Ahoy! Books to read if you like pirate stories

From vampires to werewolves and beyond, if you love reading fantasy books, you’ve likely seen literary trends come and go. But one of my favorite tropes to read about are the slightly amoral pirates sailing the high seas. Luckily, pirates are making a comeback and there have been quite a few books to feature them recently. Here are some to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day on Sept. 19. Check out these great stories if you are … in the same boat as me. Wink.

Daughter of the Pirate King by ​​Tricia Levenseller: Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map–the key to a legendary treasure trove–seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse: In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world. Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Fable by Adrienne Young: As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father. But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems.

Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo: The last time New Orleans attorney Jean-Luc Valmont saw Maribel Cordoba, a Spanish nobleman’s daughter, she was an eleven-year-old orphan perched in the riggings of his privateering vessel proving herself as the best lookout on his crew. Until the day his infamy caught up with them all and innocent lives were lost. Unsure why he survived but vowing to make something of the chance he was given, Jean-Luc has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it–until a very much alive and very grown up Maribel Cordoba arrives on his doorstep and threatens all he now holds dear.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall: The pirate Florian, born Flora, has always done whatever it takes to survive–including sailing under false flag on the Dove as a marauder, thief, and worse. Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, a highborn Imperial daughter, is on board as well–accompanied by her own casket. But Evelyn’s one-way voyage to an arranged marriage in the Floating Islands is interrupted when the captain and crew show their true colors and enslave their wealthy passengers. Both Florian and Evelyn have lived their lives by the rules, and whims, of others. But when they fall in love, they decide to take fate into their own hands–no matter the cost.

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton: Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal Victorian lady. She’s also a thief. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesting means. Sure, she has a dark and traumatic past and an overbearing aunt, but all things considered, it’s a pleasant existence. Until the men show up. Ned Lightbourne is a sometimes assassin who is smitten with Cecilia from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, that happens to be while he’s under direct orders to kill her. His employer, Captain Morvath, who possesses a gothic abbey bristling with cannons and an unbridled hate for the world, intends to rid England of all its presumptuous women, starting with the Wisteria Society. Ned has plans of his own. But both men have made one grave mistake. Never underestimate a woman.

Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard: Corayne lives at the end of the world. Year after year, she watches her pirate mother sail away to adventures she’ll never share with Corayne. So when a mysterious immortal and deadly assassin appear on Corayne’s doorstep telling her she is the last member of a dying bloodline, and the only one who can save the world, Corayne seizes the chance to have her own adventure. But the world is in graver danger than they ever imagined; Corayne and her rag-tag group of allies are alone in a world that is slowly coming apart at the seams with little but their fading hope to guide them. Now is not the age of heroes, but courage can bloom even in the darkest corners. And it just might be enough to save everything.

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo: Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most–a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen and or remain a human forever. The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby–it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good–but can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee: The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Head of the Dragon, is now only a story, like the ones Xiang has grown up with all her life. She desperately wants to prove her worth, especially to her mother, a shrewd businesswoman who never seems to have enough time for Xiang. Her father is also only a story, dead at sea before Xiang was born. Her single memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry. But the pendant’s true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. The revelation that Xiang’s father sailed with the Dragon Fleet and tucked away this secret changes everything. Rumor has it that the legendary Head of the Dragon had one last treasure–the plunder of a thousand ports–that for decades has only been a myth, a fool’s journey. Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea–and especially those who sail it–are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.

Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb: Bingtown is a hub of exotic trade and home to a merchant nobility famed for its liveships–rare vessels carved from wizardwood, which ripens magically into sentient awareness. Now the fortunes of one of Bingtown’s oldest families rest on the newly awakened liveship Vivacia. For Althea Vestrit, the ship is her rightful legacy. For Althea’s young nephew, wrenched from his religious studies and forced to serve aboard the ship, the Vivacia is a life sentence. But the fate of the ship — and the Vestrits – -may ultimately lie in the hands of an outsider: the ruthless buccaneer captain Kennit, who plans to seize power over the Pirate Isles by capturing a liveship and bending it to his will.

18 Books for All Ages on National Grandparents Day

Happy Grandparents Day! Similarly to Mother’s/Father’s Day, Grandparents Day shares the love for our older generations. Spend it with your loved ones or perhaps you’ll give them a call! But what’s a better way to celebrate the day than sharing some great books to read together or on your own?

Since people of all ages celebrate their grandparents, we put together a comprehensive list of books featuring grandparents for everyone. Check out our list below!

Picture books:

The Hello Goodbye Window by Norton Juster and illustrated by Chris Raschka

The kitchen window at Nanna and Poppy’s house is, for one little girl, a magic gateway. Everything important happens near it, through it, or beyond it. The world for this little girl will soon grow larger and more complex, but never more enchanting or deeply felt. Her story is both a voyage of discovery and a celebration of the commonplace wonders that define childhood, expressed as a joyful fusion of text with evocative and exuberant art that garnered the highest honor in children’s book illustration in 2006.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty–and fun–in their routine and the world around them. This energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share, and comes to life through Matt de la Peña’s vibrant text and Christian Robinson’s radiant illustrations.

