Second Quarter Reading Wrap-Up: April, May, and June Reads

(All links on book titles will take you directly to the Goodreads page for that title. I love keeping track of what I’ve read on Goodreads, but if you want a full synopsis (without spoilers) you can also find that there. If you chose to purchase selected book, Goodreads will have an Amazon link available, but I would also encourage you to search instead for the book from your favorite local, indie, thrifted bookseller option if that is something you want to do!)

Apparently, I am now incapable of posting monthly reading recaps and have started doing quarterly sessions– it works for me, so I’m going with it! We’ve finished the second quarter of the year, and that means it’s time to look at all the books I read from April to June.

Average Rating: 4.2 Stars
  • To Love and to Loathe, Martha Waters
  • The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes, Elissa Sloan
  • Head Over Heels, Hannah Orenstein
  • Among the Hidden, Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Love That Dog, Sharon Creech
  • Weird Kid, Greg Van Eekhout
  • The Guest List, Lucy Foley
  • Out of the Dust, Karen Hesse
  • On the Come Up, Angie Thomas
  • Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Average Rating: 4.2 Stars
  • Caste, Isabel Wilkerson
  • Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo
  • Rules, Jenny Colgan
  • Dust Bowl Venus, Stella Beratlis
  • Holes, Louis Sachar
  • The Viscount Who Loved Me, Julia Quinn
  • Look Mom I’m a Poet, Andrew Shaffer
  • In Five Years, Rebecca Serle
  • Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo
  • The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller
  • Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry, Joya Goffney
  • Firekeeper’s Daughter, Angeline Bouilley
  • Finlay Donovan is Killing It, Elle Cosimano
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, V.E. Schwab
  • The Winter Sea, Susanna Kearsley
Average Rating: 4.18 Stars
  • The Maidens, Alex Michaelides
  • Broken, Jenny Lawson
  • Whiskey in a Teacup, Reese Witherspoon
  • Ariadne, Jennifer Saint
  • The Giver of Stars, Jojo Moyes
  • Moo, Sharon Creech
  • Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech
  • Namesake, Adrienne Young
  • A Rogue of One’s Own, Evie Dunmore
  • New Kid, Jerry Craft
  • Malibu Rising, Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • If the Shoe Fits, Julie Murphy
  • Lessons, Jenny Colgan
  • Throne of Glass, Sarah J. Maas
  • Arsenic and Adobo, Mia P. Manansala
  • The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

Data Breakdown

THREE MONTH TOTAL: 41

By Genre:

  • Nonfiction: 3
  • Fiction: 36
  • Audiobook: 7
  • Poetry: 2

By Star Review:

  • ✪✪✪✪✪ : 15
  • ✪✪✪✪: 18
  • ✪✪✪: 8

April Superlatives

Favorite Read: The Guest List

Most Likely to Recommend: On the Come Up

Most Quotable: Fahrenheit 451

Most Important/Powerful/Heavy/Thought-Provoking: Out of the Dust

Most Fun:  To Love and to Loathe

Late to the Party: The Guest List

Favorite Instagram Post:

May Superlatives

Favorite Read: Firekeeper’s Daughter

Most Likely to Recommend: Firekeeper’s Daughter

Most Quotable: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Most Important/Powerful/Bizarre/Heavy/Thought-Provoking: Caste

Most Fun: Six of Crows

Late to the Party: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Favorite Instagram Post:

June Superlatives

Favorite Read: The Giver of Stars

Most Likely to Recommend: Malibu Rising

Most Quotable: Ariadne

Most Important/Powerful/Heavy/Thought-Provoking: Ariadne

Most Fun: A Rogue of One’s Own

Late to the Party: Walk Two Moons

Favorite Instagram Post:

LET’S GO TO WORK.

  • Weird Kid,

This was given to me as an audio-ARC from HarperCollins– big thanks to them and to Netgalley for providing a place to snag those early copies! I think this is a book that some middle-grade readers are going to love. That being said, it’s all in the title: there’s some weird stuff happening in this book, so if you aren’t a fan of science fiction, it may not be your bag.

  • THE UNRAVELING OF CASSIDY HOLMES

I was super psyched to read this because I think maybe it was marketed as similar to Daisy Jones and the Six, and you know how I feel about Daisy! It wasn’t like Daisy Jones, and I was bored and also sad? I don’t know, I didn’t love it, but the VH1 Behind the Music feel about it was fun and I didn’t hate the reading experience, so three stars it gets.

  • HEAD OVER HEELS

The premise of this book sounds like something I’d really love to read. Gymnastics and love and also a scandal that leads to social justice action? I’m here for all of that. I thought maybe it tried to do a little too much, but I did enjoy the read.

