Bingo Fodder

Are you ready to play? Summer reading bingo is back at Blue Willow, and we've already lost count of how many cards we've passed out. Don't have yours just yet? Don't worry. You can download our cards for kids and adults—and get caught up on all of our other summer programming—on this page. Then, check out our latest staff picks below and start filling in your squares. Happy reading!

Ages 4-8

My Daddy Is a Cowboy by Stephanie Seales; illustrated by C. G. Esperanza

Cowboys aren't only in the country! A lovely book in which a young girl and her father share "just us time" as they take an early morning horseback ride around their city.

Read because the rest of the country is finally catching up to Houston's immaculate yeehaw energy.
Pass if you're too busy sewing fringe onto every piece of clothing you own.
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Garland of Henna by Varsha Bajaj; illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan

Nikita's mom draws henna on Nikita's hand and Nikita cannot wait to learn the art. The first time she draws on her Nani, a blob comes out instead of a dot and Nikita despairs that she will never be good enough. She learns that skill comes with practice and patience. Our dear friend and neighbor Varsha Bajaj delivers another gorgeous picture book celebrating family traditions.

Read because this is another new triumph from a good friend of the store.
Pass if you're waiting until after our event with Varsha (June 15!) to read this one.
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Not-a-Box City by Antoinette Portis

As rabbit builds his city made of boxes, he discovers he needs the help of others to make his city even better! A sweet, clever story about allowing others to help in creating and how much better things can be when everyone is involved. Loved the illustrations!

Read for the great message and the sweet-and-simple illustrations.
Pass if you need to reread the companion book, Not a Box, first.
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Ages 6-9

Book Buddies: Roger Takes A Chance by Cynthia Lord; illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

In the tradition of Corduroy, a little plush chick named Roger (attached to his mother Olive by Velcro) is donated to the local library to be a book buddy. Book buddies are read to by the youngest patrons. They can be "checked out" for two weeks. Liam, who is "grown up" at eight years old, checks out a book buddy to make his younger sister happy. When they go to the airport to greet their grandfather, Roger is lost in the moment. He is put in the Lost & Found by a friendly janitor. Liam learns a lesson about telling the truth. Roger makes a new friend, a penguin, who joins the merry band of book buddies.

Read because this is another charming entry in a beloved series.
Pass if you consider books to be your enemies.
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Ages 8-12

Greenwild: The City Beyond the Sea by Pari Thomson

Book two in this great children's fantasy series. We rejoin Daisy Thistledown and her friends in the Mallowmarsh. She has gotten a note from her missing mother saying she is being held captive and needs help, but they won't succeed if they don't have help from the residents from the Iffenwild, a mysterious city many believe doesn't exist any more. Daisy and her friends overhear a ship of traveling actors mention they are bound for Iffenwild, and they stow away on their ship to catch a ride. With them is Max, a boy deeply suspicious of their motives and grieving his own lost mother. More action and adventure, this time on the high seas and in a new world, as Daisy and her friends must keep on trying to save the magic in their world from the Grim Reapers. 

Read because this is a great adventure to kick off your summer reading with.
Pass if you prefer to avoid fun, exciting series.
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Ages 12 & Up 

Moonstorm by Yoon Ha Lee

Hwa Young was ten years old when her home world was attacked by Imperial forces. Now, several years later, she has joined the very forces that cost her friends their lives and orphaned her. She is doing all she can to forget her past, but when life-changing events take place in her new home, she thinks about to which side she should stay true. On a journey to find herself and who she fights for, she discovers true friends and more than just family.  An outer space action adventure—great for fans of Star Wars or Star Trek!
—Aiden, age 13, and Aerie, his mom

Read if you enjoyed Iron Widow or Skyward.
Pass if you unironically refer to your enemies as "rebel scum."
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The Color of a Lie by Kim Johnson

High schooler Calvin’s life is upended when his father moves him and his mom from Chicago where they endured a racial tragedy to Levittown, PA, where they are going to “pass” as white people in a whites only area in search of a life with opportunities to thrive. This is risky to say the least. As Calvin’s discomfort with denying his identity and his secret interest in Black outsiders (including his brother, a girl, and new friends) grows, he takes life-threatening risks to find justice. I highly recommend this historical fiction. Great character development and storytelling about “passing,” which is part of our American history that was not part of my formal education.

