What I’m Reading in July: My July TBR
Hi y’all. There’s been so many good book releases this summer already, so I’m so excited to read some new books, and a couple of older books too. This is my tentative July TBR of books I want to read, so I might end up reading more or less. The list is more just to help me remember what I want to read. I’m also participating in the Totally Spies Readathon which I’m looking forward to because it’s my first readathon (I’m on team Alex of course). I’m also doing my first ever buddy reads for Felix Ever After, The Unhoneymooners, and a reread of Red, White & Royal Blue. Are any of my July picks on your TBR? Have you read any of them?
Pretty Lies by Jessica Scurlock
The truth isn’t treason.
The Northern Unity has always been safe. When the Enlightened Society took over what was known as the United States of America, they made the wellbeing of the people their top priority. Safety and knowledge are the powers that hold the country together– a contrast from the ways of the Old World. But what happens when that safety is an illusion and the knowledge is fabricated?
When nineteen-year-old Ivy (Olivia) Clearson wanders the streets one night after curfew, she becomes a witness to a horrendous crime. She knows she has to report it, but in doing so, she risks re-education for her own violation of the law. Slowly, her eyes are forced open to the secrets that are harbored by those she thought she could always trust and the Society.
Ripped away from everything she’s ever known and accompanied by someone she’s been forced to believe is a terrorist, Ivy is on the run, desperate to escape her grim fate while uncovering the darkest secrets of this near-perfect world.
Alex & Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz
Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.
1777. Albany, New York.
As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.
Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.
B*Witch by Paige Mckenzie and Nancy Ohlin
A lone witch has powers. A coven has a multitude more.
New girl and secret witch Iris just wants to get through her first day of school without a panic attack. The last thing she expects is to be taken in by a coven of three witches-soft-spoken Greta, thoughtful and musical Ridley, and fiery and spirited Binx. They may be the first witches Iris has met IRL, but their coven is not alone in their small northwestern town.
The Triad is the other coven at their school. When the Triad’s not using spells to punish their exes or break up happy couples for fun, they practice dark magic. The two covens have a rivalry stretching all the way back to junior high.
When tragedy strikes and one of their own is murdered, the rival covens must band together to find out who is responsible before it’s too late. Someone’s anti-witch ideology has turned deadly . . . and one of them is next.
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.
Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.
Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young
The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.
As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.
Neon Girls: A Stripper’s Education in Protest and Power by Jennifer Worley
A riveting true story of a young woman’s days stripping in grunge-era San Francisco where a radical group of dancers banded together to unionize and run the club on their own terms.
When graduate student Jenny Worley needed a fast way to earn more money, she found herself at the door of the Lusty Lady Theater in San Francisco, auditioning on a stage surrounded by mirrors, in platform heels, and not much else. So began Jenny’s career as a stripper strutting the peepshow stage as her alter-ego “Polly” alongside women called Octopussy and Amnesia. But this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill strip club—it was a peepshow populated by free-thinking women who talked feminist theory and swapped radical zines like lipstick.
As management’s discriminatory practices and the rise of hidden cameras stir up tension among the dancers, Jenny rallies them to demand change. Together, they organize the first strippers’ union in the world and risk it all to take over the club and run it as a co-operative. Refusing to be treated as sex objects or disposable labor, they become instead the rulers of their kingdom. Jenny’s elation over the Lusty Lady’s revolution is tempered by her evolving understanding of the toll dancing has taken on her. When she finally hangs up her heels for good to finish her Ph.D., neither Jenny nor San Francisco are the same—but she and the cadre of wild, beautiful, brave women who run the Lusty Lady come out on top despite it all.
A first-hand account as only an insider could tell it, Neon Girls paints a vivid picture of a bygone San Francisco and a fiercely feminist world within the sex industry, asking sharp questions about what keeps women from fighting for their rights, who benefits from capitalizing on desire, and how we can change entrenched systems of power.
Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture by Emma Dabiri
From Guardian contributor BBC race correspondent Emma Dabiri comes an essay collection exploring the ways in which black hair has been appropriated and stigmatized throughout history, with ruminations on body politics, race, pop culture, and Dabiri’s own journey to loving her hair.
Emma Dabiri can tell you the first time she chemically straightened her hair. She can describe the smell, the atmosphere of the salon, and her mix of emotions when she saw her normally kinky tresses fall down her shoulders. For as long as Emma can remember, her hair has been a source of insecurity, shame, and—from strangers and family alike—discrimination. And she is not alone.
Despite increasingly liberal world views, black hair continues to be erased, appropriated, and stigmatized to the point of taboo. Through her personal and historical journey, Dabiri gleans insights into the way racism is coded in society’s perception of black hair—and how it is often used as an avenue for discrimination. Dabiri takes us from pre-colonial Africa, through the Harlem Renaissance, and into today’s Natural Hair Movement, exploring everything from women’s solidarity and friendship, to the criminalization of dreadlocks, to the dubious provenance of Kim Kardashian’s braids.
