Sweet Sixteen

It's a good thing our bookstore is expanding, y'all. We had so many boxes of new releases stacked in the back room last week that there was barely any room to stand, let alone wrap books or place orders. The good news is that those boxes were full of some absolute gems, which we're excited to share with you now. It doesn't matter what kind of reader you are. This week, we've got something for everyone—sixteen titles in all! Picture books. Middle grade. YA. Rom-coms. Genre fiction. Literary heavyweights. Better get reading!

Ages 4-8

Ursula Upside Down by Corey R. Tabor

Upside-down catfish Ursula learns she's swimming the wrong way and tries to "right" herself. Her flip gives a new look at the world, yet turns disastrous. With help from a friendly bat, Ursula embraces her unique perspective. A funny, clever book that you'll flip for!!

Read because this delightful story of self-discovery is destined to become a new favorite. 
Pass if you're doing a handstand right now and can't hold a book.
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The Curious Why by Angela DiTerlizzi; illustrated by Lorena Alvarez Gómez 

The Curious Why visits a desperately bored child and shows them what fun discovery and learning can be. A joyful and colorful celebration of curiosity—the illustrations are GORGEOUS!

Read because this is just as good as The Magical Yet!
Pass if you're too transfixed by the sparkly cover to crack this one open.
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Ages 6-9

Emma McKenna, Full Out by Kate Messner; illustrated by Kat Fajardo

Emma is eager to have a great year at her new school, Curiosity Academy. Second grade didn’t end well thanks to an awful nickname spread by her former best friend, and Emma is determined to make the most of this fresh start. She can’t wait to start learning a new instrument, make friends, and show everyone how interesting she can be! Her new school is seeking ideas for a school mascot, and Emma may get her chance to shine. This is the first in a new series where every kid in the class will have individual early reader chapter books and each one will be written by a different author.
—Jennifer K.

Read because this sweet and funny story is a great introduction to a fun new series.
Pass if you're busy plotting revenge on your best-friend-turned-enemy.
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Ages 8-12

The One and Only Family by Katherine Applegate

In this last installment in the One and Only series, Ivan finds out he is going to be a dad. With that comes happiness and nerves as he has to think about the differences raising his young in the zoo versus the wild, and he has to learn to come to terms with the unfairness of his past while figuring out how much of the truth to share with his kids, who will likely never see the wild. Lots of parenting humor and tugging of heartstrings.

Read because come on, it's Katherine Applegate writing about Ivan.
Pass if you need to run to the store for yogurt raisins and bananas before settling in with this one. 
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Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Safiyyah is a young Muslim girl living in 1940s Paris, in the Grand Mosque. Her grandmother tells her stories of leaving Algeria after the brutal occupation of the French and living in Spain before ending up in France, and her father is one of the caretakers of the Mosque. The stories of battles along the front with the Nazis seem far away until one day they see the refugees streaming into Paris. When Paris is bombed, Safiyyah realizes her world will change. As Saffiyah starts to solve the mystery of her father’s curious behavior—coming and going at all hours—she’s drawn into the heart of the underground French resistance. Inspired by the true stories of the Resistance and the role the Grand Mosque played in rescuing many Jewish citizens from the occupation.

Read because this inspiring work of historical fiction has action, danger, and heart.
Pass if you think the world is a better place when nobody works together.
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Ages 10 & Up

And Then, Boom! by Lisa Fipps

I absolutely love this story written in verse! Readers will find themselves cheering for the main character, Joe, a young boy wise beyond his years who struggles with his Grandmum to make ends meet. They are a great team, and then, Boom! The unthinkable happens which leaves Joe abandoned along with three dogs that he rescued in his neighborhood. If you enjoyed Fipps's first novel, Starfish, then you should definitely read this book!

Read because Lisa Fipps is just so good at this.
Pass if you still haven't read Starfish, despite our having told you to!
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Ages 14-18

Road Home by Rex Ogle

Concluding the trilogy that began with Free Lunch, Rex Ogle recalls being forced from his home and ending up on the streets of New Orleans because he was gay. By turns harrowing, painful and beautiful, we can feel Rex beside us as we read and we know he has survived and lives a full life. The world is a better place because Rex Ogle is in it and he's shared this very personal story. 

Read because this is the latest essential release from a dear, dear friend of the shop.
Pass for now if you need to ease into summer reading with something light and breezy.
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Adult Fiction

This Summer Will Be Different by Carley Fortune

Lucy and Bridget are best friends, but some miscommunication puts Lucy in an uncomfortable position when she sleeps with Felix, Bridget's brother. The pair believe they can put things behind them, but it proves to be harder than expected once they are forced to see each other more often than they'd like. 

Between the well-written love story and friendships, this has easily become my favorite of Carley's work. I'd be surprised if she doesn't have us all wanting to travel to Prince Edward Island! If you're reading this, pick the book up and purchase it!

Read because the characters here sparkle like a good rosé.
Pass if you thought this was a prequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer.
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Love, Lies, and Cherry Pie by Jackie Lau

All four of writer-and-barista Emily Hung's sisters are married, so her mother turns her focus to Emily's lack of a relationship. She raves on and on about Mark Chan, the engineering son of family friends. In an effort to stop her mother's meddling, Emily asks Mark to fake date her for at least three months.  Of course, the fake dating leads both Mark and Emily to realize the other is more than they seem and feelings develop. This charming rom-com includes a somewhat un-self-aware Emily, a well-meaning mother with more depth than meets the eye, and family dynamics that ring quite true. I really enjoyed this!

