Book Bites: April Showers

It's April already, and the store is being showered by boxes and boxes of new books! It's been a wonderful spring in publishing, with instant classics and fast favorites coming out in droves. We've asked the staff to round up a few of their most recent recommendations, and they did not disappoint — below you'll find books for every age level, and every type of reader. Graphic novel? Historical fiction? YA thriller? Throwback mystery? We've got all that and more. Dig in!

Ages 4-8

I Color Myself Different by Colin Kaepernick; illustrated by Eric Wilkerson

This joyous celebration of being different is the initial book for Kaepernick Publishing. When Colin was in second grade, his teacher assigned the class a project. They were to draw their families. He drew the skin of his adoptive family with a yellow crayon and himself with a brown crayon. When the class questioned him, he responded that he was proud of being different. With attention to each word and some great adult back matter, this will be a solid addition to any primary classroom.
— Valerie

READ because this is a fantastic story of identity and self-esteem from icon Colin Kaepernick.
PASS if you think athletes exist for your entertainment and should "stick to sports."
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I Love You Like Yellow by Andrea Beaty; illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Beaty and Harrison collaborate beautifully on this picture book celebrating love between parents and children. Beaty's whimsical verse pairs perfectly with Harrison's illustrations that provide representation for all. This is a real treasure!
— Cathy

READ because this is a sweet and heartwarming book that we know we're going to sell for years to come.
PASS if yellow reminds you of mustard — and you hate mustard.
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Ages 8-12

A Duet For Home by Karina Yan Glaser

After the accidental death of her father and eviction from their apartment in Chinatown, June, her mom, and sister Maybelle are relocated to Huey House, a homeless shelter in the Bronx. There we meet residents and staff trying to navigate through life’s challenges. After an unfortunate first meeting, Tyrell, who has been living at the shelter for three years, befriends June and shows her the ins, outs, and even some advantages of Huey House, including a place where she can practice her beloved—but forbidden—viola. 

When local government policy changes threaten the stability and support the residents have found in Huey House, June and Tyrell are determined to raise public awareness. An unforgettable story of family, friendship, community, and social justice from the author of the Vanderbeekers series.
— Jennifer G.

READ because this is an important and hopeful story about children who are underrepresented in literature.
PASS if you like to avoid challenging topics.
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Swan Lake: Quest for the Kingdoms by Rey Terciero; illustrated by Megan Kearney 

Odette and Dillie meet at the lake between their castles and become friends, even though their families are enemies. Odette was cursed at birth and turns into a swan during the day; her family believes that Dillie's family caused the curse. The friends decide to journey into the unknown to find someone who can make everything right and lead to peace among the kingdoms. This graphic novel retelling of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake is a rollicking romp full of friendship, courage, and believing in yourself.
— Cathy

READ because this book is awesome, and Rey Terciero (also known as Rex Ogle) is a bigtime shop favorite.
PASS if you despise classics even when they’re told in new, creative, and fun ways.
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Ages 10-14

Packing for Mars for Kids by Mary Roach

Any independent readers who love space will laugh while they are learning about our great space program. Mary Roach spent time at the Johnson Space Center and in what is affectionately called the Vomit Comet (one of our BWB alumni did this!). Interspersed with humor and facts, everyone will enjoy the conversations sparked by this great piece of nonfiction for kids.
— Valerie

READ because Mary Roach is hilarious and brilliant and, hey, we are in Space City.
PASS if the idea that we have only explored a tiny fraction of the universe and have no idea what else is out there freaks you out.
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Ages 14 & Up

Very Bad People by Kit Frick

Calliope Bolan is admitted to Tipton Academy, a prestigious boarding school that her mother and aunt attended in upstate New York. Calliope comes with baggage. (Her mother drove into a lake when she was ten, with her daughters in the car. Mom died; Calliope saved herself and her sisters.) At school, she is invited to join a secret society Haunt & Rail. Their purpose is to expose wrongdoing and advocate for social justice. But things go sideways fast. A campaign against a teacher goes horribly wrong — as in murder. Calliope has to figure out who to trust, both at school and back home with her family. Twisty, twisty, twisty!
— Valerie

READ if you’re a fan of The Female of the Species, People Like Us, and Pretty Little Liars.
PASS if you are a very bad person and are worried that you might be a character in this book.
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Anything But Fine by Tobias Madden

Luca, who has danced since he was three, falls and breaks his foot, effectively ending his dreams of becoming a professional dancer. He loses his scholarship to a private school and enrolls in the local public school where he meets outgoing Amina, who immediately becomes his friend, and school jock Jordan, whom he pines for. Things turn awkward when Jordan asks Luca to keep their relationship secret, and Luca struggles to determine what's important in his life once dancing is gone. A gentle coming of age story about coming to terms with your future when it's not what you've planned. 
— Cathy

READ because this novel is inspiring and beautiful.
PASS if you live in the town from Footloose and hate any mention of dance.
Order your copy

Adult Fiction

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Elizabeth Zott is a serious chemist with an incredible mind that happens to be housed in a gorgeous young woman’s body in the early 1960s. Men want her to smile more, to talk less, to play dumb and to wear tighter clothes, all of which are a hard no. Unapologetically herself, Elizabeth is forced out of her PhD program, relegated to low-level lab work where she is not taken seriously by her colleagues until even that job is taken from her. An unlikely encounter with a local producer lands Elizabeth on her own afternoon television cooking show. After all, cooking is chemistry, and she is excellent at both. When, much to the horror of station executives, Elizabeth runs her cooking show like a chemistry class, she sparks a revolution in housewives of America (and some men, too). Even strong women need support, and Elizabeth has made a family with her genius daughter, the nosy neighbor and her devoted dog, Six-Thirty. A book for the #MeToo moment about a woman before her time encompassing the messy realities of feminism: persistence and wit, belittlement and derision, love and joy, heartbreak and grief, judgment and isolation, family and community.  
— Jennifer K.

READ because indie booksellers all over the country agree: This book is one of the best of the month.
PASS if you failed Intro to Chemistry and are still pretty upset about it.
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Danger on the Atlantic by Erica Ruth Neubauer

American Jane Wunderly has teamed up with Redvers and the English Government to pose as a spy on the voyage from Southhampton to New York. Their mission is to find two passengers passing intelligence information along to Germany. Posing as a married couple, they navigate among the first class passengers while eliminating suspects. When a husband disappears, a porter is found dead, and the captain behaving very suspiciously the task gets harder. Are these events related? And will Jane let her guard down and give her heart another chance? Great mystery with twists and turns to keep the pages turning. 
— Christina

READ if you love well-constructed, Agatha Christie-like mysteries.
PASS if you want to read books 1 and 2 of the Jane Wunderly series first! 
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The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

Lyudmila Pavlichenko, known as Lady Death, was a Russian sniper during WW2. After 309 kills and a rise in status to national hero, she is sent to the US on a propaganda tour to promote the war and Russia's need for assistance. This is a brilliant story, and Quinn does a great job putting the spotlight on women in history that were forgotten or didn't get the glory they deserved. The author notes are a treat, explaining where the fiction comes into the story. I loved this book!
— Christina

READ because this is a historical fiction masterpiece from an author at the top of her game.
PASS if you've already read it. (Why not read it again…?)
Order your copy