Thursday, October 26, 2023

Staff Recommendations, Week of October 24, 2023

A couple days late, but no less great. These are the recommendations for the week from your friendly(ish) local Boswellians. Let 'er rip!

First up, a double recommendation for the latest novel from two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward. The book is Let Us Descend and the recommenders are Daniel Goldin and Tim McCarthy. First, from Daniel: "It’s hard to put into words how I felt while reading Jesmyn Ward’s fourth novel. The outer life of Annis, an enslaved teenage woman, is one of constant struggle. Starting at the plantation where her White father separates her first from her mother and then her closest ally, she is marched from the Carolinas to New Orleans, where she is put up for sale at a slave market, only to land at an equally dire sugar plantation in Louisiana. Along the way, she communicates with Aza, a spirit who has taken the name of Annis’s warrior grandmother. Let Us Descend might be more of a historical than its predecessors, but it shares the exquisite poetic language, a setting that is alternatingly bleak and ethereal, and memorable characters, centered by the unforgettable Annis."

And now, from the ever-unreserved Tim (that's a compliment, Tim): "Maybe you're like me and see the word inhumanity as a misnomer because vicious brutality seems to define human history. Perhaps inhumanity would be good. Ward’s new novel throws down the gauntlet—just try to find altruism in this American history. Show me where it is! Follow this enslaved woman on a torturous, bound, seemingly endless march to the Deep South, during which the new owners take everything they want. Find your precious humanity! Colson Whitehead did this to me with The Underground Railroad, searing permanent images of human terror into my thoughts. Now Ward adds her own depth and perspective to the terrorism of slavery. Her main character’s true name is Arese, meaning she came in at a good time, but good does not equate to being bought, sold, and herded like livestock to New Orleans, where the stolen people are gathered for movement to the next places of captivity. Still… there’s help from the elemental spirits; there’s beauty in the loving touch of family, guidance in the humming of bees, and surely beauty in the hands of a truly gifted writer. So much spirit and beauty in the writing. It’s about a relentless desire to live in the face of trauma and the possibility of deliverance. It’s a declaration: Time to redefine being human. Time to make it right!"

Now, from Chris Lee, a short story collection entitled The Neorealist in Winter from Twin Cities based author Salvatore Pane. Chris says: "Sal Pane gleefully bounds back and forth across two continents over the course of a century to portray a breadth of Italian American experiences in stories that are funny, triumphant, and beautifully sad. This book is a showcase for his ability to bend form to his will in service of complex, mature emotions. And Pane’s characters are searchers; in these stories he captures that powerful mix of grief and exhilaration that comes in the moment of leaving home and all the moments afterwards when someone chooses to stay gone. It’s also a book about that oh so classically American theme: failure. The failure to connect, the failure to clearly know ourselves and our world, the failure to hold onto family and the past and the guilt that attends it. This is a fabulous story collection that taps deeply into the joy and pain, the triumph and tragedy, of anyone who is really alive."

Sal Pane visits Boswell for a conversation with Chris this month! Join us at the store on Friday, November 17, 6:30 pm - click here to visit for registration and more.

Kay Wosewick recommends another event book for us this week - The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year by Margaret Renkl. Kay says: "This book is perfect for anyone who likes to observe wildlife in their own backyard. Renkl writes 52 brief muses, one for each week of the year, inspired by the activity in her yard. Her short essays are accompanied by charming collages composed by her brother; the siblings clearly share the same love of nature. And Renkl knows how to compose a spectacular backyard ecosystem for attracting a wide range of migrant and resident animals, and she shares many clever tricks."

Margaret Renkl joins us on the computer for a virtual event, cohosted by our pals over at the Urban Ecology Center. The event is on Monday, November 20, 7 pm. Click this sentence to register to tune into this virtual event.

