Bookshelf

Bookshelf

June Books

FICTION

Husbands & Lovers, by Beatriz Williams

Two women — separated by decades and continents, and united by an exotic family heirloom — reclaim secrets and lost loves in this sweeping novel from The New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Wives. New England, 2022: Single mother Mallory Dunne receives the telephone call every parent dreads — her 10-year-old son Sam has been airlifted from summer camp with acute poisoning from a toxic mushroom, leaving him fighting for his life. In a search for the donor kidney that will give her son a chance for a normal life, Mallory is forced to confront two harrowing secrets from her past: her mother’s adoption from an infamous Irish orphanage in 1952, and her own all-consuming summer romance 14 years earlier with her childhood best friend, Monk Adams, a fairytale cut short by a devastating betrayal. Cairo, 1951: After suffering tragedy beyond comprehension in the war, Hungarian refugee Hannah Ainsworth has forged a respectable new life for herself — marriage to a wealthy British diplomat and a coveted posting in glamorous Cairo. A fateful encounter with the enigmatic manager of a hotel bristling with spies leads to a passionate affair that will reawaken Hannah’s longing for everything she once lost. Timeless and bittersweet, Husbands & Lovers draws readers on an unforgettable journey of heartbreak and redemption, from the revolutionary fires of midcentury Egypt to the moneyed beaches of contemporary New England.

A Happier Life, by Kristy Woodson Harvey

The bestselling author of The Summer of Songbirds presents a tender and touching novel about a young woman who discovers the family she has always longed for when she spends a life-changing summer in North Carolina. Present day: Keaton Smith is desperate for a fresh start, so when her mother needs someone to put her childhood home in Beaufort, North Carolina, on the market — the home that Keaton didn’t know existed until now — she jumps at the chance to head south. The moment she steps foot inside the abandoned house, she’s confronted with secrets about grandparents who died in a car accident before she was born. And as she gets to know her charming next-door neighbor, his precocious 10-year-old son and a flock of endearingly feisty town busybodies, she soon finds she has more questions than answers. 1976: After meeting her adoring husband, Townsend, Rebecca “Becks” Saint James abandoned the life she knew and never looked back. Forty years later, she’s made a name for herself as the best hostess North Carolina has ever seen. Her annual summer suppers have become the stuff of legend, and locals and out-of-towners alike clamor for an invitation to her stunning historic home. Becks strives to make the lives of those around her as easy as possible, but this summer she is facing a dilemma that even she can’t solve. As both Keaton and Becks face new challenges and chapters, they are connected through time by the house on Sunset Lane, which has protected the secrets, hopes and dreams of the women in their family for generations.

Summer Romance, by Annabel Monaghan

The bestselling author of Nora Goes Off Script pens this romantic and hilarious story of a professional organizer whose life is a mess, and the summer she gets unstuck with the help of someone unexpected from her past. Ali Morris is a professional organizer whose own life is a mess. Her mom died two years ago, then her husband left, and she hasn’t worn pants with a zipper in longer than she cares to remember. No one is more surprised than Ali when the first time she takes off her wedding ring and puts on pants with hardware she meets someone. Or rather, her dog claims a man for her . . . by peeing on him. Ethan looks at Ali as if she’s a younger, braver version of herself. The last thing the newly single mom needs is to make her life messier, but there’s no harm in a little summer romance. Is there?

Swan Song, by Elin Hilderbrand

The New York Times bestselling author brings her Nantucket novels to a brilliant finish when rich strangers move to the island and social mayhem — and a possible murder — follow. Can Nantucket’s best locals save the day and their way of life? Chief of police Ed Kapenash is about to retire. Blonde Sharon is going through a divorce. When a $22,000,000 summer home is purchased by the mysterious Richardsons (how did they make their money, exactly?), Ed, Sharon and everyone in the community are swept up in high drama. The Richardsons throw lavish parties, flirt with multiple locals, flaunt their wealth with not one but two yachts, and raise the impossible hopes of everyone they meet. When their house burns to the ground and their most essential employee goes missing, the entire island is up in arms.

Not In Love, by Ali Hazelwood

Rue Siebert might not have it all, but she has enough: a few friends she can always count on, the financial stability she yearned for as a kid, and a successful career as a biotech engineer at one of the most promising startups in the field of food science. Her world is stable, pleasant and hard-fought — until a hostile takeover and its offensively attractive front man threatens to bring it all crumbling down. Eli Killgore has his own reasons for pushing this deal through, and he’s a man who gets what he wants — with one burning exception: Rue, the woman he can’t stop thinking about. Torn between loyalty and an undeniable attraction, Rue and Eli throw caution out the lab and the boardroom windows. Their affair is secret, no-strings-attached, and has a built-in deadline: the day one of their companies will prevail. A forbidden, secret affair proves that all’s fair in love and science.

The First Ladies, by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray 

The daughter of formerly enslaved parents, Mary McLeod Bethune refuses to back down as white supremacists attempt to thwart her work. She marches on as an activist and an educator, and as her reputation grows she becomes a celebrity, revered by titans of business and recognized by U.S. presidents. Eleanor Roosevelt herself is awestruck and eager to make her acquaintance. Initially drawn together because of their shared belief in women’s rights and the power of education, Mary and Eleanor become fast friends, confiding their secrets, hopes and dreams — and holding each other’s hands through tragedy and triumph. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president, the two women begin to collaborate more closely, particularly as Eleanor moves toward her own agenda separate from FDR’s, a consequence of the devastating discovery of her husband’s secret love affair. Eleanor becomes a controversial first lady for her outspokenness, particularly on civil rights. And when she receives threats because of her strong ties to Mary, it only fuels the women’s desire to fight together for justice and equality.

 


 

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

The Pelican Can! by Toni Yuly

Pelicans: lovely to watch and just as lovely to read about. This rhythmic picture book shares the beauty of a pelican’s day with scientific facts and delightful illustrations, making it the perfect read-together at the end of a long beach day. (Ages 2-6.)

Chloe and Maude, by Sandra Boynton

Adventures await with best friends Chloe and Maude. Art! Hiking! Even a tiny disagreement — everything is more fun with a friend. A perfect choice for fans of Elephant & Piggie or Frog and Toad who are looking for short chapter books. (Ages 5-8.)

