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Books in Common NW -- Virtual Events Every Week

We’ve partnered with some of our indie bookstore friends - Paulina Springs Books in Sisters, Oregon and Madison Books in Seattle, Washington - to offer Books in Common NW: A Regional Literary Event Series. From literary fiction to mystery and fantasy, from nature writing to memoir and history and all the spaces in between, we’re packing the calendar with authors to inform and delight. You'll find interesting authors, engaging discussion, and maybe even your next great read. Enjoy world-class authors brought to your living room each Thursday, all while staying safely socially distant and supporting your favorite local bookstore!

We kicked things off on Thursday, July 7th with mystery mavens Elizabeth George and Iona Whishaw. If you missed it, you can still watch it here: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/vkitbcc8. Don’t forget to grab copies of their books while you’re here.

And there’s even more where that came from with a great lineup for July, August - AND September! When you attend live you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions of the authors, and interact with other attendees in the live chat. If you can't make it in real time, still sign up for the event to get the link to watch later. 

7/9/20 - Phillip Margolin
7/16/20- Kendra Atleework
7/23/20 - Erica C Barnett and David Schmader in conversation
7/30/20 - Steve Olson and Sharma Shields in conversation
8/6/20 - Larry Watson
8/13/20 - Sarah Smith and Bookstore Romance Day
8/20/20 - Catherynne M Valente and Jeff VanderMeer in conversation
8/27/20- Daniel Mathews and Valerie Trouet in conversation
9/3/20 - Jane Kirkpatrick
9/10/20 - Janet Fox and Rosanne Parry in conversation
9/17/20 - Jason Diamond
9/24/20 - Ginger Gaffney and Pam Houston in conversation

And this is just the beginning. We’re adding more authors and dates all the time - so keep watching our calendar for more special virtual events. You can also subscribe to our Crowdcast channel at crowdcast.io/cbevents.

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Russell Rowland and Cold Country

We checked in with local author Russell Rowland about his newest book Cold Country

He was kind enough to answer some fan questions for our blog! 

Mike Penfold asks: I love Cold Country. The characters you developed in Cold Country seemed real. Did you have in mind specific people you know as you developed these people? 

Russell Rowland: Thank you, Mike! This book is very loosely based on a period in my life, when I was ten years old and my father took a job managing a ranch near Ranchester, Wyoming. So yes, many of these characters are based on people from that small ranching community. Which is why I moved the story to Paradise Valley and obviously changed the names.

LuAnne Halligan Carbaugh: Do you have different strategies when approaching writing your books? You’ve written both fiction and non-fiction, so I was just wondering if the process was different as you worked through your writing.

RR: Hello LuAnne! Yes, each book does seem to require a slightly different approach. And of course that's especially true in the case of nonfiction vs. fiction. I was kind of surprised when I started writing Fifty-Six Counties, how hard it was for me to stick to facts. It's so much more fun to make shit up. But in the case of my novels, the story really dictates what's different about how I tell the story. In the case of Cold Country, the more times I edited this book (I was working on it for more than 15 years), the more I realized I needed to pull back on the drama. I think the initial tendency in writing a story that has action in it is to go overboard with the action. But understatement has always been way more effective, in my opinion. Plus it's closer to real life. And it's more my style. Great question!

Patricia Calaghan: A reviewer found the opening scene shocking. I found it powerfully real and moving, maybe because I grew up on a farm. Were you surprised at her reaction and have you heard that reaction from others? 

RR: Hey Pat - I'm not sure what review you're referring to, but I suppose it might be shocking to someone who hasn't grown up around that kind of thing. That opening scene is lifted directly from an incident that happened when I was ten, and accompanied my dad as he checked on the pregnant cattle on the ranch where we lived. It obviously made a huge impression on me, and I thought it provided a nice metaphor for much of what happens later in the book.

Sarie Mackay: Why did you write the book, and how does it fit into your growth as an author?

RR: Hey Sarie! Thanks for this excellent question. My main goal with this story was to explore how tragedy impacts a small, tight-knit community. And one of the secondary themes was how pretty much everyone in a community like this ends up feeling like a bit of an outsider, depending on how secure they are in themselves. So you have a couple like Junior and Angie, who are pretty comfortable in their own skin, and are thus less affected by the events around them. But people like Babe and Tom, or even the Logans, because they are fighting with some demons of their own, always feel a little out of step with what's happening around them, no matter how popular they are. The murder is really a secondary event in this story. It's much more about community dynamics. How Cold Country fits into my growth as a writer is harder to answer, but one thing this book allowed me to explore more is branching out into a new narrative approach. I've always stuck pretty closely to one point of view in my novels, but this one demanded more than one narrative POV in order to tell the story. It was harder than I expected to tell a story that way, but once it clicked, it was very satisfying to learn this new approach.

