Book Bites: Bring Your Sturdiest Tote Bag

Another week, another batch of great new books we can't wait to share with you. The whole month of September is stuffed to the gills with exciting new releases, and we're doing our best to highlight our very favorites here on the blog. The latest crop? Just an incredible mix of genres, forms, and age groups. If you can't find something to savor here, we're guessing you just don't like to read. Dig in!

Ages 8-12

Violet and Jobie in the Wild by Lynne Rae Perkins

The tale of mouse siblings Violet and Jobie, who were caught by humans and taken to live in the wild. Seeing the woods for the first time and learning how to stay safe was much harder than these two, who grew up watching TV inside a human home, expected. New friends teach them how to be safe — and ultimately how to live apart from those they love. Vivid illustrations help tell this sweet story.
— Christina

READ because this is a cute reminder that there is a big world out there for us to explore.
PASS if you've always thought of yourself as more of a city mouse than a country mouse.
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The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat; illustrated by Joanna Cacao

A relatable graphic novel loosely based on author Christina Soontornvat’s life. Christina and Megan want to be on the cheerleading squad. But they do not look like the other girls. There is serious middle school drama here, along with plenty of humor and maybe even a few tears. Every middle grader will secretly read this over and over again. Let’s cheer them on!
— Valerie

READ because anything Soontornvat should head straight to the top of your TBR list.
PASS if an empowering story about confidence and friendship somehow doesn't appeal to you.
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Ages 14 & Up

The Epic Story of Every Living Thing by Deb Caletti

Harper has been raised by a single mother with no idea of her father. When her latest social media post receives a comment from a stranger claiming that she looks just like his friend, her curiosity gets the best of her. Snooping soon turns into stalking until Harper realizes she has a half sibling. After reaching out, Harper is led to two other half siblings. With no knowledge other than the fact that their father was a sperm donor, the group of siblings do their best to track him down. Months later, the group are able to trace their father to Hawaii, and they plan a visit in the summer to surprise him. What they didn't expect was to spend the rest of their summer solving the mystery of a shipwreck. Read along with their journey! 
— Ayah

READ because "epic" is accurate — and it already has five starred reviews!
PASS if you're looking for a piece of mediocre storytelling with middling stakes.
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As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh

After the Syrian Revolution destroyed many lives, including Salama's parents and brother, Salama, a pharmacy student, finds herself serving as a doctor at the hospital. Despite her fears, Salama does her best to help those who are brought in before making her way home to her pregnant sister-in-law, Layla. Layla is eager to flee the country, but Salama is stuck between feeling compelled to stay behind to help those who are hurt and wanting to leave in hopes of a better life. Her stress is manifested in an imaginary spirit who tells her what to do, and any decision is further complicated when she meets an attractive young man. This is a compelling story of what the ongoing trauma of war does to individuals and their communities. 
— Ayah and Alice

READ if you are a fan of The Book Thief or Salt to the Sea.
PASS if you're learning more about the Syrian Revolution before you dive in. 
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Adult Fiction

The Enigma of Room 622 by Joël Dicker; translated by Robert Bononno

574 pages of twists and turns to reveal an ending that will make readers smile. Joël, an author, is at a crossroads in life after his editor and dear friend Bernard passes away and his new love, Sloane, dumps him. Obsessed with writing a book to pay tribute to Bernard, he disappears into the story, escaping his day-to-day life and everyone included. He decides to take an impromptu vacation, and this is when the book begins… in Verbier, in a famous hotel. Years ago, a murder took place in room 622 that was never solved. Joël and his new friend staying at the hotel decide to solve this mystery, and readers travel back in time for clues. Cleverly done, with an unexpected ending!
— Christina

READ if you're looking for an excuse to stay up reading past your bedtime.
PASS if you're looking for something to lull you to sleep. (We'd be happy to sell you a copy of Goodnight Moon.)
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The American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas

Rosie is a romance writer who is suffering from writer's block despite her upcoming deadline. Lucas is a surfer who is recovering both physically and mentally from a hidden incident. After months of traveling, Lucas finds himself in New York, where he is staying at his cousin Catalina’s apartment. However, a few miscommunications force Rosie and Lucas to live together. After a few awkward moments, the pair begin to learn more about one another. Lucas discovers Rosie's current writing struggle and proposes an experimental dating plan to inspire new ideas. Filled with many tropes and banter!
— Ayah

READ if you're looking to swoon.
PASS if you hate love, you big crank!!!
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Lessons by Ian McEwan

McEwan's new novel is a captivating and intimate story of the life of Roland Baines, from his childhood as a British army brat in Libya in the 1950s to his experience with the Covid pandemic. Sent to boarding school in England at eleven, Roland experienced a long-term manipulative relationship with his piano teacher that had a permanent impact on his life choices and future relationships. Two decades later, Roland's aspiring author wife disappeared intentionally, abandoning Roland and their seven-month-old son. Somehow, Roland coped, living a seemingly unfocused life as a father and sometime poet, journalist, and lounge pianist. Coming into his 60s and 70s, he now has a chance to reflect on the past and try to move forward with new relationships. The events of his lifetime are brilliantly staged against the large backdrop of significant British and international events from the post-WWII period, through the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Covid. To readers who loved Atonement, this is the masterpiece you've been hoping to see. 
— Alice

READ because this is the work of a master storyteller, and by the time you're done you'll feel like the main character is a close friend.
PASS if you are still traumatized by the four piano lessons your parents forced you to take.
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All That's Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien

A young woman returns home in the wake of her brother’s murder. As a second generation of a refugee family, Ky knows that her parents, who both fled Vietnam, will stay frustratingly silent during this tragedy and she starts investigating it — but her attempts at uncovering the truth of what happened quickly hit a wall of nothingness. Drawing a vivid portrait of emotional struggle in which refugees try to navigate life, this thrilling crime story is full of insights to community and family. 
— Liz

READ if you are looking to be transported into the life and feelings of a character we are all rooting for.
PASS if the name of your memoir would be All That's Left Unread.
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Adult Nonfiction

The Mosquito Bowl by Buzz Bissinger

Pulitzer Prize winner Bissinger blends football and war stories in his latest piece of narrative nonfiction. He introduces readers to several college football players of the early 1940s — some of whom were All-American athletes — who one way or another found themselves in the U.S. Marine Corps during WWII. He centers his story around a football game played in Guadalcanal on Christmas Eve, 1944, between two Marine regiments who were training for the final assault against Japan. But it's really a story about the men who went on to participate in the lengthy battle for Okinawa, which 15 of the 60 football players in the Mosquito Bowl did not survive. Bissinger writes vividly of the Marines' experiences, but deals out the blood and suffering in small enough doses that readers can rise above the battlefields to ponder the bigger subjects of bravery and patriotism, as well as the luck and stupidity that characterize any war experience.
— Alice

READ because there is a reason Bissinger is a Pulitzer Prize winner, and it's on full display here.
PASS if the only thing you like less than football is war stories. This may not be the book for you.
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Alive at the End of the World by Saeed Jones

Saeed Jones’ latest poetry collection explores grief and a number of other topics, confronting hard truths the reader might prefer to avoid. His honesty and gorgeous poetry takes readers by the hand as they examine the experiences that shape and define these poems. Highly recommended!
— Cathy

READ because Cathy just said it is great and you should know by now that Cathy is never wrong.
PASS because you hate looking at cool covers.
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