Book Bites: Gold Mine!

September is the start of the big fall publishing season, and there are lots and lots of big, exciting books heading towards our shelves—including the ones you'll find below! Our best advice: Treat yourself to a nice, large stack to keep you entertained as it slowly starts to get darker earlier and we find ourselves spending even more time indoors. We've sifted through tons of titles to find some real gold—whatever your age or interests, your To-Be-Read pile is about to get a lot more exciting. Happy reading, friends, and may your next read always be ready! 


Ages 4-8

I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott; illustrated by Sydney Smith

A boy explains his stutter in many ways for the reader to understand. When he comes home from school, despondent because he could not speak in front of the class, his father tells him "it's just a bad speech day" and takes him to the river for comfort. Words and images beautifully combine to create an effective—and affecting—look at speech challenges.
— Cathy

READ if you’re looking for a family read-aloud that will warm your heart.
PASS if you dislike reading books that make you want to give them a hug. 
Order your copy on our website.

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes; illustrated by Gordon C. James 

In their second collaboration (after the award-winning Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut), Barnes and James deliver another stunning picture book celebrating Black children. Through beautiful language and illustrations, this picture book serves as a both a mirror and a window—allowing Black children to see themselves gloriously reflected and reminding all readers of our shared humanity.
— Ann

READ because this is a powerful, necessary celebration of Black boyhood from some of the best creators in the industry.
PASS if you’ve already read it... but why not read it again? 
Order your copy on our website.

Ages 8-12

A Whale in the Wild by Rosanne Parry; illustrated by Lindsay Moore

Vega is, at 44 seasons, a young orca whale still training to become the pod’s Wayfinder, the matriarch whose job it is to lead her family to food and safety. When an earthquake and a subsequent tsunami devastate their habitat and separate Vega and her sibling Denab from the rest of their pod, Vega must find the way back to family. Rich, lyrical language and alternating first-person storytelling result in readers feeling that they are swimming alongside Vega and Denab, fighting to survive. Don’t miss this action-packed adventure for third-graders and older from the author of A Wolf Called Wander.
— Jennifer G.

READ if you loved The One and Only Ivan or Pax.
PASS if the knowledge that more than 80% of our ocean is unexplored and no one actually knows *what’s really down there* paralyzes you with fear. 
Order your copy on our website. 

Ages 14-18

Flamer by Mike Curato

It's the summer before high school and Aiden is spending a week at scout camp—one of his favorite things to do. He's glad to be away from the stress of his family, but he worries about high school. He's biracial and fat and wonders who will bully him this time. Will he continue as an altar server at church? What's he going to do with his feelings for his friend Elias? Is he evil if he likes boys? This coming of age story aches with confusion and pain but ultimately ends with hope. 
— Ann

READ if you are looking for a fantastic, humorous, and loving graphic novel about acceptance.
PASS if you don't think anyone ever stresses about growing up, finding love, or acting “normal.”
Order your copy on our website. 
Attend our virtual event with the author on September 24!

Fable by Adrienne Young

Fable is a seventeen-year-old dredger diving for raw gemstones in a vividly-built world of gems, traders, and sailing ships. Abandoned on an island of thieves and violent death by her father four years earlier, she has learned to survive and trust no-one as she gathers the means to escape the island. These skills become essential as she negotiates the cut-throat world of traders before confronting her father. Details of the world and Fable's history are revealed piece by piece, giving the reader plenty to muse on. I am already excited for the sequel!
— Caroline

READ if you’re looking for a tough, smart, and adventurous female protagonist.
PASS if you’re waiting for the sequel to come out so you can read them back to back.
Order your copy on our website.

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

When Amal is involved in a fight sparked by racial tensions, the result is entirely different for the white participants (“boys will be boys”) and the Black participants (sent to juvenile detention). With his future upended, Amal, an artist and poet, narrates his experiences, both bleak and hopeful, in this powerful novel-in-verse.
— Wendy

READ because this collaboration between Ibi Zoboi and Dr. Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five is a profound, necessary novel. And also because the phrase “boys will be boys” makes your eyes roll into the back of your head.
PASS if you make it a habit to miss out on must-reads.
Order your copy on our website.

Adult Fiction

Anxious People by Fredrick Backman

A fumbled bank robbery by an otherwise good but desperate person turns into an unintentional hostage situation at an open house. As the story unfolds, alternating between frustrated police interviews and the true events of the day, the richly developed characters evolve from self-centered, anxious people into outwardly-focused problem solvers. Fantastically funny, touching, and relatable. Highly recommended!
—Kimberly

READ if you’re looking for a read with fantastic character development. 
PASS if you prefer to just judge others on a surface level and don’t want to read with an empathetic perspective.
Order your copy on our website. 

