Book Bites: Books on the Brain

Who else has been enjoying the rainy weather around here? It's good for the trees, and it's good for our to-be-read piles, which were frankly starting to get a little out of hand. We've been reading up a storm around here (pun absolutely and shamelessly intended), and we'd love to help steer you towards a new book or two to cozy up with this week. Mystery? Middle grade? Romance? Short stories? We've got all that and more — read on!

Ages 4-8

Creepy Crayon by Aaron Reynolds; illustrated by Peter Brown

When Jasper Rabbit finds a purple crayon that completes his schoolwork perfectly regardless of Jasper's preparation, he is delighted! But things like that are too good to be true and soon, Jasper is desperately trying to get rid of the crayon... which KEEPS. TURNING. UP. Reynolds and Brown reunite for another hilariously creepy tale. 
— Cathy

READ if you're in the mood for a little spookiness and a lot of fun.
PASS if this will make you very suspicious of Harold's purple crayon. 
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Ages 8-12

Tumble by Celia C. Pérez

Author Celia C. Pérez dives into the true meaning of family in this amazing novel. She explains that family is a bond deeper than any ever, and you must trust your family as they each go on their own journey. The writing is absolutely beautiful, and all the characters are tied together to create this beautiful story. It includes the heart-wrenching story of a lost family, with the humor of the cherished sport, wrestling. The true takeaway of this novel is to remember the tiny things in your life, for they only come once in a lifetime. 
— Nia, Teen Advisory Board

READ because this is a heartwarming reminder of what family really means. 
PASS if you're too distracted trying to figure out if wrestling is real or acted.
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Surely Surely Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly

Clever, sweet Marisol's distaste for gym class is very relatable. She lives with her Filipina mom, off-shore working dad, and older soccer-loving brother in Louisiana. Marisol's vivid imagination helps her have a strong friend group at school even if her nerves about an upcoming kickball unit start to sink her usually sunny mood. Once Marisol confesses what's troubling her, she gains confidence with the help of her best friend, Jada, and her brother, Oz. The second book of this Marisol series is a homer — kickball style. Read it and you will be a fan!!  
— Liz

READ because you are looking for a read with an endearing, lively main character. 
PASS if you are already getting post-traumatic flashbacks to your middle school gym class. (Hey, this book could be a good reminder that you were not alone.)
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Ages 14-18

How You Grow Wings by Rimma Onoseta

How You Grow Wings follows sisters Cheta and Zam. The two sisters live in Alihame, Nigeria, in a household charged by their abusive mother. Onoseta explores topics such as abuse, class, and the morality and obligation of family and love — no matter how happy or unhappy the situation. One aspect of the book I especially loved was how the author chose to include the perspectives of both main characters — offering different outlooks, forcing one to challenge “right” and “wrong.” Onoseta puts words to the pressure that comes from discord between loved ones, something so universal and yet complex that there is a fascinating beauty and sincerity to the writing. I highly recommend this book to older teen readers everywhere. 
— Aastha, Teen Advisory Board

READ because this is an engaging and necessary read on classism, colorism, and cycles of abuse.
PASS if you don't want to become invested in the compelling lives of the characters. 
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The Feeling of Falling in Love by Mason Deaver

The Feeling of Falling in Love captures the teenage experience in an irresistible and undaunting way. Filled with relatable and hilarious pop culture references and sprinkled with plenty of iconic tropes, Deaver delivers a heart-filled look into modern love, identity, and family. It isn’t often one finds a book that so beautifully and unapologetically tackles the challenge of gender identity and its relation to relationship as this book does. It also contrasts the importance of found family support and biological family struggles through an honest and heartwarming one-week journey. It is refreshing and new and will have you cringing one moment, then laughing and smiling the next. Also, the relatable cover art is a massive plus. 
— Alison, Teen Advisory Board

READ if you were a fan of Red, White, and Royal Blue or What If It's Us.
PASS if you have a huge TBR pile of rom-coms books from Bookstore Romance Day (surely you can squeeze one more in there).
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Adult Fiction

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Dr. Bee Königswasser is presented with the opportunity to co-lead a NASA and NIH collaboration. Being the best in her field, Bee travels to Houston where she meets her co-leader, Levi Ward. While this is the first time they have worked together, Bee and Levi once attended the same grad school where Levi made his feelings clear to Bee — or so she thought. After a delay with the equipment, disagreements, and miscommunications, Bee is prepared to leave until Levi is able to convince her and their peers otherwise. What happens when the two begin to develop feelings for each other during the next few months? Highly recommended!
— Ayah

READ because who knew STEM could be so romantic? Also, it takes place in Houston, so legally we all have to read it.
PASS if you like to share your little theories about the moon landing every time you hear the word "NASA."
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Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes

In this thought-provoking novel, Neil, the narrator, explores his intellectual infatuation with the professor of a class he took on "Culture and Civilisation."  Elizabeth Finch was an eccentric, reserved, single woman who taught her romantic stoic philosophy in a manner that totally captivated Neil, a twice-divorced, sometime actor and self-professed master of unfinished projects. He maintained a 20-year relationship based on lunch every couple of months with "EF" until her death, when he discovered that she had left all her notebooks to him. This started Neil on research into Finch's pet subject, Roman emperor Julian the Apostate, whose life and death determined the future of Christianity's place in history, according to Finch. This slim novel is both an examination of the role of religion in making history and a look at how one enigmatic woman made an indelible impression on an admirer's life. It appealed to the historian in me as well as to the part of me that finds stoicism a most sensible philosophy. 
— Alice

READ if you are looking for a read that will stick in your head a while after finishing. 
PASS if you thought this would be about a rare species of songbird.
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The Last Karankawas by Kimberly Garza

Luminous short stories will hold you captive as you read about the Gulf Coast of Texas. From Galveston to the valley, from hurricanes to drought, each character will gather you into the heat, humidity, and history of the coast. 
— Valerie

READ if you are in the mood for stunning and engaging writing. 
PASS because you like your books to be one-dimensional and flat. 
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Are You Sara? by S.C. Lalli

Saraswati "Sara" Bhaduri is struggling to make it through her last year of law school. While bartending at the local bar, Sara is instructed to take care of the drunk girl passed out in the bathroom, who she learns shares the same name. By the end of their night, the two girls have ordered a ride home. But what happens when they get into the wrong ride and Sarah Ellis's body is discovered? Sara cannot help but suffer from survivor's guilt and wonders if she was meant to die that night. She begins to immerse herself in the investigation while doing her best to stay on top of her own problems. This is a twisty thriller that will keep you engaged until the end! 
— Ayah

READ if you are looking for a gripping, suspenseful plot.
PASS if you hate being wrong and a book with a good twist might ruin your streak of guessing the ending. 
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