This is for any kind of written article like a blog post about a certain topic.

And the Winners Are...

We’ve told you about our 2016 #BrazosBest picks. We’ve all run down our individual top ten lists. But now, one final list to end of the year: the books that affected us the most, whether new releases or classics. We asked each member of our staff one simple question: What book did you read in 2016 that you’ll remember the best, that sums up the year?

2016 has been, um, complicated, for many reasons, but these books helped us get through the ups and downs.

2666: A Novel Cover Image
By Roberto Bolaño, Natasha Wimmer (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780312429218
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Picador - September 1st, 2009

An immersive and inscrutable masterpiece that is hands down one of the single best reading experiences of my life.

Staff Pick Badge
Bluets Cover Image
ISBN: 9781933517407
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wave Books - October 1st, 2009

I came to Nelson late, but just in time. In a year that often felt dumb, despairing, and claustrophobic, Nelson reminded me that “humanity” is a word that should encompass and celebrate our differences, and that anti-intellectualism is bullshit: there’s no shame in being the smartest person in the room.

Staff Pick Badge
The Days of Abandonment Cover Image
ISBN: 9781933372006
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Europa Editions - September 1st, 2005

Why has it taken me so long to read Ferrante?? I've been meaning to start the Neapolitan novels for months now but, intimidated by the volume, I chose to start with THE DAYS OF ABANDONMENT. What a ferocious, explosive novel! An instant classic for "nasty women" everywhere.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143037248
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Penguin Books - June 27th, 2006

A book that assures you it’s okay to not know exactly where you’re headed—just enjoy the mystery of it all and learn to trust your instincts.

The Natural Way of Things Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609453626
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Europa Editions - June 28th, 2016

There are novels that take you to places you don’t want to forget as well as books that never leave you and this book will continue to stay with you for some time.

News of the World: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062409201
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: William Morrow - October 4th, 2016

A great Texas novel, with perfectly drawn characters. Exciting, emotional, and authentic. You won't soon forget this NEWS OF THE WORLD.

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316229265
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Orbit - August 16th, 2016

This sharp-toothed follow-up to THE FIFTH SEASON gives us the same finely-polished mirror for our own broken society, set against the backdrop of a world in its death-throes, a civilization eating itself from the inside out. Jemisin’s dedication reads "To those who have no choice but to prepare their children for the battlefield"—a perfect beginning to the best book to read in this year's social and political climate.

Stag's Leap: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375712258
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Knopf - September 4th, 2012

When I asked Sharon Olds herself about this book during an interview for our website, she said, "Sadness and anger are just as important as joy and happiness." I don't think she meant important in that sadness and anger are emotions we should seek, the way we (many) pursue the others, but that they are just as valid, should we encounter them.

Teacup Cover Image
By Rebecca Young, Matt Ottley (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780735227774
Availability: BACKORDERED
Published: Dial Books - October 4th, 2016

The picture book TEACUP by Rebecca Young is not only beautiful but it also sums up 2016 for me both personally and as a citizen of the world because like the boy in the book, I feel we are all adrift, our teacups of home in our hands, weathering brutal storms, hoping to land safely, our internal compasses set for hope.

Books for Young Scientists and Historians

Looking for a book for those who love to figure out how things work and why things happen? Then check out these titles!

Ada Twist, Scientist (The Questioneers) Cover Image
By Andrea Beaty, David Roberts (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781419721373
Availability: BACKORDERED
Published: Harry N. Abrams - September 6th, 2016

The newest edition to a fabulous picture book series that began with IGGY PECK ARCHITECT and followed up with ROSIE REVERE ENGINEER, ADA TWIST is about a girl who adores science and the delight of discovery. This marvelous illustrated and written book features a girl who is endlessly curious about the ‘whys’ of the world. ADA TWIST reminds us to follow our passions and dreams!
Ages 5-8

A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785 Cover Image
By Matthew Olshan, Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780374329549
Availability: BACKORDERED
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - October 11th, 2016

