2020 Holiday Recommendations

 

 

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The Cold Millions: A Novel Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780062868084
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - October 27th, 2020

This is Spokane native Walter’s most delightful novel yet: a rolicking, humor-filled, moving, and epic tale of a pair of orphaned brothers on the loose in the turn-of-the-twentieth-century West and their engagement in the 1909-1910 Spokane free speech riots. Along the way we meet unforgettable characters, real and fictitious. Not only a great story, brilliantly told, but also urgently resonant of the present. I haven’t enjoyed—and regretted finishing—a novel this much in a very long time. -Peter


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Rodham: A Novel Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780399590917
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - May 19th, 2020

Yeah, yeah… we're all sick of politics, but that's not what this year's delightful new novel by Curtis Sittenfeld is about (okay, maybe just a tiny bit). What if Hillary had said no to Bill when he proposed? Where would she be today? Where would he be today? Sittenfeld deftly weaves the what-ifs into the cultural ethos of today for several aha moments. Frankly, this is the Bill and Hillary I would imagine. A great gift for anyone who likes strong, smart women, surprises, and masterful writing. -Tracy


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War and Peace (Penguin Clothbound Classics) Cover Image
By Leo Tolstoy, Anthony Briggs (Translated by), Anthony Briggs (Introduction by), Orlando Figes (Afterword by), Coralie Bickford-Smith (Illustrator)
$30.00
ISBN: 9780241265543
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - March 14th, 2017

Tolstoy's magisterial novel, set during the Napoleonic War and its aftermath, is full of the drama of war and the tranquil and tumultuous domestic lives of the nobility. It is the epic tale of love and death—a passionate, all embracing, life affirming, and singular literary achievement. I didn't want it to end. Tolstoy is a literary Titan for good reason. -Greg


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I Hold a Wolf by the Ears: Stories Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780374102098
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - July 28th, 2020

As with Harper Lee and Truman Capote, the women in these short stories are bound by a common anguish. Some of them are wives (the one whose husband serves her a mysterious La Croix knockoff, the side effects of which include drowsiness and a more affable personality), some of them were once wives (the woman who spots her previously-missing sister-in-law on a business trip), some only pretend to be (the woman who runs a business impersonating the departed wives of grieving widowers). Despite their very different situations, they are connected by a shared sense of alienation. Laura van den Berg's writing is clean, relentlessly unsentimental, and completely devastating. This collection is perfect and I would recommend it to anyone who's already read everything by George Saunders twice. -Lauren


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The House in the Cerulean Sea Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781250217288
Availability: Ships in 2-10 Days
Published: Tor Books - March 17th, 2020

An absolutely delightful fantasy, full of impossibly charming and endearing characters. A caseworker for the Department In Charge of Magical Youth, Linus Baker tells himself he's happy in his dreary life, even as he yearns for something more. Spending his nights dancing alone to records in his kitchen and daydreaming of seeing the ocean one day. But when his latest assignment brings him to a mysterious island whose very existence is classified, it doesn't appear to be the seaside vacation he's dreamed about. Whether or not the actual end of the world is at hand, things will never be the same for Linus after this case... I would say the best place to read this book is cozied up in your bed on a cold and dreary Seattle day, wrapped in all your favorite blankets and comforted by a steaming mug of your favorite tea, but reading this book feels like that, so really you can read it anywhere you like. -Callie


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Readymade Bodhisattva: The Kaya Anthology of South Korean Science Fiction Cover Image
By Sunyoung Park (Editor), Sunyoung Park (Text by (Art/Photo Books)), Park Sang Joon (Editor)
$25.95
ISBN: 9781885030573
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Kaya Press - March 19th, 2019

I'd been searching all year for translated Korean Sci-Fi, and finding it fiendishly difficult, until lo and behold I came upon this beautiful little collection. It's the first English-language anthology of South Korean Sci-Fi, featuring authors and works you won't be able to find translated anywhere else. Highlighting a variety of works from the 1960s onwards, with illustrations by Hongmin Lee, Readymade Bodhisattva, like the best of Sci-Fi, illuminates the concerns and humanity of the people it originates from; here, some of it's culturally specific, but there's much more that links us universally. -Elaine


