Book Bites: Pirates, Potatoes, Peculiarities

If you’re like us, you’ve been reading up a storm this summer. On your evening walks. By the pool. In your special corner on the couch. With so much extra reading time, our merry band of booksellers is working hard to find the best books out there for all our readers! Our latest collection of staff picks runs the gamut—we have hilarious picture books, heartbreaking novels, and everything in between. Explore this latest roundup of titles we loved, then settle in for an enjoyable read.

Ages 4-8

The Pirates Are Coming by John Condon; illustrated by Matt Hunt

Tom climbed the hill every day to watch out for pirates. He waited and waited. But every time he thinks that he sees them and shouts the alarm, no one is there. This sly take on the traditional folktale of the boy who cried wolf will make you laugh in delight and want to read it again. Bright illustrations make this one a keeper.
— Valerie

READ you like twists on old fables, pirates, or fun illustrations.
PASS if your timbers are shivering. 
Order your copy on our website. 

Supertato by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet

Late at night in the grocery store, something's gone wrong. Cucumber has been wrapped in toilet paper and Carrot is stuck to the conveyor belt with Band Aids. Never fear! It's Supertato to the rescue. Supertato eventually captures the evil pea and sends it back to the freezer case. Great fun at the grocery store!
— Cathy

READ because potatoes and superheroes equally amazing, in their own different ways.
PASS if you’re afraid of vegetables. You should probably take some vitamins and minerals.
Order your copy on our website.

Ages 8-12

Finders Creepers: Half Past Peculiar Book I  by Derek Fridolfs; illustrated by Dustin Nguyen

The Fetch twins, Atticus and Esmerelda, pride themselves on finding any lost pet in the area. When a lost dog leads them to a run-down Victorian house on the edge of town, they discover a portal into another world full of mythical creatures that could cross over and destroy the world as they know it. A blend of novel and graphic novel make this an engrossing read for grades 3 and up!
— Cathy

READ if you like pets, peculiar things, and portals.
PASS if you’re finishing up another series (add this one to the pile for later).
Order your copy on our website. 

Ages 10 & Up

Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone

Molly Frost is fed up with the inconsistent enforcement of the dress code at Fisher Middle School. She begins podcasting and interviewing students who have been humiliated at the hands of bullies and teachers behaving badly. Isn't middle school already bad enough? Molly struggles with all the trappings of a modern life, but she grows and learns. With the help of a few good teachers, the seniors at the high school, and her closest of friends, Molly starts a revolution. Everyone should have a friend like Molly.
— Valerie

READ because this is a middle grade Moxie, full of friendship, humor, and girl power.
PASS if you only like books about people who accomplish nothing.
Order your copy on our website.

Ages 13 & Up

Love, Jacaranda by Alex Flinn

Alex Flinn's newest novel features a young foster kid with an unfortunate past, Jacaranda, who is discovered when a video of her talented singing goes viral. After a benefactor hears her singing, Jacaranda is offered a full scholarship to attend a boarding school for the arts across the country. Jacaranda chronicles her experience as an outsider in a world of wealth in e-mails to her benefactor, updating him daily on everything about her school, new social life, and even her new romantic interest! This book has a balance of a fresh-fame story and a romance and took turns between these two elements to keep it engaging. The characters were very strong and showed nice development that enhanced the plot. I really enjoyed this book and I thought that it was a nicely-paced, realistic, light read that was entertaining and easy to follow. I also enjoyed Jacaranda, as I feel that she was a multi-faceted character who had a kind heart and just wanted to make the right choices. I'd recommend this book for anyone looking for a low-stress read with lots of swoon-worthy moments! 
— Gabriella T., Teen Advisory Board Member

READ because Alex Flinn knows how to write characters you want to root for
PASS if you read to stress yourself out and hate swoon-worthy moments.
Order your copy on our website. 

The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

Finally able to practice her right to vote, Marva Sheridan goes above and beyond her civic duties due to her aspiration to challenge the status quo and improve her community. Marva is determined to spread her activism among other individuals to encourage them to vote... everyone except her boyfriend, who believes his ballot is insignificant among millions of others alongside the contribution to an outdated two-party system. While Marva begins to question the validity of her relationship while simultaneously hustling to enact a change within her community, fate brings her to Duke.

Duke, similar to Marva, is a young African American who has anticipated the elections for a while. Although he is not as actively involved in politics as Marva, he feels obligated to honor the memory of his activist brother by exercising his right to vote. At their polling location, Duke is confronted with a blessing in disguise. When he's turned away without being able to vote, he meets Marva. Their coincidental friendship begins to evolve into a deeper, more intimate relationship as the two learn more about each other. 

I enjoyed reading this book because of its ability to expose the injustice that Black people in the United States face daily as well as the importance and gravity of casting ballots. Since I will be able to vote in this upcoming election, it really inspired me to realize the magnitude of my ballot and encouraged me to voice my opinion in government. The author elegantly reveals the shocking atrocities people of color have to face in this country, as well as the need to exercise one’s privilege for those who cannot.
— Bailey Z., Teen Advisory Board Member

READ to be inspired.
PASS if you think the country is perfect and there's nothing wrong with our voting system. (Um. We have some bad news.)
Order your copy on our website. 

Adult Fiction

Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin; translated by Hildegarde Serle

Violette Toussaint is an orphan whose difficult life seems ever met with a shrug of nonchalance. During her feckless marriage, she finds herself as the caretaker of a small, Burgundian cemetery and her life begins to take a firmer shape. She and the others that care for the cemetery—the priest, the gravedigger, and the groundskeeper—develop a life rhythm, and there is so much humor, truth, and sadness in the mundane things that they go about doing each day. When a police officer, Julien, comes to the cemetery to inter his mother's ashes, he and Violette begin a friendship that helps both of them make peace with their pasts. I LOVED this book!  It is melancholy, but so beautifully written.  
— Sandra

READ because this is a breathtaking book that will draw you in.
PASS if you are worried about replacing your old favorite book with this one.
Order your copy on our website. 

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

Sam Casey loves her job as an elementary school librarian on Galveston Island. That is, until the founder and principal suddenly passes away and is replaced by Sam's former crush Duncan Carpenter, who has become a stickler for rules and safety rather than the carefree charismatic leader he was when they worked together years ago. As Sam and her colleagues try to thwart Duncan's initiatives, she digs deeper to learn why he's changed. A lovely novel about moving through grief and choosing to find joy wherever you can. 
— Cathy

READ if you want to be cheered up and put in a good mood.
PASS if you’ve already compiled your summer reading list. (Save this one for fall).
Order your copy on our website—while supplies last, we’ll send you a bookplate hand-painted and signed by the author! 
Attend our virtual event with the author (and her author friends!) on July 15. 

Adult Nonfiction

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous

The story behind the witticisms and social media commentary of the fictional Twitter user, Duchess Goldblatt (@duchessgoldblat). The author explains how a sidelined, defeated human can recreate (or actually create) a life well lived and loved—albeit under the guise of an older, wiser elderly aunt on social media. 
— Sandra

READ because this book, like the Twitter account, is extremely clever and unforgettable.
PASS if... you don’t like well-written books?
Order your copy on our website.