Books in Bloom

Can you believe all the pollen this year, friends? It's enough to make us stay inside and read all day. Which, yes, doesn't take much. But who can blame us when you see some of the exciting new releases coming into our store? Here, we've collected all of the staff's newest favorites, including picture books, middle grade, and half a dozen wonderful new novels. Make some space on your shelf and come see us — we need someone to talk with these about!

Ages 4-8

Yaya and the Sea by Karen Good Marable; illustrated by Tonya Engel

On a perfect spring day, Yaya, her mother, and her aunties head to the beach to visit Mama Ocean. It's a gorgeous slice of life story celebrating family, traditions and interconnectedness, great for classrooms and libraries. Such a joy! 

Read because this is a perfect snapshot of connection and love.
Pass if you don't enjoy living in the moment.
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Ages 5-8

The Book That Can Read Your Mind by Marianna Coppo

Lady Rabbit the Magician will astonish you with her amazing mind-reading magic trick! A perfect book to read over and over again.

Read if you're ready to be amazed!
Pass if you have ESP and are therefore not impressed by this book.
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Ages 6-9

Anxious by Luciana De Luca; illustrated by Natalí Barbani

With gentle, thoughtful language and artwork, an anxious young girl learns to cope with her emotions. Both validating and soothing, this is a wonderful book for shy, anxiety-prone kids and those who love them. Will make a wonderful addition to home and classroom libraries.

Read because this is a great depiction of what childhood anxiety looks like.
Pass if you've never felt anxious about anything in your life.
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Ages 8-12

The Luminous Life of Lucy Landry by Anna Rose Johnson

Lucy Landry is an Ojibwe Orphan — her mother was a famous actress and her father was a sailor, both dying when she was young. When the family friend that was caring for her also passes away, she goes to live with the Martin family, a family that is also Ojibwe and are caretakers of a lighthouse on a very tiny island on Lake Superior. Lucy fears the water, doesn't know how to fit in with the new family, and feels awful about all the mistakes she is making. But the little lighthouse is close to Mermaid Beach, where her father would tell her stories of a shipwreck washing up on shore and rumors of a missing ruby necklace. Lucy is determined to find the necklace and fit in with her new family.

Read if you loved the spirited Anne from Anne of Green Gables.
Pass if even thinking about the ocean makes you sea sick.
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Gigi Shin Is Not a Nerd by Lyla Lee

Gigi Shin is in 7th grade and wants to be an artist. When Gigi and her friends find out about Starscape, an elite summer art program, they all want to apply. The girls form the Ace Squad tutoring group to earn money to pay for the camp. If Gigi can pay her own way to camp she figures her parents can't say no, right?  

This quick read is fun and seems perfect for grades three and up. Typical middle school drama — crushes, problems with friends, issues with parents about grades. For fans of The Baby-Sitters Club.

Read because you love ensembles full of camaraderie and fun.
Pass if the only thing you can focus on is what these girls' W-2 forms will look like. Is this tax fraud?
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Maple's Theory of Fun by Kate McMillan and Ruthie Prillaman

It's not always easy being a science-minded 6th grader in a school for kids of parents who work at NASA. When Maple takes to heart the criticism of her friends that she is NO FUN, she decides to learn to have fun following a four-point plan of action, which she keeps track of in her journal. Along with her new friend, Lada, a girl from Hungary, Maple devises a series of projects (e.g. a bow-tie with a laugh-track recording), culminating in a prize-winning entry in the Invention Convention at school. The illustrations include Maple's doodles, her action lists, text messages, and cartoon drawings of her family, friends and inventions. 

Read because you're in the mood for something to inspire creativity and fun.
Pass if you're following a four-point plan to become less fun.
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The Enigma Girls by Candace Fleming

The young ladies that worked at Bletchley Park during WWII to help crack the codes sent by Germany, Japan and Russia were sworn to a lifetime of secrecy — and they kept that solemn oath until the British government released intelligence documents in the 1970s related to their work and they were slowly able to tell their stories. The author has gathered those stories into an excellent and highly enjoyable book for kids about how important the women were to cracking the ciphers and helping to win WWII. Interspersed are chapters about what ciphers and codes are and how they can be scrambled, as well as a small introduction to how they can be decrypted. Extremely accessible and great for upper middle school and older, this book is highly recommended! 