If You Spot a Shell,
by Aimée Sicuro

Conch, whelk, scallop, moon snail . . . who hasn’t, on a beach day, seen hats and boats and spiraling wheels while looking at these stunning shells? If You Spot a Shell celebrates the beauty and creativity of beach art and is a great read-together after a long sun-washed beach day. (Ages 3-8.)

Trouble at the Tangerine, by Gillian McDunn

All Simon Hyde wants to do on the day his family moves into Tangerine Pines is settle into his forever home. But a fire alarm, a stolen necklace and a missing bracelet may send the Hydes on a path to seek a new home sooner rather than later. This charming mystery is the perfect summer story for animal lovers, adventure seekers and budding foodies. (Ages 9-12.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.

Bookshelf

May Bookshelf

FICTION

Rednecks, by Taylor Brown

Brimming with the high-stakes drama of America’s West Virginia mine wars of 1920-21, Rednecks tells a powerful story of rebellion against oppression. In a land where the coal companies use violence and intimidation to keep miners from organizing, “Doc Moo” Muhanna, a Lebanese-American doctor (inspired by the author’s great-grandfather), toils amid the blood and injustice of the mining camps. When Frank Hugham, a Black World War I veteran and coal miner, takes dramatic steps to lead a miners’ revolt with a band of fellow veterans, Doc Moo risks his life and career to treat sick and wounded miners, while Frank’s grandmother, Beulah, fights her own battle to save her home and grandson. The real-life, fiery Mother Jones, an Irish-born labor organizer once known as “The Most Dangerous Woman in America,” struggles to maintain the ear of the miners amid the tide of rebellion, while the sharp-shooting police chief, Smilin’ Sid Hatfield, dares to stand up to the “gun thugs” of the coal companies. Rednecks is a propulsive, character-driven tale that’s both a century old and blisteringly contemporary.

Summers at the Saint, by Mary Kay Andrews

Everyone refers to the hotel St. Cecelia as “The Saint.” Traci Eddings was one of those outsiders whose family wasn’t rich enough or connected enough to vacation there, but she could work there. One fateful summer she did — and married the boss’ son. Now, she’s the widowed owner of the hotel, determined to see it returned to its glory days, even as staff shortages and financial troubles threaten to ruin it. Enlisting a motley crew of recently hired summer help, including the daughter of her estranged best friend, Traci has one summer season to turn it around. New information about a long-ago drowning at the hotel threatens to come to light, and the tragic death of one of their own brings her to the brink of despair. She has her back against the pink-painted wall of her beloved institution, and it will take all the wits and guts she has to see wrongs put right, to see guilty parties put in their place, and maybe even to find a new romance along the way.

The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club, by Helen Simonson

It is the summer of 1919, and Constance Haverhill is without prospects. Now that all the men have returned from the front, she has been asked to give up her cottage and her job at the estate she helped run during the war. While she looks for a position as a bookkeeper or governess, she’s sent as a lady’s companion to an old family friend who is convalescing at a seaside hotel. Despite having only weeks to find a permanent home, Constance is swept up in the social whirl of Hazelbourne-on-Sea after she rescues the local baronet’s daughter, Poppy Wirrall, from a social faux pas. Poppy wears trousers, operates a taxi and delivery service to employ local women, and runs a ladies’ motorcycle club (to which she plans to add flying lessons). She and her friends enthusiastically welcome Constance into their circle. And then there is Harris, Poppy’s recalcitrant but handsome brother, a fighter pilot wounded in battle, who warms in Constance’s presence. As the country prepares to celebrate its hard-won peace, Constance and the women of the club are forced to confront the fact that the freedoms they gained during the war are being revoked.

NONFICTION

The Light Eaters: How the Unseen World of Plant Intelligence Offers a New Understanding of Life on Earth, by Zoë Schlanger

It takes tremendous biological creativity to be a plant. To survive and thrive while rooted in a single spot, plants have adapted ingenious methods of survival. In recent years, scientists have learned about their ability to communicate, recognize their kin and behave socially, hear sounds, morph their bodies to blend into their surroundings, store useful memories that inform their life cycle, and trick animals into behaving to their benefit — to name just a few remarkable talents. In this eye-opening and informative look at the ecosystem we live in, The Light Eaters is a deep immersion into the drama of green life, and the complexity of this wild and awe-inspiring world that challenges our very understanding of agency and consciousness.

 


 

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Ahoy! by Sophie Blackall

Throw the phones in the surf and the interrupters into the brig. Then join the Captain and the Kid for a wild adventure on the high seas (well, the living room) in this rollicking romp from a Caldecott Medalist-winning author that celebrates family, fun and together time. (Ages 3-6.)

If You Want to Ride a Horse, by Amy Novesky

Step on up. Hold the reins firmly, but loosely; settle in the saddle, spine to spine; and breathe. Because . . . if you want to ride a horse, you have to be willing to fly. This lovely picture book anthem is a must for horse lovers everywhere. (Ages 4-7.)

A Rose, a Bridge and a Wild Black Horse, by Charlotte Zolotow

Spare and stunning, this reimagined classic highlights the depths of a daughter’s love for her mother. Racing the fastest cars, building the biggest castle, finding the perfect rose — they’re all symbols of honor — but taming the wildest horse and then leaving it to keep Mom company, that’s real daughter love! A Mother’s Day delight. (Ages 3-7.)

Greenwild: The World Behind the Door, by Pari Thomson

Going green gets a whole new meaning in this botanical fantasy where a stray cat, a missing mother and a dandelion paperweight are Daisy Thistledown’s ticket into a world of green magic . . . even without a grassport. Perfect for fans of Morrigan Crow, Keeper of Lost Cities or The Marvellers. (Ages 9-13.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.

