Book Bites: Shelve Twelve

How's your summer reading list shaping up? Because ours is looking absolutely great (if perhaps a little ambitious, in terms of its length), thanks to another wave of incredible new releases now gracing our shelves. Do you want to start with a steamy rom-com as the weather heats up? A graphic novels that pack a punch? Mystery? Thriller? Historical fiction? Memoir? You'll find all that and then some among our most recent batch of staff picks. Decisions can be tough, so here's our best advice: Squeeze all twelve onto your shelf and work your way through them in the months ahead. You won't be disappointed.

Ages 10-14

Global by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin; illustrated by Giovanni Rigano

In this graphic novel about climate change, Sami is in a remote fishing village in the Bay of Bengal and Yuki is in a village in northern Canada. Both are kids living with the severe changes happening due to a warming planet, ice melt and drastic climate change. While parts of the book are speculative fiction, the book discusses the problematic reality of climate change in an action-packed story that has both kids live through adversity related to the specific changes in their areas of the globe. Wonderful addition of a science chapter at the end discussing climate change in more detail and what steps we can take to push for reforms.
— Aerie

Read because learning about climate change and how it impacts people is the first step in working towards a better future.
Pass if you have some alternative facts you'd like to share with the class.
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Attend our event with the creators on April 18!

Ages 12 & Up

Harvest House by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Is there a ghost haunting the crossroads? Is there a stalker looking for dark-haired Indigenous girls? Hughie and Sam are asked to volunteer to work in a nonprofit haunted house in a long-abandoned chicken restaurant. As Halloween approaches, many people get involved, the teenagers explore their first crushes, and more spooky appearances happen. Hughie stands up against the clearly tone-deaf boss of the event where local lore still claims that an Indian maiden haunts it all. The novel takes an unusual "fantasy" turn at the end, which works.
— Valerie

Read because you're looking for a mix of social justice and paranormal thriller.
Pass if you still need to read Leitich Smith's first book that takes place in this world, Hearts Unbroken.
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Sunshine by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

In high school, Jarrett Krosoczka spent time as a camp counselor at Camp Sunshine, a camp for seriously ill kids and their families. Rather than taking a mawkish look at these memories, Jarrett candidly shares the joy, hope and — yes — sorrow he experienced that changed his life. Beautiful and moving, this is a graphic novel to treasure.
— Cathy

Read because you were hoping for a brilliant follow-up to the critically acclaimed, Hey Kiddo.
Pass if you think graphic novels aren't reading. (They are.)
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Take by Jennifer Bradbury

This solid mystery starts with the contemporary story of Cara, who goes in search of her father, who is sometimes unstable. They are both rock climbers, and she suspects he's gone out on his own when she finds maps and letters in his trailer. Along with her ex-boyfriend Nat, she attempts to solve this outdoor mystery. Woven into the story are the journals of a teenager in the 1940s who falls in love with a Japanese American teenager. These two threads come together in a very satisfying end.
— Valerie

Read if you're in the mood for something fresh and thrilling.
Pass if thinking about heights makes you queasy.
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Adult Fiction

Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld

Sally Milz is a writer on a sketch comedy show that airs live every Saturday evening. When pop star Noah Brewster guests hosts the show, he and Sally have an immediate connection that she destroys at the afterparty. Two years later, at the height of the COVID pandemic, Noah reaches out via email and the two of them reconnect, beginning a relationship with all the challenges of celebrity culture. This is a glorious stunner of a novel that I could not put down!
— Cathy

Read because this is a Reese's bookclub pick and we all know that Reese can do no wrong.
Pass if you are still in your anti-love phase.
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The Nanny by Lana Ferguson

Cassie has been let go from her job at the hospital, forcing her to search for another job that will cover her school tuition. Cassie knows that she cannot go back to her account on OnlyFans, an adult subscription site. As she forces herself to keep searching, she comes across a live-in nanny position and immediately applies. Aiden, single father of 9-year-old Sophie, has an erratic work schedule and is shocked to see Cassie's application come in. He finds her highly qualified for such a position, and after the two meet, they agree that hiring her would benefit everyone. What will Cassie do when she realizes that her boss is also someone from her past? While the new situation is awkward for Cassie and Aiden, things quickly escalate in this steamy romance. 
— Ayah

Read if it's time for a sex-positive, steamy, emotionally mature romance in your life.
Pass if romantic tension makes you sweat.
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Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez

Brianna’s life is a mess. Her divorce will be final in two weeks, her brother Benny has sunk into a deep depression with the start of dialysis, her best friend got married and moved away, and a new guy at work is her competition at the hospital where she works. Jacob’s first day at his new hospital is the worst when seven patients die on his watch and the nurses call him Dr. Death, not to mention that they hate him for some reason! When Brianna and Jacob meet for the first time it’s a disaster; she bumped into him in the hall, breaking his cell phone, and he acted like a jerk when he confronted her about it. When Jacob realizes why she is in a permanent bad mood around him, he writes her a letter! A beautiful letter at that. With his anxiety issues, he is able to communicate much better through written word, and they become pen pals at work. But when he secretly becomes her brother's kidney donor and she pretends to be his girlfriend in front of his family, the lines between real and pretend get blurred. This is a love story of epic proportions!
— Christina

