Happy July everyone!
I can’t believe it’s already July! Anyone else feel like the first half of June went by really slow, but then the second half went so fast? At this point, I’m just trying to make the most of this summer by relaxing as much as I can and prioritizing my mental and physical health (something that has been very difficult this year as a teacher).
June has been an incredibly busy month. The school year ended and I moved to a new place! With everything going on, I read a little bit less than usual (and I missed a week of blogging, oops!). However, most of what I read was really great! I’m glad I still managed to read as much as I did. I still haven’t read many of the books listed in my previous TBR posts (See: Books I Meant to Read in 2020, Spring TBR and Summer TBR), but I did manage to keep up on most of my blogging goals! Most notably, I started a new bookish meme: Travel Thursday! Check out my Travel Thursday posts HERE, and feel free to join in next week if it interests you!
Looking ahead to my reading for the rest of the summer, I’m always really optimistic that I’m going to read a lot more than usual during the summer months since I have so much more free time, but, unfortunately, it never actually works out that way! I always manage to get distracted by other things. However, I’m optimistic yet again despite my summer reading track record! I have so many great books that have been calling to me lately (many of which have been on my shelves for an embarrassing number of years), and I’m reading a couple of fantastic ones right now: The Henna Artist and With the Fire on High. I’m so excited to see what other great books I manage to read this summer!
Without further ado, here is my wrap-up of all the books I read in June:
Stats and Overall Thoughts:
Books read: 8
Physical books: 2
Average monthly rating: 3.9
Top Book of June: The Mountains Sing
*To learn more about a book, click on the photo to find the Goodreads synopsis.
- The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne (Memoir, Audiobook)
- This was such an unexpectedly wonderful read for me! I downloaded it for free on Audible because it sounded interesting and I’ve been trying to read more nonfiction this year. So I figured I’d give it a shot! But I really didn’t expect how much I’d love it. It was a fascinating, entertaining, and even humorous read about many topics (many of which I knew very little about). It was so interesting reading about Hanagarne’s experience with Tourette’s; the misconceptions, how it affected him as a child, how he manages it as an adult. Hanagarne was also raised Mormon, but began to struggle with his faith as he moved into adulthood. Reading about his experiences with the Mormon church was also really eye-opening. I also loved reading about his passion for books and strength training. Hanagarne just seems like such a hardworking and wonderful person, and I loved listening to his uplifting story.
- Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Historical Fiction, Middle Grade, Paperback)
- I was a little nervous to pick this one up because I had previously read The Giver (by the same author) in high school and I really didn’t enjoy it. However, I’m so glad I gave this one a chance because it was fantastic. I’m always looking for good middle grade historical fiction to share with students. My first exposure to the genre was with the Dear America books, and they sparked a lifelong passion for historical fiction for me. In my opinion, great middle grade books in this genre give enough background on the historical context so that it doesn’t feel confusing, overwhelming, or boring, while also maintaining an engaging story with well-developed characters. Number the Stars does all of these things! Set in Denmark during WWII, it does a good job setting up the political and historical context and features a gripping and suspenseful story with interesting characters. The only small thing I struggled with was that I felt it didn’t quite convey the severity and horror of what was happening to the full extent, and I think kids could handle more of the truth of the situation. However, it’s a small issue, and this was such a fantastic book that I would highly recommend to people of all ages! You can read more in my review – coming soon!
- Saraí salva la música by Monica Brown and Saraí Gonzalez (Realistic Fiction, Middle Grade, Paperback)
- Such a cute book! I enjoyed the one I read in May (Saraí y la feria alrededor del mundo) a little bit more, but this one was still great! I read it in Spanish, and the vocabulary in this one was a little bit more difficult because it’s all about music, so it could be a little difficult if you don’t have a lot of background knowledge on musical instruments. I felt a little disappointed by the ending, but overall I’d say the plot structure of this one was actually more solid than the previous one I read. So that was good! It was so cute and I really enjoyed it. You can read more in my review – coming soon!
