Eleven New Reasons to Visit Us

We're still wrapping our heads around this whole "2024" thing, so it feels a little strange to say that we've already encountered some contenders for the best books of the year. It's true, though — our latest staff recommendations have real staying power. Read on to discover a charming graphic novel, a new middle grade fave from a local author, unputdownable fiction from heavy hitters like Laurie Frankel and Alex Michaelides, and more great books that have just hit our shelves. We'll be waiting for you in the store! 

Ages 7-12

K Is in Trouble by Gary Clement

This is the author's first graphic novel and the artistic style and stories are different from your average graphic novel for kids. It includes four stories about poor K, a young boy, living in what seems to be early 20th century Prague, who finds himself constantly getting into trouble: at school — for being late; on a field trip — for being sent on an errand and then losing his schoolmates; at home — for leaving his window open to crows, and for being outwitted by a talking carp. As a cartoonist for a Canadian newspaper, the author illustrates his books in the style of cartoons, which makes for highly entertaining reading/viewing. Recommended. 

Read because "Kafkaesque middle grade" can only be a good thing.
Pass if you've never been in trouble once in your life.
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Ages 8-12

Between Two Brothers by Crystal Allen

13-yr old Isaiah ("Ice") looks up to his brother Seth, who is about to be a senior in high school and a long distance running star with a scholarship to run at A&M. They live in rural Texas and their father is a supervisor at a local meat processing plant, BMP. Ice is looking forward to one last year together before Seth heads off to college, with Seth helping him with his confidence and learning how to stand up to a bully. Ice has joined the yearbook staff at school and loves to photograph and record the world around him, and also loves caring for his animals on their farm, hoping to be a vet one day. When Ice finds out Seth is leaving early for college and skips an important competition they signed up for together, he is furious, and punches Seth. Before he can apologize the next day, Seth's car is hit by a speeding delivery driver from BMP. With Seth in a coma and significant injuries to overcome, Ice must learn how to be the one who helps his brother and stand up for their family.

Read because this is a beautiful story on the bond between siblings by a favorite local author.
Pass if you need to run to the store to grab a new pack of tissues first.
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Ages 12-18

The Getaway List by Emma Lord

Raised by her single mom, creative Riley feels trapped and unmotivated as high school graduation looms. She didn't get accepted to any major university and dismally looks forward to her next step in life. On a whim she decides to visit her longtime friend Tom in NYC for a weekend. Sure, they hardly even communicate any more, but once upon a time Riley and Tom had a punch list of adventures written down and she craves the idea of maybe crossing a couple of those items off before settling in for what lies ahead. After a fall out with her mom, Riley's weekend adventure turns into the entire summer. The two along with a group of friends take writing classes, attend concerts, go camping, and discover much about themselves. A fun coming-of-age story with adventures in the Big Apple!

Read if you like your coming-of-age stories with a side of friends-to-lovers.
Pass if you're now focused on coming up with some amazing additions to your own bucket list.
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Adult Fiction

The Fury by Alex Michaelides

Lana Farrar is a former Hollywood starlet living in London and largely staying out of the public eye. When the dreary gray of London becomes too much for her, she escapes to a Greek island she owns with her husband Jason, best friend Kate, friend (and narrator of the book) Elliot, her son Leo, and her assistant Agathi. Along with local caretaker Nikos, the cast of marginally unlikeable characters becomes stuck on the island when a wind called a Fury whips up and makes the seas unsafe to travel on. As Elliot slowly unravels a nefarious plan that leads to the murder of someone on the island that night, we find out much more about all of the characters. A light, twisty thriller. 

Read because nobody can create a twist quite like Alex Michaelides.
Pass if you prefer tales set on Greek Islands to strictly feature Abba music and three potential fathers.
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Family Family by Laurie Frankel

India Allwood always wanted to be an actress. And she is good! After drama school in NYC, she forages for roles on Broadway. But she cannot sing. So with two young children in tow, she heads to Hollywood to star in a kick ass TV show as the heroine. When the book opens, India has told someone in the press that the show is not that good. Her agent goes crazy. Her children decide on their own to bring to her the two children (now grown) that she gave away-first as a teenager and then as a college student. Adoptive parents arrive as well. Birth fathers are included. This heartfelt book is funny and raw. It's about family and how we make them. Highly recommended.