Our Favorite Day by Joowon Oh

Every morning Papa follows his normal routine. He drinks his tea, waters his plants, tidies up, and takes the bus into town. Papa enjoys his daily tasks, but there’s one day each week that is extra special. That’s the day he might visit the craft store, get two orders of dumplings to go, and possibly pick some flowers he sees along the path. With its spare text and wonderfully warm watercolor and cut-paper illustrations just begging to be pored over, Joowon Oh’s tale of the singular love between a grandfather and granddaughter will nestle within the heart of every reader.

Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

When Grandma Mimi comes to visit, she always brings warm hugs, sweet treats…and her purse. You never know what she’ll have in there–fancy jewelry, tokens from around the world, or something special just for her granddaughter. It might look like a normal bag from the outside, but Mimi and her granddaughter know that it’s pure magic! In this adorable, energetic ode to visits from grandma, beloved picture book creator Vanessa Brantley Newton shows how an ordinary day can become extraordinary.

Middle grade books

Roll with It by Jamie Sumner 

Ellie’s a girl who tells it like it is. That surprises some people, who see a kid in a wheelchair and think she’s going to be all sunshine and cuddles. The thing is, Ellie has big dreams: She might be eating Stouffer’s for dinner, but one day she’s going to be a professional baker. If she’s not writing fan letters to her favorite celebrity chefs, she’s practicing recipes on her well-meaning, if overworked, mother. But when Ellie and her mom move so they can help take care of her ailing grandpa, Ellie has to start all over again in a new town at a new school. Except she’s not just the new kid–she’s the new kid in the wheelchair who lives in the trailer park on the wrong side of town. It all feels like one challenge too many, until Ellie starts to make her first-ever friends. Now she just has to convince her mom that this town might just be the best thing that ever happened to them!

Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh

Junie Kim just wants to fit in. So she keeps her head down and tries not to draw attention to herself. But when racist graffiti appears at her middle school, Junie must decide between staying silent or speaking out. Then Junie’s history teacher assigns a project and Junie decides to interview her grandparents, learning about their unbelievable experiences as kids during the Korean War. Junie comes to admire her grandma’s fierce determination to overcome impossible odds, and her grandpa’s unwavering compassion during wartime. And as racism becomes more pervasive at school, Junie taps into the strength of her ancestors and finds the courage to do what is right.

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, as strong and thoughtful as Merci is, she has never been completely like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. And Merci is left to her own worries, because no one in her family will tell her what’s going on. Winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal, this coming-of-age tale by New York Times best-selling author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family.

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia–in the COUNTRY The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Thunderstruck, Genie peppers Grandpop with questions about how he hides it so well (besides wearing way cool Ray-Bans). How does he match his clothes? Know where to walk? Cook with a gas stove? Pour a glass of sweet tea without spilling it? Genie thinks Grandpop must be the bravest guy he’s ever known, but he starts to notice that his grandfather never leaves the house–as in NEVER. And when he finds the secret room that Grandpop is always disappearing into–a room so full of songbirds and plants that it’s almost as if it’s been pulled inside-out–he begins to wonder if his grandfather is really so brave after all. Then Ernie lets him down in the bravery department. It’s his fourteenth birthday, and, Grandpop says to become a man, you have to learn how to shoot a gun. Genie thinks that is AWESOME until he realizes Ernie has no interest in learning how to shoot. None. Nada. Dumbfounded by Ernie’s reluctance, Genie is left to wonder–is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won’t do?

A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi

Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal. The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score–but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen? Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common–and that they each need the other to get what they want most. This relatable and empathetic story about two friends coming to understand each other will resonate with readers who loved Other Words for Home and Front Desk.

YA books

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird. Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life. Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a stunning and heartbreaking novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy–a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2. When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil. Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough? Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian–half, his mom’s side–and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life. Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. Adib Khorram’s brilliant debut is for anyone who’s ever felt not good enough–then met a friend who makes them feel so much better than okay.

Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy

Faith Herbert is a pretty regular teen. When she’s not hanging out with her two best friends, Matt and Ches, she’s volunteering at the local animal shelter or obsessing over the long-running teen drama The Grove. So far, her senior year has been spent trying to sort out her feelings for her maybe-crush Johnny and making plans to stay close to Grandma Lou after graduation. Of course, there’s also that small matter of recently discovering she can fly…. When the fictional world of The Grove crashes into Faith’s reality as the show relocates to her town, she can’t believe it when TV heroine Dakota Ash takes a romantic interest in her. But her fandom-fueled daydreams aren’t enough to distract Faith from the fact that first animals, then people, have begun to vanish from the town. Only Faith seems able to connect the dots to a new designer drug infiltrating her high school. But when her investigation puts the people she loves in danger, she will have to confront her hidden past and use her newfound gifts–risking everything to save her friends and beloved town.

Adult books

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal. When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.