What happens when John Jeffries, an Englishman, and Jean-PIerre Blanchard, a Frenchman, set out to be the first to man a hot-air balloon flight from one country to another by crossing the English channel? Well, at first, just grand success. But then things go a bit wrong. And as the balloon begins to sink, the two gentlemen come up with hilarious and then clever solutions to save the day. This one will make you laugh… a lot. And it’s based on a true story!
Ages 4-8

Shakespeare Retold Cover Image
By E. Nesbit, Antonio Javier Caparo (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780062404534
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: HarperCollins - October 18th, 2016

Gorgeously illustrated, this collection of retellings of seven Shakespearean plays is a wonderful way to introduce younger readers to Shakespeare’s language and stories. Lots of good historical material is included: biography, timeline, and bibliography plus more. This is a simply beautiful addition to any home library.
Ages 8-12

The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition Cover Image
By Chris Barton, Cathy Gendron (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781467721516
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Millbrook Press (Tm) - September 1st, 2015

This gorgeous picture book by award-winning Austin author Chris Barton (who is also featured in this newsletter with his choices for Texas author holiday book gift giving), is a delightful and informative history of how the most famous ballet became a Christmas season classic. A must-read for Nutcracker fans.
Ages 7-10

Joy Picks Books for Kids of All Ages

Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat Cover Image
ISBN: 9781909263376
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Flying Eye Books - September 6th, 2016

Appetites: A Cookbook Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062409959
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Ecco - October 25th, 2016

The Cat King of Havana Cover Image
By Tom Crosshill, Mia Nolting (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780062422835
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - September 6th, 2016

So Good Looking

We have a joke here at Brazos: some books are for readin’, and some books are for lookin’. The holiday season is a great time to browse some lookin’ books for people—the gorgeous books that people will keep on their coffee tables for friends and family to flip through at parties. Sometimes these books dovetail perfectly with somebody’s interests; other times, they’re just too beautiful to ignore. Here are some of our favorite lookin’ books of 2016, with some other gift items that’ll also spruce up your living room.

John Derian Picture Book (John Derian Paper Goods) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781579656478
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Artisan - October 4th, 2016

John Derian is an artist who works from notions of home and domesticity, cultivating oldness and making it new. In this book, you get hundreds of pages of lovely, full-color images: horses, owls, strange faces, and household objects. This is our numero uno coffee table book of 2016, and your friends will love it!

Motown: The Sound of Young America Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9780500518298
Availability: OUT OF PRINT - Not Available for Order
Published: Thames & Hudson - September 13th, 2016

There is no overstating the importance of Berry Gordy’s Motown Records on pop music or American culture in general. This book is a celebration of that legacy, replete with numerous publicity materials and candid photos of some of the most important and influential musical artists of all time.

Three Centuries of American Prints Cover Image
ISBN: 9780500239520
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Thames & Hudson - August 2nd, 2016

From colonial times to the latest in graphic art/design, this is the most comprehensive collection of reproducible art you will find. Beautiful, historic images in one gorgeous volume, this book is catnip for graphic designers. It’s an expensive book, but for the amount of time somebody will spend poring over it, a little money goes a long way.

The Vincent van Gogh Atlas Cover Image
ISBN: 9780300222845
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Yale University Press - November 15th, 2016

All great artists grow and change over the years, and Van Gogh was no different. From rural Netherlands to the hustle and bustle of Paris and London, this affordable coffee table book covers his whole journey with engaging text and beautiful images. For the art geek in your life!

The Voynich Manuscript Cover Image
By Raymond Clemens (Editor), Deborah E. Harkness (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780300217230
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yale University Press - November 1st, 2016

A mysterious book? Surreal images? Strange text? THE VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT has been around for centuries, and nobody knows what it is. But a mystery is a compelling thing, and this book is a great “nerdy” home accessory, perfect to take out at parties and ask, “What the hell is this thing?”

