Anna's Staff Picks

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Magic Lessons: The Prequel to Practical Magic Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781982108847
Availability: In Stock at Our Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 6th, 2020

Magic Lessons absolutely envelops you in the heart-breaking but hopeful world of Maria Owens. I adored finally getting the full story of the Owens family curse, but I also loved the general thread of women in power being seen as a threat. It's a gently feminist novel, and I can't wait to share it with readers.


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Crosshairs Cover Image
By Catherine Hernandez (Read by)
$39.99
ISBN: 9781797114828
Availability: In Stock at Our Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Audio - December 8th, 2020

This is a deeply moving look at intersectionality set in a near-future dystopia that's all too believable.


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The Look-Alike: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250083678
Availability: Backordered
Published: St. Martin's Press - January 28th, 2020

I could not put The Look-Alike down. I loved the interplay between Sienna wondering if she was meant to be the victim and fearing she’s suffering her mother’s mental illness. I love the layers of the story; it’s so much more than the story of a murder. And as a romance reader, I loved the romance subplot, much as I wished there was space for more development.

I had some ideas about who the murderer might be, but I couldn’t narrow it down to just one. All the characters are complex and developed enough you could see how it might be them.

If you’re into thrillers, murder mysteries, or psychological suspense, this one’s for you. It reads fast, too, so it’s a great mom read.


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Saint X: A Novel Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781250219596
Availability: In Stock at Our Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Celadon Books - February 18th, 2020

This book is fantastic. The promotional quotes didn’t really work for me, with all the emphasis on race and privilege. It sounded like it might be a dry, preachy book. It isn’t. The plot of Saint X is primarily a mystery, and it reads like one with pacing gathering speed until the conclusion. But mystery readers may be disappointed, because it’s lacking a lot of the quirks of the genre. Upon finishing, it feels most like a coming of age novel. There is a focus on race and privilege, but it’s done in such a way that you don’t even notice you’re thinking about it until it’s over. Everything about this book is subtle and entrancing. It will make a great book club read. If you’re a fan of books that make you think without being “think-y”, slice of life novels, or even true crime, you’ll love this gorgeously written book.


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Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316453691
Availability: In Stock at Our Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - March 10th, 2020

I have a hard time saying I enjoyed this book, because it's about racism, which isn't fun. But I do feel better for having read it.

This is a history I didn't know, and, I'm going to be honest, I think the adult original book would have been a bit cerebral for me. There were a lot of historical figures mentioned that I thought I knew, but with a lot more information surrounding them. The context cast them in totally different lights.

This is a must-read for any American, whether they fit in the target age range or not.


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When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People Cover Image
By Jeannie Gaffigan, Jeannie Gaffigan (Read by), Jim Gaffigan (Read by), Liz Noth (Read by)
$40.95
ISBN: 9781549152528
Availability: In Stock at Our Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - November 12th, 2019

I’m going to admit that I don’t know much about Jim Gaffigan besides someone I follow posting quotes from him occasionally. I know at least some of his comedy is about parenting, so if I were a big comedy special watcher, I’d probably be into him. I knew absolutely nothing about his family life. I certainly didn’t realize his wife was one of his writers, and therefore a very funny person. I listened to this book as an audiobook, so a note on the narrator: The author narrates a lot of this book. How she doesn’t break down in some of the reading is beyond me. The beginning, however, is narrated by her sister because she had just undergone surgery on her vocal cords. The explanation for this sort of sets the tone for the book.

As a working mother, there were some major takeaways from this book. First, Jeannie had written off all the symptoms of a pretty significant brain tumor as just the result of being a busy mom. Again, ladies: Motherhood affects us like a brain tumor might. Tiredness, headaches, some dizzy spells; just par for the course, right? Second, and this lines up well with where I’m at in my personal journey, she feels like she is the only one who can do the household things “right”, so she does them all. In the period where she was recovering from brain surgery, she had to allow someone else to handle it, and the world did not implode. She also realized that not allowing her family to take care of things themselves was doing them a disservice. Third, and most importantly, while I treasure my children and have certainly done a better job as a more experienced mother with my two littles of pausing to enjoy their random weird quirkiness when it hits, Jeannie talks a lot about how after she thought she might die, she realized we really don’t have forever with our kids and she values her time with them in a whole new way.

This book may make you cry a little, but it will definitely make you laugh a lot. It will also do you the service of helping you evaluate how you’re prioritizing your time at home.


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Find Me Their Bones (Bring Me Their Hearts #2) Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781640633759
Availability: In Stock at Our Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Entangled: Teen - November 5th, 2019

Zera, a Heartless, tries to take the prince’s heart to stop a war in the first book. Having failed at that, the second book involves an entirely new plot to stop the same war. There are a lot of big surprises, and I don’t want to spoil them for anyone, so I’m going to be really vague about the storyline.
What the author does splendidly is look at the situation from all angles. You see the good and bad of every decision, every character, every fight. No one is the “good guy”. They’re all human, even the ones that technically aren’t. It’s rapidly paced fantasy with heart, and I adore it. Anyone who likes anything should read these books, because they’ve got a little bit of something for everyone: romance, adventure, gore, wyrms, magic, suspense, fantastic character-building, and moral questions.


