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Danielle is your stereotypical bookseller: coffee-addicted, crazy cat mom, crime junkie, lover of anything cozy, and has a TBR list at least 62 books long (and counting). She never remembers to say one of her favorite genres is historical fiction, even though it is. Find her perusing the literature and true crime shelves, admiring everything related to cats, and shelving like her life depends on it.
POV: the boldly colorful artwork of The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi stares at you from the shelf. Promises of pirate ships, tentacles, and general turmoil draws you in… and you are not disappointed. This beginner-friendly fantasy stars a middle-aged female Muslim pirate who is feared across the 16th Century Indian Ocean AND is a loving, single mother. Not to mention myriad queer, racially-and-magical-species-diverse, and religiously tolerant characters who join Amina on her ship. Phew, did you get all of that? I might add that there are also sorcerers with ancient, enchanted artifacts who may or may not try to take over the world. Are you sold now?
Petition to make Meowl-o-ween a real holiday! Costumes, candy, and cats--it can't get any better than that. At first Kitten is frightened by the commotion of kids and kitties out-and-about, but musters up the courage to pull a trick herself. Super cute illustrations, cats of all colors and patterns, and jack-o-lanterns abundant!
I was not generally a middle grade graphic novel reader, but after reading Lightfall I am one now. My heart soars for the absolutely gorgeous illustrations that fill every page and the deeply touching story about friendship, bravery, and battling one’s own internal struggles while working toward an external goal. The story is bound to touch everyone who reads it in some way. Learn from my mistake: buy both volumes. After you finish the first, you’ll wish you had the second on hand immediately. Cliffhanger alert!
All writers have been there: the exciting, yet dreadful, sight of the blank page at the beginning of their first draft. Local author Matt Bell offers easy-to-digest advice and encouragement that helped me make that first jump into my new novel. His bite-sized paragraphs are full of wisdom and practicality that take the daunting task of starting and finishing a story one step at a time.
If you have a Twilight itch that needs to be scratched, Vampire Knight is sure to satisfy. It's got hot vampires, a sulky vampire hunter (almost better than werewolves, in my opinion), a love triangle, and best of all: a strong female lead. The slow burn romance (with which guy?) is so consuming, you don't even realize you're almost finished with the volume. But don't worry! There are 18 more volumes PLUS a spin-off series. Vampires for days!
Oh, Big Swiss... where do I start? You were like going to the DMV, but it's completely empty. Like taking the SATs in high school, but the test that year is super easy. Your cover is uncomfortable, but your contents... uncomfortable, yet entirely engrossing. I rooted for Greta most of the book, except when I didn't. Jen Beagin is one of those authors that can capture the utter awkwardness that is humans and their relationships. Did I like the fact that Greta lives in a house with a beehive and bugs in her curtains? Not particularly. But, I can't deny that, despite the inherent clumsiness of Greta and her life, I absorbed every word Beagin wrote about her and Big Swiss.
As a self-proclaimed "crime junkie," I have recently been grappling with the ethics of highlighting horrendous events that happened to real people. This debut novel tackles my exact feelings: when do we cross the line talking about true crime versus simply drawing awareness? When Roach, our (not so) friendly bookseller-crime-junkie-and-so-called-music-aficionado learns about the dark past of her new manager Laura, her world flips as she is consumed by her obsession with creating a true crime story of her own. If you like bookstores, poetry, spying through windows, or the UK, you'll like this book. It's also awkward, comedic, dark, and thrilling all in one, and I think we all have a bit of Roach in ourselves.
For all my fellow Crime Junkies, this is it. The queen of true crime has finally written a book and it’s great. Since the story follows the fictional disappearance (it took me a bit to realize that it is not a real case) of a girl from Flowers’ hometown, her storytelling seems more passionate and personal than her other projects–if that’s even possible! Not only does the story follow the investigation of the crime, Flowers creates and develops a perfectly imperfect protagonist who digs into the crime while dealing with relatable personal issues along the way. This is a thriller that grabs you by the seat of your pants and pulls you along; before you realize it, you’re at the end and then you’re sad (in a good way, don’t worry).
If you were fascinated by the experimentation on Stranger Things’ Eleven, then this fantasy/horror/psychological thriller will be a great next read for you. The Institute, a high-security research facility directed by the sinister Mrs. Sigsby, is a place no kid (or anyone, really) ever wants to go. Persecuted for their abnormal and extraordinary mental abilities, the kid-centric cast of characters will make you feel all the things as they endure the atrocity of the facility and its keepers. Although I felt uncertain and perpetually creeped-out–as is King’s specialty, of course–I couldn’t stop reading because I had to find out the fate of the children I grew to love.