  • LOOK MOM I’M A POET

I am not the ideal reader for this collection. It’s definitely funny, but not really my kind of funny. I think that fans of stand-up and vulgar comedy are going to devour it, but it just wasn’t super my thing; there were several texts that I found humorous, though, just struggled overall.

  • MOO

Listened to this on audio and I’m pretty sure I just gave it the shaft and I don’t even really know why— frankly, this should easily be a 4-star. Moving it on my Goodreads *now*. Anyway, this is a sweet story about a girl and her family who find themselves part of the 4-H show circle when they move from the circle to a small farming community in Maine. It’s sweet and sad and short.

  • LESSONS

I love Jenny Colgan. Unendingly, you know that. To be honest, though, I found this series comparatively disappointing, and I’m really sad about it. The romantic focal point was so fraught and strung out that I was just annoyed by the end of it, though I found parts of it quite endearing; I’m a teacher, and you don’t get a ton of books that focus on the school setting from a teacher perspective. That element of it was kind of like catnip for me, but the rest wasn’t. It was fine.

  • ARSENIC AND ADOBO

When I reviewed this, I said it was “totally fun and totally fine,” and I think that remains the case for me! This lighthearted mystery and also foodie book was a quick and fun read. I think this would be fun for a lot of readers, so consider checking it out! Did it blow my mind with its literary power? No. Was it still a great reading experience? Yep.

  • ARIADNE

I can’t lie, I was moderately letdown by this one. I thought I’d like this a lot, and I liked it just fine, but it just felt kind of lackluster. The purpose seemed to be illuminating the feminine perspective of Greek mythology; it did that well, and I actually loved that they put the storytelling in the hands of the key female characters (Ariadne and Phaedra), but that didn’t make them any less tragic as characters. It was just, ultimately, kind of sad. Not enough payoff for me. But still, a fine reading experience. And the writing was beautiful, I underline so many lines from this book. If you’re wanting to scratch the female mythological character itch, I’d recommend reading Circe instead. Unless you just want as much of this genre as you can get your hands on!

  • TO LOVE AND TO LOATHE

Thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for this e-ARC! I hadn’t read the previous book (To Have to Hoax), but you can bet that I bought that as soon as I finished this one because WHAT A ROMP. This was so much fun; I loved the characters, and it felt like escapist reading at its best. Maybe I do like regency romance?

  • AMONG THE HIDDEN

This was a reread for my 6th Grade ELA class; I hadn’t read this since I was in middle school, so it was really fun to return to the story and watch my students’ reactions to the ending.

  • SHADOW AND BONES

Am I obsessed with the Grishaverse? Maybe (though it’s definitely mostly because of Six of Crows). I thought this was really good and totally immersive. I read it super quickly, and it was great! This has been another avenue of my foray into fantasy; I’m really liking it here. Also, I enjoyed watching the Netflix series along with it! Did I prefer Mal in the show to Mal in the book? Yes, yes I did. Was the The Darkling way less satisfying the show? Yes, yes he was.

  • RULES

I complained about this series in the 3-star section above, but this was actually my favorite of the series. I liked that the romance felt like it was going somewhere, and the tension between them didn’t feel *fraught* as I described it above; it felt purposeful. I don’t love that every book in this series seems to feel forced to feature some sort of teen trauma, but the rest of it I liked a lot. It was a quick, fun read.

  • DUST BOWL VENUS

A major thanks to Sixteen Rivers Press and Netgalley for this e-ARC! Of all the poetry I’ve read in the last quarter of 2021, this has been my favorite. It feels almost folksy in nature, and I loved that.

  • THE VISCOUNT WHO LOVED ME

I built this story up in my mind, mostly because I kept haring from people that the first book in the Bridgerton series was good, but this is the story fans really love. I felt the opposite! I liked it, a lot, and I liked that Kate had a real backbone and presence. She was a much more admirable character than Daphne, in my own opinion. The Duke, though, still has my heart. We’ll see what I think when Netflix adapts this for Season 2!

  • IN FIVE YEARS

I cried A LOT reading this book. I didn’t even see it coming! I thought this was a love story; no, it’s really about friendship and the purest love you find with your very best friend. There’s an element of magical realism to it, as well, but a very minor one. If you want a good cry, this is a great book for that.

  • THE SONG OF ACHILLES

Okay, so, in case you didn’t know, people LOVE this book. Like, really love it. I thought it was pretty good, great at moments, but I didn’t have the extremely visceral reaction to this book that a lot of people do. In fact (whisper speak) I liked Circe more.

