Joanna's Staff Favorites

Joanna has been at Annie Bloom's since November 2021, and has loved every second of it. She primarily reads young adult, sci-fi/fantasy, graphic novels, children's books, and romance (so much romance!), and loves nothing better than giving long lists of recommendations. She's delighted that Annie Bloom's has started a new romance-specific section, nestled between fiction and mystery. Come talk to her about books and Dungeons & Dragons.

Staff Pick Badge
Iron Widow Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780735269934
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (updated daily)
Published: Penguin Teen Canada - September 21st, 2021

A brutal, action-packed mix of sci-fi and fantasy inspired by the only female emperor of China. After her sister is killed by a mecha pilot, Wu Zetian knows there is only one path forward: revenge. This book has anime-style giant mechas, gender criticism, romance, a war against aliens, and a heroine at its helm that I truly believe could take over the world. Hands-down my favorite book of 2021.


Staff Pick Badge
Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Series #2) Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781250313218
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (updated daily)
Published: Tordotcom - September 21st, 2021

No book has blown my mind (or activated my queer pining!) quite like the first two installments in Tamsyn Muir's Locked Tomb series. Set in a complex universe with both reanimated skeletons and sleek space ships, Gideon the Ninth explains absolutely nothing to you. Instead, it drops you into the deep end and trusts that you'll learn how to swim through the soup by the end—and somehow, Harrow is even more bonkers. I might have been intimidated away had I not been so incredibly invested in these characters—not to mention puns and meme references that had me banging my head on the wall and a dad joke that actually made me scream. Harrow and Gideon (both the characters and the books) are everything to me, and I'll gladly hyperfixate on them until Nona the Ninth comes out in September, at which point I expect I'll have a new love. Please come talk to me about these books!


Staff Pick Badge
Legends & Lattes: A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes Cover Image
$15.99
Email or call to check availability.
ISBN: 9798985663211
Published: Cryptid Audio LLC - February 22nd, 2022

Do you play Dungeons & Dragons but end up befriending beholders and being kind to kobolds? Do you long for high fantasy that maybe isn't so end-of-the-world high stakes? Are you feeling a little bit emotionally vulnerable about where your life's at right now? Legends & Lattes is exactly what you need. Debut author Travis Baldree is here to give you a break from harsh reality with this cozy, slice-of-life fantasy gem. Full of sweet, non-human fantasy folks just trying their best, Legends & Lattes invites you to grab a steaming mug of coffee and a cinnamon roll fresh from the oven, pull up a chair, and stay awhile.

I need a thousand more cozy fantasies, and I need them now.


Staff Pick Badge
Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781665900706
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (updated daily)
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - May 10th, 2022

A fantastic middle grade adventure, and one I simply won't stop talking about, ever. Middle school kid Zachary Ying has always been a little bit out of place—never more so than when the spirit of the First Emperor of China possesses his AR headset and drags him on an absolutely bonkers adventure across China involving heists, legends, tyrants, and epic battles. And amid all the twists and turns, at its core, this book has incredible heart. You should absolutely buy Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor for the kids in your life, and also for yourself. No equivocations.

With this as Xiran Jay Zhao's middle grade debut following their veritable YA masterpiece, Iron Widow, they have cemented themself as one of my all-time favorite authors.


Staff Pick Badge
The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780063060234
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (updated daily)
Published: Balzer + Bray - May 17th, 2022

An absolutely gorgeous YA contemporary, a heroine at its center with incredible grit, heart, and voice. Yamilet is a YA heroine for the ages, incredibly real and deeply relatable, and the writing itself is piercing and true. At once hilarious and heartbreaking, this book is one I'll be yelling about for a long time to come. Many tears were shed—and I can't wait to jump back in and feel it all again.