Although there isn’t much that hasn’t been said praising this book, I, too, shall praise it. I was searching for a book that was engaging, not too long (i.e. short), and, well, just different. Becky Chambers definitely delivered. I never knew that sci-fi could be cozy and just the right amount of philosophical, all while taking place on a moon after the collapse of a technology-based society. I am now, more than ever, all for the return to building an entire city out of organic materials. It sounds lovely. Chambers has you rooting for the equally lovely platonic (?) relationship between the tea monk and the sixth generation robot from the moment they meet until the end. I am so excited to read the sequel. Also. Am I… attracted to a robot named Mosscap?
I have followed Morgan Harper Nichols on social media for a while now, and I never grow tired of her content. Original art and poetry from a neurodivergent, Arizona-based, POC business owner is just so special to me. Her writing is impactful, intentional, and inspiring. This book makes a great gift but also deserves a place on your own bookshelf with its gorgeous colors and beautiful words. You Are Only Just Beginning is equal parts art, poetry, spirituality, and psychology, so everyone is able to get what they need from it, while supporting a deserving creator.
I’ll be honest, it’s extremely difficult to find the right words to describe my feelings about this memoir. Stunning, shocking, tragic, humorous, revelatory, timely… anyone remotely interested in pop culture, mental health, or humor should take a gander at this book. I can almost guarantee that a simple flip through the pages will pull you in and encompass you in McCurdy’s world. I grew up on iCarly, so learning about McCurdy’s struggles while portraying the bubbly Sam Puckett came as a shock to me - and for many others. Get a copy while it’s in stock, this 2022 hot read is flying off the shelves, and for good reason. CW: abuse, eating disorders, religion, mental health
I definitely judged this book by its cover and I am happy to report that it lives up to the floating woman, equally strange but enchanting. One way to describe this short novel is that it’s a story about love, but not a traditional love story. Companionship and comfort are the defining characteristics of Tsukiko and Sensei’s raw, awkward relationship and to me, that’s wonderful. Do prepare to cringe occasionally, because as I said, it is truly quite awkward at times. But I think that’s the beauty of Kawakami’s storytelling: she is remarkable at telling stories about the ordinary, real-life stuff. Go ahead, read this book. You know the cover has been staring at you for a while now. CW: age-gap relationships
As someone who dressed up as Tina for Halloween 2016, I can guarantee that this recipe book is everything you want and more. I’ve always yearned to eat a pun-inspired burger from Bob, and now I can do it in my home! Our favorite characters ensue in their typical shenanigans on each individual recipe, which makes for a fun time picking out your next eat. This can be a great gift for that Bob’s Burgers enthusiast in your life (there’s always one) or simply for yourself… grill up a “Pickle My Funny Bone” burger and sit back with a glass of wine - Linda approved!
Sam Masur, video game creator and amputee, loves Sadie Green, but not in *that* way. Except, when he does. But only when she is in another relationship. It's complicated. But so are all of the relationships between the characters of this beautiful, dynamic story. The cover is just the beginning of the beauty. I laughed, held back tears in the breakroom, and simply absorbed this book. I now know what an MMORPG is, but, more importantly, I have a deeper appreciation for the diversity of friendships.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in a bookstore? Except the bookstore is run by a peculiar old man and frequented by strange, frantic customers who only want the giant antique books in the very back of the store. Add employees from Google, a trip to NYC to infiltrate a cult dedicated to discovering eternal life, and an adorable love story. That’s what it’s like to work in a bookstore, at least one run by Mr. Penumbra. I have read this book multiple times and I still can’t catch all of the quips and quirkiness – that’s what makes it one of my favorites.
Let me give you a lesson in fantastic books: the first, Lessons in Chemistry. This quick read spiked my C8H11NO2 (dopamine) with its strong female lead, plentiful food, and an ex-bomb sniffing dog named Six-Thirty. Set in the 1950s and 60s, the story of Elizabeth Zott, chemist and cooking show host, is a commentary on gender roles and women’s rights veiled by impeccable comedic timing that keeps the topic light yet still impactful. Each word written has a purpose, with no space wasted. I laughed, I sighed in defeat, and I ended the book feeling satisfied. As this is Garmus’ debut novel, I know I will be a Garmus groupie for life.
If you’re in the mood for a story to invest in, I believe this is the one. If you need a heartbreaker, I believe this is the one. If you want a novel led by outstanding and diverse LGBTQIA characters, I believe that you should pick this one up right now! Set in the Windy City during the 1980s AIDs crisis, as well as modern-day Paris, The Great Believers is an exceptional piece of historical fiction that draws on real-life events of the times. It also has sprinkles of art curation, cults, and photography, if any of those interest you. I believe that anyone who picks up this book will be changed, and for the better.
I simply cannot find the words to encapsulate how I felt about this book. All good things, I assure you. A multi-generational epic following one Korean family living in Japan, this story pulled at my heart strings and I do admit that I cried (several) times. I grew to love the characters; felt sorrow at their downfalls, and elation at their successes. Although the novel is quite dense, don't let that intimidate you--it completely pulls you in and it doesn't feel like you're reading at all. Instead, you're living in 1900s Korea and Japan, alongside Sunja, Hansu, and Solomon. I highly recommend this for fans of historical fiction, and for those who want to dip their toes in, like me.