Read for the double-helping of banter and family drama.
Pass if charming rom-coms only serve to remind you that we are all ultimately alone.
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Lovers and Liars by Amanda Eyre Ward

The Peacock sisters—Cleo, Emma and Sylvie—have been estranged for years. When Sylvie meets Simon, a handsome, wealthy bird-watcher from England, she falls immediately in love, and they are engaged to be married. Her sisters won't answer her phone calls, so she sends them a text—meet her in England to see her get married in a castle!  Emma and Cleo show up with baggage in tow: Cleo hates her boyfriend and buries herself in her work—and she is deeply suspicious of Simon. Emma has fallen victim to a multi-level marketing scheme that sells sex toys, and she can't bear to admit to her husband and sons that she has leveraged them to the hilt and spent every last cent of their savings. Their mother shows up at the wedding, not having changed one bit, and everyone's carefully constructed world comes crashing down. Sometimes darkly funny, sometimes swoon-worthy sweet, this page-turner about three wildly different sisters was great fun and is the perfect book to kick off your summer reading!

Read because there's something to savor on every single page.
Pass if you've had enough of love and lies from reading the last book. (Can't be sure until you've tried this one, though.)
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The Paradise Problem by Christina Lauren

The queens of romance did it again! This book just made me happy. Yes, you can tell how this one ends, but the journey's sweetness is entirely worth it. Anna and Liam, aka West, get married—and quickly divorced—for college housing. Really? Years later, they need to pretend to his wealthy family at a week-long wedding event that they are head-over-heels in love so that Liam can receive his inheritance. Many roadblocks: Jealous brother, power hungry dad, and a few secrets from the past. While faking the bliss, they actually do fall for each other with  genuine respect. Liam must choose his family over inheritance—or himself. And where does this leave Anna?

Read because this is a fizzy rom-com version of Succession... in Paradise!
Pass if you're just not in the mood to be completely swept away.
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Every Time We Say Goodbye by Natalie Jenner

Natalie Jenner did it again! Such a moving, well-told story with an ending that you have to read twice! This is the story of Vivian from Bloomsbury Girls, and characters from previous books make guest appearances. 

Vivian is one of the owners of The Sunwise Turn and has just had her latest play flop in the eyes of the critics. At the same time, she receives news about her beloved fiancé who has been missing in action for years. Vivian needs answers and a change of scenery. Escaping to Rome, she helps Hollywood director Douglas Curtis with edits on his upcoming movie about a female Italian resistance fighter during the occupation codenamed La Scolaretta: the Schoolgirl assassin. Italy in the 1950s is controlled by the Catholic church and they do not want this movie made. With twists and turns in a dual timeline, we learn from the characters' own voices what happened during the war and who is still haunted by ghosts. Looking for answers uncovers details that will help Vivian move on and learn to love herself in order to allow others to love her.

Read because Bloomsbury Girls was one of our favorites, and we think you'll like this one just as much.
Pass if your latest play has flopped and you need to escape to Rome. (You can bring this for the plane!)
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The Ministry of Time by Kailane Bradley

I just finished this book and I have SO many thoughts about it. In the near future, Britain has discovered how to time travel. The government decides to test their new time door by bringing five "expats" from history into the modern era. The protagonist, the daughter of a Cambodian refugee and a former translator for other refugees, is assigned to live with one of these "expats" for a year to help them adjust to their new lives. Throughout the year, more and more is discovered about the Ministry of Time, and our protagonist and her new housemate are revealed to be involved in something much more complicated than first expected. I loved the whole cast of characters, especially the group of people brought from the past into the book's present. This book was so different from anything else I usually read, and I'm already recommending it to my friends!

Read because everyone is buzzing about this dazzling debut.
Pass if you've traveled from the future and already read this long ago.
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When Among Crows by Veronica Roth

Dymitir, a knight from an order of monster hunters, sacrificed half his soul for his sword, but refuses to use it. Instead, he travels to Chicago with an enchanted flower, hoping to strike a bargain with a family of monsters who feed on emotions. Ala, the current family member infected by their curse, agrees to his terms: help him find the legendary witch Baba Jaga, and she can finally be cured of the horrific visions she suffers from. Together they team up to find the witch before the flower dies, meeting up with new monsters and facing old regrets. I really, really loved this book and am already looking forward to a reread.

Read because this slim novel is short enough to read in one sitting and rich enough to stick in your head for weeks.
Pass if you are currently among crows. Enjoy the moment!
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Women and Children First by Alina Grabowski

In small town Nashquitten, Massachusetts, a high school girl named Lucy dies at a house party under questionable circumstances. Told through the eyes of ten women, before and after the death, ranging from an acquaintance from school to the girl's mother, the novel is a deep character study of how each woman experiences or processes the events. A look at a run-down small town, dangerous high school dynamics, and the different ways women specifically are struggling with their lives.

Read because this is the literary mystery you've been waiting for since I Have Some Questions For You.
Pass if you like your literary puzzles one-dimensional and easy to solve.
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Long Island by Colm Toíbín

Continuing the story he began in Brooklyn (2009), Toíbín travels 20 years into the future when Eilis Lacey is living in Long Island after emigrating to the U.S. from Ireland in the late 1950s. Now married into a large Italian family and with two teenagers, Eilis faces an existential crisis when she learns that her plumber husband has fathered a child with one of his customers and that, when born, the child will be left on her doorstep. While trying to decide how to handle this prospect, Eilis takes a trip to Ireland for her mother's 80th birthday. While in Ennisworthy, she meets up with Jim, the pub owner with whom she had a brief affair 20 years earlier, and their interest in each other is reignited. Jim has his own existential crisis because he has become involved with another woman who is about to announce their engagement. Toíbín paints the three main protagonists with empathy and tenderness, and it is heartbreaking to watch the three as they struggle with decisions that will change their lives forever.

Read because it's an absolute pleasure to spend more time with these characters.
Pass if you're going to wait 15 years to see if Saoirse Ronan and Domhnall Gleeson reprise their roles for the sequel.
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