Read if you're a fan of Emily Henry and You've Got Mail.
Pass if you hate when your protagonists have chemistry and warmth.
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The House Is on Fire by Rachel Beanland

Based on the actual burning of the Richmond, Virginia, theater in 1811, this wonderful novel is told from four points of view. What would it have been like to be in a tinderbox with men stepping over you to escape? Beanland does a wonderful job of describing the horrific fire and what transpires afterwards with victims and people affected by the disaster: a white woman who steps up to help with the wounded, a Black man who goes to the theater in search of a young white woman who taught him to read and is tended to by his partner, a backstage hand who probably started the fire (only because he was forced to cut corners by a nefarious boss), and a young Black woman who decides that the fire can be her cover to escape the plantation. It's great historical fiction!
— Valerie

Read because Beanland is a remarkable storyteller.
Pass if you're worried about causing a panic when you answer the question, "What are you reading?"
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The Trackers by Charles Frazier

During the fog of the Great Depression, artist Val stays at the vast Long Ranch in Dawes, Wyoming, while being commissioned to paint a mural at the town’s local post office. This is the era when New Deal art and structures emerge alongside the lasting hobo camps and suffering. While living at the ranch, Val becomes captivated with the lives of the ambitious future politician and ranch owner, John Long and his maybe legal wife, Eve. Eve’s enchanting, yet complicated, past attracts many in her campfire circle. When Eve abruptly leaves home with one of John’s valuable paintings, John persuades Val to travel around the country in search of answers. Val’s tracking hopscotches around the country — from Seattle to swampy Florida to San Francisco — where unique bits of Eve’s story alongside natural beauty, desperation, power, and brutality show up. With history and adventure from sea to shining sea, this masterful story is a special find. 
— Liz

Read if you enjoy interesting, well-thought-out characters.
Pass if you avoid drama and intrigue.
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The Society of Shame by Jane Roper

Kathleen Held returns home early from a trip, only to find her garage on fire, her husband (running for US Senate) panicking on the front lawn, and one of his drunk campaign staffers trying to hide the obvious evidence that they are sleeping together. Furious and heartbroken, Kathleen wakes up the next day to the cherry on the cake — her taxi driver took a photo from the chaos featuring Kathleen front and center with a large and obvious period stain on her pants. Kathleen is unhappily swept up into viral fame for a growing movement calling itself #YesWeBleed as well as a secret group called "The Society of Shame" whose leader, Danica, is determined to help Kathleen turn her unfortunate moment into stardom and riches. And of course, in the thick of it all is her daughter Aggie, determined to join the movement on her own terms. A witty and entertaining look into the ridiculous reality of internet shaming, viral fame, extremist viewpoints, and one woman who learns the price you pay if you really want to worry about what everyone on the internet thinks of you.
— Aerie

Read if you're looking for the intersection of Lessons in Chemistry and So You've Been Publicly Shamed.
Pass if you prefer your main characters flat, boring, and unrelatable.
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Adult Nonfiction

I Swear: Politics Is Messier Than My Minivan by Katie Porter

Written by Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter, this book is equal parts memoir, behind the curtain reality exposé of how Congress works, and self-deprecating humor. Katie details her life of growing up on Iowa farmlands before heading to Yale, then Harvard Law, then becoming a professor specializing in bankruptcy law, and now Congresswoman, with chapters intertwined that discuss in more detail her work as an expert in the field of bankruptcy law and work during the subprime mortgage crisis. The story of her life as a single mother of three while trying to juggle the demands of serving in Congress is an eye-opening look into how everything in government really does (or doesn't) happen, and sprinkled throughout are suggestions on how to get more involved with your local elected officials if you so desire. Regardless of your political leanings, something can always be learned from listening to other people in the room, and this book is a wonderful addition to those voices.  
— Aerie

Read because this is an interesting sneak peek at the inner workings of Congress, full of entertaining insights from Porter's life.
Pass if now you've suddenly been reminded of how badly you need to clean out your car.
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You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith

This book is a beautiful work of lyrical prose by poet Maggie Smith. When her rise to fame following the publication of her poem "Good Bones" imploded her marriage, she wrote to process her pain and grief and anger through her divorce — and then through her work to find herself, her joy, and her life again in the aftermath. While keeping parts private for her sake and the sake of her children, she writes about so much of the work she has done and continues to do with unflinching honesty and curiosity. Just a gorgeous piece of writing.
— Aerie

Read because booksellers around the nation tabbed this memoir for the April Indie Next List.
Pass if you avoid beautiful writing and/or emotions.
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