Jen Steele takes us to the world (the universe, even!) of middle grade books with her recommendation of Briana McDonald's out of this world new book, Galaxy Jones and the Space Pirates. Okay, that sentence got a little strained. Jen takes over and says: "Galaxy Jones loves her little corner of deep space, and helping her dads run their inn and hearing fantastical stories from the guests used to keep Galaxy busy all day. Lately, the universe has been expanding, so much so that they don't see many travelers at the inn - that is, until the Royals stop by, followed by space pirates. It's up to Galaxy Jones and an annoying Prince to save the day. Galaxy Jones and the Space Pirates is a fun, heartwarming, adventure-filled space opera for middle grade readers."

Over in paperback picks, we've got another Tim-Daniel team-up recommendation. That'd be Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro. Let's hear from Tim first this time: "Dani Shapiro has a gift for showing us how the smallest decisions and quirks of fate change everything. Signal Fires opens with a tragic accident. Lies are told and secrets kept to stop the very bad from becoming unlivable, and the effects reverberate through the lives of two families. It’s a story of the hope and fear of being a parent, and being a child, about the fierce love and smoldering regret, the shame of guilt. The story of life. In the hands of a talented writer we look at characters and understand: Yes. That could be me. It’s also the story of a universal energy binding us all and a way forward to living. The past and the future seem alive in the present. Shapiro is a talented writer. She tells truth with uncommon clarity, and this is beautifully written truth."

And now from Daniel: "Two families who live across the street from each other in suburban Connecticut are bound together by one tragedy, a fatal car accident involving the Wilf family, and one miracle, in which Ben Wilf facilitates the birth of Alice Shenkman’s child. The story careens back and forth across time, as the strands of connection deepen and spread. I love books like this, from Simon Van Booy’s The Illusion of Separateness to Frederick Reiken’s Day for Night, and the fact that I’m referencing novels from nine and twelve years ago calls attention to how rarely I find books that capture this feeling of awe that I found in Signal Fires. It was clear from reading Inheritance that Shapiro is adept at capturing life’s reversals; I’m so glad to see that this special skill is equally on display in this beautiful and delicate novel."

And those are the recs! We'll see you back here next week with a new (and spooky because it'll be Halloween!) batch of recommendations. Until then, read on.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Staff Recommendations, Week of October 17, 2023

Back in the staff rec saddle once again with another week's worth of wonderful books.

First, Daniel Goldin recommends the new memoir from Curtis Chin entitled Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant. Daniel says: "When Detroit’s historic Chinatown was displaced by an urban renewal freeway project, the community was moved to the Cass Corridor, one of Detroit’s most dangerous neighborhoods. But folks moved, including restaurants, residents, and community organizations. But eventually, all that was left was Chung’s, a family-owned restaurant that was a Motor City mainstay - Mayor Coleman Young was a regular. While the restaurant held on, the family moved, first to Southfield, then to Troy, where as one of the only Asian families in the community, the Chins found the prejudices against Asian Americans more apparent. And for Curtis, coming to terms with being gay was an additional challenge. Filled with anecdotes, history, humor, and lots of Detroity-ness, the only thing missing was that recipe for almond boneless chicken!"

Chin appears at Boswell for a conversation about this very book on Sunday, November 5, 2 pm. Click this sentence to register and to find out more about the event.

Next it's Tim McCarthy with two recommendations this week. His first is The Globemakers: The Curious Story of an Ancient Craft by Peter Bellerby. Tim says: "It started as a quest to buy his father a high quality globe for his 80th birthday. Bellerby searched around the world to find one and failed. It took years after that to be financially ready and get the right help to actually make them himself. It's a process of stunning complexity, building spheres covered with updated cartography for a planet that’s not quite round and then making them beautiful. Today these hand-painted and individually built globes are sold through the company’s website. It's a remarkable story, and this attractive book is nicely organized with inserted information. We learn about geography (with border disputes), astronomy, and exploration, beginning with the first philosophers and mathematicians who understood the Earth was round and estimated its size. We're taught about the first globes and maps and why they were made, and we’re given truly amazing details about the planet Earth itself. It’s fascinating. I’m a bit short of the money needed to buy one of Bellerby’s treasures, but just knowing that they are still being created today is a thrill for a retired teacher. I’ve watched children become entranced by spinning globes for most of my life."

