Staff Picks by Tag

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The Ministry of Time: A Novel By Kaliane Bradley Cover Image
ISBN: 9781668045145
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - May 7th, 2024

A masterpiece. Standing ovation. Maximum stars. There’s a bit of something for every reader in here: romance, time travel, arctic exploration, mixed-race representation, a scathing critique of British colonialism… okay those were all specifically for me, but I promise they will be for you too! A strong contender for best read of 2024 and something to feverishly text, phone, or write tear-stained letters to your friends about.


Review by Jess

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To Be Taught, If Fortunate By Becky Chambers Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062936011
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Harper Voyager - September 3rd, 2019

Ariadne is one of a four person crew on a mission to explore and study planets with the potential to harbor life. Partway through this decades-long mission, transmissions from Earth become spotty and then cease altogether. Far from home and without any guidance from mission control, Ariadne and her crewmates must make decisions that affect not only their own lives, but humankind as a whole. Chambers packs so much into just 176 pages: space travel, aliens, and queer astronauts set the stage for beautifully written musings about fate, humanity, and the nature of self-sacrifice.

Review by Jade

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Womb City By Tlotlo Tsamaase Cover Image
ISBN: 9781645660569
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Erewhon Books - January 23rd, 2024

How do you play the game when the system is designed for you to lose? Outwardly, Nelah has a perfect life. Her world, however, is plagued by the criminalization of her body, infertility, and a contaminated sense of reality. Tsamaase presents us with a grotesque reality in which a woman’s body is criminalized, privacy does not exist, body-hopping is commonplace, and the government has the ability to alter memories and your sense of reality. This book left me speechless. 

Review by Lauren

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Same Bed Different Dreams: A Novel By Ed Park Cover Image
By Ed Park
ISBN: 9780812998979
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Random House - November 7th, 2023

Holy cow. Home run. Outta the park. A novel clear in its ambitions, absorbed in the moment of its plot(s) in a way that is uniquely entertaining. You’ll want to tell everyone about this book An alternate history of the Korean Provision Government, a covert organization that, in Park's vision, has embedded its membership into popular culture, role-playing games, popular science fiction, slasher films. At the center of it all is a mysterious novel-within-a-novel called, yes, Same Bed, Different Dreams by a Nobel-rumored Korean author who goes by the mononym Echo. Ed Park for the Pulitzer. A novel that is so varied, comical, deliciously clever, and mad fun that it’s hard to believe it was written by a single author.

Review by Spencer R.

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Whalefall: A Novel By Daniel Kraus Cover Image
ISBN: 9781665918169
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: MTV Books - August 8th, 2023

We all know that getting stuck inside a whale is a coming-of-age rite of passage for young men escaping the weight of a traumatic upbringing. But Whalefall isn't your average been there done that story of getting eaten while deep-sea diving for your father's corpse; the body horror of being digested inside a stomach and the suspense of Jay's oxygen tank running out serve as metaphor for the crushing expectations he felt from his father in life, and still in death.

My favorite part about this book: Daniel Kraus puts the science in science fiction. I've never read 'ocean horror' that did such thoroughly-researched, while also compassionate and loving, work to show us the beauty and horrors of the sea in the most realistic way possible. Claustrophobic and relentless, I highly recommend.

Review by Jess

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How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: A Novel By Charles Yu Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307739452
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Vintage - June 28th, 2011

"Most people I know live their lives moving in a constant forward direction, the whole time looking backward." In this book, a time travel machine technician goes between universes saving people from (ab)using time travel in their efforts to fix their disappointing lives. When he's not doing that, he's searching for his missing father, who disappeared after inventing time travel. Within this strange and mind-bending plot, Yu addresses some of life's most philosophical questions. Is time a forward trajectory? Do regret and nostalgia serve us? How do we reconcile with the ache of a parent's lost dream? This book is an unconventional but beautiful tribute from a son to his father, and calls on us to reimagine the way we think about time.

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Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel By Julian K. Jarboe Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590216927
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Lethe Press - March 5th, 2020

"The first nice thing I ever did to my body was tear it open." 

Reading this book wasn't the first nice thing I've ever done for myself, but it may be among the best. Jarboe's writing is queer and unrepentant, gay and unashamed. These stories gnawed on me, and I came away feeling holy--or maybe just full of holes, hard to say.

Review by Kit

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Severance: A Novel By Ling Ma Cover Image
By Ling Ma
ISBN: 9781250214997
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Picador - May 7th, 2019

I loved the emptiness of this book. An aloneness with a touch of loneliness. A slow crawl, a quiet horror that is never fully unleashed. The look at pandemic life before living through an actual pandemic. The 'zombies' that are much creepier than the brain-eating variety. I felt for Candace like I feel for my favorite anti-heroines. Ling Ma handled her characters and this concept very well, as if she were holding broken glass in broken hands. 


Review by Emily

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The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer By Janelle Monáe Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063070875
Availability: Out of stock, usually available in 3-10 days
Published: Harper Voyager - April 19th, 2022

I adore Janelle Monae's musical career but I didn't know what to expect in her first novel. I enjoyed The Memory Librarian immensely. Her vision is speculative, rooted in science fiction, but it is also hopeful. 

The beating heart of The Memory Librarian is an exploration of technology and artificial intelligence as limitations on individual bodies and as liberation from governmental bodies. Co-written with celebrated and emerging black novelists, in the titular story as well as the four other connected tales that follow, Monae challenges the notion of "dirty" and "deviance" and "abnormal". She gives space to the "othered" and offers a vision of found family--places that are built by community and dreams alike, full of artists and creators and healers and humans who need space to be, just as they are. 


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Nettle & Bone By T. Kingfisher Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250244000
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Tor Books - February 28th, 2023

“You wove a cloak with nettle thread...and built your own dog out of bones, and NOW you are concerned about what is impossible?” 


A third-born princess banished to a convent, a dust-wife who can speak to the dead, a disgraced knight far from home, and a godmother with just one ineffectual wish to grant; accompanied by a demonic chicken and a dog constructed of wire and bone, these are the companions tasked with the seemingly impossible quest to infiltrate the palace of the Northern Kingdom and kill the king.  Along the way they will learn that not all gifts are grand or obvious until you find the people who will help you discover the hero within yourself.


Review by Deborah