Jason's Staff Recommendations

Welcome to Jason's recommendations! 

Check out what Jason has been reading below! 

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Providence Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593085172
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - March 31st, 2020

Max Barry's take on a first encounter with aliens is quite brutal but fantastic. This book is a perfect mix of Aliens meets Enders' Game, with a bit of 2001 thrown in for good measure. Four human crew members travel on the ship Providence Five. Their only job is to make sure the AI runs the ship smoothly as they jump to battles with aliens who are out to murder every last one of us. As things begin to go awry, and the humans are cut off from communication with Earth, the aliens become smarter and the AI becomes bolder; each of the crew becomes isolated by their own beliefs and mission objectives. Everything is battling each other, and in the end there's an awakening and retribution of sorts among the crew and AI. This is one of the most interesting, philosophical science fiction romps that I've read in a long time! 

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Mostly Dead Things Cover Image
ISBN: 9781947793309
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - June 4th, 2019

Parts of this book made me squeamish, which is hard to do. Jessa is a taxidermist, just like her father - he taught her everything he knows. She takes care of the dead animals and gives them new ‘life,’ and at the same time, she is struggling to exist in hers. The love of her life, Brynn (she’s had an intense love for her since they were kids) has left her and her brother, who is Brynn’s husband, and their two kids. The family is run down, literally and figuratively, when her father commits suicide and leaves everything to Jessa to keep the family going. Jessa can’t cope with any of the gaping holes in her life without large amounts of alcohol to harden her resolve at dealing with anything in her life. When her mother starts to act out using stuffed animals in art installation, Jessa loses control of everything and spirals even further out. Kristen Arnett uses flashbacks between the chapters expertly, demonstrating how this family got to where it is, and how the family could possibly make it to some sort of safe zone. Perhaps? A real gut-wrenching novel that had me sweating in the middle of winter (Florida sounds awfully hot and humid all the time) and wondering just how many people still want taxidermy done. A great read!

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A Cosmology of Monsters: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524747671
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon - September 17th, 2019

Noah Turner's family has been haunted by a monster since before he was born. It has been around since his grandmother and has been keeping track of his father and his family for quite a while. His father attempts to come to terms with the feeling of being watched and haunted. He's a horror connoisseur, introducing his wife to the best horror has to offer, from movies to books to haunted houses. When things start going really weird with him, he begins building a haunted house at their home. Along the way, the family suffers many setbacks. Noah, though, befriends the monster. This book is the ultimate homage to classic horror like H.P. Lovecraft and his kind. Shaun Hamill brilliantly unravels the story over the course of many encounters, which caused me to doubt what I thought I knew about the story. The end of the story was sucker punch for me as well as for others. Can't wait to see what comes next from this author!

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88 Names: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062854674
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - March 17th, 2020

John Chu is for hire - only in the online gaming world of Call to Wizardry. For people who don't want to waste time leveling up characters and doing mundane tasks to create armor and weapons, there's sherpas like John Chu who will do all the hard work on character creation. They just have to pay for it. It's a nice cheat that gamers are always looking for. Matt Ruff is brilliant in the setup of the MMORPG world. At first, I think he's going to explore the VR world that is coming down the pipeline, but then it opens up as a thriller, spy story, and then it pivots again and again. If it leaves you a bit confused and lonely, then Matt Ruff has made his point.

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Imaginary Friend Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538731338
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - October 1st, 2019

From the opening pages, Stephen Chbosky hooked me like few horror novels do nowadays. This is classic horror, where the author builds the suspense, provides misdirection, and makes the extraordinary seem possible in our world. I had flashes of Stephen King or Victor LaValle.  Christopher and his mom move to a remote town after they fled in the night to get away from the latest belligerent boyfriend. Everything seems to be going okay (though they have little to no money, friends, or really good job opportunities) when Christopher goes missing for six days in the woods. Nobody can find him. They scour everywhere. Then he shows up, saying his friend helped him find the way out. When he tries to describe him, no one recognizes it, and they chalk it up to Christopher's imagination.  However, this is when things get very strange and interesting, with surprises and chills coming at you from all directions. Just watch out for the deer. An amazing novel that was well worth a 20-year wait.

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Bunny: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525559733
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - June 11th, 2019

When I finished this book all I could think of was, WTF just happened!
Such a brilliantly conceived book, so well written-- it's the movies Heathers meets Weird Science. Yeah, it's that, only more.

