Book List, Staff Picks

Happy St. Nicholas Day & New Staff Picks!

Today is Sarah’s favorite between holiday between Thanksgiving and Christmas (and probably the only major one between the two!). She spent her childhood getting sweets and a book in her shoes to celebrate the day and we hope you’ll find some of our picks gift giving worthy too!

The Churchill Sisters by Rachel Threthewey

A meticulously researched biography of the daughters of one of the greatest statesman of the 20th century. I greatly enjoyed learning more about each of his children and their relationships not only with their famous father, but their mother Clementine as well.

As complex in their own way as their Mitford cousins, Winston and Clementine Churchill’s daughters each had a unique relationship with their famous father. Rachel Trethewey’s biography, The Churchill Sisters, tells their story.

Bright, attractive and well-connected, in any other family the Churchill girls – Diana, Sarah, Marigold and Mary – would have shone. But they were not in another family, they were Churchills, and neither they nor anyone else could ever forget it. From their father – ‘the greatest Englishman’ – to their brother, golden boy Randolph, to their eccentric and exciting cousins, the Mitford Girls, they were surrounded by a clan of larger-than-life characters which often saw them overlooked. While Marigold died too young to achieve her potential, the other daughters lived lives full of passion, drama and tragedy.

Diana, intense and diffident; Sarah, glamorous and stubborn; Mary, dependable yet determined – each so different but each imbued with a sense of responsibility toward each other and their country. Far from being cosseted debutantes, these women were eyewitnesses at some of the most important events in world history, at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam. Yet this is not a story set on the battlefields or in Parliament; it is an intimate saga that sheds light on the complex dynamics of family set against the backdrop of a tumultuous century.

Drawing on previously unpublished family letters from the Churchill archives, The Churchill Sisters brings Winston’s daughters out of the shadows and tells their remarkable stories for the first time.

It Ends in Fire by Andrew Shvarts

A dark fantasy combined with a steamy romance, IT ENDS IN FIRE is truly epic. Alka is strong and edgy and tortured and raw and just so totally awesome you can’t help but fall in love with her. You will be lured deeper and deeper into this amazing fantasy world with each expertly crafted word, and your heart will ache and warm in equal measure. You’ll never want this story to end!

Only those from the most powerful magical families can attend Blackwater Academy, but new student Alka has them fooled. Now it’s time to take down the oppressive wizard ruling class from the inside. 

Alka Chelrazi is on a mission:
1. Infiltrate Blackwater Academy
2. Win the Great Game
3. Burn Wizard society to the ground 

As a child, Alka witnessed her parents’ brutal murder at the hands of Wizards before she was taken in by an underground rebel group. Now, Alka is deep undercover at the most prestigious school of magic in the Republic: Blackwater Academy, a place where status is everything, where decadent galas end in blood-splattered duels, where every student has their own agenda. To survive, Alka will have to lie, cheat, kill, and use every trick in her spy’s toolkit. And for the first time in her life, the fiercely independent Alka will have to make friends in order to recruit the misfits and the outcasts into her motley rebellion.

But even as she draws closer to victory—to vengeance—she sinks deeper into danger as suspicious professors and murderous rivals seek the traitor in their midst, as dark revelations unravel her resolve. Can Alka destroy the twisted game…without becoming a part of it?    

The Björkan Sagas by Harold R. Johnson

The Björkan Sagas is one of my favorite heave little books of 2021. In this small and heavy all at once! A masterfully blended story of Norse and Cree storytelling The Björkan Sagas is a haunting ode to family, loss, identity, community and grief. I cannot recommend this book enough. Come talk to me about it!

Drawing upon his Cree and Scandinavian roots, Harold R. Johnson merges myth, fantasy, and history in this epic saga of exploration and adventure.

While sorting through the possessions of his recently deceased neighbour, Harold Johnson discovers an old, handwritten manuscript containing epic stories composed in an obscure Swedish dialect. Together, they form The Bj rkan Sagas.

The first saga tells of three Bj rkans, led by Juha the storyteller, who set out from their valley to discover what lies beyond its borders. Their quest brings them into contact with the devious story-trader Anthony de Marchand, a group of gun-toting aliens in search of Heaven, and an ethereal Medicine Woman named Lilly. In the second saga, Juha is called upon to protect his people from invaders bent on stealing the secrets contained within the valley’s sacred trees. The third saga chronicles the journey of Lilly as she travels across the universe to bring aid to Juha and the Bj rkans, who face their deadliest enemy yet.