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The Christmas Dare: A Twilight, Texas Novel Cover Image
By Lori Wilde, Lisa Zimmerman (Read by)
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ISBN: 9781094025308
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: HarperCollins - October 22nd, 2019

I listened to The Christmas Dare as an audiobook. The narrator is good. There’s a slight Texas twang for the dialogue, but it’s not that overexaggerated drawl you’re always afraid of if you’re from Texas. Overall, I liked this book, so I’m going to start with the positives so as not to give the wrong impression. The romance is great. It’s a reconnected lovers story, which I’m a fan of, if done right. This one is. The hero and heroine both have flaws they have to overcome, but are essentially good people.

The heroine’s mother, however, has some serious issues, and causes her own problems. The author actually takes the opportunity to delve into a mental health issue, and I appreciate that, though I would have liked the explanation a little earlier. I spent most of the book wondering what the heck was wrong with that woman and hating her. There’s also a background romance with the heroine’s best friend, and I hope there’s at least a novella that goes into it, because I’m interested about what was happening off page.

What I didn’t like: There were two overriding themes that just got beat to death, and they’re both in the title. Obviously, there was going to be Christmas and at least one dare. But by the end, every time I heard “Christmas” or “dare”, I wanted to puncture my eardrums. This may just be a thing in cutesy Christmas romances, but it’s a thing I don’t love. If repetition of phrases won’t make you bonkers, though, I do recommend this book for your holiday reading.


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How to Suffer … In 10 Easy Steps: Discover, Embrace and Own the Mechanics of Misery Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781786782748
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Watkins Publishing - October 8th, 2019

So, I thought this was going to be a humor book. I wasn’t entirely wrong. It is pretty funny. But it actually is an in-depth look at what suffering is, why it happens, and what we can do about it. I am a spiritual seeker. Part of that for me has always been about looking at myself and getting into alignment with the universe. So, obviously, this book is perfect for me. I love that the beginning is written from the perspective of how best to stay in suffering, because I find I’m often doing those things even when I think I don’t want to suffer anymore. It is incredibly effective. I definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in finding more serenity in their life, but that needs to be eased into it with a little humor.


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Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live) Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780525541936
Availability: In Stock at Our Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - October 1st, 2019

Eve Rodsky specializes in organizational management, and she’s applied those principles to making a system to create equity in household labor. That sentence sounds really dry, but the book isn’t. She uses her own marriage as an example as she illustrates how the Fair Play system works. She walks us through the ways we may be contributing to the problem without realizing it (I personally am incredibly guilty of the frustrated “I’ve got it” approach), the types of husbands we might be dealing with and how best to approach each, and then (get this, ladies) a solution. The solution is a process, but it’s a process meant to be easily individualized for each family. I am really excited to try it. I spend a lot of time venting with my girlfriends about the amount of household work we still take on as full-time working mothers, and I would love just that time back, not to mention the time I’m actually doing the household work.


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Cursed Cover Image
By Frank Miller (Illustrator), Thomas Wheeler
$24.99
ISBN: 9781534425330
Availability: In Stock at Our Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - October 1st, 2019

King Arthur is by nature not a happy story for anyone. This is a pre-King Arthur narrative that’s more twisted than any other I’ve read in that world. I loved every minute of it. We follow Nimue, future Lady of the Lake, as she inherits the sword of power and tries to figure out what to do with it. We meet all the characters we expect to meet, although not always in the form we expect. There is so much violence, but also tenderness and familial ties and love. Nimue is truly confused and conflicted, and I love that the story centered around her. I know this is an upcoming Netflix show, but I hope there’s a full series of books coming, too. I want more.


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Elizabeth Webster and the Court of Uncommon Pleas Cover Image
By William Lashner, Erin Yuen (Narrated by)
$39.99
ISBN: 9781974970278
Availability: In Stock at Our Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dreamscape Media - October 15th, 2019

The narrator is awesome! This book is kind of a mix of Goosebumps and Theodore Boone. It’s a middle grade mystery with ghosts and demons. It’s not incredibly scary, but maybe not a good read for nervous children. I really enjoyed it. I did not want to stop listening. There’s an interesting cast of characters, a good mystery, and some real legal information. The main character is also kind of a math nerd, which I would have loved in my own middle grade years. Also, it’s a great read for children in blended families, as it deals with some of that without being preachy.


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24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week Cover Image
By Tiffany Shlain (Read by)
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ISBN: 9781508296638
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Simon & Schuster Audio - September 24th, 2019

A note on the narrator: This book is narrated by the author. She’s good, and when she talks about things like her father passing, you can hear her choke up a bit. It adds some weight to the reading.

 

I think all the parents I know struggle with the use of devices in families, but I like the idea of a day of tech rest. 24/6 makes some compelling arguments, though I’m not sure I needed any.  It also has some actionable ideas for how to make it work, which is incredibly valuable.


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Chosen (Slayer #2) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781534404984
Availability: In Stock at Our Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon Pulse - January 7th, 2020

It may be enough to say that if you’re a fan of Buffy, you will love this book, but I’m going to go ahead and say a little more than that.

First of all, it was true of Slayer and it’s true again here, Kiersten White does a phenomenal job of incorporating Buffy-speak into the book. It feels like a continuation of the TV series. Who doesn’t want that? Also, we again get to see some characters from the show, and they feel true to themselves and it’s a delight. The storyline of this book continues on from the end of Slayer. I personally had not read Slayer since before its publication, so it took me a minute to refresh, but this book did a good job of catching you back up if it’s been a while, without an unnecessary info dump in case you’re reading them back to back.

There are all the things you’d expect from a story in the Buffy-verse: demons, intrigue, romances that seem doomed, witty banter, an apocalypse. I adored every page, and I never wanted to put it down. If you love Buffy (and if you don’t, you’re the monster), you will love this book.