Marimekko Large Cloth-covered Journal Cover Image
ISBN: 9781452138794
Availability: UNAVAILABLE
Published: Chronicle Books - September 22nd, 2015

A great, unexpected notebook: whimsical, and a great size!

What Books are Texas Kidlit Authors Chris Barton, Jennifer Ziegler, and Crystal Allen Giving This Holiday Season?

We’re ridiculously excited for our newest installment of our feature on the books Texas kidlit authors are giving for holiday gifts this year! Because who better to recommend books than authors? And we have a huge, diverse and amazing community of writers for young people in Texas, many of them right here in Houston-- so many wonderful voices and stories and points of view. I hope you continue enjoy reading their choices as much as I did!

Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World about Kindness Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620141489
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Lee & Low Books - November 1st, 2016

This remarkable real-life tale -- as entertaining as it is touching -- will fascinate kids. Doc Key’s own story of post-slavery accomplishment is amazing enough. But when he teaches a once-hapless horse to spell -- and then some -- this picture book becomes truly enchanting.

Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land Cover Image
By John Coy, Wing Young Huie (Photographer)
ISBN: 9781467780544
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Carolrhoda Books (R) - March 1st, 2016

Inspiring and lovely and recognizable to so many children, parents, and grandparents, this celebration of the experiences and contributions of immigrants brings together Coy’s brief, poetic text and Huie’s striking photographs.

Two Naomis Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062414250
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Balzer + Bray - September 13th, 2016

Told in the alternating points of view of the 10-year-old title characters -- whose divorced parents have begun dating and start bringing their families together -- this contemporary middle-grade novel sparkles with smart humor and endearingly awkward drama.

And here are the titles Crystal Allen will be gifting this year.

She’s a new grandmother and new great aunt and so she’s focused on books for and about our littlest readers! Again, all these titles are on our shelves or coming soon.

School's First Day of School Cover Image
By Adam Rex, Christian Robinson (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781596439641
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Roaring Brook Press - June 28th, 2016

With the school as the main character, this book was such a delight to read.  Whoever thought of how a school would feel on the first day of school?

Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas Cover Image
By Gwendolyn Hooks, Colin Bootman (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781620141564
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Lee & Low Books - May 1st, 2016

I love this book about Vivien Thomas, a medical pioneer who, without a medical degree, developed a way to save babies with heart defects.

This Is Our Baby, Born Today Cover Image
By Varsha Bajaj, Eliza Wheeler (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780399166846
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Nancy Paulsen Books - August 2nd, 2016

This story follows the birth of a baby elephant with vibrant colors, beautiful illustrations and fun, repetitive text. **(Brazos Children’s Specialist Joy Preble wants to remind everyone that Varsha is also a local, acclaimed Houston author and friend of the store)**

Audiobooks Are Now Available!

Dive into one of our favorite bestselling audiobooks and listen anytime, anywhere.

We have partnered with to bring you the best digital audiobooks for adults and children alike. You'll find bestsellers and great books hand picked by Brazos Bookstore and other independent bookstores. You can easily listen on any device (phone, tablet, PC) as all our books are DRM-free.

Brazos Best 2016

Yep, you got us: we love books here.

Get all ten of the 2016 Brazos Best featured titles for 20% off. Tax is included in the $140 price.

The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse (Pushkin Collection) Cover Image
By Ivan Repila, Sophie Hughes (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781782271017
Availability: UNAVAILABLE
Published: Pushkin Collection - November 24th, 2015

January: Ben and Mark, Down in the Well…

“It’s part fable, part allegory. There are two boys in the well, Big and Small. We don’t know why they’re there, but they can’t get out. It becomes a myth-like story of love, humanity, and the struggle to survive. With customers, I’ve called it ‘haunting and beautiful.’” —Mark

The Vegetarian: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101906118
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth - August 23rd, 2016

February: Lose Weight! Lose Your Mind

“Her dreams start off the whole thing of her becoming a vegetarian. And it’s creepy to watch her slip into madness and how her family reacts to that.”