The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore apart not just her beloved country, but also her family. Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope. The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s first novel in English.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some long-overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen. So they decide to try a two-month swap. Eileen will live in London and look for love. She’ll take Leena’s flat, and learn all about casual dating, swiping right, and city neighbors. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire: Eileen’s sweet cottage and garden, her idyllic, quiet village, and her little neighborhood projects.

But stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected. Will swapping lives help Eileen and Leena find themselves…and maybe even find true love? In Beth O’Leary’s The Switch, it’s never too late to change everything….or to find yourself.

The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova

The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers–even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers. Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador–to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back. Alternating between Orquídea’s past and her descendants’ present, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is an enchanting novel about what we knowingly and unknowingly inherit from our ancestors, the ties that bind, and reclaiming your power.

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children–four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear. Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man. But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family–knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.

10 books to read if you love Beyoncé songs

Everyone should celebrate Beyoncé’s birthday, and if your idea of a celebration is settling in with a good book, we’ve got some recommendations for you based on some of her biggest hits.

Crazy in Love/Seven Days in June by Tia Williams: Eva and Shane fell in love in seven tumultuous days, then didn’t see each other for 15 years. When they reunite, the sparks are stronger than ever.

All Night/Ever After Always by Chloe Liese: Anyone who has been married can tell you it is a bumpy road, but it can also make for beautiful reconciliations.

Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)/Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams: Queenie goes through a lot in this book, but she starts to heal after focusing on her relationship with herself.

Naughty Girl/How to Catch A Queen by Alyssa Cole: Shanti and her husband are both surprised by the passion that emerges from nightly visits in their arranged marriage.

Diva/The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger: Has there ever been a bigger diva than Miranda Priestly?

Sorry/Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn I would not cross Beyoncé or Amy Dunne.

Run the World (Girls)/The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna: An army of girls is the only thing standing in the way of the empire’s run, so yeah, I’d say girls are running the world.

Daddy Lessons/Unsub by Meg Gardiner: A narcotics detective who followed in her father’s footsteps gets caught up in one of his oldest, most dangerous cases.

Don’t Hurt Yourself/An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: Roy and Celeste’s happiness is destroyed by circumstances beyond their control, leading to a turbulent relationship.

Halo/Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko: Tarasai grew up literally walled off from other people, and her world was changed forever when she found a family.

Books to give you a chuckle

I generally watch one of my go-to sitcom favorites if I’m looking for laughs, but sometimes I’m in the mood for a funny book instead! Here are some of our favorites to incite the giggles.

Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby: The essays in this collection draw on the raw, hilarious particulars of Irby’s life at 40. 

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton: Who knew an apocalyptic tale told through the eyes of a pet crow would be so wry?

Bossypants by Tiny Fey: ​​Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve always suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole: After more than three decades, the peerless wit and indulgent absurdity of A Confederacy of Dunces continues to attract new readers.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? By Mindy Kaling: In this hilarious instant classic, the creator of The Mindy Project and Never Have I Ever invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood.

Lamb by Christopher Moore: In this hilarious and irreverent novel, the acclaimed Christopher Moore shares the greatest story never told: the life of Christ as seen by his boyhood pal, Biff.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris: The witty collection lifts the corner of ordinary life, revealing the absurdity teeming below its surface. 

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding: A devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud account of a year in the life of a thirty-something Singleton on a permanent doomed quest for self-improvement. 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: The mega-selling pop-culture classic sends logic into orbit, plays havoc with both time and physics, offers up pithy commentary on such things as ballpoint pens, potted plants, and digital watches . . . and, most important, reveals the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty: A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. 

Hyperbole and A Half by Allie Brosh: Brosh’s debut marks the launch of a major new American humorist who will surely make even the biggest scrooge or snob laugh. We dare you not to.

Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson: This collection of essays is equally hilarious, observant and poignant. Jenny Lawson is one of the only authors who can make you laugh until you cry, and cry until you laugh.

Books that celebrate the bonds of sisters for National Sisters Day

Growing up, I always wanted a sister (apologies to my brother), because I imagined that basically meant you had a best friend who lived in the same house as you. Now that I’ve grown up a little, I understand that sisterly bonds take work, and are more complicated than I thought as a child, which makes them even more important! These books celebrate the relationships between sisters, in all their messy, complex glory!

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott: A classic for a reason! Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn’t be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they’re putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there’s one thing they can’t help wondering: Will Father return home safely?

Yolk, by Mary H. K. Choi: A funny and emotional story about two estranged sisters and how far they’ll go to save one of their lives–even if it means swapping identities.
Jayne and June Baek are nothing alike. June’s three years older, a classic first-born, know-it-all narc with a problematic finance job and an equally soulless apartment (according to Jayne). Jayne is an emotionally stunted, self-obsessed basket case who lives in squalor, has egregious taste in men, and needs to get to class and stop wasting Mom and Dad’s money (if you ask June). Once thick as thieves, these sisters who moved from Seoul to San Antonio to New York together now don’t want anything to do with each other. That is, until June gets cancer. And Jayne becomes the only one who can help her.

