Book List, Staff Picks

New Picks & 1 MORE New Bookseller!

This round of staff picks we’re excited to introduce our newest bookseller, Carly! With her addition to the team, our staff for the summer is complete!

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

This book has just about everything I love to read about – female aviators, polar adventure, shipwrecks, spunky and strong-willed female heroines, I loved it all. Written in alternating timelines, I found myself fully immersed in them both, longing for each story while I was reading the other. It is the best sort of historical and contemporary fiction mashup to read as the weather gets warmer.

The unforgettable story of a daredevil female aviator determined to chart her own course in life, at any cost—Great Circle “soars and dips with dizzying flair … an expansive story that covers more than a century and seems to encapsulate the whole wide world” (Boston Globe).

After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. There–after encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town in beat-up biplanes–Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At fourteen she drops out of school and finds an unexpected and dangerous patron in a wealthy bootlegger who provides a plane and subsidizes her lessons, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny: circumnavigating the globe by flying over the North and South Poles.

A century later, Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film that centers on Marian’s disappearance in Antarctica. Vibrant, canny, disgusted with the claustrophobia of Hollywood, Hadley is eager to redefine herself after a romantic film franchise has imprisoned her in the grip of cult celebrity. Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds, thrillingly, alongside Marian’s own story, as the two women’s fates–and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times–collide. Epic and emotional, meticulously researched and gloriously told, Great Circle is a monumental work of art, and a tremendous leap forward for the prodigiously gifted Maggie Shipstead.

How to Save a Queendom by Jessica Lawson

A hilarious, thrilling, and action packed adventure, HOW TO SAVE A QUEENDOM is a madcap quest novel that’s too irresistible to put down. With characters with strong voices so clear you hear them as if they are right next to you, magic around every corner, and a brave young girl trying to save her home with a miniature wizard and pet chicken by her side this is one crazy tale you won’t want to miss!

From critically acclaimed author Jessica Lawson comes a whimsical fantasy about an orphaned twelve-year-old girl who is called upon to save her queendom when she finds a tiny wizard in her pocket.

Life’s never been kind to twelve-year-old Stub. Orphaned and left in the care of the cruel Matron Tratte, Stub’s learned that the best way to keep the peace is to do as she’s told. No matter that she’s bullied and that her only friend is her pet chicken, Peck, Stub’s accepted the fact that her life just isn’t made for adventure. Then she finds a tiny wizard in her pocket.

Orlen, the royal wizard to Maradon’s queen, is magically bound to Stub. And it’s up to her to ferry Orlen back to Maradon Cross, the country’s capital, or else the delicate peace of the queendom will crumble under the power of an evil wizard queen. Suddenly Stub’s unexciting life is chock-full of adventure. But how can one orphan girl possibly save the entire queendom?

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

I’ve dreamed of doing this staff pick for years, before I even worked at Towne. This book is my whole heart and it means everything to me. I’m of the belief that Catherynne Valente is a genius, but don’t just take my word for it. Read Deathless and you’ll understand. The story follows the Russian folkloric heroine Marya Morevna in a retelling of the story of Koschei the Deathless (amongst other assorted Russian fairytales and myths) set during the immediate aftermath of the Russian Revolution and the various governmental regimes of Soviet Russia. Alternating between the mythical Isle of Buyan and Leningrad/Petrograd/Stalingrad, Marya Morevna is unforgettable and Valente cements her place as one of the best fantasy writers living today.

A glorious retelling of the Russian folktale Marya Morevna and Koschei the Deathless from Catherynne M. Valente, set in a mysterious version of St. Petersburg during the first half of the 20th century

Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what devils or wicked witches are to European culture: a menacing, evil figure; the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations. But Koschei has never before been seen through the eyes of Catherynne Valente, whose modernized and transformed take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the twentieth century.

Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever child of the revolution, to Koschei’s beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, which will bring Russian myth back to life in a stunning new incarnation.

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by H. G. Parry

Another great example of what I refer to as historical fantasy A Declaration Of The Rights Of Magicians ask what would happen during the enlightenment if not all peoples were actually equal? How would Pitt the younger react in a world where magic is real? This book takes a real world time and place and simply replaces the monarchs of the day with actual Sorceror Kings. As a result the madness of King George and the horrors of the French Revolution take on terrifying new aspects. I recommed this book!

