Book Bites: Feast!

Are you ready to cozy up with a book as the calendar turns to cooler months? You've come to the right place — we're still in the middle of the big fall publishing push, and we've been spoiled by all of this year's wonderful new releases. Here, we're collecting another dozen of our very top picks, including new efforts from familiar names like Jason Reynolds, the Pumphrey brothers, Sophie Blackall, Stuart Gibbs, Eoin Colfer, Mary Kay Andrews, and Viet Thanh Nguyen. In other words, it's an absolute feast — dig in!

Ages 4-8

There Was a Party for Langston by Jason Reynolds; illustrated by Jerome Pumphrey and Jarrett Pumphrey

Every once in a while, you read a picture book that is a sublime partnership between author and illustrator. This is one of those books. Reynolds's gorgeous poem celebrating Langston Hughes and the artists he inspired are paired with Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey's signature illustrations. Every detail is perfect and my heart is full every time I read this gorgeous book.
— Cathy

Read because this trio is absolutely extraordinary.
Pass if you're not interested in one of the best picture books we've read all year.
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If I Was a Horse by Sophie Blackall

A gorgeous new picture book about how joyful life would be as a horse! No clothes unless it was for dressing up, galloping all day, and giving rides to little sisters.... A darling imagining of how free a life could be, and a funny look at getting to be a little rebellious living in a house as a horse. Perfect for all the horse lovers in your life.
— Aerie

Read because we don't horse around when it comes to recommending Sophie Blackall!
Pass if you're nothing but a neigh-sayer.
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Ages 8-12

Spy School Goes North by Stuart Gibbs

It’s the same Spy School formula, this time set in Alaska. In other words, it's really good fun! Although familiarity with the characters is nice, reading earlier books in the series isn’t required. This one will appeal to new and old fans of action adventure alike.
— Jennifer K

Read if you're looking to pick up some super secret spy tips.
Pass if you're busy reading books 1-10 in the Spy School series so you're all caught up for this one!
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Attend Our Event with the author on October 3!

Three Tasks for a Dragon by Eoin Colfer 

Young Prince Lir is next in line to be king, but he cannot call the Wolfhounds as he is required by legend to do in order to take the throne. His stepmother decrees her son Delbayne will be king, and Lir must be banished from the kingdom. To avoid banishment, Lir must take on a quest — to defeat the dragon Lasvarg and rescue the maiden Cethlenn. Lir is smart, and uses his kindness and intellect to befriend the maiden and convince the dragon to allow him to succeed by completing three tasks. When dark magic arrives to stop Lir from succeeding, a greater force appears, one able to control the Wolfhounds — one that no one was expecting. With color illustrations, this short book would be perfect for any young fan of knights, dragons, dark magic, and quests.
— Aerie

Read because you just know that an adventure tale from Eoin Colfer is going to be great.
Pass if you think three tasks is too many for just one dragon.
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Race for the Ruby Turtle by Stephen Bramucci

Jake has been struggling with his new diagnosis of ADHD, and his parents need a break from him. He and his dog have to spend a week with his great aunt Hettle in the backwoods of Oregon, just in time for the annual quest for the Ruby Backed Turtle, a mythical turtle described in a book written by one of Jake's Finnish ancestors. Jake meets Mia, and together they realize the turtle might not be a myth after all. When an article is written online mentioning the old story, the once-sleepy annual festival is suddenly packed with tourists coming to look for the turtle, including two zoologists from Sweden, the blogger/conservationist that wrote the article, and a man claiming to be a park ranger from Texas. Jake is frustrated by the way his brain has trouble focusing, and he must work through his difficulties and work with Hettle and Mia to stop the strangers from finding and destroying what might be a very real turtle.
— Aerie

Read because this is a beautiful reminder of how priceless nature is.
Pass if you hate the great outdoors and have a grudge against turtles.
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Adult Fiction

