Book List, Holiday, Seasonal Picks

Jólabókaflóð: Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction

The last few holiday seasons at the store, we’ve really embraced the idea of celebrating Jólabókaflóð, an Icelandic tradition of giving your loved ones a book and hot chocolate on Christmas Eve. It just feels like a tradition that fits an indie bookstore so perfectly. This morning we’re sharing the horror, fantasy and science fiction novels we have on display!

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings is the first book in the Stormlight Archive Series which is probably one of my absolute favorite series. It has epic and amazing characters, an incredibly unique world like nothing I have ever read before, a magic system that is both complex and also easy to fantasize about and is being written by an author who seems to produce the next book in a timely fashion (something that any fantasy fan appreciates).

Drew

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings, Book One of the Stormlight Archive begins an incredible new saga of epic proportion.
Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.
It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.
One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.
Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.
The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune

Imagine a world not too different from ours…are you imagining it? Good! Now add magic and magical creatures. If you’re doing this right you should be able to picture the world of The House In The Cerulean Sea. In this world not quite our own there exist magical children, sometimes these children are orphaned and so specific orphanages for magical children had to be set up. Which is where Linus comes in. Linus is an inspector of these orphanages and while his life is droll and boring he is quite competent at his job, thats why he gets given a special assignment. He is to asses a house unlike any other with six magical children who could end the world and the mysterious Arthur Parnassus who runs Marsyas Island Orphanage. What Linus finds though could end his own world, for the better! Part love story, part fantasy, part finding yourself and one hundred percent finding your tribe this book is the perfect balm for the roughnes of the last year. T.J. said that he wrote this so that at the end you could sigh contentedly and hug the book close, I’ve gotta say he succeeded!

Drew

Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world.
Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. And his secrets will come to light.
The House in the Cerulean Sea is an enchanting love story, masterfully told, about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith

The Library of the Unwritten is a terrifically fun book about what happens to the books that are never written. They end up in Hell’s Library where Librarians keep them from escaping into the real world and hunting down their authors. So what happens when a book written by someone a little…different escapes? What happens if that book was written by Devil? What would a book like that do in the mortal world?

Drew

In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.
Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing– a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.
But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.

Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang

Vagabonds is perhaps one of my favorite Sci-Fis of the year! A classic story of the inherent conflict between the people who use the resources and the people who produce. This time its written in the stars instead of in the fields but the emotions are all the same. Another great piece of Sci-Fi from China, I cannot recommend this book enough!

Drew

A century after the Martian war of independence, a group of kids are sent to Earth as delegates from Mars, but when they return home, they are caught between the two worlds, unable to reconcile the beauty and culture of Mars with their experiences on Earth in this spellbinding novel from Hugo Award–winning author Hao Jingfang.
This genre-bending novel is set on Earth in the wake of a second civil war…not between two factions in one nation, but two factions in one solar system: Mars and Earth. In an attempt to repair increasing tensions, the colonies of Mars send a group of young people to live on Earth to help reconcile humanity. But the group finds itself with no real home, no friends, and fractured allegiances as they struggle to find a sense of community and identity, trapped between two worlds.
Fans of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Naomi Alderman’s The Power will fall in love with this novel about lost innocence, an uncertain future, and never feeling at home, no matter where you are in the universe. Translated by Ken Liu, bestselling author of The Paper Menagerie and translator of Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem,Vagabonds is the first novel from Hao Jingfang, the first Chinese woman to ever win the esteemed Hugo Award.

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Meddling Kids answers the question that many of us who grew up watching Scooby Doo have asked at least once, what happened once the gang grew up? In Meddling Kids the answer is…nothing great. Daphne is a bartender with PTSD, Velma is a combat nut, Fred is dead and haunting Shaggy who takes drugs to keep the ghost of his childhood friend quiet. There is still a Great Dane though so don’t worry! This book is full of Scooby Doo goodness as the gang has to reunite solve the mystery that caused them to break up, its a Scooby Doo and Cthullu mystery guys!!