A sweeping tale of revolution and wonder in a world not quite like our own, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is a genre-defying story of magic, war, and the struggle for freedom in the early modern world.

It is the Age of Enlightenment — of new and magical political movements, from the necromancer Robespierre calling for a revolution in France, to the weather mage Toussaint L’Ouverture leading the slaves of Haiti in their fight for freedom, to the bold new Prime Minister William Pitt weighing the legalization of magic amongst commoners in Britain and abolition throughout its colonies overseas.

But amidst all of the upheaval of the early modern world, there is an unknown force inciting all of human civilization into violent conflict. And it will require the combined efforts of revolutionaries, magicians, and abolitionists to unmask this hidden enemy before the whole world falls to darkness and chaos.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

When an astronaut wakes up next to his two dead crewmates millions of miles away from home, with no memory of who he is or why he’s there, and he soon remembers he’s tasked with saving his planet. But will he be able to help his world in the face of a dark and unforgiving setting, and will he get his memories back before it’s too late? Project Hail Mary is an immersive sci-fi novel, full of suspense & the indelible humor that Andy Weir is known for. With enough action for any experienced sci-fi reader to enjoy, while also catering to the layperson (like me) this book is a phenomenal read & an absolute 10/10 from me! It kept the action flowing at all times, with the dual timeline of past and present breaking up possible monotony of being in one setting for too long. Andy Weir is an expert craftsman in the sci-fi genre, and all of his books have been 10/10 for me, but this one took another step further, and will be one I think about for a long time. Aspects of the science in this story were so creative and unexpected, and kept me guessing until the very end. And the ending left me smiling through the tears for sure. Can’t wait for what Weir does next!

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery—and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.

Or does he?

An irresistible interstellar adventure as only Andy Weir could deliver, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian—while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.

Clap When You Lands by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land is a beautiful and emotional story written in verse about two sisters finding out about each other after the death of their father. I immediately fell in love with this book when I read it. I loved the writing and reading from both sisters’ perspectives. This is an amazing book and I definitely recommend it.

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other. 

Recipes from the World of Tolkien by Robert Tuesley Anderson

Tolkien has inspired so many with the way he curated Middle-Earth, and the cultures he curated. He’s inspired games, movies, the fantasy genre, he even inspired this beautiful cookbook. This book has so many tasty treats and savory meals for the hungry hobbits in your life, or if you get a ragtag group of hungry singing Dwarves at your home, know how to handle any Dwarf, even Bombur! Create food from multiple different lands and cultures encountered from The Shire to Lake Town. Get Immersed with the feasts fit for the kings, and know you’re on an adventure for the one cookbook to rule them all! (It’s this one… this is that cookbook.)

These Lord of the Rings-themed recipes are sure to satisfy Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves…and humans too!

If you’ve ever wondered what a Hobbit, an Elf, or a Dwarf might eat in a day’s meals, this cookbook is for you! Whip up some tasty fare with recipes that cover all six mealtimes from the realm of J.R.R. Tolkien. Divided by the time of day, these recipes use modern ingredients and culinary techniques, and American measurements. A great resource for Lord of the Rings parties, this book is a perfect way to experience real food that tastes like a fantasy!

This work is unofficial and is not authorized by the Tolkien Estate or HarperCollins Publishers.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

THE LITTLE PRINCE is one of the great works of philosophy, masquerading as a children’s book. This beautifully sweet little story with its charming illustrations is, deep down, a meditation on the loss of childhood innocence and how to regain it. It’s an absolute must-read for anyone who has ever been a child. “All grown-ups were once children – although few of them remember it.”

Few stories are as widely read and as universally cherished by children and adults alike as The Little Prince. Richard Howard’s translation of the beloved classic beautifully reflects Saint-Exupéry’s unique and gifted style. Howard, an acclaimed poet and one of the preeminent translators of our time, has excelled in bringing the English text as close as possible to the French, in language, style, and most important, spirit. The artwork in this edition has been restored to match in detail and in color Saint-Exupéry’s original artwork. Combining Richard Howard’s translation with restored original art, this definitive English-language edition of The Little Prince will capture the hearts of readers of all ages.

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