York Times article about the history of Black women in knitting, so the perspectives are out there and I just hope that in a future anthology they would be included.

Overall, if you’re interested, If you’re interested in knitting or just want a piece where you might learn something in digestible pieces, check this book out.

When We Were Birds

Next up, coming in at 3. 75 stars is When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Bunnell. This book is set in Trinidad and Tobago and it’s described as a mythic love story.

It follows Yejide and Darwin and their paths converge because of their connection to the dead. I listened to this as an audiobook and the narration was fantastic. It really drew me into this world, these characters. To me, the plot felt slow paced, so having this as an audiobook helped me keep going with the book.

My favorite part of the book was the dialogue [00:06:00] between Yejide and Darwin. I thought that was written so well, it felt so raw and felt really human. I also really appreciated the sense of place that the author created. Now, I’ve never been to Trinidad and Tobago, but I feel that I was transported to Port Angeles and Fidelis just from her descriptions alone.

The one thing that I wish this book did was develop the characters a bit more. I was left wanting to know more about certain characters motivations and backgrounds, and how those past experiences influenced who they were today. Now, some of this was stated in the book, especially for Yejide and Darwin, however, I think diving a bit deeper could have helped us understand these characters a bit better.

If you’re looking to be transported to another place and have a bit of romance while also being a bit dark and eerie, check out this book.

Chatter

Next in at four stars is Chatter by Ethan Cross. In this book, psychologist Ethan Cross explores the inner voice in our heads. He takes us through the [00:07:00] science behind these silent conversations that we have with ourselves while also intertwining case studies and cross-cultural examples.

My husband was actually the one who wanted me to buy this book so he could listen to it and I ended up listening to it myself too. I found it to be a quick and understandable listen. I really appreciated the accessible writing and all the scientific information. However, I wish there was a bit more of a deep dive into the cross-cultural examples that were promised in the description of the book.

For example, as an anthropologist, I was really excited that there were mentions of the Trobriand Islanders in this book. However, it felt like a quick blip and not enough of a deep dive into the subject. Nonetheless, as a person who lives with depression, it was really interesting. to hear more about the science behind self-talk and these conversations and how we can harness them a bit better to live more healthier and productive lives.

While this is not an outright self-help book, I did appreciate the mix of scientific data with actionable things that you can do to implement in your life. So, if you’re [00:08:00] looking to learn more about the voice inside of our heads, check out Chatter.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess

Next up, at 4.75 stars, is The Daughter of the Moon Goddess.

This novel follows Xingyin, who is the daughter of the Chinese moon goddess, Shangyi. Now, in this story, Xingyin has grown up all her life on the moon with her mother. However, her mother has been in exile, and a series of events have forced Xingyin out of her mother’s home, and she has to… Defend for herself.

Throughout the book, we’re following Xin as she’s trying to free her mother, and of course, there’s a bit of love and twists along the way. Now I absolutely love the world-building storytelling and pacing of the book. It pulled me in straight away, and I really appreciated that the author didn’t draw out certain plot points.

Some people have pointed out their annoyances with love triangles, however, in this book, I think there were more tensions as opposed to triangles. This story definitely follows more of a traditional hero’s journey arc, with the main protagonist having a singular goal. It ends in a way where it could definitely be a standalone novel; however, I jumped straight into the second one.

Heart of the Sun Warrior

This leads us really [00:09:00] well into the next 4. 75 read, which is Heart of the Sun Warrior by Su Lynn Tan. And this is the second part of The Daughter of the Moon Goddess, so this is a duology. Now, I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say that this book continues to follow the main protagonist, Xingyin.

Like the first book, I love the storytelling, world-building, and pacing. There was a love triangle in this one, I will admit that. Now, I usually don’t like love triangles, but I thought the way that the author wrote this love triangle, you could really get a sense of the fickleness and messiness of love and grief.

In this book, more so than the first one, life just gets a bit messy. And while I don’t agree with all of Xingyin’s decisions, it was just fascinating to read and see how she was navigating her life. The ending was not what I expected, and it did give me mixed feelings. However, those mixed feelings make me keep thinking about this book.

Now, people have debated whether Xingyin really grew in this novel, and I think she did. In the first book, I thought she was sympathetic to certain people and their [00:10:00] situations. However, in the second book, I felt that there was more empathy based on her life experience. Now the aspects of growth are definitely messy, but that’s life.

Now overall, I love this duology, so if you’re interested in feminist retellings, fantasy world-building, and some interesting complex characters, I definitely recommend checking out both these books.

Outro

So that’s all for today’s video, and I’ll see you in the next one. Bye!

Credits

Noor Hanania: Lead Video Editor

Smiti Nathan: Director, Producer, Support Video Editor

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Smiti Nathan

I’m an archaeologist that travels around the world for both work and pleasure. I have a penchant for exploring ancient and modern places and the people, plants, and foods entangled in them. I write about archaeology, travel, and productivity.

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