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Ever since I learned to read at the age of three, I have never been without a book. My family constantly teased me whenever we left the house and I would sneak a book along with me, just in case. I devoured books so fast that I barely had time to put one down before there was another in my hand, and as I grew up, I had to constantly beg my father to add shelves to my room in order to fit my growing collection. It came as no surprise when I majored in English, concentrating in Creative Writing, with a hope of someday writing down the myriad stories that have constructed themselves in my head over the years.
            I grew up coming to McLean and Eakin every week (at least once a week and oftentimes more), so it seems only natural that we’ve made it an everyday thing.
***I have a younger sister who is very, very picky about books. I'm serious, if a book is less than utterly engrossing and flawless, she will complain. If you strive for Petra's level of exellence in all things, or if you know someone just as hard to shop for, see my books with Petra's Seal of Approval and leave your worries behind!***
Book List

The Last Unicorn (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780451450524
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Roc, 1/1991
This is one of those books that I always meant to read. I love the movie, so I figured I should. But it's also one of those books that you don't see around very often, so I kept forgetting about it. Then we got a copy in the store and it had a recommendation from Patrick Rothfuss on the front saying, The Last Unicorn is the best book I have ever read. You need to read it. If you've already read it, you need to read it again." He was right. When I finished it, I wanted to go back and read it again. Possibly forever. This is a fairy tale where the characters are deeply and poignantly aware of their own archetypes, and their place within the story. The Last Unicorn is a beautifully-crafted novel that has the power to draw laughs and tears in equal measure. I cannot express to you how important it is that you read this book, kid or adult, whether you are into fantasy or not. If Beagle's masterpiece has fallen under our cultural radar, we are all the poorer for it.

The Rook (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780316098809
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Back Bay Books, 10/2012
What's that? You've been wanting to read a supernatural spy thriller? Excellent! I have just the book for you!
...OK, so maybe you didn't come in with a supernatural spy thriller in mind, but seriously, you need to read this book.
Myfanwy Thomas wakes up in a park, surrounded by dead men in rubber gloves and with no idea who she is beyond what the two letters left in her pocket by her former self tell her. You see Myfanwy Thomas (former) knew that her memories would be taken from her, and she prepared. She has left her new self a choice: to disappear into a new life that Thomas designed for her, or to take on Thomas' life and job following the instructions in a series of letters and one large purple binder.
Little does Myfanwy know that when she chooses to stay and become Thomas, she is taking on the job of Rook: the domestic head of the Checquy, an underground governmental office in charge of protecting Britain from supernatural enemies (everything from your everyday werewolves and vamipres to mind-controlling purple fungus) as it hides their existence from ordinary citizens. But something is rotten in the kingdom of Britain... and now it's Myfanwy's job to figure out how to foil a conspiracy nearly as large and powerful as the Checquy itself.
O'Malley's debut novel is clever, funny, gripping and incredibly well written. Start it at your peril—you may find yourself trying to read all 500 pages in one night!

American Gods (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780060558123
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks, 9/2003
Considered by many to be the ultimate masterpiece from a master of storytelling, and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Locus and Bram Stoker Awards, American Gods is a powerful piece of fantasy that will appeal to lovers of the genre and skeptics alike. Shadow has been released from prison just after the death of his beloved wife. Out of the blue, he is approached by a stranger calling himself Mr. Wednesday, who offers him a job. With nothing to lose, Shadow takes it and finds himself thrown into the center of a conflict for the very soul of America. You see, the old gods are not dead, they have merely taken on new forms and identities as their former worshippers moved across the Atlantic. They live here, in America and they, the old gods of Egypt, Russia, Scandinavia, Africa, the British Isles and everywhere else that has yielded immigrants to the New World, are fighting for everything they have created against the new gods of technology and business that have arisen on the new soil. What could, in the hands of a less skilled writer, have become an overdramatic and overwritten fantasy, is, in Gaiman's hands, a dark and gripping tale that cuts to the heart of what it is to be human. ***Petra's Seal of Approval***

ISBN-13: 9780064407724
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: HarperTeen, 4/1999

Emma Donoghue. If you haven't read her, please do so now! This fantastic collection of interconnected stories was my first exposure to her and I've been hooked ever since.

Kissing the Witch is a series of retold fairy tales, some familiar and some obscure, that focus on the relationships between the women in the stories: how they love each other, fear each other and teach each other. Each story features a younger woman and an older one. The first story is that of the youngest of all, and each consecutive tale tells the story of the woman who came before her and the older, experienced character becomes the young maiden.

Emma Donoghue's writing is expert, no matter what genre she is writing in. Kissing the Witch is poetic and evocotive, conjuring that mysterious, yet familiar world that exists in fairy tales to perfection and making it her own.