April Bookshelf

April Bookshelf

FICTION

Table for Two, by Amor Towles

Millions of Towles fans are in for a treat as he shares some of his shorter fiction: six stories based in New York City and a novella set in Golden Age Hollywood. The New York stories, most of which take place around the year 2000, consider the fateful consequences that can spring from brief encounters and the delicate mechanics of compromise that operate at the heart of modern marriages. In Towles’ novella Rules of Civility, the indomitable Evelyn Ross leaves New York City in September 1938 with the intention of returning home to Indiana. But as her train pulls into Chicago, where her parents are waiting, she instead extends her ticket to Los Angeles. Told from seven points of view, “Eve in Hollywood” describes how Eve crafts a new future for herself — and others — in a noirish tale that takes readers through the movie sets, bungalows and dive bars of Los Angeles. Written with his signature wit, humor and sophistication, Table for Two is another glittering addition to Towles’ canon of stylish and transporting fiction.

What the Mountains Remember, by Joy Callaway

It’s April 1913, and Belle Newbold hasn’t seen mountains for seven years, not since her father died in a mining accident and her mother married gasoline magnate Shipley Newbold. When her stepfather’s business acquaintance Henry Ford includes the family in one of his famous Vagabonds camping tours, the group is invited to tour the unfinished Grove Park Inn. Belle is unexpectedly thrust into a role researching and writing about the building of the inn — a construction the locals are calling The Eighth Wonder of the World. As Belle peels back the façade of the inn, the society she’s come to claim as her own and the truth of her heart, she begins to see that perhaps her part in Grove Park’s story isn’t a coincidence after all. Perhaps it is only by watching a wonder rise from ordinary hands and mountain stone that she can finally find the strength to piece together the long-destroyed path toward whom she was meant to be.

NONFICTION

The Early Days of ESPN, by Peter Fox

There is a forever dramatic moment on the evening of September 7, 1979, when Peter Fox and colleagues threw the switch to change sports television and maybe even sports forever. This book chronicles the curvy, crazy, giddy days of riding ESPN’s early rocket into business history. It’s about the people, the daydreams and the nightmares.

A Really Strange and Wonderful Time: The Chapel Hill Music Scene 1989-1999, by Tom Maxwell

North Carolina has always produced extraordinary music of every description, but the indie rock boom of the late ’80s and early ’90s brought the state fully into the public consciousness while the subsequent post-grunge free-for-all bestowed its greatest commercial successes. In addition to a slate of excellent indie bands like Superchunk, Archers of Loaf and Polvo, this was the decade when other North Carolina artists broke Billboard’s Top 200 and sold millions of records. A Really Strange and Wonderful Time features a representative cross section of what was being created in and around Chapel Hill between 1989 and 1999. It documents local notables like Ben Folds Five, Dillon Fence, Flat Duo Jets, Small, Southern Culture on the Skids, The Veldt and Whiskeytown.

The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War, by Erik Larson

On Nov. 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln became the fluky victor in a tight race for president. The country was bitterly at odds: Southern extremists were moving ever closer to destroying the Union, with one state after another seceding, and Lincoln powerless to stop them. Slavery fueled the conflict, but somehow the passions of North and South came to focus on a lonely federal fortress in Charleston Harbor, Fort Sumter. Larson offers a gripping account of the chaotic months between Lincoln’s election and the Confederacy’s shelling of Sumter — a period marked by tragic errors and miscommunications, enflamed egos and craven ambitions, personal tragedies and betrayals.

 


 

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

The History Channel: This Day in History for Kids, by Dan Bova

What could be a more perfect gift for a teacher or a birthday than this fact-a-day encyclopedia?  Packed with tiny tidbits of history, this is the gift that keeps on giving. (Ages 8 and up).

What’s Inside a Bird’s Nest?, by Rachel Ignotofsky

Whether as a coffee table book or as a sit-with-me-read-together, this stunningly beautiful nature book is always the right choice. Lovers of the outdoors will find a treasure trove of information about eggs, nests, birds and the life cycles of our feathered friends. (Ages 4-10).

Frank and Bert: The One Where Bert Learns to Ride a Bike, by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

It just doesn’t get any cuter than Frank and Bert, and now Bert is learning to ride a bike. It may be a rocky road — with a few stops for supreme silliness — but these two friends will work it out. Usher in springtime with this fun read-together. (Ages 3-6).

Poemhood: Our Black Revival, by Amber McBride, Erica Martin and Taylor Byas

Just in time for National Poetry Month comes this stunning collection that includes contributions by poets both contemporary and canon. Audrey Lorde, Gwendolyn Brooks and Phyllis Wheatley sit on pages beside Kwame Alexander, Ibi Zoboi and Ama Asantewa Diaka. Covering themes of pain and joy, frustration and community, this collection is an important addition to any poetry shelf. (Ages 10 and up).

If You Want to Ride a Horse, by Amy Novesky

Step on up. Hold the reins firmly but loosely. Settle in the saddle, spine to spine, and breathe. If you want to ride a horse, you have to be willing to fly. This lovely picture book anthem is a must for horse lovers of all ages. (Ages 3-8).  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.

March Bookshelf

March Bookshelf

March Books

FICTION

Finding Margaret Fuller, by Allison Pataki

Young, brazen, beautiful and unapologetically brilliant, Margaret Fuller accepts an invitation from Ralph Waldo Emerson, the celebrated Sage of Concord, to meet his coterie of enlightened friends. There she becomes “the radiant genius and fiery heart” of the Transcendentalists, a role model to a young Louisa May Alcott, an inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne and the scandalous Scarlet Letter, a friend to Henry David Thoreau as he ventures out to Walden Pond . . . and a muse to Emerson. From Boston to the gritty streets of New York she defies conventions time and again. When the legendary editor Horace Greeley offers her an assignment in Europe, Margaret makes history as the first female foreign news correspondent, mingling with luminaries like Frédéric Chopin, William Wordsworth, George Sand and others. In Rome she finds a world of passion, romance and revolution, taking a Roman count as a lover — and sparking an international scandal. With a star-studded cast of characters and sweeping, epic historical events, this is a story of an inspiring trailblazer, a woman who loved big and lived even bigger.

Memory Piece, by Lisa Ko

In the early 1980s, Giselle Chin, Jackie Ong and Ellen Ng are three teenagers drawn together by their shared sense of alienation and desire for something different. “Allied in the weirdest parts of themselves,” they envision each other as artistic collaborators and embark on a future defined by freedom and creativity. By the time they are adults, their dreams are murkier. As a performance artist, Giselle must navigate an elite social world she never conceived of. As a coder thrilled by the internet’s early egalitarian promise, Jackie must contend with its more sinister shift toward monetization and surveillance. And as a community activist, Ellen confronts the increasing gentrification and policing overwhelming her New York City neighborhood. Over time their friendship matures and changes, their definitions of success become complicated, and their sense of what matters evolves. Memory Piece is an innovative and audacious story of three lifelong friends as they strive to build satisfying lives in a world that turns out to be radically different from the one they were promised.