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All the Devils Are Here: A Novel (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #16) Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9781250145239
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Minotaur Books - September 1st, 2020

The extraordinary chief inspector Armand Gamache of the Quebec Surete, off to Paris for the birth of his grandchild, becomes ensnared in a murder investigation when his billionaire godfather is run down by a speeding van. Though this is the sixteenth of the Gamache novels, it’s a great place to begin, as Penny magically manages to provide all the necessary background, without bogging down the story even for the initiated. You’ll then have the pleasure of going back to the first volume (Still Life) and immersing yourself in murder, Quebec-style. -Peter


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Dictee Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9780520261297
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of California Press - September 14th, 2009

Meditating on motherhood and memory, Cha suggests that a woman's suffering cannot be transcended through time or language; rather, her suffering can only be overcome through death. And motherhood, inexorably bound by self-sacrifice and submission, is the ultimate act of martyrdom. Dictee is frustrating because language is frustrating—how can anyone truly understand another's experiences, let alone her own? Cha’s attempt, however, is writing at its most absolutely authentic, full of grace and steady as a rock. In a word, sublime. -Brendan


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Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780399563263
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - November 10th, 2020

There's nothing quite like the words of a talented woman, long over-critiqued by male writers of lesser acclaim, to soothe the soul. Mary Oliver's work is steeped in the natural and gentle. Her poetry has long been a balm for the chafes of the world, but as this year in particular draws to a close her work feels particularly valuable. The last book released before her passing in 2019, Oliver personally curated this selection of her poems, which span her whole career from her first volume of poetry to her last. This is (to my mind) The Mary Oliver Reader, and this is the year to be reading Mary Oliver. -AJ


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There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780062469991
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperOne - January 17th, 2017

This is a book everyone deserves to have by their side during these trying times! With humor, affirmation, and adorable illustrations There Is No Good Card For This takes you on a stroll through how to show up emotionally for those you love in hard times. The best gift you can give (particularly this year!) is something that will help everyone be their most loving, supportive, and generous selves. All we have is each other, and now someone you love can have this book too. -Ellis


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Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9780593189481
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - November 10th, 2020

Winter, according to Katherine May, can be both a season and also a specific kind of experience. Winter is when you fall through the gap in the “mesh of the everyday world” and find yourself somewhere else. Time passes at a different pace, worry and grief linger and hibernation is necessary. And it is by finding and retelling the stories of our winters that we develop a shared language of comfort. All of this will feel familiar as the pandemic continues to affect us. Though this book is not prescriptive, the author offers perspective and comfort when many of us need it. Books like this one will help us get through.-Karen


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For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780735218772
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - October 22nd, 2019

This year finds me reaching—blindly, frantically—for those things that bring a feeling of comfort or a sense of control. To those who find themselves in a similar, desperate search, I recommend books and ritual. For Small Creatures Such as We—a book about creating agnostic rituals that align with the world around us—fits neatly into both categories. Much like her father Carl Sagan, Sash Sagan is full of reverence and wonder for science and the natural world; her book, part memoir and part guide, is crafted with this frame of mind. Inspiring and comforting, For Small Creatures Such as We is perfect for those of us who don’t necessarily find solace in a religion or god, but still wish to incorporate ritual and regular celebration into our daily lives. -Emma


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MR Spock's Little Book of Mindfulness: How to Survive in an Illogical World Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781858759531
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hero Collector - November 3rd, 2020

Ah, Mr. Spock, everyone's favorite pointy-eared logical Science Officer and First Officer of the Starship Enterprise. Who better in these times of emotional unrest and anxiety to bestow a little Vulcan logic in the form of human mindfulness. Despite his Vulcan appearance and dedication to their philosophies of rational logic and self-restraint, he is still half human, coming to terms with the emotions we all feel. (By the way, full Vulcans have emotions, they just control them.) Scattered throughout with great cartoon drawings, blending the philosophies of Star Trek with the practice of mindfulness, this is a fantastic book for anyone this season. -Andy