In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez: It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their deaths as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leónidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas — the Butterflies. In this extraordinary novel, the voices of all four sisters speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from secret crushes to gunrunning, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo’s rule.

My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite: Korede’s sister Ayoola is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead, stabbed through the heart with Ayoola’s knife. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood (bleach, bleach, and more bleach), the best way to move a body (wrap it in sheets like a mummy), and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her.

Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen: Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love – and its threatened loss – the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

Stalking Shadows, by Cyla Panin: Seventeen-year-old Marie mixes perfumes to sell on market day in her small eighteenth-century French town. She wants to make enough to save a dowry for her sister, Ama, in hopes of Ama marrying well and Marie living in the level of freedom afforded only to spinster aunts. Marie laces some of the perfume delicately — not with poison but with a hint of honeysuckle she’s trained her sister to respond to. Marie marks her victim, and Ama attacks. But she doesn’t attack as a girl. She kills as a beast. Marking Ama’s victims controls the damage to keep suspicion at bay. But when a young boy turns up dead one morning, Marie is forced to acknowledge she might be losing control of Ama.

Here Comes the Sun, by Nicole Dennis-Benn: At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. When plans for a new hotel threaten their village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but also perhaps a chance to admit a shocking secret: her forbidden love for another woman. As they face the impending destruction of their community, each woman–fighting to balance the burdens she shoulders with the freedom she craves–must confront long-hidden scars.

In Her Shoes, by Jennifer Weiner: Meet Rose Feller, a thirty-year-old high-powered attorney with a secret passion for romance novels. She has an exercise regime she’s going to start next week, and she dreams of a man who will slide off her glasses, gaze into her eyes, and tell her she’s beautiful. She also dreams of getting her fantastically screwed-up, semi-employed little sister to straighten up and fly right. Meet Rose’s sister, Maggie. Twenty-eight years old and drop-dead gorgeous. Although her big-screen stardom hasn’t progressed past her left hip’s appearance in a Will Smith video, Maggie dreams of fame and fortune — and of getting her big sister on a skin-care regimen. These two women, who claim to have nothing in common but a childhood tragedy, DNA, and the same size feet, are about to learn that they’re more alike than they’d ever imagined.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find, by Joan He: Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay, and it’s up to Cee to cross the ocean and find her. In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara lives in an eco-city built for people who protected the planet and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return. Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But nevertheless, she decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.

Silver Sparrow, by Tayari Jones: Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon’s two families–the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode.

The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo: Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, blithely ignorant of all that awaits them. By 2016, they have four radically different daughters, each in a state of unrest. Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator turned stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. With the unexpected arrival of young Jonah Bendt — a child placed for adoption by one of the daughters fifteen years before — the Sorensons will be forced to reckon with the rich and varied tapestry of their past.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray: The Butler family has had their share of trials — as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest — but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives. Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband, Proctor, are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. The worst part is, not even her sisters are sure exactly what happened. As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters.

Atonement, by Ian McEwan: On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’ s incomplete grasp of adult motives — together with her precocious literary gifts — brings about a crime that will change all their lives.

Dishes inspired by some of my favorite books

I have a ton of cookbooks and I love to read informational books about food, but there’s something special to me about a personal story that incorporates recipes as part of the narrative. I love a book that makes me hungry, so anytime what I’m reading features a meal, I’m likely to try to cook it. It’s one of my (long-term) goals to make a little cookbook of recipes that were inspired by books that I’ve read, but we’ll see if I ever actually get around to doing it.

Here are some of the dishes I’ve made recently, and the books that influenced them, and a recipe I used! Some of them follow a recipe listed in the book, others just use the book as light inspiration, but I encourage everyone to play around with the food — it’s supposed to be fun!

Tahdig, inspired by Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

There are so many delicious-sounding Persian dishes mentioned in this book, but tahdig is one that I have always wanted to try, and Samin Nosrat’s recipe makes it easy for a beginner. This might be my favorite thing I’ve ever made.

Split pea soup, inspired by Still Life by Louise Penny

If you’ve read the Three Pines series, you know meals shared among the community are a central part of most of the books. This greenish-brown soup might seem like an odd choice, but it’s warm and nourishing just like Penny’s stories. Plus it’s cold in the book, and this should warm you right up!

Banana cake, inspired by Beard Science by Penny Reid

One of the characters in this romance has been made famous by her banana cake recipe, and this recipe makes a great version.

Kimchi, inspired by Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

This book is about the author’s relationship with her mother and learning to deal with her loss. She deals with this in part by cooking traditional Korean dishes that her mom made, including kimchi. This had special meaning for me because my dad lost most of his sense of taste last year but can still taste kimchi, so there was a double layer of emotion that went into preparing it.

Pozole, inspired by Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Yadriel and his family have some things that they are working through in this book, but I remember the feeling of comfort that Yadriel seemed to find in his abuelita’s cooking, and to me, this pozole ate like a big plate of love.

