Ruby's Staff Favorites

 

 

Ruby joined the Annie Bloom's staff in 2013. She enjoys fiction (especially science fiction, short stories, and YA) and history. 

Past Staff Favorites include: Loitering, The Goldfinch, Of Things Gone Astray, The Glass Sentence Series & The Crimson Skew, Margaret the First, Bone Gap, Book of Ages 

 

 

Staff Pick Logo
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781594634642
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - March 7th, 2017

The title of Helen Oyeyemi's short story collection is as delicious on the tongue, as obfuscating and obvious as the stories within: What is Not Yours is Not Yours. In "Books and Roses" romance and tenderness fight tooth and nail with the locked secrets of the past. In "A Brief History of the Homely Wench Society" a different kind of college club tries to figure out its place in the 21st century. A great introduction to Oyeyemi's deft work in the strange, the feminist, the modern fairytale.


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The Night Ocean Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781101981085
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - March 7th, 2017

Tumble into a series of literary rabbit holes, packed with anti-heroes and fiction stranger than truth. What a trip!


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The Vanishing Velazquez: A 19th Century Bookseller's Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781476762180
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - November 8th, 2016

The Vanishing Velazquez is a poetic and scholarly treasure hunt. Laura Cumming reconstructs the story of a bookseller and his quest to prove the existence of a long lost Velazquez portrait of Charles I. John Snare, who worked as a bookseller and printer before claiming to have discovered a Velazquez painting at an estate sale (at which point his life dramatically changed direction), intrigued Cumming from the moment she heard of him. Cumming’s own quest takes her from Spain, to England, and finally to America in a centuries-long chase for the elusive combination of paint and canvas that turns lives upside down. Cumming deftly balances the combination of biography and vivid artistic description; although Snare’s Velazquez is elusive, Cumming gives us the next best thing. Interspersing chapters on the dramatic Snare case with illuminating descriptions of Velazquez’s art and world, Cumming captures the feeling of standing before a great work of art—and it’s this feeling that bonds Cumming to John Snare (and us to her story).


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Landfalls Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781250097491
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador USA - December 6th, 2016

In this historical epic told in a series of vignettes, Williams is deft at bridging the gap between history and speculation. This character-driven account of a doomed French expedition brings to mind the historical fiction of Laila Lalami or Amitav Ghosh--rich in texture and character and research. There is also a dusting of playfulness that comes through even when the stakes are highest--a real treat!


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Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143109945
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - January 10th, 2017

Living in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and pre-civil-war Syria, Katherine Zoepf worked on the interviews that would become Excellent Daughters. Publishing her work piecemeal brought both encouragement and chastisement from those she had already talked to. This book is the result of these ongoing conversations, explanations, and critiques. Zoepf's interviews with women in the Middle East tell a clear and reflective story while refusing to simplify a diverse and vital group of voices. Zoepf's subjects confront everything from Disney-themed weddings and the job market, to family- and state-perpetrated violence against women. Zoepf does not pretend to agree with everything she hears, but she confronts her own reactions with thoughtful, incisive prose. Wholly focused on women and dominated by their first person voices, Excellent Daughters is an engaging book that comes at an opportune moment and should be read by Western men and women alike. We rarely hear the opinions of young Muslim, Middle Eastern women in Western media, and Zoepf's work serves as a refreshing rebuttal to this neglect. Excellent Daughters is a powerful work of journalism.


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Sorcerer to the Crown Cover Image
By Zen Cho
$15.00
ISBN: 9780425283400
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ace Books - July 12th, 2016

When Fairyland cuts off England's supply of magic (leaving them at the mercy of the French, which is not to be tolerated) it's up to Zacharias, the new head of the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers to get it all back. And keep the Society from falling apart beneath him. Oh, and stay alive. Prunella is faced with a whole other set of problems when she discovers the extent of her own magical powers in a country where women with a hint of witchery are ignored or locked away. Ready to overturn all the proprieties constraining Zacharias, Prunella adds a nice dash of chaos to his beleaguered quest. In this delightful (and pitch-perfect) take on Regency fiction, Zen Cho doesn't let anything slip through the cracks. She gives voice to great characters who are in a unique position to the see the disparities of their world, and Sorcerer to the Crown is both an ode to the fiction of Georgette Heyer and Susanna Clarke and a call to expand the context (historical, political) of nineteenth-century magical fiction. And of course, great storytelling too!