Wildfire by Hannah Grace

TikTok sensation Hannah Grace is back and sparks are flying! Russ and Aurora immediately hit it off, but their one-night stand will not be the last they see of one another. They unexpectedly meet again at Honey Acres Summer Camp, where they have both signed up to work for the summer. The two stubborn characters make for great banter and fun moments that will have you flipping through the pages. Recommended!
— Ayah

Read if you're in the mood to swoon.
Pass if you like your rom-com leads with zero chemistry.
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Land of Milk and Honey by C Pam Zhang

In the midst of a climate disaster that has covered the earth in smog and destroyed most of the planet's flora and fauna, a young chef signs on to work at a mysterious research farm at the top of — and inside — a mountain on the border of Italy and France. Her job is to concoct elaborate meals from the farm's stash of ingredients to impress the ultra-rich investors who back the research being conducted. Her employer is secretive, autocratic, and not very likable, but he has a young daughter, a brilliant scientist who strikes up a relationship with the chef. The food she makes (medium-rare woolly mammoth, anyone?) is described in vivid, almost sickening detail, and we're not surprised when the chef begins to question what she's doing in this unusual community that is so isolated from the rest of the world. It's a well-imagined dystopia, creatively described — perfect for those who like that sort of thing.
— Alice

Read because this story is inventive, unique, and delicious.
Pass if you read the title and now baking cookies.
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Bright Lights, Big Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews

Tolliver's Christmas Trees have sold their trees at the same location in NYC for years. This year, Kerry is taking her dad's place selling trees and the pressure is on as the farm is struggling. While the trees are selling, romance is also blooming. Can Kerry let go of insecurities and find love? A cute feel-good holiday book that shows us the importance of neighborhoods and community — even in a big city!
— Christina

Read because Mary Kay is the queen of Christmas spirit.
Pass if you are a Christmas grouch.
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Time to Shine by Rachel Reid

Landon Stackhouse is called up to play backup goalie for the Calgary hockey team and needs a place to stay, so all-star Casey Hicks offers him a room in his massive home. The players move from friendship to something more, but Landon's only in Calgary on a temporary basis. How can this possibly work?
— Cathy

Read if you love your rom-coms filled with passion, and also with hockey pucks.
Pass if all you can think about is how Landon will probably end up losing his front teeth like most hockey goalies and you're wondering how they'll be able to kiss.
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Adult Nonfiction

How to Say Babylon by Safiyah Sinclair

Growing up in a strict Rastafarian family in Jamaica in the 1980s, Sinclair chafed under the constraints placed upon her and her siblings by her autocratic father, a reggae musician. Despite the family's poverty, Sinclair's mother managed to instill in her four children a commitment to learning that translated into outstanding academic performances. Safiyah's particular talent was poetry, and while still in high school, she became a published poet. But there was no money for college, and her father's fear that Safiyah would be polluted by exposure to Babylon (anything non-Rastafarian) kept her locked for years inside the family's homestead — literally. This is an intensely beautiful story of a spirit that won't be squelched, even by abuse.
— Alice

Read because this is an unforgettable memoir.
Pass if you like your memoirs poorly written and boring.
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A Man of Two Faces by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer and The Committed has written what he calls "a memoir, a history, a memorial." In addition to telling his own family's story of coming to the US as refugees from the war in Vietnam, he explores the fundamental issues of colonialism, decolonization, racism, home and belonging, and memory and forgetting. Using a creative structure that presents his stories and analysis in bits and pieces on the pages, it's as if he is having a dialogue between two parts of himself, asking what it means to live in a country of refugees and giving an unflinching critique of America. Highly recommended.
— Alice

Read because this is a beautiful book you'll find yourself recommending again and again.
Pass if you don't mind missing something that's thought-provoking and profound.
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Eve by Cat Bohannon

A fascinating look into the female body and its importance over the past 200 million years. Discussing topics ranging from milk production to love, Bohannon presents many facts that many females, like myself, may have never known otherwise. Well written and recommended!
— Ayah

Read if you're looking for an eye-opening reading experience.
Pass if you thought this was a retelling of Wall-E.
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