Book Bites: Working On Our Six-Pack

Spring is here! Which, in Houston, means that summer could come any second now. For that reason, it’s important to round into peak beach-reading form now—and we have a six-pack of new releases to help you do just that. From a soaring picture book celebrating the wonderful work of tradesmen to YA self-discovery (available in fantasy and realism!) to clever mysteries and adventure tales, we know you’ll find something to love about one of the books below. Read on!

Ages 4-8

Someone Builds the Dream by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Loren Long

An architect might design a home and an artist might design a fanciful fountain, but it's the skilled tradesmen who build it. This gorgeous picture book is a wonderful celebration of the many types of work that go into building our world.
— Cathy 

READ this celebration of work and workers for its inclusive message and beautiful illustrations.
PASS if you built your house, your car, and all of your furniture and appliances yourself.
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Ages 14 & Up

Bruised by Tanya Boteju 

Daya Wijesinghe has three simple steps for staying alive. One: keep contact as minimal and as shallow as possible between herself and her weird aunt and uncle; Two: head to the skatepark every day and hang with her friend, Fee; Three: slam her left hand into the top of her baseboard every day to leave a bruise there, one she can press into if she needs to push down unwanted feelings. Sure, it sounds painful, but to Daya, it’s necessary. She needs the pain to keep all of her messed-up feelings about her parents' death at bay. So, when she discovers the intense contact sport of roller derby, she just knows she has to make the team. However, roller derby isn’t all Daya’s cracked it up to be…

Bruised is a heartwarming and all-too-real novel about a girl trying to deal with her parents’ death. The novel’s cast is incredibly diverse, including a wide spectrum of people across all genders, races, and sexualities. An exceptional read filled with a diverse cast and a fun story. Highly recommended to all readers of YA.
— Ava, Teen Advisory Board

READ if you love Whip It or We Are Not Okay.
PASS if beautifully-told stories of self-discovery aren’t your thing.
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The Theft of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani

For years, the snatchers have been ravaging the kingdom of Menaiya. Snatching children left and right, they leave no witnesses behind, nor any hope for the child’s return. However, these issues have never particularly concerned Rae, whose deformed foot has ensured she’ll never have to fear being taken. That is, until one day, when the snatchers kidnap someone a little too close to home, and Rae finds herself with the opportunity to attend to Menaiya’s soon-to-be princess: exactly the position Rae needs to enact change. Thrust from her country life, Rae must quickly learn to cope with politics, betrayal, and violence, all while getting to the heart of the snatchers. However, with families, gangs, and entire kingdoms in the balance, Rae finds the consequences of her search to be so much greater than she’d ever imagined. 

Intisar Khanani crafts a complex and enthralling mystery, compelling readers to turn page after page. I loved being inside of Rae's head, and I found the characters to be just as fascinating as the story, leaving me rooting for my favorites and wondering whom I could trust. I cannot wait to delve into the author’s other books!
— Veronica, Teen Advisory Board

READ if you love Sabaa Tahir or Renée Ahdieh.
PASS if you need to catch up with the first book in the series!
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Adult Fiction 

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Ambrosia "Amb" Wellington was involved in something bad her freshman year of college, and on the eve of her 10-year reunion, she starts getting notes saying "we need to talk about what we did that night." Told in alternating chapters of Now and Then, we are on a collision course between her pretty perfect Manhattan married life and finding out what went down all those years ago, and who was hurt enough by the events of the past to want to ruin Amb's life now. When she arrives at Wesleyan, Amb is desperate to fit in, and the girl she attaches herself to, Sully, is a sociopath who encourages Amb into progressively more outrageous behavior that culminates in a terrible tragedy. Her husband, who knows nothing about her freshman year, convinces her to go to the reunion, setting the stage for a deadly confrontation 10 years in the making. 
— Lisa

READ this twisty thriller if you love Chandler Baker or Megan Miranda. Or if you always thought Mean Girls should have been a horror movie.
PASS if you’re looking for a friendship story a little more along the lines of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
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The Windsor Knot by SJ Bennett

The death of a guest at Windsor Castle draws Queen Elizabeth II into the mystery surrounding the incident. The Queen quietly refuses to believe the direction that the official investigation takes, and with the help of her Assistant Private Secretary, Rozie Oshodi, a British Nigerian and former Royal Horse Artillery officer, the Queen works to solve the case. Set in 1996, perceptively witty Queen Elizabeth II conducts her normal royal duties, rides horses, hosts worldly dignitaries, and prepares to turn 90 all while thoughtfully working on this murder case. 
— Liz

READ if you prefer your mysteries to be cozy and charming.
PASS if you’re more of a gritty, hardboiled crime reader.
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Raft of Stars by Andrew Graff

Claypot, Wisconsin 1994. Fish and Bread are fast friends, riding bikes, saving turtles. It is well known but not discussed that Bread's father is an abuser. Fish comes every year to stay with his maternal grandfather Teddy. At the beginning of this intriguing and suspenseful story, Fish shoots Bread's father and they both run into the woods that they know well. Cal, the new sheriff from Texas,  joins Burt on a journey to find them. Now Fish's mother Miranda, a war widow, comes to help with a somewhat hapless young woman from the diner who has a crush on the sheriff. The boys build a raft to escape by water, but they are unaware that there is a raging waterfall in their future. There is love, rage, regret, and tenderness. And a little humor. For fans of Peter Heller and William Krueger.

READ this heartfelt novel for the Stand By Me-meets-Kitchens of the Great Midwest vibes.
PASS if you think books about Wisconsin will turn your head into cheese.
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