Jen's Picks

Books: 
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The Risk of Us Cover Image
$23.00
ISBN: 9781328588821
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - April 9th, 2019

In Rachel Howard's lyrical debut novel, a married couple, both college professors, decide to adopt a foster child with an extensive trauma history. Written as one long letter from the wife (who also suffered child trauma) to this child, The Risk of Us is an unflinching look at how difficult it can be to create a family in the face of past violence and current bureaucracy. Howard's writing is moving without being overly sentimental, and the ongoing question of whether the newly-formed family will succeed and stay together kept me glued to every page. If you enjoy emotionally gripping stories centered around family dynamics then this book is not to be missed! 


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The Ballad of Yaya Vol. 1: Fugue Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9781942367642
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Lion Forge - April 23rd, 2019

The first volume of this series introduces us to a wealthy young girl, Yaya, and a street urchin, Tudou, who meet each other by chance during the invasion of Shanghai by Japanese troops. Yaya becomes separated from her family as they flee to Hong Kong, and is rescued by Tudou, who has only ever been able to dream about living as she has. Although the story tackles war and tragedy, the writing style remains appropriate for many younger readers. Zhao and Marty's illustration style strikes a perfect balance which represents equally well the behavior and movements of child characters and the ravages of a war-torn city. My one complaint is that this first volume ended too soon-- I don't want to have to wait to start the second


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Across the Bay Cover Image
By Carlos Aponte, Carlos Aponte (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781524786625
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Workshop - September 17th, 2019

 
Through rich illustrations and a heartfelt story, Carlos Aponte takes readers young and old on a journey to and around Puerto Rico which beautifully illustrates the culture of the island. Though he loves his small town and his mother and grandmother, Carlitos can't help but wonder about his father-- and one day, he sets off alone across the bay to San Juan to try and find him. Aponte's story feels honest without being too dark, making the story appropriate even for young children. His use of bright colors and imaginative compositions truly brings Puerto Rico to life. Highly recommended!


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The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062862822
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - May 7th, 2019

 
I grew up as a member of not one, but two Italian families, so if you're not Italian, take my word for it-- Grames writes Italian families so authentically that I was immediately transported back into my childhood days of spending time at my Nonna's house and being unable to resist her near constant offers of food. Using this rich cultural background, Grames' narrator tells the remarkable story of Stella Fortuna, her grandmother, who is known in the family for having seven (or eight, depending on who's counting) near-death experiences. This story device keeps you turning pages, wondering just how each near-miss will come about. And under the surface, Grames weaves in themes of misogyny, familial abuse, and the struggle for independence so deftly that the final product is both entertaining and devastating. I highly recommend this novel. 


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Fox 8: A Story Cover Image
By George Saunders, Chelsea Cardinal (Illustrator)
$17.00
ISBN: 9781984818027
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - November 13th, 2018

Usually when I read someone say "I laughed, I cried" about a book, I roll my eyes. Did they really? Or is that just an exaggeration to get me to pick a book off the shelf? Well in this case, I can assure you that I really did laugh while reading Fox 8. And I promise I teared up at the end as well. Saunders' titular fox tells you the story of how he learns English words ("They sounded grate! They sounded like prety music!"), discovers what a shopping "mawl" is, and desperately tries to save his den mates from a certain death caused by human development and a chronic apathy towards the natural world. And while the end is tragic, it is not hopeless. Saunders leaves it up to us to determine what we can do to protect the creatures in the world who would surely be as charming to us as Fox 8, if only we took the time to get to know them. 


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Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #2) Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780316508919
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - November 13th, 2018

In this highly satisfying sequel to Nevermoor, Morrigan Crow is thrilled to begin her training at the Wunderous Society. However, she soon learns that she can't ignore her magical connection to the evil Ezra Squall-- because her teachers, mentors, and classmates won't let her forget it. On the surface, Morrigan may seem very similar to "The Boy who Lived," but this series does a lot to set her apart: what happens if instead of being given the same educational opportunities as others (and then some,) H.P. was instead limited to one class, and it was about what a danger he was to society because of his connection to the Dark Lord? If that scenario is interesting to you, you will love this book. 


