Book Bites: Some of These Are Books

Are y'all ready for this? Early May marks the start of the big summer publishing push, and our crowded back room can attest to the fact that there are lots of great new books heading your way soon. Scientifically speaking, we're talking "oodles." Frankly, we'd really appreciate it if you paid us a visit and brought your biggest tote bag. We're sure you'll find some gems to take home — after all, this Tuesday alone boasts new releases from favorite authors like Carter Higgins, Vashti Harrison, Katherine Applegate, Angeline Boulley, Emily Henry, and more. Read on!

Ages 2-4

Some of These Are Snails by Carter Higgins

Carter Higgins explores shapes and colors in this very fun picture book. Kids will love finding items on each page, and adults will not tire of reading it aloud, thanks to a contagious rhythm from page to page.
— Cathy

Read because this is another interactive winner from the author of Circle Under Berry.
Pass if you're a snail. Snails can't read!
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Ages 4-8

Big by Vashti Harrison

A girl is praised for being big when she's young, but as she grows up, that praise disappears. A gorgeous picture book about loving yourself for who you are, this is a book for all to treasure.
— Cathy

Read because Vashti Harrison is one of those can't-miss creators — and this one's as moving and gorgeous as you'd expect.
Pass if you don't mind missing a book with "exceptional strength, beauty, and grace" (Booklist, starred review).
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Attend our event with the author (in conversation with Leah Johnson!) on May 9 

Ages 8-12

175The Golden Frog Games by Claribel A. Ortega

Book two of the Witchlings series sets off with the magical Golden Frog Games. Thorn is the first Spare to ever compete in the games and all eyes are on her fashion design skills. But not everyone is happy to see Spares treated well, and when champions begin to get hurt with hexes of ancient magic that turn them to stone, the Spares are blamed. Seven is hearing voices of monstruos in her head, Valley is distracted with her parents’ divorce and her new crush, Thorn is busy with the games, and everyone is trying to uncover who is using ancient dark magic. The Spares must rely on their powers and their friendship in this adventurous addition to the series. Ends in a mild cliffhanger — we'll have to wait until book three to find out what happens next!
— Aerie

Read because this enchanting series keeps the pages turning.
Pass if a frog recently wronged you.
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Attend our event with the author on May 11

Four Eyes by Rex Ogle; illustrated by Dave Valeza

Rex is headed to middle school and he's pretty nervous. He hasn't had his growth spurt, his family doesn't have much money, and he needs glasses. All three of those things make him stand out from the crowd, which is not a good thing in middle school. This graphic novel beautifully tells the story of his sixth grade year: the bullying, the new friends, and the new perspectives that shape his life.  
— Cathy

Read because Rex Ogle is amazing. Did you not already know that? We're not mad — just disappointed.
Pass if you are a spider, and thus have eight eyes.
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The One and Only Ruby by Katherine Applegate

Baby elephant Ruby gets her own book in the third addition to The One and Only Ivan series. Ruby is facing a celebration with her new herd for the appearance of her tusks, Tuskday, but she is worried and doesn't want to face the celebration. One day, she recognizes a human named Jabori that she remembers caring for her at an elephant orphanage in Africa. When visiting Ivan, Bob, and Ivan's companion, Kinyani, Ruby remembers her past — how she lost her mother in Africa, ended up at the orphanage, and was eventually transported across the ocean. Her story helps her realize her fears about Tuskday are tied to her fears about poachers killing elephants for their tusks in Africa. Using Ruby's story to draw the readers in, Applegate again crafts a novel to tug at your heartstrings and encourage you to make a stand to protect animals in the wild.
— Aerie

Read because you've been waiting for a One and Only Ruby since Ivan came out eleven years ago.
Pass if you're a yeerk. Get outta here, yeerk!
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Ages 12 & Up

Star Splitter by Matthew J. Kirby

Jessica is teleported out to a ship orbiting a remote planet to join her parents. This process involves being scanned, uploaded and then 'printed' at your destination. When she arrives at her destination she discovers the ship has crash landed and the crew are dead. There is one other survivor — herself, printed about two weeks earlier.

