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Kai's Picks

 

 

Bookseller Bio

Kai Zarelle (their entire first name) is a pansexual, genderfluid, novel-writing, book reading, D&D playing forest nymph. Anything rustic and woodsy is very much her natural habitat. On her free time, she enjoys fantastical-paranormal movies and shows (basically Gravity Falls and Hilda), fantasy novels, fangirling about Our Flag Means Death, and writing a good story. In December of 2021, she graduated with a degree in Publishing and Editing and she hopes to use it to pursue her dream of publishing her own novel.

 

 


Currently Reading & Loving

 

Overall Favorites

Tales From the Gas StationLavender HouseHow to Sell a Haunted HousePenpalThe Family GameSo This Is Ever AfterThe Golden SpoonThe Kiss QuotientFrostbloodFrostbloodThe Broken RoomCharmEmber Of NightThe SleeplessNeon GodsThis is Not a Personal Statement

 

Highly Anticipating

Locke & KeyClementine and Danny Save the World

Series Favorites

Tales from the Gas Station: Volume 1Tales from the Gas Station: Volume 2Tales from the Gas Station: Volume 3Tales from the Gas Station: Volume 4

CraveCrushCrushCourtCharm

Ember Of NightShadow of LightSpark of Ash

FrostbloodUndercover BromanceCrazy Stupid BromanceIsn't It BromanticA Very Merry Bromance

Rebel RoseFeather and Flame

The RoommateThe Intimacy Experiment

Reading History

PenpalBlack CanaryEverything I Never Told YouMeddling KidsLocke & KeyTwilightAmulet: The Stonekeeper's CurseFrankensteinIvanhoeCatcher in the RyeThe shackEverybody AlwaysAfterPaper TownsTFIOSFlippedFlowers For AlgernonA Dowry of Blood

 

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
Tales from the Gas Station: Volume One By Jack Townsend Cover Image
$21.59
ISBN: 9781732827837
Availability: Not in Stock, Available for Special Order
(This book cannot be returned.)
Published: Jack Townsend - August 30th, 2019

If I were to take the show Gravity Falls, make it rated R, and add an apathetic insomniac gas station clerk with a relentless bullshit detector as the main character, this horror-comedy would be it. Jack works at a shitty gas station in the middle of nowhere, which happens to be the breeding ground of all things weird and eerie—from lawn gnomes that appear out of nowhere, to the strange politician that seems to never die—this gas station is the heart of it all. It is the perfect mix of ridiculousness, stupid humor and horror with just a hint of underlying seriousness.


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Lavender House: A Novel (Evander Mills #1) By Lev AC Rosen Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781250834225
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Forge Books - October 18th, 2022

Knives Out, but make it GAY. In 1952 San Francisco, the queer life is one meant to be in the shadows, hidden in the bathrooms of bars and behind societal facades—so when a closeted detective, Evander Mills, gets caught in a bar raid on his knees before another man, his entire career is over. That is until a mourning widow finds him and asks him to investigate the murder of her wife, the famous and most successful soap maker of the country. Andy discovers that not only is the house full of closeted queers like him, but it gives him a huge conflict of interest. For once, he gets a taste of what freedom and acceptance feels like. If only one of them wasn’t a murderer. Lev Ac Rosen is an amazing writer whose characters’ lives tell a story of their own. Lather yourself with this fragrant, classic who-dunnit, and discover just who killed Irene Lamontaine.


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The Family Game: A Novel By Catherine Steadman Cover Image
$28.99
Currently unavailable, email or call for more information.
ISBN: 9780593158067
Published: Ballantine Books - October 18th, 2022

Christmas was not supposed to be like this.

Harriet wanted a family more than anything, so when she and her husband Edward were surprised with a pregnancy, all of their dreams started to come true. The only downside was meeting Ed's estranged family, who very clearly had something to hide. When she meets them, she notices that they have a knack for family games, each one growing more and more questionable. And Ed's father? The worst of them. He hands her a tape which holds a sinister confession, one that forces her to decide whether or not she wants to play this game...for the sake of her child. 

