Recommendations and Reviews

Highlights of what we've been reading and loving.

Books to Celebrate Independence

As an independent bookshop, we are always excited to celebrate independence. This July 4th, we celebrate our nation's independence. I think it's a good time to reflect on what it means to be a good citizen of our country. It is also a good time to share stories of people who have worked hard for our country with our children.

20 Titles to Celebrate 20 Years of Harry Potter

Twenty years ago this September, readers across the country felt the roar of a flying motorcycle, heard the soft cries of a mysterious child, and glimpsed a haughty tabby cat in the company of a strange old man in a robe. If you're anything like us, Harry Potter awakened an appetite you didn't even know you had—one for sprawling tales of magic and adventure and the kind of intricate, imaginative "worldbuilding" that's been imitated many times but very rarely equalled. 

Scholastic is celebrating Harry's anniversary with a gorgeous new set of paperbacks designed by the inimitable Brian Selznick (available for purchase at your favorite West Houston bookstore, FYI). We're getting in on the action this Saturday at 3p.m., with a special anniversary party complete with trivia, costumes, and fun prizes. But perhaps the best way to celebrate Harry Potter is to recreate that special kind of magic you felt when you first read the books. And for that, you need books.

Book Bites: From Loony to Literary

A bookstore, we think, shares a lot of DNA with a candy store. Hear us out: Our shelves are filled with brightly-colored diversions and temptations—some classic, some exciting and new, capable of satisfying any craving. Consider our latest staff favorites, which run from madcap picture books to teen fantasy to a psychological thrill ride to a new literary masterpiece (seriously). They’re all prettily packaged and perfect for summer afternoons or book club discussions. Only one question remains: What’s your flavor?

Book Bites: Summer Reading, Ho!

Summer is here, which means that some of the most entertaining books of the year are hitting our shelves in waves. Looking for laughs? Pick up The Kiss Quotient or the new David Sedaris and head to the beach. Later, use a chilling new mystery from the likes of Julia Heaberlin or Anthony Horowitz to help cool down. And make room for Lauren Weisberger, whose new book checks in on Emily from The Devil Wears Prada, along with a stunning, literary YA novel from Tiffany D. Jackson that any teen or grown-up should read.

Long story short: Grab any (or all) of the books on this list, then find yourself a favorite spot. Plan to stay there awhile—you won’t want to get up until you’ve turned the last page.

Book Bites: A Pleasant Ensemble of Ducks—At Last!

How is May already two-thirds gone? It's been a wonderful month for middle grade series. Last time, we told you about the first book in a new trilogy from Newbery-winner Katherine Applegate; this time, one beloved series comes to an end and another celebrates a re-birth with some snazzy new covers. Speaking of snazzy covers, have you visited the adult fiction section lately? Some of our favorite new releases are as striking for their jacket design as they are for their prose (which is to say: very). But enough chit-chat—bring on the recommendations!

Book Bites: Walking, Pitching, Scooping, Theorizing, Endling

Warm weather is here, and we’ve got summer on our minds. That means books about baseball, books about ice cream, and books about the great outdoors—both in our own world and in a sweeping new fantasy realm from the mind of Katherine Applegate. Plus, Valerie knows the perfect action-packed literary thriller to take to the beach. Remember, nothing blocks harmful UV rays like holding a book in front of your nose. Reading: It’s good for your health.

Book Bites: A Newbery Medalist, Meg Wolitzer, and a Bourdain-Approved Cookbook

This week, we’ve got a slew of fantastic recommendations from big names for you. Meg Wolitzer’s fiery new release, The Female Persuasion, deserves a place on your shelf. With bullseye social commentary, relatable characters, and an eye-catching cover, this book is a timely must-read. Meanwhile, chef Edward Lee’s Buttermilk Graffiti takes us on a journey across the melting pot of America; brimming with fascinating stories and mouthwatering recipes, you’re in for a delightful spread from start to finish. (Oh, and Anthony Bourdain loved it.) Middle grade readers rejoice: 2017 Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly has a new book out! You Go First expertly pieces together the complicated challenges of family, growing up, and making friends. Take it from us—don’t miss it!

We could go on, but the reviews await. Read on!

Book Bites: New York, Alaska, North Carolina, France, Morocco

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?

Book Bites: TeenBookCon is Coming!

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.

Book Bites: Hello Auntie Poldi, Wild Boggart!

There's no place as magical as a bookshelf—just think of the wonders they can hold! To read is to visit a thousand wonderful worlds. Here are nine of our recent favorites, from picture books to high literary fiction to a breezy madcap mystery bursting with charm. We can't wait to share these new and recent releases—read on!

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