The Su Special, inspired by One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

No recipe for this one because the author made it up, but it’s basically a breakfast sandwich involving Texas toast, bacon, a fried egg, hot sauce and maple syrup. I tried it and it blew me away. 10/10 will make again.

Gingerbread bundt cake, inspired by Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

There’s a very important gingerbread festival that much of this book centers around, and this cake seemed exactly like something Eve would whip up to knock everyone’s socks off.

Platanos maduros fritos, inspired by American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera

Nesto owns a food truck in this romance novel, so I was hungry the entire time I was reading it. I made some platanos early on and snacked on them while finishing the book, and I highly recommend you do the same.

Cheese gougeres, inspired by Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall

One of the love interests in this book makes “cheesy bites,” which reminded me immediately of gougeres — I made them years ago and they were absolutely delicious. They also require a little bit of technical skill, which feels right for a book about a cooking competition.

Lemon verbena tembleque, inspired by With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Emoni, an aspiring chef, puts together flavor combinations that other people would never dare to try to make magical dishes. This blog recreated one of her recipes from the book, and it was everything I hoped for.

Apple pie, inspired by Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu

The main character in this graphic novel is just as talented at baking as he is at hockey (and figure skating), and can often be found crafting his next pie. I picked apple because it’s a classic that can still hold some surprises, just like Bitty.

Get a book recommendation from one of bookstagram’s best librarians

Librarians are true heroes, if you ask me. Their skill set is incredible, they are filled with patience, and they can ALWAYS find a book that will suit your fancy. I’ve been using my library’s drive through window for a year now, and recently one of the librarians noticed the books I had on hold and gave me three incredible book recommendations. It’s truly magic.

Here are some of our favorite librarians and library works of bookstagram, along with a book recommendation that they think you should check out!

Anna (@thebooksinmylapp) says: “An incredible book for middle grade readers is Jacqueline Woodson’s Harbor Me. It follows several children who come to rely on each other as they share about their lives — from a parent’s incarceration, a family’s fear of deportation, financial hardships and racial profiling. Woodson manages these heart-breaking topics with such care and attention, and it’s a book about kids having the space to talk to each other without adult intervention, giving them autonomy and breathing room for growth.”

Brooke (@book.appetit) recommends The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. “This is a book in verse that tells the story of Xiomara, a high school student living in Harlem. Throughout the book, Xiomara discovers her voice through slam poetry and attempts to make sense of her life in the pages of her journal. I recommend this book to all of the young reluctant readers and avid readers alike. It never disappoints.”

Jessica (@justagirlwithabook) says: “I work as a public school librarian at a junior high school (7th- and 8th-graders) in Northwest Arkansas, and one of my favorite books to recommend to our teens is Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani. I love this award-winning but not-very-well-known book for its fast pace; its intelligent, quick-thinking main character, Claire Takata; the unexpected twist and resolution at the end of the book; and, more than anything else, the author’s Japanese-American heritage that she seamlessly incorporated into the storyline and her characters, making this debut not only informative but one to be especially valued and appreciated. In all the times I’ve recommended this book, not once has a student come back with a negative response!”

Erin (@redhead_reads) says: “I especially enjoy recommending books based on other materials patrons check out. When I see them with music CDs, I like to recommend They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, a book of music essays by Hanif Abdurraqib. Abdurraqib’s passion and love for the artists he covers is evident in his exquisite writing. I was never a Fall Out Boy superfan, but reading his piece on the band resonated deeply with me as a music lover. Anyone who appreciates good writing and cultural commentary will like They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us.”

Bobbie (@booknerdbobbie) says: “Lately, I have been recommending Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho to friends, family, co-workers … everyone. It reads just like watching Acho’s video series of the same title (I also recommend). I think readers will appreciate the way the book is structured and how difficult topics are presented as if having an actual in-person conversation. And there is a young reader’s edition, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy, due out soon, so even young people can join in on this conversation of racism and its effects.”

Ari (@bookslibrariesalsocats) says: “Recommended For You by Laura Silverman is one of my 2020 favorites that I’ve been recommending non-stop to teens & YA readers of all ages! This YA holiday rom-com follows two rival teen booksellers competing for a holiday bonus — and falling for each other along the way! It’s also wonderfully diverse: The two main characters are Jewish, and there’s a number of BIPOC, queer & trans, and disabled characters throughout the book. It’s a heart-warming book that feels like a love letter to book nerds.”

Soleil (@soleilreads) recommends: Consent (for Kids!): Boundaries, Respect, and Being in Charge of YOU by Rachel Brian: “This graphic novel approaches the topic of consent with simplicity and humor. Consent can seem like a daunting topic of conversation, but Consent (for Kids!) breaks it down so it’s accessible and age-appropriate for young readers. It’s also great for grown-ups! As a parent, I appreciated the simple explanations and realistic scenarios I could discuss with my 6-year-old.”

