Old west queer brothel revenge love stories and culty mystery islands reliving 1994 forever. This is what happens when you let me pick out your books.

It is a new month and that means it’s time to share the best books I read in June, including the two I picked for our book clubs.

First up is our Fantastic Strangelings Book Club pick, Lucky Red by Claudia Cravens.

I’m not necessarily a fan of westerns or romances (or western romances) but then I glimpsed the summary…“A genre-bending queer feminist Western pitched as True Grit meets Sarah Waters, following a young woman’s transformation from forlorn orphan to successful prostitute to revenge-seeking gunfighter, exploring desire, loyalty, power, and chosen family.”   YES, PLEASE, GIVE IT TO ME.

So good. (And we have spots available if you want to join the Fantastic Strangelings and want this as your first book.)

And for my fellow horror lovers, The Nightmares from Nowhere Book Club pick is Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano.

I was sucked in by the premise and couldn’t put it down.   “On a creepy island where everyone has a strange obsession with the year 1994, a newcomer arrives, hoping to learn the truth about her son’s death–but finds herself pulled deeper and deeper into the bizarrely insular community and their complicated rules.”

I don’t know why but I totally had flashbacks to all the teen horror I read in the 90s…R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, Lois Duncan, Richard Peck. And now I want to go find all of those books again. (Edited to add: I just noticed that the cover blurb is by R. L. Stine but it totally wasn’t when I got my early copy and now I’m feeling slightly psychic.)

Need more books to get you through the month? Same. Here are a few amazing new June books I loved:

The Art Thief by Michael Finkel – The captivating and true story of Stephane Brietwieser, the notorious serial art thief who accumulated a collection worth over $1.4 billion and hid it all in his bedr

Maeve Fly by CJ Leede – By day, Maeve Fly works at the happiest place in the world as every child’s favorite ice princess. By night…something much darker.  Gory af, unsettling and bizarre, but one that people will be talking about. 

Girls and Their Monsters: The Genain Quadruplets and the Making of Madness in America by Audrey Clare Farley  – For readers of Hidden Valley Road and Patient H.M., a harrowing non-fiction exploration of violence against children and its psychological and political consequences.

Faint of Heart by Kerilynn Wilson – What would you do if you were the only person left with a heart? Part Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and part Severance, this debut teen graphic novel is a vivid and haunting read.

Adult Drama: And Other Essays by Natalie Beach – Look. If you didn’t read all the Caroline Calloway/Natalie Beach online drama when it was happening then you are a better person than I am. If you are not a better person than I am then you will probably want to read this book.

Happy reading and thank you for supporting your local indie bookshop!

15 thoughts on “Old west queer brothel revenge love stories and culty mystery islands reliving 1994 forever. This is what happens when you let me pick out your books.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Shit, y’all. I meant to hit “preview” instead of “publish”. Welcome to this post several days before I meant to share it.


    Here are my thoughts on last month’s books in case you don’t do the facebook discussion pages. 🙂 HERE THERE BE SPOILERS.

    Our Hideous Progeny: I absolutely adored Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein so I think writing a sequel (is it a sequel?) is incredibly ambitious but really well done. I loved looking at what it was like being a woman scientist at the time and I especially loved the gorgeous and descriptive language as the author looked at classism, racism, mysogyny, gender and so much more. It took me a few pages to get into the groove of the tone but then I was utterly in. I hated Henry with a vengeance and loved Mary. I wish the gender and queer aspects had been explored a little more but overall I adored it.

    Killing Me: I loved complicated and fucked-up Amber, who makes so many terrible decisions but who I never stopped rooting for. I adored the friendships made here and the character development which made you feel for each person even when they were so flawed. I loved that it kept me guessing to the end. Usually I find all the twists well before the end but this one surprised me. The mixing of dark humor into a somewhat gory thriller was an unusual choice but it worked for me. I didn’t find it “laugh-out-loud” like others did but the strangeness of the snark helped cut the fear in a way that made it relatable to me. But maybe that’s just me?

  2. Oooh, goody, great summer reading recommendations! Thank you.

  3. OMG Lois Duncan! Memory unlocked!

    “Daughters of Eve” was THE book amongst my seventh-grade class back in late ’88.

    So, so tempted to go back and re-read it now…

  4. @Jen, I just reread Daughters of Eve a few years ago (I’m in my late 40’s). It’s STILL creepy AF!

  5. Wish I could afford to join. Those picks both sound amazing! I’m gonna have to see if my library has them.

    (Most of my picks are popular enough to show up at libraries, but if they aren’t at yours you can often ask your library if they can borrow it for you from a library that does have it. 🙂 ~ Jenny)

  6. I appreciate that you shared that you posted instead of hitting preview, cuz we got to see your work-in-progress (not that I’m guessing many/any of us would have known it was meant to be a draft), and also because of that whole “oh, now I see that professional people make mistakes, too”. Anyhow, thanks for sharing the post and also the note afterwards. That first book looks cool!

  7. I have loved many of the books that you have recommended that are in line with my preferred genres, but I specifically don’t read gore, horror, or thrillers, and it seems like many (most?) of your recommendations over the last few months are dark and gritty, leaving me without inspiration or excitement. I hope that there are more fun/happy/not so dark books in the coming months!

    (It’s weird how things seems to go in waves. I try to spread out different genres, stories, types of authors but also I want to pick the best book of the month so sometimes there’s some overlap. I suspect you’re really going to love August’s pick though. 🙂 It made me laugh and cry. ~ Jenny)

  8. The author’s skillful storytelling immediately transports you to different worlds, allowing you to experience the thrill and excitement of these books firsthand. It’s a testament to their talent for curating an exciting collection of reads.

  9. I just ran across this quote and knew it needs to go on your blog.
    “’I have this theory that it is the dream of most educated people to own/work in a bookstore.’ Megan Coughlin”

    (It’s in today’s MUTTS newsletter.)

    (SO TRUE. ~ Jenny)

  10. Full disclosure, I can’t afford to join FS BUT

    Omg I just borrowed Lucky Red (libraries rule!!) and it was SO good. I’m hoping there’s a follow up bc I need – NEED – to know how she got to the beginning from where it ended. Y’know?? 10/10 recommend.

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