It’s like moving twice a month

It’s like moving twice a month

I realized it’s been many, many months since I blogged about our journey of opening, and now running, a bookstore. January will mark the one-year anniversary since we signed the lease. About this time last year, Ross and I were scouting locations to do this little venture of ours.

I used to think that I was an extrovert until we opened the bookstore. See, I’d never done retail in my life. Not even as a teenager. But, after nine months of running the bookstore now — and being the one who mostly is behind the counter — I find myself “communicated out” by the end of the day. Don’t get me wrong. I love chatting with customers who come by. But it’s exhausting to do all day long. By the time I get home, I just want to sit in a corner by myself and not talk. Or write. Obviously.

My husband recently said: “You don’t realize what’s coming.”

He was referring to the upcoming holiday shopping season. He’s a retail veteran, having run comic book stores for many years pre-me. I really had no idea, but took his word for it. We’re just now beginning to see an uptick in patrons, which is exciting. We’re ready for it. I spent several days decorating the store for the holidays. I decorated so much that I told my now-adult kids: “I’m not putting up Christmas at the house.” I just don’t have it in me.

The most surprising thing about running the bookstore — to me — has been that it feels like when you have to pack up your house, move, and unpack. We seem to do this every couple of weeks at the store. There’s a constant reorganization going on that’s pretty exhausting, yet exciting at the same time. I thought we’d be set for the holidays when I made our windows at the end of November. Well, I was wrong. Ross decided that it would be better to have books and games in the windows to entice people into the store. GAH! He was right. Again. So, last night, I transitioned the holiday decorations from both windows over to the blue table.

The bundled boxes aren’t selling either. Really bummed about that. Everything this first year is an experiment for us. I’m thinking this one is a fail.

What I’ve learned over the past year since starting renovation of the store is that I needed to carve out time for myself — the ever-popular term these days: self-care. I was pushing myself way too hard and needed more down-time. The trouble is that Lily the Bookstore Dog doesn’t understand “We’re not going to the bookstore today.” In fact, as I write this entry at home on a Sunday, she’s sitting by our front door grunting at us. She takes her job greeting customers seriously.

So, here’s to my very first holiday season of retail.

Hot Graphic Novels Roundup

Hot Graphic Novels Roundup

Roundup by Thomas Rojek

The last few months brought us some wonderful graphic novels. I’ve taken the liberty of creating this roundup of my favorites and providing a summary of each book and why I loved each of them.

Midnight Radio
By Iolanda Zanfardino
Lion Forge, $14.99, 160 pages, Trade Paperback

In Midnight Radio, four strangers in San Francisco grappling with various life struggles from sexuality to PTSD, are unexpectedly brought together by a mysterious late-night radio message that changes their lives. Artist Lolanda Zarafardino’s style is beautiful and captivating, its color palette warm and striking, and the story feels personal, topical, and important. The characters put us affectingly in their shoes, making the issues they struggle with feel raw and real. It’s an important work and a compelling story done in beautiful style.

Blackbird Volume 1
By Sam Humphries & Jen Bartel
Lion Forge, $16.99, 168 pages, Trade Paperback

Blackbird is the story of Nina Rodriguez, a young woman who lost her mom at a young age and become obsessed with the idea of a secret society of Paragons, or wizards, and is treated as if she is crazy for it. All that changes after a giant monster kidnaps her sister and she is thrust into a world that she had always hoped to find, but nothing is as it seems, and she soon finds that everything that she knows has been a lie. Sam Humphries, Jen Bartel, and the rest of the team behind Blackbird have given us a fantastic and beautiful story full of intrigue, and I cannot wait to see what comes next in the series.

Milo’s World Book One: The Land Under the Lake
By Richard Marazano, Christophe Ferreira
Lion Forge, $12.99, 120 pages, Hard

Richard Marazano and Christopher Ferreira bring us the story of young Milo, a boy who stumbles across a magic goldfish that brings him to another realm where he must help stop an evil sorcerer. With the help of a thief, a goldfish, a grumpy villager, and his aunts, he will help to restore peace to a world on the other side of the lake. Milo’s World is a very sweet story with a charming cast of characters with an adorable art style that draws you into the story. Marazano and Ferreira do an amazing job with what is sure to be a beautiful and charming story.  

