Gretchen's Picks

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The Tiger's Daughter Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780765392534
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - October 3rd, 2017

I can't remember the last time I loved a book as much as I loved this one. It has taken its place as my favorite queer fantasy novel. This is the sweeping story of two girls, united by their childhood friendship which grows into an intense romantic love, the daughters of two warrior women who loved one another despite their warring countries. The political background of the characters feels urgent and allows for a fascinating cross-cultural insight. The worldbuilding is so lush and lived-in; the characters get so much time to develop, the intricacies of their relationships and their flaws and quirks get lots of space, and that grounding in both characterization and fully-realized setting gives so much support to the intensity of their relationship and the stakes of their lives.


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An Unkindness of Ghosts Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781617755880
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Akashic Books - October 3rd, 2017

Incredible, relevant, harrowing and fascinating, this is the story of a young woman in the low class of a brutally stratified generation ship. Her search for clues to her mother's death lead her to discover some difficult truths about the ship's voyage. Aster's voice is so solid, her experiences read as tangible, every surface and texture feel real both physically and emotionally. Readers of dystopias that explore race, gender, disability, sexuality, and class will not want to miss this one. It will sit on my shelf by my Butler, Jemisin, Le Guin, Okorafor, Leckie. One of the most human explorations of the possibilities of our repressive future and the hope for hard-won rebellion I have ever read.


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The Red Threads of Fortune Cover Image
By Jy Yang
$15.99
ISBN: 9780765395399
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Published: St. Martins Press-3pl - September 26th, 2017

Not only is the worldbuilding beautiful, with an interesting setting, delightfully complex push-pull between cultures, regions, magic use and perspectives, and a fascinating plot, the heart of this book is about relationships, the effects of long-held grief, and the rewarding, difficult, complex ways in which relationships--familial, marital, loving, collegiate--change over time. These characters live and breathe in their flawed, hurt, healing lives. If the genderqueer character and the ethical non-monogamy don't sway you... there is really awesome magic, heart-in-throat explosions, and dino-birds!


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Mask of Shadows Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781492647492
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Sourcebooks Fire - August 29th, 2017

Great, well-paced fantasy novel for fans of Sarah Maas, Kristen Cashore, Tamora Pierce, centering a gender fluid protagonist whose street smarts and burning desire for vengeance equal a foot in the door for auditions for one of the highest--and most deadly--posts in the land. In training during a deadly Hunger Games-esque audition, Sal finds romance, political intrigue, and some hair-raising magical intrigue. Sal's gender fluidity is handled with great deftness and a delightfully straightforward style


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Sing, Unburied, Sing Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501126062
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - September 5th, 2017

Jesmyn Ward's new novel hearkens back to the incredible intimacy, impact, and import of Morrison's Beloved. Ward's prose is sinewy, unsentimental, and perfectly balanced, her characters whole and presented with unflinching brutal honesty, her themes of the costs of historical slavery, the layered cruelties of modern-day racism, and the deleterious effects of racism, drugs, poverty, and incarceration on a family held together by secrets, guilt, love, and ghosts. This is a book that, by rights, should make incredible waves this year--I've rarely read its like.


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Viscera Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9781940456683
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Talos - October 4th, 2016

Strange, bloody, dare I say...visceral story of a motley assortment of messed up people who band together after trying to kill each other in a disturbingly bloody world. The characters are fascinatingly awful and relatably human, the worldbuilding is intriguing and the plot pulled me through the book even when I was cringing at what was going to happen next. Multiple trans characters were very welcome to see as well.


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The Devourers Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781101967539
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Del Rey Books - February 21st, 2017

One of the most startlingly, disturbingly, hauntingly gorgeous werewolf stories I have ever read. A historian in Kolkata is given an old journal to transcribe from a stranger, a journal of moving and visceral histories written in and on the skins of the shifters who wore and tore them in the 17th Century. Each moment contains such an incredible depth of embodied mythology that you can almost taste the years and lives stretching back and back from every scene. One of the most striking and memorable novels I have come across in some time.