James, by Percival Everett

When the enslaved Jim overhears that he is about to be sold to a man in New Orleans, separated from his wife and daughter forever, he decides to hide on nearby Jackson Island until he can formulate a plan. Meanwhile, Huck Finn has faked his own death to escape his violent father, recently returned to town. As all readers of American literature know, thus begins the dangerous and transcendent journey by raft down the Mississippi River toward the elusive and too-often-unreliable promise of the Free States and beyond. While many narrative set pieces of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn remain in place, Jim’s agency, intelligence and compassion are shown in a radically new light. Brimming with electrifying humor and lacerating observations James is destined to be a cornerstone of 21st century American literature.

Olivetti, by Allie Millington

Being a typewriter is not as easy as it looks. Surrounded by books (notorious attention hogs) and recently replaced by a computer, Olivetti has been forgotten by the Brindle family — the family he’s lived with for years. The Brindles are busy humans, apart from 12-year-old Ernest, who would rather be left alone with his collection of Oxford English Dictionaries. The least they could do was remember Olivetti once in a while, since he remembers every word they’ve typed on him. It’s a thankless job, keeping memories alive. Olivetti gets a rare glimpse of action from Ernest’s mom, Beatrice, only for her to drop him off at Heartland Pawn Shop and leave him helplessly behind. When Olivetti learns Beatrice has mysteriously gone missing afterward, he believes he can help find her. He breaks the only rule of the “typewriterly code” and types back to Ernest, divulging Beatrice’s memories stored inside him. As Olivetti spills out the past, Ernest is forced to face what he and his family have been running from, The Everything That Happened.

 


 

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Luigi, The Spider Who Wanted to Be a Kitten, by Michelle Knudsen

Oh, Luigi. The temptation of tasty breakfasts and getting tucked into bed have Luigi thinking kittens must live magical lives. So, a kitten he will be! But how long can he keep up this façade, and what might be at stake pretending to be something you’re not? This is a super sweet pet story from the author/illustrator team that created Library Lion. (Ages 3-6.)

Treehouse Town, by Gideon Sterer

Just below the canopy built on sticks and stilts, that’s where you’ll find treehouse town. With sunset lookout towers, nooks for books, and soft willow tree beds, treehouse town has something for everyone. Snuggle up! This sweet story with illustrations that have stories of their own is the perfect read-together. (Ages 3-7.)

Escargot and the Search for Spring, by Dashka Slater

Bonjour! It is the end of winter and time for Escargot to venture back into the world but . . . do his tentacles look a little droopy? His trail not quite so shimmery? Je suis désolé! It’s time to embrace sunshine. And flowers! And bunnies! Follow everyone’s favorite snail and enjoy the delights of spring. (Ages 2-6.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.

February Bookshelf 2024

February Bookshelf 2024

February Books

FICTION

The Women, by Kristin Hannah

Raised in the sun-drenched, idyllic world of Southern California and sheltered by her conservative parents, 20-year-old nursing student Frances “Frankie” McGrath has always prided herself on doing the right thing. But in 1965, the world is changing, and she suddenly dares to imagine a different future for herself. When her brother ships out to serve in Vietnam, she joins the Army Nurse Corps and follows his path. As green and inexperienced as the men sent to Vietnam to fight, Frankie is overwhelmed by the chaos and destruction of war. Each day is a gamble of life and death, hope and betrayal; friendships run deep and can be shattered in an instant. In war, she meets — and becomes — one of the lucky, the brave, the broken, and the lost. The real battle lies in coming home to a changed and divided America.

After Annie, by Anna Quindlen

When Annie Brown dies suddenly, her husband, her children and her closest friend are left to find a way forward without the woman who has been the lynchpin of all their lives. Bill is overwhelmed without his beloved wife, and Annemarie wrestles with the bad habits her best friend had helped her overcome. Ali, the eldest of Annie’s children, has to grow up overnight, to care for her younger brothers and even her father, and to puzzle out for herself many of the mysteries of adult life. Over the course of the next year what saves them all is Annie, ever-present in their minds, loving but not sentimental, caring but nobody’s fool, a voice in their heads that is funny and sharp and remarkably clear.

The Atlas Maneuver, by Steve Barry

In the waning months of World War II, Japan hid vast quantities of gold and other stolen valuables in booby-trapped underground caches all across the Philippines. By 1947 some of that loot was recovered, not by treasure hunters, but by the United States government, which told no one about the find. Instead, those assets were stamped classified, shipped to Europe, and secretly assimilated into something called the Black Eagle Trust. Fast forward to the 21st century, when a retired Justice Department operative, Cotton Malone, is in Switzerland doing a favor for a friend. What was supposed to be a simple operation turns violent, and Cotton is thrust into a war between the world’s oldest bank and the CIA, a battle that directly involves the Black Eagle Trust. He quickly discovers that everything hinges on a woman from his past, who suddenly reappears harboring a host of explosive secrets centering around bitcoin. Cotton has to act. But at what cost? 

NONFICTION

Our Ancient Faith: Lincoln, Democracy, and the American Experiment, by Allen C. Guelzo

Abraham Lincoln grappled with the greatest crisis of democracy that has ever confronted the United States. While many books have been written about his temperament, judgment and steady hand in guiding the country through the Civil War, we know less about Lincoln’s penetrating ideas and beliefs about democracy, which were every bit as important as his character in sustaining him through the crisis. Guelzo, one of America’s foremost experts on Lincoln, captures the president’s firmly held belief that democracy was the greatest political achievement in human history. He shows how Lincoln’s deep commitment to the balance between majority and minority rule enabled him to stand firm against secession while also committing the Union to reconciliation rather than recrimination in the aftermath of war.

 


 

 

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

This Book Will Make You an Artist, by Ruth Millington

Art can be intimidating, but fret no longer. With an insider’s look at 25 artists and creators including Hilma af Klint, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Claude Monet and Yayoi Kusama, plus DIY project starters, this book will make anyone both an artist and an art appreciator. (Ages 7-10).