Old Souls
By Brian McDonald, illustrated by Les McClaine
First Second, $24.99, 256 pages, Hard

Brian McDonald and Les McClaine have brought us Old Souls, a story about a world in which you can unlock and live through your past lives by using a form of hypnosis, and, for Chris, it very quickly becomes something of an addiction. After meeting an elderly homeless man named Jack, who claims to have known him in a past life, Chris is dragged into a world in which he gets to re-live everything and everyone he has been, but he soon starts to slip further and further away from his family and those that care about him, and an unhealthy obsession begins to develop. Both McDonald and McClaine are masters in their respective fields and together they have created something truly beautiful.

BTTM FDRS
By Ezra Claytan Daniels and Ben Passmore
Fantagraphics Books, $24.99, 288 pages, Hard

BTTM FDRS by Ezra Claytan Daniels and Ben Passmore is an important narrative and stylistic entry into the graphic novel cannon, which currently lacks in the area of Afrofuturism. But more than offering a stellar instance of Afrofuturist style, BTTM FDRS, much like Jordan Peele’s Get Out, explores the horror/comedy of everyday social injustices–gentrification, in this instance. The symbolism of an insidious force drawing evil power from the oppression of a vulnerable group is intentionally evident–and it becomes the source of both biting satire, absurdist comedy, and genuine, well, horror. Brilliant, striking, unique, compelling, and just a damn good read, BTTM FDRS is a triumph. 

Monstress Book One
By Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda
Image Comics, $49.99, 528 pages, Hard

I don’t even know where to begin with this book. Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda have won multiple awards and received high praise for this beautiful graphic novel already, and I can see why. The story follows Maika Halfwolf as she hunts for a link to her past, and those that hunt her for the crimes she has committed in an attempt to find freedom. Accompanied by a talking cat, a fox-child, and an eldritch abomination, they are continuously and viciously pursued as they try their hardest to stay one step ahead of everyone. Anyone looking for something new and unique needs to pick this up; the artwork is beautiful, the story is full of beautifully done characters and environments and features a matriarchal society, and the world building is staggeringly deep. Do yourself a favor and get a copy as soon as you can.

The Magicians Original Graphic Novel: Alice’s Story
By Lilah Sturges
Archaia, $26.99, 208 pages, Hard

If you are unfamiliar with The Magicians series by Lev Grossman then you should probably go pick the series up (it is basically Harry Potter goes to college). Unlike the original series of books and the tv show, this one focuses on Alice’s perspective. We get to see her as she forces her way into Brakebills to try and join, her own struggle, and ultimately her own decision that saves the known universe. Lilah Sturges and Pius Bak do a fantastic job of breathing new life into the story from Lev Grossman. Well worth a read for any fans of the series.

Cooking With Spices

Cooking With Spices

By Thomas Rojek

With summer officially coming to a close, we’re taking a look at cookbooks that embody robust spices, which invite Fall cooking.

 

One Dish – Four Seasons
By Jordan Zucker
Publisher: Home Sauce Publications
$44.00, 208 pages

One Dish – Four Seasons brings an interesting idea on cooking to the table. What about a single recipe with four variations based on the season that you are in to help you utilize those fresh ingredients? And, if that alone isn’t enough for you, then what about a wine pairing for each season in the recipe? Still not interested? What if each recipe came with an album to accompany it? Featuring more than 80 recipes, jokes, and beautiful photography, this cookbook is bound to delight the foodie in you.

Tahini and Turmeric: 101 Middle Eastern Classics–Made Irresistibly Vegan
By Ruth Fox • Vicky Cohen
Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books
$24.99, 304 pages

Vegan food gets a bad rap as far as most people are concerned because of the idea that substitution of meat/animal products takes away from the authenticity of a dish. Cohen and Fox are here to prove otherwise. There are thousands of traditional dishes that are vegan right out of the gate, and a big one is Middle Eastern cuisine. Featuring beautiful color photographs, excellent instructions, descriptions of traditional Middle Eastern cuisine, and walkthroughs on how to build up the perfect pantry, Tahini & Tumeric is a wonderful addition to any culinary library.