Nel (@bookish_nel) says: “When I’m at the reference desk, I give recommendations based on what a patron loves. Romance? You got it! Need some sci-fi? I have plenty! But when a teen is in a reading rut or can’t figure out their reading *~mOod~*, I always recommend The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. It has a little of everything, heist adventure, fantasy, magic, historical fiction, and great representation!”

Kit (@kitonlit) recommends A Last Goodbye by Elin Kelsey and Soyeon Kim. “The most frequent request I get from caregivers is for books to help young readers when they are experiencing grief and loss. This picture book explores the way various animals (including humans) mourn, opening the door for important conversations about the universality of death and offering comfort that readers aren’t alone in their sadness. With its spare and tender prose and spectacular diorama illustrations, A Last Goodbye brought me to tears and is my go-to recommendation for grieving families.”

Laura (@librarianmsg) recommends All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat. “I could not put this award-winning nonfiction book down! If you have students who like survival stories or feel-good human interest books, give them THIS one.”

Forrest (@favoritelibrarian) says: “As a Reference Librarian, I am surrounded by canons and volumes of great literature. My favorite novel is Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo by Ntozake Shange. This multi-generational tale of three sisters and their mother from the low country areas of Charleston, South Carolina is packed with beautiful illustrations of the Black Arts Movement, Pan-Africanism, Gullah/Geechee culture, Blackness and Folk Medicine and Magical Realism. Additionally, my additional go-to recommendation would have to be Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Whether you enjoy the short story or novel of brilliant work of science-fiction, follow Charlie, a compassionate man with a learning impairment. Through an experiment to improve his intelligence, readers can explore the beautiful illustrations of humility, compassion, disabilities and how one man and mouse contributed to science and society. Each suggestion is great for any high school scholar or area of higher learning, or for readers looking for a great novel.”

Hawa (@hawa.reads) says: “A book I like to recommend to patrons is Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes. Although it’s a memoir, it’s written so beautifully that fans of fiction and nonfiction will both be drawn in by the story.”

Quinn (@theromanticace) says: “One book I recommend to patrons quite often is actually one of my favorite books from last year, which is The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo! I’m not a fantasy reader, but I picked this up on a whim because of its stunning cover and it blew me away! It’s a short book (~120 pages) so it is accessible to everyone but is so well done that it feels like a full length novel, and it has elements to intrigue readers of all interests and backgrounds.”

Cynthia (@cynthiasreadinglist) says: “Legendborn by Tracy Deonn is action-packed, and the mystery surrounding Bree’s magical abilities will keep readers enthralled. It even made me go down a rabbit hole googling Arthurian legends! Perfect for any fantasy lover.”

Your next great book club pick

Whether everyone takes turns choosing a book, or the entire club votes, picking the next read is always challenging. You want to pick something that will spark discussion but has a wide appeal. We’ve put together a list of recommendations that we think will be a great fit for any book club.

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
We actually did read this in my book club years ago, and it was so enjoyable. Everyone related to a different character in a different way, and it remains my favorite book to recommend for that very reason.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
This is a classic that will appeal to clubs who love historical fiction, coming-of-age stories and strong women.

There There by Tommy Orange
I never would have picked this up if it weren’t for my book club, which would have been a huge loss. The stories are so powerful, and the way Orange weaves them together is masterful.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Maybe not the best choice for a pandemic, but the way this story is weaved together likely will have everyone talking — and might even lead to some interesting end-of-the-world theories.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
There’s a reason this book has been everywhere. It is full of questions that have no clear or concrete answers but will keep you thinking for months after reading it.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
If you’re looking for a humorous book that also explores emotion and has a great cast of characters, this is a great fit.

Born A Crime by Travor Noah
The affable TV host’s presence translates well to the page, but the stories about his childhood will capture you even more than his humor. (Note: If you get the chance, grab the audiobook because he’s a great narrator as well!)

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
Science-fiction is a tough choice for many people, but this book paints such remarkable metaphors that are applicable to our reality — many different realities reflecting divides along racial lines, income lines, and more.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
If you are in a book club that likes to pick sides, look no further. A marriage is tested when the husband is sent to prison, and most people land firmly on the husband’s side … or the wife’s.

Educated by Tara Westover
This was one of the wildest true stories I’ve ever read and one that had us Googling “did this really happen” during our book club meeting.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Blending fiction with some horrifying truths, Whitehead’s writing will have you highlighting passages to bring up at your book club meeting to see if they blew everyone else away as well.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
It’s likely that most people in a book club have experienced feeling lost during a quarter-life crisis or have dealt with the circumstances around aging parents. This slim volume explores both beautifully.

Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper
Hilarious, heartbreaking, and so so smart, this should be required reading for any book club with white women.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
A meditation on faith without being overtly religious, Gyasi also dives into grief, family, and science in interesting and often devastating ways.

Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
This would be a commitment because it’s very long, but there were so many times when I was reading this that I wanted to be able to talk to someone and ask them if they were just as shocked as I was by what we were reading.

Find this complete list of great book club picks at bookshop.org.

