Episode 60: Laura's May 2021 Reading

On this episode of the Library Laura Podcast, your host Laura shares the books she read in May 2021. From middle grade fiction to thought-provoking non-fiction, there's a lot of great reads to share about today! Laura also hit 100 books read in 2021 here in May, which she muses about at the end of the episode. 
Follow The Library Laura Podcast on InstagramFacebook and Twitter, and tell us what you've enjoyed reading in May or what you're looking forward to reading next. 

Middle Grade

 Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan - by the same author as The Elephant In The Room. Counting by 7s is about a young girl on the spectrum who is dealing with grief, and the unlikely friendships between her, her school counselor, and a family of Vietnamese immigrants. This book is quirky, but loveable. I love the meta observation by Willow part way through the book as she is in a children's library section unable to find many books for children about grief, and observing there ought to be more. This book is one of those.

The Messengers (Greystone Secrets #3) by Margaret Peterson Haddix - the third and final book in the Greystone Secrets series by the prolific Haddix. I enjoyed this book even thought it took me entirely too long to get through the physical copy of the book I had checked out from the library (thank God for being able to renew books!). This book did a great job of reincorporating characters from early in the series. It provided a satisfying conclusion to the series, while also leaving things open ended. If you like alternate universes or multiverse stories, with a touch of thriller or mystery, this would be a great series for you. 

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley - After Carrie Givens told me how good this book was on episode 45, she and the Bandersnatch team actually ended up purchasing this book. I ended up really enjoying it after a few fits and starts. The fantasy world that McKinley built is amazing, and is rich with language, images, and characters. Our protagonist learns more about her identity and goes on adventures she could never have imagined. Adventure, love, self-discovery, and intercultural conflict...what more could you want from a high fantasy appropriate for young and old alike?  

A Place to Hang The Moon by Kate Albus - Oh my goodness, I enjoyed this book so much. A group of siblings are orphaned and their grandmother, whom they'd been living with, just passed away too. So the unlikely plan is hatched that they are to be evacuated with the other school children out of London in hopes that one of the families in the countryside will happen to love them and want to keep them forever. From this unlikely premise, the children are shuffled around to several families in this small town, in search for their forever home. They take refuge in the familiar stacks of the local library, and the librarian is lovely and wonderful. Don't miss the book list in the back of this book with all the books the kids read throughout (including The Hobbit!). It's great! I highly recommend this book. It would be a great family read-aloud too! 

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly - Maybe, Maybe Marisol Rainey is an illustrated novel about summer, friendship, and overcoming fears, told with warm humor and undeniable appeal (from the Bookshop.org description). Marisol is 8 years old, so this is definitely a chapter book rather than a middle grade book. She's afraid of climbing trees! Marisol is also navigating elementary school friendships as well as a family dynamic impacted by her dad's full-time job on an oil rig out in the middle of the ocean. I listened to this book on audio, which wasn't to my personal preference....the narration felt a bit juvenile to my adult ears. Kids might enjoy the audio though? Adults, I'd suggest reading (not listening) to this one.  I still love Erin Entrada Kelly as an author, so the fact that younger readers can get a taste of her work is a good thing in my mind. But I've enjoyed other of her books better than this one personally.

Future Podcast Guests

Mickey on the Move by Michelle Wagner - A picture book about a boy with cochlear implants and his experience at a new school. Children with implants will enjoy a story with a character like them, and children who have a friend or classmate who has cochlear implants will learn more about how to be a good friend and classmate. Mickey is loveable and a great character. This story is based on Michelle and her son's real-life experience, and she hopes that by sharing their story it will be encouraging to other kids and families. 

Crimson Time by Emily VanderBent - This first book in a historical fantasy series features Adelaide stumbling upon the Red Rose Society while searching for answers about the fire that killed her parent's and her friend's mom. Pretty soon she's totally immersed in history through time-travel and must survive long enough to get the answers she seeks. The sequel comes out in December! I should tell you that there's a decent amount of blood, as well as descriptions of some pretty nasty smells...which both were a little hard for me to read about. But maybe that's just me being a particularly sensitive reader. 

Freedom Farm by Jennifer Neves - A touching and fascinating collections of essays about a family and their farm in Maine. I'm hoping to talk to Jennifer more about her book on a future podcast episode! 

Graphic Novels 

I found out about both of these books on Afoma Umesi's  list of 52 Best Middle Grade Graphic Novels  on the Reading Middle Grade Blog, which is full of books I've either read or want to read! 

Cici's Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-In-Training by Joris Chamblain - I was immediately interested in this book based on both title and cover. The art in this graphic novel is amazing and charming, and the stories (there's two in this book) are great too. CiCi likes keeping track of the goings-on in her neighborhood, and there are mysterious things afoot. Sometimes she loses sight of being a good friend or telling the truth to her mother in pursuit of answers to her mystery investigation. And the answers surprise everyone. Some great themes explored in this book and it was a quick and beautiful read. There will be a sequel and it's available for pre-order right now

Twins: A Graphic Novel by Varian Johnson - This graphic novel explores the dynamic between twin sisters entering middle school together. They're trying to become their own people, but not destroy their sibling bond in the process, and it's easier said than done. I loved the exploration of this sibling dynamic along with the many challenges of middle school, with representation of kids of color. For fans of Jerry Craft's books New Kid and Class Act. 

Books I've been looking forward to reading 

Sitting Pretty: The View from my Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig - A great introduction to disability advocacy and understanding ableism written by an author with a delightful mix of sincerity and levity. Rebeckah grew up in the Kansas City area, which was a relatable aspect to this book for me. For non-disabled people, there's a lot to learn in this book. For disabled people, Taussig's stories will be relatable and appreciated. I learned a lot from this book and found it very eye-opening. I'll be thinking about it for a long time to come. (Thanks to Hannah Wright's post about this book for the final push to read this book I've been seeing everywhere.) 

An Unexpected Peril (Veronica Speedwell #6) by Deanna Raybourn - The newest installment of the Veronica Speedwell series, which I have enjoyed. It's a mystery set in Victorian England and is irreverent and delightful. There's a princess in town who looks startlingly like Veronica, which is a good thing because when the princess disappears, Veronica is called upon to pose as the princess for the sake of international treaties. Meanwhile an intrepid mountain climber has died, and Stoker and Veronica believes it was no accident. Another great mystery. I love this series even though it's got some...objectionable content in it. 

Hana Kahn Carries On by Uzma Jalauddin - I'd been really looking forward to reading this book, as I really enjoyed the author's debut, Ayesha At Last, which is a reimagining of Pride and Prejudice. Hana Khan is a reimagining of the You've Got Mail or Shop Around the Corner narrative, but with Halal restaurant-owning families in Canada. Hana is a podcaster and an intern at a local radio station, and she's got an anonymous commenter she's building a friendship with online. Her family's restaurant is in danger of being shut down by a shiny new restaurant down the road, with a frustratingly handsome and arrogant owner. You can imagine what happens next. It’s everything I could have wanted: enemies (but anonymous friends?) to lovers, family secrets, tackling difficult topics, lots of food, radio/podcasting, humor and insight... I read this book so fast and enjoyed every minute. Highly recommend.

Come hang out with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or drop a comment below. Tell me, what did you read in May that you enjoyed, or what are you looking forward to reading next? 

With lots of literary love from my 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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