Tim also recommends Distant Sons, the new novel by Tim Johnston. Of this, Tim says: "I won’t call Tim Johnston an outstanding writer of thrillers. He’s an outstanding writer. No qualifications are needed, and thriller fans reap the rewards. I've heard that Descent is great, I know that The Current is exceptional, and now Distant Sons joins the list. The dialogue feels true, the settings are finely developed, and the immersive story is intense without trying to be spectacular. Perfect for me. The characters bring their world to us fully and show the humanity we see in ourselves. Three young boys disappeared with barely a clue in the middle 1970s from a single Wisconsin town near the Mississippi River, and the suspicion about one young man back then lives on now into his old age. Forty years after the boys went missing, Sean Courtland and Dan Young are two skilled tradesmen on the road finding work and getting away from their own past lives. In this small river town, they’re about to find more than work… and that more is resolved but still haunting me."

Kay Wosewick likes this one, too! She adds: "Sean and Dan are wandering carpenters, taking jobs where and when they want. They meet in a small Wisconsin town that's still haunted by the disappearance of three 10-year-old boys over consecutive summers in the 1970s. Sean takes a job with an unfriendly recluse. The job is bigger than he expected so he hires Dan to help. The two learn about the long-ago murders and the suspected, but never proven, serial killer: Devereaux — the very man they are working for. The story slips easily between the past and present and slams into full thriller mode after a dramatic turn of events. You’ll be speed reading to the end."

We will also host an event with Tim Johnston this fall! He visits Boswell on Wednesday, October 25, 6:30 pm. So click on this sentence now to register for this event and to find out more.

Now over to Rachel Copeland, who recommends These Burning Stars, the first book in a new series by Bethany Jacobs. Rachel says: "A single coin holds a memory that could uncover the truth behind a genocide that nearly tore the galaxy-spanning empire apart decades ago. Three women pursue the memory: Jun, a hacker and thief; Esek, unpredictable heir to the powerful Nightfoot family; and Chono, a stoic holy woman trained by Esek. Like a puppeteer playing with all three is a mysterious figure known only as Six, a ghost of Esek and Chono’s past, whose machinations will have unexpected consequences for all involved. What a debut! Esek is one of the most compelling and repulsive characters I’ve had the dubious pleasure of reading – one of those charming psychopaths whose every action made me cringe along with everyone with whom she interacted. Jacobs plays these characters like an arpeggio, bouncing back and forth in time, adding layers upon layers until the shocking denouement. It’s a masterfully constructed story, with a twist so cleverly hidden that a second read is a necessity."

Our last new adult book recommendation comes from Kay Wosewick, who wants you to read The Last Language by Jennifer duBois. Kay says: "duBois’s writing is seductive, haunting and whip-smart. Angela and Sam spend many months of long days engaged in an experiment where Angela teaches Sam how to use a typewriter-like machine to communicate. Sam is 28 years old, doesn’t speak, and has poor arm and hand coordination. Sam lives with his mother, so he and Angela work in his bedroom. As soon as Sam is trained on the device, he reveals a sophisticated mastery of English and broad-based knowledge. Several times, his mother closely watched as Sam as typed personal notes to her. After she finds Sam and Angela in bed together, she comes to doubt everything she saw Sam accomplish. The book gives strong hints of trouble early on, but the devastating effects are released slowly, in fine detail - much like a psychological thriller."

Jen Steele jumps in with here recommendation of Lawrence & Sophia, written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Brian Cronin. Jen says: "Lawrence & Sophia is a tender picture book about overcoming your fears and the power of friendship. A beautiful and touching picture book by Doreen Cronin and wonderfully illustrated by Brian Cronin. A must read!"