Don’t miss this great small town mystery- be sure to pick up your copy of Cold Country from Country Bookshelf today!

 
Books: 
Cold Country Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781945814921
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Dzanc Books - November 12th, 2019

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An interview With Author Grady Hendrix

Bookseller Harry is back with a review of Grady Hendrix’s new release The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. “We’re a book club. What are we supposed to do? Read him to death?” A group of tired and unappreciated moms get together to read true crime, drink wine, and form meaningful friendships when a vampire moves to town. We've all been there, right? I honestly can't tell you how much I loved this book. This book kept me up many a sleepless night as I finished just one more chapter, got actually frustrated at antagonists, and cheered for the protagonists. I feel like Grady gets better and better with each new book, and I never wanted this story to end. I was able to ask him a few questions about The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. Check it out!

Harry J: Best Friend's Exorcism and Southern Book Club's Guide both have a strong theme of overcoming monsters with the power of female bonds. Is there a specific reason for this? 

Grady Hendrix: Unhappy endings always feel like you stopped telling the story too early, because life goes on and I always want to know what happens next. Unhappy endings just feel cheap and unrealistic to me. Cynicism is a sad and pointless way to look at the world. 

HJ: How much is the protagonist in The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires based off of your actual mother? 

GH: Every character I write is based on a real person, whether it’s someone I know or someone I see on the subway, but by the time they make it to the page, they’re virtually unrecognizable. Patricia has some things in common with my mom — they’re both former nurses, they both belong to book clubs, they’re both parents — but Patricia is a lot more naive than my mom. On the other hand, she’s also a lot more likely to try to kill a vampire than my mom.

HJ: You seem to favor strong female protagonists fighting against paranormal odds in your books. What inspired this? 

GH: I have no idea why I seem incapable of writing male characters. It’s clearly something I need to address with my therapist! Guys just don’t interest me as much.

HJ: What gave you the idea for The Southern Book Club's Guide? 

GH: I’ve always wanted to write a book about adult friendship and I’ve known the women in my mom’s book club since I was a kid. The longer I knew them the more interesting they became, but when I initially suggested this book to my editor they really pushed back against it, telling me that no one was interested in reading about a bunch of middle-aged housewives. That sealed the deal: I was going to write this book no matter what.

HJ: If Southern Book Club’s Guide became a movie or tv series, what would be your ideal casting? (Mine would be Winona Ryder for Patricia and Chris Sarandon for James Harris.)

GH: I like the Winona Ryder idea, but I have a hard time with these kinds of questions because I feel like I’ll jinx things. But if Patrick Wilson was younger, he’d be a great James Harris, and I’d love to see Octavia Spencer as Mrs. Greene. 

HJ: You've already covered a number of horrifying things; vampires, demons, Ikea. What's the next monster that you'd like to (forgive the pun) sink your teeth into?

GH: I actually already have a monster and their book is slated for publication in June 2021. So I’m not saying anything until closer to that date. But I will say that the one monster I really want to write and can’t find a way into: werewolves. I love werewolves but I just can’t seem to find that extra piece that makes them work for me. But maybe I’m just not inspired enough? I’m going to keep wandering around the moors at night and waiting to be bitten.

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires: A Novel Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9781683691433
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Quirk Books - April 7th, 2020

The Booksellers of Country Bookshelf Recommend

We recently partnered with Harper Collins and went LIVE on Facebook with some of our booksellers favorite recommendations and books to handsell. If you missed it live, you can check out the video here.

We kicked things off with some important Bozeman books - including the One Book One Bozeman pick The Weight of an Infinite Sky by Montana Author Carrie La Seur. Keep an eye out for more events tied to this book and make sure you book club adds it to your rotation. We also highlighted one of our Children’s Festival of the Book authors, Brian Floca and his book Moonshot, since this year is the fiftieth anniversary of the lunar landing. Floca will be joined by Caldecott winner Sophia Blackall and Montana Author Susan Adrian. Visit the Children’s Festival of the Book website for more details. 

Our mystery maven Wendy jumped in with two of her favorite fall books - The Chestnut Man by Soren Sviestrup, which Wendy calls a great chilling Scandanavian thriller. Wendy also loved Tim Egan’s newest book A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith about his travels along the Via Francigena. 

Harry was prepared for “Spook-tober” with his recommendations - The Saturday Night Ghost Club, Undead Girl Gang, and The Cosmology of Monsters. He also had two graphic novel recommendations for you - Maestros and Fairlady. 

