Episode 57: Laura's April 2021 Reading

On this week's dose of book recommendations, library love, and literary enthusiasm, Laura shares the books she read in April 2021. From graphic novels to middle grade books, murder mysteries to YA to historical fiction, we've got a lot to talk about today! I'd love to hear if you had a stand-out book from April, or if one of the books that I talked about today struck your fancy. 

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Graphic Novels

Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte - A sweet middle grade graphic novel about a Taiwanese girl living in Seattle who enters a cooking competition in hopes of winning enough money to bring her grandmother (a-ma) to the US for her birthday.

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel, Adapted by Hope Larson - An amazing adaptation of the Wrinkle in Time novel. I thoroughly enjoyed this version. Great for those who want to revisit this classic story in a new way, or for reluctant readers who prefer the graphic novel format. MUCH more faithful to the original story than the recent movie adaption. 

All the Answers by Michael Kupperman - This was a thought provoking graphic novel (not middle grade, for a teen or adult age group I would say) about the author's father, who became famous on the show Quiz Kids, and the lasting impact that made on his father's life. Sobering and fascinating.

NewsPrints by Ru Xu - A steampunk fantasy graphic novel about a girl who disguises herself as a newsboy, and the inventor and strange young man she meets. Secrets lay around every corner and all is not as it seems. A great first book...now I want to read the sequel!


Middle Grade

Justice in A Bottle by Pete Fanning - Wow this book was good! Pete Fanning puts together the story of Nina, a girl with a journalistic spirit, and her elderly neighbor who has a story to tell. (Content warning, racism/wrongful imprisonment) Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with the author! 

Granted: Curse of the Emerald Jinn by Rachel Huffmire - Liam sees flashes of color whenever danger is near...little does he know that it's actually the world of Jinn just beyond his own world. He then learns more about this world than he ever could have imagined possible. A fast-paced, fantastical novel full of adventure!

The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller - I definitely wanted to read this book after Tae Keller's second book -- How to Trap A Tiger -- won the 2021 Newbery & Asian Pacific awards. This first book focuses on a young girl in a egg-drop contest, her friends, and her mom who is dealing with depression. Ponders the idea of what you do when science "goes wrong." Tenderly told and interesting.

Bake Believe by Cori Cooper - I loved this book! It's hard to describe without spoilers...but a girl learns that something special happens when she bakes, and she must learn to use this ability wisely. Written in the sassiest, funniest young girl tone. Recipes at the end of each chapter.

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk (I was reminded of Show Me A Sign by some aspects of this book) - I read this for Carolyn Chaffin's middle-grade book club on instagram (it's the book for May) and it's a really beautiful, quiet historical fiction novel about a girl searching for her identity. When she was a baby she was set adrift in a small boat and found by the man who's been raising her. She's on the quest to find out more about her birth parents. A beautiful story.

The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm - A funny middle grade novel with a grandpa who has been aged-back thanks to science to be in middle school again. There’s a science fair, and experiments that go very wrong...or maybe more right than they ever imagined.

Bronson Beaver Builds A Robot by Teko Bernard - I received a copy of this book from the publisher. A fun chapter book about a beaver son who decides to build a robot to do his chores for him. Predictably, all does not go to plan, and Bronson has to learn lessons about the role of technology and how to be more responsible.

YA / Adult

Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz - This book came highly recommended to me by @noextrawords. I enjoyed reading this YA romance between two kids with chronic illnesses. I cannot say if it is "ableist" or not because it's not my place to say. Has representation of Jewish teens, which is awesome. Some of my current thoughts on this book are being influenced by the fact that I just read Sitting Pretty by Rebekah Taussig here in May and it's helping me put more words around the disability experience and the nuances of writing about it, and how pervasive ableism is. 

A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas (Lady Sherlock #1) - The #hyggedunit pick for April by @linesIunderline on instagram. I enjoyed this historical mystery with the premise of "what if Sherlock Holmes was a woman" pretty well...some of the character names and plot nuances got confusing as I was listening on audio, and I felt like I missed out on some of the more "inside" Sherlock Holmes references, but all in all very enjoyable and I'd like to come back to this series.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman - Oh wow this book was interesting. My favorite thing was the older people in it, who are all such great characters. They're into solving cold cases and meet together every Thursday to discuss this....until one day a real mystery happens and they get involved in investigating. A dryly humorous but still serious book. Masterfully done. (trigger warnings for themes of euthanasia)

The Woman Who Died A Lot (Thursday Next, #7) by Jasper Fforde - The final (currently available) book of the Thursday Next series. Jasper Fforde, please hurry up and write book 8!! This plot, is as always, totally wacky...but I love the Thursday Next books and they are just my sense of humor.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate - A heartbreaking and riveting historical fiction based on true events. Kids are taken from their poor families in TN and put up for adoption to rich families. (Lots of trigger warnings for this one - the biggest is child abuse / mistreatment, but there's more). Not unlike I Can Make This Promise in that children were being unjustly removed from their families of origin to be put up for adoption. Different time and place, still horrible!

How to Be an Artist by Jerry Saltz - A short, punchy book that has served as a creative "kick in the pants" for me lately. Especially good if you're a traditional artist, but also relatable conceptually for writers, podcasters, and other creative types.

I'd love to hear whether you had a stand-out book from your own April reading, or if one of the books I talked about today really sparked your interest. Let me know in the comments below or on one of the podcast's social media. 

With lots of literary love from library to yours! 



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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.


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