Book Bites: Buffet

Just two months into the year, we can't believe how many great books we've already shared with you. There are lots more on the way, too, starting with this batch of new releases that definitely deserve a spot on your shelf. We've got all ages and pretty much all interests covered below. The only question is, which one will you read first?

Ages 4-8

In Every Life by Marla Frazee

Frazee bases In Every Life on a Jewish baby-naming call and response blessing she attended in 1998. For years, she attempted to adapt and illustrate it for a picture book to no avail, and it wasn't until 2020 "when so many things in our world were upended" and she welcomed her own first grandchild that she succeeded.

One simple line tops each two-page spread, illustrated by 10 vignettes of the human experience — "In every birth, blessed is the wonder" or "In every sadness, blessed is the comfort." A wordless two-page spread follows, illustrating the awesomeness of nature.

So quiet, so majestic, so simple but so detailed… every time you read it, you notice something else.
— Jennifer G.

Read because Caldecott Honoree Marla Freeze can do no wrong.
Pass it around so everyone nearby can admire it, too.
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Ages 8-12

Whale Done by Stuart Gibbs

“I would never have seen the whale explode if a kangaroo hadn’t burned down my house.” Stuart Gibbs knows his audience and hooks those kids from the first sentence. This is an excellent addition to the FunJungle series, action-packed from start to finish with a good dose of marine wildlife education and discussion of the perils of pollution and plastics in our oceans. There are two new mysteries for Teddy to solve, plus a potential set up for future novels when a movie producer wants to put Teddy’s crime-solving skills on the big screen.
— Aerie

Read because this is an entertaining addition to an already-fun series.
Pass if you are anti-fun and anti-pun.
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On Air with Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

In this novel, the second in a series, Zoe's birth father, Marcus, has become a part of her life now that he's out of prison. They both work at Ari's Cakes and plan to open a restaurant together. Unable to get a loan, Zoe is frustrated for her father. Zoe also has friend issues and worries about being lonely when starting high school. She starts her own podcast to raise awareness about issues that people like her dad face. A good read that weaves family, friends, and social justice together!
— Liz

Read because Zoe is a determined, intelligent, and big-hearted character to follow along with in her story.
Pass if you're looking to read the first book, From the Desk of Zoe Washington, first.
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Ages 13 & Up

Always the Almost by Edward Underhill

Sixteen-year-old trans boy Miles Jacobson wants to win back his ex-boyfriend and win a prestigious classical piano competition, but when Eric Mendez, a queer boy moves to town, Miles reconsiders what he really wants. Engaging characters and a beautifully unfolding plot combine to make this a coming of age story full of joy.
— Cathy

Read because it's always a good time to read an optimistic, beautiful love story starring trans and queer love interests.
Pass if you get jealous of talented characters.
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My Flawless Life by Yvonne Woon

Those at school know Hana as one of the popular girls, but when a family scandal changes things, her reputation and friends fade. Even though nobody wants to be seen with Hana anymore, they are all still happy to hire her to “fix” things. Hana is a fixer — she helps people solve their problems. So why does Hana hesitate when her latest request comes in? Simple: The individual is remaining anonymous and the request involves her ex-best friend. While fixing problems for others, Hana buries her own until she is forced to address them. A twisty thriller that will engross readers!
— Ayah

Read if you're looking for a slow burn with dynamic and flawed characters.
Pass if you believe you are flawless, so everyone else should be, too.
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The Headmaster’s List by Melissa de la Cruz

Following an end-of-summer party, four students ride home together, until they crash and one never makes it home. Spencer, who suffers multiple injuries, cannot remember the crash but has a gut feeling that something isn't right. Determined to get answers, Spencer does her best to piece the events together from the night of the crash. 
— Ayah

Read because you're looking to read something you won't be able to put down.
Pass if you like to pick up books *after* you attend the author event...
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Attend our event with the author on March 2!

Adult Fiction

The Woman with the Cure by Lynn Cullen

This fictionalized biography of epidemiologist Dr. Dorothy Horstmann reveals in a compelling manner both the difficulties of succeeding as a woman in the scientific world of the 1940s and 1950s and the difficulties of scientific research, in this case the search for the cause of and cure for polio. Horstmann pursued her theory that the polio virus lived in the bloodstream while the giants of polio research, Albert Sabin and Jonas Salk, along with many other scientists concentrated efforts on finding a vaccine that could halt the spread of the disease. Descriptions of her personal life, especially her family and romantic relationships, balance out the scientific details that the author covers in credible detail. Readers of Marie Benedict and Nancy Horan will enjoy this read.
— Alice

Read because this is a well-written and engrossing reminder that women have always belonged in science.
Pass if you need to spend some time "doing your own research" before buying.
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I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai

When well-known podcaster Bodie Kane returns to teach a course at her old New England boarding school, she’s dragged back into the 1995 tragedy that marred her senior year. That spring, Bodie’s former roommate was found murdered in the campus pool. The subsequent investigation quickly zeroed in on the school’s Black athletic trainer, and campus administration eagerly moved on. But in the present, Bodie can’t look past the flaws in the case. Soon, she’s convinced that the real killer is still at large — and that she alone may be able to decipher the mystery. 

Makkai’s assured writing keeps the pages turning as she expertly weaves in themes of race, class, sex, privilege, and the power and pitfalls of our culture’s fixation on true crime. A tense and compelling read, ripe for discussion among friends.
— Noah

Read because this is the intersection of The Secret History and Serial you didn't realize you've been waiting for.
Pass if you think the past should stay in the past.
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The Sweet Spot by Amy Poeppel

I loved this book!!! It made me laugh to read about the quirky characters living their individual lives in NYC's village neighborhood, causing mayhem, laughter, tears, but most of all friendship. Some might think this is a romance book, but it is more of a story of modern family and the support they give to one another. Lauren and Leo are the nucleus, living in a "bohemian brownstone" that has been loaned to them by Leo's biological father, Phillip. Lauren is on her way to becoming a household name with her pottery featured in Felicity's trendy boutique shops and TV show. The problem is, who will take care of her kids and manage the new private school life so she can work? At the same time, Melinda's husband of 30-plus years wants a divorce because he has met someone else. She goes off the rails and loses her job. Olivia works for Felicity in the trendy boutique store until she goes off on a shopper and goes viral. These women's lives intersect and the story truly begins. But let’s not forget Lauren's not-so-accepting mom who comes to help with the kids… the humor is perfect! Throw in a dog, a baby that is "left" by selfish parents, a local bar, and unlikely friendships and romance. 
— Christina

Read because this book is packed with fun, humor, community, and love.
Pass if you're instead looking for drudgery, tragedy, isolation, and indifference.
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