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Juniper: The Happiest Fox: (Books about Animals, Fox Gifts, Animal Picture Books, Gift Ideas for Friends) Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781452167602
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books - March 27th, 2018

Juniper may be well-known by her millions of followers on Instagram, but for those who haven’t yet met this adorable fox, it’s well worth it to pick up this beautiful little book. Juniper is a domestic fox, descended from those bred to provide fur. This gorgeously-designed volume features countless adorable photographs intermixed with text that provides Juniper’s history, information about her diet and daily routine, and her friendship with her owner’s dog Moose. This book is a guaranteed pick-me-up for anytime you’re feeling down!


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Sea Prayer Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780525539094
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - September 18th, 2018

What is a prayer but a most desperate dream, delivered to the most powerful entity we can imagine? In Sea Prayer, Khaled Hosseini opens a window into the lives of refugees. Driven from what used to be home, these people must gamble on a dangerous sea voyage for the chance of once again living in peace and safety. While Hosseini’s words are beautiful, I was most moved by Dan Williams’ accompanying paintings. Through them I felt viscerally how the tender memories of a peaceful childhood can be forced to make way for rubble, blood, and chaos. In this powerful volume, we aren’t shown the tragedy that we know is bound to unfold for some of the people on the journey. However, this just makes the prayer more engrossing—and for that matter, accessible to people of all ages.


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So Far So Good Cover Image
$23.00
ISBN: 9781556595387
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Copper Canyon Press - October 2nd, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin is best-known for her writing in the fields of sci-fi and fantasy, but she has always written poetry-- and this volume, completed shortly before her death in early 2018, is further proof that her talent is in no way bound to the genres that made her famous. The poems in this book draw deeply from the natural world, particularly the Pacific Northwest, and weave into these settings Le Guin’s highly relatable meditations on life, death, and the human experience. Always beautifully crafted, yet never pretentious, the poems in this book will be enjoyed equally by fans of Le Guin’s other work and those who are discovering her for the first time.


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Scribe: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555978181
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - October 2nd, 2018

This raw and bracing little novel is set after a civil war and a wave of epidemics have left society in ruins. In the barter economy that has emerged since these crises, the protagonist of the novel supports herself by writing letters for others, and finds herself haunted by the past regrets of a man who comes to ask for a letter. Hagy sets this story in the wilds of Appalachia, and draws on the history and folktales of the region to add a richness that sets this story apart from other dystopian tales. The world of Scribe is a strange one, filled with isolated figures who can only interact with others by fighting back discomfort and distrust-- yet the novel avoids feeling hopeless, and maintains a sense of relatability and suspense that make it hard to put down.


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The Dogist Puppies Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781579658694
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Artisan - September 4th, 2018

Do you love puppies? I mean come on, who doesn’t? This little book is jam-packed with them; almost 300 puppies of all different breeds, sizes, and personalities romp, play, and snuggle their way through this book. Friedman, also known as The Dogist, has become famous for roaming the streets of New York and capturing photos of man’s best friend. His latest volume, which focuses on the youngest and cutest of the dog world, features hundreds of photographs and text describing featured breeds, dog-related locations, and the humans who most love these creatures. I dare you to flip through this book without feeling the need to run and show a friend one of the pictures inside!


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The Book of Essie: A novel Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780525520313
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf - June 12th, 2018

Ever wonder what it's really like to be one of the nineteen Duggar children on the reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting? When Essie, the youngest daughter of a famous evangelical family, discovers that she's pregnant, she decides to put a plan in action that will dramatically alter the course of her life and the lives of everyone around her. Weir has crafted an engaging page-turner which explores the way faith, family, and social expectation can affect people in all walks of life, but especially young people. Her narrative weaves together the stories of Essie, a closeted boy who goes to school with her, and a reporter who as a child was a member of an extremist religious group. By the time you reach the heartwarming end of this book, you'll discover that each of these characters has found a way to live a life that is more true to themselves while still acknowledging the lessons of their pasts. 


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Les Miserables Cover Image
By Victor Hugo, Lee Fahnestock (Translated by), Norman MacAfee (Translated by), Lee Fahnestock (Introduction by), Chris Bohjalian (Afterword by)
$9.95
ISBN: 9780451419439
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Signet - October 1st, 2013

I'll be honest-- its' going to take a long time for you to get through this. Unless you're a speed reader or a robot, you'll spend a not-insignificant amount of your life holding this brick of a book. So is it worth it? In a word, yes. I can't overstate the sheer power that comes with being with characters-- hearing their thoughts, seeing their joys and sorrows, worrying about the outcomes of their decisions-- for over 1,000 pages. Hugo creates a world that is filled with people whose motivations, beliefs, and goals sometimes support each other, sometimes drastically conflict, and are always beautifully rendered through his prose. Although set in a particular historical moment, the novel's real focus is on human experiences. This is a brick that is guaranteed to move you. 