The Big Door Prize by M.O. Walsh

What would you do if you knew your life's potential? That's the question facing the citizens of Deerfield, Louisiana, when a machine sponsored by the company DNAMIX  mysteriously appears in the local grocery store, and with a small swab of cheek cells, promises participants their potential in life, what their body and mind are capable of doing, all for two dollars. Emboldened by new-found interests in things never before imagined, Deerfield townsfolk seize upon their new trajectories—ballerina, wood carver, Olympian, and so on—regardless of skill or previous talent. Among these is Douglas Hubbard, beloved local high school history teacher, and ardent lover of jazz music. While Douglas grapples with his disappointing projected future, he is also pulled into a series of small-town concerns including the town bicentennial celebration, the retirement of the Catholic school principal, and the arrival of a troubled teen, Trina, with her dark past and seductive ways. Douglas, the local parish priest, Fr. Pete, and the despondent town mayor find their friendship deepening around a local watering hole, as they watch the DNAMIX predictions rattle the lives of friends and family alike. In parallel, Douglas's wife Cherilyn, finds her prediction of ROYALTY spinning her towards ex-high school paramour, Deauce, who has ill concealed his twenty-year crush and has designs to rewrite history. High-schooler Jacob, twin to dead brother Toby, is also grappling with his own set of very real troubles as his father, the emotionally numb mayor, continues to ignore the shattered remnants their family life has become, while also being tormented by the aggressive advances of Trina.  

This book was easy on the heart, and it captivated me, as Mr. Walsh thoughtfully intertwined the stories of the Deerfield citizens with humor and compassion. I found myself rooting for all the various characters, both despicable and despondent, hoping against hope that love would conquer all and that perhaps maybe a few DNAMIX predictions would come true. Mr. Walsh also brings the very real concerns of social media gone wrong to bear, lending the story a current and compassionate examination of unforeseen consequences and a deeper understanding of the pressures that teens face at the hands of Twitter and IG. Thoughtful, engaging and heartwarming. Highly recommended. 
– Raquel 

READ if you’re looking for a bit of mystery with some Southern charm.
PASS if you think that, once you reach a certain age, there is nothing new to discover about yourself.
Order your copy on our website. 

The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons

Eudora Honeysett is an 85-year-old woman living alone in her childhood home in southeast London. She keeps a regular routine of swimming in the local pool and avoiding interaction with other people as much as possible. Given her age, death is never far from her thoughts, but Eudora is taking a proactive approach. She has no intention of slowly fading away into nothingness in the hands of the well-meaning NHS, thank you very much. Instead, Eudora has contacted a clinic in Switzerland, determined to have a choice in how her story ends before the ravages of old age can claim her. As her application process begins, a young family moves into the home next door, introducing into Eudora’s life the instantly endearing whirlwind lifeforce that is her new neighbor, 10 year-old Rose. Quite against Eudora’s best intentions, Rose immediately claims a prominent place in Eudora’s life, opening her world up to friendship and family at exactly the time Eudora intended to close those chapters for good. Exploring the essence of aging, what it might mean to live a good life and how best to bid a final farewell, Eudora Honeysett comes to learn that no amount of past sadness and loss should preclude the present possibility of belonging and joy.
— Jennifer K.

READ because reading about intergenerational, heartwarming friendships is just what the soul needs.
PASS if your heart is cold, withered, and dead.
Order your copy on our website. 

Adult Nonfiction

A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom by Brittany K. Barnett

Coming of age in northeast Texas in the 1980s and 1990s, Brittany Barnett was a smart Black girl, surrounded by a large extended family who encouraged her to excel. But drugs were a lucrative business for members of her community for whom few other job opportunities existed. When Barnett was ten, her mother, a hard-working nurse, went to jail for drug possession, and the two years of her incarceration made an indelible mark on the author’s outlook on life. Not so many years later, with an honors degree in accounting and while working on a law degree, Barnett met Sharanda, a young mother who was serving a life sentence for a relatively minor drug offense, an example of the harsh sentences handed out during the War on Drugs era. Although she had a plum job as a corporate attorney, Barnett devoted her spare time to what was becoming her passion—seeking to reopen several cases, including Sharanda’s, where punishments were much more severe than the crimes. The harsh laws have been modified in recent years, but prior convictions were not readdressed. Barnett’s work had some success, and where cases weren’t reopened, she was able to get clemency from the outgoing President Obama for several of her clients.  

This is an inspiring story of a young woman’s commitment to changing unjust laws and changing the lives of the thousands of individuals in prison on drug offenses.
— Alice 

READ because we all must learn about the injustices within our criminal justice system.
PASS at your own risk—this book is exactly right for this moment, and will inspire and enlighten its readers. 
Order your copy on our website.