Book Bites: Something for Everyone

Here on the blog, we do our best to shine a light on the very best new books that we think you’ll love. Sometimes, that means that we focus in on a few exciting new novels. Other times, we may shine a light on a handful of great new picture books. And sometimes, like today, we have a range of fun recommendations for toddlers, grandmas, and everyone in between. That’s right: It’s a classic, all-ages Blue Willow bookish love fest. Dig in! 

Ages 4-8

Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor

A clever picture book about a little bird named Mel who one day decides that this is the day she will fly. But instead she falls. And falls. All of the tree's inhabitants try to save her to no avail. She lands in the water. She catches a small fish and then rises out of the water to fly! The illustrations are very clever as the book is intended to be read sideways and then turned midbook. There is a lot of room for different voices and dramatic readings over and over again.

READ this charming book for its sweet message about bravery and perseverance.
PASS if you’d rather never try anything new.
Order your copy

Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña; illustrated by Christian Robinson

Milo rides the subway with his sister and imagines his fellow passengers' destinations, drawing them in his sketchbook. When he reaches his destination, he realizes that he is not alone in his situation and that he could imagine people in many different situations. Christian Robinson's illustrations elevate this collaboration into something truly special.

READ because this latest effort from the team behind Last Stop on Market Street and Carmela Full of Wishes is just as good as you'd expect.
PASS if missing out on a surefire instant classic seems like a good idea.
Order your copy


Ages 9-12

Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

Told in alternating stories, Ground Zero connects Brandon, a boy who was at the World Trade Center in NYC on 9/11 in 2001 to Reshmina, a young girl who lives in an isolated Afghanistan village several years later. Brandon experiences the horrific confusion and desperate acts of survival during the terror attack while Reshmina has lived in an unstable, battle-filled region of the world her entire life and faces the consequences of trying to help a wounded US soldier. Fast-paced and filled with heart and soul, this is a must-read!

READ because this is another winner from a masterful storyteller.
PASS if you’re looking for light-hearted escapism right now.
Order your copy


Ages 13-18

The Project by Courtney Summers

Gloria (or Lo) is an underpaid staffer at an online news site. She proposes a story about The Unity Project, a religious cult located in upstate New York. Lo has a reason--her older sister Bea "disappeared" into this group a number of years ago. There is a lot of backstory to these sisters. Lo was in a tragic car wreck with her parents as a young teenager. They did not survive. Bea says that the cult leader, Lev, saved Lo's life. Now Bea is missing from the group but has left her toddler daughter (with Lev, of course). Who is lying? Who is telling the truth? The complexity of family dynamics make this a super read for mature teens.

READ because this is beautifully written, completely thrilling, and totally unputdownable.
PASS if the only twists you like are made of cheese or licorice.
Order your copy 


Adult Fiction 

Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

Ani is in the final stages of launching "Make Up," her app that helps people save a struggling relationship. Her rival Hudson has just launched "Break Up," an app that allows you to hire someone to break up with your partner. Hudson is everything Ani despises, and they're competing in an investment pitch challenge. This is a charming, solid rom-com that realistically and cleverly highlights women in the tech industry.  
— Cathy

READ because who doesn’t love a good enemies-to-lovers romcom?
PASS if the mere mention of dating apps is making your palms sweat.
Order your copy 

My Year Abroad by Chang-Rae Lee

Ambitionless and easy going, Tiller is working a couple of odd jobs after his sophomore year in college as he waits to start his junior year abroad program. A chance encounter with a group of Asian-American businessmen leads to a very different year abroad than what he had imagined when he accepts an invitation to help one of them develop a health beverage. Tiller finds himself caught up in a vortex of high stakes business deals and an accompanying lifestyle that soon turns dark and bizarre. Several months later, Tiller is on his way back to the U.S. when he joins a mother and her tween son who are entering a witness protection program. At only 20 years old, he becomes a kind of surrogate father to Victor, who is becoming a culinary phenom. The novel pulls the reader into the crazy life of a kid who has never quite figured out who he is and what he wants in life. 
— Alice 

READ because this kinetic book is full of great writing, wit, suspense, and more.
PASS if you need something a bit slimmer than 500 pages right now.
Order your copy 

City of A Thousand Gates by Rebecca Sacks

In this debut novel, the author describes with empathy and compassion the conflicted and complicated lives of more than a dozen characters who live side by side but separately in modern Israel, aka occupied Palestine: Ori and his mates who are doing their compulsory military service for Israel, Emily and Rachel, young Jewish Americans who have emigrated to Israel, Samar, a Muslim professor at Bethlehem University, Mai, a university student from a wealthy Palestinian family, Vera, a German journalist, and several more. Their lives intersect in serendipitous ways during a tense period in Palestinian-Israeli relations after the deaths of two young teenagers, one Israeli and one Palestinian. This is a story of walls and barbed wire, of check points and guns, of the legacy of dispossession, and of the irony of a previously subjugated people now subjugating another group of people to ensure their own safety. 
— Alice

READ this beautiful debut for its insight and empathy.
PASS if you don’t mind missing one of the year’s most raved-about books.
Order your copy 


Lone Stars by Justin Deabler

Three generations of a Texan family, played out over the decades, will fill your heart with sadness, joy, and ultimately hope. Lacy grew up in South Texas during the ’50s, with her family profiting from the hard work of Mexican immigrants. The secret that Lacy doesn't know is that her mother is of Mexican heritage, although she would deny it. In the late ’60s, Lacy goes to Austin for her graduate work. She meets a pen pal soldier serving in Vietnam. His return and their love story plays out until Aaron can no longer deal with marriage. Lacy is forced to remove Aaron from her life and from her teenage son, Julian. Julian grows up feeling different in a suburb of Houston, Royalwood (a thinly disguised Kingwood). Julian excels at school and escapes to the East Coast to become a lawyer. When his mother falls ill, Julian and his lover come to Houston to help care for her. Each generation must deal with its own trials, hopes, and dreams. The underlying love of family is what makes this novel shine.

READ because this is a hopeful multi-generational epic with a heart as big as Texas. What’s not to love?
PASS if you’re just not that interested in a great story set in a great state.
Order your copy