Jenna's Picks

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

Reviewed by: 
Jenna

 

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In the Dream House: A Memoir By Carmen Maria Machado Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781644450383
Availability: Not in stock. At Our Partner Warehouse: Usually Ships in 4-7 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - December 1st, 2020

This book is such a multifaceted thing: a stylistic geode full of different, hard, sparkling pieces of Machado’s insides. It’s beautiful and strange and personal and is an inventive exploration of love, queerness, and abuse as much as it is a memoir. Unlike anything I’ve ever read, Machado’s voice is one of my favorites.


The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

Reviewed by: 
Jenna

 

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The Two Princesses of Bamarre By Gail Carson Levine Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780064409667
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Published: HarperCollins - April 24th, 2012

A favorite from my past and a favorite now! A book about fear and adventure and coming into one’s own all wrapped up in the fierce love between sisters. This is an exemplary quest tale with an unlikely heroine- fabulous and fantastical


All's Well by Mona Awad

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Jenna

 

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All's Well: A Novel By Mona Awad Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781982169671
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Published: S&S/ Marysue Rucci Books - August 2nd, 2022

Did Mona Awad write this book for me personally? Jury’s still out but it certainly felt that way! A trippy and giddy descent into madness with ex-actress-begrudgingly-turned-college-professor Miranda as she directs her reluctant students in her swan song play All’s Well That Ends Well. Awad explores pain, talent, lost dreams, grasping aspiration, and Shakespeare with her razor-edged prose. This story cuts then casts a spell with the blood.


Little Rabbit by Alyssa Songsiridej

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Jenna

 

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Little Rabbit By Alyssa Songsiridej Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781639731657
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Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - November 14th, 2023

This is not going to be a book for everyone but wow was it ever the book for me. A complicated, character driven, literary observation of the budding relationship between a younger queer writer and an older, successful, male choreographer. It’s lovely and imperfect and has a very compelling ability to keep you at arm’s length while turning a deeply intimate lens on power dynamics, identity, sexuality, artistry and friendship. Songsiridej’s writing gripped me from the first and still hasn’t fully let me go.


The Book of the Most Precious Substance by Sara Gran

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Jenna

 

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The Book of the Most Precious Substance By Sara Gran Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9780578947099
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Published: Dreamland Books - February 8th, 2022

Gran’s writing and protagonist, former author Lily, are so pragmatic that it’s not until you’re in the middle of one sex ritual or another that you realize how buck wild what’s going on in this story is! Taking place at the messy intersection of art, power, and wealth this book is a wild ride full of desire and pretension and ancient alchemical manuscripts. Reading this is like eating one of the many delicious meals Gran describes: decadent, flavorful, rich!


Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls

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Jenna

 

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Mrs. Caliban By Rachel Ingalls, Rivka Galchen (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Rachel Ingalls, Rivka Galchen (Introduction by)
$13.95
ISBN: 9780811226691
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Published: New Directions - November 28th, 2017

This small, sci-fi tinged book probes womanhood, personhood, and being in love with an amphibious man with impressive depth and skill. The story is as cleanly and carefully kept as the housewife protagonist’s suburban home. The frankness of Ingalls’ writing makes this into some sort of mid-century modern fairytale that grips you from the first to the last and has so much to say while it’s got you. If you like a weird book read this one- it’s a strange delight of the highest order.


Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs by Jamie Loftus

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Jenna

 

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Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs By Jamie Loftus Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781250847744
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Published: Forge Books - May 23rd, 2023

This is your smart, funny, acerbic,friend talking at you a mile a minute about their latest hyperfixation which, in this case, is hot dogs. This is a cross country travelogue steeped in meat-sweat and post-pandemic uncertainty with detours through such territory as gas station pickles and the politics of competitive eating. This is an appropriately angry critique of America via as patriotic a symbol as they come: The All American Hot Dog. You can keep loving hot dogs just let Loftus complicate that love for you. You can thank me later.


The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman

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Jenna
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The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction By Neil Gaiman Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9780062262271
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Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - May 16th, 2017

I would read Neil Gaiman’s grocery lists. That’s not what this book is, I’m just establishing a baseline. No, this book is a collection of Gaiman writing about things he loves from books to music to libraries to art itself. His empathy, interest, and insight shine and honestly inspire in this collection--I’ve picked up many of the books whose forwards are in this collection, my play hours of Tori Amos went way up, as do my serotonin levels whenever I read from this collection. Truly great. 


The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

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Jenna
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The Hollow Places: A Novel By T. Kingfisher Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781534451124
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Published: Gallery Books - October 6th, 2020

Is this a horror novel? Yes. Is it scary? Yes! But is it also immensely witty with one of the funniest narrative voices I’ve read in a while? Also, yes! The oddball protagonists of this chilling tale had me rooting for them from the jump all the way to a finale I adored and am not likely to forget soon.


Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard

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Jenna
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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead By Tom Stoppard Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802126214
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Published: Grove Press - April 11th, 2017

“We have not been picked out simply to be abandoned… we are entitled to some direction I would have thought!” 

A brilliant exercise in putting tertiary characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet center stage!

This is what I read whenever I’m overwhelmed with existential dread--so I’ve read it quite a few times. It’s an all time favorite. Humor and profundity hold hands throughout in a way I so distinctly remember blew my mind the first time I encountered it. Let this play make you laugh and make you think.


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