Books Ted Lasso brought to England (probably)

Ted Lasso was one of my absolute favorite new discoveries of 2020, and I thought it would be fun to peek inside the luggage he brought with him to start his new job in England.

  1. Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu Ted has shown a baking prowess just like the main character in this graphic novel, and I feel like Ted would be absolutely hooked on its team spirit and the absolute sweetness.
  2. One Life by Megan Rapinoe If I know Ted (and I do because I’ve watched the show several times), I know that he worships Megan Rapinoe as a hero on and off the soccer field.
  3. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle Ted has been shown to be a fantastic father, and I feel like this book would be a perfect buddy read with his son.
  4. Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson When Ted told a bookseller he was going to be moving to London, they recommended this book.
  5. Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez Of course this book about a rising soccer star is on Ted’s radar. “If it’s good enough for Reese, it’s good enough for me.”
  6. The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis Coach Beard watched the show with Ted and then recommended this book to further his chess education.
  7. Darius the Great Is Not OK by Adib Khorram A focus on soccer and discovering one’s identity? A perfect fit for Ted.
  8. Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby A true British classic about football and all the weird rituals that come with it makes a great introduction for Ted.
  9. Only When It’s Us by Chloe Liese Of course Ted reads romance. And he especially loves a romance with a feisty, strong soccer star like Willa.
  10. The Collected Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle He said he felt like he had to read it to complete his British education.

Celebrate National Cocktail Day with these drink and book pairings

Cheers! Drink and book pairings to celebrate national cocktail day

National Cocktail Day is March 24 — also coincidentally my birthday, so double cheers! I’ll be cozying up with one of these drink + book combos to celebrate!

Summer Club by Katherine Dean Mazerov 

Normally, politics, parent drama, drunken soirees, snarkiness and sex-capades reign at Meadow Glen Swim and Tennis club where Lydia Phillips presides as president. Now, a strange car following the club manager, a break-in at Lydia’s home and a shocking discovery on the club grounds have this stay-at-home mom dusting off her newspaper-reporting skills to unravel the mystery. When a body surfaces in the river, Lydia’s life gets a whole lot more complicated — and dangerous.

Pairing: A frozen margarita, perfect for a hot summer day

 

Viral BS by Dr. Seema Yasmin

In Viral BS, journalist, doctor, professor, and CDC-trained disease detective Seema Yasmin, driven by a need to set the record straight, dissects some of the most widely circulating medical myths and pseudoscience. Exploring how epidemics of misinformation can spread faster than microbes, Dr. Yasmin asks why bad science is sometimes more believable and contagious than the facts.

Pairing: A gin and tonic, once used for medicinal purposes

 

The Authors of This Dream by Seth Mullins

Brandon Chane’s life is spinning out of control. After an altercation outside a performance venue nearly proves fatal, he’s feeling at the mercy of dark forces threatening to tear his life apart. Even as a gifted poet and musician, his efforts to channel pain, frustration, and thwarted love into his music may not be enough to save him.

Pairing: The Rock ‘n’ Rolla is self-explanatory.

 

Rethink God by Nadiez Bahi

Sherif and Christian are two strangers whose paths cross by nothing more than serendipity. For their different reasons, they become companions on a journey trying to find an answer for the big question “Does God Exist?”

Pairing: Nectar of the Gods will help you ponder the big questions in life.

 

Murmuration by Sid Balman Jr.

Charlie Christmas, Ademar Zarkan, and Prometheus Stone are the best of America—united by war, scarred by displacement, and resolute in the face of the troubles that rip the nation apart over three decades. Christmas, a Somali translator with a split personality, and Zarkan, a Muslim sharpshooter who defies gender and religious constraints to graduate from West Point, are first brought together by Stone, a lapsed Jew and an Army captain, amidst war and famine in East Africa. Their ensuing journey — which takes them from the mean streets of Mogadishu to the high desert of West Texas, from the barren plains of Indian country to the rolling hills of Minnesota — is at turns tragic and uplifting.

Pairing: A Texas Sunrise mocktail (alcohol is illegal in Somalia) that hails back to Sid’s home

 

Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson

In this gender-swapped, feminist version of “The Phantom of the Opera,” Isda does not exist. At least not beyond the opulent walls of the opera house.

Cast into a well at birth for being one of the magical few who can manipulate memories when people sing, she was saved by Cyril, the opera house’s owner. Since that day, he has given her sanctuary from the murderous world outside. All he asks in return is that she use her power to keep ticket sales high — and that she stay out of sight. For if anyone discovers she survived, Isda and Cyril would pay with their lives.

Pairing: A Death in the Afternoon — an unforgettable cocktail for this unforgettable tale

 

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

“Wonder Woman” meets “The Hate U Give” in a “Black Panther” world in this New York Times-bestselling YA fantasy about a Black teen from Houston who discovers she has magic powers — and learns how powerfully strong and resilient she truly is. Savor this moving story of Black girl magic with a glass of Black Magic Sangria–this cocktail even matches Wings of Ebony’s gorgeous cover! 