Staff Pick Badge
All My Rage: A Novel Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780593202340
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (updated daily)
Published: Razorbill - March 1st, 2022

All My Rage is a stunning, complex novel about family, trauma, love, rage, and hope spanning two generations of Pakistani Americans. I'm convinced that these characters are as real as anyone I know. Tahir's prose is a lyrical gut punch, bruising and tender in equal measure, that left my heart feeling raw for days. Fans of Tahir's previous work and newcomers alike will be struck by this unforgettable book.


Staff Pick Badge
Legendborn (The Legendborn Cycle) Cover Image
$13.99
ISBN: 9781534441613
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (updated daily)
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - February 1st, 2022

Legendborn is the Black Girl Magic Arthurian retelling that you've been waiting for. Secret societies, generational magic, descendants of King Arthur's Round Table, a war against demons, and a teen girl drowning in grief who threatens to disrupt the whole system. Bree is a refreshing protagonist with grit and a level of assertiveness I can only aspire to, and Deonn handles the narrative deftly and with flair. An absolute rush of a read, with some of my favorite characters in recent memory. I cannot wait for the second book!


Staff Pick Badge
Little Thieves Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250191908
Availability: Special Order - arrival estimates will be provided when your order is processed
Published: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) - October 19th, 2021

Vanja is one of my favorite YA protagonists in years—she's not good, not nice, not sweet. Instead, she's greedy, vicious, and clever. Her journey involves heists (gotta save up money to flee the country—and a distasteful future bound to one of her (literal) godmothers), running from a nosy detective-in-training who's hot on her trail (really, doesn't he have anything better to do?) and an eclectic and supportive found family (ugh, emotions). Fans of Six of Crows will love this group of miscreants and their shenanigans. An absolute gem of a book. (If you know, you know.)


Staff Pick Badge
All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780765397539
Availability: Special Order - arrival estimates will be provided when your order is processed
Published: Tordotcom - May 2nd, 2017

I adore this quirky little sci-fi series! Murderbot is my favorite robot character in years — endlessly charming and (sometimes distressingly) relatable. The adventures in each novella are bite-sized in length, but hold a whole lot of fascinating sci-fi worldbuilding, human (and non-human) emotions that punch you right where you're tender, and humor. I would die for Murderbot — a sentiment, of course, that would make it very, very uncomfortable.


Staff Pick Badge
This Is How You Lose the Time War Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781534430990
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (updated daily)
Published: Gallery / Saga Press - March 17th, 2020

This gorgeous sci-fi novella follows two women (rival agents in a war across space and time) who begin to connect by leaving a series of letters for each other in various timelines. This book is lyrical and intense, heart-wrenching and soul-healing—and, at its core, deeply romantic. The prose is so beautiful that I found myself snapping my fingers like I was at a poetry reading, with not an unnecessary word in sight. It's astonishing how well co-authors Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone are able to mesh their writing together. I recommend this book unequivocally for any fan of sci-fi, romance, or poetry—there's something in there for any of you. A perfect book.


Staff Pick Badge
Witchlings Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781338745528
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (updated daily)
Published: Scholastic Press - April 5th, 2022

Adorable and high stakes all at once! This charming adventure involves a magical town, an impossible task, several toads, and an uncertain destiny for three intrepid young witches. Claribel Ortega balances the whimsy and wonder of a magical society with the incredible danger inherent in a world of monsters (both supernatural and human). In Witchlings, friendship is magic—but only if you're also willing to fight hard, be clever, and take risks. A wonderful book that I hope brings on a new era of magical children's books.


Staff Pick Badge
Spoiler Alert: A Novel Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780063005549
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (updated daily)
Published: Avon - October 6th, 2020

This book instantly became one of the most important books I've ever read—as a fat woman, a longtime fanfic reader, and an avid disliker of the final season of Game of Thrones. It's funny, charming, introspective, and healing, all at once, with a couple at the center that is so easy to root for. Marcus is a gem of a hero and I aspire to be more like April/become her best friend. (Also, the miscommunication/ keeping secrets trope is actually done super well here!) I read Spoiler Alert during a particularly rough time in my life, but this book was there to heal pieces of me I didn't know were hurt. This book upgraded Olivia Dade from my TBR (extremely long) to my insta-buy list (extremely short).


