Kate's Staff Favorites

Kate began her career at Annie Bloom's in July of 2011, and she is the creative genius behind some of our best window displays.

She is a big fan of children's and young adult fiction, and is happy to offer recommendations for young readers and readers who wish they were younger. She also enjoys reading history and biography.

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Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780761184997
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Workman Publishing - July 14th, 2015

This is more than just a great cookbook full of cheap, easy, and delicious meals, though it is definitely that! It started out as the author's capstone for her master's in food studies--a free cookbook to make it easier to eat on the SNAP (food stamp) budget of $4 per person, per day. This version is the second edition, but the goal of making healthy eating more attainable remains: for each cookbook purchased, another copy is donated to someone in need, and the full text is still available for free online. But, in addition to being a book that you can feel good about yourself for buying, it's a really exceptional cookbook. I am not a great cook--in fact, I have historically done none of the cooking in my household. This means that cookbooks are often daunting for me, so when I recently needed to begin cooking, I figured something titled Good and Cheap would at least mean that if I screwed up, I wouldn't have spent a ton of money on the attempt. So far, everything I have made from this book has been stellar, in addition to being cheap and pretty quick and easy (which is saying something, since I barely knew how to saute an onion when starting out). I highly recommend this book for anyone starting out cooking, or who wants to eat healthier without spending a lot of time or trouble on the effort.


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Bitch Planet Volume 1: Extraordinary Machine Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9781632153661
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Image Comics - October 20th, 2015

The first I heard about the graphic novel Bitch Planet was hearing that women were getting tattoos referencing it... which isn't so unusual. What was unusual is that they were getting these tattoos even before the second issue came out. The comic is set in a future where the world is run by a literal patriarchy, and women can be labeled "Non Compliant" and shipped to a prison moon called Bitch Planet for crimes such as refusing to conform to beauty standards, cheating on their husbands, being lesbians, or engaging in the very vaguely defined "gender terrorism." The satire is sharp, the message is strongly feminist and body-positive, and the book does not shy away from controversial subjects. Also, there's a lot of nudity (though it's gloriously un-sexualized, and the women have realistic and varied body types, which is unusual for a comic). This is a highly entertaining, B-movie style primer to modern feminist issues, and truly one-of-a-kind. Plus, share it with someone else and you'll be guaranteed to have something to talk about the next time you see them.


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Landline Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9781250049544
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - July 7th, 2015

Having read several of Rainbow Rowell's books for teens, I was very excited to pick up her first foray into adult fiction, and it did not disappoint. Something of a modern fairy tale for grown ups, the center of "Landline" is a telephone that allows Georgie McCool, a television writer who is a hairs breadth from divorce, to call her husband Neal. Unlike her cell phone, however, the landline calls him fourteen years earlier, when he and Georgie were a hairs breadth from breaking up. The narrative of "Landline" goes back and forth, from Georgie's present to her remembered past; falling for Neal, and falling apart. The beauty of this sweet, simple love story is in the way that Rowell writes, luminous and realistic all at once. She perfectly captures what it is like to fall in love, but more than that, she captures what it means to choose someone, over and over, despite everything that may be flawed about them; to be in love even when being in love is the hardest thing you have ever done.


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Eleanor & Park Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250012579
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - February 26th, 2013

If you love John Green's books and wish he would write faster, Rainbow Rowell is your new best friend. Eleanor & Park is a love story in the vein of The Fault in Our Stars--well written, realistic fiction about first love and growing up that will appeal to adults as well as teenagers. Eleanor is a "big girl" with flaming red hair, several siblings, and a vicious stepfather who drinks away what little money the family has, leaving her to start at a new school without so much as a toothbrush. Park is a half-Korean kid who is popular enough to get by without being bullied, but whose preference for punk music and comics makes him a bit of an outsider, determined to simply keep his head down. At first, Park is horrified by Eleanor and the fact that she sits next to him on the bus--he is sure he will be teased merely for sitting next to her. Think you've heard this story before? The magic of Eleanor & Park is that it takes elements that have all been done before and weaves them together into a new whole that is entirely believable and absorbing. The writing is beautiful, and perfectly captures what it is like to be young and in love, despite the fact that young love doesn't last, despite how terrifying it can be to trust someone else that deeply, when you don't even trust yourself yet.