Pairing: A Black Magic Sangria matches the the enchanting cover perfectly.

 

The Magician by Kathleen Shoop 

It begins when narrator Patryk Rusek’s great-grandson Owen pulls up to Patryk’s nursing home, and discovers Patryk reading from his chronicle of the town of Donora to half the nursing home’s employees and residents. Flashback to Donora, 1920: Mary Musial is expecting again, and she and Lukasz Musial are hoping for a boy after four daughters. When Stanislaw Franciszek Musial is born, Mary hopes it will bring Lukasz joy, whose American Dream is rapidly fading. The story of Stan inspires Owen’s lifelong dream of being a pro baseball player despite his family’s wishes for his future. Everyone close to Stan has different goals in mind for him, but are they what Stan wants? Will insecurities and the people close to them lead them both to make choices too late, and decades apart from each other, or will they choose to follow their dreams after all?

Paring: The Sidecar is a perfect fit for the 1920s aesthetic. 

 

Among the Beautiful Beasts by Lori McMullen

Set in 1920s Miami, Lori McMullen’s historical fiction novel reveals the remarkable untold story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas– the woman who saved the Everglades. After running away from her husband – a swindler thirty years her senior – and entering into an all-consuming affair, Marjory finds herself drained by the demanding men seeking control over her life. She finds solace in the natural world – wild and free as she longs to be. So, when the Everglades are threatened with irreparable damage, Marjory knows she must speak up, or one of the greatest wonders of the world will be lost.

Pairing: A Matcha Mint Julep has a very earthy vibe. 

 

Closer to Fine by Jodi S. Rosenfeld

One of the warmest, most relatable new adult novels of the year, Jodi S. Rosenfeld’s “Closer to Fine” follows Rachel, a 20-something psych student who knows the human brain but struggles to understand her own anxiety. When a progressive female rabbi shakes up her community — and a new love interest, Liz, shakes up Rachel’s world — Rachel finds herself caught between the person she is and the woman she wants to be.

Pairing: The Sazerac has evolved and changed over time.

 

Denied by Mary Keliikoa

The second book in the gripping, award-nominated PI Kelly Pruett mystery series, “Denied” follows Kelly as a seemingly straightforward missing persons case quickly leads to hidden gambling debts, a severed finger, and an explosive message from the mafia. With a strong and relatable female lead, off-the-charts tension, and breathtaking twists, Mary Keliikoa’s action-packed story is one you won’t want to miss!

Pairing: A Reposado Old Fashioned is a feminine twist on a noir classic. 

 

Rea and the Blood of the Nectar by Payal Doshi

It all begins on the night Rea turns twelve. After a big fight with her twin brother Rohan on their birthday, Rea’s life in the small village of Darjeeling, India, gets turned on its head. It’s four in the morning and Rohan is nowhere to be found. Unwilling to give up on her brother, Rea and her friend Leela meet Mishti Daadi, a wrinkly old fortune-teller whose powers of divination set them off on a thrilling and secret quest. In the shade of night, they portal to an otherworldly realm and travel to Astranthia, a land full of magic and whimsy. Rea must solve clues that lead to Rohan, find a way to rescue him and save Astranthia from a potentially deadly fate.

Pairing: A mango fizz mocktail will be fun for the kids and make them feel adventurous.

 

The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz

After an arson job gone wrong, Evan is confronted by a mysterious woman, Poppy, who recognizes him for what he is because she also remembers multiple lives — except that she is much older, remembering seven complete lives.  But there is something else Poppy must share with Evan — she is a member of a secret society of similar individuals who remember sequential past lives and reincarnate life after life.  These 28 people created a secret society called the Cognomina centuries ago so that they could associate with each other from one lifetime to another.  They are, in effect, near immortals — compiling experiences and skills over diverse lifetimes into near superhuman abilities that they have used to drive human history toward their own agenda on a longer timeline. 

Pairing: You should be able to find a good negroni no matter where your lives take you.

 

One Must Tell the Bees by J. Lawrence Matthews

It begins in 1918 in the English countryside  where the world’s greatest detective has retired to tend his bees and write his memoirs — memoirs that reveal the full story of his journey to America, first as a junior chemist at the DuPont gunpowder works in Wilmington, then as a companion for young Tad Lincoln on what turns out to be the evening of President Lincoln’s assassination — and finally as an unsung participant in the electrifying manhunt for the assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

Pairing: The Bee’s Knees is a prohibition-inspired cocktail incorporating honey. 

 

Tools of A Thief by D. Hale Rambo

How do you stop being a thief? Zizy assumed quitting her job, stealing from her boss, and flitting magically across the continent was one way to give it a go. Getting in and out of sticky situations is typically Zizy’s specialty. A little spellwork here, a pinch of deception there, and she’s home free. Quick-fingered, fast-talking, and charming the gnome knows traveling across a shattered continent won’t be easy. Still, she has the skills to keep herself from getting killed.

Pairing: Pink champagne punch is fizzy and fun, with a rosy hue.