All of Those Babies, by Mylisa Larsen

Pufflings, peeps, poults and colts, baby animals are just so darn cute. Celebrate those newborns and watch as they grow in this rhyming read-together perfect for young animal lovers. (Ages 3-6).

Love, Escargot, by Dashka Slater

Oooh la la! Escargot, the adorable French gastropod, is back for another adventure. Today is Snailentine’s Day, and Escargot is (slowly) on the way to a très bonne fête with canapés, crudités, dancing and beautiful cards to exchange with the one who makes you feel magnifique! Silly, fun and just a little French, Escargot is sure to be a giggle-inducing read-together favorite. (Ages 3-6).

Kin: Rooted in Hope, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrations by Jeffrey Boston Weatherford

North Carolina author Carole Boston Weatherford’s books have been awarded the Newbery Medal, Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award. Now, Weatherford and her equally award-winning son have collaborated on this stunning collection of poems unfolding the narrative of their family over five generations. (Ages 10 and up).  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.

January Bookshelf

January Bookshelf

January Books

FICTION

The Curse of Pietro Houdini, by Derek B. Miller

From the Dagger Award-winning author of Norwegian by Night comes a vivid, thrilling, moving World War II art heist adventure where enemies become heroes, allies become villains, and a child learns what it means to become an adult. In August 1943, 14-year-old Massimo is all alone, attacked by thugs, and finds himself bloodied at the base of the Montecassino. It is there in the Benedictine abbey’s shadow that a charismatic and cryptic man calling himself Pietro Houdini rescues Massimo and brings him up the mountain to serve as his assistant in preserving the treasures that lie within the monastery walls. When it becomes evident that Montecassino will soon become the front line in the war, Pietro Houdini and Massimo execute a plan to smuggle three priceless Titian paintings to safety down the mountain. They are joined by a nurse concealing a nefarious past, a café owner turned murderer, a wounded German soldier, and a pair of lovers along with their injured mule, Ferrari. Together they will lie, cheat, steal, fight, kill and sin their way through battlefields to survive, all while smuggling the Renaissance masterpieces and the bag full of ancient Greek gold they have rescued from the “safe keeping” of the Germans.

Old Crimes, by Jill McCorkle

North Carolina’s McCorkle, the author of the New York Times bestselling Life After Life and Hieroglyphics, delivers a collection of stories that offers an intimate look at the moments when a person’s life changes forever. Old Crimes delves into the lives of characters who hold their secrets and misdeeds close, even as the past continues to reverberate over time and across generations. Despite the characters’ yearnings for connection, they can’t seem to tell the whole truth. In “Low Tones,” a woman uses her hearing impairment as a way to guard herself from her husband’s commentary. In “Lineman,” a telephone lineman strains to connect to his family even as he feels pushed aside in a digital world. In “Confessional,” a young couple buys a confessional booth for fun, only to discover the cost of honesty.

House of Ash and Shadow, by Leia Stone

Seventeen-year-old Fallon Bane was born with a devastating curse: a single touch from another person will cause her excruciating pain. She has accepted that she will die without ever being kissed, without even hugging her own father, though it breaks her heart every day. When her father falls ill, she breaks into the magical Gilded City to find a healer, Fae, who can save him. When Ariyon Madden agrees to help, everything Fallon knows about herself and her curse changes. During her father’s healing, Ariyon reaches out and touches Fallon’s bare skin. She waits for the agony . . . but it never comes. For the first time in her life, she imagines a new future for herself. However, that fantasy is quickly destroyed, because not only does Ariyon flee from her in disgust when he learns of her curse, he also reveals her existence to powerful Fae who want to hurt her.

NONFICTION

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius,
translated by David V. Hicks and C. Scot Hicks

Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman Empire at its height, yet he remained untainted by the immense wealth and absolute power that had corrupted many of his predecessors. He knew the secret of how to live the good life amid trying and often catastrophic circumstances, of how to find happiness and peace when surrounded by misery and turmoil, and how to make the right choices — even if they are more difficult — without regard for self-interest. Offering a vivid and fresh translation of this important piece of ancient literature, Meditations brings Aurelius’ inspiring words to life and shows his wisdom to be as relevant today as it was in the second century. Two brothers, both headmasters at independent schools, began translating the meditations from the original Greek by emailing back and forth over a period of years. The result is this translation that is a profound pleasure to read.

 


 

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Out Cold: A Little Bruce Book, by Ryan T. Higgins

That beloved, grumpy old bear Bruce is back, and this time he’s stuck inside with a cold. When the mice decide to bring the outdoors indoors to cheer him up, things don’t quite go as planned. Now Bruce may be grumpier than ever! (Ages 2-6.)

K Is in Trouble, by Gary Clement

Are you a kid who is tragically misunderstood . . . by everyone? Do the arbitrary rules of the world puzzle and confound you? Well, meet your soulmate, K, a kid who doesn’t deserve any of the tragedies that befall him. But happen they do, and it never seems to stop! This darkly tragic graphic novel will warm the cold heart of every kid who feels they’ve been wronged by this cruel, cruel world — and may even bring tiny smiles to their faces. Fans of Roald Dahl will love this Kafkaesque ode to the long-suffering child. (Ages 8-12.)

As Night Falls: Creatures that Go Wild after Dark, by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrations by Felicita Sala

Listed among the New York Times’ best-illustrated books of 2023, this animal science-themed picture book gives a peek into the animals that come alive just as the rest of the world is quieting down. Vibrant illustrations depict animals from the microscopic to the majestic with a clever food chain twist. A bedtime book like no other, this one is sure to become a family favorite. (Ages 3-7.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.

Bookshelf

Bookshelf

December Books

FICTION

The Exchange, by John Grisham

What became of Mitch and Abby McDeere after they exposed the crimes of Memphis law firm Bendini, Lambert and Locke and fled the country? The answer is in The Exchange, the riveting sequel to The Firm, the blockbuster thriller that launched the career of one of America’s favorite storytellers. It is now 15 years later, and Mitch and Abby are living in Manhattan, where Mitch is a partner at the largest law firm in the world. When a mentor in Rome asks him for a favor that will take him far from home, Mitch finds himself at the center of a sinister plot that has worldwide implications — and once again endangers his colleagues, friends and family.

