Book List, Staff Picks

New Picks & MORE New Booksellers!

This round of staff picks we’re excited to introduce our newest bookseller, Alex! He particularly enjoys reading fantasy and playing Dungeons & Dragons!

World Travel by Anthony Bourdain

I was so excited when this book was announced – I had been surprised that Tony hadn’t done a new book of his travels for Parts Unknown as he had for No Reservations and Cook’s Tour and when he died, I thought we’d never get one. I was excited to learn more about his favorite places and was excited to see so many place I love as well included.

A guide to some of the world’s most fascinating places, as seen and experienced by writer, television host, and relentlessly curious traveler Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain saw more of the world than nearly anyone. His travels took him from the hidden pockets of his hometown of New York to a tribal longhouse in Borneo, from cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, Paris, and Shanghai to Tanzania’s utter beauty and the stunning desert solitude of Oman’s Empty Quarter—and many places beyond.

In World Travel, a life of experience is collected into an entertaining, practical, fun and frank travel guide that gives readers an introduction to some of his favorite places—in his own words. Featuring essential advice on how to get there, what to eat, where to stay and, in some cases, what to avoid, World Travel provides essential context that will help readers further appreciate the reasons why Bourdain found a place enchanting and memorable.

Supplementing Bourdain’s words are a handful of essays by friends, colleagues, and family that tell even deeper stories about a place, including sardonic accounts of traveling with Bourdain by his brother, Christopher; a guide to Chicago’s best cheap eats by legendary music producer Steve Albini, and more. Additionally, each chapter includes illustrations by Wesley Allsbrook.

For veteran travelers, armchair enthusiasts, and those in between, World Travel offers a chance to experience the world like Anthony Bourdain.

The Bright & The Pale by Jessica Rubinkowski

This book broke my heart on so many levels and only made me want more. A tale of truly epic proportions, THE BRIGHT AND THE PALE will make your heart pound, steal your breath, and pull you into a world so terrifying and exhilarating you’ll never want to leave. The writing is so beautiful and every word makes you salivate for more. A mystical thrill ride of excitement and heartache this is one story you do not want to miss.

Debut author Jessica Rubinkowski delivers the thrilling first book in an epic Russian folklore–inspired fantasy duology filled with page-turning romance, tragedy, magic, and monsters. Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sara Raasch!

Seventeen-year-old Valeria is one of the only survivors of the freeze, a dark magical hold Knnot Mountain unleashed on her village. Everyone, including her family, is trapped in an unbreakable sheet of ice. Ever since, she’s been on the run from the czar, who has set out to imprison anyone who managed to escape. Valeria finds refuge with the Thieves Guild, doing odd jobs with her best friend, Alik, the only piece of home she has left. That is, until he is brutally murdered.

A year later, she discovers Alik is alive and being held captive. To buy his freedom, she must lead a group of cutthroats and thieves on a perilous expedition to the very mountain that claimed her family. Only something sinister slumbers in the heart of Knnot. And it has waited years for release.

White Magic by Elissa Washuta

White Magic is one of the best essay collections I’ve read in a long while. Washuta weaves a seamlessly intertwined narrative as she explores the appropriation of Native American spiritual practices by girlboss-type white pagans and spirituality gurus who can never truly understand the meanings of those sacred rituals. She writes about colonization, PTSD, and getting sober with incredible brilliance, all the while pulling cultural entities (Stevie Nicks gets a shoutout) and her own memories like guiding threads throughout the text. This collection is a true knockout and the work of a very very powerful witch.

Bracingly honest and powerfully affecting, White Magic establishes Elissa Washuta as one of our best living essayists.

Throughout her life, Elissa Washuta has been surrounded by cheap facsimiles of Native spiritual tools and occult trends, “starter witch kits” of sage, rose quartz, and tarot cards packaged together in paper and plastic. Following a decade of abuse, addiction, PTSD, and heavy-duty drug treatment for a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder, she felt drawn to the real spirits and powers her dispossessed and discarded ancestors knew, while she undertook necessary work to find love and meaning.

