Book Bites: Spring Reading

It’s early March, and around here that means one thing: Book bonanza. The start of spring publishing season always brings an embarrassment of riches to our shelves, from bright new picture books to much-anticipated novels. You can read about just a few of our favorites below, but don’t hesitate to call the shop or make an appointment if you’re after more—if there’s one thing we never run out of, it’s book recommendations. Happy reading!

Ages 4-8

Can I Sit With You  by Sarah Jacoby

This lovely picture book will remind you of the joy and solace a beloved pet can provide. A little dog finds a girl and asks, "Can I sit with you?" The love between pet and owner shines right off the page.
— Cathy 

READ because this sweet and lyrical picture book is by one of our very favorite author-illustrators.
PASS if you think things like love, companionship, and loyalty are overrated.
Pre-order your copy by March 9 and receive a gorgeous signed print while supplies last!

Ages 13 & Up

Once Upon a Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hira 

Carmen can’t catch a break. Her quinceañera was cancelled due to one mistake in her freshman year. Her awful boss means she can’t get the credits required to finish high school, and so she has to make it up during the summer by dressing up as Belle at kids’ birthday parties. Her spoiled cousin Ariana is finally getting her quince, and Carmen has been hired by her aunt to work at the party. And her old boyfriend Mauro is back in town, becoming the Beast to her Beauty when she still wants nothing to do with him. Can she survive the summer, navigate her family troubles, and finally get her high school diploma? Once Upon a Quinceañera is a fun read that will keep readers entertained until the last page.
— Ava, Teen Advisory Board

READ if you’re into Jenny Han or Jane the Virgin.
PASS if you’re looking for broody dystopia from your YA right now.
Order your copy

Adult Fiction 

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

Although it's under 200 pages, this little novel still packs a punch. It's the story of immigrants, a family divided by international borders and immigration policies, a family that somehow manages to stay together despite their separation. Elena and Mauro are teenagers in Bogotá, Colombia, when they fall in love and start a family. Having  a relative already in the U.S., they decide to leave the violence of Colombia and travel to Texas where they outstay their tourist visas. Mauro is deported, but Elena and their three children remain in the U.S., though she decides to send their youngest child, Talia, back to Colombia to be raised by her maternal grandmother. The author gives a fairly credible description of the lives of the separated family over the next 15 years, with a focus on Talia's plan to rejoin her mother and siblings in New Jersey.
— Alice

READ because this is going to stand as one of the best books published in 2021.
PASS if you don’t mind missing something with multiple starred reviews and glowing blurbs from all your favorite authors.
Order your copy

The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen

What does it mean to be a revolutionary? What is one willing to die for? Can a refugee ever feel at home in a new country? 

In this brilliant follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Sympathizer, Nguyen continues the story of his biracial protagonist who has managed to survive reeducation in Vietnam after a brief career as an undercover Communist spy in the United States, and who, having escaped from Vietnam, has recently arrived in France, the country of his father. Through connections in the Vietnamese community, he and his blood brother land jobs in a mediocre Vietnamese restaurant that is owned by a Vietnamese drug dealer. When the Sympathizer is not cleaning toilets or delivering drugs and fending off attacks by Arab drug dealers, he spends his time reading political writers and trying to figure out his own conflicted political beliefs. The sometimes bizarre action is offset by the narrator’s tortured thoughts as he writes out his “confession” after having a mental breakdown. It’s a remarkable story of a man’s attempt to understand how he has survived his birth, upbringing, and adult experiences in a society where “the revolutionaries have become the state, the state has become repressive, and the bullets, once used against the oppressor in the name of the people, will be used against the people in their own name.” 
— Alice 

READ because this one is just as good as its predecessor.
PASS if you need to check out the predecessor first—it’s now available in paperback.
Order your copy

Good Eggs by Rebecca Hardiman

An Irish family with loads of problems. The father is struggling to be the best stay at home dad. Mom is always off to her big time job. Grandma is struggling to remain independent. When Millie Gogarty shoplifts for the umpteenth time at the local grocery, the verdict from the police is that she needs a helper. Her son employs an American, Sylvie, who is in need of this very job. But there is so much more going on that we both smile and grimace as this lot figures out who is truthful and what is real in their lives. 
— Valerie 

READ because this is like a boisterous, Irish Where’d You Go, Bernadette
PASS on an Irish book this close to Saint Patrick’s Day, and you’ll probably run into some bad luck.
Order your copy 

Klara and The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara is an AF (Artificial Friend), a robot designed to be a companion for a child, but a robot with most of the sensibilities of a human being. In an imagined not-too-distant future where genetic engineering “lifts” certain children, Klara is purchased by a very particular mother to be the AF for her daughter Josie. Josie is ill and not expected to live very long, and Klara becomes a solicitous friend to her and her close childhood friend Rick, who lives next door. But Josie’s mother has a specific plan for the role Klara should play, and Klara resorts to a non-technical and more fantastical deal to keep Josie alive. Narrated by Klara in Nobel Prize-winner Ishiguro’s simple writing style, the story is an exploration of humanness, belonging, the ties between nature and technology, and a robot’s perspective on human love. 
— Alice 

READ because this is another thoughtful and thrilling book from the author of Never Let Me Go.
PASS if you want to miss the latest masterpiece from a Nobel laureate.
Order your copy 

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

Thirteen year old Duchess proclaims to be an outlaw to most everyone she meets. She’s cantankerous, armored, bright, and the daughter of Star, the town beauty who can’t overcome the tragic loss of her sister during her teen years. Beginning in a California coastal town, Duchess and her five year old sweet brother, Robin, exist with the help of the town sheriff, Walk. Although Walk has a slough of his own problems, he tries to shelter Duchess’s disheveled family from more heartache. When troubles get too deep, he moves the children to Montana to live with their grandpa, Hal. The beauty of Montana is stunning, and while there Duchess gradually tries to let go of her outlaw status letting a few people penetrate her cracked life. This beautiful, multi-layered story of painful loss breathes forgiveness and love. Each character brings a different weight to this well-balanced novel. You will cringe, laugh and cry while reading this extraordinary book. A winner that ripples out far and wide.
— Liz

READ this with your book club—you won’t regret it!
PASS it along to your friend's book club once you’re finished.
Order your copy

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

On a trip to London where Caroline was meant to be celebrating her tenth wedding anniversary, she is alone after discovering the unfaithfulness of her husband back home in the States and is now trying to figure her life out. On a whim, she joins a mudlarking tour and finds an old bottle with a bear etched into the glass which sends her into research mode, and she soon discovers the container most likely belonged to an apothecary shop in the late 18th century. Flashing back and forth between Caroline’s story, is a second story of a hidden shop off a back alley in London, run by Nella, that provides women remedies for a variety of problems. A 12-year old housemaid, Eliza, gets wrapped up in one of the more toxic solutions provided. This novel of rebellion, loyalty and betrayal intertwines these two worlds beautifully. A suspenseful and gratifying read!
— Liz 

READ because this is a fun debut with a great dual narrative—you won’t be able to put it down.
PASS if one look at the cover will make you want to spend all day in the garden.
Order your copy