Margaret the First: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781936787357
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Catapult - March 15th, 2016

March: Intangible Consciousness: A Q&A with Danielle Dutton

“Dutton’s novel, almost a fictionalized diary, alternately in Margaret’s own voice or that of a detached observer watching this brilliant woman work, gives a gorgeous realism and immediacy to Margaret’s longings, cravings, and intellectual agonizing.”

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312425845
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Picador USA - April 18th, 2006

April: Painting with Water on the Walls

“Well, there was no one Chernobyl experience. That’s what comes through. [This book seems] to capture the essence more than the historical structure of the event.”

Night Prayers Cover Image
By Santiago Gamboa, Howard Curtis (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781609453114
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Europa Editions - March 1st, 2016

May: See the World with Santiago Gamboa's NIGHT PRAYERS

“For all the conversational tone, it’s a dense, complex novel, with a lot of points. And there’s always that sinister backdrop behind things. Things can get a lot worse really quickly.”

The Sadness Cover Image
ISBN: 9781939419705
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Unnamed Press - June 14th, 2016

June: In Pursuit of the Real Benjamin Rybeck

“In my book, yes, a character named Max is obsessed with cinema to the point where it’s all he sees when he looks out into the world. I used to be that bad, but I’m not that bad anymore (I don’t think, though I do still sometimes imagine a camera tracking in front of me when I walk through the grocery store).”

Grief Is the Thing with Feathers: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977412
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Graywolf Press - June 7th, 2016

July: Brazos Best is the Thing with Feathers

“It’s a polyvocal novel. It has a lot of different voices speaking in it. It’s also a very human story, and its universality lets you connect with it in the intense way you often connect with lyrical books. GRIEF IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS made me think a lot of poetry, especially whenever the boys speak—they seem to be in a Greek chorus. And the verbal acrobatics of the crow: very poetic.”

A Bestiary Cover Image
ISBN: 9780996316743
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Cleveland State University Poetry Center - April 15th, 2016

August: Lily Hoang Does Not Sleep

“When I call Hoang, she knows that I have read her book, which means I know what kind of sex she likes (rough), the name of her best best friend (Dorothy), all of her hate (and love) for her Vietnamese parents. I know about her abusive ex-husband and her abusive on-again, off-again boyfriend, the fling she had in Albuquerque; I know that she masturbates every day. In other words, I already know everything I want to know, more than I deserve to know.”

Vampire in Love Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811223461
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: New Directions - September 27th, 2016

September: Vila-Matas Stories Translated at Last

“Vila-Matas is one of the most celebrated writers in Europe. His work has been translated into over thirty languages. His novels, artful and experimental and mixed with a strong tradition of storytelling, are ideal for anyone who’s a fan of Paul Auster, J.M. Coetzee, or Roberto Bolaño.”

The Gloaming Cover Image
ISBN: 9781937512477
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Two Dollar Radio - September 20th, 2016

October: A Rock-n-Roll Indie Press

“It’s definitely a psychological thriller, all wrapped up in how people punish themselves, mentally as well as physically. And I love how the book occupies the sweet spot between intellectual heft and also just page-turning thrills.”

Augusta's List of Ten

I had a harder time than usual coming up with a top 10 list this year—Ülrika and I often trade our favorite books back and forth and have similar taste when it comes to gift items, so many of my favorites were the same ones that she has already discussed in her top 10. Fortunately, there were a lot of exciting things that came out this year, both books and gifts, and in no specific order, here are ten items that captivated my attention in 2016.

The Veins of the Ocean Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802124890
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Grove Press - May 3rd, 2016

I visited Key West with my family this past spring and this was the perfect book to take along for the trip. After a shocking act of violence and the subsequent aftermath that rocks Reina’s family, she struggles to rebuild her life and learn how to exist without her brother in the Florida Keys. She meets a Cuban immigrant, Nesto, and the two, scarred from painful remnants of their previous lives, develop a friendship, exquisitely rendered in Engel’s beautiful prose. The complexity of the characters and powerful descriptive language left this one lingering in my mind for months after I finished it.

