Book Bites: Cynthia Rylant, Helen Ellis, and More!

The summer heat is showing no signs of letting up. Fortunately, neither is the barrage of great new books coming into the shop each week. We suggest that you grab a stack and settle in for some air-conditioned (or poolside!) reading. Below, we have a list of recent recommendations for all ages—from a picture book biography of a Tejano icon to gentle middle grade, teen thrillers, literary fiction, and laugh-out-loud essays. Read on!

Kwame Mbalia on His New Anthology, BLACK BOY JOY

If you know Kwame Mbalia’s bestselling Tristan Strong series, you know the author as a gifted storyteller who weaves heart, humor, and wonder into his work. So it’s no surprise that you’ll find all of those elements at play in the new anthology he edited, Black Boy Joy. The collection is a vibrant celebration of Black boyhood featuring stories from seventeen acclaimed Black male and non-binary authors (including one from Kwame himself). Simply put, the book is stunning—it’s a marvelous testament to family, friends, and much-deserved joy, and it absolutely deserves pride of place on a bookshelf near you. 

Read our Q&A with Kwame below, then get ready for our virtual August 4 event to celebrate the book’s publication. Kwame will appear in conversation with his collaborators Jerry Craft, DaVaun Sanders, Varian Johnson, and Julian Winters—we can’t wait!

Love At First Sight: The Making of Jasmine Guillory’s Swoonworthy Book Covers

It’s okay to admit it: Everyone judges books by their covers. Why else would they have such fabulous designs? We’re as partial to a striking jacket as the next person, and we always look forward to seeing the covers for upcoming releases by our favorite authors. Jasmine Guillory is one such author, and her effervescent rom-coms are always perfectly paired with beautiful, tone-setting illustrated covers.

To celebrate the release of her sixth novel, While We Were Dating, we spoke with Jasmine, plus Berkley Books Vice President, Editorial Director Cindy Hwang, Senior Marketing Manager Fareeda Bullert, and Art Director Rita Frangie about the process of cover creation. Read our conversation below, then make plans to visit us this week for your copy of While We Were Dating. It’s warm, witty, and full of thoughtful social commentary—in other words, it’s everything you’d expect from a Jasmine Guillory book.