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Solutions and Other Problems Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781982156947
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Gallery Books - September 22nd, 2020

“Carl believes that he is better than everybody, when really, he is slightly worse than average.” After years, Allie Brosh is back with a new compilation of bizarre and quirky life moments that will leave you cry-laughing this holiday season. Through her oddly endearing way of insulting people like Carl, and the chaos she reigned as a child, Brosh creates a story you won't want to put down. If you love this one, Brosh's first book, Hyperbole and a Half, is one you won't want to miss! Definitely check out both of these amazing books! -Theresa


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Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501160271
Availability: Ships in 2-10 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - April 14th, 2020

After cataloguing thousands of species of fish, taxonomist David Starr Jordan's collection was destroyed in an earthquake—and that's just one of the many setbacks he experienced. How did Jordan manage to keep going when it seemed the universe was plotting against him? How do you find order in a world that tends towards chaos? Journalist Lulu Miller became obsessed with these questions when her own life was unraveling and she was questioning the wisdom of perseverance. At once a biography and a memoir, Miller's book is a breathtaking journey with a powerful resolution. -Laura


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The River That Made Seattle: A Human and Natural History of the Duwamish Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9780295747439
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Washington Press - July 15th, 2020

The history of the Duwamish (the peoples and the river) is a rich and diverse one; Cummings does an admirable job distilling it down in this essential volume. She examines how white people came to the territory—settling on the banks of the river—and justified their actions to the land and the native people they took from. Cummings also takes a hard look at the current environmental impact of big business on the river and how we can take steps to rescue it and the communities that live and work on it. -Holly


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Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780143109396
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - April 26th, 2016

My go-to book for difficult, exciting, and transitional times. You don't need to give [too much of] a damn about surfing to fall in love with this. Few books so expertly capture the sorrow, the wide openness, and the exhilaration of self discovery that comes from loving something intensely and discovering the universe in its details. And yeah, you'll never care to touch land again. -Wes


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Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 Cover Image
By W. E. B. Du Bois, David Levering Lewis (Introduction by)
$25.00
ISBN: 9780684856575
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Free Press - December 1st, 1999

DuBois's work is a foundational exploration of the dialectic of race and class in America—far beyond his famous framing of emancipation from slavery as the result of the most effective labor strike in history. It is striking how seamlessly all our current social, political, and economic threads can be traced back to this extraordinary post-Civil War period when, for a moment, Black America was able to mold its own destiny, a liberation deferred to this day by the racist solidarity of the Northern capitalists with the remnants of the Southern planter class. No book I've read this year is more essential to understanding American society in 2020 and the work that must be done to complete the great unfinished revolution. -Tony


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The Book Collectors: A Band of Syrian Rebels and the Stories That Carried Them Through a War Cover Image
By Delphine Minoui, Lara Vergnaud (Translated by)
$25.00
ISBN: 9780374115166
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - November 3rd, 2020

Apt for this year in many ways, Delphine Minoui’s account of a group of young Syrian men who created a library amidst the rubble of bombed-out houses in a rebel stronghold under constant government bombardment was mostly chronicled by remote means—Skype and phone calls. What the people of Daraya, Syria have undergone by way of bombing and blockade outweighs our travails here. This heartfelt book tells the story of these fellows rescuing books from various bombed houses and creating a library from them. This library changes not only their lives—as they begin to read and see what books hold in them—but also the lives of others, who come for books, for gathering, for lectures. The utmost necessity of books and reading has never been portrayed more fiercely than here, with life itself at stake. -Rick S.