Drew

In 1977, four teenagers and a dog—Andy (the tomboy), Nate (the nerd), Kerri (the bookworm), Peter (the jock), and Tim (the Weimaraner)—solved the mystery of Sleepy Lake. The trail of an amphibian monster terrorizing the quiet town of Blyton Hills leads the gang to spend a night in Deboën Mansion and apprehend a familiar culprit: a bitter old man in a mask. 
Now, in 1990, the twenty-something former teen detectives are lost souls. Plagued by night terrors and Peter’s tragic death, the three survivors have been running from their demons. When the man they apprehended all those years ago makes parole, Andy tracks him down to confirm what she’s always known—they got the wrong guy. Now she’ll need to get the gang back together and return to Blyton Hills to find out what really happened in 1977, and this time, she’s sure they’re not looking for another man in a mask.
A mad scientist’s concoction of H. P. Lovecraft, teen detectives, and a love of Americana, Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids is a story filled with rich horror, thrilling twists, outright hilarity, and surprising poignancy.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

As a personal challenge, I decided to read a novel outside of my typical genre which is fiction. Therefore I selected this horror novel and it did not disappoint. The author uses descriptive language to slowly establish a well thought out story line which weaves a tale of an evil home called High Point and its disturbing residents.

Pam

An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . . From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.
After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.   
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. 
And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

Reader disrection is advised for this story. The Poppy War is one of the first adult fantasy books that I have ever read. It is a gritty fantasy set during a war, where almost everyone is morally grey. This first book starts at an academy where our main character, Rin, is studying to become a military official for her country. She is one of three girls in her year at the school and she has to overcome a lot of obstacles in order to earn her place for the rest of her time there. I like this book because it is a super easy adult fantasy to get into, and is currently helping me overcome a huge reading slump. The actions scenes are very well-written, the characters are so intriguing, and the world is already incredibly well-developed.

Anna

A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.
When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

If you want to lose yourself in an entirely new fantasy world full of lovable characters and gut-wrenching moments, I can’t recommend a better series. Although this book is loosely based on Beauty and Beast, it quickly becomes its own story, and it is better than I could have imagined. You’ll be wanting to read the second book before this one even ends.

Elise

The sexy, action-packed first book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Court of Thorns and Roses series from Sarah J. Maas.
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a terrifying creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not truly a beast, but one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled her world.
At least, he’s not a beast all the time.
As she adapts to her new home, her feelings for the faerie, Tamlin, transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But something is not right in the faerie lands. An ancient, wicked shadow is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it, or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
From bestselling author Sarah J. Maas comes a seductive, breathtaking book that blends romance, adventure, and faerie lore into an unforgettable read.

A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff

I was immediately drawn in to the rich and detailed world Sarah Kozloff created and her characters are some of my new favorite fantasy heroines – it’s great to have a new favorite series to dive into!

Sarah

Debut author Sarah Kozloff offers a breathtaking and cinematic epic fantasy of a ruler coming of age in A Queen in Hiding first in the quartet of The Nine Realms series.
Four books. Four months. Nine Realms.
Readers will be able to binge this amazing fantasy series with beautiful interlocking art across the spines of all four books.
Orphaned, exiled and hunted, Cerulia, Princess of Weirandale, must master the magic that is her birthright, become a ruthless guerilla fighter, and transform into the queen she is destined to be.
But to do it she must win the favor of the spirits who play in mortal affairs, assemble an unlikely group of rebels, and wrest the throne from a corrupt aristocracy whose rot has spread throughout her kingdom.

The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

A beautiful and lyrical book, full of vivid imagery and brilliantly crafted characters full of humanity. The Vanished Birds is science fiction rooted in a very relateable world and one of the few books I absolutely could not stop thinking about every time I had to put it down to do something else.

Sarah

A mysterious child lands in the care of a solitary woman, changing both of their lives forever.
I expected many things from this trip.I did not expect a family.
A ship captain, unfettered from time. A mute child, burdened with unimaginable power. A millennia-old woman, haunted by lifetimes of mistakes. In this captivating debut of connection across space and time, these outsiders will find in each other the things they lack: a place of love and belonging. A safe haven. A new beginning.
But the past hungers for them, and when it catches up, it threatens to tear this makeshift family apart.

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