Some of you may know that I'm late to the poetry lovefest. But hanging out with friends from Diesel Bookstore in California and Talking Leaves in Buffalo (add those two to your travel list) has educated me in understanding and appreciating this lovely art form. I try to read a poem every morning as dawn approaches. I try to understand what the poet is thinking and how I react. What does this mean to us—this approach to our lives—all messy and beautiful?
Spring break may have come and gone, but we're still nursing a case of wanderlust. Here, as ever, books are our friend. Explore seven of our recent favorites below, and be transported to an array of wonderful settings, from your mom's kitchen counter to the lush streets of Tangiers. The Book Bites Express is also making stops in the Alaskan wilderness, the French countryside, the backwoods of North Carolina, and Central Park this week. They're all worth a trip—what sounds best?
Roshani Chokshi rocked the YA world when her debut novel, The Star-Touched Queen, shot up the New York Times bestseller list upon its publication in 2016. Tabbed as an "author to watch" by Kirkus, she hasn't let her foot off the gas since. A Crown of Wishes, the follow-up to The Star-Touched Queen earned more starred reviews as it expanded Chokshi's fictional universe and doubled down on the original's clever nods to Indian folklore. Now, Chokshi is tackling a new challenge: Writing for middle grade readers. Her middle grade debut, Aru Shah and the End of Time, is the story of a twelve-year-old girl who unwittingly frees an ancient demon and has to journey through the Hindu Kingdom of Death. It was chosen to launch Rick Riordan's new publishing imprint, and it doesn't disappoint.
Don't miss Roshani when she visits the store on March 28—we're so jazzed to share this book with Houston readers. Learn more about this exciting young author by reading our Q&A below, then pre-order Aru Shah to reserve your spot in the signing line when Roshani comes to town.
Author and illustrator Brenden Wenzel, who was awarded a Caldecott Honor for his gorgeous picture book They All Saw a Cat, loves planet earth. You can sense that the moment you pick up one of his books—each of Wenzel's works, from his collaborations with other authors to his solo outings, shines with his awe of the natural world. That's especially true of Hello Hello, his latest picture book release, which celebrates the majesty and diversity of some of our planet's most critically endangered species. A staunch environmentalist, Wenzel is using his considerable skill to inspire kids and change the world.
We can't wait to welcome Brendan Wenzel to the store on Wednesday, March 21 to hear more about his process and inspiration. In the meantime, check out his thoughtful answers to our questions in our Q&A.
Here's something you already know: We love books.
But maybe you didn't know this: We think that some of the best books being published today are written for teens and young adults.
That's especially apparent to us now, as we prepare to host the ninth annual TeenBookCon on March 24. We've been reading some of the wonderful novels by this year's authors—you can read seven of our recommendations below—and we've come away better readers and wiser people. Urgent, funny, and full of nuance, these stories have universal appeal. So check out our roundup, then pre-register (it's free!) for TeenBookCon online. You'll have a chance to meet all of the authors featured below—along with nineteen others. It's going to be a magical day.
Here at the store, we almost always have a picture book circulating around our staff. Sometimes they make us think, like Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel. Sometimes they make us cry, like Love by Matt de la Peña. And sometimes they make us snort coffee through our noses and run to the back room, howling with laughter. Author and illustrator Tim Miller specializes in that last category. His books are zany, funny, and full of heart. He's a big hit with young readers, too—we're teaming up with Tim to visit a few Houston-area schools on April 3, and we can't wait to see their reactions to What's Cooking, Moo Moo?, his laugh-out-loud latest. Before we yuk it up with the youngsters, we caught up with Tim for a quick Q&A. Read on!
Ever since An Ember in the Ashes was published in 2015, we've been hanging on every word written by Sabaa Tahir. (Look, any time an author is compared to JK Rowling, the first thing you do is run to the closest bookstore.) You can believe the hype. Tahir is a master storyteller at the height of her powers, and her propulsive Ember series is almost impossible to put down. Filled with compelling characters moving through a fantasy world that can bear an uncomfortable resemblance to our own, the Ember quartet is well on its way to "classic" status—and the third book doesn't even come out until June. Tahir is also a tireless advocate for representation in young adult literature, wearing her support for diverse stories on her sleeve—and on the beautiful covers of her bestsellers.
We can't wait to welcome Tahir to TeenBookCon on March 24, where she'll deliver the morning keynote address before appearing on panels with other fantastic authors and greeting fans at the end of the day. Go ahead and pre-register (it's free!) now, then come back and read our Q&A with the author below.
Joelle Charbonneau knows a thing or two about a good thriller—we're still reeling after the ending of the Testing trilogy, and that was years ago. True to form, her new YA release, Time Bomb, offers thrills aplenty. But Charbonneau also weaves in provocative narrative themes around the destructive power of assumption and how there can be much more to a person than what meets the eye. The author is visiting us for a special in-store event on March 20. Before she comes, check out our exclusive Q&A below—and don't forget to preorder Time Bomb from our website. Once you get your hands on it, you won't be able to put it down.
Our March is following the old adage—in like a lion and out like a lamb. (Not that our upcoming April visit with Junot Díaz qualifies as going out like a lamb.) But the rest of our month will be so full of author visits and school events that we'll scarcely be able to catch a breath until April is here! We may need to start doing yoga poses and breathing exercises at our weekly staff meeting.
Have you read The Authentics, the debut YA novel from Abdi Nazemian? Stick it on your to-be-read list if it's not already there. It's a deeply resonant story about love, self-discovery, and famiy—both the one that we're given and the one that we choose. Its protagonist, Daria Esfandyar, is a proud Iranian-American teenager with a fresh voice, and she'll stick with you long after the book is over. We gobbled this book up when it came out last summer, and we're eagerly awaiting Nazemian's next.
As a matter of fact, we plan on asking him what he's been working on when he visits us for TeenBookCon on March 24—along with 25 more of the best teen and YA authors out there. (You're coming, right?) We caught up with Abdi for a short Q&A before the festival—read it below.