Book Bites: A New Year of Reading

As the holiday season comes to a close and our events calendar starts to fill back up, we’re delighted to welcome you to another year full of books, author signings, and conversation among friends. There’s nothing quite like turning the page on a new year of reading—you know that you’re bound to find a few titles that will rank among your forever-favorites, but you have no idea what they’ll be. That’s where we come in. Below, you’ll find some of our stand-out favorites from the first month of 2020—from tender picture books to wonderful new novels, with a real show-stopper of a memoir thrown in for good measure. Read on!


Ages 4-8

Cuddle Monkey by Blake Liliane Hellman; illustrated by Chad Otis

Little monkey is not getting the cuddle time he wants since the new sibling arrived. He's frustrated, as all older siblings are for a while. Mom and Dad understand in this sweet book for toddlers.
—Valerie

READ because, in addition to the sweet and recognizable message, this one’s insanely adorable.
PASS if you’re embroiled in a decades-long snuggle feud.
Order your copy on our website.

Big Papa and the Time Machine by Daniel Bernstrom; illustrated by Shane W. Evans

In a time-traveling conversation between an African American boy and his grandfather, the boy learns that having courage brings beautiful opportunities in life, as it did for his grandfather, and that an education is worth facing one's fears.
—Kimberly

READ this tender book and reflect on the true meaning of bravery.
PASS if your New Year’s resolution was to only read bad books.
Order your copy on our website.

Ages 8-12

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

William "Scoob" Lamar's dad has put him on lockdown after an incident at school, but when G'ma comes by in her snazzy new RV proposing a road trip that she's always wanted to take, Scoob hops right in. As they head through the South, following G'ma's old Green Book, Scoob is ready for the adventure... but begins to suspect that G'ma is not the person he thought she was. In the hands of a skilled author like Stone, this road trip story deals with racial segregation, family secrets, and lots of love. Tough to put down, and best for grades 5 and up!
—Ann

READ because this entertaining history-lesson-as-road-trip story is another winner from one of our favorite authors.
PASS if you were expecting more YA. (On second thought, don’t pass after all.) 
Order your copy on our website.
Attend our event with the author on January 13!

Adult Fiction

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Dear Edward is a novel that will stay in your heart forever. Twelve-year-old Edward, the only survivor of a plane crash that kills many, including his family, must come to terms with his new life. As he struggles, the people who love him dearly must help. People want Edward to be a savior of sorts—which, in the end, he may be. Rejoice that this novel of grief and redemption is coming your way soon. Ann Napolitano mines a big-hearted gem from a universal theme.
—Valerie

READ because Valerie has been anxiously waiting to share this book with you for eight months. That’s how you know something is good.
PASS if you don’t feel like crying your eyeballs out.
Order your copy on our website.

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

This charming North Carolina tale is told from two points of view: Morgan Christopher’s in 2018 and Anna Dale’s in 1940. When Morgan is released from serving a three-year prison stint for a crime she didn't commit, it is with the caveat that she restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. When she accepts the assignment, she has no idea what she will find under layers of grime and time during the restoration of the mural. What she does discover are secrets the town has been keeping...

Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in 1940s Edenton, North Carolina. Alone and desperate for income, she sets out to this small town where she is soon immersed in the deep prejudice and secrets the town holds.

What happened to  Anna Dale? Why was Morgan chosen to restore the mural? These questions and more come together in this somewhat historical read complete with tension, social commentary, and mystery.
—Valerie

READ for the serious Fannie Flagg southern-drama-and-mystery vibes. 
PASS if you prefer small lies in big cities.
Order your copy on our website.

Adult Nonfiction

The Magical Language Of Others by E. J. Koh

Eun Ji Koh was a young teenager living with her Korean parents in California when a much better job placement came for her father in Korea. In order to raise their children as Americans (using that word loosely), they leave E. J. and her college-aged brother to live in a small house in Davis while they return to greater wealth in Korea. Told in letter form—all letters from her mother, translated and interpreted by Eun Ji—the family history is revealed new light is shone on E. J.'s tumultuous teen years.
—Valerie

READ because this is a coming-of-age story, a family drama, and a meditation on language and translation all wrapped up into one beautiful memoir.
PASS  if January is just too early to read one of the best books you’ll read all year. (Don’t worry—we’ll have this one in stock for a long time to come.)
Order your copy on our website.