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Lilith's Brood Cover Image
$21.99
ISBN: 9780446676106
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - June 1st, 2000

Gretchen's Rec: Ruthlessly beautiful, disturbing, and haunting. This is my favorite series of all time--every time I re-read it I get something new out of it.


Lost Boi Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781551525815
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Arsenal Pulp Press - April 28th, 2015

Gretchen's Rec:  In this book, the narrator is Tootles, part of the accretion of queer bois and homeless young trans men taken into the Leather family of Pan, who calls them his Lost Bois and requires their chaotic service and submission to live in the abandoned warehouse they call Neverland. Pan's greatest nemesis/violent love is Hook, who captains a high protocol House of Leathermen and who is both drawn to and disgusted by Pan's chaotic lifestyle and disregard for Hook's Leather standards and who hates Hook's addiction to Crocodile (heroin). Across the way live a group of prostitutes, Mermaids living at the Cove, and the Lost Bois join these women frequently for playing and fucking.Into this world Pan falls in love with Wendi, a foster teen reading slam poetry at the local lesbian bookstore. Pan convinces Wendi and her foster sib, a genderqueer John Michael, to leave their foster family and join Neverland, with Pan setting Wendi up as Mommy to the Lost Bois. Predictably, this destabilizes the Lost Bois and Things Happen. What I like about this book is that the sex and the kink are embedded in the fabric of the characters' lives, and their participation in their shared fantasy is key to their survival and self-identity. Change happens--the fantasy they share is powerful but not resilient enough to encompass that change, and some of the characters must move forward into a different understanding of reality. I really enjoyed this book, I felt like it took the characters, their alternative sexualities, and their chosen families very seriously while drawing in many threads from the source material.


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The Fifth Season Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780316229296
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Orbit - August 4th, 2015

Gretchen's Rec: Brutal, intense, and fascinating. I was totally sucked in by the troubled, volcanically unstable world and its palimpsest of forgotten cultures and technologies. The three threads of a story flow together with increasing vehemence. Jemisin has come into her own as a storyteller.


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Ada Twist, Scientist Cover Image
By Andrea Beaty, David Roberts (Illustrator)
$17.95
ISBN: 9781419721373
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Abrams Books for Young Readers - September 6th, 2016

Ada is a charmingly single-minded scientist! One day, her rigorous quest for the full facts behind whatever That Smell is get her into a little trouble. Luckily, her family rallies to support her in her scientific inquiries! The art is top-notch charming, the characters of each family member (including the somewhat incredulous older brother and the slightly harried, yet loving, parents feel full-fledged. Ada's personality shines through on each page. The rhyming text encourages the spirit of curiosity and introduces concepts of scientific rigor, while the portrayal of a Black girl as the young scientist helps all children learn to accept diversity in STEM interests.


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Elysium Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781619760530
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Aqueduct Press - December 1st, 2014

Gretchen's Rec: Wonderfully iterative, gaining emotional valence with each layer, this palimpsest of a novel digs into memory, love, future, and sacrifice. Highly recommended.


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Life Cover Image
By Cynthia Rylant, Brendan Wenzel (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781481451628
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Beach Lane Books - June 27th, 2017

Cynthia Rylant's deceptively simple prose covers a great deal of ground, and Brendan Wenzel's beautiful art brings a broad subject into delightful, complex detail. This gorgeous book covers so many aspects of life--from a sweep of exploration of ecology, environment, and the impact of human civilization on the natural world to a glance at cycles of life and a very gentle take on death and change. Beautiful, hopeful, resonant.


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When the Moon Was Ours Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250058669
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin's Griffin - October 4th, 2016

Gretchen's rec: This is one of the most beautiful books I have read in a long time. The prose is an effortless magical realism grounded in real world life and stories. The romance is frank and supported by true and complex feeling and community, and parental figures get to be just as flawed, human, and loving as the teens. The trans characters get to be real people, with real lives and concerns of which being trans is integral but not overwhelming--just like real life. This book breaks the mold of YA about trans kids by turning away from the Issue Story and drawing deep on the characters' personalities, cultures, and experiences to center them in a story that highlights their humanity without being an after school special. Sam and Miel will be with me for a long long time.


