Julia, Marketing and Promotions Assistant
Favorite Genres: Speculative fiction; magical realism; books set in circuses and carnivals; fairytale retellings; books where people find mysterious books; supernatural horror that is actually about real-life horrors; non-fiction about the brain, art, and trees; occasional literary fiction
Favorite Authors: Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, Roxane Gay, Haruki Murakami, Donna Tartt, Italo Calvino, Emily St. John Mandel, Shirley Jackson, N.K. Jemisin, V.E. Schwab, Madeline Miller, Jeff VanderMeer
All’s Well tells the surreal story of Miranda, a drama professor reaching her breaking point after years of chronic pain. Awad is an author I’m always excited to read, and this one pulls no punches. She will challenge you – but I promise, it is well worth it. Full of Shakespeare allusions, shifting realities, and a complex protagonist you can’t fully trust. Read it with your book club, because you’ll want to talk about it.
Ever wonder what happened to children swept off to fairyland only to return to boring, mundane, reality? Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children takes care of these "used-up miracle children" and helps them readjust. Or tries to. This Nebula Award-winning novella is so, so good– perfect if you love Ransom Riggs or The Ten Thousand Doors of January. And the good news is there are 5 (soon to be 6) novellas after this one!
Set in an all-too-plausible near future dealing with the devastation of Anthropocene extinction, Migrations follows Franny as she talks her way on to a fishing vessel, set on tracking the last Arctic terns on their final migration to the Antarctic. McConaghy’s prose is icy and beautiful, cutting through the North Atlantic as well as Franny’s troubling past. This book is gorgeous — try it if you liked The Overstory.
If you’re after a not-your-average guidebook to our nation’s national treasures, if you want a book that will make you laugh out loud and roll your eyes at people’s cluelessness, this is it! Full of Amber’s gorgeous illustrations (and unimpressed park visitor’s one-star reviews) as well as tips and insight into the parks, this is the kind of book you buy yourself, give away, and then have to get another copy!
Don’t be put off by this book’s heft– this is an engrossing biography. Sylvia Plath is too-often reduced to her tragic final act. Red Comet doesn’t reduce her life and achievements in the face of her suicide, treating her like the gifted writer she was. If you love her work as I do, or if you just want to read an excellent biography, this is worth reading. (And it offers a fascinating look at women’s lives in the 1950s, too.)
A Deadly Education is absolutely delicious, and I enjoyed every page! The Scholomance is a ruthlessly dangerous magic school, where even sitting in the wrong seat at breakfast could mean death. El is a third year student with an affinity for mass destruction, who is struggling to NOT kill all her classmates. Full of scheming, sarcastic teenage angst, and dark humor, this is the fantasy novel I didn't know I was dying for.
Sometimes books come along and hit all the right notes at just the right time. I read this while socially isolating, and I was swept away by Addie's story and Schwab's gorgeous writing. Addie is a young girl aching to be free in 1700s France, who makes a deal with a mysterious figure. She is free to do and be who she likes — but she is forgotten by everyone she meets. Epic, romantic, tragic, and moving, this book is a treasure.
I think we could all use something a little transporting right now, and this book is perfect if you’re looking for something light, magical, and lyrical. Join the titular January as she discovers herself and her family’s past; travel to enchanting other worlds; and discover the power of words. Perfect for anyone who loved The Starless Sea or Every Heart a Doorway.
Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors, and although she's best known as a novelist, she's also a really wonderful poet. This is her first book of poetry in some time, and it is just as intimate, personal, and captivating as I hoped it would be. It's definitely a book you'll want to read and savor yourself, then gift to your mom, your best friend, or anyone who loves Margaret Atwood.
Emezi has knocked my socks off with every book they have written, but I think that this one is my favorite. A complex look at family, love, identity, and loss, The Death of Vivek Oji is a window into the lives of characters that feel dimensional and real. The end of this book left me stunned and sobbing, and I have recommending it to everyone who will listen.