Read because this historical thriller will keep you up turning the pages well past your bedtime.
Pass if you want to miss out on a fascinating book with multiple starred reviews. 
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Adult Fiction

Pardon My Frenchie by Farrah Rochon

New Orleans-based Ashanti is thrilled and overwhelmed with the success of Barkingham Palace, her dog daycare. Raising her teen sisters while she builds her business means she has no room to entertain romantic endeavors. Thad, a former soldier, arrives in her life after coming to town to take care of his beloved grandmother's poodle, Puddin', a favorite customer of the Palace. Quickly, Ashanti can tell Thad despises dogs—the biggest red flag to her about a person's character. He's the most irritable, sexy, grumpy, hot guy that she's ever met. Worst of all, her own dog, Duchess, the traitor, can't stand to be separated from Puddin' for too long! After an adorable video of the dog pair goes viral, Ashanti and Thad are firmly pushed together by the media blast and must decide if they embrace the simmering attraction they both feel. A fun and cleverly spicy rom-com!

Read if you can't get enough Jasmine Guillory or Abby Jimenez.
Pass if you are immune to dog puns.
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Not in Love by Ali Hazelwood

Ali captures the steamiest and most vulnerable moments in her latest STEM novel. Not in Love follows Rue Siebert, who has spent years at Kline. However, when a takeover involving Eli Killgore threatens her future, she questions what to do next. Does she remain loyal to her friend, the owner of Kline, or does she give in to the undeniable attraction?

Read because at this point, you already know that Ali Hazelwood is the bee's knees.
Pass if you're allergic to bees and knees.
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The Rom-Commers by Katherine Center

This witty, authentic and just plain ole sweet book will turn even the anti-rom-com crowd around. Writer and rom-com aficionado Emma Wheeler lives a simple life in Texas teaching and taking care of her dad, who cannot live alone. Out of the blue, an ex-boyfriend/bestie calls from LA in need of a scriptwriter. She is being asked to rewrite a beloved rom-com movie with none other than her idol, Charlie Yates! The surprise that awaits is that Charlie doesn't know anything about her "helping him" with the rewrite or that she is living at his house for six weeks. He is newly divorced and set in his ways—grumpy is putting it mildly! When Emma tells him his script is worthless, he is impressed at her tenacity and gives the partnership a chance. Over the six-week period, they not only write well together, they start to heal past demons with help from each other. Two phone calls change everything, and we start to wonder if there is no hope for a real life rom-com between these two. We know that this is a happily ever after novel, but the route it takes will win over all readers! The subtle changes and sweetness are worth the journey.

Read because, come on, it's Katherine Center!
Pass if the closest you'll ever get to a rom-com is Gone Girl.
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How to Age Disgracefully by Clare Pooley

A small community center in London is the center of this story as Lydia, a 50ish woman whose husband is a jerk (and an idiot) and whose children are at university, decides to take over the running of the Senior Citizens Social Club. Enter the most entertaining cast of characters: five pensioners of questionable backgrounds and cranky dispositions, along with a teen dad and his daughter, plus a handful of other children that stay in the nursery also at the community center. When the council wants to shut down the community center, everyone devises a plan to try to raise the money to keep it open. Hilarity all around and lots of drama. Of course we grow to love all of these characters as their lives become interconnected. I will be recommending this to everyone! 