NONFICTION

Babusya’s Kitchen: Recipes for Living and Eating Well in Ukraine, by Returned Peace Corps Ukraine Volunteers

Peace Corps volunteers created this cookbook from the recipes they learned while serving in the small towns and villages across Ukraine. The cookbook serves as a fundraiser for Ukraine Relief Efforts through the RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) Alliance for Ukraine as well as a culinary delight. In addition to the traditional Ukrainian recipes that “provide a window into rural living,” the volunteers include recipes that helped new cooks in a foreign country share American cooking traditions with international friends.

The Secret Lives of Color, by Kassia St. Clair

This unknown history of color tells the unusual stories of 75 fascinating shades, dyes and hues, and the vivid history behind them. From the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague; from Picasso’s blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux; from acid yellow to Kelly green; and scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. St. Clair turned her lifelong obsession with colors and where they come from into a unique study of human civilization.

Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris

No matter what your favorite holiday is, you won’t want to miss celebrating it with the author The Economist has called “one of the funniest writers alive.” Sedaris’ beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never-before-published story. Along with timeless favorites from Santaland are Sedaris’ tales of tardy trick-or-treaters (“Us and Them”); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French (“Jesus Shaves”); what to do when you’ve been locked out in a snowstorm (“Let It Snow”); the puzzling Christmas traditions of other nations (“Six to Eight Black Men”); what Halloween at the medical examiner’s looks like (“The Monster Mash”); and a barnyard secret Santa scheme gone awry (“Cow and Turkey”). The Country Bookshop has autographed copies.

Museum Bums, by Jack Shoulder and Mark Small

What do Hieronymus Bosch, the Roman cult of Antinous and the peach emoji all have in common? Butts, of course! Divided into six categories of keisters, this humorous history book takes you on a whirlwind tour of the finest rear ends in museums around the world — from the lusciously rendered bottoms of Renaissance paintings to the abstract curves of contemporary art. Heritage scholars and art educators Small and Shoulder pair illuminating social commentary, historical context and lively captions with captivating depictions of tasteful — if cheeky — bums in art. Including an angel slyly copping a feel in a 16th century triptych, a 25,000-year-old bodacious Venus, and Cezanne’s dreamy booty-ful bathers, this assortment of artistic behinds is both a celebration and study of the bounty of beautiful bottoms and their everlasting impressions.

 


 

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? by Mac Barnett, illustrations by Jon Klassen

It’s the age-old question. How does he do it?  If anyone would have access to Santa’s secret file, it’s the team of Klassen and Barnett. With insider info, holiday hilarity and, well, dogs, this is going to be a must-have holiday book. (Ages 3-8.)

The Christmassy Cactus, by Beth Ferry

Oh, my, the cuteness. Cactus will poke her way into your heart in this delightful holiday story of a tiny green spiny cactus who holds her own against giant green shiny trees and proves that holiday wishes do indeed come true. (Ages 3-6.)

The Met: 5,000 Years of Awesome Objects, by Aaron Rosen, Susie Hodge, Susie Brooks, and Mary Richards

You’ll get lost in this history of art for children featuring 5000 years of the most unusual, bizarre, fascinating and awesome objects — practically a museum in itself. (Ages 8-14.)

The Jules Verne Prophecy, by Larry Schwarz and Iva-Marie Palmer

When Owen finds himself stuck in Paris for the summer with his mom, he is sure the whole vacation will be a boring flop, but a mysterious skateboarder, a rare Jules Verne book and a few new friends really turn things around. This wild ride of an adventure journeys through the most amazing sites in Paris, including the Eiffel Tower, the catacombs and a secret skatepark. (Ages 9-12.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.

Bookshelf

Bookshelf

November Books

FICTION

The Little Liar, by Mitch Albom

Until his 11th birthday, Nico Krispis had never told a lie. When the Nazis invade his home in Salonika, Greece, the trustworthy boy is discovered by a German officer, who offers him a chance to save his family. All Nico has to do is convince his fellow Jewish residents to board trains heading toward “the East,” where they are promised jobs and safety. Unaware that this is all a cruel ruse, the honest boy tells the frightened passengers they will be safe. But when the final train is loaded, Nico sees his family being pushed inside. Only after it is too late does he realize he has been helping send everyone he loves to their doom. He never tells the truth again. Albom interweaves the stories of Nico, who becomes a pathological liar, his brother Sebastian and their schoolmate Fannie, who survive the death camps and marry as teenagers, and Udo Graf, the Nazi officer who duped Nico into losing his soul, in this deeply moving story about the harm we inflict with our deceits, and the power of love to ultimately redeem us.

The Vulnerables, by Sigrid Nunez

Elegy plus comedy is the only way to express how we live in the world today, says a character in this New York Times bestselling author’s ninth novel. A solitary female narrator asks what it means to be alive at this complex moment in history and considers how our present reality affects the way a person looks back on her past. Humor, to be sure, is a priceless refuge. Equally vital is connection with others, who here include an adrift member of Gen Z and a spirited parrot named Eureka. The Vulnerables reveals what happens when strangers are willing to open their hearts to each other, and how far even small acts of caring can go to ease another’s distress.

NONFICTION

The Explorers Club: A Visual Journey Through the Past, Present, and Future of Exploration, edited by Jeff Wilser

The discovery of the North and South Poles. The summiting of Everest. The moon landing. The birth of climate change science. These are just some of the stories from The Explorers Club, the book released by the organization that, since its inception in 1904, has pushed the envelope of human curiosity. This guided tour of the club’s most riveting journeys includes hundreds of photos and fascinating anecdotes about its distinguished members, including Teddy Roosevelt, Neil Armstrong and Jane Goodall. From the darkest depths of the ocean to the highest points on Earth, and to outer space and beyond, this book shares the inspirational history of exploration.