- The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai (Historical Fiction, Audiobook)
- This is probably one of the most powerful and moving books I’ve read so far this year. There were a couple of little technical things I struggled with (underdeveloped characters/relationships, rushed ending), but the story itself was incredible. It’s set primarily during the Vietnam War, but it’s from the Vietnamese perspective. I think this is a book everyone should read. I didn’t learn much about this war in school, and when I did it was always from an American perspective. It’s such a powerful story with uplifting themes of hope, family, and the goodness of humanity that prevails even in the darkest of times. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
- Mr. Lincoln: The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Allen C. Guelzo (Nonfiction, Audiobook)
- I have a kind of random fascination with our 16th president, Mr. Abraham Lincoln, and I’m always excited to learn more about him whenever I can! This audiobook was a great series of lectures about his early life, career, and his time as president during the Civil War. It was short, but I thought it gave a great overview of the most essential information regarding each individual aspect of his life and career. I learned a lot, and would recommend this to anyone wanting to learn more about Mr. Lincoln! However, if you already know a lot about the topic, this lecture series might not go in depth enough for you, so just keep that in mind.
- Afterlife by Julia Alvarez (Realistic Fiction, Audiobook)
- This was another short but moving story! Covering many topics including grief, immigration, sisterhood, and more, this book makes quite an impact in such a short amount of time. It’s beautifully and poetically written and was a true pleasure to listen to in an audio format. My only small issue was that I didn’t always feel totally connected to the characters. Otherwise, it’s a beautiful and enchanting novel sure to make you think about your own life as you’re reading.
- Renounced by Bridget E. Baker (YA Fiction, E-book)
- This is actually the fourth book in the series I began reading a couple years ago! I got the first installment for free on my Kindle, and actually really enjoyed it! I thought I’d read somewhere that this series was self-published (though I’m not sure if that’s accurate), so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But it was great! Unique concept, thorough and clever world building, and a fun romance throughout. This fourth book came as a surprise, as the third one seemed like a perfect end to the series. After reading this one, I do still think it wasn’t entirely necessary, but it was still enjoyable! The world building once again was excellent, but the action was slower paced due to the focus being more on politics and the difficulties of reestablishing a country after an apocalypse-causing pandemic. (Timely, right? It’s crazy that the first three were written in 2018 prior to this pandemic!) Renounced (and the entire Sins of our Ancestors series) is a fun and quick read for anyone who’s a fan of the dystopian YA genre!
- The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (Romance, Audiobook)
- This one gets great reviews any time I see it come up online, but I was seriously so disappointed in this one… It just felt really juvenile, and I thought the tropes were really poorly done. Enemies to lovers can be fun, but we really need to stop perpetuating the “Boys are mean to you because they like you!” myth. It’s so toxic and not at all romantic! There’s literally one point in the novel where the male love interest makes a move on her for the first time, and she literally thinks he’s trying to kill her at first. That’s how mean to her he’d been up until that point. It’s also very anti “nice guy” and anti “short guy” for some reason? I’ll stop there so I don’t spoil anything for anyone who may still want to read this one, but if you’d like to know more of my thoughts just leave a comment below and I’d be happy to rant some more! Basically, I more or less enjoyed it while reading it, but only because I was expecting some sort of twist or something to make it interesting and worth the high ratings it typically receives. By the end, though, nothing had happened to redeem it and I just felt frustrated and like I had wasted my time. It didn’t make me smile or swoon even once, and that’s what good romance novels are supposed to do, right? I didn’t root for any of the characters and just found the whole thing to be kind of annoying and not at all romantic. It would be good if you need something light to have on in the background to listen to while doing other things, but otherwise I can’t say that I recommend this one.
How did your reading go in June? Any stand-out books to recommend?
Let me know in the comments! And thanks for reading (my blog, but also just in general)!