Book Bites: Pants, Petticoats, a Python, Plus!

No matter what you like to read, there’s a new release on our shelves calling your name. Yeah, yeah, we’re a bookstore, we’re supposed to say that kind of thing. But seriously: Want to marvel at the sheer beauty of a book? We’ve got the new Markus Zusak on the horizon, plus Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson’s follow up to their Newbery winner, Last Stop on Market Street. Care to get lost in the folds of a gripping story? The fantasy-friendly reader should head straight to the new Laini Taylor. If it’s tension and realism that you’re craving, check out the long-awaited new novel from Andre Dubus III. History buff? Go for Kate Atkinson or Mackenzi Lee. Fancy a laugh? Eric Idle has a new book out that will have you in stitches, while Laurie Keller’s new picture book will have your stitches in stitches. Come see us sometime soon—we’ve got a lot of great candidates for you to add to your nightstand.

Ages 4-8

Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Peña; Illustrated by Christian Robinson

It's Carmela's birthday and she gets to spend it with her big brother, running errands in the neighborhood. Throughout the trip, she searches for the perfect wish. With her brother's help, she finds just that. Matt de la Peña's beautiful language combine with Christian Robinson's signature illustrations to create a timely book for everyone to enjoy. Highly recommended.  

READ because the last time this duo collaborated, the world got Last Stop on Market Street. No further convincing should be necessary.
PASS if you prefer picture books with boring text and dull pictures.
Order your copy on our website.

Potato Pants! by Laurie Keller

Potato cannot wait to buy a pair of pants at Lance Vance's Fancy Pants Store, but a mean Eggplant is in the way so Potato waits and watches as the other potatoes show off their new clothes. Potato gets more and more frustrated and finally confronts Eggplant with a surprising result. Slapstick humor combined with Laurie Keller's storytelling make this an uproarious new picture book!  

READ because there’s a sweet little story about misunderstandings and forgiveness hidden behind all the madcap humor and charm.
PASS if you’re feuding with an eggplant.
Order your copy on our website.

Ages 13 & Up

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

One year after the disastrous Tour of her older brother Monty, Felicity Montague finds herself in Edinburgh, stressing under the threat of the life of a housewife before her. Her wishes to become a physician are laughed at because she is a female—all in spite of her relentless self-education in human anatomy and medical practices. After reuniting with Monty and Percy in London and another scoffed-at proposal to the hospital board, Felicity learns that her idolized doctor, Alexander Platt, is looking for apprentices to take a voyage with him. Felicity escapes from her brother and races to catch Platt and beg him to take her on, as he will be leaving directly after his wedding—where he will be marrying none other than Felicity's former friend, Johanna Glass, with whom she did not part on good terms. What could go wrong? Lee's trademark wit and humor makes Felicity's story every bit as strong as its predecessor. 

READ because this is a winning second entry in a great historical series.
PASS if you’re hitting the high seas and only have room to pack your medical treatises.
Order your copy on our website.

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

Picking up exactly where Printz Honor Book Strange the Dreamer ended, Muse of Nightmares continues the story of dreamer Lazlo Strange and the fallen city of Weep. 

The time has come for Lazlo and the other godlings, still trapped above the city of Weep, to make a decision. With Lazlo's newly-surfaced ability, Minya finally has the means to extract the revenge she's been hungering for for over a decade. Wrathful Minya is the only one keeping Sarai from fading away, holding her soul in place after her death. Sarai's soul in the balance, Lazlo must make a choice: the girl he fell in love with in his dreams, or the citizens of Weep below. 

Meanwhile in Weep, the citizens and soldiers are facing a similar battle. They came to know Lazlo as a person, accepted him into their city, and now he has turned out to be one of the godlings that they fear. Will they turn on him now, or will they decide that perhaps the time for hate has ended?

With so much pain and hate on both sides, it seems unlikely that a peace will ever be reached. Such an impossible feat could only be achievable in dreams. Could a dreamer and his new family make it a reality? Timely. Dreamy. Hopeful. Laini Taylor is a true artist.

READ if it’s been too long since you’ve fallen entirely under the spell of a different world.
PASS on this series at your own risk—Laini Taylor’s one of the best working writers for teens.
Order your copy on our website.