Staff Pick Badge
Ophelia After All Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781250797308
Availability: Special Order - arrival estimates will be provided when your order is processed
Published: Feiwel & Friends - February 8th, 2022

A simply gorgeous coming-of-age novel about questioning your queerness, relationships, and identity. Racquel Marie deftly balances banter and charm with serious introspectiveness, exploration, and the high stakes of high school. I needed Ophelia when I was a teenager, but I'm glad I at least have her now. This book has my whole heart (and made me cry in a coffee shop at eight o'clock in the morning).


Staff Pick Badge
The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780525556534
Availability: Special Order - arrival estimates will be provided when your order is processed
Published: Dutton - May 18th, 2021

John Green is a prolific author of young adult fiction (of which I am a huge fan), but in my opinion, The Anthropocene Reviewed is his best work yet. His writing is both entertaining and deeply revealing as he reviews various items, moments, and concepts on a five-star scale. I cried three separate times over sports alone while reading this book, and I don't even care about sports. This form really suits his writing. This is due, at least in part, to his 15 years' worth of experience making video content for the Vlogbrothers YouTube channel he shares with his brother, Hank—videos which are, in essence, personal essays. The Anthropocene Reviewed is the story of what makes us human, told in bite-sized pieces. A truly precious book.


Staff Pick Badge
Portrait of a Thief: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780593184738
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (updated daily)
Published: Tiny Reparations Books - April 5th, 2022

The literary heist novel of my dreams. A team of young Chinese Americans comes together to steal back Chinese artifacts from several Western museums, with a reward of fifty million dollars on the line—along with their promising futures if they fail. Grace D. Li weaves a narrative that is as much an engrossing heist story as it is a reflection on the Chinese diaspora, a critique of colonialism, and a series of complex character portraits. I was swept away by the high stakes, the writing, and the characters themselves, and I can't wait until more people get a chance to read it so I can talk about it. A fantastic debut—I eagerly anticipate whatever Li writes next.


Staff Pick Badge
Weather Girl Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780593200148
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (updated daily)
Published: Berkley - January 11th, 2022

A depressed-but-always-smiling-for-the-camera TV meteorologist and a single dad sports reporter star in this charming, funny, deeply personal office romance set in a Seattle news station. Ari Abrams and Russell Barringer (casual office acquaintances) team up to get their bosses (notoriously warring exes) back together—but in the process, they find themselves becoming something more than casual. Solomon’s writing is as delicious as always, with witty dialogue, a love interest that will steal your heart, and a narrator that just may make you feel a little less alone out there.


Staff Pick Badge
Neon Gods (Dark Olympus) Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781728231730
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (updated daily)
NON-RETURNABLE. May take longer to arrive. Please confirm this is the edition you want.
Published: Sourcebooks Casablanca - June 1st, 2021

A lush, contemporary retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth. Persephone escapes the glowing metropolis of Olympus and the fate Zeus has planned for her, and takes refuge on the other side of the River Styx with the mysterious, powerful Hades —but even as Persephone and Hades start to fall in love, Hades is keeping secrets. Katee Robert writes some of the sexiest romance books today, and Neon Gods is one of her very best. Fans of Lore Olympus looking for more Hades/Persephone content, as well as lovers of the spicier side of romance in general, will love this series starter.


Staff Pick Badge
It Happened One Summer: A Novel Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780063045651
Availability: Backordered - availability and arrival estimates will be provided when your order is processed
Published: Avon - July 13th, 2021

A heroine inspired by Alexis from Schitt's Creek (a rich girl cut off from her funds and sent to a small Pacific Northwest fishing town) and a grumpy fisherman widower hero are an unlikely pair, but Piper and Brendan instantly became one of my favorite couples in romance. Not only is this book incredibly sexy, it also managed to hit me right in some of my most vulnerable spots. Like Alexis before her, Piper will worm her way into your heart until you want only the best for her—fortunately, Brendan definitely qualifies. I got this book from the library in an attempt to curb my buying habits, but ended up buying it from Annie Bloom's before I was even done—I just knew it would be one I'd want to keep forever.


