Happy June everyone!
Thank goodness it’s finally June. These last couple months have been incredibly stressful, and I could not be more ready for summer break!
With my professional life suddenly becoming much more exhausting and busy, I’ve taken a step back from blogging over the last month or so. I think in my last wrap-up I was hoping to get back to it in May, but… that didn’t quite happen. But that’s okay! With summer break fast approaching, I really am confident this time that I’ll be back on track with blogging this month. I even have some exciting plans! I am still planning on going forward with my plan to focus on reviewing middle grade and young adult books, and I even have a few reviews queued up for this month! In addition to that, I plan on continuing the Top 10 Tuesday lists, starting to participate in the Six for Sunday lists, and maybe even starting a travel-related tag of my own! I have big plans, now I just need the time and energy to follow through!
I managed to read quite a bit this month, and the overall quality of what I read was so much better than last month. I still read a lot of middle grade books (as I am still trying to get through as many as I can before the end of the school year so that I can return them to my classroom library), but they were really great! And I read some great audiobooks this month as well.
I didn’t actually end up reading any of the books I had specifically hoped to read in May (The Glass Castle and The Help). Oops! Maybe it’ll happen in June! I don’t really hold myself to a strict TBR since I’d prefer to read what makes the most sense (and what interests me the most) in the moment, so I’m confident I’ll get to them eventually! Better than forcing myself to read them now and then not being in the right mental space to enjoy them.
Without further ado, here is my wrap-up of all the books I read in May:
Stats and Overall Thoughts:
Books read: 14
Physical books: 5
Average monthly rating: 4.1
Top Book of May: And the Mountains Echoed
- Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou (Memoir, Audiobook)
- I intentionally read this one right before Mother’s Day and I absolutely loved it! It was such a powerful story about the bond and love shared between mothers and daughters. And it was so uplifting to see how Angelou’s mother rose to the challenge of motherhood, and how Angelou herself was able to form a strong bond with her mother despite the maternal shortcomings Lady (her mother) showed during her childhood.
- Ghost by Jason Reynolds (Realistic Fiction, Middle Grade, Hardcover)
- This was another one I absolutely ended up loving. The writing style really enhances the story and characters. The main character, Ghost, is impossible not to love despite the many mistakes he makes. Review coming soon!
- And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (Historical Fiction, Audiobook)
- This is the third book of Hosseini’s that I’ve read and loved (and that has made me cry). I was weeping by the end of this one. It was devastating and so impactful and one that I won’t stop thinking about for a long time. The audiobook is also phenomenally narrated by the author!
- Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Jonathan Van Ness (Memoir, Audiobook)
- I love Queer Eye and Jonathan Van Ness, and was so excited to listen to this memoir. I definitely recommend listening to it rather than reading it, since listening to JVN tell his own story was so powerful! He poses a question in the beginning of the novel: something along the lines of “If people really knew me, would they still love me?” To be honest, I was nervous going into it since vulnerability is something I struggle with in my own life. Spoiler alert: the answer to that question is always yes! I believe that the more you truly get to know and understand someone, the harder it is not to love them or at least accept them, and JVN’s memoir is the perfect example of that. JVN’s story is so powerful and important and I’m so grateful to have read it.
- Call Me Maybe by Cara Bastone (Romance, Audiobook)
- This one was a dark horse for me this month! Not only was it a romance novel (a genre I don’t read too often), but it was an Audible Original production (which is often hit-or-miss for me). But WOW! I loved it so much! The production was great (some sound effects, but not so many that they were distracting or annoying), the audio levels were balanced (often an issue with Audible Originals), and the story was so cute and fun! I was smiling the whole time, and there were even some moments in the plot that managed to surprise me! I highly recommend it for a light read/listen, and I can’t wait to listen to the sequel!
- Saraí y la Feria Alrededor del Mundo by Monica Brown and Saraí Gonzalez (Realistic Fiction, Middle Grade, Paperback)
- My first Spanish book of the year! I’ve been a fan of Saraí since I saw her in Bomba Estéreo’s “Soy Yo” music video. So when I heard she was writing children’s books based loosely on her life, I couldn’t wait to read one! These are available in English as well, but they’re a great Spanish option for those wanting to work on their Spanish literacy! I just thought the story and illustrations were so cute, and I look forward to getting more for my classroom! Review coming soon!
- Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Realistic Fiction, Middle Grade, Hardcover)
- I really enjoyed this one! It’s a great story about a girl with dyslexia and how she comes to terms with her learning disability (and makes friends in the cutthroat environment that is sixth grade!). Being a sixth grade teacher, I really had my students in mind while I read this. As much as I enjoyed it, though, I did have some conflicting feelings regarding weak character development (among other things). You can read more in my review – coming soon!
- If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane (Romance, Audiobook)
- I actually really enjoyed this one as I was reading it! It was cute and entertaining. However, while I appreciated the attempt to include race as an important theme in the novel, it was done in a fairly clunky way. It was also written by a white author (something I didn’t realize while reading) , which makes the poor execution that much more… awkward. It was also incredibly predictable and unnecessarily long. Additionally, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. But it wasn’t bad!
- Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi and Joshua David Stein (Memoir, Audiobook)
- I struggle to rate memoirs, so – to be clear – I’m not rating the content of the memoir itself! It wouldn’t be right to rate a story that is literally someone’s life. The writing itself was nothing special here. Very straightforward with a lot of telling rather than showing. I also felt that the first half of the novel (centered around the author’s childhood) was stronger than the section focused on his adulthood experiences. Again, this is specifically regarding the writing and portrayal of these experiences. I think it also would have benefitted from waiting to be written/published until the author was a little older so that he could include more of his professional experiences and have a more mature reflection on some of the struggles he faced when starting out in his career. He seems like an incredibly talented chef and I would love to know more about his current work!
- Sous Chef by Michael Gibney (Nonfiction, Audiobook)
- I’ve really discovered a love for food writing this year! I found this book to be fascinating. What’s most interesting about it is this: it’s written from the second person point of view! That means it uses “you” as the narrator’s pronoun, which places the reader in the center of the story. It takes you through 24 hours in the life of a professional chef, as “you” go through all of the daily tasks (and trials and tribulations). It’s enlightening, educational, and even stressful at times! The best and most intense part is while prepping for and executing the dinner service. Wow! I’d always heard how tough the career of being of a chef is, but this really puts it into perspective. I only knocked the rating down a little because there were some parts that dragged and the minor characters weren’t well-developed, which made it difficult to invest emotionally. Otherwise, it was fascinating and different than anything I’ve ever read!
- The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Fable, Middle Grade, Paperback)
- I’m so glad I finally got to read The Little Prince! I realized soon after starting it that I clearly knew nothing about this book going into it. What a strange story! It had some great themes, and I often love fables like this with important morals and life lessons. This one was maybe not the best fit for me, but I could still definitely see the value and appeal of this story. You can read more in my review – coming soon!
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (Fantasy, Middle Grade, Paperback)
- Another children’s classic that I didn’t read until adulthood! Again, I’m so glad I can finally say I’ve read this book. However, it was not my favorite. It definitely wasn’t bad! But there were some things I struggled with. I can say with confidence, though, that it is MUCH better than the movie adaptation that came out recently! You can read more in my review – coming soon!
- Death on the Nile Agatha Christie (Mystery, Audiobook)
- Another solid mystery from Agatha Christie, the Queen of Mystery! That being said, this wasn’t my favorite Poirot mystery. The murder didn’t happen until almost halfway through the story, so I struggled a little bit to get into this one. While I appreciate the set-up and character development, I definitely felt that the pacing was off. I also didn’t find the resolution to be incredibly satisfying. While not exactly predictable, it also didn’t shock me as much as some of her other mysteries have. Excellent narration by Kenneth Branagh though!
- After the Fairy Tale by Terence Gray, Erin Day, and Ian Thake (Romance, Audiobook)
- This one was an Audible Original that I got for free through my Audible membership, and it wasn’t great. It had a great premise (a reality show contestant who can’t tell her family about her experience until the show finishes airing), but just never really turned into anything. It was cute enough, but I didn’t care about either of the romances in the book. In fact, there wasn’t really any part of the story that I cared about. I also didn’t enjoy the production of this audiobook; the audio levels were so unbalanced (blaring music one moment and then inaudible phone conversations the next). I just finished this a couple days ago and it’s already fading from my memory. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it wasn’t great either.
- Wish You Were Here by Sanaz Toossi (Audiobook)
- No Child… by Nilaja Sun (Audiobook)
- They just ended up not being for me! I also didn’t enjoy the production quality of these (a personal preference, not a critique of either story).
How did your reading go in May? Any stand-out books to recommend?
Let me know in the comments! And thanks for reading (my blog, but also just in general)!