Adult Fiction

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

Five brothers. A murderer. A houseful of animals named after Greek heroes. A piano. An immigrant. A racetrack. A mattress in an empty field. A jockey. A clothespin. A book. And a bridge. How do all of these things come together? In a breathtaking story that only award-winning author Markus Zusak could write. Elegant, thought-provoking, and deeply impactful. Each sentence is a piece of a mosaic rather than a complete picture, and only thoughtful reading can bring it together. Exceedingly lovely. 

READ this book—some 17 years in the making—because its beautiful prose is matched by its resonant themes.
PASS if you’ve read enough good books in your life, and would only like to read bad ones from now on.
Order your copy on our website.
Better yet, buy a ticket to meet the author when he comes to Houston this month—you’ll score a signed book with your purchase!

Gone So Long by Andre Dubus III

In a fit of jealous rage, Daniel Ahearn killed his beautiful young wife. After 15 years in jail, he returned to his Massachusetts hometown, worked as a barber and a furniture maker, and became a model citizen. Twenty-five years on and plagued by prostate cancer, Daniel has decided to search for his daughter, Susan, who was three when her mother was killed. He climbs in his truck and heads to Florida to find her. Meanwhile, Susan, an English professor, has been working on writing her memoir, trying to understand herself and her past, as she makes the psychological journey in her father's direction. Susan's maternal grandmother, Lois, who raised her, has spent the past 40 years vowing to kill Daniel. The novel is a long, drawn-out story of these three people whose pasts are tragically intertwined and whose anticipated coming together creates a tension-filled plot that has one hoping for the best, but fearing that the damage done by Daniel's past actions is irreparable. Recommended. 

READ because this is a thrilling, heartrending book from a wonderful author who isn’t nearly as prolific as we’d prefer.
PASS if you couldn’t handle the tension in House of Sand and Fog—this one brings more of the same.
Order your copy on our website.

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Atkinson's latest novel is the story of a young woman who is drawn into the world of espionage in the early days of World War II London. As a naive and idealistic 18 year old, Juliet Armstrong is recruited by MI5 to work for a special department of the government on national security issues. It turns out that she is good at lying, pretending to be someone else, and transcribing conversations of a group of German sympathizers who are passing along information to someone they believe to be an agent for the Gestapo. Then she is asked to keep an eye on a fellow MI5 agent. Pulled in different directions and unsure whom she can trust, and after a couple people end up dead, Juliet goes to work for the BBC. In 1950, she is writing radio programming for school children when she receives a threatening note from someone in her past, and she gets pulled back into espionage and cover ups. Based on the author's research into government sources, and with imagination and a subtle sense of humor, this story will certainly not disappoint Atkinson's fans. Recommended. 

READ because, hello, it’s Kate Atkinson.
PASS if reading spy books always has you looking over your shoulder. (Total coincidence that the same person you saw from across the produce department is now right behind you in the bakery.)
Order your copy on our website.

Adult Nonfiction

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Eric Idle

Eric Idle provides an amazing story of his rise from poor, semi-orphaned kid to famous collaborator and performer in Monty Python's Flying Circus. Being lucky enough to get a scholarship to Cambridge after twelve long years at boarding school, Eric finds his place in a comedy troupe. Eventually he meets his friends for life, and thus begins his story of working with the best of British comedy. And as is required of such an autobiography, there is a lot of name dropping—in an entertaining way. Idle never acts as if he's other than a lucky bloke who happened to be funny; and by the way, he had his second wedding at Lorne Michael's New York apartment, with Mick Jagger and David Bowie bringing out the wedding cake! He also devotes chapters to his very dear, gone-too-early friends George Harrison and Robin Williams.

One of the constants through the course of Idle's professional career is the song he co-wrote: "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” a tongue-in-cheek tune that took on a life of its own and is the most played song at British funerals. Go figure.

This is a fun, sweet romp of a story for anyone who has ever enjoyed Monty Python TV shows and movies or the play Spamalot. Recommended!

READ if you’re craving a bit of star-studded fun.
Order your copy on our website.