The Bj rkan Sagas is a bold, innovative fusion of narrative traditions set in an enchanted world of heroic storytellers, shrieking Valkyries, and fire-breathing dragons.

Tidesong by Wendy Xu

TIDESONG is a fantastical, light-hearted & magical adventure following Sophie, who has hopes of attending a prestigious magic school & making her family proud. But things take a turn when she accidentally links together her new magic with that of a powerful dragon prince! For fans of Studio Ghibli, this beautifully illustrated and written graphic novel touches on familial pressure, questions of self-worth, and more. Give it a try and experience the magic firsthand!

Perfect for fans of Studio Ghibli and The Tea Dragon Society, this is a magically heartwarming graphic novel about self-acceptance and friendship.

Sophie is a young witch whose mother and grandmother pressure her to attend the Royal Magic Academy—the best magic school in the realm—even though her magic is shaky at best. To train for her entrance exams, Sophie is sent to relatives she’s never met.

Cousin Sage and Great-Aunt Lan seem more interested in giving Sophie chores than in teaching her magic. Frustrated, Sophie attempts magic on her own, but the spell goes wrong, and she accidentally entangles her magic with the magic of a young water dragon named Lir.

Lir is trapped on land and can’t remember where he came from. Even so, he’s everything Sophie isn’t—beloved by Sophie’s family and skilled at magic. With his help, Sophie might just ace her entrance exams, but that means standing in the way of Lir’s attempts to regain his memories. Sophie knows what she’s doing is wrong, but without Lir’s help, can she prove herself?

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

I adored this book so much. The Golem and the Jinni weaves the mythologies of Yiddish and Middle Eastern culture together, using the framework of 1900s New York City as a loom. If you like historical fantasy or fable reinvention, this is a must read!

A marvelous and absorbing debut novel about a chance meeting between two supernatural creatures in turn-of-the-century immigrant New York. 

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay by a disgraced rabbi knowledgeable in the ways of dark Kabbalistic magic. She serves as the wife to a Polish merchant who dies at sea on the voyage to America. As the ship arrives in New York in 1899, Chava is unmoored and adrift until a rabbi on the Lower East Side recognizes her for the creature she is and takes her in.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert and trapped centuries ago in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard. Released by a Syrian tinsmith in a Manhattan shop, Ahmad appears in human form but is still not free. An iron band around his wrist binds him to the wizard and to the physical world.

Chava and Ahmad meet accidentally and become friends and soul mates despite their opposing natures. But when the golem’s violent nature overtakes her one evening, their bond is challenged. An even more powerful threat will emerge, however, and bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their very existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Compulsively readable, The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, in a wondrously inventive tale that is mesmerizing and unforgettable.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

A dream-like fantasy with a twisting and unraveling mystery that will keep you engaged page by page. I immediately fell in love with the setting, and though I don’t usually reach for mysteries, this one was such a treat. I highly reccomend you take the plunge and get lost in the halls of the labyrinth with Piranesi.

The instant New York Times bestselling novel from the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, an intoxicating, hypnotic book set in a dreamlike alternative reality.

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

For readers of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller’s CircePiranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.

Check, Please! #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

Check, Please! Is the perfect blend of comedy, sports, and romance all set on a college campus. Samwell Men’s Hockey team is full of funny and colorful characters that make this story truly unique. I started reading this book while it was being posted online so it’s super exciting to finally have a physical copy. This book covers years one and two and includes Bitty’s Twitter as well!

Eric Bittle may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It is nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking (anything that hinders the player with possession of the puck, ranging from a stick check all the way to a physical sweep). And then, there is Jackhis very attractive but moody captain.

A collection of the first half, freshmen and sophomore year, of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life. This book includes updated art and a hilarious, curated selection of Bitty’s beloved tweets.

Arsenic & Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

A murder mystery that reads like a rom-com! Lila, nursing a traumatic breakup, returns to her small town home to help her family’s local Filipino restaurant. While working one day, Lila’s ex-boyfriend, a food critic who gives bad reviews to the restaurant, drops dead after eating one of her dishes! She’s the police’s number one suspect. Full of descriptions of delicious foods, this murder mystery was a light read full of laughs.

The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer….

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

With the cops treating her like she’s the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila’s left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…

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