Love and Ruin: Tales of Obsession, Danger, and Heartbreak from The Atavist Magazine Cover Image
By Evan Ratliff (Editor), Susan Orlean (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780393352719
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - July 26th, 2016

The Atavist magazine, to those who are unfamiliar, publishes one longform narrative nonfiction piece each month and has, previously, only been available in digital format. I was one of those who was unfamiliar with The Atavist but as a lover of good narrative storytelling, thought I would give LOVE AND RUIN, a collection of some of the best pieces from the website, a try. I am now a convert. The topics are diverse, the styles are wide ranging and like any good narrative nonfiction, the author starts off investigating a particular theme of interest but end up somewhere entirely different and unexpected. By deeply exploring one very specific fascination, the essayists end up speaking to the much larger universal human condition and I feel greatly enriched by their words. If there is one essay collection not to miss this year, this is the one.

The Mothers: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399184512
Availability: UNAVAILABLE
Published: Riverhead Books - October 11th, 2016

I find myself, over and over, gravitating towards debut novels, especially by women writers. I’m not sure if it’s the excitement of fresh voices wrangling the human experience or my desire to see women succeed and validated as capable of writing Literature, but with all the buzz around THE MOTHERS (and its beautifully designed cover), I knew it was one that I wanted to check out. It didn’t disappoint. Told by a chorus of voices, the narrative follows three African-American teenagers as they mature into adulthood and work through the interrelated complexities that life throws at them. Bennett possesses a perceptive and delicate approach to race, religion, family and love and I couldn’t put THE MOTHERS down. She has set the bar high with her debut and I can’t wait to read whatever comes next.

Appetites: A Cookbook Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062409959
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Ecco - October 25th, 2016

I’ve always been a big fan of Bourdain’s attitude—towards food, towards life, towards cooking as a universal human experience. His latest cookbook is a more intimate look into where Bourdain is at this point in his life no longer the raucous, hard partying chef but a father and husband. The recipes are less focused on being of a particular style but more reflective of what he likes to make at home, with his daughter, for his family and friends. Some of the recipes are more complex than others, some don’t seem to fit a particular cuisine or style, but they all are representative of who Bourdain is, flaws and all, and that makes this all the more interesting. The awesome Ralph Steadman cover art doesn’t hurt either.

Vampire in Love Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811223461
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: New Directions - September 27th, 2016

I am a recent convert to (and lover of) books in translation but I must admit: I had never read any Enrique Vila-Matas. Recently translated into English for the first time, this collection spans his whole career and was filled with gems. Intellectual and witty, I found myself laughing out loud in waiting rooms over these brilliant stories. If you are looking for a way to get into translated fiction, this collection by arguably one of Spain’s greatest writers is an enjoyable introduction.

Lydia's Gift Giving Secrets

Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color Cover Image
ISBN: 9781632170576
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Sasquatch Books - October 11th, 2016

The Secret Keepers Cover Image
By Trenton Lee Stewart, Diana Sudyka (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780316389556
Availability: BACKORDERED
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - September 27th, 2016

Joy Picks Ten You May Have Missed

The thing about publishing is that not every book gets the publicity it needs or deserves. This is simply the way the business works, and it has little if anything to do with the quality of the writing and pretty much everything to do with months, if not years, of advance marketing decisions about what will sell the most copies and why. Even books that get a bigger push may still fly under readers’ radars.

Lion Island: Cuba's Warrior of Words Cover Image
ISBN: 9781481461122
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - August 30th, 2016

Set in Cuba in the nineteenth century, a time when the country was fighting for freedom from Spain, LION ISLAND is a middle-grade historical fiction novel-in-verse by award-winning author Margarita Engle. It’s the story of Antonio Chuffat and his journey to become an advocate of civil rights.

