Book Bites: Bad Moods, Good Nights, and National Book Award Winners in the Ninth Hour

October, October! The favorite month of spooky souls, Anne of Green Gables, and, of course, readers. This month, some of the publishing industry's greatest titles are released—just in time for us to curl up under a fuzzy blanket, nab the nearest cat, and devour them.

This week, we’re excited to highlight a few upcoming titles that have our staff raving. Those of you who love Margaret Wise Brown (Goodnight Moon) will be thrilled to know that one of her unpublished manuscripts is soon to be released, brought to life with the illustrations of Loren Long. On the adult side of things, Alice McDermott is racing back to your bedside table with The Ninth Hour, a tale of “practical Catholicism” that had our Alice “spellbound by the warmth and humanity of McDermott’s treatment of her characters.” Look, if Alice likes it, it’s really good.

Cheers to fall, friends, and happy reading!

Ages 4-8

The Bad Mood and the Stick by Lemony Snicket and Matthew Forsythe (Illustrations)

A girl named Curly is in a bad mood because she wants ice cream, and her mother won't buy her any. She finds a stick, pokes her brother and—voila!—the bad mood is gone! But now, it’s moved on to her mother. The bad mood and the stick both make their way through town in a clever and engaging story that reminds us how our moods can affect those around us and that they eventually move on.

Read if it’s been way, WAY too long since Lemony Snicket was in your life.
Pass if you’ve recently been poked with a stick and it wasn’t as charming as this story would have you believe.
Order Your Copy on our website.

Good Day, Good Night by Margaret Wise Brown and Loren Long (Illustrations)

Loren Long (Otis books) illustrates this never-before-published picture book by Margaret Wise Brown. The book gently guides the reader through the day and into the evening. Long's illustrations pay homage to Goodnight Moon in a very fun way. This is a new classic that families will love!

Read if you’re ready for a new classic!
Pass if you’re (A) a heartless monster, or (B) a vampire who legitimately has no need for bedtime stories.
Order Your Copy on our website
Attend Our Event with Loren Long on October 4.

Ages 8-12

The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh

Bea is a happy-go-lucky middle grader who returns from summer vacation to find her best friend is no longer talking to her. When eating lunch in the newspaper class, she befriends Will, an ostracized boy dealing with Asperger's. Will is obsessed with labyrinths. The fun begins when Will announces he wants to walk the mysterious labyrinth on the Leland estate. Bea is eager to help her new friend. It's a mystery wrapped up with some thought about those awkward middle years. Loved it.

Read if you think those awkward middle years are just as heartwarming as we do.
Pass if any mention of labyrinths sends you running off in the opposite direction, moaning about how He Who Must Not Be Named is waiting at the end.
Order Your Copy on our website.

Ages 10-13

Greetings from Witness Protection! by Jake Burt

Mrs. Elena Cercatore Sicurezza has turned state witness against her family, the notorious Cercatore crime mob. In return, the Witness Security Program will provide a new home, new jobs, and new identities for Elena, her husband and their son—as well as a new family member. Confident, wise-cracking, street-smart—and pick-pocket!—Nicki Demere will be the contact between her new family and the US marshals. But it may be her own background that puts all of them in danger. Fun, funny, and action-packed for girls and boys 10 and up.

Read if you need a few tips on how to juggle your crime mob of a family and daily life.
Pass if… you’ve already read it? Sorry, we can’t think of any other reason.
Order Your Copy on our website.

Adult Fiction

Five-Carat Soul by James McBride

National Book Award winner McBride has collected an impressive set of short stories in Five-Carat Soul. They are so rich and so well-told that I almost felt I had read seven complete novels. From the title story about young black teens growing up in a small western Pennsylvania town, to the spell-binding tale of Buffalo soldiers during WWII in Italy, and a fantasy about animals in a zoo that he invented for his nephews, McBride imbues his characters with believable thoughts and feelings and ways of expressing themselves. Recommended.

Read, because short stories are immensely underrated, and these are extra-good.
Pass if you think the National Book Award’s not that big of a deal.
Order Your Copy on our website

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

Set in early 20th century Brooklyn, McDermott's latest novel tells a story of the work of the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor, a community of nuns who minister to the poor and the sick. It's also the story of Annie, whose husband commits suicide in the first chapter, and her daughter Sally, who grows up as a child of the convent. It's a story of practical Catholicism as lived by nuns who serve, whose religious fervor is bolstered by their proximity to suffering, and who can look the other way at times when they see sinful behavior. As a young woman, Sally struggles with her own vocation under the conflicting influences in her life. From the first pages of this lovely novel, readers will be spellbound by the warmth and humanity of McDermott's treatment of her characters. It's a quiet and gentle story, even if the subject matter is harsh at times. Highly recommended.

Read if you’ve been waiting (impatiently) for Alice McDermott’s next masterpiece for too long as it is.
Pass if you’re itching for something a bit lighter.
Order Your Copy on our website.

The Vineyard by María Dueñas

Mauro Laurrea has pulled himself up in the world, from a worker in the mines to a man of substance and prominence in Mexico City.  But then a risky venture goes bust.  Looking for a quick financial turnaround, he goes to Havana and passes himself off as a Mexican aristocrat.  Quietly bordering on bankruptcy, Mauro makes one more crazy bet, and before he knows it, he's the owner of a crumbling family home and neglected vineyard in his home country of Spain.  He meets Soledad Clayton, also originally from Spain but recently from London, and she is guarded but gracious about his takeover of her grandfather's estate. Unsurprisingly, there's an attraction between Mauro and "Sol" in spite of her husband and his questionable dealings.  And of course there are many family secrets to be uncovered!  Author Maria Duenas provides a vivid picture of Mexico, Cuba, and Spain during the time of the U.S. Civil War.  A sprawling saga that fans of Kate Morton will enjoy.

Read if you, like us, love Kate Morton and sprawling sagas!
Pass if you’re likely to get too jealous of the protagonist and his vineyard in Spain.
Order Your Copy on our website.

Adult Nonfiction

The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

The newest idea book from these talented brothers will motivate you to think about the moments in your career, family, and life that change you in small or profound ways. There are many entertaining and inspiring anecdotes in the quick read, but don't be fooled—you will be thinking about them for a long time.

Read if you’re looking for something, quick, inspirational, and sustaining!
Pass if motivational literature is not your bag.
Order Your Copy on our website.