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The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780316558730
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown and Company - January 29th, 2019

In The World According to Fannie Davis, Brigitte M. Davis finally reveals a secret she has been keeping her whole life: in order to support their family in 1970s Detroit, her mother ran the numbers, an illegal underground lottery that was especially popular in African American communities. In doing so, her mother was able to provide for her family in ways that would have been impossible for many other Black families of the time period, but she was also constantly at risk of discovery by the authorities or the bankruptcy that would come with a big payout. Davis has a true talent for using the anecdotes of her family history to paint a vivid picture of her family members and herself. The vibrant personal narrative, combined with the fascinating details of underground number running and the elucidating connections to the social history of Detroit, produce a book that is at once personal, historical, and un-put-downable.


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Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780316508889
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - October 31st, 2017

When I first picked up this book I was worried it was going to be a Harry Potter knock-off, but boy was I wrong! Nevermoor follows Morrigan Crow, a ten-year-old girl who is born on Eventide, the unluckiest day of the year. This sets her life on a path that leads her to the magical world of Nevermoor, where she is mentored by a exuberant hotel owner and competes to be accepted into a prestigious magical academy. What I love most about this book is that it gives glimpses of the larger world of the series that's to come, but doesn't give away everything all at once. I can't wait for the next book to come out to explore more of the world and learn more about the characters in it! 


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His Favorites: A Novel Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9781476799391
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - August 14th, 2018

Kate Walbert's latest novel brilliantly depicts the vulnerabilities of young women as she tells the story of a teenage girl who, haunted by tragedy and guilt, falls prey to a predatory teacher at her exclusive Massachusetts boarding school. The book is dark, but never hopeless; although Walbert doesn't shy away from the gritty details of the story, she also makes sure to convey the inherent strength and power of girls even as they live through trauma. On top of that, her beautiful and haunting prose helps make this novel unforgettable. 


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The Witch of Willow Hall Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9781525833014
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graydon House - October 2nd, 2018

After a dark family secret forces her family to move from their comfortable lives in Boston to a rural estate in New Oldbury, Lydia must confront a series of dark and supernatural events which cause her to question both her family and herself. This novel is a suspenseful and atmospheric read; yet despite all of the sinister and paranormal elements, I was most drawn in by the electric chemistry between Lydia and John, one of the town's most eligible bachelors, who himself is haunted by tragedy. The Witch of Willow Hall provides a highly satisfying balance of the supernatural, the romantic, and the ties-- both positive and negative-- that bind a family together.  


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Radiant: Farm Animals Up Close and Personal (Farm Animal Photography Book) Cover Image
By Traer Scott (By (photographer))
$24.95
ISBN: 9781616897154
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Princeton Architectural Press - September 18th, 2018

 

Portraits invite us to really think about the personality of a subject, whether it be a President, a Queen...or a chicken. In this delightful collection of animal portraits, Scott explores the individuality of a vast and beautiful array of farmyard animals, including cows, pigs, sheep, llamas, peafowl, and more. She accompanies each photograph with information about the animal’s breed, as well as a series of charming stories and anecdotes which provide a glimpse into the quirky day-to-day lives of these endearing creatures. This is a perfect gift for any animal lover, especially one whose love goes far beyond cats and dogs!


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The Hidden Life of Trees: The Illustrated Edition Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9781771643481
Availability: Backordered
Published: Greystone Books - August 28th, 2018

The original edition of this book was an international bestseller and changed the way millions of people think about how trees interact with each other and the world around them. This large format, illustrated edition breathes new life into the original book and makes a perfect gift for anyone fascinated by how natural systems “communicate” with each other. Featuring selections from the original edition paired with breathtaking photographs of forests and trees from around the world, this book combines the browsability of a coffee table book with a depth of groundbreaking scientific inquiry that gives the work true staying power.


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Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781616205744
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Books - August 7th, 2018

We wrap our sushi in it, crunch on it as a snack, and sometimes find it winding its way around our toes at the beach, but how much do we really think about the remarkable organism that is seaweed? This book takes us on a journey deep into the world of seaweed, from its life cycle and its role in the ecosystem around it, to its cultivation on the shores of Maine. Shetterly makes single form of plant life endlessly fascinating by connecting it to the life stories of the individuals farming it and fighting to protect its existence. Her lyrical language makes this book not only scientifically engaging, but a true joy to read.