ISBN-13: 9780062012173
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperCollins, 9/2010
If you have never read a Terry Pratchett novel, for goodness' sake, please run out and find one immediately. This is a great one, which actually comprises the first two books in the Tiffany Aching series, Pratchett's Discworld spinoff for young adults. Discworld is Pratchett's satirical universe, a disc-shaped planet that drifts through space on the back of four enormous elephants, who themselves are riding on the back of a giant turtle called the Great A'tuin. Discworld is an entirely illogical fantasy world that bears a strange resemblance to earth (Roundworld). It runs according to the laws of 'Narrative Causality' (in other words, million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten). Through this world, Pratchett has managed to poke fun at just about everything that has ever happened.

            In The Wee Free Men, Tiffany Aching is a young farmer's daughter who is far older than her years. She learned early on in her book of folk tales that princess are beautiful and blonde, and that therefore, she will never be one. She sets out instead, to become a witch, figuring that they get to do all of the interesting things anyway. She sets out on a journey with the help of the Wee Free Men, a group of overwhelmingly Scottish pixies, also known as the Nac Mac Feegle, who have been kicked out of Fairyland. Her daring rescue of a local noble's son gets her noticed by the witches, and in the second book (A Hat Full of Sky) she goes into the mountains to become their apprentice.

            This book is Pratchett at his best (and his best is very, very good), and I would recommend it to absolutely anyone, ages 8 to108.

ISBN-13: 9780152045661
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Sandpiper, 11/2002
So, I kept seeing this book in the store and I remembered liking it as a kid. I couldn't remember much about it, but I was tempted to re-read it. I kept putting it off, because I was afraid it wouldn't be as good as I remembered. Well, I finally read it again, and it is just as fantastic as I hoped. I couldn't put it down. Dealing with Dragons takes place in a world where all of the tropes of the fairy tale are true (as in if you're the third of three sons, you're always lucky, when choosing between a gold or a tin ladle at a magic stream, don't EVER choose the gold one,and princesses are always delicate with golden hair and they always scream at the right places when being rescued). Cimorene is a princess who doesn't fit any of the stereotypes, and in a world that's run on the laws of stories, that can make life...interesting. Please, please buy this book for your kids (and then sneak it out of their rooms and read it yourself)!

ISBN-13: 9780756698355
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: DK, 10/2012
The second I saw this enormous hardcover beauty come into the store, I started hyperventilating. This Smithsonian guide catalogues the history of fashion from ancient times through the present, all in gorgeous full color. I remember when I was a kid, I had a book about fashion history, where all the illustrations were line drawings. This is nothing like that book. Each page is filled with full color reproductions of period paintings and drawings, and, starting with the Renaissance, photographs of actual period garments (there are also a few reproductions, which are labeled). The book goes through fashion chronologically, but groups together similar things so that the reader can see what changed from one section of the period to another. Mixed in with the main body of the book are designer profiles, pages on 'fashion icons' from Eleanor of Aquitaine and Beau Brummell to Twiggy and beyond. The appendix includes useful timelines of silhouettes, fun tidbits like the evolution of women's shoes, hats and bags and an illustrated glossary.

This book would make the perfect gift for anyone interested in the whats, wheres, whys, hows and (most importantly) the look of style throughout human history (hint, hint).

The Family Fang (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780061579059
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Ecco, 4/2012

What is art? And what is family?

These are two of the many questions you will find yourself contemplating while (and for some time after) reading Kevin Wilson’s debut novel.

The Family Fang is the story of two siblings, Annie and Buster Fang, the children of a pair of obsessively strange performance artists. For their entire childhoods, Buster and Annie Fang were forced to take part in ever-stranger art pieces as their parents sought to disrupt the normalcy in the lives of those around them.

Now the Fang children are all grown up, with problems of their own. While they have each created names for themselves, Annie as an actress and Buster as a writer, they are facing a few bumps in the road. In moments of desperation, they each find themselves back in their parent’s house, hoping that a little time away from the world will do them good. However, when their parents mysteriously disappear, Buster and Annie are thrown right back into the utter chaos of Fang life and forced to decide for themselves what it really means to live life and make art.

Kevin Wilson tells this tale with a deadpan sense of humor and incredible sensitivity, and his creativity appears to be utterly bottomless. If a work of art is (at least in part) something that makes you think, this book is it.

Once Upon a River (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780393341775
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company, 6/2012
The protagonist of this beautiful novel has been compared to a modern day Odysseus, and I would call her something of a female Huck Finn. Margo Crane is a sixteen-year-old sharpshooter who, after her father's violent death, takes her grandfather's boat up a river in rural Michigan in an attempt to find her absent mother. Along the way, Margo meets people who are both dangerous and generous, trustworthy and not, and begins to understand what it means to survive in the life she has chosen. Bonnie Jo's book gives the reader a glimpse into a kind of life that most of us can hardly imagine, and she does it all with a grace that leaves you unsure whether you want to speed through to the last page or draw it out as long as humanly possible.