Told in first person from each Jessica's point of view (the two accounts are easy to separate), questions of identity and what makes a personality are raised in this twisty thriller in which the full truth is not revealed until the (somewhat ambiguous) end. Left me with more questions than answers — in a good way!
— Caroline

Read if you're looking for something to devour all in one sitting.
Pass if you hate cardio — this thrill ride will definitely raise your pulse rate.
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Viva Lola Espinoza by Ella Cerón

Booksmart Lola fills all her free time with studying and helping her Mexican-American parents at home in California. But when her inability to speak Spanish catches up with her, and she receives a C in Spanish at school, her dad is furious and sends her to their family in Mexico for the summer. Lola begins working in her aunt's restaurant to fill her days, but when a blossoming interest between two different boys reveals a family curse, she begins to look for answers on how to lift the curse and ends up learning even more about herself. Ultimately, this is a book about a girl learning about her family and her cultural roots in Mexico, and learning how to give up the race for perfection and live a little for herself.
— Aerie

Read because there's nothing better than a tender, well-written coming-of-age story.
Pass if you live under a rock.
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Ages 14-18

Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Perry Firecatcher-Birch and her twin sister Pauline have been enrolled in their tribe's summer internship program which helps teach the culture of their clan. Perry would rather be fishing. Her first assignment is to help at nearby Mackinac Island in the cataloging of Native American artifacts under the NAGPRA and MACPRA repatriation act. But when Perry sees the unburied bones of possible ancestors as well as other precious artifacts, she is sickened. She steals heirloom seeds and, when caught, is fired and sent to her next assignment. This one involves the tribal police and missing teenage girls. She and her smart friends learn much about their culture as they help solve the mysteries. A great second book after Firekeeper's Daughter, whose main character Daunis is Perry's auntie.  
— Valerie

Read because Firekeeper's Daughter was an all-time fave, and this is every bit as good.
Pass if you avoid good books like billionaires avoid taxes.

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Adult Fiction

Happy Place by Emily Henry

Emily Henry hits it out of the park with her new book, Happy Place! Think The Big Chill—a group of lifelong friends get together at the same time every year to do the same activities. This summer, the week means a little more because the infamous vacation house is being sold and this will be their last hoorah. Wyatt and Harriett broke off their engagement months ago but didn't tell their friends—so they fake being together all week to not spoil the mood. Another couple is getting married at the beach. And another has a huge surprise to share. As the days melt away, it does seem like old times. Ghosts of each person's past come forward and each has to decide whether to deal with issues and move on or stay.
— Christina

Read because duh.
Pass if d'oh.
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No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister

Stories of triumph and despair — some loud and explosive and some quiet and reserved. The stories are interconnected by a popular novel Theo, which is in the vein of The Catcher in the Rye and is read by each of the characters. There are families broken apart by the age old combination of love and hate, but there is also compassion and beauty. I had to go back and read Nola's story a second time. It's a heartbreaker of the best kind.
— Valerie

Read because this is a fabulous story about the power of fiction.
Pass if you'll just be jealous that you can't also read Theo.
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Moorewood Family Rules by HelenKay Dimon

The Moorewood family is full of con artists so it is no surprise when someone gets caught. Jillian takes the fall and spends three years in prison while protecting the rest of her family. During this time, she plots her revenge. When she surprises her family upon her release, she realizes that they have not changed their habits, despite promises to Jillian that they would. When she threatens to strip everyone of what they have always known, she is quick to gain enemies. In order to stop her family before they can do anything to her, Jillian hires a bodyguard, Beck. Will she be successful in the end?
— Ayah

Read this for the delightful Ocean's 8 vibes.
Pass if you're too busy planning your heist of The Met.
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Adult Nonfiction

The Wager by David Grann

The 1700s was the age of empire building for Europe. England and Spain were vying for supremacy on the high seas. In a climate of war, five English ships were sent out in convoy on a mission to seek Spanish galleons and claim them a prize; among the convoy was the HMS Wager. Their orders were to round Cape Horn and chase the Spanish through the Pacific, but the treacherous waters and terrific storms around the Horn had other plans. The convoy broken, the Wager was shipwrecked upon the rocks near a desolate island where her surviving men learned what true hardship and starvation can wreak upon one’s social graces. Strict naval order rapidly broke down. The more educated among the survivors kept careful diaries, one even frequently wrote out contracts for others to sign, so they could cover their backsides were they ever to return to England and tried and hanged for mutiny. The records were so sensational that they inspired fictional stories and influenced maritime odes in the years since. Any fan of maritime drama like Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander will enjoy shaking their heads in disbelief at this historical account of an ill-fated voyage on a tall ship and the incredible tales of her survivors. 
— Jennifer K.

Read because this latest page-turner from a master of the form is part Lord of the Flies and part Master and Commander.
Pass if your idea of a "ripping yarn" is the wanton destruction of other peoples' sweaters.
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