Through the lens of hair texture, Dabiri leads us on a historical and cultural investigation of the global history of racism—and her own personal journey of self-love and finally, acceptance.
What You Need to Know About Voting and Why by Kim Wehle
In What You Need to Know About Voting—and Why, law professor and constitutional scholar Kimberly Wehle offers practical, useful advice on the mechanics of voting and an enlightening survey of its history and future.
What is a primary?
How does the electoral college work?
Who gets to cast a ballot and why?
How do mail-in ballots work?
How do I register?
For new voters, would-be voters, young people and all of us looking ahead to the next election, What You Need to Know About Voting—and Why is a timely and informative guide, providing the background you need in order to make informed choices that will shape our shared destiny for decades to come.
Perfect Happiness by Kristyn Kusek Lewis
Charlotte McGanley knows happiness. Just ask anyone who’s read Perfect Happiness, her bestselling book about how she, a busy mother and professor, used her no-nonsense positive psychology research to brighten her own life. She always pictured her career beginning and ending in the halls of academia, but now she’s become a bit of a self-help guru. No one is more surprised by this than Charlotte herself, who has secretly never been more miserable.
Though her husband of many years, Jason, is her partner in all things, she finds more gratification most evenings in a glass (or three) of Chardonnay or another scroll through her Instagram feed. Meanwhile, their daughter, Birdie, is feeling the pressure of being her high school’s star tennis player, keeping up her GPA, and having her first boyfriend—and Charlotte, despite all her expertise, has no idea how to help her.
As Charlotte preaches the gospel of happiness to her undergraduate students, audiences across the country, and her own online followers, she’s faced with some tough questions: What is happiness when the family you’ve nurtured starts to fall apart in front of your eyes? When your daughter seems determined to self-destruct? When the man you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with—and took for granted because of it—gets fed up? When all of the tools that you push to your loyal followers just don’t seem to work?
In this bittersweet family love story, Kristyn Kusek Lewis explores how easy it is to lose connection with the people closest to us, and what happens when we try to find our way back.
Hunting Teddy Roosevelt by James Ross
It’s 1909, and Teddy Roosevelt is not only hunting in Africa, he’s being hunted. The safari is a time of discovery, both personal and political. In Africa, Roosevelt encounters Sudanese slave traders, Belgian colonial atrocities, and German preparations for war. He reconnects with a childhood sweetheart, Maggie, now a globe-trotting newspaper reporter sent by William Randolph Hearst to chronicle safari adventures and uncover the former president’s future political plans. But James Pierpont Morgan, the most powerful private citizen of his era, wants Roosevelt out of politics permanently. Afraid that the trust-busting president’s return to power will be disastrous for American business, he plants a killer on the safari staff to arrange a fatal accident. Roosevelt narrowly escapes the killer’s traps while leading two hundred and sixty-four men on foot through the savannas, jungles, and semi-deserts of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo, and Sudan.
Cupid’s Nightmare by Atika Desai
Love never goes according to plan.
After Sophia escapes her seven-minute date, she’s greeted by a stranger sitting on her couch, claiming to be Cupid. Who knew he’d be so hot and yet, so terrible at his job? She might as well say goodbye to love.
When Cupid brags about being widely regarded as the top matchmaker on the planet, Sophia can hardly believe her ears. However, he’s now in a slump, and his boss is on the warpath. Sophia has 29 days to fall in love with somebody, heck, anybody, or Cupid can kiss his job goodbye.
Sophia has dodged Cupid’s arrows for the last ten years, and she doubts his aim will get any better in 29 days.
Poseidon’s Trident by A. P. Mobley
“Have you ever wondered why, out of all the mortals the universe could have picked for this task, it picked you?”
After stealing Hades’s Helm of Darkness and narrowly escaping the Underworld, Andy and Zoey are ready to embark on the second quest they must complete before they’re prepared to lead a war on the gods—that is, traveling to Poseidon’s undersea palace and stealing the Sea God’s legendary Trident.
Having no idea how to get there, the teens and their friends travel to the lair of the all-knowing Fates and ask for a clue, soon discovering the only person who can help them is a Titan named Prometheus who’s been imprisoned by Zeus. The problem? He won’t help unless the group manages to free him of his seemingly unbreakable chains.
Andy and Zoey will have to find a way to free Prometheus as they battle enemy demigods and nightmarish creatures of myth—all while they begin to discover the secrets of their past.
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.
Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.
Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and soul-stirring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles in his path. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.
The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.
As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?
Thanks so much for reading my July TBR! You can find reviews for these books on my Goodreads when I finish them and some of them will be on my Instagram.