But it’s not just Antonio’s story. Told in multiple points of view, LION ISLAND starts in 1871, the year of the anti-Chinese riots in Los Angeles, and it’s also the story of Wing and Fan, a brother and sister who escaped those riots. It’s the tale of indentured servant and slaves and the overthrow of the Spanish sugar cane empire.

The verse format and multiple narrators makes this a page turner and a story set in a Cuba that few of us know makes it a must read for middle-graders who love history and based-on-truth stories. A great way to introduce social justice.

Lily and Dunkin Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553536744
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Delacorte Press - May 3rd, 2016

From award-winning author Donna Gephart, LILY AND DUNKIN is a compelling dual narrative about two remarkable young people: Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin, a boy dealing with bipolar disorder. When they meet, their lives change forever. In lesser hands, this middle grade novel would digress into an “issues” book Instead, it’s powerfully crafted and a must-read for every middle-grader and adults, too.

And if you want to know more about Donna Gephart—and of course you do!—and how she’s also an amazing teacher of the craft of writing, check out this podcast from her time at Austin author Bethany Hegedus’s Writing Barn.

Just My Luck Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062330659
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: HarperCollins - February 23rd, 2016

Oh how I love Cammie McGovern’s writing. She gets the complexities of teens and children, especially those struggling with illness, just right. I’m a huge fan of her young adult novel SAY WHAT YOU WILL. And now comes her middle grade debut—and it’s a gorgeous, moving book. There’s fourth grader Benny, whose life is sucking hugely. He doesn’t have a best friend and he wants one desperately. He can’t do tricks on his bike even though his autistic brother George can. And he’s worried that his dad’s recent accident might be his fault. And then things get worse. But Benny has a big heart and it’s going to help him get through tragedy and figure out that he was more to offer the world than he thinks he does.

McGovern’s writing is strong and sure and gentle. I am such a huge fan and I hope you will be, too! I’d recommend for age eight or nine on up, for readers who enjoy a quieter, thoughtful story.

Read Between the Lines Cover Image
ISBN: 9780763691028
Availability: BACKORDERED
Published: Candlewick - October 11th, 2016

If you aren’t reading Jo Knowles’ amazingly crafted novels for young people, then you need to be. READ BETWEEN THE LINES came out in hardback last year, but is on our shelves now in paperback and so it’s a perfect time to become a fan of the author of such books as SEE YOU AT HARRY’S (one of my absolute favorites!) and more. RBTL is a novel—moving, gritty, unflinching, and humorous—of interlocking stories that follow nine teens and one teacher through a seemingly ordinary day. Everything begins with Nate, who, thanks to a bully in gym class, suffers a broken finger. Of course it’s the middle one and it’s splinted to give ‘the finger’ to the world. But that’s not the only middle finger that will be raised that day in that small town. The cover says it all. For age thirteen and up, particularly teens who like contemporary fiction.

The Great Shelby Holmes: Girl Detective Cover Image
ISBN: 9781681190518
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Bloomsbury USA Childrens - September 6th, 2016

Just named to the Texas Library Association’s Bluebonnet List, this adorable middle-grade debut from internationally bestselling YA author Elizabeth Eulberg gives Sherlock Holmes a fun, sweet twist with delightful young heroes and black and white illustrations throughout. You’ll love this tale of Shelby Holmes, who is definitely not your average sixth grader, not only because she’s tiny and only nine years old but also because she is the best detective in Harlem! And when eleven-year-old John Watson (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?) moves in downstairs, they end up teaming together for a dognapping case. Friendship and mystery-solving ensue. For age ten and up, mystery lovers or not!

