Blogs

Book Bites: A Pleasant Ensemble of Ducks—At Last!

How is May already two-thirds gone? It's been a wonderful month for middle grade series. Last time, we told you about the first book in a new trilogy from Newbery-winner Katherine Applegate; this time, one beloved series comes to an end and another celebrates a re-birth with some snazzy new covers. Speaking of snazzy covers, have you visited the adult fiction section lately? Some of our favorite new releases are as striking for their jacket design as they are for their prose (which is to say: very). But enough chit-chat—bring on the recommendations!

Samuel Miller on A Lite Too Bright, Family Ties, and Writing While Rocking

Samuel Miller has talent. That much is apparent to anyone who knows his rock band, Paradise Fears, which was a fixture of the iTunes Alternative Charts after the release of the album Battle Scars. But Sam doesn't stop there. Nowadays, he's writing beautiful literary YA novels in addition to making music magic—and he's got his eyes on other art forms, too. We asked Sam about all of this when we caught up with him for a quick Q&A; check out his answers to our questions below. And don't forget to swing by the store on Sunday, June 3 at 2:00 pm. That's when we're hosting Samuel for music, conversation, and a signing. His debut, A Lite Too Bright, is going to be a notable book in the YA season—don't miss it.

Katherine Center on Humor, Houston, and How to Walk Away

Houston native Katherine Center has been a staff favorite since, oh, pretty much the first moment we met her. We've adored each of her novels. But her latest, How to Walk Away, might be her best yet. Plus, it's an official selection on the May Indie Next List. Pre-order the book through our website to receive a signed copy, plus some exclusive swag. Then, set aside some time on the evening of May 17. That's when Katherine's stopping by to celebrate the new release.

While you wait (thirteen days and counting, as of this publication!), check out our Q&A with the author.

Book Bites: Walking, Pitching, Scooping, Theorizing, Endling

Warm weather is here, and we’ve got summer on our minds. That means books about baseball, books about ice cream, and books about the great outdoors—both in our own world and in a sweeping new fantasy realm from the mind of Katherine Applegate. Plus, Valerie knows the perfect action-packed literary thriller to take to the beach. Remember, nothing blocks harmful UV rays like holding a book in front of your nose. Reading: It’s good for your health.

Now Batting for Team Edith: Denise Kiernan

You know us. We have a tendency to wax poetic about the power of a great novel, like Young Jane Young (watch for it in paperback!) or A Gentleman in Moscow (watch for it on your television!). But a good piece of nonfiction? Now that will really get us going. There's something extra magical about reading a propulsive tale full of complex characters and shocking plot developments—and knowing that all of it actually happened.

Author Denise Kiernan is a modern master of the nonfiction form—she's responsible for undisputed staff favorites like The Girls of Atomic City and The Last Castle. The latter of those two is celebrating its paperback release in May, and Denise herself is swinging by the shop on May 8 to share its story and sign copies. If you haven't read it already, do yourself a favor and snag a copy—you have just enough time to savor it before the event. If you have read it, well, we have a feeling we'll be seeing you there. In the meantime, tide yourself over by checking out our illuminating Q&A with Denise below.

Gail Honeyman on Eleanor Oliphant and What's Next

It's been well over a year since we first got hold of an ARC of Gail Honeman's debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. In the intervening months, the book flew from staff member to staff member, always accompanied by that most exciting of phrases: "You have to read this." It was a natural choice for our staff book club. And when it was published last May, we pressed it into as many hands as we could reach.

So it probably goes without saying that we're excited to welcome Gail to the shop on June 11. Seriously, friends, go ahead and circle your calendars now. We'll wait.

When you get back, check out these insightful questions and answers, courtesy of Pamela Dorman books. And if you haven't read it already, get ready to meet your new favorite novel.

Book Bites: A Newbery Medalist, Meg Wolitzer, and a Bourdain-Approved Cookbook

This week, we’ve got a slew of fantastic recommendations from big names for you. Meg Wolitzer’s fiery new release, The Female Persuasion, deserves a place on your shelf. With bullseye social commentary, relatable characters, and an eye-catching cover, this book is a timely must-read. Meanwhile, chef Edward Lee’s Buttermilk Graffiti takes us on a journey across the melting pot of America; brimming with fascinating stories and mouthwatering recipes, you’re in for a delightful spread from start to finish. (Oh, and Anthony Bourdain loved it.) Middle grade readers rejoice: 2017 Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly has a new book out! You Go First expertly pieces together the complicated challenges of family, growing up, and making friends. Take it from us—don’t miss it!

We could go on, but the reviews await. Read on!

Celebrate National Poetry Month With Me

Some of you may know that I'm late to the poetry lovefest. But hanging out with friends from Diesel Bookstore in California and Talking Leaves in Buffalo (add those two to your travel list) has educated me in understanding and appreciating this lovely art form. I try to read a poem every morning as dawn approaches. I try to understand what the poet is thinking and how I react. What does this mean to us—this approach to our lives—all messy and beautiful?

Book Bites: New York, Alaska, North Carolina, France, Morocco

Spring break may have come and gone, but we're still nursing a case of wanderlust. Here, as ever, books are our friend. Explore seven of our recent favorites below, and be transported to an array of wonderful settings, from your mom's kitchen counter to the lush streets of Tangiers. The Book Bites Express is also making stops in the Alaskan wilderness, the French countryside, the backwoods of North Carolina, and Central Park this week. They're all worth a trip—what sounds best?

Roshani Chokshi on Aru Shah, Writing for Middle Grade, and Hot Cheetos + Swedish Fish

Roshani Chokshi rocked the YA world when her debut novel, The Star-Touched Queen, shot up the New York Times bestseller list upon its publication in 2016. Tabbed as an "author to watch" by Kirkus, she hasn't let her foot off the gas since. A Crown of Wishes, the follow-up to The Star-Touched Queen earned more starred reviews as it expanded Chokshi's fictional universe and doubled down on the original's clever nods to Indian folklore. Now, Chokshi is tackling a new challenge: Writing for middle grade readers. Her middle grade debut, Aru Shah and the End of Time, is the story of a twelve-year-old girl who unwittingly frees an ancient demon and has to journey through the Hindu Kingdom of Death. It was chosen to launch Rick Riordan's new publishing imprint, and it doesn't disappoint.

Don't miss Roshani when she visits the store on March 28—we're so jazzed to share this book with Houston readers. Learn more about this exciting young author by reading our Q&A below, then pre-order Aru Shah to reserve your spot in the signing line when Roshani comes to town.

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