A Woman I Know, by Mary Haverstick

The true story of a filmmaker whose unexpected investigation opened a new window onto the world of Cold War espionage, CIA secrets and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Haverstick, an independent filmmaker, thought she’d stumbled onto the project of a lifetime — a biopic of a little-known aviation legend whose story seemed to embody the hopeful spirit of the dawn of the Space Age. After receiving a mysterious warning from a government agent, what she found as she dug deeper was a darker story of double identities and female spies, a tangle of intrigue that stretched from the fields of the Congo to the shores of Cuba, from the streets of Mexico City to the dark heart of the Kennedy assassination in Dallas.

 


 

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Illusions in Art: Animals, by Chiêu Anh Urban

Simple illustrations of a monkey, a seal, a fox, a swan contain cleverly hidden drawings of entirely different animals in this exploration of positive and negative space. Art! Animals! Together time! There couldn’t be a more perfect “sit in my lap and read” book than this. (Ages 2-4.)

I Want 100 Dogs, by Stacy McAnulty

Getting a new pet is always a delicate negotiation between the pet “wanter” and the ultimate pet “caretaker.” This delightful new “tail” tale hilariously, yet poignantly, digs into the how, what, when and why of pet ownership. Fun for anyone considering adding a furry family member. (Ages 3-7.)

Okra Stew: A Gullah Geechee Family Celebration, by Natalie Daise

You can almost smell the salt marsh in this stunning homage to Gullah culture, father-son love, and okra. With art reminiscent of Lois Ehlert or Faith Ringgold, this one is a must for all young Southern foodies. (Ages 3-7.)

There Was a Party for Langston,
by Jason Reynolds

There was a hoopla in Harlem. A whizbanger for the wordsmiths. Young readers can celebrate the joy of Langston Hughes through the verse of Jason Reynolds and the illustrations of Jerome and Jarret Pumphrey in this must-have new picture book. (Ages 3-7.)

5,000 Years of Awesome Objects: A History of Art for Children, by Aaron Rosen, Susie Hodge, Susie Brooks,
Mary Richards

Go on a trip through the Metropolitan Museum of Art and get lost in a book that features 5,000 years of the most unusual, bizarre, fascinating and awesome objects in history including Mayan jewelry, Egyptian amulets and even American baseball cards. (Ages 8 and up.)  PS


Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.

Bookshelf

Bookshelf

October Books

FICTION

The Glutton, by A.K. Blakemore

1798, France. Nuns move along the dark corridors of a Versailles hospital where the young Sister Perpetué has been tasked with sitting by the patient who must always be watched. The man, gaunt, with his sallow skin and distended belly, is dying — they say he ate a golden fork, and that it’s killing him from the inside. But that’s not all. He is rumored to have done monstrous things in his attempts to sate an insatiable appetite . . . an appetite they say tortures him still. Born in an impoverished village to a widowed young mother, Tarare was once overflowing with quiet affection: for his mother, for the plants and little creatures in the woods and fields around their house. But soon life as he knew it is violently upended. Tarare is pitched down a chaotic path through revolutionary France, left to the mercy of strangers, and increasingly, bottomlessly, ravenous. This exhilarating, disquieting novel paints a richly imagined life for The Great Tarare, The Glutton of Lyon in 18th-century France: a world of desire, hunger, poverty, chaos and survival.

Julia, by Sandra Newman

Julia Worthing is a mechanic, working in the Fiction Department at the Ministry of Truth. It’s 1984, and Britain (now called Airstrip One) has long been absorbed into the larger transatlantic nation of Oceania. Ruled by an ultra-totalitarian party whose leader is a quasi-mythical figure called Big Brother, Oceania has been at war for as long as anyone can remember. In short, everything about this world is as it is in George Orwell’s 1984. All her life, Julia has known only Oceania and, until she meets Winston Smith, she has never imagined anything else. She is an ideal citizen: cheerfully cynical, always ready with a bribe, piously repeating every political slogan while believing in nothing. She routinely breaks the rules, but also collaborates with the regime when necessary. Then one day she finds herself walking toward Winston Smith in a corridor and impulsively slips him a note, setting in motion the journey through Orwell’s now-iconic dystopia, with twists that reveal unexpected sides not only to Julia, but to other familiar figures in the 1984 universe.

The Hive and The Honey, by Paul Yoon

A boy searches for his father, a prison guard on Sakhalin Island. In Barcelona, a woman is tasked with spying on a prizefighter who may or may not be her estranged son. A samurai escorts an orphan to his countrymen in the Edo Period. A formerly incarcerated man starts a new life in a small town in upstate New York and attempts to build a family. The Hive and the Honey is a bold and indelible collection that portrays the vastness and complexity of diasporic communities, with each story bringing to light the knotty inheritances of their characters. How does a North Korean defector connect with the child she once left behind? What are the traumas that haunt a Korean settlement in Far East Russia? Yoon’s stunning stories are laced with beauty and cruelty, the work of an author writing at the very height of his powers.

NONFICTION

Hitchcock’s Blondes: The Unforgettable Women Behind the Legendary Director’s Dark Obsession, by Laurence Leamer

Alfred Hitchcock was fixated not just on the dark, twisty stories that became his hallmark, but also on the blonde actresses who starred in many of his iconic movies. The director of North by Northwest, Rear Window and other classic films didn’t much care if they wore wigs, got their hair coloring out of a bottle or were the rarest human specimen — a natural blonde — as long as they shone with a golden veneer on camera. In Hitchcock’s Blondes, Leamer offers an intimate journey into the lives of eight legendary actresses whose stories helped chart the course of the troubled, talented director’s career, from his early days in the British film industry, to his triumphant American debut, to his Hollywood heyday and beyond. Through the stories of June Howard-Tripp, Madeleine Carroll, Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, Janet Leigh, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint and Tippi Hedren — who together starred in 14 of Hitchcock’s most notable films and who bore the brunt of his fondness and fixation — we start to see the enigmatic man himself. After all, “his blondes” (as he thought of them) knew the truths of his art, his obsessions and desires, as well as anyone. 

 


 

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

The Scariest Kitten in the World, by Kate Messner

Little Kitten, Vampire Puppy and Spooky Baby Goat might be scary if they weren’t so darn cute. This adorable read-aloud is fun for the fall or anytime you’re up for a giggle. (Ages 3-8.)