The Postmortal (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780143119821
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Penguin Books, 8/2011
The year is 2019, a group of geneticists has recently discovered a cure for aging, and John is desperate to get it. At first, the Cure is banned, but when it finally becomes legal, it brings with it more problems than anyone had imagined. After the initial partying and honeymoon period of eternal youth fades, things go downhill fast. Soon, growing gangs roam the streets, the Church of Man grows more and more powerful, going to any lengths to win converts, and the government is forced to implement euthanasia programs as food and other resources grow scarce. Drew Magary captures his dystopian narrative through John's journal entries, emails and news clippings. Magary writes with humor, but at the end you might find yourself as terrified as you are amused: This is one of the most realistic and believable futures I've ever read. Don't miss it!

ISBN-13: 9780143119319
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Penguin Books, 6/2011
These scant 200 pages are some of the best I’ve read in a while. Carey Wallace’s debut novel is small, but elegantly written. Her poetic prose is perfectly suited to tell the story of Carolina Fantoni, a nineteenth-century Italian contessa who is slowly going blind. As her world slowly closes in, no one will believe that her vision is fading and the only place where she can still see is in her dreams. The only person who listens is her childhood friend, Turri, an eccentric young man from a neighboring estate. Even after Carolina is married, Turri continues to help her, and builds the first typewriter so that she will still be able to write when she can no longer see. The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is a beautifully written story about hopeless love and imagination, and though I read it in a few days, the story has stuck with me ever since.

Glow (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9781250007834
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Griffin, 7/2012
Whether you're a teen or an adult, please, please, please don't let the less-than-engrossing jacket description stop you from picking up this book! It is one one of the best-written and most engaging sci-fi novels I've ever read. In the future, Earth has become so overrun that humans have launched two fully-populated spaceships on course for a planet that will take a generation to reach. The vessels, with their extensive gardens and fields of Earth plants and artificial gravity, are the only home that the children on the ships have ever known. Waverly and Kieran were two of the first children born on the Empyrean, and have spent their lives looking forward to living out their parents' dreams of a life on New Earth. But their world is torn apart when the Empyrean is attacked by her sister ship, the New Horizon. All of the female children, including Waverly, are kidnapped, and many of the adults are killed. Each of the characters in Glow was so well-constructed and realistically unpredictable that I was never sure what would happen next. Just when I thought someone was trustworthy, they did something terrible, and as soon as I thought I was sure who the villain was, they did something to make me doubt it! This is a fantastic book for any reader, young adult or otherwise. I can't wait for the next one! ***Petra's Seal of Approval***

ISBN-13: 9780152050849
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Sandpiper, 6/2004
One of my favorite books as a kid! Once Upon A Marigold is a hilarious and heartwarming tale from the very first page. It is the story of Christian, a boy lost in the forest as a baby and raised by a well-meaning and deeply misunderstood troll. It is also the story of Marigold, a lonely princess cursed to know the thoughts of anyone she touches. And it is the story of Olympia, an evil queen with a dark secret, who will do anything in her considerable powers to keep them apart. Throw in a muddled king, an overindulged ferret, two terribly enthusiastic dogs and some overused carrier pigeons and you have one of the most chaotic, and most charming, books you'll ever read. ***Petra's Seal of Approval***

ISBN-13: 9781419700101
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Harry N. Abrams, 3/2012
It can be so tough to get reluctant readers to sit down and read a book. Trying too hard or pushing kids to read books that are too hard or don't interest them can have the opposite effect that you might have intended. Why not try a different angle? Studies have shown that children learn the same skills from reading a graphic novel that they can from an ordinary one. Graphic novels are generally quick to read, and they capture the readers attention and imagination with their imagery as well as teaching vital comprehension and critical reading skills. Series like Amulet and Bone have been getting lots of attention: but here's one you may not have heard about before. This is a collection of short graphic pieces, each written and illustrated by a different person, and edited by the creator of Amulet. Each story is vastly different, but each features a mysterious box, whose purpose or contents have a great effect on the story. The pieces range from riotously funny, to adventurous, to eerie. They take take place in the past, in space, in different worlds, or in ours. The boxes are everything from wooden crates hidden under floorboards, to mystic transportation, to enormous cube-shaped space ships. What ties these stories together, beyond the boxes that is, is that each is perfectly told and beautifully illustrated in each artist's own unique style. A must read for any kid, reluctant reader or not!

ISBN-13: 9780802717504
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Walker & Company, 5/2009
This is one of my first forays into the world of nonfiction. I keep meaning to read more of it, but I always seem to find something else. After hearing Michael Meyer's reading at Pacific, however, I knew I had to read this book, and I was right. The Last Days of Old Beijing is the story of Meyer's life in the historic hutong neighborhoods of Beijing as they were systematically destroyed in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. The book is the perfect blend of fascinating information about the history of Beijing and the state of modern China, and anecdotes from his own experiences from the years he lived there. Meyer spent his time in Beijing teaching English at a small neighborhood elementary school, and The Last Days of Old Beijing is filled with both hilarious stories about his students and neighbors and the heartbreaking memories of people who watched the hutong fall after living there all their lives. It is fascinating to see the story behind China's determination to show the world their best possible face for the Olympics, and with this years Olympics coming up, it might just be the perfect time to look back. Meyer is in turn humorous, touching and informative; I couldn't put this book down.