Hello Bloglandia!

Well, it’s that time of year again: Summer Reading Time at my local library, which means there’s a chance for prizes with every book I read.

Which also means I’m racing my way through as many books as my eyes and ears can possibly handle.

I mean, come on, prizes!!

Anyway, of the ten or so books (aka “drawing entries”) I read this month, there was surprisingly only one dud, quite a few mediocre tales, and a few that really stood out, including the three below.


June’s Top Three Reads

#1 – The Last Duel by Eric Jager 

This is by far and away THE top pick for June. And that’s really saying something, since I have rarely found a non-fiction book that I simply could NOT stop reading.

I’d already seen the movie and loved it, so I was pretty darn pleased when I realized there was a book it was based on.

And the book is just as good as the movie (plus, having seen the movie first, it helped me keep all the Jacques and Jeans straight…so many Jacques and Jeans!).

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, it takes place in 14th century France. One man (Jacques) has had a lengthy personal quarrel with another man (Jean). Then Jacques’s wife accuses Jean of raping her.

The case ends up being tried by combat (a duel between Jacques and Jean). Whoever is left standing is the winner of the case.

This is no light matter because if Jacques dies in the duel, his wife will be burnt alive. So he REALLY needs to trust that she’s telling the truth to go ahead with the case.

The first part of this well-researched book starts with all the personal and political conflicts between Jean and Jacques. It includes details to put everything into context for the age (late 1300s), and continues on to the rape accusation and the trial. 

The second part goes into surprisingly intriguing detail about judicial duels, the procedures, the equipment, and some quirky historic examples.

Then there’s a blow by blow account of the duel itself – an account that’s almost more grisly than the movie.

Unlike the movie, you also get learn what happens to Jean and his wife after the duel, which the movie doesn’t really go into.

While the author does have a habit of repeating himself, the book is amazingly easy to read and incredibly compelling.

As I said, it’s rare for me to read a non-fiction book and want to keep reaching for it to see what happens next. And the insight into the time period is richly well done without being overwhelming. 

Overall, I highly recommend the book for anyone who enjoys a mix of medieval history, legal thriller, and brutal action.


#2 – Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch 

I doubt there’s a Rivers of London book I wouldn’t like, and this was no exception. I think what set it apart from a few of the more recent books in the series is that this one had a much tighter plot and felt more like some of the series’ earlier books. 

My only real complaint is that I would have liked to have seen Nightingale (the inspiration for Mr Tenpenny) a bit more.

And of course, I raced through the audiobook far too quickly because I absolutely LOVE Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s narration work, so now I’m left waiting for the next installment. Sigh…


#3 – Odd & the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

This is nothing other than an utterly charming and enjoyable audio story. A story made even better by Neil Gaiman himself narrating it!

The story centers around a mistreated boy named Odd who unwittingly befriends the Norse gods Odin, Loki, and Thor.

With them, he crosses into the land of the gods and while he’s there ends up going up against a band of frost giants who’ve thrown the world into permanent winter.

You know, your typical day out as a kid.

it’s a quick tale that’s perfect if you’re looking for something to delight you, provide a wonderful escape, and bring a smile to your face.


Your Turn…

Have you read any of these books? Have a favorite non-fiction book that you couldn’t put down? Any books you read in June that want to recommend (or warn me away from)? 

Go ahead and leave a comment to share your bookish thoughts!



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Last Few Days!!!

A Fantasy-Filled Selection of Books

If you’re looking for something spectacular to read, there’s still a few days to take advantage of this promo’s amazing assortment of stories that will help you escape reality.

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2 thoughts on “June’s Top Reads: French Duels, Norse Gods, and a Return to London

    1. YES!! He narrates a lot of his shorter stuff (such as Coraline, The Graveyard Book, etc) and even his short story collections and his book Norse Gods. Can’t recall if he’s done any of his novels, but yeah, his narration is wonderful!

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