Things in the Basement, by Ben Hatke

When Milo is sent by his mother to fetch a sock from the basement of the historic home they’ve moved into, he finds a door in the back that he’s never seen before. Turns out, the basement of his house is enormous. In fact, there is a whole world down there. Milo learns that to face his fears he must approach even the strangest creatures with kindness in this creepy-fabulous graphic novel. (Ages 8-12.)

Forever Twelve, by Stacy McAnulty

Unlike most 12-year-olds, Ivy’s favorite holiday is the first day of school. This year that day brings not only fascinating new courses and instructors, but a new school, new rules and new friends — some of whom have a very dark secret. School, science and secrets, this one is sure to be a hit for fans of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, Coraline, or The Trials of Morrigan Crow. (Ages 10-12.)

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods, by Rick Riordan

For the first time in more than 10 years there’s a new title in the Percy Jackson series. The original heroes from The Lightning Thief — Percy, Annabeth and Grover — are reunited for their biggest challenge yet, getting Percy to college when the gods are standing in his way. (Ages 9 and up.) PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.

Bookshelf

BOOKSHELF

September Books

FICTION

Amazing Grace Adams, by Fran Littlewood

Grace Adams gave birth, blinked, and now suddenly she is 45, perimenopausal and stalled — the unhappiest age you can be, according to the Guardian. And today she’s really losing it. Stuck in traffic, she finally has had enough. To the astonishment of everyone, Grace gets out of her car and simply walks away. She sets off across London, armed with a £200 cake, to win back her estranged teenage daughter on her 16th birthday. Because today is the day she’ll remind her daughter that no matter how far we fall, we can always get back up again. Because Grace Adams used to be amazing. Her husband thought so. Her daughter thought so. Even Grace thought so. But everyone seems to have forgotten. Grace is about to remind them . . . and, most importantly herself.

Bright Lights, Big Christmas, by Mary Kay Andrews

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Santa Suit comes a novella celebrating the magic of Christmas and second chances. Newly single and unemployed, Kerry Tolliver needs a second chance. When she moves back home to her family’s Christmas tree farm in North Carolina, she is guilt-tripped into helping her brother, Murphy, sell trees in New York City. She begrudgingly agrees, but she isn’t happy about sharing a trailer with her brother in the East Village for two months. Plus, it’s been years, since before her parents’ divorce, that she’s been to the city to sell Christmas trees. Then, Kerry meets Patrick, the annoying Mercedes owner who parked in her spot for the first two days. Patrick is recently divorced, father to a 6-year-old son, and lives in the neighborhood. Can Kerry’s first impressions about the recently divorced, single father and — dare she say, handsome — neighbor be wrong?

The Fall of Ruin and Wrath, by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Long ago, the world was destroyed by gods. Only nine cities were spared. Separated by vast wilderness teeming with monsters and unimaginable dangers, each city is now ruled by a guardian — royalty who feed on mortal pleasure. Born with an intuition that never fails, Calista knows her talents are of great value to the power-hungry of the world, so she lives hidden as a courtesan of the Baron of Archwood. In exchange for his protection, she grants him information. When her intuition leads her to save a traveling prince in dire trouble, the voice inside her blazes with warning — and promise. Today he’ll bring her joy. One day he’ll be her doom. But the city simmers with rebellion, and with knights and monsters at her city gates, and a hungry prince in her bed, intuition may not be enough to keep her safe.

The Vaster Wilds, by Lauren Groff

A servant girl escapes from a Colonial settlement in the wilderness, carrying nothing with her but her wits, a few possessions, and the spark of God that burns hot within her. What she finds will bend her belief of everything that her own civilization has taught her. At once a thrilling adventure story and a penetrating fable, The Vaster Wilds is a work of raw and prophetic power that tells the story of America in miniature, through one girl at a hinge point in history, to ask how — and if — we can adapt quickly enough to save ourselves.

NONFICTION

The Six: The Untold Story of America’s First Women Astronauts, by Loren Grush

When NASA sent astronauts to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s the agency excluded women from the corps, arguing that only military test pilots — a group then made up exclusively of men — had the right stuff. It was an era in which women were steered away from jobs in science and deemed unqualified for space flight. Eventually, though, NASA recognized its mistake and opened the application process to a wider array of hopefuls, regardless of race or gender. From a candidate pool of 8,000, six elite women were selected in 1978 — Sally Ride, Judy Resnik, Anna Fisher, Kathy Sullivan, Shannon Lucid and Rhea Seddon. The Six shows these brilliant and courageous women enduring claustrophobic — and sometimes deeply sexist — media attention, undergoing rigorous survival training, and preparing for years to take multi-million-dollar payloads into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle. Together, they helped build the tools that made the space program run. One of the group, Judy Resnik, sacrificed her life when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded at 46,000 feet. Everyone knows of Sally Ride’s history-making first space ride, but each of the six would make their mark.


CHILDREN’S BOOKS

My First Lift-the-Flap Nursery Rhymes, art by Ingela P. Arrhenius

Just what does the Itsy Bitsy Spider do when the sun comes out? Find out this and much more in this retro-cool, lift-the-flap collection of classic nursery rhymes that also includes QR codes for sing-along recordings. The perfect gift for any new baby. (Ages birth-3.)

Who Works at Night?, by Peter Arrhenius

A number of community-helper books feature police officers, firefighters and garbage collectors. In Who Works at Night? some less-seen nighttime helpers get their day in the sun. Road construction workers, night drivers and doctors are just a few of the jobs featured in this fun lift-the-flap title that’s perfect for preschool classrooms. (Ages 3-6.)

The Lost Library, by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass

When 11-year-old Evan discovers a little free library that has mysteriously appeared in his town — the physical library burned to the ground years ago — he begins to investigate with no idea that two weathered books will completely upend his entire world. Narrated by a massive orange cat and an omnipresent ghost librarian, this is a story every book lover will devour. (Ages 8-12.)

Wicked Wild Poems of the Pine Tree State, by Diane Lang

From salamanders to seagulls and every tree, bush and animal in between, these poems celebrate the familiar wild living things we cherish from the Maine woods to the craggy windswept coastline. From pelicans to porcupines, blueberries to bears, dragonflies to deer, Maine holds gems of nature that are beautiful and rare. Turn a page and come inside — they’re waiting for you here! (Ages 7-18.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.