Books Read in March 2022

Picture books

Nigel and the Moon
Antwan Eady and Gracey Zhang
Read for Librarian Book Group

Nigel dreams of a bright and varied future, but he doesn’t feel comfortable sharing those dreams in the daytime

Middle Grade

Almost Flying
Jake Maia Arlow
Read for Librarian Book Group

Feelings about rollercoasters are great for expressing feelings about a father’s sudden relationship, feelings about friendship, and feelings about crushes.

However, I feel like the main character was transported from the 1980s to a contemporary setting. Surely Long Island would have had enough gay people that she would have vocabulary to pull from.

Those Kids From Fawn Creek
Erin Entrada Kelly
Read for Librarian Book Group

Erin Entrada Kelly is great at diving into feelings and writing solid middle grade books, and this is no exception. I admired how she juggled her many characters in a small town and how their lives were upended when a new girl appears one day.

Young Adult

Somewhere Between Bitter & Sweet
Laekan Zea Kemp
Read for Librarian Book Group

Pen and Xander’s life transitions are worthy of your time.

Kara Bietz

The building blocks of the plot have to make sense for the whole thing to work. I didn’t believe that a teenage pregnancy in a small town would escape anyone’s notice for three years, even if the teenager and her family left town before anyone could find out. There’s this thing called social media.

I further didn’t believe that one person and one person only (the captain of the football team) would be in charge of thinking up the senior prank. Thus, this didn’t hold together for me.

The Last Words We Said
Leah Scheier
Read for Librarian Book Group

A rather dramatic first page is then followed by an interesting premise involving a boyfriend who is visible to the main character and no one else. It’s also an interesting window into Orthodox Jewish culture, for anyone who might be standing outside that particular house.

A.L. Graziadei

Icebreaker is a very fun hockey story about the two potential Number 1 draft picks and their first year at college together. I always appreciate when athletes get to step outside their golden boy boxes and we can see the warts and all. In this case, the warts are depression and anxiety.

Battle of the Bands
Lauren Gibaldi and Eric Smith, editors.

Interwoven stories for the win! I love this new (to me, at least) trend in short stories. All stories relate to a high school battle of the bands contest. I like how some of the stories varied the angle of their focus away from the battle itself. We didn’t hear from all the bands on the roster, and that worked for me.

E Lockhart and Manuel Preitano
Read for Librarian Book Group

This graphic novel about a new superhero came off as too comic-bookey for this particular reader. The story was good, though, and the illustrations were solid, just not a thing for me.

We Were Liars
E. Lockheart

A reread in anticipation of the prequal. Knowing the ending lessens the punch significantly, but there are still things to look for.

Bend in the Road
Sara Biren

A son of a famous musician (and famous in his own right) escapes to the family farm. There, things proceed about how you might think in this two-narrator romance. I found the number of names hard to navigate at the beginning of the novel. You might want to make a list.

Candace Buford

Russell is hoping football will get him out of his small Louisiana town, but systematic racism and a few racists in particular are making it hard. This book a great illustration of the corners that people can be backed into.

Mariko Tamaki
Read for Librarian Book Group

A short book full of sparkling sentences like this one:

Mark Walker had terrible handwriting. Each letter crawled, gasping for breath, across the page to the end of every raggedly disjointed sentence.

This is a bit of a mystery with the murdered kid acting as one narrator and a random girl as the other. It’s full of a lot of adolescent feelings.

Young Nonfiction

Brave Face
Shaun David Hutchinson

This memoir gets across one point very well: that when the only depictions of a segment of population (in this case gay men) is very narrow and you don’t fit those narrow constraints it makes it difficult to accept that one might be a part of that group. The author makes this point again and again throughout the book.

While he describes that topic extensively, he doesn’t dig deep in other areas and I was left with a lot of questions.

Really great cover art.

Because Claudette
Tracey Baptiste and Tonya Engel
Read for Librarian Book Group

Using a framework of “Because…” we learn the story of a teenager who didn’t give up her seat on the bus before Rosa Parks took her historic sit. The “Because…” framework falls down at times in a distracting way.

Sweet Justice: Georgia Gilmore and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Mara Rockliff and R. Gregory Christine
Read for Librarian Book Group

A picture book bio of a woman who used what skills she had to help the Montgomery Bus Boycott. That skill was cooking! I loved the centering of an “ordinary” person’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.

Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler
Ibi Zoboi
Read for Librarian Book Group

Poems, quotes from Octavia Butler, and prose combine into a brief biography. Having all three of those things grouped around particular subjects made the prose parts seem especially repetitive, alas.

Grownup Nonfiction

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in Silicon Valley
John Carryrou

A milestone-by-milestone book about Elizabeth Holmes’s journey from 19-year-old college dropout to billionaire tech person to disgraced CEO. It was fascinating to see the way money is thrown around in Silicon Valley.

SKS: B&W Humboldt

Sara certainly has moved to an area with a lot of local postcards! This one reminds me of clip art montages, but fancier.

Sara reports that it’s gray and rainy and overcast (a thing that happens in Portland a lot too!) and she reports that it’s also Oscar Sunday and she’s excited to see my picks for the win. She writes that she plans on recording the ceremony and catching up later.

I can tell you from the future that she ended up watching in real time, so she saw the famous slap. We discussed via text and both were frowny face about the whole thing.

Another Speedweve-Style Creation

Because I have white sheets on my bed, I like to put a little something in one corner, so I can easily tell which corner goes where. I used my new loom (and followed a pattern I bought off Etsy) to mark one corner.

I’m quite liking the result:

This was the first time I used embroidery thread instead of sashiko thread. It’s very shiny. Here’s what it looks like after the ends are pulled through.

Since this wasn’t a darn and I wasn’t going to walk on the final result, I experimented with tying the knots off instead of weaving them in. This was slightly tedious, but no more so than threading my needle multiple times.

Deciding the Quote for My #YearofStitch Sampler

You can see my also-rans. I still like “Cleave ever to the sunny side of doubt”

I went with Century Gothic for the font (font choice was hard!) and held up the bird part to see how the quote fit.

Sadly, I left out the L in “world” and didn’t notice until I was tracing.

Happily, I didn’t like the placement anyway, so I made plans to spray away the quote after I finished embroidering. I can fix both the missing letter and the positioning.