Long story short, this is the love story between Achilles and Patroclus. The narration is done by Patroclus, and begins with his childhood; it gradually develops as he is forced to leave his home (and honestly, not great parents) and live in the home of Achilles, training as a warrior. When he earns Achilles’ friendship, he quickly becomes his closest companion. It features many famous mythological characters and events, and I think that if you are someone who appreciates that subject, you’ll really love this. I thought it was fascinating, myself.

  • EXCUSE ME WHILE I UGLY CRY

Thank you to Netgalley, HarperCollins, and Joya Goffney for both the audio and e-book galleys of this book! I found it really fun to switch between the two mediums.

Do you remember that Disney Channel original movie, Read It and Weep? That had Danielle Panabaker in it? This reminds of that, but way better. The main character, Quinn, is a mega list-maker. She makes list for everything, from silly things to serious things, like goals for improving her life; when her list notebook goes missing, it’s her worst nightmare. But when she starts receiving anonymous messages threatening to reveal those lists to the world? Things get even worse.

Fun things about this book: Quinn finds friends in unexpected individuals and realizes the value of friends who will positively impact her, not tear her down or demean her. Additionally, she develops a real sense of self-worth and personal decision-making skills by the end of the novel. A diverse cast is also present.

  • FINLAY DONOVAN IS KILLING IT

I really, really enjoyed this book about an accidental murder-for-hire! Things get really messy and tricky and so completely fun. I was not at all surprised to find that it’s being adapted for the screen, and Finlay feels like a real person. I love that more than anything in my characters.

  • THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE

This book is beautiful and sad and masterfully done. If you’ve encountered anyone who read it, they’ll probably breathe a big sigh of wonder; it truly is incredible. I liked it a lot. Imagine you made a deal with the devil and live forever, but you live alone, without a single soul knowing who you are… but then, you find someone who can. HONESTLY, a brilliant premise.

  • THE WINTER SEA

One of my friends on Bookstagram (@thebookscript, she also makes really beautiful bookmarks) recommended I read this, and I’m so glad! It gave me vaguely Outlander vibes (without the time travel), but mostly I loved that it’s so unlike anything else I’m seeing released lately. I genuinely loved this reading experience. I need to get more of her books!

  • THE MAIDENS

Big thanks to Celadon Books for sending me an ARC of The Maidens. So many people loved The Silent Patient (myself included), and I think that love led to a serious anticipation for The Maidens. I liked it a lot, and it was a super-quick read for me. I won’t say much else, as there’s a full blog post review of this one.

  • BROKEN

For years, Jenny Lawson has been one of my favorite authors for audiobooks. She is so incredibly funny, and darkly so. I love an honestly comic memoir, and that’s true of this, as well. This book (her most recent) felt a little bit more heartfelt, a little more genuine maybe, than her previous two books; that didn’t take away from the impact. She talks about her life and health and mental health with such openness that you can’t help but appreciate the work she’s doing.

  • WHISKEY IN A TEACUP

I actually really like Reese Witherspoon, and listening to this book was fun! It’s in her narration, and celebrities always do the best job reading audiobooks, I think. I’m a fan! It was perfect when I didn’t feel like focusing too hard and just having a good time listening.

  • NAMESAKE

After reading Fable, I know I’ll read anything Adrienne Young writes that has to do with Fable’s story. This continuation of her first installment in the series was really fun to read, but not quite as fantastic (to me) as the first one. In this book, however, Fable learns more about her past and the mysterious conditions in which much of her life is veiled. I really liked it, and I can’t wait to read the third one.

  • IF THE SHOE FITS

I received an ARC of this on Netgalley, and I’m psyched because it was a great read. For fans of Disney and The Bachelor and One to Watch. It’s a perfectly sweet little rom-com, and honestly pretty clean if you care about that in your romances. I think it’s perfect for YA readers, also!

  • THRONE OF GLASS

I can feel that I’m going to be totally obsessed with this series after reading the first two books, but this one was a little bit less fun (to me) than its sequel, which I’ll feature in the next installment of quarterly reviews! Still, Sarah J. Maas is an incredible fantasy writer, and the characters in this one are so well done.

  • LOVE THAT DOG

A reread for my students at school. This book is really sweet, and that’s all I’m going to say (since it’s a reread).

  • THE GUEST LIST

GAH, this thriller! I didn’t know I could still love thrillers, but this did it. The setting was immersive and spooky and all the characters were totally awful people (you know how I love that). I picked up on the ending a little early, but that didn’t phase me because there were so many other twists to follow! It was really a great, great read.

  • OUT OF THE DUST

Another reread for school.

  • FAHRENHEIT 451

Another reread for school (this one for my Books and Movies elective).