In this collection of intertwined essays, she writes about land, heartbreak, and colonization, about life without the escape hatch of intoxication, and about how she became a powerful witch. She interlaces stories from her forebears with cultural artifacts from her own life—Twin Peaks, the Oregon Trail II video game, a Claymation Satan, a YouTube video of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham—to explore questions of cultural inheritance and the particular danger, as a Native woman, of relaxing into romantic love under colonial rule.

Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky

I cannot express enough how excited I am that this book has been re-printed! Set in a fantastic world where people can gain aspects of certain arthropods (Beetle kinded are good with machines and Antkinden are super strong) this book is about the coming of the Wasp Empire and what people are willing to do to stop them!

Empire in Black and Gold is the first instalment in the critically-acclaimed fantasy series Shadows of the Apt. It’s brought to you by Adrian Tchaikovsky, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

The days of peace are over . . .

The city states of the Lowlands have lived in peace and prosperity for decades, hailed as bastions of civilization and sophistication. That peace is about to end.

Far from the Lowlands, an ancient empire has been conquering city after city with its highly trained armies and sophisticated combat techniques. Now it’s set its sights on a new prize.

Only the ageing Stenwold Maker – spymaster, artificer and statesman – can see the threat. So it falls upon his shoulders to open the eyes of his people. For war will sweep across their lands, burning away everything in its path. Yet first, he must stop himself from becoming the empire’s latest victim.

Empire in Black and Gold is followed by the second book in the Shadows of the Apt series, Dragonfly Falling.

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

The first prequel to the Witcher series, The Last Wish is a series of short stories that serve to introduce the reader into the world before the story formally begins in Blood of Elves. While I’d hesitate to say this is essential reading, the stories do provide some insight into the background of our main characters and the world they live in. A perfectly acceptable start for the series, there’s a lot to love here.

Geralt the Witcher — revered and hated — holds the line against the monsters plaguing humanity in this collection of adventures, the first chapter in the New York Times bestselling series that inspired the hit Netflix show and the blockbuster video games.

Geralt is a Witcher, a man whose magic powers, enhanced by long training and a mysterious elixir, have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin. Yet he is no ordinary killer. His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world.

But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good…and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.

And look out for The Tower of Fools, book one of Andrzej Sapkowski’s Hussite Trilogy!

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle is a beautifully written memoir, but definitely is not for the faint of heart and will pull no punches in its portrayal of complicated familial relationships and a toxic family dynamic. Wells writes this novel as a masterclass in grace and forgiveness in her account of her childhood, which is wrought with frustration and sadness. This book will have you flying through the pages until the end and is a guaranteed tear-jerker.

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing—a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin is an amazing book with great characters and a unique magic system. I had such a good time reading this book and I definitely recommend it.

At the end of the world, a woman must hide her secret power and find her kidnapped daughter in this “intricate and extraordinary” Hugo Award winning novel of power, oppression, and revolution. (The New York Times)

This is the way the world ends. . .for the last time.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

Read the first book in the critically acclaimed, three-time Hugo award-winning trilogy by NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.

Live to Tell the Tale by Keith Ammann

Live to Tell the Tale is one of the very best books for player character (PC) tactics for Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). These tactics work for battles big and small. Your Dungeon Master (DM) doesn’t want to kill the whole party, but it does happen when players aren’t prepared! This is a sequel to The Monsters Know What They’re Doing and if they know… you should too!

From the author of The Monsters Know What They’re Doing comes an introduction to combat tactics for Dungeons & Dragons players.

In his first book, The Monsters Know What They’re Doing (based on his popular blog)Keith Ammann unleashed upon the D&D world a wave of clever, highly evolved monster tactics. Now it’s only fair that he gives players the tools they need to fight back…and prevail!

An introduction to combat tactics for fifth-edition Dungeons & Dragons players, Live to Tell the Tale evens the score. It examines the fundamentals of D&D battles: combat roles, party composition, attacking combos, advantage and disadvantage, Stealth and Perception, and more…including the ever-important consideration of how to run away!

Don’t worry about creating a mathematically perfect character from square one. Survival isn’t about stats—it’s about behavior! With four turn-by-turn, roll-by-roll, blow-by-blow sample battles, Live to Tell the Tale breaks down how to make the best choices for your cherished characters so that they can survive their adventures, retire upon their accumulated riches, and tell stories about the old days that nobody will ever believe.

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