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A Tale for the Time Being Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143124870
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - December 31st, 2013

One of the best books I've read in the last five years - words fail me to adequately describe the beauty of this novel. The two-part plot is told half though the journal of Naoko, a teenage girl whose family has moved to Japan from Silicon Valley, and half from the point of view of Ruth, a Canadian woman who discovers the diary washed up on the beach a year after the Japanese tsunami. Ruth becomes obsessed with Naoko, and the novel has a slight magic-realism touch as their stories seem to become intertwined.

Beautiful, dimmensional characters and luminous writing make this a book not to be missed.  -- Kate


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The Ocean at the End of the Lane Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780062255662
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow & Company - June 3rd, 2014

Like many of Neil Gaiman's books, this novel is a bit of a weird one--a mix of realism and myth, where the ordinary has strange depths and the supernatural is in many ways mundane. A farm pond that is also an ocean, a mean nanny whose smiles hide a world-destroying evil--for Gaiman, ordinary experiences are often a shell that covers the true strangeness of life. Told in the first person by an unnamed narrator with a child's unflappable acceptance of the bizarre, the story has the dreamy quality of a half-forgotten memory. This lyrical prose offsets the dark happenings of the story, and while the plot seems to tie up neatly at the end, the reader is left with many questions, the answers to which will only bring more questions to the surface.


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Life After Life Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780316176491
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - January 7th, 2014

Structured as a fugue, "Life After Life" follows the unusual existance of Ursula Todd, born 1910, died 1910, and 1911, and 1930, and 1944, and 1912, and...
Fated to re-live the same life again and again, Ursula's story is a beautifully written answer to the question "what if you had the chance to do it again, but differently?" Funny and touching by turns, I found this book hard to put down, and wished it could have lasted forever. --Kate


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The Song of Achilles Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780062060624
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco Press - August 28th, 2012

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This lyrical re-telling of the Illiad is the best adaptation of Homer that I have ever read. Beautifully written, it is told from the point of view of Patrocles, the boyhood friend and, later, the lover of Achilles. Madeline Miller’s deft weaving of a gritty, realistic world with hauntingly beautiful descriptions of relationships and emotions make for a powerful novel that brings the characters of The Illiad vibrantly to life.

 


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Divergent Cover Image
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9780062024039
Availability: Special Order
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - February 28th, 2012

Like “The Hunger Games”, this book is action packed and aimed at a YA audience, but with great character development and a richly detailed world, this novel is not just for young adults! 16 year old Beatrice Prior lives in a society where at the age of 16 all children must choose among five per-defined “factions”, where each faction has different, strongly held values that members must conform to. But Beatrice doesn’t fall neatly into one of the five factions, a fact that she must hide from everyone if she wants to survive.


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Extra Yarn Cover Image
By Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780061953385
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen - January 17th, 2012

Stylish and just the right amount silly! "Extra Yarn" has a moral, but isn't going to hit you over the head with it. The illustrations are luminous and anyone would want to live in the colorful, cozy town at the end.


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The Dot Cover Image
$14.00
ISBN: 9780763619619
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - September 15th, 2003

A perfect gift to encourage children to be brave artistically. Also a great choice for anyone who doesn't have enough faith in their own abilities and talents.


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The House at Tyneford Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780452297647
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Plume Books - December 27th, 2011

"The House at Tynford" is the perfect period piece - full of great detail and historical accuracy without being too heavy-handed in the way of slang or shoehorning in famous figures from WWII. The characters and world are exceedingly well developed, and the plot is romantic but not saccharine. I couldn't put it down and found myself reading bits out loud to whoever happened to be nearby. This is a great choice for anyone missing "Downton Abbey", and anyone who likes their fiction to come with a strong foundation in history!


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A Game of Thrones (HBO Tie-In Edition): A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780553593716
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bantam - March 22nd, 2011

"A Game of Thrones" is the first book in George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy series "A Song of Ice and Fire" and my hands-down favorite current fantasy series. Less swords-and-sorcerers and more political intrigue than most fantasy series, this is fantasy for people who don't like reading fantasy.