  • ON THE COME UP

A few years ago, maybe more than a few, actually, I read The Hate U Give and instantly understood its success. It was powerful and strong and yet still totally approachable for the young adult audience. Can I tell you a secret? I liked On the Come Up even more. While I loved the relationship between Starr’s parents in The Hate U Give, I really loved the way that Jay was emotionally strong and fully self-sustaining, the way she managed her household singlehandedly was straight-up inspirational. And as a character, I actually preferred Bri to Starr. She seemed like a real person, with real adolescent faults and mindset. I liked this book a lot, obviously, as I gave it five stars. The music providing background for the text was also a really vital element that I appreciated. Would highly recommend.

  • CASTE: THE ORIGINS OF OUR DISCONTENT

I read this book with my friend Hannah’s Brunch Babes Book Club, and even though I didn’t get to go to the virtual meeting, I’m really glad that this group was the push I needed to finally pick this up. It’s heavy with information and I felt like I learned so incredibly much. My pencil was working full time underlining and annotating and marking in the margins. I think this book is, as so many say, one that everybody should read, but I also think they need to reach the right mindset before approaching it because it is so completely overflowing with information. You need the headspace and time to allow yourself to process it. Such a good book.

  • HOLES

Reread for school.

  • SIX OF CROWS

I do not have the adequate words to describe how much I love this literary gang. I mean, I really don’t. I’m in love with every single one of them. This book is incredible, so much better than Shadow and Bone. Sorry, not sorry.

  • FIREKEEPER’S DAUGHTER

THIS IS MAYBE THE BEST BOOK I’VE READ ALL YEAR. There are so many incredible things about this story, I really don’t even want to say anything. But I will say that there is such a varied group I could see this book appealing to, from those interested in sports and competition to those who like a story about the power of culture and family. There’s a love story. There’s a mystery. It’s just incredible, truly. Please, please read it.

I will say, there are some trigger warnings in terms of gun violence, drug use, and sexual assault. If those things are difficult for you to read, maybe steer clear of this one and just listen to me rant about it instead.

  • THE GIVER OF STARS

I was craving a little historical fiction, so I picked this up. I was really excited to receive it for Christmas several years ago but after the controversy with The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek (a book I LOVE and have recommended many, many times) I was hesitant to read it. Ultimately, curiosity won out. Having read both, I will say that there are many parts of these two books that aren’t related really at all. Yes, the setting is the same and the situation in which the main characters (both women) find themselves do bear similarities; still, some of the deeper themes and approaches are truly different. I didn’t feel like it was reading a carbon copy of Book Woman, by any means. Do I like it better than Book Woman? Nope. Did I still really like it? Yep.

  • WALK TWO MOONS

Did I expect to be crying real, actual tears after listening to a Middle Grade novel on my daily walk/jog? No, no I did not. Is that what I got from Walk Two Moons? YUP. Can’t believe I didn’t hear more about this when I was younger. It’s a classic, truly.

  • A ROGUE OF ONE’S OWN

So, we all know that romance is a relatively new genre for me. I basically NEVER read it pre-pandemic, but it’s come to be a real comfort for me in recent years. This regency-era romance from Evie Dunmore was A FREAKING DELIGHT. When I say that I could maybe be happy reading a book like this every other week, I truly mean that. You know how I love a scandal, and displaced wealthy family members is even better. I mean, they’re basically royal-adjace if you refer to someone as “Lady Lucie” right? Anyway, she’s maybe my favorite female protagonist of the year. I love her, I loved this, the end.

  • NEW KID

This was such a great listening experience! I was looking for something in the Middle Grade genre, as I hadn’t ventured there recently and added the New Kid to my Libby holds list. I could totally see teaching this to my students in the future. The themes of belonging and self-awareness were handled really masterfully, especially for a book that can be easily picked up and thoroughly enjoyed by those of a younger age.

  • MALIBU RISING

I love Taylor Jenkins Reid, as anyone in their right mind would. This one was no different. 80s nostalgia? Family drama? Celebrities? Yup, sold. Now, I will say that this is no Daisy Jones or Evelyn Hugo– but it still totally rocks. Loved it.

  • THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

I didn’t want to like this, purely because so many people do. BUT it was, unfortunately, propulsive and readable and brief (I hate myself for how much I love a short book). I thought it was creative and unique, and I liked it. I did, dang it.

2021 Reading Challenge Update

Well, as of this post’s publication, I met my reading challenge! It’s incredible, truly. I’m just blown away– I mean, we’re still in the summer! I don’t think I’ll change my goal, just see how much I can blow it out of the water.

Closing Remarks

If you’ve stuck around this long (or just skimmed to the end– no judgment, I get it– thanks for being here! I appreciate every one of you.

Until next time, happy reading!

One thought on “Second Quarter Reading Wrap-Up: April, May, and June Reads

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