Moloka’i is a piece of historical fiction based on the heart-wrenching true events of the Hansen's Disease (also known as Leprosy) patients on the Hawaiian island of Moloka’i. Within the pages lies commentary about medical ethics, as well as social issues and world events in the 1800s and 1900s, woven into the life story of the main character, Rachel. It all feels very real and alarmingly similar to what we are experiencing now. It is apparent that Brennert has passion for the subject and it is well-researched and respectful. I consumed this book in less than a week!
This book has beautiful Art, an abundance of Books, and all about an orange Cat (what more could you need?) Learn your ABCs and bask in the glory that is cats and bookstores!
I wasn’t originally going to write a recommendation for this book, since it is an older publication. But gosh, I loved it so much that it deserves some sort of praise. If you are searching for a book that makes it feel like you aren’t reading, Carlos Ruiz Zafon is your guy. His impeccable and intricate storytelling abilities are astounding, and I loved every minute reading this book. Gothic Barcelona is a force to be reckoned with; it’s so spooky and mysterious and enchanting. Great characters? Check. Great setting? Check. Intense need to know what’s happening next? Check.
If you are fascinated by the history of Jim Crow America, Forensic Anthropology, or anything true crime-related, you will devour this book. Warning: it will wrench your heart and make you want to yell at the top of your lungs at the injustice these children faced. Equal parts politics, science, and personal narrative, this story offers a lot; it is extremely important and will forever alter the rendering of what truly happened at the Dozier Boys School.
General consumers of popular culture, such as Miyazaki or Disney films, may see the content one way, often at face value. But, for the members of the demographics these films portray, it can have drastic and even detrimental effects for their self-concept, as this collection of poetry beautifully expresses. If you are a lover of Asian media, like K-pop or Japanese manga, this work will offer a valuable perspective on how the popularization of Asian culture impacts the people behind it, especially those who question their identity as “Asian” like the author. Gorgeous imagery of nature and cuisine punctuates an extremely important commentary on belonging and celebration of one’s identity.
This collection of poems will have you seeing pink and blue. You will rejoice in the wonders of nature and learn to love the little things in life; parts of the world that seem mundane will have immense significance after you read this. My favorite piece is "Raindrop"; who knew that a single drop of water on the hood of a car could bring about so much emotion? This collection is perfect for those readers who want to get into poetry and don't know where to begin. Ted Kooser is a great for a reason!
Think: A Gothic manor much like Jane Eyre's Thornfield Hall, with a dreamy romantic interest as brusque as Mr. Rochester. Now flip that into a full-fledged murder mystery with seances and a Halloween feel in the middle of the year. The self-titled spiritualist, Genevieve Timmons, is a master of fraud, but can she deceive two people at once and avoid the gallows, all while trying to reconcile her place in society?
Set in the world of the New York Public Library, local author Peng Shepherd’s THE CARTOGRAPHERS is a refreshing read about the often-overlooked vocation of map-making. Beyond the story of Nell Young and her discovery of a seemingly trivial gas station map, Shepherd creates a rich commentary on the contrast between the old craft of cartography and a modern tech company, eerily comparable to Google. How far can contemporary technology go, and how does it measure up to age-old knowledge? Fans of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and John Green’s Paper Towns will consume this read about friendship, magic, and passion for one’s craft.
If you love slow-burn romance and women's representation in STEM, then you will love THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS by Ali Hazelwood. At least, that is my hypothesis. As a woman in STEM myself, I often found myself daydreaming about a meet-cute with a handsome, Adam Driver-esque professor that shares my love for the field. The Love Hypothesis fulfilled those dreams, definitely. An all-consuming, quick read full of co-worker and enemies-to-lovers tropes in an academic setting that romance readers swoon over, this novel will not disappoint even the most seasoned romance aficianado.
Have you ever experienced anxiety or depression? Are you looking for a new approach to understanding these all-too-common issues in our modern world? In NOTES ON A NERVOUS PLANET, Haig intertwines traditional self-help elements with psychological research and anecdotes to create a piece that appeals to a wide variety of readers. Whether you have a psych background or are reading to better understand your own world, this quick read will open your eyes to a different explanation to common mental health issues impacted by the news, climate, social circles, and social media.
This glamorous piece of historical fiction focuses on two successful women: Evelyn Hugo, an aging 50's Hollywood starlet, and Monique Grant, the reporter hired to tell Evelyn's dramatic and, until now, private story. Evelyn's charismatic and unapologetic personality immediately draws the reader into the telling of her story and how she married seven very diverse men throughout her life. This novel weaves the story of Evelyn and Monique through LGBTQ topics and commentary on what it means to be a strong woman in both the late 1900s and modern time. A quick read punctuated by a shocking ending, THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO, is a TikTok hot title for a reason!