Non-fiction fan Kaycee took us to the True Crime section, recommending I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Chase Darkness With Me, Savage Appetites, and the new adult horror title from Stephen Chbosky Imaginary Friend. 

Not to be outdone, Kasey jumped in with some of her favorite recommendations, including Name of the Wind - a perennial staff favorite, and the work of Otessa Mosfegh - which she brought to our Book Club in July with My Year of Rest and Relaxation. 

Finally, Jessica closed us out with some of her favorites, including Lady Derring Takes a Lover from our new romance section, The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, Braiding Sweetgrass (which you won’t be able to get her to be quiet about), and her favorite book of the year, Gideon the Ninth.

Obviously we love talking about books, so we hope you’ll ask our staff for their recommendations on your next favorite read.

 

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
The Chestnut Man: A Novel Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780062895363
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - September 3rd, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780735225237
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking - October 15th, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
The Saturday Night Ghost Club: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143133933
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Penguin Books - July 9th, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
Undead Girl Gang Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780451478245
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Razorbill - May 14th, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
A Cosmology of Monsters: A Novel Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781524747671
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Pantheon - September 17th, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
Maestros Volume 1 Cover Image
By Steve Skroce, Steve Skroce (Artist)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781534306738
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Image Comics - November 6th, 2018

Fairlady Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781534313316
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Image Comics - September 17th, 2019

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I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer Cover Image
By Michelle McNamara, Gillian Flynn (Introduction by), Patton Oswalt (Afterword by)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062319791
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Harper Perennial - February 26th, 2019

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Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders Cover Image
By Billy Jensen, Karen Kilgariff (Foreword by)
$25.99
ISBN: 9781492685852
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Sourcebooks - August 13th, 2019

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Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501188886
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - August 20th, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
Imaginary Friend Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781538731338
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Grand Central Publishing - October 1st, 2019

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1) Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780756404741
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: DAW - April 1st, 2008

My Year of Rest and Relaxation: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780525522133
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Penguin Books - June 25th, 2019

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Lady Derring Takes a Lover: The Palace of Rogues Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780062867469
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Avon - February 26th, 2019

The Poet X Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062662804
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Quill Tree Books - March 6th, 2018

Staff Pick Badge
Braiding Sweetgrass Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781571313560
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Milkweed Editions - September 1st, 2014

Staff Pick Badge
Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy #1) Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9781250313195
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Tor.com - September 10th, 2019

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Romance Recommendations Halloween Edition

 Something Old 

Jeaniene Frost is one of the best paranormal authors out there. So let’s start at the beginning – her debut novel – with HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE – A Night Huntress Novel.

Cat is half vampire, half human, who hunts vampires. Bones is a vampire bounty hunter. When they team up it’s out of necessity, but neither of them can deny the chemistry between them. Bones helps Cat see that not all vampires are evil, and neither is she as they race to rescue innocent enslaved girls.

An entertaining, sexy, action-packed adventure into the darkness where everyone is neither all good nor evil.  

 

 Something New 

Start a new magical series with Ilona Andrews BURN FOR ME – the first book in their Hidden Legacy series.

Tough, determined, ready to take on any challenge, Nevada teams up with a seductive, dangerous man to find her next target to save her detective agency. Rogan knows how dangerous magic can be – and so can love.

A magical society, powerful families, a strong female lead, an enemies-to-lovers romance, and a compelling mystery kept me enthralled and turning the page.   

 

Something Borrowed

I was so excited – and star struck – when Jeaniene Frost emailed me with her favorite paranormal books…

The most recent paranormal romance I read and loved was SAPPHIRE FLAMES by Ilona Andrews. This is another continuation of her hugely popular Hidden Legacy series, this time featuring new leads, Catalina and Alessandro. With smoldering tension, non-stop action and laugh out loud humor, I loved everything about this book. 

I'm also a huge fan of Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series, most especially the books featuring Elena and Raphael. The most recent one is ARCHANGEL'S PROPHECY, but fans like me won't have long to wait until Elena and Raphael's next adventures in ARCHANGEL'S WAR.  If you haven't yet discovered this mesmerizing paranormal world of angels, vampires, vampire hunters and forbidden love, start with ANGEL'S BLOOD, book one in the series. Careful, though - Nalini's writing is addictive!

Check out Jeaniene’s new series! SHADES OF WICKED is out now!

 

Something Blue-ish

HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE VAMPIRE - I love this cover. It’s kind of creepy, but still has the promise of a happy-ever-after – literally in this case because vampires live forever!