The City We Became is already going to be one of my top books of 2020, and I read it in January. Weaving together multiversal struggles à la Lovecraft, gritty urban fantasy, a stellar love-them-and-all-their-flaws cast of characters, and all-too-realistic racial tensions, this trilogy starter is the kind of refreshingly unique fantasy we need. Whether you're new to Jemisin or a perennial fan, this is one to read.
In the late 1800s, a flu epidemic decimates the population of the U.S., causing women's infertility to be seen as witchcraft. Outlawed follows Ada, a barren woman whose choices are a nunnery or a group of bandits led by the charismatic Kid who hopes to forge a very different future for women like Ada. North crafts her own compelling vision of the feminist dystopia, setting it in an alternate Wild West that feels genuine and alive.
In Night Theater, a surgeon in a remote village clinic is struggling to overcome lack of resources and ennui when a young teacher and his family come to the clinic with an unusual request — they have been killed in a robbery, but if the surgeon can repair their wounds by dawn, they have a new chance at life. This is an intriguing story of fate, morality, and truth told over the course of one literally life-changing night.
When done well, horror short stories are one of my favorite things to read. Full Throttle weaves just the right tone in these creepy tales. A few of my favorites were "Faun," (What if someone with less-than-great motives found a portal to a fairy tale world?) "Dark Carousel," (A bunch of dumb kids graffiti a carousel. It doesn't end well for them.) and "Late Returns" (A lovely ghost story about a mobile library.)
This book was pure enjoyment to read. A mysterious rich man dies suddenly, leaving behind a city-wide scavenger hunt to claim a portion of his inheritance. The titular Tuesday, aided by other lost souls, track down the clues while dealing with their ghosts and troubled pasts in the process. Tuesday Mooney is great fun, chock full of puzzles, mysteries, friendship, and finding oneself.
I would read Emily St. John Mandel's shopping lists if she published them. I read Station Eleven a few years ago, which I loved so dearly I was so excited to get my hands on The Glass Hotel. Simply put, St. John Mandel's way with language is transcendent. Her novels are much more than the sum of their plots, and I can't recommend this gorgeous novel more highly. Oh, and grab Station Eleven too while you're here.
If you're like me and were swept away by the magic of The Night Circus, you've been anxiously awaiting Erin Morgenstern's next novel. It was worth the wait. Intersecting tales, a mysterious underground library, dangerous collectors, and Morgenstern's trademark writing style which is lyrical, descriptive, and engages all the senses. Make yourself a cup of tea (or maybe a Sidecar!) and let this book transport you.
This is the perfect companion to renew or strengthen your connection to the natural world. Each short chapter consists of personal musings, observations, and information on a different tree or grove of trees. Rooted in ecology and heavily influenced by Kaza's Buddhist education, this poetic little book will come with me on hikes and keep me company when I can't get outside. The illustrations are beautiful, too.
We all know someone who this book is for. The person who wants to know how they can take a selfie with a telescope. Or if they can cross the Arkansas River by turning it into water vapor using electric kettles. This book is delightful fun for any fans of the webcomic XKCD, but really for anyone who wants their ridiculous questions answered, semi-seriously, and with legitimate science.
Middlegame is a fantasy that defies easy categorization and is super hard to describe. What I can tell you is that you'll be swept along its 500+ pages and you will relish every moment. Alchemists trying to achieve total power; lonely, gifted twins separated at birth trying to connect and find their way; and a complex and utterly incomparable story make this a novel unlike anything you’ve read before.
Josh Malerman gained recognition from Bird Box, but this dreamlike and deeply unnerving novella is worth a read. Scary but not really horror, this book tells the story of a young couple on a first date who discover a house, perfectly intact at the bottom of a remote lake. Their investigations of the mysterious house get deeper as their relationship develops. The tale is short, but I found myself contemplating it long after I finished.
You probably know N.K. Jemisin from her multi-Hugo Award winning Broken Earth series. This, her first foray into short fiction, is nothing short of stunning and should not be missed. Creating a cohesive and unique fantasy or sci-fi world in a few short pages is no easy task, but these stories are just one hit after another. Do yourself a favor and acquaint yourself with one of the finest speculative fiction authors of our time.