And those are the recs! See you next week with more great books. Until then, read on.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Three Weeks of Recs! Staff Recommendations for Sept 26, Oct 3, and Oct 10, 2023

Apparently every single person I know in the world is getting married this fall, which means I'm out of town a bunch! So here's to them and sorry for the recommendation delays. This week, I'll post a roundup of the last three weeks of staff recs - so many great books it'll be hard to chose. Why not try to read them all? Hopefully, we'll be back to our regularly scheduled recommending next week.

Sept 26th releases (and yes, this is a BUNCHA books!):

 by Nathan Hill, picked by Daniel Goldin: "Jack Baker and Elizabeth Augustine are two people who meet in college in 1990s Wicker Park and fall in love. Thirty years later they are hoping to move with their son to a condo in a wealthy Chicago suburb. That’s a good story in and of itself. But Hill’s second novel, following The Nix, is also about parenting, religion, sex, real estate, Minecraft, placebos, art, controlled Prairie burns, bats, psychology, cleanses, coyotes, conspiracies, and class. Wellness asks the question: do our stories reflect our reality, or do they create said reality? And with all that to cover, 600 pages actually seems a little too short. I loved this novel."

The Golem of Brooklyn by Adam Mansbach, picked by Chris: "Not quite blasphemous. Righteously funny. A breakneck, whacked-out road trip from Brooklyn deep into MAGA country that takes a whole lot of side trips through Jewish history. And all with a cranky, 9-foot tall, many-millennia-old Golem in tow. This book’s a marvel; from page one, Mansbach embarks on a serious, compassionate consideration of collective, intergenerational trauma and the search for the right answer to racist violence, all the while lacing each page with acidic wit. You’ll love it, or the The Golem might just smash your head like a walnut."

Time to Shine by Rachel Ried, picked by Rachel Copeland: "Backup goalie Landon Stackhouse knows that his temporary job with the Calgary team is to shut up and warm the bench, and as a quiet loner, he relishes the opportunity to fade into the background. But his teammate Casey Hicks keeps talking to him, even offering him a place to stay, and Landon can't help but be drawn in by his sweet and friendly nature. Even their teammates are shipping it! But as Landon's time on the team draws to an end, can these two make it work? Wow, okay, somehow, within a few chapters, this book took me from "ugh, hockey" to "these are my sons, and I will go to all of their hockey games." Since I can't do that, I'll just have to hand sell the heck out of this wonderful book. I can't wait for more from Rachel Reid!"

California Against the Sea: Visions for Our Vanishing Coastline
by Rosanna Xia, picked by Kay Wosewick: "The California coastline will experience more frequent and more powerful storms and rising sea levels as climate change accelerates. Some cities and towns have started preparing by moving buildings further inland, installing public storm-warning systems, and limiting property owners’ manipulation of beaches, such as building stone or concrete walls to retain or rebuild beach property. Beach construction is a temporary fix and merely moves erosion to other properties. Public beach erosion may threaten long-term viability of some vacation-dependent economies. California clearly has a great deal of work left to do. While climate change is already harming ocean coastlines, lake coastlines will eventually face similar issues. Any volunteers?"

 by Carl Hiaasen, picked by Tim McCarthy: "It never takes Carl Hiaasen long to drop us head first into a mystery. By the end of a single chapter, Wrecker (a nickname he got from a line of paternal ancestors who salvaged shipwrecks) has two mysteries on his hands. One involves a group of men who give him a lot of money just to forget they foolishly grounded their fancy purple speedboat. The other has to do with a girl weeping in the Key West cemetery at night. It’s a place where Wrecker earns big money keeping iguana scat cleaned off a grave that has a mind-bending epitaph. We’re already in deep, and it just keeps getting deeper. Hiaasen uses real environmental issues and disturbing history to create grand and twisted characters, awkward relationships, odd settings, belly laughs, and strong kids who see the world more clearly than most so called grown-ups. He writes with a confidence that translates into my pure enjoyment, whether I’m reading one of his books about fifteen-year-old kids like Wrecker or one that’s meant for warped adults like me."