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Radical Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780763669621
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - September 13th, 2016

This book draws you right into the mind of Bex, a queer teen from a struggling family in rural Michigan, convinced and obsessed with the imminent demise of civilization and intently training with guns and survival skills. Bex's voice is so distinct, so real, and her perspectives so meticulously described as to feel genuine and understandable (even to a staunch anti-gun person like me). I loved this book and I hope to press it into the hands of many youth, families, and educators. Bex's world is complex--her family's poverty and continued grasping at the middle class, the sexism she encounters in her communities and her family, the silences and secrets she doesn't quite understand and see in time in her family members, the powerfully appealing illusion of control that survivalist messages and gun rights advocates propagate, having to hide her sexuality from her family and the depth of her involvement in the local survivalist 'gun club' from her girlfriend are handled with such precision and such an assured understanding of Bex's perspective. The prose is gripping and the ending is breathtakingly stark, completely unsentimental, yet honest and compassionate, even hopeful, by the last chapter. I loved this book.


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Of Fire and Stars Cover Image
By Audrey Coulthurst, Jordan Saia (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062433251
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen - November 22nd, 2016

Gretchen's Rec:Queer princesses! And this is a delightfully well-wrought fantasy world, the characters feel like they're grappling with real problems, and I enjoyed the politics and mystery as well as the romance. This reminded me a lot of Bitterblue and Ash in a good way. Great story and I can't wait to recommend it to people!


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The Journey Cover Image
By Francesca Sanna (Illustrator)
$17.95
ISBN: 9781909263994
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Nobrow Press - September 13th, 2016

A gorgeously, evocatively illustrated book about a refugee family fleeing a war-torn country and heartache. The art is stunning, the topic difficult but sensitively handled, and of course very timely. A truly important picture book.


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The Rest of Us Just Live Here Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780062415639
Availability: Special Order
Published: Harper Teen - October 6th, 2015

Gretchen's Rec: Smart, funny, satisfying, and heartfelt, this is a winning YA novel that manages to give its diverse teen characters plenty of room to be relatable and real without over-dramatizing them or feeling didactic. These kids grapple with a lot of issues, but this isn't an Issues book. Importantly, it's very much about kids who have already been living through tough concerns (the end of the world barely registers, after overbearing parents, mental illness, eating disorders, queerness, and of course, love). These are kids who love each other even though they're still figuring out what that means, who accept and support each other and *choose* each other every day. The contrast between their everyday problems against the backdrop of what's going on with the Chosen Ones (hilariously summarized events introduce each chapter) is pitch perfect. This is a good one if you loved Buffy and Harry Potter but are sick of investing in their many knockoffs.


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Most People Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780884485544
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tilbury House Publishers - August 15th, 2017

Tackles a tough subject - talking with young kids about horrible acts - and manages to be truthful, gentle, and sensitive about how most people are really at heart good. It's sad how relevant this book is these days, but I'm glad it's here for parents and kids.


Show Yourself to Me: Queer Kink Erotica Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781517269982
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform - September 8th, 2015

So. Hot. Wonderful to see such diversity in experience, expression, body type, race, gender, etc, and these stories are such interesting explorations of the motives for and experiences of human sexuality in some of its most intense forms.


The Princess and the Pony Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780545637084
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Arthur A. Levine Books - June 30th, 2015

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All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780765397539
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - May 2nd, 2017

This slim book features my new most relatable protagonist ever--the somewhat disaffected, self-hacked murderbot who only wants to be left alone, not have to talk to humans more than necessary, and keep on going through the secretly-downloaded drama shows that are more interesting than real humans. Funny, fresh, action-packed, and unpredictable, this is a great beginning to a series I'll be keeping up with.