Book Bites: Books Are Golden

Have you been doing a lot of reading this summer, friends? As we continue to rack up triple-digit days, we find that we honestly don't have the energy for much else. It suits us fine, really — our industrial-strength A/C has been keeping us nice and cool and it's great to catch up on some of the new books coming out that we might not have had time for otherwise... at least until next week's new releases arrive and we start all over again. In the meantime, we've collected a dozen of our new favorites below — read on!

Ages 8-12

Totally Psychic by Brigid Martin

What happens when you are excited about your new psychic powers but your mom doesn’t want you to use them? Start contacting ghosts for your friends at school, of course! A lighthearted read about new friendships, overcoming adversity, and learning how to rely on your family for help. Great for fans of Encanto!
— Aerie

Read because we foresee a great book in your future. 
Pass if you're totally psychic and already know how this one ends.
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Billie Blaster and the Robot Army from Outer Space by Laini Taylor; illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo

Billie is a scientist and inventor, the daughter of two famous scientists. Her archenemy is Hector Glum, her friend until she kept defeating him at the school science fair every year since kindergarten. When a robot lands on Earth, warning Billie of an alien overlord looking for her dad's blaster gun blueprints, Hector overhears and takes the plans to the alien's planet, so he can use the blueprints for himself. Billie must build a rocket ship to get to the alien planet and save the day! 
— Aerie

Read if you're looking for something that's literally and metaphorically out of this world.
Pass if you're a very serious person and only read boring books.
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Ages 13-18 

Tilly in Technicolor by Mazey Eddings

Tilly and Oliver have the worst first meeting and are relieved when they finally get away from one another… until they discover that they will be together the whole summer. Recommended if you want a well-written book and like to feel all the emotions! 
— Ayah

Read because this is a funny, lovely, and inclusive coming-of-age rom-com.
Pass if colorful characters don't appeal to you.
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Adult Fiction 

The Dark Edge of Night by Mark Pryor

Mark Pryor does a brilliant job with pace, mystery, and plot surprises in this second installment of his newest series. French Police Detective Henri Lefort is once again summoned to solve a case for the Gestapo — a neurologist is missing. As he digs deeper into the disappearance, haunting German secrets are uncovered. As time is running out, there is a marvelous cameo by the infamous Virginia Hall that aids Henri in a plot to save himself and bring justice to the accused. It is always tricky working for the Germans when his heart lies with France, but to survive, he must. Highly recommended!

Read if you love a good puzzle full of tension and witty dialogue.
Pass if you're reading book one before cracking this open.
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The Invisible Hour by Alice Hoffman

Mia is a young girl who was born to an unwed mother and raised in an autocratic cultish community in Western Massachusetts. Encouraged by her mother, Mia started reading books on the sly. One of the books she discovered on one of her secret trips to the town library was a first edition of The Scarlet Letter, which had an inscription to "Mia" by the author. Facing punishment for reading, Mia decided to run away from the community and was taken in by two librarians. Several years later, Mia, who has a job at the New York Public Library, is mysteriously transported to 1830s Salem, where she goes looking for Nathaniel Hawthorne, at the time a not-very-well-known author. When they meet, romantic sparks fly, but Mia realizes she can't interfere with the past, though she tells him the story of her mother and herself, which becomes the inspiration for the book Hawthorne will publish in 1850 to great acclaim. 
— Alice

Read because this is another immersive and magical experience from the one and only Alice Hoffman.
Pass if you're looking for a read you can rush through and forget about.
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Skip to the End by Molly James

Imagine that your first kiss with someone gives you insight into how your relationship would end. Would you go for it, knowing the end, or would you wait until you found the “one”? Amy struggles with this exact problem and decides to let loose at her best friend’s wedding in hopes of possibly finding the one. But she gets too drunk and can't remember all three men she kissed, including one that gave her no signs that a relationship was destined to fail.
— Ayah

Read if you've always wanted a mashup of that one episode of Black Mirror and Mamma Mia.
Pass if you have a strange affliction where, the moment you open a book, you know how it ends.
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None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell

Josie is out celebrating her 45th birthday when she sees someone else also celebrating a birthday. After introducing herself in the restroom, she meets Alix, and they realize they are birthday twins — same age, same birthday, even born in the same hospital. Josie becomes obsessed, searching out Alix, whose life looks glamorous and put together. Alix turns out to be a podcaster, and Josie convinces Alix to do a podcast about her — she is ready to completely change her life and she wants Alix to document it. But as Alix s to allow Josie into her life, she finds out more and more about Josie that gives her pause — that she met her current husband when she was 16 and he was 42, that her two daughters had some sort of conflict at school when they were younger that resulted in a call to social services and one daughter running away from home. And then Alix begins to hear about another missing girl that was a friend of the daughter that ran away. As Alix struggles with her own problems, she begins to realize letting Josie into her life has put them all in great danger. A great twisty psychological thriller — recommended. 
— Aerie

Read because Lisa Jewell is a thriller master.
Pass if you hate being tricked by a great twist.
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The Bee Sting by Paul Murray

Although one reviewer has described this novel as a tragicomedy, it seems to me to be rather a series of little tragedies that show the disintegration of a family in present-day Ireland. Told from the perspectives of the four family members: Imelda, who grew up poor but married into a well-to-do family; Dickie, her husband, who has failed to make a success of the family's car sale and repair business; Cass, their eldest child, an aspiring college student who can't wait to get away from home; and PJ, their 12-year old son who likes gaming and worries about his father. As Imelda and Dickie try, with varying success, to deal with post-recession economic woes, we learn about their pasts and the tragedy that brought them together 18 years ago. The 600+ pages of this novel fly by as things go from bad to worse with increasing tension. With this worthy addition to the 2023 Man Booker Award long list, Murray joins the company of other wonderful Irish writers such as John Boyne, Sebastian Barry, and Maggie O'Farrell. Recommended.
— Alice

Read because this book truly is irresistible.
Pass if you're allergic to even the thought of a bee sting.
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The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride

The store in the title of this new novel by National Book Award winner McBride is a money-losing community center in the ethnically-mixed Pottstown, Pennsylvania, neighborhood of Chicken Hill. It's 1936, and Chicken Hill is home to Jewish working class immigrants from Romania, Bulgaria, and Lithuania who live side by side with Black Americans at a remove from the more respectable parts of the city. The shop is run by Chona, the disabled and very vocal wife of Moshe, who runs an integrated music hall. This is the setting for multiple story lines and some memorable characters, many of whom come together to rescue a 12-year-old deaf orphan who has been institutionalized. The stories told here explain as well as anything I've read — fiction and nonfiction — the difficulties faced by marginalized communities in early 20th century America. Highly recommended.
— Alice 

Read because this is another knockout (and an August Indie Next List pick) from McBride.
Pass if you just realized that there's nothing in the fridge and you're heading to the grocery store.
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California Golden by Melanie Benjamin

Sisters Mindy and Ginger are living in the golden age of surfing in California in the 1960s, one enjoying the glittering Hollywood view with stars like Annette Funicello and Gidget making waves, the other getting sucked into the dark counterculture of LSD and cults. After a childhood spent with their emotionally absent mother, both girls are looking for their own versions of stability and love. Their mother was a former golden surf girl, paving the way for other female surfers but sidelined from her life by children and a marriage she didn't want. Following the family through the Vietnam war and into the ’80s, this is a great read about the social upheavals going on in California in the ’60s and ’70s, a family processing its trauma, and women struggling with their expected roles in society. Highly recommended!
— Aerie

Read if you loved Malibu Rising or own a lot of surf rock records.
Pass if you're waiting to read this on a California beach.
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The Roommate Pact by Allison Ashley

Claire and Graham have reached their thirties and have yet to find serious relationships. Claire proposes that if they remain single at 40, they will get together. What starts off as a joke eventually becomes serious when Graham is involved in an accident and is brought to Claire's ER. From that moment on, Claire vows to take care of Graham while trying to make herself believe that her feelings for him are only out of concern. Recommended! 
— Ayah

Read if you are in the mood to swoon.
Pass if you just made a marriage pact with a friend and are nervous to see what your future holds.
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Adult Nonfiction 

The Underworld by Susan Casey

An excellent exploration of our curiosity with the ocean beginning with the medieval view that the world's oceans are teeming with dragons and sea monsters too fierce to leave home to see, through the belief that the deepest depths of the ocean are too far for life to survive, to the current awe and awareness that the depths of the ocean have much for us to learn and explore. The author has formed a friendship with scientists and ocean explorers, and details her experiences with the modern submersibles being built and used by Triton to begin to explore the deepest parts of the Mariana Trench and the Tonga Trench. A fascinating look at the technology, the science, and the need to keep our oceans clean.
— Aerie

Read because you're looking to go on an adventure... from your armchair.
Pass if you have thalassophobia.
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