What I Read: April 2016

I read nine books in April. Seven were fiction and two were non-fiction. Three were on Kindle, five were in print, one was an audio book. Only three were by writers of color – so I failed in my 50% goal this month!

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow (2015).

I picked this up because a friend recommended it and I needed a dystopian novel for Task 7 of Read Harder. It was fun – sucked you in the way a good dystopian book should. It was also (I think) the first book I’ve ever read with queer content that I didn’t know was queer going in. I usually seek out queer books, so to read a book and be surprised by “wait, I think these gals are going to make out” was kind of fun.

Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon (2015).

I read this book to Frances and we both loved it! A fun take on Sleeping Beauty (Harriet discovers that her curse renders her invincible until it happens, so she goes of to fight ogres and have adventures). Great early chapter book for those who still want a lot of pictures (and perhaps extra love princesses).

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia (2013).

This the second book in the Gaither Sisters trilogy and I liked it *almost* as much as One Crazy Summer. Great middle grades series set in the 1960s focused on a black family. Can’t wait to read the third book!

Princeless Volume 4: Be Yourself by Jeremy Whitley (2015).

Still love this comics series of Princess Adrienne and her adventures saving her sisters from the respective imprisonments.

How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I’ve Learned from Reading too Much by Samantha Ellis (2014).

Both a memoir and a love story to books – I haven’t read anything like this and I loved it. Ellis combines the formative books of her life with the tale of growing up in an Iranian Jewish family in London.

Locally Laid: How We Built a Plucky, Industry-changing Egg Farm – from Scratch by Lucie B. Amundsen (2016)

I got this book from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program. It was probably more enjoyable to read than to live! Locally Laid tells the story of how Amundsen and her husband became midsized chicken farmers in Minnesota. A tale to root for! I read this book out loud to Jami, so this also counted as Task 4 for the Read Harder challenge.

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami (2013).

Dini loves watching Bollywood movies, but she’s a little less thrilled that her mom’s great job opportunity will move her from Maryland to India! Enjoyable middle grades read.

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (2009).

I don’t really know how to describe Jonasson’s writing. This is the second book of his that I’ve read, and they are just fantastical and fun. I was excited to learn while I was in the midst of listening to this on audiobook that it had been made into a movie, which meant I could use it for Task 18 of Read Harder. The book was better. 😉

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (1962).

I read this for Task 1 of Read Harder. Horror book was the task I was most scared of (so NOT my genre, I am a total wimp), but I have wanted to read a Shirley Jackson book for so many years and this was a reason to do so. I really enjoyed the book (and didn’t find it particularly) scary, but I don’t think I’ll be adding more horror books to my To Read list. Also, shout out to Jonathan Lethem who wrote an introductory essay in the version I read all about how the book is about Constance’s sublimated sexuality and her desire for escape (and presumably the sex) with the asinine Charles. Dear Mr. Lethem, not everything is about dudes and sex. Try again.

What I Read: April 2016

Read This! Maybe Something Beautiful


A beautifully illustrated tale written by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell of a girl who loves to paint and how she inspires (and works with) a muralist to transform her grey neighborhood. Rafael Lopez’s bright and cheerful colors show a diverse neighborhood coming together to create art. Fun and uplifting read!

Read This! Maybe Something Beautiful

Books for Queer Families: And Tango Makes Three

And Tango Makes Three is a picture book account of the true tale of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who formed a bonded pair and raised an egg another couple had abandoned. It is one of the most frequently challenged books in school and public libraries because of its “promotion of the homosexual agenda.” (If only my agenda involved more adorable baby penguins!)

Pros: Such a cute sweet tale, with great illustrations. The book does a great job of describing how Tango’s family is different without making them seem odd or abnormal. Difference as a fact of life, rather than a problem to be overcome.

Cons: It’s a little sad that my favorite book about two dad families is about penguins, but hey, that’s not this book’s fault!

The Bottom Line: Definitely read it! Such a lovely story. Super accessible to every one.

Looking for more books about queer families? You can find the other books I’ve reviewed here.

Books for Queer Families: And Tango Makes Three

Read This! Every Day Birds


This book is like a beginner’s field guide to birding. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater writes simple rhyming characteristics for twenty different North American birds, which pair beautifully with Dylan Metrano’s cut paper illustrations. I *love* cut paper illustrations, so this book was a winner from the start – and maybe we’ll get a little better at identifying the birds in our area!

Read This! Every Day Birds

Read This! Shoe-la-la!


This is the book for the moment at our house. Perhaps you have a similarly fancy kid? One in love with glitz, glamour and SHOES?! If so, this rhyming tale by Karen Beaumont, paired with LeUyen Pham’s always fabulous illustrations is a winner. Nothing too brilliant here, but a fun, well-illustrated book for the dress-up set. Frances can basically recite the whole thing to us at this point!

Read This! Shoe-la-la!