Episode 65: Laura's June 2021 Reading

 On this episode of the Library Laura Podcast, your host Laura shares what books she read in June 2021. It's a shorter list this month, thanks to summer, traveling, and family visiting. But there's still some great books to discuss from rom-coms to impactful non-fiction. If you've read a book you've enjoyed recently, be sure to let me know!

Books from today's episode (bookshop.org storefront) 

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Books Laura Read in June 2021 

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia - A great installment in the Rick Riordan Presents imprint where Tristan is a young black boy who is learning to box, when suddenly he's thrust into a world of gods and creatures he's only ever heard about in his grandmother's stories. A great introduction to African and African American myth. Excellent on audio! 

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang - a graphic novel and Printz award winner. It wasn’t my favorite reading experience, as I was rather confused for a while about where the stories were headed. Ultimately it was satisfying how the different storylines came together, and I enjoyed the Monkey King storyline a lot. I just didn’t enjoy the feeling of “not getting it” that I had for longer than I wanted before it all came together. The writing was good and the art engaging. Learning about different people’s experience with identity and culture is always valuable.

The King's 100 by Karin Biggs - This story feels like a fairytale, but there's some great sci-fi vibes as well, making for a out-of-this-world experience. A princess from a country that only focuses on technology, STEM, and pragmatic matters suddenly finds herself immersed in the artistic, emotional, dramatic culture of a neighboring rival country. She's there to solve a mystery, and must do so without revealing her identity. I found this book to be thought provoking about the tension between art and science, and also delicious in the areas of food (so much mouthwatering food!) and the sweet YA romance that developed. 

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon - If you look at the cover to this book, you'll immediately see why I was interested in reading it. It was hyped a lot online. Overall it was a so-so story for me. There were parts I enjoyed, but ultimately ended up finishing it more to find out what happened than because I was enjoying it. I'm not convinced that the main love interests were actually that great for each other. I loved the radio setting and the inclusion of a Jewish family as main characters. This one is fairly steamy. 

Hooked on You by Kathleen Fuller - A sweet, clean romance with great small-town vibes. She's been living in New York to pursue her art and to escape family history she'd rather forget. He's about to make it big in baseball and gets irreversibly injured at a crucial moment. She's back in town because her grandma is sick. He's back in town trying to figure out what to do now that his baseball career is ruined. She has no intention of staying around to run her grandma's yarn shop, but fate (and grandma?) might have other plans. This book is partially based on a real yarn shop in Melvern, AR 

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney - I don't know wether to be proud or ashamed to tell you that I read this in one sitting between 10 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. one evening. So it's definitely a page-turner and I clearly enjoyed it. It's a YA romance / contemporary fiction about a high school senior named Quinn. She keeps very personal, type-A lists in her journal, which is all well and good until it gets swapped with a classmate’s notebook and then falls into the wrong hands. Before she knows it she’s being blackmailed and threatened with her secrets being exposed. Her life gets turned on its head….but maybe changing her status quo won’t be so bad after all.I love the exploration of black young adult life and identity. The school-drama and romance aspects made for a page-turner. I laughed and cried. If you like To All The Boys I Loved Before or Tell Me Three Things, you’ll like this book. It also reminded me a bit of Such A Fun Age, but better (more character development and more likable characters). Thanks to Anne Bogel for including this on her Summer Reading Guide for 2021.  (Content warnings: underage drinking, racism, blackmailing) 

The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary - I really wanted to love this story, because I enjoyed The Flatshare tremendously and The Switch quite a bit. I ended up liking it okay, but have enjoyed some other of O'Leary's books better. Five people are suddenly sharing a very small car on the way to a mutual friend's wedding. Most of "now" action takes place during that seemingly interminable road trip, full of a comedy (or tragedy?) of errors. But we get flashbacks to "then" where we learn how all these people are interconnected and just how many secrets and dramatic moments are threatening to overflow at any moment. This book was surprising and overall was good. (Content warnings for this one! Drug/alcohol abuse, infidelity, attempted assault) 

Food Court Cat-astrophe: A Bake Believe Short Story by Cori Cooper (Author of Bake Believe and recently on episode 62 of Library Laura Podcast) - This is a fun short story about our two main characters from Bake Believe who go to the mall and flirt with some boys...with varied results. Funny and reminiscent of all the awkward drama of middle school. 

Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution to Overthinking by Jon Acuff - I am so glad I made time to read this book this month. Jon Acuff is an #enneagram7 and is one of those people I look up to for advice on how to handle the internal operating system my brain came with. He’s funny and wise and honest. The big message of this book is that we all have thoughts that run through our head, whether we choose them or not. Jon advocates for choosing what thoughts we let run on repeat, and deliberately replacing broken soundtracks with better ones. I love this concept. I (poorly) printed out his New Anthem from the book and taped it to the wall next to the mirror in our bathroom. I haven’t decided if I’m brave enough to read it out loud to myself morning and night, but I sure as heck can read it while I’m brushing my teeth 😁. Baby steps.

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green - I loved the premise of this book. John wrote reviews about many different concepts and things in our human-centered universe. They're funny and thought-provoking and sincere. I have never thought as deeply about Canada Geese or the Smallpox Vaccine or The Game of Monopoly or pretty much any of the other topics that he wrote about. While I don't agree with all of his conclusions about life and the universe, I definitely enjoyed the journey. I listened on audiobook, which I would highly recommend doing. Additionally, I understand there is a podcast, which if you're wanting to get a taste for this book would be worth checking out. 

I hope you had a great June. I'm looking forward to what July has in store in terms of reading for myself. I hope you've found a good book to enjoy recently, or that you do soon. Tell me below in the comments if you have! 

With lots of literary love from my library to yours! 

~ Laura 


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Library Laura
Laura is an avid reader who is happiest when surrounded by books, tea, blankets and/or friends. Host of the Library Laura Podcast.


The Library Laura Podcast


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