Catherine Steadman kept me on the edge of my seat throughout this entire book. She created characters who genuinely surprised me, while simultaneously showing me exactly what part they played in the narrative. I would recommend this ten times over for those who love a classic cat and mouse thriller. 


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So This Is Ever After By F.T. Lukens Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781534496866
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - March 29th, 2022

GAY D&D ROM-COM. That is all you should know about this book to be convinced that it is worth your time. Not only is this book so inclusive of non-binary genders, but it written in such a way that feels natural and simultaneously fantastical. The slow burn romance between Arek and Matt will have you wanting to throw the book across the room and smack their heads together in an attempt to get them to wake up and realize their feelings for one another. Thankfully, F.T. Lukens’ amazing storytelling makes it all worth it. They tie everything together in a very neat bow, leaving you 100% satisfied.


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Rebel Rose (Queen's Council #1) By Emma Theriault Cover Image
$9.99
Currently unavailable, email or call for more information.
ISBN: 9781368053402
Published: Disney Hyperion - October 19th, 2021

Rebel Rose made me realize that “Happily Ever After” is not just a one-and-done thing. It is a continuous effort between you and your partner to overcome differences and choose love every single time. Emma Theriault artistically delves deeper into the story of Beauty and the Beast, depicting Belle’s feminist journey into learning what being a queen really means. The chemistry between Belle and Lio (Adam’s preferred name) is still very much alive, and although real-life history is woven into the plot, the magic of Disney is still present through the re-introduction of the enchantress as a much more involved protagonist.


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Feather and Flame (Queen's Council) By Livia Blackburne Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781368048224
Availability: Not in Stock, Available for Special Order
Published: Disney Hyperion - June 14th, 2022

After Mulan saved China, she continued to empower the women in her village through combat training and friendship. Though she was comfortable living her simple life, she was called to a greater purpose by the late Emperor and the magic of the Queen’s Court: inherit the kingdom and become the Empress of China.Through the character of Mulan, Livia Blackburn managed to perfectly portray a woman’s strength, not just physically, but intellectually. The chemistry between Mulan, her militia, and General Li Shang is unmatched, and is a must read after the Disney animated movie.


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The Broken Room By Peter Clines Cover Image
$29.99
ISBN: 9798200861965
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Blackstone Publishing - March 1st, 2022

The Broken Room’s main duo reminded me a lot of Eleven from Stranger Things and Liam Neeson’s character from Taken. Hector gets approached by a child: an escaped test subject named Natalie, who claims to have heard of him from a ghost, and begs him to help her. Through a wide array of trials, Hector grows fond of Natalie and is determined to fight the entire world if it means getting her, and the other test-subject children, to safety. Peter Clines has such an emotionally driven and artistic way of storytelling that will keep your eyes glued to the page, and keep your heart racing from the anxious thrill of the escape. 

TW: child abuse and mistreatment at Mexican borders, children in cages


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The 22 Murders of Madison May By Max Barry Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780593085226
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - June 14th, 2022

A realtor named Madison May comes into contact with a client who claims to have loved her in a parallel world…before murdering her for the umpteenth time. This time however, a determined journalist follows this mysterious client across timelines to stop him. Max Barry’s writing style, plot and unique perspective on multiple realities is what truly sold this story for me. His main characters were very easy to follow and it felt as though I was moving through time with each of them. If you are interested in a starter sci-fi book, this is definitely the one to pick up. As our antagonist would say, "I would love this in every world." ~ Kai


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The Bromance Book Club By Lyssa Kay Adams Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781984806093
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Berkley - November 5th, 2019

Just by the synopsis alone, I knew that this was a book that I was going to love forever. It felt like I was watching a movie. Gavin and Thea are a fiery pair whose backstories draw you in, both as individuals and as a couple. I have had so many laugh-out-loud and brought-to-tears moments that it really just knocked it out of the park for me (get it? Because Gavin plays baseball). Each character is well rounded, and everything ties up nicely in the end. It is very self-aware of the romance tropes that are being used, which was a nice touch from the author. A fascinating, easy read.