Japanese Table
By Sofia Hellsten
Publisher: Hardie Grant (UK)
$29.99, 192 pages

Most of my diet during college consisted of Japanese cuisine and running into little ramen/sushi restaurants, enjoying a few simple dishes and reading/working on whatever project I had at that time. Japanese Table is a beautiful book that discusses the elements of setting out a simple and elegant meal with wonderfully flavored dishes. Sofi Hellsten walks us through the basics of setting up the pantry with ingredients we will be using regularly, discusses the basics of flavor profiles, and how to properly prepare and plate the food. This book is beautiful and features breathtaking photos to help inspire you on your journey.

Spiced: Unlock the Power of Spices to Transform Your Cooking
By America’s Test Kitchen
Publisher: America’s Test Kitchen
$19.49, 304 pages

We all know that person who is overwhelmed with the idea of seasoning/spices and who worries of over seasoning something or using the wrong thing. Spiced is here for you, with easy-to-follow instructions and ideas. This book will help you or friends who suffer from a lack of flavor to gain some good tips and tricks for seasoning, as well as the beautiful recipes and photos to help you create high quality meals.

 

 

Summer Sci-Fi Roundup

Summer Sci-Fi Roundup

Our round-up of great science fiction novels that have come into the store. What did we miss that you loved?

Tiamat’s Wrath, James S. A. Corey

The latest and eighth book in James S. A. Corey’s Expanse series, Tiamat’s Wrath is obviously not a good place to start reading the series if you haven’t already, but it does place you in a wonderful spot to have eight wonderful sci-fi novels to read through. That being said, spoilers ahead. Corey opens with a memorial service for the recently deceased Chrisjen Avasarala and picks up with James Holden in his new role of honored prisoner. The narrative also follows the continuing adventures of Elvi and the crew of the Rocinante–split up but are still fighting–and we find Teresa trying to keep up with her father’s ambitions as well as keep a couple of secrets of her own. James S. A. Corey has definitely outdone himself with this latest addition to the series.

 

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson will always have a soft spot in my heart after Snow Crash, and his newest book brings a lot of the themes that I have loved for ages plus a couple of new ones that are welcome additions. Fall; or, Dodge in Hell brings us into a world where Richard “Dodge” Forthrast is pronounced brain-dead, and, due to a stipulation in his will, his brain is scanned by a cryonics company, and years later, his brain is turned back on and loaded to an afterlife called Bitworld. However, this wouldn’t be a novel by Stephenson if it didn’t have a few dark twists in store for the readers.

 

Velocity Weapon, Megan E. O’Keefe

Megan E. O’Keefe has the start of a brand new series in the making: Velocity Weapon is the first book in The Protectorate series and introduces us to Sanda, who awakens from a cold sleep to find that she is missing a leg, naked, on an enemy ship that happens to be sentient and goes by the name of Bero. And to make things worse, it is 230 years in the future. O’Keefe does a fantastic job of creating a setting that is new and exciting and full of drama. This is definitely the beginning of a series that everyone will enjoy.

 

The Hive, Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston

The Hive is the second book in the Second Formic War series and picks up where the first book left off—with a humanity that just barely eked out a victory over the scout ship sent by Formic and that is now looking at a mothership preparing to invade. And if you enjoy this universe, you still have the First Formic War series, as well as all the rest in the Ender universe to enjoy.

 

Eve of Man, Giovanna & Tom Fletcher

The first book written by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher as a couple, Eve of Man follows Eve, the first woman born in 50 years, who after her 16th birthday is set to meet three potential males who have been preselected for her based on their prospects as a perfect genetic match. But that all changes when she meets Bram, the boy behind her best friend. The Fletchers do an amazing job creating a realistic dystopian world where abuse of the environment has led to massive and destructive storms, people fighting in the streets, and an authoritarian control on women’s rights. Equal parts believable and horrifying, this is a great start to a new series.

 

 

Warning: Graphic (Novel) Content!

Warning: Graphic (Novel) Content!

By Tommy Rojek, Ross Rojek & Danielle McMannus

Today’s graphic novels, while kin with the comic books that pioneered the genre, their diverse stories, art styles, and narrative voices have burst through those old boundaries. Whether you’re new to graphic novels or you’re a connoisseur, these new releases need to be on your radar. If you’re a newbie, these are great entries that show the range and impressive promise of graphic novel storytelling. If you’re an old hand, these are titles that bring new spirit and creativity to this already incredible genre.

