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Best of 2017 / Can't wait 2018 from VB staff!

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Sarah Hutton

1. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Riot Grrl makes my heart thump and sing and Mathieu captures a moment when the lessons of the 90s movement come to the rescue for a modern day young woman. Perfect for anyone who has been crafting and marching lately.

2. Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann

3. The Idiot by Elif Batuman

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara 
Based on a true story, this book about The House of Xtravaganza in New York is a vision of fabulousness and generosity.

Kelly Evert

1.  Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.
A beautifully written book about a gentleman living in a hotel under house arrest during the revelation.  Truly War and Peace meets Eloise!  Towles describes scenes with humor and magical prose.

2.  Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
Mozart had a pet starling that he adored, and why wouldn't he as the bird could sing his music!  Local author Haupt also has a pet starling and she wrote this lovely story about starlings and their mischievous yet very pet like ways.

3.  Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford
Set in the Seattle during two time periods Jamie Ford writes about  love but also about family, friendship and finding out where one belongs in the world.

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel available 05/15/18
Look forward to this one!  A quartet is formed among 4 college students that grow up together and deal with their talent, each other, and growing families. The author is a musician herself so she understands the difficulty of performing and constant ridicule from the public and internally but the story also pulls at the heart strings as we journey along with the characters as they age.

Claire McElroy-Chesson

1. Sea of 1,000 Words by Christine Wallace Local author!
This book by Wallace took me completely by surprise! It's the near-future in the PNW, post mega-quake Tyee, which has crippled Seattle and forced its boundaries inland. A young survivor living on Haida-Gwaii finds a stranded scientist who holds the key to a ruthless organization's campaign to eliminate the refugee crisis. She must paddle him down the B.C. coast, guided by a raven and an orca, to the one man who can stop the genocide. Timely doesn't even begin to describe this well-developed and prescient novel.

2. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crowe (Nevermoor #1) by Jessica Townsend

3. The Sparrow by Sarah Moon 

MacBeth by Jo Nesbo available 04/10/18
I can't wait for April 10 to roll around. Why? Because that is the release date of MacBeth, by Jo Nesbo. I am a huge fan of the Hogarth Shakespeare Series. These modern takes on the Bard's plays by celebrated contemporary authors is brilliant and MacBeth is no exception. It's dark and gritty and utterly engrossing.

Laura Picco

1. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
I loved this book for its utter originality and dark humor--what a masterpiece of writing!

2. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor 

3. The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman available 02/27/18
The most exciting 2018 book so far for me has got to be Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman, coming out Feb 27th. (And Rachel's coming to VB in March!) This is a book set in her Seraphina world which I adore for its detailed world building, wonderful well rounded characters, and the coolest dragons ever! Tess is Seraphina's half sister and she wanders the land trying to cope with the tragedies that have befallen her. To say that Tess takes no guff is a major understatement! 

Lauren Sommer

1. The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Besides the beautiful way the book was written, Cyril Avery's story made me ache for him, sometimes with sadness but often with laughter. His life of heartbreak and reconciliation made this story remarkable and unforgettable.

2. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

3. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman available 02/27/18
I'm excited for Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman! I loved Seraphina and Shadow Scale, and a look into a different character set around the same events of the previous books was interesting and fun. Plus, Rachel Hartman will be touring here in the spring and I am SO EXCITED. 


1. Five Carat Soul by James McBride
James McBride is a wonderful, original writer with an unusual, jazz-infused mind. In his first book of short stories, we get to sample McBride's extraordinary storytelling, his humor, and his capacity to always surprise his reader.

2. Tamed and Untamed by Sy Montgomery and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

3. Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye 

The Overstory by Richard Powers available 04/03/18
The Overstory is about seeing trees, not seeing them, and various ways of knowing.  Richard Powers is a brilliant writer and this provocative masterpiece is as breathtakingly and heartbreakingly beautiful as it is important. 

Joe Buckley

1. My Struggle, Book 2 by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Reading Knausgaard is an experience. His writing carves so close to his life that it's hard not to feel like you're living it with him. Just putting down any one of his books feels like waking up -- or falling asleep, depending on how you look at it -- into your own life. Only now you're gifted with the insight of having lived two lives. This is a series I will revisit often.

2. A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman

3. My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

Largesse of the Sea Maiden: Stories
 by Denis Johnson available 01/16/18
Denis Johnson is my favorite writer. Though his writing from book to book can be uneven, when he's on, he's on. In his final book (he passed away in 2017), Denis Johnson is unquestionably ON. What a gift this book is. Every story in this collection is one to savor, one to reread. With this book, he's unseated his own book Jesus' Son as my new favorite book.

Stephanie Douglas

1. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
I tend to be an "off-the-beaten path" type reader, so it hurts my pride a bit to admit that my favorite book was so popular and highly acclaimed. But Saunders' novel blew away all the competition-it's not only my top pick of 2017, but of the last ten years.

2. The Idiot by Elif Batuman

3. North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud

The Pisces by Melissa Broeder available 05/01/18
This book is bonkers, anxious, self-obsessed, uncomfortable, and vulgar. I loved it like I haven't loved anything since The First Bad Man by Miranda July. It's best read without knowing the plot ahead of time, so go in clean if you can.

Autumn Skye Moore

1. History of Bees by Maja Lunde
A wonderful telling of possibility across three generations of bee keepers. Across time, Lunde weaves a story of loss and complexity that paints a picture of a reality we may soon see unfold. What would happen if the bees disappeared? Delving into a series of intertwining stories, Lunde plays out this fear in a beautifully written novel that is a must read from 2017!

2. Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer 
A little bit older but making quite the impact in 2017 due to the soon to be film starring Natalie Portman set to release in 2018. This speculative fiction delves into the mystery of the mind of a biologist facing an
intricate and unknown environment, that only Vandermeer with his masterful control of vocabulary can provide. The immersive novel places you into the unknown Area X and sets you out on an expedition of your own that will keep you reading on the edge of your seat until you find yourself moving on towards the sequel. Also perfect for those who are strapped for time, it is a quick and enticing read!

3. In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri 
Jhumpa Lahiri portrays her journey with language in this recount of her acquisition of the Italian language. To anyone who has read her work before, it should come as no surprise that she has a command of language in story telling like no other. This book lets you see into the mind and inner workings of this story tellers mind and unfolds a beautiful experience and relationship between language and humans.

Tears of Salt by Pietro Bartolo available 01/09/18
Accounts from a physician, Pietro Bartolo on the island Lampedusa, who, in helping refugees, delves into the crisis they face and endure. Bartolo paints a vivid picture of the war, refugees face and continue to face. Given the times we live in, all there is to say is this will be, and is, a must read of 2018.

Courtney Fout

1. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman fantastically weaves together tales from old norse mythology in a way he believes will tell best story. The old norse gods are some of the most interesting, and most human, gods of any pantheon out there. Loki, Thor, Odin all have stories here, these legendary figures take the spotlight, but some lesser known beings make appearances as well, like Angrboda mother of Fenrir, or the unnamed smith who helped build the walls around Asgard. Funny, epic and educational, this is a fantastic set of stories for anyone of any age to enjoy.

2. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll 

3. Gravedigger's Son by Patrick Moody 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black available 01/02/18
Holly Black never fails to inspire me, and ever since the Spiderwick Chronicles captured my imagination with fairies and sprites when I was little, I've kept an eye on new releases from her. This latest story is one I'm eager to read and reread over and over.

Mary Vermillion

1. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders 
This masterfully constructed story is unlike any other. It’s a wild ride of a read with a very human message at its core.

2. Crow Planet by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

3. Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot available 02/06/18
Heart Berries skillfully blends painful memories and traditional stories to create a compelling and complex memoir. A member of the Sea Bird Island First Nations Band, Mailhot provides first-hand insights to the strength and resilience of Native women. Heart Berries introduces us to an important new writer with an uncommon, lyrical voice who bravely speaks – and lives – her painful truth.

Abbie Schollmeier
1. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
 A great book full of heart breaking and honest poems. Rupi Kaur will strike all the chords in your heart. Even if you're not a fan of poetry I implore you to give her a try! 

2. Monstress, vol. 2 by Marjorie Liu
Sana Takeda has got to be one of the most marvelous artists in the 'verse. The time and attention to detail it would take to pull off what he does in the Monstress comic series completely and utterly astounds me. Pair that with the beautifully daring mind of Marjorie Liu, and you get a dark, twisted, epic fantasy full of complex characters and a continuously twisting storyline. Not for the faint of heart.

3. Machine Learning by Hugh Howey
As all my coworkers and anyone I've talked to at the bookstore know, Wool by Hugh Howey is one of my favorite and most recommended books of all time. So you can imagine how off-the-walls excited I was to read Machine Learning, a collection of his short stories. Once again I am BLOWN AWAY. Each story was as entertaining as they were thought provoking. Then you read his afterword and the end of each story, and it opens up an entirely new dimension to what you just read. Highly recommended, especially to those who are particularly fond of the dark side of science fiction. 

When Montezuma Met Cortes: The True Story of the Meeting That Changed History by Mathew Restall available 01/30/18
I got my Bachelor's degree in Anthropology, and much of my studies were focused on the indigenous populations of Mesoamerica- specifically the Maya and Aztec civilizations. The meeting of Montezuma, the Emperor of the Aztec in Tenochtitlan, and Cortes, the leader of the Spanish expedition into Mesoamerica, remains to this day one of my favorite events to study. Mathew Restall goes as far as to be his own translator of primary sources and questions some of the methods used to understand these events in the past.

Cindi Williamson
1. Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild
I like this book because it gave me insight into the cultural divisions we are now experiencing in our country. Insight is good in resolving differences of opinion in a compassionate, informed way.

2. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

3. H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald

The Best Cook in the World by Rick Bragg

Sofia Bouma
1. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Mysterious and intriguing, The Raven Boys had me from the first chapter. We follow several characters through thick and thin as they go on the adventure of their lives. Searching for an ancient welsh king, our characters encounter magic as they have never known and wonder you can only read about in fairy tales...Though not a fantasy, this book will transport you into another world full of mystery, mysterious forces, friendship, mythology, and even a hint of romance. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND

2. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

3. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
The third book to An Ember in the Ashes, I am beyond excited to read this book. Full of fantasy and mystery, it entrapped me in the tangle of a beautiful story...I cannot wait to get my hands on this book.

Hayden Winn
1. Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Kelsey Raleigh is the most bad ass protagonist that I have read in years. Johansen crafted an imaginative and complex story that completely captivated me. Overall it is probably my favorite series, with the best conclusion, I have ever read.

2. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Arden has blended history and folklore to craft a unique fairy tale in a time and place not often considered. Well researched and beautifully written this book swept me away and left me wanting more!

3. Radium Girls by Kate Moore
Moore sought to find the human story that has been so often overlooked in this remarkable point in history. Her account of the dial painters struggle reads like a novel and is beautifully done.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Novik's last fairy tale inspired novel Uprooted is one of my favorite books! Her ability to create a scene and transport you to other world is astonding and I'm so excited to see what she'll do with this Rumplestiltskin inspired story.