What’s a vampire to do when he loses a fang? Find a dentist to fix it before his natural healing abilities leaves him a one-fang vamp with only half a bite. Too bad Shanna has the Russian mob after her, making it even more difficult for Roman to get his chomp back. Lucky for Shana, she’s found the one man who has the power, strength, and determination to keep her alive – because he wants her for himself.

Action, humor, a millionaire vampire – Highlander vampires! – and a romance between an unlikely couple make this a really enjoyable read.

I hope you enjoy all of these recommendations.

 

 
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We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Marly B from our Teen Advisory Corps reviewed We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal. One of this summers buzzy titles heres whta Marly had to say. 

The only person who has ever been able to navigate the Arz is Zafira. Not only does she return from the magical forest, she returns with food and animal skins. Zafira has been feeding the villages closest to the Arz for years, becoming a hero to the locals and a legend beyond that, known widely as the Hunter. When returning from a successful hunt one day, she is stopped by a mystical witch who slips a letter into her bag. The letter invites her to help save all of Arawiya by venturing into the island of Sharr, known for being used as a prison and the last place besides the Arz that still holds magic. She is sent to retrieve the Jawarat, a book that will prevent the Arz from consuming Arawiya and return magic to the five caliphates. However, she quickly realizes that she isn’t alone on the island, and some of the people she shares the ground with aren’t unfamiliar with taking lives. 

    We Hunt the Flame is Hafsah Faizal’s debut novel, and there’s not a lot to complain about! The setting, characters, pacing and plot were all very well written. 

    We Hunt the Flame is a fantasy book based off of ancient Arabia. It adds elements I haven’t seen in many fantasy books before and makes it stand out against others. I personally enjoyed the incorporation of turbans into common garb and use of sandy settings, for no other reasons other than it was a nice change of scenery for a fantasy novel. The setup of the caliphates was also a nice bit of variety that I appreciated.

    This book also does a nice job of having characters with different personalities. Despite introducing tons of characters at the same time they were easy to keep track of because of how varied their traits were. They were described very consistently which was great for remembrance, but also helped to really be able to know and understand them. The only complaint I have in this area is Kifah. She didn’t seem distinct from the other characters, and I can’t remember anything important she did to advance the plot. I don’t think the book would have changed all that much if she wasn’t written into it. 

    The story itself moved at a reasonable pace. A large part of the book is traveling and camping out, and Faizal did a great job of keeping even mundane things readable. The characters were well written so even when nothing was happening it was entertaining. The interactions between the characters and learning more about the magic system and history of Arawiya was interesting. 

I actually didn’t mind the romantic subplot in this book, which shouldn’t be taken lightly because most of the time I would rather eat nails than subject myself to that sort of torture (that might be slightly dramatic but only slightly). First off, the relationship developed fairly naturally. Insta-love was avoided and the characters stayed true to how they were written even as they became more attached. Faizal also avoided pushing the main plot of the story to the side in favor of the romance. She didn’t slow down the plot to let the relationship develop and didn’t add in pointless scenes to progress the relationship. Basically, the romantic subplot was actually subplot and didn’t hinder the story which I don’t usually see in fantasy or YA. I don’t think I’ve read a book that does romantic subplot as well as We Hunt the Flame does. 

We Hunt the Flame is a pretty darn good book, I do have a couple minor complaints though. Faizal describes a plethora of magical creatures throughout the novel, but there were only three creatures I can remember the characters interacting with, and only one of those we heard of more than once. Faizal did an amazing job of creating interesting creatures, I just wish I was introduced to more of them. 

The magic in the book caused some issues for me. For a book centered around magic, we don’t actually see it used a whole lot. I would accept that if there was an explanation on why. Are some things harder to do than others? Is there time limits between uses? Does it sap energy from the user? More clear ideas of the limits of magic would have been nice. It was hard to be impressed with the idea of limitless magic when there really wasn’t any idea of what magic with limits would be like. 

    I would give We Hunt the Flame a 3.75/5. I don’t think I want to read the second book, but I would definitely read another book by Hafsah Faizal. Her writing style is already fantastic and I can only imagine it will get better in her future books. 

Books: 
We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780374311544
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - May 14th, 2019

Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Claire L from our Teen Advisory Corps is at it again, with another rave review for author duo Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka and their new release Time of Our Lives, due out in April 2020, so preorder your copy today! Claire says:

Fitz has already decided that he is going to stay in New Hampshire, near his mom, for college. Wanting him to explore his options, Fitz’ mom sends him on a tour of college campuses. Juniper, on the other hand, is greatly anticipating the adventure of college. She has been planning and researching her great college tour for quite a while, and is looking forward to being able to find herself away from her large family. It is while attending the 10 A.M. tour of Boston University that Juniper and Fitz see each other for the first time. However, Fitz’ greater interest in his book than for the tour does not match Juniper’s enthusiasm for learning about the campus. But as their tours continue, they find their itineraries overlap and realize it must mean something. 