An Impossible Thing to Say by Ayra Shahi, also picked by Tim: "Omid was born in Tucson, Arizona, after his parents left Iran just before the 1979 revolution that brought Ayatollah Khomeini and American hostages. The revolution devastated his parents’ families. Now, two decades later, his grandparents have finally come to live near them in Tucson, and his American relatives are gathering to celebrate. His world is becoming more whole but also more complex, with English and Farsi mixing in endless variations, ancient Persian traditions finding new life, and memories of his past taking on new meaning. As if being a high school sophomore wasn’t awkward enough! And being Iranian can make someone an instant target of angry racist suspicion. Omid is a smart, promising kid with good friends and family, but he’s never quite able to fully express exactly what he feels about the difficulties of growing up. We hear him, though. His warm, perceptive, creative voice comes through beautifully, and it drew me into his story, a place I wanted to stay. I like how Shahi plays with the form of written ideas, and I love how the result is concrete, brilliant, universal human truth."

The Fragile Threads of Power
 by VE Schwab, picked by Jenny Chou: "Fans of VE Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy will be thrilled to learn this new series-starter brings more adventures with Kell, Lila, Alucard, and Rhy! I found the latest book to be layered with one richly-drawn, intertwined plotline after another. Seven years have passed since the events of A Conjuring of Light, and in Red London, Rhy sits precariously on the throne ruling a magical land without magic of his own. A dark shadow looms, a league called the Hand, whose members are bent on overthrowing the monarchy, which puts not only Rhy in danger, but also his child. Still captain of her own ship, Lila Bard is charged with tracking down a stolen magical artifact capable of creating doors to other lands without the use of Antari magic. As for Kell, the traveler who launched the original series in A Darker Shade of Magic? It’s heartbreaking to watch my favorite character struggle to live with his Antari magic broken, but his swordsmanship rivals Lila’s now. In the midst of all this, Schwab has created a stunning new character to love. Tes is a repair-shop assistant, a tinkerer, and a girl who can literally see strands of magic. She becomes the missing piece we didn’t know we needed in the sparkling fantasy world of the four Londons. If you are already a fan, you’ll want to read this on pub date, and if you haven’t read the original three books? Hey, you’ve got the whole summer!"

The Thieves' Gambit
by Kayvion Lewis, picked by Jen Steele: "The Thieves' Gambit is a thrilling, action-packed adventure that will have you on the edge of your seat! Ross Quest has spent her whole life training with her mother to be the best thief there is. The family motto is to trust only a Quest. But what if you want to have a normal life as a teenager? Perhaps go to a gymnastics summer camp and not steal priceless jewels? Ross plans to leave her mother and the life of a thief after one last job. Unfortunately, it goes horribly wrong and Ross is forced to stay in the game a little longer. In order to save her mom, Ross Quest must win the Gambit, a cut throat international competition that will grant the winner one wish. To win, Ross may have to trust someone other than a Quest. You'll definitely want to read this before the movie comes out!"

Something, Someday by Amanda Gorman, illustrated by Christian Robinson, another pick from Jen: "Something, Someday is an all-around beautiful book. Amanda Gorman's latest picture book shows the power one person can do to make a change with charming illustrations by the wonderful Christian Robinson. A special picture book for the whole family."

That's a lot of books! Here come a whole bunch more!

Oct 3rd releases:

The MANIAC by Benjamin Labatut, picked by Jason Kennedy: "Labatut’s The MANIAC offers up an in depth exploration of the causes and effects of math and science’s transition from theory to practical applications (ie, the nuclear bomb) and the influence of individual madness. Labatut tells the story of Jon von Neumann, from his beginnings to his immigration to the US as he fled Nazism to the Manhattan project to his ultimate death. He also follows a British boy-genius, bored with being a chess master, who, upon reading von Neuman's thesis, goes on to help create Deepmind and the beginnings of AI. Benjamin Labatut explains the complex evolution of AI through the 20th Century, from exceptional math breakthroughs to mayhem, and he makes it compulsively readable to boot!"