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Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9781947793453
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - October 1st, 2019

There are instances in this book that make you cringe, that make you want to toss the book to the side and scream, and for all that Jeannie Vanasco tells us, I still couldn't put down her story of confronting the person who sexually assaulted her in college. It was person she trusted, a person she counted on as a friend. It wouldn't be the last time. Yet, Jeannie does an amazing and courageous feat of contacting him years later and engaging him in a meaningful dialogue. She examines her own feelings around the assault, and she sees with more clarity as time has given her space. She's not giving him a voice but rather making him own up to what he did and finding out what his motives were. He destroyed more than trust and more than friendship. Jeannie's writing grabbed me as few memoirs ever do, and it brings such strength to her story.

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The Heap: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062957733
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow - January 7th, 2020

Los Verticales was more than a tower, it was a huge monument to a self-sustaining society; a form of Utopia. Like all Utopias, it collapsed, quite literally, killing everyone. Well, almost everyone. Bernard starts transmitting over the radio station that he worked for, and the whole world starts listening and calling in. His brother, Oliver, has joined the dig to attempt to unearth him. Oliver phones into Bernard's studio every night, which has been a ratings boost for the station. When the head of marketing attempts to recruit Oliver to sprinkle in some product placement while in conversation with Bernard, Oliver gets a bit indignant. From there the story starts to gather momentum into crazy coincidences and some amazing characters. This is the first book in 2020 to read - you won't be able to put it down.

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Interior Chinatown: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307907196
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon - January 28th, 2020

Willis Wu has aspirations to become Kung-Fu Guy on a cop show called Black and White. He's not Kung-Fu Guy yet, but maybe someday, if he can move up the ranks of bit-part Asian roles given to him. Willis wants this so badly that reality has blurred, and his real life shows signs of being scripted as well. I started to question whether Willis really knew what he wanted, or if he was presenting himself a path that would be difficult for him to veer away from. Charles Yu made this book look so easy, smooth, and fun to read, which he's demonstrated in all his past works as well. This book is dripping with pop culture references, stereotypes, and lots of lots of humor. Interior Chinatown delivers several knock out punches at our culture and society.

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Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101871935
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon - November 19th, 2019

This book starts off as Zachary and his master attend a traveling show called Nicholas Fox's Exhibition of Medical Curiosities, which sets the stage for everything to come. Women with child are encouraged to leave the tent in case what they see interferes with the development of their unborn. We are in a time when science and medicine are still beholden to myths and folklore. Soon enough, Zachary and his master, who is the town surgeon, are called away to the bed of Mary Toft. She has recently had a miscarriage, so they are quite surprised by the news she is in the midst of labor. No human child comes forth, only parts of rabbits, and more rabbit parts show up every couple of days after. When confronted with the impossible or the horrific, how do you react to it? Would you consider it real? A miracle? Would it even occur to you that it could be a hoax? Dexter Palmer leads us along these paths as Zachary is exposed to all sorts of unfamiliar, mysterious, and dark facets of human life. Eventually, Mary Toft’s condition catches the attention of London, and she is carted off for closer observation. London brings all its own complications and horrors to contend with Mary and her rabbits. A marvelous and unexpected new novel from Dexter Palmer!

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Dark Matter: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101904244
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - May 2nd, 2017

Jason Dessen is a science professor in Chicago with a wife and a child, and he is living what he feels is a good, if not great, life. He gave up a life, in which he might have been one of the greatest living physicists. However, it is a choice he does not regret, as he loves his son that nudged down this path. Others might have regrets about the decision. One night he is kidnapped and drugged--his kidnapper seems familiar (or could that be the drugs?) to him. When he wakes, he finds himself in a lab with people who know him, but the more he finds out, the more he realizes that he is not the Jason they know. This is a fantastic philosophical 'what if' speculative thriller that has crazy unforeseen surprises littered around so that you just might fall into one and be blown away by actions of Jason. 

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The Gallows Pole Cover Image
ISBN: 9780997457858
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Third Man Books - October 15th, 2019

David Hartley, or rather King David Hartley, clipped gold coins in the 18th century Yorkshire, and then they created new coins. This was a great book to read - bleak, brutal, and dark; except for times when Benjamin Myers describes the location of the story. Cragg Vale and the rest is so beautifully written about that it becomes a big character in this book. There is so much that the people from here love about their home that they would be willing to do really awful things to keep it this way. David Hartley was described as this area's Robin Hood. However, this could only be Robin Hood if he was really violent, lusty, and greedy. There are some really tough passages to get through in this one, but Myers is such a great writer that he handles it masterfully.