Read because Fleming is an absolute master of nonfiction.
Pass if you find the topic puzzling and hard to understand.
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Adult Fiction

The Princess of Las Vegas by Chris Bohjalian

Crissy is a performer at a middle scale hotel in Las Vegas, a Princess Diana impersonator. Her world is turned upside down when her sister Betsy (who looks so similar to her that they could be twins) re-enters the picture. They have a rocky relationship and Crissy blames Betsy for their mother's death. Betsy has moved to Las Vegas with her new boyfriend Frankie and her new adopted teen daughter (not related to each other). Frankie's new job with a cryptocurrency called Futurium has taken off and Betsy is needed as their admin for the Vegas offices. The owners of Crissy's hotel are murdered, her new flame is murdered as well, Betsy is suspiciously attempting to look more and more like Crissy/Princess Diana and Crissy's world begins to crumble around her. Betsy realizes she is a pawn in the game as well, and the two must figure out how to escape the clutches of the mobsters running Futurium. 

Read if you are craving a glamorous thriller.
Pass if you're so far down a Kate Middleton rabbit hole that you can't think about Princess Diana impersonators.
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The Best Way to Bury Your Husband by Alexia Casale

Sally is one of four women who are in abusive relationships, but the extra time with their partners during the pandemic leads them to murder their husbands. The expected reaction would be to confess but their sense of freedom makes it hard, leading to one option: getting rid of the bodies.

Read because who doesn't love a dark comedy?
Pass if you need a book you won't stay up late into the night for.
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The Underground Library by Jennifer Ryan

Solid historical fiction about a group of people who bond when their neighborhood library is bombed in London during the blitz. They move the library down into the subway shelter. Everyone is uplifted by their love of books. There are multiple storylines: Juliet, the leader, who was raised by a cold mother, now possibly in love with Sebastian; Sophie, a German Jew, who came as part of a rescue, now bullied by her employer; Katie, with awful parents, who becomes pregnant after she finds out that her lover is MIA. And more. Lots more.

Read if you love a rich story involving tough and brave women.
Pass if you don't understand why libraries are one of our very best ideas.
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James by Percival Everett

A reimagining of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the perspective of the enslaved man Jim, this novel follows the original story fairly closely and tells the story of what happened to James during his adventure downstream along the Mississippi. From the initial moment James fled after hearing he might be sold and joins with Huck, who is fleeing his own abusive home life, we ride along as James feels a responsibility to care for the young Huck. Huck begins to question everything he knows about the world around him — they are nearly captured several times, nearly drown more than once, and the adventures as depicted through James's eyes take on a more sinister feel as we know exactly what is at stake for him. At one point, James is sold to a minstrel group and must don blackface to pretend to be a white man pretending to be a black man. Sharply funny, deeply moving, a wide look at code-switching and the roles enslaved people felt required to play, this is a must-read!

Read if you loved Demon Copperhead.
Pass if you're busy reading Erasure after watching American Fiction.
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Women of Good Fortune by Sophie Wan

This book is centered around three Sheng Nu; Lulu, Rina, and Jane. Sheng Nu are women who are past their marrying age — the Chinese phrase means "left over women" — and are looked down on and undesired. Lulu has been presented an advantageous marriage to Harv, an extremely rich bachelor in Shanghai with a well known family. Lulu is a waitress who is basically the sole provider for her family. This marriage to Harv will help Lulu take care of all her parents’ needs, but the price is her freedom. Career driven Rina, being a Sheng Nu, has received news from her doctor that her fertility is declining and has decided that her goal is to fly to the United States and freeze her eggs. And Jane is in a marriage she didn't choose with a man who told her parents "she will do." Being told she was ugly her whole life because she doesn't fit Chinese beauty standards has made her hard and cynical. Her dream is to get plastic surgery and a divorce. The solution to all of these issues is MONEY. Lulu's marriage presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rob the affluent of Shanghai and make all of their dreams come true.
—Cat B.

Read because you love a good scheme.
Pass if you prefer your heroines simple and one-dimensional.
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Tell by Jonathan Buckley

This short novel is constructed as a series of interview responses from a loquacious gardener at the Scottish estate of a wealthy businessman. At first, it's not clear why she is answering questions or even what the questions are. We gradually understand that she is giving a very detailed story about her boss — his background, his relationships with his wife, other women, his two sons — to someone who is investigating the man's life and what has happened to him. Clearly one person's perspective, though she does report details she has heard from other staff members who made their own observations, this is a fascinating and highly entertaining way to tell a story. Recommended.

Read because this is a fun, smart, and gossipy story in a unique form.
Pass if you were taught that gossip is the devil's telephone and it's best to just hang up.
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