Standing Heavy
by Gauz', translated by Frank Wynne, picked by Kay Wosewick: "When not fearing eviction or avoiding relatives’ demands to send money, three illegal immigrants from Côte d’Ivoire work as impeccable security guards in upscale women’s stores on Paris’s Champs-Élysées. The diversity of shoppers supplies nearly endless entertainment for the large, black, acutely visible guards. They share hilarious, absurd, and stupid stories that keep them awake, amused, and standing tall for very long shifts."

Mister, Mister by Guy Gunaratne, picked by Chris Lee: "Rotting away in an immigration detention center, Yahya Bas cuts out his own tongue – never again will he be misheard, misconstrued – and sets pen to paper to write his own story so it might finally be understood by his captors, by his god, and, ultimately, by himself. In a very loose riff on David Copperfield, Gunaratne follows Yahya from his childhood of poverty and abandonment in East London to his years as a poet capable of inciting violence, a fatherless jihadist, an exile, and a political prisoner. Yahya becomes a cipher for the world's broken logic at the onset of the West's forever war. The writing is vivid, visceral, and bracing; totally unputdownable. Yet at the same time, the book is tender and deeply humane. Gunaratne understands that violence, at its core, is never really political. His willingness to follow that understanding to very uncomfortable places makes this book so necessary. And so, Yahya tells his own story – one that’s not about finding his voice but rather about cutting out all the voices of others that have come to inhabit (to invade, colonize, and occupy) his mouth."

A Stone Is a Story
by Leslie Barnard Booth, illustrated by Marc Martin, also picked by Kay: "As a life-long rock-hound, this book would have been pure magic to me as a child: I would have learned just enough to make up a story about different experiences my rock may have gone through to become the exact rock that was in my hand. This book may have also spurred me to learn more about the science of rocks, which would have helped me tell more detailed, and perhaps more real-life, stories. Rock loving kids will love this book!"

Treasure Island: Runaway Gold by Jewel Parker Rhodes, picked by Tim McCarthy: "Zane feels free on his skateboard, sailing through Queens with his dog named Hip-Hop at his side. He’s got his friends from the skatepark, his mom, and his house, but it’s hard because his dad died and now his mom takes in elderly boarders to make ends meet. One of them insists that she’s Captain Maddie, and she’s either got a world of past experience on the seven seas, or she’s just whacked-out crazy. She talks about a treasure that needs protection. Still, she likes Zane, and somehow, he trusts her. So maybe it’s true that pirates are coming for them. Rhodes imagined updating Treasure Island in today’s New York City, wrapping in Manhattan’s stunning maritime history and the brutal side of its checkered past. It worked! She’s a natural storyteller. It’s a very intense, suspenseful story with great characters. Zane is told to “set sail” on a dangerous journey through a bustling city. His crew of friends and his loyal dog help him search for treasure to save his home, with his board as his ship and the city as his sea!"

If I Was a Horse
by Sophie Blackall, picked by Jen Steele: "If I Was a Horse is about a child who imagines all the things they would do as a horse. This playful picture book with beautiful illustrations makes for a great story-time. What would you do if you were a horse? A wonderful picture book from Sophie Blackall that you’ll be glad you read."

Mole Is Not Alone by Maya Tatsukawa, also picked by Jen: "A charming picture book about anxiety. Mole has been invited to Rabbit's party, but Mole is unsure if they should go. In fact, Mole has a lot of what ifs about the whole thing. As Mole navigates how to handle going to Rabbit's party, Mole meets a new friend along the way. A delightful, read-out-loud family picture book."