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Up to This Pointe Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780553537673
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Books for Young Readers - January 19th, 2016

Jennifer Longo's second novel proves that her skill for finding humor, romance, and self-discovery in the strangest places isn't going anywhere. In Up to this Pointe a San Franciscan ballet dancer takes a giant leap away from everything she's ever known in order to figure out what she really wants. Like other favorites (Eleanor & Park, I Capture the Castle) Up to this Pointe captures both the dark and the light sides of figuring out just exactly where we fit in to this crazy world. Great characters and a plot that is just strange enough to keep you guessing -- this is a winner! (Don't miss her first YA novel either; Six Feet Over It is written for a slightly younger audience -- think just starting high school instead of leaving it.)


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S.P.Q.R: A History of Ancient Rome Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781631492228
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - September 6th, 2016

Mary Beard writes conscious, entertaining history by keeping in all the gritty bits that make the job of a historian so fun—and so frustrating. Whether or not you are familiar with Rome’s political intrigues, this is a book that breaks down the details of Ancient Roman life for a modern audience: what movies gloss over or misrepresent, what myths are overzealously categorized as fact, what exciting, tangled connections rest in the earth of the Mediterranean. Ancient Roman voices and thoughts were varied, cynical and idealistic by turns, stretching over millennia and confronting their own history—from what Rome has left us, we have much to sift through, and much to recognize.


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Six of Crows Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781627792127
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Henry Holt & Company - September 29th, 2015

Six of Crows might take place in the same world as Leigh Bardugo's previous series but this is a whole new cast: six down-on-their-luck (or just plain unlucky) friends and enemies join forces in the heist of a lifetime. Adventure, dark pasts, and high stakes make this novel hum. Told in alternating perspectives, Bardugo writes a great ensemble--so much fun, and worth staying up late to finish. (Warning: we have to wait until next year for the sequel!)


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The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer Cover Image
$28.95
ISBN: 9780307908278
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon Books - April 21st, 2015

This graphic novel satisfies every history, science, and steampunk-ish craving I've had recently. Padua's art is open, diligent, and funny--just like her stories. Lady Lovelace and Charles Babbage take on poetry, computers, and Lewis Carroll in this delightful (and footnote packed) graphic novel.
 


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Ancillary Justice Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780316246620
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Orbit - October 1st, 2013

Ann Leckie’s series has the feel of some of the great science fiction novels written in the previous century. Genevieve Valentine, writing for NPR, wasn’t wrong when she said that this is “a space opera that skillfully handles both choruses and arias.” To take the metaphor a step further, Leckie is also a master of the crescendo—Ancillary Justice may start slowly, but it’s certainly worth it. The series follows Breq, the last AI “body” of a spacefaring warship. Forced to confront her own role in a burgeoning civil war, Breq sets herself a quest of redemption. It’s truly Breq’s restrained (repressed, some of her lieutenants might argue) narration that makes this series as fun as it is; with gender politics and space imperialism thrown in, this is a series to savor! 


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The Hungry Tide Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780618711666
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - June 2006

Amitav Ghosh began his career as a historian, criticized for his tendancy to write lush and novel-esque histories. We're all happy he turned to fiction and brought all the context, detail, and research of his former trade with him. The Hungry Tide is a contemporary story about saving (and fighting) the tigers and dolphins of the Sundarbans. Most importantly it's about the people whose desires tug and tear at the natural world around them. If you've read Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers you'll notice some similar themes: aid, environmentalism, and the politics of Southeast Asia.


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The Invention of Nature Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780345806291
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - October 4th, 2016

Wulf is one of my favorite science history writers – not least because she always manages to combine language and science, nature and poetry—and Humboldt is a perfect subject for her. With this engaging biography, Alexander von Humboldt is brought to life in all his “chased by 10,000 pigs” glory. Wulf reminds us with vibrancy why we should still care about Humboldt today (alongside some great cameos from 19th century characters of all kinds): climate change, plate tectonics, South American revolutions, the idea that nature is an interconnected web.