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One Last Song: Conversations on Life, Death, and Music Cover Image
By Mike Ayers, Studio Muti (Illustrator), Jim James (Foreword by), Shea Serrano (Contributions by)
$24.99
ISBN: 9781419738203
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Abrams Image - October 13th, 2020

I gravitated to this one based on a misreading of the book's concept. I thought it posed the question 'what song would you like to have played at your funeral?' which has long been a cute, little egotistical morbidity I indulge in from time to time (current answer: “Riding For The Feeling” by Bill Callahan). But alas, this book poses a slightly different question, and while I take issue with many of the selections, perhaps that's all part of the fun. Also, it did introduce me to Ronnie Lane's pastoral honey-slide “Anymore For Anymore” and that alone is worth the cover price. -John


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Truth Bomb: Inspiration from the Mouths and Minds of Women Artists Cover Image
$34.95
ISBN: 9781760761271
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Thames & Hudson - October 6th, 2020

Like a psychic shot in the arm (and heavens knows we need a psychological vaccine against despair) this terrific compilation features a stellar group of contemporary women artists sharing their inspirations, eccentricities, challenges, and successes. The perfect gift for an art enthusiast—or for yourself. Revel in the art of your faves—with their candid, often humorous commentary—discover new surprises and loves, and get energized to create art that leads you to your own truths and joys. -Erica
 


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Vegan JapanEasy: Over 80 Delicious Plant-Based Japanese Recipes Cover Image
$32.50
ISBN: 9781784882846
Availability: Ships in 2-10 Days
Published: Hardie Grant - March 3rd, 2020

Vegan JapanEasy is the perfect gift for the vegan, wannabegan, beginner chef, or design-lover in your life. Even without the deliriously easy recipes (yes! it's true!) and the generously joke-sprinkled instructions, this book is a beautiful object. Check out the tiny illustrations in the corner of each page, the purple edging, the gold embossing, the dreamy color palettes; this book begs to be devoured with your eyes while the contents make your mouth water. For a cozy, cold-busting night-in, try one of the hearty, veggie-packed ramen options with a side of crispy/creamy potato croquette. -Lara


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Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico Cover Image
$40.00
ISBN: 9781419735424
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Abrams - October 22nd, 2019

This wonderful cookbook has been such a great introduction to Oaxacan cooking for me! Bricia Lopez and her family are the owners of Guelaguetza in Los Angeles, widely considered to be one of the best Oaxacan restaurants in the country. This cookbook is a joyful celebration of the people, places, and recipes that make Oaxaca so special. From mains like hearty, spicy lamb barbacoa stew and multiple varieties of delicious mole recipes passed down through the Lopez family to sweets like chocoflan (and much, much more), this cookbook delights at every turn. -Jacob


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All the World (Classic Board Books) Cover Image
By Liz Garton Scanlon, Marla Frazee (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9781481431217
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little Simon - August 18th, 2015

I love this book. It makes me think of surf frothing between bare toes, the smell of sun warmed dirt, a noisy potluck, an unexpected gift. Each page turn and perfectly metered rhyme draws readers into the tide of the wide world. This timeless book flows gently in and out, from the personal pleasures of exploration to the universal joys of interconnected life. -Lara


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The Barnabus Project Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780735263260
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tundra Books - September 1st, 2020

Barnabus lives in the basement lab of Perfect Pets, where pets are created to be as cute and perfect as possible. Half-elephant, half-mouse, Barnabus is one of many Failed Projects, rejected because his eyes weren't big enough and his fur wasn't fluffy enough. But one day Barnabus and his fellow Failed Projects make a daring escape attempt, aiming to see what else the world has to offer. The characters in this book are adorable, and it shares a powerful message about working together and accepting yourself just the way you are. -Laura


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You Are New: (New Baby Books for Kids, Expectant Mother Book, Baby Story Book) Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781452161563
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books - March 12th, 2019

Is it just me or are a lot of people you know expecting? A tiny, newborn creature is always something to celebrate, and after a long, dark year like 2020, the birth of a new family member or friend feels especially hopeful. But how do you warmly welcome a baby into the world when you may not be able to cuddle them with abandon? As a bookseller I’m admittedly biased, but I think books are the second best way to impart love and comfort when many of us are socially distanced. You Are New—with its bright illustrations, sweet rhymes, and cheeky humor—provides a wonderful welcome to any human learning what it’s like to be new. -Emma