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#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line Cover Image
$10.00
ISBN: 9781984801838
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - June 19th, 2018

With so many mass shootings happening across our country, it is too easy for these stories to slip away in our minds and become forgotten. This is a luxury that is not available to the students in Parkland, FL, who experienced a horrifying school shooting that left 17 dead. This book, narrated by brother-and-sister survivors David and Lauren Hogg, describes their experiences on the day that changed their lives forever; however, its main focus is on what happened after. The siblings weave a moving and inspiring personal narrative that explores how they found themselves organizing and going up against politicians, media, and powerful lobbying forces and what keeps them moving forward. This quick read is emotional, powerful, and ensures that Parkland will not be another forgotten story.  


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Tales from la Vida: A Latinx Comics Anthology (Latinographix) Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9780814254936
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mad Creek Books - September 14th, 2018

This compilation of graphic stories is a feast for the eyes, heart, and soul. The book brings together work from more than 80 latinx comic artists, providing a wonderfully diverse range of visual styles. The stories, primarily autobiographical, highlight the intersectionality of the latinx experience-- whether it be mono- or multilingual, bicultural, straight, queer, or feminist. I loved being able to dip into one art style and life story after the next, and with every page my idea of what “latinx” means expanded and became more inclusive. I highly recommend this for fans of graphic novels and latinx storytelling alike.


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Sheets Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9781941302675
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Lion Forge - August 28th, 2018

 

This moving graphic novel weaves together the stories of Marjorie, a young girl who must run her family’s small laundromat after her mother’s death sends her father into a depression, and Wendell, a young ghost who escapes his ghost world and begins to visit her. Together, they work to save the laundromat from the constant risk of closure threatened by the family’s landlord, and to come to terms to grief, death, and the struggles of life. The story is touching, and told beautifully through both its words and images. This whimsical yet relatable book is a perfect middle-grade read.


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Big Boys Cry Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781524773205
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Books for Young Readers - June 11th, 2019

Levi is about to spend his first day at a new school, and he's scared! "Big boys don't cry," his father tells him as he sends him on his walk to school. But as he walks, Levi encounters a fisherman, a harpist, army men, a biker man, all sorts of men...and to his surprise, for some reason or another, they are all crying! At school Levi realizes he didn't need to be scared, but most importantly, he realizes that he needs to let his dad know-- big boys do cry! This charming and funny book has a warm illustration style and will help teach kids that expressing emotion is healthy, while at the same time giving them a chuckle at seeing everyone Levi encounters tearing up.


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The Nutcracker (Penguin Bedtime Classics) Cover Image
By E. T. A. Hoffmann, Carly Gledhill (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9780593113240
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - October 15th, 2019

It's not an easy task to boil down a classic work of literature into a few sentences in an eight-page board book, and even harder to do it well. Yet Penguin's new Bedtime Classics series does just that, combining simple retellings of beloved stories with beautiful, energetic illustrations by Carly Gledhill. Gledhill uses her limited space masterfully; each page is full of visual detail which helps to flesh out the simple sentences used to tell the story. These books are perfect for families who would like to introduce very young readers to stories they cherish, or to introduce while reading the full versions of these tales with older siblings. 


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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Penguin Bedtime Classics) Cover Image
By Lewis Carroll, Carly Gledhill (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9780593113257
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - October 15th, 2019

It's not an easy task to boil down a classic work of literature into a few sentences in an eight-page board book, and even harder to do it well. Yet Penguin's new Bedtime Classics series does just that, combining simple retellings of beloved stories with beautiful, energetic illustrations by Carly Gledhill. Gledhill uses her limited space masterfully; each page is full of visual detail which helps to flesh out the simple sentences used to tell the story. These books are perfect for families who would like to introduce very young readers to stories they cherish, or to introduce while reading the full versions of these tales with older siblings. 


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The Fate of Fausto: A Painted Fable Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9780593115015
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Philomel Books - September 17th, 2019

Perfectly balancing humor and wisdom, The Fate of Fausto is a tale that is as meaningful for adults as it is for children. Convinced that everything he sees must belong to him, a man named Fausto claims one thing after the next-- first a flower, then a sheep, a tree, and even a mountain. But when he tries to claim the sea, Fausto learns the hard way that not everything is meant to be owned. Leisurely yet engrossing pacing and wonderfully expressive illustrations make this picture book a small masterpiece.