Nicole sings show tunes while driving, gets overly emotional about comic book characters, and writes best at two in the morning. She graduated with a BA in English Literature, but if she’s being honest, she majored in Shakespeare. Her favorite things include d20s, soft cardigans, the robots on Mars, and video game music. She’s originally from Chicago.
Nicole is the store's Marketing and Events Manager, so if you've seen a blog post with a typo recently, it's her fault. You've probably seen her face hosting virtual events on Facebook. Mostly, she reads fantasy and sci-fi (and teen fantasy/sci-fi), but she peppers in enough contemporary fiction and graphic novels to consider herself at least semi-well-rounded. She finds writing about herself in the third person to be very odd, and is going to stop now.
If I could give this book a star for everything it has in it that's My Favorite, it would have, like...thirty stars.
I can't thank EK Johnston enough for this book. I can't thank her enough for the feminist, queer retelling of my childhood faves. For the heartwarming, heartwrenching, achingly lovely story that she poured into the Afterward, seemingly so that I, personally, would melt into a puddle of emotions and reread this book over and over and over. Because it's my favorite of all time? Or close at least. --Nicole
A 200-page prose poem, an epistolary masterpiece, a masterclass in allusion, a deep dive into character, a perfect manipulation of form and syntax and tone, a bending of the genre to create something that is intrinsically SFF and yet absolutely, gorgeously unique. It's a Shakespearean sonnet, a John Keats love-letter, a Seamus Heaney translation. It's ancient and new, twisted and twined, harsh and jagged and soft all at once, romantic and Romantic. It's art. --Nicole
This book is full in a way that few others are–it’s dense but not unreadable, it’s jam-packed but not hurried or frantic, it’s twisty but not confusing. The worldbuilding is wonderfully sci-fi–a space empire, an AI city, and an ambassador from a tiny, independent space station trying to keep it that way–but the story is deliciously fantasy–political intrigue to die for, assassination and legacy, and the ambassador’s liaison who is both a spy and a poet. The characters are just as full as the plot, each with their own story to brush up against Ambassador Mahit’s, and Mahit…Mahit might be my favorite character of all time. I didn’t want to read any other books after finishing this, and though I have read other books, I think none will compare to this one. --Nicole
This is not a nice book. That’s okay, though, because it’s funny. And disgusting. Absolutely gruesome at times, if I’m being honest. But it’s got this big heart…Gideon has this big heart, and you love her, you love her so much despite everything—because of everything—and she’s such a big damn hero. And the book is about being a hero, and it’s about the hard parts and the gross parts and the awful parts about being a hero, but it’s about the heroic parts, too.
And it's about skeletons and swords and, yeah all right, it's about lesbian necromancers solving puzzles in space. --Nicole
It's about tender, angry, soft, strong women who take their future by the throat and make it their own, writing themselves into the songs of history because no one else will. It's about magic and stories and the magic of stories. It has just enough Beowulf to make it...ancient--and yet new, gilded and atmospheric, like a fog-enshrouded sunrise. It's a new beginning and a beautiful ending. It's...my favorite book of 2018. --Nicole
Obviously, my list would be incomplete without a Star Wars book on it–and it was a trial narrowing it down to only one Star Wars book. But reader, I cannot think about Alphabet Squadron without having an out of body experience. It’s an exploration of survivor’s guilt and defection, control and decisions, choices and family and plans gone awry. If you read no Star Wars books in your lifetime, that’s fine, but if you ever wanted to try one and didn’t know which one: PICK THIS ONE. --Nicole
I've been reading the Ranger's Apprentice series since I was 12, and it's a testament to Flanagan's unwavering style and delightful characters that I'm STILL reading these books now, new as they come out, and rereading over and over whenever I feel the need for the comfort only these brilliant, snarky archers can bring me. --Nicole
No one told me that this book is an absolutely stunning fantasy rendition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Epic, many-layered, incredible, and elegant were the buzzwords in the blurbs for this book, and it is absolutely all of those things. It’s just also fantasy Hamlet. And it doesn’t say that anywhere in any of the marketing, despite that being, in my opinion, one of it’s biggest selling points. It’s amazing. And I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. --Nicole
Not-quite steampunk, sort-of fantasy, a little bit French Revolution, the setting of Torn is a delightful mash-up of all my favorite genres. The political intrigue in this book is masterfully handled, and the characters are all beyond amazing. It started slow and steady and then picked up so intensely that I could not stop reading. --Nicole
Estranged is an absolutely gorgeous story about family--about losing family and adopting a new one, creating it from nothing and everything. It's about growing up different and growing up at all. It's about love, about losing it and shaping it from nothing and finding it in unexpected places. It's about knowing when to ask for help and when to offer it. It's also about a dragon. It's an important story, detailed and deep, done up in art that literally took my breath away. It was heartfelt and haunting, and felt exactly like it should have, considering it's about the Fae.
And there's a dragon. So what else could you ask for, really?
SWEET PEACHES, I LOVE THIS BOOK. Witty and full of heart, Tristan is the hero we need and deserve: he’s as strong as his last name claims he is, but has moments of real weakness. This book digs into deep, important topics with gentle care and humor, but it doesn’t shy away from the seriousness or gravity of it either. There is an exploration of grief and guilt, but it’s handled beautifully, with Tristan’s wit and his tears. Stories are the backbone of this book, stories that bring people together, that save, that make strong. Stories are power. And it pours out of this story in spades. --Nicole
Atmospheric and achy, this book reads like walking through the forest in October, mossy and misty. It’s soft and queer and a little bit spine-tingling–like Tolkien, but updated (and better). I cried over a tree. With strong ties to the Green Man folklore that inhabits the edges of woods everywhere, characters that feel real and unreal at the same time, and a twist that had me weeping at 2am, this book is just sheer beauty, inside and out. --Nicole