Read because Clare Pooley can do no wrong.
Pass? Disgraceful idea—you'll love this one.
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The Unwedding by Ally Condie

Wow! An Agatha Christie feel to this mystery; it reminds me of And Then There Were None. Newly and devastated-ly divorced, Ellery takes a planned anniversary trip by herself. The experience is not what she expected! Moping and crying turn into leading a group to solve a mystery and some self-healing. On day one she finds the groom dead in the pool, and the weekend unravels from there. Gathered at this nature-ish resort for a wedding, the guests get more than they bargained for after the groom is found dead, flash flooding occurs and no one can get in or out, and art work disappears. A mishmash of groomsmen who are not who they seem—really none of the guests are—but who is good and who is not? As the days pass, their pasts come out as the mystery is solved. And another dead body turns up!

Read because everyone, everywhere is always chasing a great mystery novel with an Agatha Christie feel.
Pass along the news—we have an event with Ally Condie on June 13!
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One of Our Kind by Nicola Yoon

Jasmyn, who is pregnant, King, and their young son Kamau are moving to a master planned community called Liberty. Somewhere near LA, it is billed as a utopia for Black families, where they don't have to worry about walking at night, their kids dealing with white cops, or browsing in an upscale store. Jasmyn is a public defender, and while she is relieved to live somewhere she can see her son growing up safely, she is also determined to not forget where they came from. She firmly believes that with wealth should come the responsibility to help others: attend protests, mentor at risk youths, etc. She runs into stiff resistance when she tries to start a Black Lives Matter chapter in Liberty and becomes increasingly concerned by her husband's obsession with attending the wellness spa. She is determined to get to the bottom of everything and find out why everyone is so resistant to her model of social activism and so obsessed with the spa. A great psychological thriller—the author builds the tension right until the end to a shocking climax. 

Read because "Get Out meets The Stepford Wives" sounds like a pretty wild ride, doesn't it?
Pass if "propulsive thriller with insightful commentary" for some reason does not hook you.
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Middletide by Sarah Crouch

A popular young doctor is found hanging from a tree in an apparent suicide. She is found on the land of Elijah Leath, who has recently returned to the property after many years far away and a botched literary career. What happened here? Does he have anything to do with this? There are so many questions in this small northwestern town. As the mystery unfolds, we are compelled to find out the backstories of all the people involved.

Read because you'll be gripping this page-turning debut as tightly as it grips you. 
Pass if you like guessable mysteries with flat senses of place.
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Tiananmen Square by Lai Wen

Based on the author's own experiences, this novel describes the narrator's coming of age in 1970s and 1980s Beijing. Lai is an intelligent girl from a lower middle class family who , though she has a few friends growing up, is something of a loner. After high school, she wins a scholarship to Peking University where she is caught up in the student movement for democracy that led eventually to the student occupation of Tiananmen Square that was brutally crushed by the government. The story she tells is compelling and provides a first-hand account—fictionalized to some extent—of the life of young people in Chinese high schools and universities and their attempts to break out from under the thumb of the Chinese government.

Read because this coming-of-age epic will stick with you for a long time.
Pass if you're looking for an instantly forgettable read.
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Adult Nonfiction

When Women Ran Fifth Avenue by Julie Satow

A look at the lives and careers of three powerhouse female executives at historically important department stores, looking at both their rise to success and how they handled their personal lives on the side. Hortense Odlum of Bonwit Teller, Dorothy Shaver of Lord & Taylor, and Geraldine Stutz of Henri Bendel were pioneering visionaries and drove not just financially successful corporate decision-making at the highest levels, but also ushered in new eras of fashion from the depression through to the 1970s in America. Interspersed are anecdotal chapters about what else was going on in the development of the department store in America; my favorite was the surprisingly fascinating history of the mannequin! A great read, a page turner, and a perfect summer nonfiction book—highly recommended!

Read because this is fascinating, glamorous, and soaked in New York atmosphere. 
Pass if you only read impenetrably dense and inaccessible nonfiction.
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