All We Need Is Love and a Really Soft Pillow! by Peter H Reynolds and Henry Rocket Reynolds, also picked by Tim: "The Little One is a small creature who asks if Poppy needs anything. Little One learns that each other and love are everything they need... but perhaps a few additions would be nice, even useful. A soft pillow is essential, and a roof, with walls, surely water, and a bathtub. A garden would be lovely, and how about books? A toilet! Let's not forget chocolate. But when all of those extras are lost in a storm, love remains... and a really soft pillow can take many forms. This collaboration with his son Henry has added another marvelously clever and wise picture book to Peter Reynolds' magnificent body of work."

And now, part three - Oct 10th releases:

The Hive and the Honey
by Paul Yoon, picked by Chris Lee: "Paul Yoon’s gorgeous, satisfying new story collection offers peeks into the lives of those among the Korean diaspora across centuries and the globe. In remarkably precise prose, Yoon carves out the essence of his characters’ lives. An ex-con in upstate New York, an abandoned boy in Russia’s Far East, a shopkeeping couple in London’s Koreatown, and a 17th century samurai – in each of them and others, Yoon captures the yearning for an unnamable something that exists in between the history they carry with them and the worlds they’ve left behind. Wonderful."

Hitchcock's Blondes: The Unforgettable Women Behind the Legendary Director's Dark Obsession by Laurence Leamer, picked by Daniel Goldin: "Leamer uses a format on his latest entertaining work that is similar to the previously published Capote’s Women: looking at the legendary director through the lens of various lead actresses (such as Grace Kelly, Ingrid Berman, Tippi Hendren) of a select number of his films. On first glance, they may be of a type (blonde, beautiful), but their stories were varied, as were their experiences working with the obsessive director. What with Hitchock’s prodigious output, an analysis of eight leading women over 14 films doesn’t even cover all the blondes (Doris Day, for example). If you want to get exhaustive, go back and read the 900-page biography from Milwaukeean Patrick McGilligan (thanked in the acknowledgements), but for amateurs like myself, Hitchcock’s Blondes will do just fine.

The Prince & the Coyote by David Bowles, illustrated Amanda Mijangos, and picked by Jen Steele: "You usually hear about books that are crossovers for YA – well, I think this book should be considered a crossover for adults! A stunning, historical epic set in pre-Columbian Mexico based on the life of Nezahualcoyotl. Not only are there beautiful illustrations from Amanda Mijangos, but David Bowles incorporates Nezahualcoyotl's surviving poetry into the novel as well. The Prince and the Coyote is a rich and layered story about one of the Americas’ greatest heroes. I was mesmerized from beginning to end!"

Zilot & Other Important Rhymes by Bob Odenkirk, illustrated by Erin Odenkirk, and recommended by Jen: "Zilot & Other Important Rhymes is such a fun read! It took me back to a time when I was reading Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic as a kid and couldn’t put it down. A delightful book of poems with wonderful illustrations, this father-daughter duo has delivered something special that I’m sure will be read often by kids who love silly, whimsical, heartfelt rhymes."

The Puppets of Spelhorst by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Julie Morstad, and picked by Tim McCarthy: "Each time I read one of Kate DiCamillo's books, the same thought comes to me: She’s wise, and she has the power to convey her wisdom in so few words. It's astonishing, really, how often she stops my eyes in their tracks with only a few lines that hold universal understandings. As two Newbery Awards will attest, many people agree with me. This is the tale of five puppets on a fantastic journey to become their real selves and create a story - a king, a wolf, a girl, a boy, and an owl. It’s a simple story with immense depth and dramatic illustrations by Julie Morstad. It’s a tribute to imagination, the possibility of magic, the impact of stories, and the necessity of love. Trust me. Kate’s wisdom and power will make this a magical adventure for young and old readers alike."

PHEW! That is a lot of recommending. If you made it all the way through this post, you may feel as if you've nearly read an entire book. But we hope you find some fantastic further reading in the pages of these recommended books. Until next week (or the next time I get back from a wedding and realize I've unforgivably neglected the blog) - read on.