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.
This book is extremely full of all my favorite things, and I cannot put into words my glee at every single page turn leading to MORE of my favorite things. They were roommates! There was only one bed! He's royalty! It's forbidden! They fake date! They pine! They kiss in the pilot's chair! Oh yeah, also there is REVOLUTION! And space battles! Chases and escapes! Revenge!
There is nothing about this book that I don't like. --Nicole
EK Johnston is very good at what she does, and what she does is write soft books with iron backbones of strength, populate them with impossibly wonderful characters who are similarly made up of softness and strength, and fill in the gaps with cleverness and hope. From the unquestioned queer rep to the fascinating magic, from the deep digs into abuse and the value of human life to the importance laid on choosing your family, this book touched on all my favorite things. --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
Elegiac, liminal, fragile, aching. This book hurts but in such a good way. A spooling, non-linear narrative, that should be tangled and unparseable, but is instead clever and slowly unwinding until you understand the heart. Characters who are brittle and fragile as glass, complex and unthinkingly brave. Time travel with consequences, messy and completely probable alternate history, a slow-burn of a romance that is absolutely devastating and somehow perfect. --Nicole
A brand new epic fantasy from a debut author, and boy does it have teeth. I read this book slowly, savoring it, for it is delicious. Digging into colonization, race, assimilation, cultural erasure, rebellion, magic, the nature of ruling… this fantasy is decidedly queer, decidedly PoC, and decidedly rooted in a new era of the genre. CL Clark is going to be huge. Get hyped now. --Nicole
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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
Dark and gorgeous, this fairy tale world is not for the faint of heart. It's not a kind world, and Jakob is not a kind person--but he is willing to give up everything to save his cursed brother. Funke has created one of my favorite characters ever with Jakob, who throws himself into all situations with reckless abandon, and who always forgets to guard his kind heart. This is one of my favorite books of all time, and I am so glad they've reprinted it. --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