Book Bites: The Bad Eclipse of Young Joan Ashby's Invisible Furies

Well, friends, it's been a wet and windy week at the shop. We hope you're all staying safe and dry, and that you've stocked up on water and other essentials. Like books. It's perfect weather for reading, assuming the power doesn't go out. Batten down the hatches and curl up with one of these wonderful new staff recommendations.

Ages 4-8

The Bad Seed by Jory John and Pete Oswald (Illustrations)

The Bad SeedThere is a bad seed. A baaaaaaaaaaad seed. How bad is he? He's late to everything and never washes his hands. Or his feet. He didn't always want to be bad, but he tells you the story of how he became bad. It's another hilarious picture book written by Jory John with great illustrations from Pete Oswald. 

Read if you're looking for a comedic lesson in manners. 
Pass if you'd actually like a comedy of manners instead. 
Order Your Copy on our website.

Ages 8-12

Wedgie & Gizmo by Suzanne Selfors and Barbara Fisinger (Illustrations)

Wedgie & GizmoWedgie, a Corgi, and Gizmo, a guinea pig, are the pets of a newly blended family. Wedgie is delighted with everything in his life from the half a waffle he just ate to the Squirrel Tree in the yard. Gizmo, however, is disgusted with his new lot in life. Since his EcoHabitat broke in the move, he's now living in Jasmine's Barbie Dream House. Wedgie and Gizmo's observations told in alternating chapters offer a hilarious behind-the-scenes look at this family. Great for grades 3 and up.

Read for a charming representation of the barely-controlled chaos we call family.
Pass if you're afraid your kids will channel Gizmo's sardonic wit to devastating effect.
Order Your Copy on our website.

Ages 10-12

The Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hicks

Van Gogh DeceptionThe National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC is about to spend a whopping $183 million for a long-lost Van Gogh painting. The Board of Trustees is just waiting on one last art expert’s report of authenticity when, days before the planned purchase, Art shows up in the museum. Art the boy, that is. He's about 12 years old and can remember nothing about himself — but he knows an awful lot about art. Returning to the museum hoping to rekindle a memory or two, Art and Camille, the daughter of his emergency guardian, retrieve his backpack and quickly find themselves in a race to foil kidnappers, recover Art’s memory, and thwart the greatest art fraud to date. Integrated QR codes allow readers to see the museum artwork mentioned throughout. Jason Bourne meets The DaVinci Code in this fast-paced thriller for readers 10 and older.

Read for a rollicking romp with a fun, edcuational twist.
Pass if you don't like to keep your smartphone nearby while you're trying to read.
Order Your Copy on our website.

Adult Fiction

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Heart's Invisible FuriesThis sweeping saga of a novel is a conflation of idiosyncratic characters, coincidences, and bizarre events that are described with wit, laugh-out-loud humor, and emotion that can make you weep. The narrator is Cyril Avery, born out of wedlock to a 16-year-old Irish girl in 1945. Each chapter follows seven years after the previous chapter as Cyril, given up for adoption to Charles (a wealthy and somewhat dishonest banker) and Maude (a novelist who hates her own popularity), grows up, falls in love, gradually discovers his true nature, moves to Amsterdam and then New York, and finally returns to Ireland. Perhaps it was the author's dedicatory note to John Irving that made me think of Garp as I read about the peculiarities, tragedies, and eventual happiness in Cyril's life. A pervasive theme is the morality and dominance of the Catholic Church in late 20th century Ireland, especially regarding "fallen" women and homosexuality. This is a tremendously rich novel that I recommend highly.

Read because if Alice liked it this much, it's probably really good.
Pass if you prefer lighter fictional fare.
Order Your Copy on our website.

Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby

Pieces of HappinessAfter the death of her beloved Niklas, Kat sends a letter to each of her high school friends, asking them to join her on her cocoa plantation in Fiji. She asks each to come spend their golden years supporting each other. Maya, Sina, Ingrid, and Lizbeth join her, bringing a lifetime worth of baggage. As the days pass, each woman reveals their story in this lovely novel about friendship.

Read if the cockles of your heart could do with a little warming.
Pass if you appreciate neither chocolate nor charm.
Order Your Copy on our website.

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas

Joan Ashby is a famous short story writer. She is feted world wide. After marrying a charming eye doctor, she vows to never have children. The best laid plans change when she has two boys. Her life is subsumed by mothering, suburbia, and a fear that she will never have a life again. She writes in private. The boys grow to men (with attending problems that all families deal with). It's when they have left home that she is finally ready to fly. But treachery awaits and her world is changed in ways she never thought possible. The beautiful conceit of this ambitious debut lies in the interwoven short stories that are truly her thoughts about her own life.  Five stars! 

Read for a dazzling and layered look at ambition, motherhood, and sacrifice.
Pass if you got a headache from looking at the cover. Actually, scratch that – just take off the dust jacket and you'll be good to go.
Order Your Copy on our website.

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Young Jane YoungAviva Grossman, a capable, ambitious congressional intern, makes a mistake: She has an affair with her boss. When the news gets out, the congressman slips through the headlines unscathed, while Aviva's name is filleted – destroying her career before it can begin. To build a life, Aviva is forced to move away from home and recreate herself entirely. Told from the perspectives of five well-realized, provocative women, YOUNG JANE YOUNG is an entertaining, thoughtful story that will lace your blood with empathy and get you thinking about today's political and social climates. Why aren't more women elected to office? What's with the double standard of morality imposed on women? A thorough takedown of slut-shaming. Highly recommended.
—Mary Cate

Read it because Ms. Zevin's latest is every bit as good as A.J. Fikry – if not better.
Pass if.... Honestly, we can't think of any reason why you should pass on this one.
Order Your Copy on our website.
Attend Our Event (!) with Gabrielle Zevin on September 9.
Read Our Q&A with Ms. Zevin before you pick up your copy.

Adult Non-Fiction

American Eclipse by David Baron

American Eclipse

By the last quarter of the 19th century, the natural creative spirit of America was melding with scientific knowledge to fuel a period of intense and competitive investigation, discovery, and innovation. It was the beginning of the American eclipse of European dominance in the sciences. The author of this engaging bit of history focuses on another eclipse during this period – the total solar eclipse of July 29, 1878. Personal stories of the scientists in several fields who gathered in Wyoming and Colorado that summer are set within the historical, social and cultural features of late 19th-century America. We meet astronomers James Watson, Simon Newcomb, Maria Mitchell, Cleveland Abbe (the first official U.S. weatherman), and inventor Thomas Edison, among others who observed the eclipse. Baron's stylish writing and the anecdotes about the scientists make this a fascinating read that contributes to an understanding of who we were — and are — as Americans. Recommended.
— Alice

Read it and relive the glory of last week's eclipse.
Pass if you'd rather just wait until the next total solar eclipse to read it.
Order Your Copy on our website.