May Wrap-Up

Happy June everyone!

May was so busy and it went by so fast! I can’t believe it’s June already (do I say this every month?)!

It’s a crazy and bittersweet time as the school year comes to an end, and I’m looking forward to having some time off to rest, travel, and -of course- read!

May was actually a really good reading month for me. I tried to focus on choosing books that would work for AAPI Heritage Month, and I ended up discovering some really great reads. Everything I read, I rated 4 stars or higher! I also read a really wide variety of genres.

For next month, I’m planning to use Pride Month as a guide/theme for selecting my books in June. As for audiobooks, I’m hoping to focus more on nonfiction (on any topic). I’m hoping to read a decent amount, but wrapping up the school year is always busy and I’ll be doing a little bit of traveling too, so we’ll see!

Without further ado, here is my wrap-up of all the books I read in May:

To learn more about a book, click on the photo to find the Goodreads synopsis.

Stats and Overall Thoughts:

Books read: 6
Physical books: 4
(Books that I physically own: 2)
Audiobooks: 2

Fiction: 5
(Historical fiction: 1)
Nonfiction: 1

Average monthly rating: 4.1
Top Book of May: A Single Swallow

*To learn more about a book, click on the photo to find the Goodreads synopsis.

4.5-star books:

  • A Single Swallow by Zhang Ling (Historical Fiction, Audiobook)
    • I ended up really loving this book. It was such a beautiful and unique story, and it kept me captivated the whole time. It’s told from the perspectives of three men who are meeting together again for the first time in the afterlife, and their stories are all connected by one woman (whom they all knew in very different ways). While some other reviewers didn’t like that this female character was not included as one of the narrators of the story (even though the story primarily revolves around her), I thought it was really powerful to see someone’s life story told from the perspectives of the people who loved them to really see how they touched the lives around them. There were a couple of little things that I wasn’t sure about that just didn’t quite connect for me, but that’s the only reason I didn’t give this a full five stars. It truly is a really beautiful story (one that my words right now aren’t doing justice), and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

4-star books:

  • The Translanguaging Classroom: Leveraging Student Bilingualism for Learning by Ofelia Garcia & Others (Reference, Paperback)
    • I read this for work, and I really enjoyed it! As a beginning dual language teacher, I found it to be really informative with a lot of information that I could easily and immediately begin applying in my own practices as a bilingual teacher. I’m excited to start using translanguaging more intentionally in my classroom to empower my bilingual students (which is all of my students)! It especially had good information regarding lesson/unit planning and assessments. And, in general, the methodology behind not entirely separating the languages in a dual language program was inspiring. I gave it four stars instead of five, however, for a couple reasons. One of the reasons is that I found it to be really repetitive, with several concepts and explanations of important vocabulary being repeated over and over again. The second reason is because, while the theories and practices are solid and well-reasoned, I felt like it was looking at students and classrooms in a vacuum. It only considered students and classroom practices from a linguistic perspective. For instance, when discussing how to pair students for projects and classwork, language proficiency was the sole consideration. However, it didn’t take into account that that isn’t always possible due to behavior and other concerns that prevent students from working together effectively. For instance, I currently have tweens that basically refuse to talk to classmates of the opposite gender because it’s apparently so awkward. While behavior and other related concerns obviously weren’t the focus of the book, it would have been nice if it were at least acknowledged as a possible roadblock to implementing these great strategies. However, I learned a lot of great information in this book and I look forward to implementing it and becoming a better bilingual educator!
  • The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He (YA Science Fiction, Hardcover)
    • This was such a unique and interesting book. The first half was pretty slow, but then the second half picked up the pace dramatically. While I did prefer one of the narrators/narratives over the other, I still did enjoy reading about both sisters. I also found the plot points in the second part of the story to be surprising and unpredictable, which I don’t normally experience with young adult books! I docked a star from my rating for a few reasons. One is that, while I didn’t mind the slow pace and getting through the slow beginning did end up paying off, the first half really is slow. Also, I don’t know if it’s just that I don’t read a lot of this genre, but I sometimes felt confused by the worldbuilding and had a hard time imagining the sci-fi setting. Finally, I have mixed feelings about the ending. It was very open, and while I don’t mind using my imagination to make my own conclusions, it just felt really abrupt. To end on a more positive note, one of my favorite aspects of this story was the sister relationship it portrayed. The two sisters were so different and went through phases when they didn’t always get along, and there were times when they really didn’t understand each other at all, but their love and their bond persevered through everything. Overall, an intriguing and enjoyable story!
  • How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell (Fantasy, Middle Grade, Paperback)
    • This book was SO different from the movie! The characters were the same (in terms of names, and sometimes in terms of personality), but the plot was entirely different. I love the movies, but I hadn’t read the books before so I wanted to give it a shot. And I have to say, this book was really cute. It was funny and quirky and the characters had big personalities that were fun to read about. It’s definitely meant for a younger audience, though, whereas the movies can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Therefore, I went with a four-star rating. As a book meant solely for children, it’s perfect. It has humor that kids will love and it’s a series, which is great for resistant young readers. But I just didn’t feel like there was a lot of substance to it. Which is fine! Sometimes light and funny is just what you need. Additionally, I really enjoyed Hiccup’s character and the themes that came about because of him. Specifically, the theme of how being brave doesn’t mean being big and strong and fearless, but doing what’s right and being yourself even if it scares you. A fun book with great messages for kids! Review coming soon!
  • Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn (Fiction, Audiobook)
    • Honestly, I picked this book mostly because I was really intrigued by the title. It ended up being a really interesting character study of a family that had gone through a lot of trials and tribulations. Like with The Ones We’re Meant to Find, one of my favorite aspects of this story was the portrayal of sibling relationships. It showcased the sometimes competitive nature, but also how, even when you really don’t understand (or even like) each other at times, that love and that bond stays strong through everything. I also really loved the magical realism element of this. It was just barely there, which was enough to make the story feel grounded but still a little magical at the same time. Also, the audiobook performance was fantastic and really brought all of the characters to life. It wasn’t quite a five-star read for me because, when I finished reading it, I didn’t feel like I fully understood the purpose of the story, and the ending left me feeling a little confused and wanting more. But this might just be me, or maybe the audiobook format (which causes me to sometimes miss little details as I go). Regardless, it’s still a unique and powerful story that I would highly recommend!
  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (Romance, Paperback)
    • I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would! I don’t normally read romance, but I was looking for something light that I could read quickly at the end of the month, and this was the perfect choice! Romance elements aside, I thought the premise of this story was so unique, and therefore the plot kept me reading even when I felt a little unsure of the actual romance moments. I also really liked the characters and the positive portrayal of autistic women and male sex workers. Like I said before, romance isn’t my go-to genre, and that’s partially because I don’t like reading super graphic romance scenes. However, with this book, I didn’t mind it as much as I thought I would. There were a few moments throughout that were a little over-the-top for me, but otherwise it all made sense with the story. My main issue was just that the miscommunication causing the main conflict felt really contrived. They’re both supposed to be really smart people, so I was a little annoyed that such a small miscommunication was causing so much drama. However, as far as I can tell, the over-the-top romance moments and miscommunication trope are pretty common to the genre, so I can mostly overlook them. It was a fun and enjoyable read; one that I enjoyed enough to want to read the sequels now!

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)!

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