Read because this is a witty, sparkly, heartfelt story.
Pass if you want a simple read you'll never think about again.
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The Breakup Tour by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Riley Wynn is a superstar musician with a string of bad romances and a legacy of chart-topping breakup songs. She writes a new album, The Breakup Record, each song a tribute to a past flame, and is setting out on a new tour. Max Harcourt is the college boyfriend that got away, leaving Riley to chase her dreams as he feels obligated to run his family business, a retirement home. He still plays the piano for the residents, and one day Riley shows up with a request: Come on tour and play the piano accompaniment to the song that's about him — the biggest hit on the record. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s supposed to — the tour starts with a clock countdown, it's a three-hour show, and there are lots of Easter eggs referencing the lyrics of a certain global superstar. 

Read if you are a Swiftie.
Pass if you are a "Dad, Brad, or Chad."
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Martyr! by Kaveh Akbar

The protagonist of this debut novel by an Iranian-American poet is a young Iranian-American poet, a recovering alcoholic and addict, who has still not come to terms with the death of his mother when he was an infant. She was in an airplane that was shot down by mistake by the U.S. Navy. (Culpability is addressed only in very brief official U.S. government comments posted throughout the book.) Shortly afterwards, Cyrus and his father emigrated to the United States, where his father worked in a chicken processing plant in Indiana, and Cyrus grew up. Having graduated from college, he works odd jobs while trying to write. His current project is a book on martyrdom, and when he finds out about an Iranian artist whose latest — and final — work is a performance piece on death at the Brooklyn Museum, Cyrus makes the trip to New York to meet her. Alternating with Cyrus's conversations with the artist are some of Cyrus's poems, his dreams, and chapters from the perspectives of his father, his mother and an uncle who share their background stories. His family's history reveals some secrets that connect the various story lines of the novel in a surprising yet satisfying way.

Read because this is one of the best debut novels you're likely to ever read.
Pass if you don't want to read the book that everyone from John Green to Leslie Jamison to Tommy Orange to Clint Smith is raving about.
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One of the Good Guys by Araminta Hall

This book immediately hooked me just on face value. The name, the cover depiction… I had to know what was going to happen. Cole moves to the English coast after a horrible battle with IVF and a subsequent split with his wife. Soon, two young women go missing on the coast very near Cole's home and it seems that he may be involved. An amazing book broken into three parts, each section giving a completely different voice and point of view to the series of events. This was my first Araminta Hall novel, and I will be picking up another title from her.
—Cat B

Read if you're looking for a fascinating psychological roller coaster.
Pass if you want to read Hall's other fantastic novels first.
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The Waters by Bonnie Jo Campbell

The Waters, an island in a swampy, boggy area of western Michigan, is home to Hermine Zook, a reclusive herbalist who has served up potions to nearby townspeople for years. She has kept track — with shells on a necklace — of the number of babies she has kept from being born. She has raised to adulthood three baby girls, one of whom has given birth to Dorothy, aka Donkey, 11 years old for most of this story. Donkey, who becomes Hermine's right hand (literally), makes her way around the muddy, rattlesnake-infested island, gathering the herbs for Hermine's remedies, and wishing that her mother, Rose Thorn, would marry Titus, a local farmer who has been in love with Rose Thorn forever. The author writes with intense and gritty yet lyrical detail, to the point that when you put the book down for a break, you will start looking around your feet for rattlesnakes. Recommended.

Read if you are a fan of Where the Crawdads Sing.
Pass if your book club is finishing up another read first (save this one for your next pick).
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The Night of the Storm by Nishita Parekh

Recently divorced Jia Shad is having a hard time as a single mother raising her 12-year old son, Ishaan. She is also having a hard time deflecting the romantic advances of her sister’s husband.  But of more immediate concern on August 25th, 2017, is Hurricane Harvey. Accepting an invitation to stay at her sister's home in Sugar Land, Jia and Ishaan make their way in the rain to join her sister and her extended family. Everyone else in this Sugar Land neighborhood has evacuated except for Rafael, across the street, who joins Jia and the group. When Rafael suddenly dies, everyone starts wondering who was responsible. Then another family member is mysteriously killed as the water starts flooding the house, and Jia finds herself in the middle of a horrible family drama.

Read if you love your thrillers with interesting and dynamic characters.
Pass if you're just not ready to relive some of those Harvey memories.
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Say You'll Be Mine by Naina Kumar

Meghna's a middle school English teacher whose parents can't understand why she didn't pursue Engineering. Karthik's an engineer who doesn't believe in marriage after witnessing his parents' disastrous relationship. This debut novel combines the tropes of fake dating and grumpy-sunshine, which results in a supremely charming read. Recommended!

Read if you're in the mood for a swoony romance destined to become a favorite.
Pass if you like your rom-coms surface level and flat.
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