As expected from my favorite author duo, I absolutely loved Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka. The connection and relationship that develops between Fitz and Juniper is enjoyable to read. I especially appreciated the way they are able to help each other realize important qualities about themselves. In addition, the elements of family that were incorporated into the story helped to round the characters and reveal their true personalities, as well. I also enjoyed the travel-log of the various university campuses and exploration of the cities that house the universities. This inclusion allowed for me to feel as if I was touring the campuses right beside Juniper and Fitz. Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka was a delightful story to read that allowed me to be hopeful for the future of the characters.

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
Time of Our Lives Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781984835833
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - April 21st, 2020

Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

Teen Advisory Corps member Claire R recently review Rin Chupeco's new fairy tale re-telling Wicked As You Wish. She says:

The beginning was an explosion of facts setting up the story. The book should have had a more gradual set up, because the reader could be confused for the first few chapters of the story. Although after that, the story flowed much better. The characters were lovable and the conflict within them was intense. It is hard to use fairy tales without being cliche, and this story was anything but. I look forward to the sequel, if there is one, and recommend this story for middle school fantasy lovers.

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
Wicked as You Wish Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781492672661
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Sourcebooks Fire - March 3rd, 2020

Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Zoe from Teen Advisory Corps loved Wilder Girls by Rory Power - check out what she thought!

Despite its summer release, Wilder Girls is a very dark novel. Rory Power’s story transports readers to shadowy forests where sickness runs rampant. On an isolated island, the surviving students of a girl’s boarding school struggle to survive as disease transforms their bodies. Suspicion runs high as the girls have to decide whether to trust each other, the two remaining adults, and even the government that promises an eventual cure. Here we find Hetty, who gets by with the help of her friends Byatt and Reese. 

If that premise doesn’t make it obvious enough, Wilder Girls is a very addicting read. It’s the type of book designed to be read past bedtimes, although that may not be the best idea considering its eery content. Power really transports readers to the dilapidated Raxter School for Girls, and there’s enough twists and turns that it’s difficult to leave. 

Still, what really draws the story together is the relationships between the girls. The friendship between the three main characters pushes the plot along, and each relationship has a unique and interesting dynamic. They’re not always the most likable people, but that doesn’t make them any less intriguing. 

Though I did enjoy reading about these characters, there were times when I had trouble understanding their decisions. Especially toward the end, I felt that Hetty’s actions and thought processes could have been better handled and explained. Plus, a few reveals felt a little too out of the blue. Even when the chaos was a bit over-the-top, however, it was very difficult to stop reading. 

Overall, I would definitely recommend Wilder Girls. Just be prepared for a lot of daydreaming about different ways to escape from a diseased island alongside your closest friends. Or maybe that was just me.

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
Wilder Girls Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780525645580
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Delacorte Press - July 9th, 2019

Review: Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Zoe from our Teen Advisory Corps had this to say about Pet by Akwaeke Emezi:

Sometimes seeing the world through the lens of fiction is the only way to understand reality. Stories have the power of distorting facts in a way that makes them only truer, by exaggerating ideas and concepts in order for readers to understand. Despicable human beings are turned into actual monsters. and those who fight against them become angels. And so it is in Akwaeke Emezi’s novel Pet, set in a world that has seemingly eradicated those monsters that are all too human

Or so it seems. The main idea Emezi explores in Pet is the dangers of believing whole-heartedly in a utopian society, of being blind to unsettling truths even as they grow increasingly obvious. Our protagonist, Jam, is forced to confront this dilemma when a creature named Pet calls upon her to help hunt a monster. And though Jam desperately wants to protect others from this monster, whoever it may be, that means letting go of what she’d always held to be true. 

Along with its important theme, Pet is also significant for its diversity. In this world Jam is free to be herself, a transgender girl who prefers communicating through sign language. The discussion of these attributes helps readers better understand others in the real world and could give readers someone to relate to when characters like Jam are infrequently depicted in media. 

Pet isn’t your typical YA novel. It somehow manages to be one of the most relevant and realistic books I’ve ever read in the genre while still including enough fantasy to bring creatures out of paintings. Some may find the themes to be too obvious or even political, but I believe its lessons are extremely important and universal. Pet is a short novel, but its pages just might contain the power to change the world.

Books: 
Pet Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780525647072
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Make Me a World - September 10th, 2019

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