Book Bites: Goats, Geese, and Genoise

The year is winding down, and the holiday shopping season is starting here at the shop. We can all agree that books make the best gifts, right? We suggest that you treat the reader in your life (or, hey, yourself) to some of the new releases featured below — they include great new books by lots of old favorites, plus one or two debuts that we know will cast a spell on you. Hungry for more? You can always check out the staff's favorite books of the year, too. Sorry, folks — your bookshelves don't stand a chance.

Ages 4-8

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen

Clip-clop, clip-clop! Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen use their combined talents to create a rollicking version of a classic fairy tale. Run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore or library to read The Three Billy Goats Gruff. All you have to do is cross the bridge!
— Cathy

READ because Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen just don't miss.
PASS if you only read very, very serious books.
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Attend our event with Mac and Jon on November 3!

Ages 7-10

The Real Dada Mother Goose by Jon Scieszka; illustrated by Julia Rothman

Jon Scieszka turns Mother Goose on her head as he dismantles classic nursery rhymes and completely reimagines them as comic strips, rebuses, anagrams and more. Sly, hilarious, and chaotic, this book will transport and transform readers, especially when in the hands of skilled educators and engaged parents.
— Cathy

READ absolutely anything by the legendary Jon Scieszka.
PASS if you're stuck trying to pronounce "Scieszka." (Rhymes with "fresca"!)
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Ages 12-18

Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad

All their lives, the Singh sisters — Nidhi, Avani, Sirisha, and Rani — have grown up running the Songbird Inn with their father. After receiving the title of the Most Romantic Inn in America, readers follow the Singh sisters through the four seasons of life on Orcas Island, including a look into the individual love lives of the sisters, both the ups and downs. 
— Ayah

READ if you're in the mood for romance and layered love stories. This book has four!
PASS if you dislike writing that sweeps you off your feet.
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Ages 14 & Up

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

Angel Rahimi and Jimmy Kaga-Ricci narrate this YA novel that takes a closer look at the nature of fandom — warts and all. Angel is a huge fan of The Ark, a British boyband poised on the edge of worldwide stardom. Jimmy is one of the members of The Ark who's not so sure that he wants to be that famous. Angel comes to London to attend a meet and greet before The Ark's last tour appearance and crosses paths with Jimmy through a series of coincidences. It's a wonderful look at the chaos and complexity of celebrity worship. 
— Cathy

READ because this is a fresh coming-of-age story by the author of Heartstopper.
PASS if you suddenly find yourself rereading Heartstopper and need to finish that first.
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Read Cathy and Ayah’s rapturous ode to Alice Oseman on our blog.

Adult Fiction

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Hillbilly Elegy meets David Copperfield in this epic tale of one boy's coming of age and survival in contemporary Appalachia, where poverty is rife and drug abuse rampant. Abandoned by his Melungeon father (hence his red hair/nickname of Copperhead) before he was born, Damon Fields started life in a rented single-wide trailer on the property of the Peggott family.  By the time Damon (aka Demon) was in the fifth grade, his mother had overdosed and he was sent to a series of foster homes. A brief moment of athletic glory in junior high and early high school came to a grinding halt with a serious knee injury and a subsequent serious drug habit (shared in spades by his live-in girlfriend). At this point, I was glad that Demon was narrating his story because, otherwise, I would not have expected him to live to the end of the book. But he has a handful of caring peers and adults to whom he feels emotionally attached, and he also has always been able to fend for himself with courage against significant odds. Not since reading Poisonwood Bible have I been so captivated by Kingsolver's formidable writing and her ability to get into the psyche of her young narrator.
— Alice

READ because the writing here is powerful and transfixing.
PASS if anything to do with Dickens gives you bad 9th grade English class flashbacks.
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Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble by Alexis Hall

When Paris' roommate enters him in Bake Expectations, his anxious brain tells him he'll be the first one eliminated and will make a fool of himself on national television. Instead, he wins the first week's challenge and meets Tariq, a cute confident contestant. Their burgeoning relationship isn't enough to stave off the doubts in Paris' head, causing things to falter. Readers will be turning the pages to learn who will win this season's contest as well as whether or not Paris and Tariq will work things out. — Cathy

READ if you're a lover of romance, The Great British Bakeoff, and drama.
PASS if you need to start with the first Winner Bakes All book — Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake.
Order your copy
Attend our virtual event with the author on November 19!

The Cloisters by Katy Hays

Small-town Ann Stillwell moves to NYC to work as an intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She soon learns that she must roll with the development that she's instead placed at The Cloisters, the medieval museum located in upper Manhattan. Ann's eagerness to please becomes palpable from the start. Surrounded with collections of ancient artifacts and entrancing gardens, this young, ambitious scholar uses her skills as an ancient language translator to help unravel mysteries about artifacts and those that work at this entrancing, gothic place. Ann discovers that the head curator, the gardener and another colleague, Rachel, have unexplained tensions. The dominating Rachel befriends Ann and quickly helps her to fit in. As Ann becomes more involved with the research work, which deals with the history of divination, she finds herself drawn to a secretive fifteenth-century set of tarot cards. Can she read the cards correctly? Is her fate preordained? As the modern and historical collide, this magical setting holds a series of odd encounters — and people Ann gets close to end up dead. Artful treasures and buried secrets abound throughout this story of fate and fortune. A riveting debut, a must read!
— Liz

READ it's the right time of year for spooky suspense.
PASS if you need to double-check the bulb on your nightlight before reading anything scary.
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It Starts with Us by Colleen Hoover

Nearly two years have passed since Lily and Ryle divorced and settled on a coparenting plan. It has also been just as long since Lily and Atlas last spoke, that is until they bump into one another on a busy day. A small interaction leads the two to reunite, despite some shyness on both parts. Their love for one another has only grown since the last two spoke causing some hesitation on Lily's end. Due to their coparenting, Lily has realized that Ryle is stuck in her life and so are his issues, one including Atlas. Read along to discover if Lily and Atlas receive the happy ending fans have been begging for. Prepare for tears!
— Ayah

READ because we have all been wondering where Lily and Atlas' story continues.
PASS if you thought that everyone talking about "the new Hoover" was referring to a vacuum.
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Adult Nonfiction

Beyond the Wand by Tom Felton

Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter film franchise, shares stories from his time spent on the iconic set as well as from his childhood, his life after Potter, and his mental health. Candid, funny and poignant, this memoir is a delightful read from a very good storyteller.
— Cathy

READ if you want to be enchanted.
PASS if you're rewatching the Harry Potter movies before picking this up. (This is probably the only time we'll plug a movie.)
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Check out our photos from our magical event with Tom Felton!

An American Martyr in Persia by Reza Aslan

This is the biography of Howard Baskerville, who went to Persia in 1907 as a missionary teachers.  Within two years, he was caught up in the nationalist rebellion against the tyrannical rule of the Shah and was killed in the royalist siege of the city of Tabriz.  It would be a short story of a short life were it not for the detailed and accessible history of 19th and early 20th century Persia/Iran that accompanies Baskerville's story. Though the subject matter deals primarily with events prior to WWI, this book provides good background information for those who want to try to understand the Iran of the more recent past. Recommended. 
— Alice

READ because Baskerville's story reminds us we must learn about countries other than our own.
PASS if you try to avoid engrossing writing that teaches you something new.
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