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Ember of Night By Molly E. Lee Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9781649372161
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Entangled: Teen - May 24th, 2022

The fiery romance between Harley and Draven is part of what sold it for me, but there is something empowering about the character of Harley. It will definitely hit close to home with the older siblings who had to step up as the “responsible parent” in order to get their other siblings out of an abusive home. Harley breaks free from common tropes of a leading lady main character. She knows her worth, goes after what she wants, and pushes past the exhaustion of having to close the gate of hell, all because she loves her little sister. Great read with just a dash of romantic spice. Molly E. Lee is an excellent writer and storyteller. And with that cliffhanger ending?! It's a good thing Book 2 is already out.

TW: abuse, alchololism


Shadow of Light (Ember of Night #2) By Molly E. Lee Cover Image
$17.99
Currently unavailable, email or call for more information.
ISBN: 9781649370990
Published: Entangled: Teen - November 30th, 2021

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Meddling Kids: A Novel (Blumhouse Books) By Edgar Cantero Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781101974445
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - May 29th, 2018

An adult spin on the vibes of Scooby-Doo was a wonderful foundation for this story. It is diverse and queer, which is always top tier for me. The novel follows the Blyton Summer Detective Club, who used to solve Blyton’s simplest mysteries. When they get involved with an eldritch beast from Blyton’s deepest lake, they grow up trying to forget it ever happened. Now it’s back. It is an accurate representation of what it is like to grow apart from the friends you used to love so dearly in your adolescent years, and how they will always be a part of you. It is the perfect level of spooky: scary enough to get you at the edge of your seat, and easy enough for you to still sleep at night.


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Crave By Tracy Wolff Cover Image
$19.99
Currently unavailable, email or call for more information.
ISBN: 9781640638952
Published: Entangled: Teen - April 7th, 2020

It’s like a blend of Twilight and Dungeons and Dragons. The diversity and representation in this series is life-giving and constantly growing. Vampires, witches, wolves and dragons make up the entirety of Katmere Academy’s mystical existence. Jaxon and Grace have reminded me of what it feels like to fall in love with your first love. It’s encapsulating. Passionate. All consuming. Irresistible. Grace has some grit and fight in her, which sets her apart from the “damsel in distress” trope. She finds value in her own strength, but knows when it’s okay to accept help. The whole read feels modernly fantastical. It is spicy, silly, heart-wrenching and altogether wonderful.
Spice Level: 2/5


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Crush (Crave #2) By Tracy Wolff Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781682815786
Availability: Not in Stock, Available for Special Order
Published: Entangled: Teen - September 29th, 2020

Grace goes to class as normal, only she doesn't seem to remember waking up this morning, or anything for that matter. Everyone tells her she's been a statue for four months, and is the first gargoyle to be born in a thousand years. Shocked and trying her best to remember how this happened, she continues to wake up in places she doesn't remember going to, has trouble feeling something for her boyfriend Jaxon who is supposed to be mated to her, and worst of all, his psychopathic brother is trapped in her head--only there seems to be more to Hudson than anyone thought. 

Tracy Wolff continues the Crave series with CRUSH, adding more mystery and badassery into Grace Foster's paranormal life. Reading this has revived my love for YA fantasy, and having a character as amazing as Hudson Vega? Chef's kiss. Highly recommend for those who love vampires, werewolves, dragons, and witches, with a dash of Dungeons and Dragons and dark academia. The adventure awaits. 


