Book Bites: Sisters, Planets, Stepkids, Book Clubs, Ghosts

Howdy, friends! November is in the air, the holidays are around the corner, and we’re putting a bow on another year of fantastic reading with our final roundup of great new releases for the year. Stay tuned in two weeks for our mega-post featuring our very favorite books of 2019. After that, we’ll have a fun roundup of “teen choice” reviews from our teen and young adult reviewer program. And just like that, it’ll be 2020! You still have time to squeeze a few more great books into your TBR stack before the calendar flips, though, right? Of course you do. Read on!

Ages 4-8

Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hager & Barbara Pierce Bush; illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki 

When a little sister arrives, a young girl's wish is granted. They sing, dance, laugh, and create together—becoming smarter, kinder, and braver when they are side by side. A lovely ode to sisters and sisterhood by the former First Daughters.

READ for the lovely message and vibrant illustrations.
PASS if you’re an evil twin.
Order your copy on our website.
Attend our event with the authors on November 16!

Pluto Gets the Call by Adam Rex; illustrations by Laurie Keller 

Pluto is happy to meet readers and to show them around the neighborhood. When a call comes in from scientists on Earth, Pluto hears that it is no longer considered a planet. This prompts a journey through the solar system, where Pluto shares the sad news. Along the way, readers learn about each planet and, at the end, the Sun reminds the reader that Pluto has a special place in all our hearts. Adam Rex's clever language paired with Laurie Keller's spirited illustrations make for a wonderful collaboration!

READ because, come on, Adam Rex AND Laurie Keller?! Amazing.
PASS if you’re too busy petitioning for Pluto to be a planet again.
Order your copy on our website.

You Loves Ewe! by Cece Bell

Yam and Donkey return in another hilarious picture book featuring word play. Yam attempts to explain the concept of homonyms (words that sound the same but are spelled differently) to Donkey and confusion ensues. It's an updated version of the famous "Who's on First" skit from Abbott and Costello and is sure to delight readers of all ages.

READ Cece Bell. There’s some general life advice.
PASS if you’re allergic to laughter.
Order your copy on our website.

Ages 10 & Up

The Ghost in Apartment 2R by Denis Markel

Thirteen-year-old Danny Kantrowitz lives in historically and ethnically rich Brooklyn, in a two-bedroom rear apartment in a brownstone, and sleeps in a large closet converted into a teeny tiny bedroom. For years Danny has been looking forward to moving into Jake’s room when he left for college, but now their parents have decided to rent the room out to tourists for extra income. And that’s when strange things begin happening: chilly air, a face in the window, a message in the bathroom mirror... Readers 4th grade and older will enjoy schlepping and noshing their way around Brooklyn with Danny and friends Nat and Gus as they question the neighborhood to learn the apartment’s past.

READ if you love Under the Egg or the Vanderbeekers books. Or Stranger Things, for that matter!
PASS if you only want gingerbread and snowmen and cocoa now that Halloween is over.
Order your copy on our website.

Adult Fiction

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

Kevin Wilson has a gift for constructing bizarre, even fantastical premises, then filling them up with pure emotional truth and honesty. So it is with Nothing to See Here, his third novel. Lillian is living a dead-end life at home until she receives a strange letter from her old friend, Madison. Madison has an offer to lift Lillian out of her ennui: Discreetly care for a pair of temperamental stepkids as Madison’s politician husband readies himself for a cabinet position. Only, there’s a catch. When agitated, the children spontaneously burst into flames. The story that follows is in turns funny and touching. Underpinned by themes of class, privilege, and what it means to be a parent, it also somehow feels wholly believable. Another wildly original tale from Wilson, who keeps finding new and inventive ways to write about families, given and chosen. Long may he write.

READ because Kevin Wilson is so good that two of our staffers once orchestrated an entire cross-country move around being able to attend one of his readings.
PASS if you once orchestrated an entire cross-country move around not having to read books anymore. You're in the wrong place, pal.
Order your copy on our website.

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Baseball star Gavin Scott thought he had the perfect family until his wife Thea suddenly asks for a divorce. He turns to his friends for help and learns about the Bromance Book Club, a secret group of athletes and businessmen who read romance novels for relationship tips. By turns funny and tender, this novel takes a look at what happens in a marriage after the “happily ever after.” A winner! 

READ because this is a sweet, funny, read-it-all-in-one-sitting kind of book. Plus there’s a sequel out in March!
PASS if you think it’s only going to make you miss baseball season. (The Astros will get ‘em next year.)
Order your copy on our website.

Adult Nonfiction

The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan

After her amazing recovery from a rare disease of the brain, Cahalan does a deep dive into psychiatric  medicine of the ’70s and beyond. Her own experience leads her to a widely recognized study about graduate students who faked illness to be admitted to special wards. She deftly and personally takes us to places that are both uncomfortable and fascinating.

READ because this is every bit as riveting as Brain on Fire.
PASS, just for now, if you still haven’t read Brain on Fire. You’re in for a treat.
Order your copy on our website.