Book Bites: Summer!

Well, folks, we're officially calling it: Summer is here in Houston. If the upper-80s temperatures haven't already tipped you off, just take a look at our bookshelves. We're sporting a great new mix of beach reads, rom-coms, family sagas, and great book club choices that are just begging to be added to your summer reading list. Stop in for a stack, stick an umbrella in your drink, and settle in somewhere comfy — it's the perfect time of year to breeze through a book.

Ages 4-8

Weather Together by Jessie Sima

Nimbus and Kelp are great friends and love playing together. Nimbus has a cloud over her head that she doesn't know how to handle and learns that sharing her concerns with a friend like Kelp can make things better.
— Cathy

Read because this is a sweet reminder that feelings are better shared than bottled up.
Pass if you need to catch up with Sima's other great picture books, Not Quite Narwhal and Perfectly Pegasus.
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Ages 8-12

A Work in Progress by Jarrett Lerner

In fourth grade, Will's self-esteem is shaken when an angry kid calls him fat. Will's three friends try to cheer him up, but Will spirals into depression and eventually isolates himself, hiding outside during lunchtime. His self-loathing and longing for acceptance inspire him to lose weight in an unhealthy way, basically starving himself. Along comes skate-boarding Markus, who has frequently changed schools as his father's job requires constant relocations. Markus has moved so many times that he isn't worried about fitting in. Instead, he just focuses on being his authentic self and reaches out to Will. This cleverly-arranged book highlights the effects of bullying and ultimately ends with finding courage to accept and love oneself.
— Kimberly

Read if you're in the mood for a lovely story of self-acceptance.
Pass  Didn't you read Kimberly's review?
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When Clouds Touch Us by Thanhhà Lai

A sequel to the Newbery Honor book Inside Out and Back Again, this beautiful novel in verse is a continuation of Hà's story. Finally settled into her new life in Alabama, her mother decides to uproot the family and move to Texas for a new job. Starting over again is hard, especially with her older brothers moving on to new paths, and the mother-daughter tension and love is more prominent in this book. Middle school, continued struggles with language and cultural differences, and finding her footing again in a new place is all explored. A beautiful and honest read.
— Aerie

Read because this book is beautifully written with humor and hope.
Pass if you don't enjoy learning about the lives and experiences of others.
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Adult Fiction

The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer

Clover Brooks is a death doula. She sits with people as they are dying, asking questions, and doing odd requests. Otherwise she lives alone in her deceased grandfather's apartment, has no social life, and is scared to make friends. When she has a request to find her current patient's old love, Clover starts on a journey to actually live a fulfilled life.
—  Valerie

Read because this book is full of wisdom and heart.
Pass if you'd like to start collecting your own regrets, starting with not reading this great book.
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The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren

Felicity “Fizzy” Chen is a bestselling romance author with no inspiration and a writing deadline that she has already missed. Connor Prince, single father and documentary filmmaker, works for a small company that has decided to take a new route, reality tv. Given the task of producing, Connor must find the perfect woman to be the lead in his Bachelorette-inspired show. His first thought? Fizzy. While she is hesitant and proposes a very different and specific list of demands, Connor fulfills every single one! Eight men will go on dates with Fizzy as viewers vote with an end goal of finding “the one” for her. Full of banter and sexual tension. Highly recommended!!
Ayah and Christina

Read if you're looking for a lead to root for.
Pass if you think summers in Houston are already too hot and steamy — this book will only make things worse!
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The Postcard by Anne Berest 

A French mother and daughter research the story of their ancestors who were exterminated during WWII. The catalyst is a single postcard that arrives at the family residence during the 1990s with four names. Who were these people? Berest deftly mixes history with this fictional family. What heartache? Who survives and who doesn't? We know as the reader that many families were split up and killed. But what about the people left to pick up the pieces as the horrors go from generation to generation?
—  Valerie

Read because this book has incredible writing and tells an important story.
Pass if you're avoiding books that engage you.
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Pieces of Blue by Holly Goldberg Sloan

After the drowning death of her husband, Paul, Lindsey moves her three children to Hawaii where she has purchased a rundown motel sight unseen. The family must deal with grief, new schools, and how they are going to get the motel up and running. Lindsey meets a man who tells her that he is also widowed and that he and his wife used to come to the motel every year. His offer to help with renovations starts to turn Lindsey's life into a future she might be able to handle.
—  Valerie

Read because this is a powerful portrayal of grief with the perfect amount of hope and heart.
Pass if you just remembered how much you loved Pieces of You and are spending the whole day listening to Jewel.
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Attend our event with the author on May 16!

Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

Fern and Will spend one magical day together as strangers in Toronto. They plan to meet at her family hotel at Smoke Lake a year later — but only one person shows up. Ten years later, mourning the recent death of her mom and shouldering the responsibilities of managing the resort that she doesn't want, Fern looks up to see Will checking into the hotel. What? Did it just so happen that he was in the area? As they begin to reconnect and the past questions are answered, the connection they once had is still there. Can they move past the hurt and betrayal? Such a great story about family and love, and an in-depth look at life with anxiety and how it can be debilitating.
—  Christina

Read if you're looking for the perfect book to escape with on the beach (or by the lake).
Pass if you hate becoming invested in someone else's love story.
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The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane

Malcolm owns a bar down on its luck in Gillam, NY. He loves the people, the camaraderie, and the sense of home. At the beginning of the novel, his wife Jess has left him. She has her own struggles — infertility, being passed over as partner at her law firm, and mostly her attraction to a new man in town. When back-to-back snowstorms hit the town, many stories are introduced: the previous owner of the bar with his henchmen; the possible faked death of a local businessman; and Malcolm's relationship with his mother. It's a slow burn with lots of discovery. No one's life is perfect. Keane wants us to understand the messiness of human life. She is the master of showing us the everyday heartbreak and love we find.
—  Valerie

Read if you're looking for a unique and thoughtful story of love.
Pass if you just can't relate to themes of midlife, family, and forgiveness.
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The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese

Readers who remember Cutting For Stone (2009) will welcome Verghese's immensely satisfying new novel. The setting is South India from 1900 to the late 1970s, and the saga spans three generations of a family in Kerala. The family has a history of a peculiar aversion to water, a condition that results in tragedy for at least one member of each generation. Because Verghese is a practicing doctor and teacher of medicine, various diseases and medical practices figure prominently in the story. But the history of modern India is also captured, from the British Raj through the second world war and the rise of Communist opposition in the 1970s. As one would expect in a 700+ page novel that spans so much history, there are lots of characters, but the focus is mostly on the members of the one family and the "Condition" that haunts them. 

Read because you don't want to let Oprah down — this is her latest book club pick!
Pass if you're looking for something putdownable.
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The Comeback Summer by Ali Brady

Sisters Hannah and Libby run their grandmother's PR firm in Chicago. In trying to land a client that will get the doors open, literally, they have to complete a personal challenge. Each has to get out of their comfort zone and journal about the experiences. Hannah does not date and finds it stressful due to anxiety and the fact that she is still mourning the loss of her first love. Her challenge will focus on interpersonal strength by going on 12 first dates in 12 weeks. Libby has self-esteem issues due to body image and past shaming. Her challenge will be in the area of physical strength as she avoids anything in this area. She was to complete a 12 training program that culminates In an organized race or sporting event. Through these challenges, the sisters go through growing pains in love and their relationship with each other. The author does a brilliant job showcasing each of the characters' interpersonal challenges due to past trauma and how they move on and grow as people. Great sophomore book! Recommended!

Read if you love The Parent Trap, love, comedy, beaches, and drama.
Pass if you don't believe in the magic of sisterhood.
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