Staff Pick Badge
The Duke Who Didn't Cover Image
$18.39
ISBN: 9798685689276
Availability: Special Order - arrival estimates will be provided when your order is processed
NON-RETURNABLE. May take longer to arrive. Please confirm this is the edition you want.
Published: Independently Published - September 21st, 2020

The Duke Who Didn't is one of my go-to comfort reads—relentlessly kind and hopeful. Jeremy Wentworth is swoonworthy, not primarily because he's smooth or attractive or powerful, but simply because of how deeply in love with Chloe he is from page one. Chloe, in turn, is a heroine for the ages: smart, practical, and endearingly afraid to hope. This is perhaps Courtney Milan's best historical so far (which is saying quite a lot). Note that this book is non-returnable, so keep that in mind when ordering—but I promise it's worth it.


Staff Pick Badge
Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Series #1) Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781250313188
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (updated daily)
Published: Tordotcom - July 14th, 2020

Sometimes a book gives you everything you didn't know you needed—in this case, it was a couple of queer idiots in space doing necromancy and swinging swords and hating each other *so much* (but they can’t stop thinking about each other). I spent most of Gideon the Ninth confused as hell, and I loved every second of it. I’d get to the point where I’d wonder, “Am I reading…a pretentious book?” but then a second later it would slap me in the face with the most absurd meme reference or pun. It’s probably not for everyone, but to me, this series is a damn delight, and I cannot wait for book 3.


Staff Pick Badge
Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny Cover Image
$16.49
ISBN: 9781724106506
Availability: Special Order - arrival estimates will be provided when your order is processed
NON-RETURNABLE. May take longer to arrive. Please confirm this is the edition you want.
Published: Independently Published - September 27th, 2018

Rafe is one of my most precious, break-glass-in-case-of-emergency comfort books; I reread it at least once a year. Dr. Sloan Copeland (a young surgeon who's the mother of precocious Black twins, recently divorced, and in desperate need of a new nanny) makes for a smart, vivacious, deeply relatable narrator. Our hero, Rafe, is truly a man pulled straight out of a dream—he's got tattoos, a motorcycle, and serious kitchen skills, and he's kind, sensitive, and attentive, both in and out of bed. Other than a very brief nasty moment with Sloan's ex near the end, this book is 100% pure comfort. Reading this book is self-care. The sequel, Xeni, is equally wonderful. (Note that this book is non-returnable, but it is absolutely worth it.)


Staff Pick Badge
Unmasked by the Marquess: The Regency Impostors Cover Image
$5.99
ISBN: 9780062821607
Availability: Special Order - arrival estimates will be provided when your order is processed
Published: Avon Impulse - May 29th, 2018

One of my all-time favorite historical romances. In Unmasked by the Marquess, Cat Sebastian delivers a dramatic, emotional, cleverly plotted Regency romance while also exploring queerness and nonbinary identities. I've always loved characters who disguise themselves as other genders (whether for safety, advantage, or fun) and this book brings the irrevocable queerness of the act to the forefront. Of course, it's the tenderness and emotional depth of Robin and Alistair's relationship that has me coming back to this book again and again.


Staff Pick Badge
Love, Z Cover Image
By Jessie Sima, Jessie Sima (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781481496773
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (updated daily)
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - December 18th, 2018

Love, Z is an utterly precious story about a robot who wants to know the meaning of love, a word that just does not compute for their robot family. So, Z goes on an adventure to try and find out what love means, and asks a lot of charming characters along the way for what they think the meaning is. In the end, when Z's family finds them, they're so worried about Z—and Z realizes they've known the feeling of love all along, even if they didn't know the definition. Jessie Sima is one of my go-to children's author/illustrators for good reason. This book is so sweet and emotional that I cried typing this review.