As of the date of this post, we have all of the books below in the store. You may check availability in our online store. If a book sells out, you may order it from our online store, and we’ll message you when it arrives in the store (or have it shipped to your home/work).

Old Souls

Brian McDonald and Les McClaine have brought us Old Souls, a story about a world in which you can unlock and live through your past lives by using a form of hypnosis, and for Chris, it very quickly becomes something of an addiction. After meeting an elderly homeless man named Jack, who claims to have known him in a past life, Chris is dragged into a world in which he gets to re-live everything and everyone he has been, but he soon starts to slip further and further away from his family and those that care about him, and an unhealthy obsession begins to develop. Both McDonald and McClaine are masters in their respective fields and together they have created something truly beautiful.


BTTM FDRS

BTTM FDRS by Ezra Claytan Daniels and Ben Passmore is an important narrative and stylistic entry into the graphic novel cannon, which currently lacks in the area of Afrofuturism. But more than offering a stellar instance of Afrofuturist style, BTTM FDRS, much like Jordan Peele’s Get Out, explores the horror/comedy of everyday social injustices–gentrification, in this instance. The symbolism of an insidious force drawing evil power from the oppression of a vulnerable group is intentionally evident–and it becomes the source of both biting satire, absurdist comedy, and genuine, well, horror. Brilliant, striking, unique, compelling, and just a damn good read, BTTM FDRS is a triumph.


Moonshadow

It is such a milestone to see this book back in print. The first fully painted graphic novel, Moonshadow was originally published by Marvel Comics’s Epic imprint in 1985, and then again by DC comics in 1998. There have been a few collections of the complete series, including a limited signed edition by Graphitti Designs, but now Dark Horse has stepped in with a new complete collection, and they’ve done an admirable job on the production value. The titular character, Moonshadow, is the child of a 60’s flower child and a orbish alien. Moonshadow, his cat, and Ira, a fairly obscene alien, wander through the stars as Moonshadow searches for his father and the reasons for his abandonment.

The paintings by Jon Muth are really well done, and Dark Horse’s reproductions do them justice. Moonshadow is an odd book, and one that should have gotten wider recognition but that was probably too early for its time. It’s a book that will appeal to a broader audience when presented in a complete package like this. Get it before its out of print for another 20 years.


Midnight Radio

In Midnight Radio, four strangers in San Francisco grappling with various life struggles from sexuality to PTSD, are unexpectedly brought together by a mysterious late-night radio message that changes their lives. Artist Iolanda Zarafardino’s style is beautiful and captivating, its color palette warm and striking, and the story feels personal, topical, and important. The characters put us affectingly in their shoes, making the issues they struggle with feel raw and real. It’s an important work and a compelling story done in beautiful style.


Blackbird

Blackbird is the story of Nina Rodriguez, a young woman who lost her mom at a young age and become obsessed with the idea of a secret society of Paragons, or wizards, and is treated as if she is crazy for it. All that changes after a giant monster kidnaps her sister and she is thrust into a world that she had always hoped to find, but nothing is as it seems, and she soon finds that everything that she knows has been a lie. Sam Humphries, Jen Bartel, and the rest of the team behind Blackbird have given us a fantastic and beautiful story full of intrigue, and I cannot wait to see what comes next in the series.


Milo’s World

Richard Marazano and Christopher Ferreira bring us the story of young Milo, a boy who stumbles across a magic goldfish that brings him to another realm where he must help stop an evil sorcerer. With the help of a thief, a goldfish, a grumpy villager, and his aunts, he will help to restore peace to a world on the other side of the lake. Milo’s World is a very sweet story with a charming cast of characters with an adorable art style that draws you into the story. Marazano and Ferreira do an amazing job with what is sure to be a beautiful and charming story.


Monstress

I don’t even know where to begin with this book, Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda have won multiple awards and received high praise for this beautiful graphic novel already, and I can see why. The story follows Maika Halfwolf as she hunts for a link to her past, and those that hunt her for the crimes she has committed in an attempt to find freedom. Accompanied by a talking cat, a fox-child, and an eldritch abomination, they are continuously and viciously pursued as they try their hardest to stay one step ahead of everyone. Anyone looking for something new and unique needs to pick this up; the artwork is beautiful, the story is full of beautifully done characters and environments and features a matriarchal society, and the world-building is staggeringly deep. Do yourself a favor and get a copy as soon as you can.

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