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Whose Moon Is That? Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781101932278
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Books for Young Readers - August 1st, 2017

A curious tabby’s question is answered by many of those who bask in the moon’s glow in this charming, rhyming picture book. It’s a perfect read aloud for little ones, and Kim Krans’s stunning illustrations will engage book lovers of all ages. Reading this book, I was reminded of my grandchildren’s delight in recognizing and showing me the moon’s many phases. I’m imagining how much fun we will have acting out the perspectives of the bear and wolf and sky. -Karen


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Please, Louise Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9781416983392
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books - March 1st, 2016

Lovingly dedicated "to librarians everywhere," Please, Louise is an ode to the life-changing, soul-enriching power of books and reading from Toni Morrison and her son, Slade Morrison. I love how this book shows us that reading not only helps build our capacity for imagination, but also allows us to understand and articulate how we feel—and it gives us the skills to work through our problems. -Jacob
 


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Chicken of the Sea Cover Image
By Viet Thanh Nguyen, Thi Bui (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781944211738
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: McSweeney's - November 26th, 2019

A true collaborative delight, this charming story is inspired by the imaginations of the younger creators here (Ellison Nguyen being all of five years old) with their parents—award-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen and award-winning graphic narrative author Thi Bui—playing supportive roles that helped pull it all together, shall we say. Chickens tell the story, leaving the comfort of farm life and taking on the risks of going out to sea to seek adventure while overcoming fear and scary things along the way. -Rick S.


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Eric Cover Image
By Shaun Tan, Shaun Tan (Illustrator)
$19.99
ISBN: 9781338622089
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Press - October 20th, 2020

Have you ever met a shy visitor from a strange place and tried fervently to make sure they learned about your city, saw all the sights, and had a good time? Wispy, mysterious houseguest Eric sleeps in the pantry, asks a lot of strange questions, and then, very abruptly, leaves. The puzzling question of how the visit went is finally answered with a breathtakingly lovely gesture. This sweet, enchanting tale reminds us that, while we each experience the world differently, we can connect with one another, across cultures, in unexpected ways. -Erica


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Owl Moon Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780399214578
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Philomel Books - October 23rd, 1987

A small child finally gets the chance to spend a night owling in the woods with their father where only the crunching of the snow, the wolves in the woods, and the whistle of the far off train are heard. One must be very, very quiet, and be ready. This bedtime story is suspenseful, soothing, quiet, and magical. I don't know how many times I've read this, but each reading brings the poetry of Yolen's words and Schoenherr's images to life in new ways. -Tracy


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The Mysteries of the Universe: Discover the best-kept secrets of space Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781465499332
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: DK Children - September 1st, 2020

Set out on a tour of the universe. The journey starts on our home planet and moves outward, past our moon to the planets of our solar system, onward to the stars and galaxies, and so far out as to even have a glimpse back in time to the very edge of the universe. The double spreads explain briefly the topic at hand while the spectacular photographs spark wonder. Here is a guidebook for an amazing journey of the mind for questing kids (and grown-ups). -Holly


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Furia Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781616209919
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - September 15th, 2020

A powerful story about an ambitious teen girl trying to find her voice in a world unwilling to listen. Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez weaves together a complex and relatable story about a rising soccer star who must put everything on the line. A Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, this story is going to be one you won't want to put down. -Theresa


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The Thief (Queen's Thief #1) Cover Image
$11.99
ISBN: 9780062642967
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Greenwillow Books - February 28th, 2017

Reading Megan Whalen Turner’s series has been one of my greatest pleasures of the year, and I just need everyone else to read The Thief. Then, go get the second and third books because they're even more exceptional. However, it all starts here with clever, snarky Gen, who is one of my favorite characters of all time. Turner’s complex political machinations and lyrically wrought pages only make re-reads more valuable; in fact, I've held off on reading the last two books of the series because I dread coming to its end—I've read The Thief twice in the last month instead. -Elaine