At a Glance:
April was forever days long, and now we’re already in the middle of May and I’m just getting to my monthly wrap up. Even though time has been weird, April may have brought some of my most diverse reading yet. This month, I read about a young Black girl taking on the multiplayer online gaming community, a graphic novel in poetry about a Black basketball player coming of age, an adult fantasy with a range of characters taking on the Ivy league, a comic book with a Black woman who works in a lab but would rather be making films, a collection of queer short stories from one of my favorite authors, a teen who has two moms and feels attacked by a new preacher coming to town to save the American family, a novel in poetry about a teen in Harlem who’s desperate to be heard, and a chick lit novel featuring a curvy, Black heroine at its center. Diverse in both skin colors, sexuality, and writing formats, April was a good month for reading.
Like March, I finished 8 books: two graphic novels – one of which was poetry, three Young Adult novels – one of which was poetry, one collection of short stories, one romance or chick lit novel, and an adult fiction book. I borrowed all of the books from the OverDrive app, as our library was still closed. I’m linking to the Goodreads page for each book so you can add it to your “Want to Read” list.
- Slay by Brittney Morris | YA | Contemporary | ebook |
- The Crossover by Kwame Alexander | MG | Poetry + Graphic Novel | ebook |
- Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo | Adult | Fantasy | ebook |
- By Night, Vol. 2 by John Allison | YA | Graphic Novel | ebook |
- 19 Love Songs by David Levithan | YA | Short Stories | ebook |
- Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki | YA | Contemporary | ebook |
- The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo | YA | Novel in Poetry | ebook |
- The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory | Adult | Romance | ebook |
+ The Crossover ▬ No misses (But I only gave 3 stars to By Night, Vol. 2)
+ Ninth House
+ 19 Love Songs
All three of my top books this month were my favorites because there was something unexpected about them. This is especially true for The Crossover. The book was recommended to me by some students I tutor. They had told me the plot of the story, but what they forgot to mention was that the novel is in poetry! I had spotted this book as a graphic novel at my local library and decided to try it that way. I’m really glad I did. The orange, black and white pictures and funky font were almost like graffiti, giving the book a really cool vibe. The writing had so much rhythm and was so fun to read. The pages flew by. If I still had a classroom, I would 100% be purchasing this book to add to my classroom library. I think students would love it.
Ninth House is Leigh Bardugo’s adult debut. I’ve read several of her YA books and was interested to see how she would make her stories “adultier.” This book was unexpected because it had such a dark, twisty mood. I kept feeling like I should have saved this book until a dark, stormy fall night. And the plot was wild. Over and over as I read, I thought, “Where did Bardugo come up with this idea?!” Ninth House is set in New Haven at Yale University and deals with magical societies that operate unbeknownst to the other students and faculty. Galaxy “Alex” Stern (I love this name) is a freshman who has been admitted to Lethe House for her special ability to see “Grays” – ghosts. Lethe House oversees the magical rites the other houses perform to make sure everyone stays safe, abides by the rules, and keeps magic secret. Alex is being taught by Daniel “Darlington” Arlington (another great name), but early on in her training, something happens to Darlington and he disappears. As Alex tries to uphold Lethe’s mission on her own, a homicide in New Haven puts her skills to the test. Running on very little sleep and reminded of a friend she lost, Alex follows her instincts and seeks justice for the young woman. I suspect this book will have more of a niche following than Bardugo’s YA books. It’s not for everyone, but I was captivated.
19 Love Songs shouldn’t have been an unexpected read because I already knew that I was a David Levithan fan. But what made it surprising was the fact that I liked a collection of short stories so much. I don’t read a lot of short stories because, well, they’re too short! I want the full story. I don’t like to make a connection with a story or a character and then you turn the page and BAM! It’s over. The end. But I made an exception for this book because I love David Levithan’s writing so much. Each track, or chapter, of 19 Love Songs is a standalone story. Some of these stories are from characters in his other books, like A from Every Day (one of my favorite books of all time), and Infinite Darlene from Boy Meets Boy. The stories are sweet and smart and queer. I liked some better than others. But over all, this collection made me feel nostalgic for first love, first kisses, and crushes. Some of the stories are poems, one is a short comic, and some have interesting forms and structures – like hearing from lots of different characters singing in a choir. I’m really curious to know how much of the content was autobiographical because the stories felt so personal. It feels like Levithan is giving permission to just be yourself and experience love at your own pace. I love Levithan’s writing.
- Michelle Obama is reading stories Live on the PBS kids Facebook page every Monday. So far, we’ve tuned in to watch her read The Gruffalo and There’s a Dragon in Your Book. The video event goes live shortly after 11 am Central time.
- My 5-year-old daughter’s favorite book this month has been The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak. When the book first arrived in the mail, my daughter wanted nothing to do with it. Who wants a book with no pictures?! But when I finally convinced her to let me read it, she laughed and laughed. And has requested the book many, many times.
- I ordered a bunch of books online for my daughter so that we’d have something fresh to read before bed. I haven’t had to buy many books for her since we’re usually at the library every two weeks, so this was fun to pick out brand new books. Several books were from authors and series we already knew we liked, like the Yasmin and Sofia Martinez series. We’ve also been waiting for the follow-up to The Wolf in Underpants, so we were very excited to see what would happen in The Wolf in Underpants Freezes His Buns Off. Chapter books, graphic novels, beginning readers: we got a little of everything. We finished all except two of these books.
- Sofia Martinez: My Family Adventure
- Sofia Martinez: Every Day is Exciting
- DC Super Hero Girls: Winner Takes All
- Diana: Princess of the Amazons
- Baby-sitters Little Sister #1: Karen’s Witch
- Yasmin the Teacher
- The Wolf in Underpants Freezes His Buns Off
- Jasmine’s New Pet
- The Critter Club #16: Marion and the Secret Letter
Pages read in April: 2,393 (and that doesn’t even include all of the books I read to my kid during the month!)