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The Mysterious Benedict Society Cover Image
By Trenton Lee Stewart, Carson Ellis (Illustrator)
$8.99
ISBN: 9780316003957
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Young Readers - April 2008

This is the sort of kids series that I always am on the lookout for. A series of mysterious tests bring four kids together to solve a mystery and save the world. Orphans, boarding school, Morse code, what's not to like? And that's just in the first book! --Kate


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In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780307408853
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Broadway Books - May 1st, 2012

This true story of the 1933 American Ambassador to Berlin and his family gives an idea of how easy it was to disregard the threat posed by Hitler and Nazism until too late. "In the Garden of Beasts" reads like a thriller, but is in fact a very well-researched piece of history. --Kate


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The Family Fang Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780061579059
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco Press - April 17th, 2012

"The Family Fang" is hysterical - you will want to read parts aloud to whoever happens to be nearby. The artistic parents in this dysfunctional family have always incorporated their children Annie and Buster (Child A and Child B) into their performance pieces. Flashbacks throughout the book let the reader experience the strange happenings that the Fangs manufacture and document, and present-day chapters explore how Annie and Buster try to figure out who they are outside of their parents' influence. --Kate


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The Night Circus Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780307744432
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - July 3rd, 2012

A fairy-tale for grown ups, “The Night Circus” is an enchanting tour through an almost-possible world. The main focus of the book is the circus itself, rather than the plot or a single character, and the novel's strength lies in its world-building. The plot is slow-moving and the characters are sketched rather than fully developed, but this makes it easy for the reader to slip themselves into the world of the novel, and only adds to the surreal quality. A wonderful, escapist read that just about anyone will enjoy. --Kate


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A Discovery of Witches Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143119685
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - December 27th, 2011

While not great literature, this book is a lot of fun. It has good world-building and a really well developed alternate-history timeline, plus I like all of the tidbits on medieval texts and alchemy that are slipped in. I would recommend this highly if what you are looking for is a fast, entertaining read that features magic and which you don’t have to feel too embarrassed about reading. That being said, it is very much a first novel, and seems like it should honestly be aimed more at young adults, i.e. high school to college age. I am really rooting for this author though, I have high hopes that her writing style will develop into something pretty good as this trilogy goes on. --Kate


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Unfamiliar Fishes Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781594485640
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - March 6th, 2012

By turns insightful, irreverent, and laugh-out-loud funny, Sarah Vowell takes the reader on an unforgettable tour of Hawaiian history. From warrior kings to missionaries desperately trying to turn the paradise that is the Hawaiian Islands into a new New England, Vowell's sharp wit and impeccable research make for a fun introduction to an often overlooked story. --Kate


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Boy and Bot Cover Image
By Ame Dyckman, Dan Yaccarino (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780375867569
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers - April 10th, 2012

Everyone is different, but taking care of your friends is always important. This silly, sweet story will make you want your own robot (if you don't want one already, that is). --Kate


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Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale Cover Image
By Mo Willems, Mo Willems (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780786818709
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Hyperion Books for Children - September 2004

The subtitle says it all. This is "A Cautionary Tale" that all parents will want to read, enhanced by wonderful illustrations that combine colorful cartoons with black and white photos. --Kate


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I Want My Hat Back Cover Image
By Jon Klassen, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780763655983
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - September 27th, 2011

Very simple sentences and quirky illustrations belie the complexity of this story; as a bear seeks his lost and much loved hat children are encouraged to make inferences about what is going on behind the words. --Kate


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The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780307382474
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Broadway Books - May 14th, 2013

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Written with charm and thoughtfulness, this biography of the long-forgotten hero whose exploits inspired The Count of Monte Christo and The Three Musketeers reads almost like a novel. Alex Dumas is a figure full of style, panache, and pathos. This book is a must-read for those interested in 18th century history, swash-buckling adventure, or in finding out how a former slave from Haiti rose to be a general in the French army. --Kate

 


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The Dinner Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780385346856
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth Press - October 29th, 2013

When I began reading “The Dinner”, I was charmed by the narrator’s wry humor as he and his wife meet his unlikable brother and sister in law for dinner at a pretentious restaurant. When I finished the novel the next day (after barely having managed to set it down long enough to sleep) I felt traumatized in the best way, and set out to make everyone I know read it, too. This book goes from comedy of manners to psychological thriller, leading the reader one course at a time through the minds and actions of a family that is more than it seems. If you have ever looked around a restaurant and imagined what the other diners are thinking, this book is for you. If you have ever thought about how far you would go to protect your family, this book is for you. If you’re looking for a book that you can’t put down, pick this one up. --Kate