Staff Pick Badge
Covet (Crave #3) By Tracy Wolff Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781682815816
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Entangled: Teen - March 2nd, 2021

Jaxon and Grace's mating bond has been severed. Hudson and Grace are now mysteriously mated. But mating bonds are not supposed to break, and Grace is hellbent on discovering how it happened in the first place. Everyone seems to be begging Grace to put the Vega brothers out of their misery, but there are far more important things to Grace than coddling two men who are in love with her. For example, graduating high school, planning her future, and saving the school from a murderous Vampire King by becoming the long awaited Gargoyle Queen. The more Grace learns about Gargoyle history, the more she discovers that she is tangled in a much bigger web than predicted. As her feelings for Hudson grow and her love for Jaxon dims, Grace finds herself in an impossible situation with a destiny that sets her apart from the entire species of Gargoyles. 

Once again, Tracy Wolff displays AMAZING storytelling with creative worldbuilding. Covet is the third book in the series, and it just keeps getting better from here. 

TW: imprisonment, emotional torture


Staff Pick Badge
Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft By Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez (Illustrator), Robert Crais (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez (Illustrator), Robert Crais (Introduction by)
$19.99
ISBN: 9781600103841
Availability: Not in Stock, Available for Special Order
Published: IDW Publishing - August 18th, 2009

The fusion of horror and fantasy is something that Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez have mastered through this comic. As the Locke children are grieving their late father, the youngest sibling starts to discover magical keys in their father's childhood home.However, as these keys start to reveal horrific secrets long kept buried, the children slowly begin to piece together their father's dark past. If you are discovering this comic through the Netflix show, keep in mind that the comic is very different. However, reading it is a great way to understand the deeper lore of the keys, and it offers a much scarier take. Perfect for horror lovers


Everything I Never Told You: A Novel By Celeste Ng Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143127550
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - May 12th, 2015

Everything I Never Told You features the Lee’s, a Chinese-American family living in 1970’s Ohio. Lydia, the favorite child, is found drowned in the town lake. As they learn more about the life she had intentionally kept from them, they begin to question whether or not they had known the real her at all.

A lot of the emotions that arise in this novel are so relatable, especially to the ones who know what it’s like to be an outcast in a patriarchal, dominantly white society. It accurately represents how parental traumas spill over to the children and how it affects the entire family dynamic. I found myself tearing up, praying for the characters and feeling all of the emotion that comes with grief, missed opportunities and unhealthy projection of expectations. Beautifully written and a good read for those who love marinating in more melancholic tones. 


The Stonekeeper: A Graphic Novel (Amulet #1) By Kazu Kibuishi, Kazu Kibuishi (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Kazu Kibuishi, Kazu Kibuishi (Illustrator)
$12.99
ISBN: 9780439846813
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graphix - January 1st, 2008

Court (Crave #4) By Tracy Wolff Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781649370600
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Entangled: Teen - February 1st, 2022

Staff Pick Badge
Charm (Crave #5) By Tracy Wolff Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781649371492
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Entangled: Teen - November 8th, 2022

Cherish (Crave #6) By Tracy Wolff Cover Image
$21.99
ISBN: 9781649373168
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Entangled: Teen - May 30th, 2023

Die Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker By Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans (By (artist)) Cover Image
By Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans (By (artist))
$9.99
ISBN: 9781534312708
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Image Comics - June 11th, 2019

Spark of Ash (Ember of Night #3) By Molly E. Lee Cover Image
$17.99
Currently unavailable, email or call for more information.
ISBN: 9781649371737
Published: Entangled: Teen - May 24th, 2022

Staff Pick Badge
Tales from the Gas Station: Volume Two By Jack Townsend Cover Image
$31.19
ISBN: 9781732827882
Availability: Not in Stock, Available for Special Order
(This book cannot be returned.)
Published: Jack Townsend - April 18th, 2022

 

The saga continues, but this time, Jack is spending his days trying to avoid the psychopath who keeps trying to kill him. Thankfully, his best friend Jerry has a radio signal that tells the future, and the new deputy in charge of gas station duty is a complete badass who can do so much as blink and evil will flee. But there’s something different about the new gas station part-timer whose bright, peppy personality is contrasting the fact that she may have something to do with the larger evil that is stalking the town. Just as hilarious and ridiculous as the first book, but trust me, it all gets much darker. 

TW: racist side characters and mistreatment of P.O.C.


Staff Pick Badge
Tales from the Gas Station: Volume Three By Jack Townsend Cover Image
$32.39
ISBN: 9781732827899
Availability: Not in Stock, Available for Special Order
(This book cannot be returned.)
Published: Jack Townsend - April 18th, 2022

 

If you thought the first two books were wild, buckle in, because this one is off the charts. This glitch-in-the-matrix wildcard of a third book is hands-down the best in the series. Jack can’t trust anybody, and it’s getting more difficult with the new monster in town who can literally mimic anyone. What’s worse is the disintegration of his brain and his inability to tell what’s real and what’s not, deeming himself an unreliable narrator. Everything had me questioning whether or not I really knew the characters, and I felt so betrayed when I realized I didn’t. Once again, Jack Townsend’s fantastic writing has allowed me to escape to a horrific, hilarious world.  


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Tales from the Gas Station: Volume Four By Jack Townsend Cover Image
$34.79
ISBN: 9781732827868
Availability: Not in Stock, Available for Special Order
(This book cannot be returned.)
Published: Jack Townsend - March 29th, 2022

It’s time to face the largest evil and it’s up to Jack to get his team back together before Armageddon begins. Unfortunately for him, the memory wipe that that a neutral entity issued upon the town still grasps the badass Sheriff Amelia O’Brien, which means that she doesn’t remember anything about their meaningful, close friendship from the last few books. Worst of all, Jack’s comatose lover Sabine has resurfaced in his dreams, and she comes with many warnings of impending doom. In the conclusion of the TFTGS tetralogy, the end of the world looks and feels a little too familiar and needs a whole lot of Jack, Rosa and Jerry.


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The Kiss Quotient By Helen Hoang Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780593337219
Availability: Not in Stock, Available for Special Order
Published: Berkley - April 27th, 2021

Stella believes that the only reason she is unable to have a boyfriend is because she hasn't learned how to seduce a man properly. That's where Michael, the sexy male escort, comes into play. After one "test run session" together, they dicover that there is more to their little agreement than sex. I am beyond impressed with the wide array of emotions that Helen Hoang managed to bring out of me--longing, desire, spice, and romance. I immediately fell in love with Stella Lane and identified with many of her social/cultural struggles, as well as learned more about the autism spectrum through her storyline. Not only that, but Michael has succeeded in making me blush in all sorts of ways with how patient, considerate, romantic and sexy he is. The two of them together are absolute fire, and it had me screaming "JUST ADMIT YOU LOVE EACH OTHER ALREADY!" Helen Hoang's pacing and overall storytelling is pure art, and I couldn't ask for a better book to get me back into spicy romance. 


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The Intimacy Experiment (The Shameless Series #2) By Rosie Danan Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780593101629
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Berkley - April 6th, 2021

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The Sleepless By Victor Manibo Cover Image
Unavailable to Order
ISBN: 9781645660460
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Erewhon Books - August 2nd, 2022

The government doesn't want you to know, but there is a way that you can bio-hack yourself to not need sleep. This drug that's going around is called Levantanil, and what it does is give you something that is called hyperinsomnia, where your body just gradually becomes less and less inclined to sleep. You do not have to worry about any side effects, because the only thing that it will do is give you more time to work, be with family, and accomplish your dreams...right?

The Sleepless by Victor Manibo does exactly that and showcases the reality that comes with being physically different than everybody else. There has been a rise of people who have suddenly not been able to sleep. People are calling it a disease. Others are calling it unnatural. A majority of the world has taken a religious outlook on it, and is deeming it "against the will and creation of God." Explore the life of Jamie, a man who has not only developed sleeplessness, but has to now figure out why he is losing his memories, and whether he is the one who murdered his dead boss. Victor Manibo is such a fantastic writer, painting an advanced technological world that feels lived in and real. His immersive storytelling, fantastic representation of Filipino culture, and bisexual protagonist are what won this book over for me.


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A Very Merry Bromance (Bromance Book Club #5) By Lyssa Kay Adams Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780593332795
Availability: Not in Stock, Available for Special Order
Published: Berkley - November 1st, 2022

Gretchen and Colton are one of my top favorite couples in this series. Colton is a famous country music superstar who has lost his muse. Gretchen is a hardworking woman who shockingly hates Christmas. After an amazing one night stand, Gretchen runs out on Colton, who is left heartbroken an confused. So when she shows up at the bar Colton spends his time at and says she's there to see him, Colton thinks it's nothing short of a Christmas miracle--only it's not. It's a business proposal to be the face of her family's whiskey company. The holidays, however, make them wonder if the reason they are spending so much time together is because of the business deal, or because of love. It is a heartwarming breath of fresh air, full of wholesome romantic moments that are perfect for the holiday season, featuring our favorite bromance book club characters to stir up the comedy. Recommended for those who love the grumpy sunshine trope with a little bit of holiday spirit.


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Charm (Crave #5) By Tracy Wolff Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781649371492
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Entangled: Teen - November 8th, 2022

Grace is the savior in Jaxon's story, but now she's stuck in her own head with his psychopathic older brother, Hudson--only he's not the psychopath everyone has made him out to be. Welcome to the Shadow Realm, where there is a whole civilization under the influence of time magic and darkness. Grace has no idea why she and Hudson are in this realm together, but she sure as hell is going to use this opportunity to either convert Hudson to goodness, or annoy him enough to have him let her go. Because of course he's the one doing this...right? As the days go by, Hudson and Grace discover more things about one another, and their constant pranks on each other have suddenly shifted from mean, to playfully competitive. When the threat of a bloodthirsty dragon comes into play, Grace and Hudson venture out into this realm to discover a life beyond Grace's head, and after all they've been through together, they're starting to call it home. 

Of all of the books in this series, CHARM is by far my favorite. Not only does it show the events of the four months that Grace was encased in stone, but it displays so much growth for Grace and Hudson, both together and as individuals. CHARM is about falling in love with your best friend (without the influence of ancient magic pushing you together), and finding the person that you are meant to grow with, lead with and conquer the world with. This is not a "first love" romance, but a "true love" romance. Aside from the clear chemistry between Grace and Hudson, CHARM is action packed with dragons, demons, shadow creatures and time wizards, and quite frankly, this is only the beginning. 


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How to Sell a Haunted House By Grady Hendrix Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593201268
Availability: Not in Stock, Available for Special Order
Published: Berkley - January 17th, 2023

Some houses don't want to be sold.

Louise and Mark's parents have died, and it's up to them to sell their childhood home. The only problem getting in their way--besides their inability to get along--is the fact that something feels off about the way their parents died, and the oddities in the house feel almost alive. Every doll, every puppet, every taxidermy squirrel, every stuffed animal seems to have a mind of their own, and it's time for these siblings to face the truth. 

Grady Hendrix has a talent of making the reader feel things...anger, annoyance, disgust, fear, bravery--all of which are entirely enjoyable. Each unsettling scene will stay with you and lurk in the back of your mind days after you've finished reading it. Louise and Mark's flawed relationship as siblings is such a fun dynamic, and throwing in the haunted puppet of their childhood into the mix, makes it all the more entertaining. 


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The Golden Spoon: A Novel By Jessa Maxwell Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781668008003
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - March 7th, 2023

Welcome to Bake Week, where well renowned baker Betsy Martin and her new co-host Archie Morris judge six lucky bakers in a competition for their own cookbook publishing deal and the trophy of the Golden Spoon. The six bakers have been working so hard, going head to head with one another in a competition of skill and creativity. So how did it lead to two murders?

The Golden Spoon was such a fun read with well-rounded characters and excellent storytelling. I am not sure how Jessa Maxwell managed to navigate over 10 characters from different points of view, but she did it, and she did it well. Very charming and overall a spectacular story.