Afterward: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781626722385
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Roaring Brook Press - September 20th, 2016

Friend of the store and one of our very favorite Houston authors of contemporary young adult fiction such as THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, Jennifer Mathieu tells AFTERWARD, a wrenching story of the aftermath of a tragic kidnapping in her trademark steady, solid, and authentic teen voice. Like Donna Gephart’s work, Mathieu is able to elevate an “issue” book to something much deeper and more profound—a story of kidnapped and rescued Ethan and Dylan and Dylan’s older sister Caroline and the scary awful truths of what happened and how they will all get beyond it. As I mentioned when she made us all laugh with her reading of the BFG during Roald Dahl Day, I am such a huge fan of Mathieu’s work and you should be, too! A definite recommend for all teens, particularly those who enjoy stories inspired by real events.

A Fierce and Subtle Poison Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616205218
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - April 12th, 2016

What more can you ask for in a debut novel than to be a stunning retelling of Hawthorne’s “Rapaccinni’s Daughter,” but set in Puerto Rico?  Dallas author Samantha Mabry’s A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON is a story where legends collide with reality when a boy is swept into the magical, dangerous world of a girl filled with poison. It’s stunning prose, magic realism, and star-crossed romance.

Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl—Isabel, the one with green skin and grass for hair, who feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family's Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill. Seventeen-year-old Lucas is about to find out whether the stories are just stories, or maybe some strange kind of truth. But will he survive this weird new world? Mabry’s written a story on many levels—from fairy tale, to warning of cultural appropriation, to crazy love. For teens and up, especially readers who like something different and strange and wonderful.

More Happy Than Not Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616956776
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Soho Teen - April 26th, 2016

MORE HAPPY THAN NOT debuted in 2015 and quickly hit the New York Times bestseller list while garnering numerous awards and starred reviews. It’s on our shelves this year in paperback with a gorgeous new cover and if you haven’t read this gritty, twisty, wrenching, set in a dangerous near-future New York, haven’t discovered Bronx native Adam Silvera, then now is a good time to do so! His voice is one of the most authentic of any author for young adults, and I don’t say that lightly. It’s the story of sixteen year old Aaron Soto, struggling to recover from his father’s suicide. He’s got support from his girlfriend and from his loving but overworked mom, but he’s also got sadness and a smile-shaped scar on his wrist. But when Aaron’s feelings for a new boy named Thomas turn into something he isn’t expecting, complications stir. And the existence of a shadowy hospital called the Leteo Institute offers the possibility of surgically altering painful memories. But the question becomes, Does Aaron want to forget, or has he already forgotten? An important read that confronts race and sexuality with unflinching honesty.

The Serpent King Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553524024
Availability: UNAVAILABLE
Published: Crown Books for Young Readers - March 8th, 2016

Oh this story! Oh Jeff Zenter’s writing!! Oh THE SERPENT KING! This debut young adult novel is a story about friendship and family and forgiveness and casts an unflinching eye on growing up and finding your true self in the Bible Belt. It’s the story of the son of a Pentecostal minister, of extreme faith, of friendship and love and forgiveness. Like Zentner himself, it’s witty and funny and moving and different. Your teens will love it. So will you. And then you can all wait with me for March, 2017, when Zentner’s next YA novel, GOODBYE DAYS, arrives!!

The Memory of Things: A Novel Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9781250095527
Availability: OUT OF PRINT - Not Available for Order
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - September 6th, 2016

With the proliferation this year of 9/11 fiction, you might have missed this one. I’m here to tell you that you need to read it! THE MEMORY OF THINGS is a beautiful young adult novel of friendship and first love, and the impossible yet possible ability to carry on with day-to-day living in the midst of horrific, unspeakable tragedy. It’s a hopeful, wonderful, wholly original story about sixteen-year old Kyle Donohue, fleeing the danger of the falling towers by running to safety across the Brooklyn Bridge. But when he meets a girl covered in ash, inexplicably wearing a pair of costume wings, a mystery unravels along with tragedy and survival. For teens who want an unconventional love and survival story. Once they’ve read it, they’ll want to read Gae Polisner’s other titles, like THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO.