Jessica M.

Jessica M Profile Pic

Event Host & Bookseller

slow reader of beautiful horror and strange creations; bold contemporary graphic novels; inclusive dance-related nonfiction and history; and fiction that centers queer/BIPOC tales, wild witch women, speculative fiction fun, reinvented fairy tales and classics.

  • Classics
  • Dance
  • Graphic Novels
  • Horror
  • LGBTQ+
  • Magical Realism
  • Mythology
  • Nonfiction
  • Performing Arts
  • Poetry
  • Retelling
  • Science Fiction
  • Short Stories
  • Speculative Fiction
  • Staff Pick Badge
    Family Meal: A Novel By Bryan Washington Cover Image
    $28.00
    ISBN: 9780593421093
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Riverhead Books - October 10th, 2023

    An absolute journey through grief and memory. My only problem is after finishing it I immediately felt heavy with sorrow and will need lots of time away from thinking about this story and its tragic, strong, broken, beautiful characters. Highly suggest taking breaks in-between reading and have a mood cleanser book ready afterwards.


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    House of Hunger By Alexis Henderson Cover Image
    $17.00
    ISBN: 9780593438480
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Ace - September 5th, 2023

    A delightfully dark and devastating tale about all-consuming love and blood. I so enjoyed the characters here. Each one of them were done justice and given enough time to sink into their emotions. The House becoming a sort of character itself was unexpected and welcomed. Love a good evil mansion. (Special shout-out for fans of RE Village's Lady D, Bloodborne, and the Castlevania TV series: this book is for you.) The ending felt a bit rushed, and I could see that rush coming when I noticed I only had 20 pages left. In a way it had a Crimson Peak kinda end that was just sudden intense action--which I usually hate in books--but I'll let that be for now. Also, I wanted more from the other Houses, like pages of world building about them and their inhabitants.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    A Dowry of Blood By S. T. Gibson Cover Image
    $17.99
    ISBN: 9780316501187
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Redhook - May 2nd, 2023

    Phenomenally dark and sexy. I expected a lot from a Brides of Dracula retelling, and this delivered in full! Not much else to say other than I stand by S.T. Gibson's ability to bring new life into old stories; can't wait for An Education in Malice.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    Rouge: A Novel By Mona Awad Cover Image
    $28.00
    ISBN: 9781982169695
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: S&S/ Marysue Rucci Books - September 12th, 2023

    A delirious fairy tale with some of the most mad, magnetic, and monstrous characters I've read in a long time. Mother Mona has blessed this story with so many sleek references; not just the obvious classic fairy tales ('Snow White' is the archetype but there are bits of a other ones thrown in) but she also examines the sins and sorrows of pop-culture and--by extension--ourselves. What is obsession? What is beauty? Why do we fall in love with celebrities? How can mothers and daughters age together when Western society so clearly values one over the other? Much like her previous fairy-tale trilogy books, Mona turns the surreal/magical realism dial up, applies many generous coats of gothic layers, sprays an airy cloud of dark-humor, and relaxes in the depths of fizzing champagne horror. This is not a quick-read. Let yourself sink into the madness and strangeness. Don't rush it.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    Morgan Is My Name (The Morgan le Fay series #1) By Sophie Keetch Cover Image
    $18.00
    ISBN: 9781039006492
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Random House Canada - June 13th, 2023

    A thrilling exploration of the woman, Morgan. There are a lot of retellings of her Arthurian myth, but few feel so human and natural as this one. For a while I fell into the all-seeing, all-powerful mysticism of Morgan le Fay's many on-screen portrayals. Or I would hold her depiction in "The Mists of Avalon" as the highest literary standard. But I'm glad we have a new take on her to help bring us (myself included) back down to earth. She has sisters. She has a mother. She has friends. She has love. She has passions. And she's always had magic, but in this version, it's a magic that builds and lies in wait. Excited to read the next book in Keetch's tales of Morgan le Fay. Also will be going back in for the audiobook version cause Vanessa Kirby's voice is heavenly.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    Blood Sex Magic: Everyday Magic for the Modern Mystic By Bri Luna Cover Image
    $29.99
    ISBN: 9780063081451
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: HarperOne - October 31st, 2023

    A bold collection of magical wisdom from the realest bruja in contemporary mysticism. Each of the three short sections are crafted with care and attention--as well as obviously visually stunning in every way possible. Bri isn't afraid to say the things that often go unsaid (or just ignored) in other texts on witchcraft. As a whole this book is both a warning and an incantation to help guide us and acknowledge our purest inner strength. At times this reads like an elder holding your hand while muttering ancient protection spells from the evil eye. But this also feels like a cool, older sister talking to you late at night about her toxic relationships and sex. And no, this isn't like other "how to" or "witchcraft 101" tombs. Bri has infused her life and legacy in these pages, but only allowing us just a glimpse. She gives us room to reflect on our selves and ancestors. She offers just enough, never too much--and that's refreshing af. It's a small but mighty addition to the growing nonfiction witchcraft genre from BIPOC practitioners that includes Lorraine Monteagut's Brujas: The Magic and Power of Witches of Color and Juliet Diaz's The Altar Within: A Radical Devotional Guide to Liberate the Divine Self.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    Bunny: A Novel By Mona Awad Cover Image
    $18.00
    ISBN: 9780525559757
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Penguin Books - June 9th, 2020

    Toxic & Delicious. A delirious and witty 21st-century fable. Kinda a little sister companion of sorts to Francesca Lia Block's The Elementals. Also pairs perfectly with Goldfrapp, specifically the "Felt Mountain" era. I mean, the cover art for the "Utopia (Genetically Enriched)" singles is a demonic bunny.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    The Mercies By Kiran Millwood Hargrave Cover Image
    $27.00
    Not available to order.
    ISBN: 9780316529259
    Published: Little, Brown and Company - February 11th, 2020

    Mesmerizing. Melancholic. Moving. Magic/Real. It's not quite magical realism, but it forms subtle waves that could fit to that genre. Actually, I think this is the first magical realism adjacent novel with a lesbian character that I've read. If it was solely a dry historical romance, I wouldn't have connected with it as purely as I did from those first pages to the last. It did start to feel like two different stories in the last section, but what saved it for me was the ending that left me both frustrated and elated. Reading this during dark, stormy winter nights pairs nicely with some red wine and Chelsea Wolfe's acoustic album "Birth of Violence" (2019) and the calm, ambient songs from the Skyrim OST on repeat. I also can imagine this story adapted into a beautiful arthouse movie one day, similar to the breathtaking Norwegian film "Thelma" (2017).


  • Staff Pick Badge
    Goddess of Filth By V. Castro Cover Image
    $16.00
    ISBN: 9781951971038
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Creature Publishing, LLC - March 30th, 2021

    A viscous journey into the darkest and warmest center of womanhood. It means so much to have the Latinx representation in this genre but, also, seeing my home state of Texas as it is, not romanticized as some dusty Western for white people. If you want to experience the real Texas, pair this book with the incredible storytelling of Bryan Washington (deep resident of Houston) and Sandra Cisneros (family experiences in San Antonio).


  • Staff Pick Badge
    The Many Deaths of Laila Starr  By Ram V, Filipe Andrade (Illustrator) Cover Image
    By Ram V, Filipe Andrade (Illustrator)
    $14.99
    ISBN: 9781684158058
    Availability: Not available to order
    Published: BOOM! Studios - February 1st, 2022

    Frenetic, brave art style with fresh and bold characters, plot, pacing.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina: A Novel By Zoraida Córdova Cover Image
    $17.00
    ISBN: 9781982102555
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Atria Books - July 5th, 2022

    Magic lives in every fiber of this story. It is a genre-blending tale but deeply invested in magical realism and generational drama. An instant favorite and one of the best books I've read this decade.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    The Last Karankawas: A Novel By Kimberly Garza Cover Image
    $16.99
    ISBN: 9781250871527
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Holt Paperbacks - June 13th, 2023

    A novel in short stories. A spiritual saga about Texans. A love-letter to family and land. Kimberly Garza has created something so profound and rich, that my own trauma of living through Ike--the main hurricane that looms over each chapter and character--has been cleansed. There's hope in each story but also a natural dread that lives in the soul of every working-class immigrant and POC family who's tried to start a life, or is running from one. Whether it's the family mythos of being "one of the last Karankawas" or that guilty urge to leave the island in search of somewhere, anywhere better or the brutal but peaceful life working out on one of the many boats in the Gulf, everyone's life is tied to one another and the land upon which they came from and arrived at. **I also had the honor of meeting and listening to Kim while working one of her book tour events. She is so humble, clever, and funny. A really wonderful human. I'm excited to follow her glowing career where ever it may take her.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    The Book of Magic: A Novel (The Practical Magic Series #4) By Alice Hoffman Cover Image
    $17.99
    ISBN: 9781982151492
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Atria Books - October 18th, 2022

    A magical beginning right to the very end. This saga has taught me so much. But mostly: I can start at the end. I can begin again. This is such a beloved world with so many genuinely crafted characters. I was afraid the final book wouldn't live up the last ones which have been phenomenal. And while the middle of this final story did drag a bit--as if there were too many additional characters (i.e. men) being thrown into the very close Owens world--in the end, everything Alice Hoffman wove into her tapestry of magic has been revealed with perfect love and perfect trust. And it's thanks for writers like Alice Hoffman (and imo her closest magical realism writer companions Francesca Lia Block and Zoraida Córdova) there's magic to be found no matter where you live, no matter who you are.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    The Year of the Witching By Alexis Henderson Cover Image
    $18.00
    ISBN: 9780593099612
    Availability: Out of Stock; Usually Arrives in 7-10 Days
    Published: Ace - June 15th, 2021

    A dark and devious tale about reclaiming power, trust, and agency. Stunning development along the way for multiple characters. It felt like a welcomed breeze to read too with short chapters and the right balance of details to dialogue. I did hope for a different ending (one more in line with something like what happened in the movie The Witch), but the one we got in this book didn't bother my reading experience.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    Brujas: The Magic and Power of Witches of Color By Lorraine Monteagut, Ph.D. Cover Image
    $19.99
    ISBN: 9781641609951
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Chicago Review Press - May 1st, 2023

    An absolute revelation. The magical blend of personal stories, community research, and cultural ethnography in this book is matched by Lorraine's blazing prose, dazzling lyricism, and rich tales of the past, present, and future. This will now be my most recommended book for witches- from deep practitioners to curious enthusiasts alike.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    Artemis Made Me Do It (Myth and Magick #2) By Trista Mateer Cover Image
    $16.99
    ISBN: 9781771682725
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Central Avenue Publishing - September 6th, 2022

    Words and images that are as fierce and powerful as Artemis (and the various cultural incarnations of such goddess). Healing my girlhood to help the woman in me has been hard... But interdisciplinary poetry like this makes it a bit easier and more possible. Also very much inspired to return to my own art and words.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    Our Wives Under the Sea: A Novel By Julia Armfield Cover Image
    $17.99
    ISBN: 9781250229908
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Flatiron Books - June 27th, 2023

    Savage study on the depths of love. A speculative story that lingers on the sinking feelings we have towards the known and unknown depths of the ocean--and by extension, ourselves. * Dream casting this as an A24 or Neon adaptation with Julia Ducournau at the helm, Kirsten Stewart as Leah, Jena Malone as Miri, and full Florence the Machine ost because of course.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    Sofia Coppola: Forever Young By Hannah Strong, Little White Lies (Illustrator) Cover Image
    By Hannah Strong, Little White Lies (Illustrator)
    $45.00
    ISBN: 9781419755521
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Abrams Books - May 17th, 2022

    A beautiful blend of critical and personal reflection of Sofia Coppola's career (thus far). I fully admit that I've become a sucker for these LWL filmmaker books; they're gorgeous with full page quality screencaps and clever design choices to match the contemporary writing styles of each author. Hannah Woodhead's voice shines strong in this one, and I fell in love with her personal touch of sensations and nostalgia in each chapter/section. Her dedication to "The Virgin Suicides" is especially poignant. And I'm really glad she didn't shy away from exploring the real issues within some of Sofia's more privileged/problematic creative liberties (mainly with race in "Lost in Translation" and "The Beguiled, and social class in "On the Rocks"). Pair this with some older but none the less stunning and thoughtful critiques of Sofia's work: Sofia Coppola: The Politics of Visual Pleasure and Sofia Coppola: A Cinema of Girlhood


  • Staff Pick Badge
    What We Fed to the Manticore By Talia Lakshmi Kolluri Cover Image
    $16.95
    ISBN: 9781953534415
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Tin House Books - September 6th, 2022

    21st-century animal fables for a world in turmoil. These fauna tales blend the fantastical and factual, the somber and silly. A stellar short story collection to dip into during triple-degree summers. Random: At the time of writing this review, there's a pod of pilot whales beaching themselves in Australia. 52 have died so far. And I immediately thought of Talia writing their story into existence.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    Dance Works: Stories of Creative Collaboration By Allison Orr, Liz Lerman (Foreword by) Cover Image
    By Allison Orr, Liz Lerman (Foreword by)
    $22.00
    ISBN: 9780819500243
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Wesleyan University Press - April 4th, 2023

    Dance Works is a collection of personal tales about Austin, TX and the vast and diverse dance community within it, mainly Allison Orr's exceptional company, "Forklift Danceworks." Art makes a city thrive and survive. And when the arts and artists are supported, that city becomes something exceptionally wonderful. Orr has been building on the philosophy that everyone should have access to movement and feel welcomed as dancers no matter their "skill" level. That communities are stronger when they move together and witness one another moving in space and time. That workers from all walks of life deserve art to not only enrich their lives but strengthen their bond to the city that they dedicate so much of their lives to. Read this if you are interested in artistic and public collaboration, connectivity, and creation.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    The Changeling: Volume 1 By Tina N. Lugo Cover Image
    $13.99
    ISBN: 9781945509919
    Availability: Not available to order
    Published: Silver Sprocket - August 24th, 2022

    Thrilling start to what will become an epic saga. Tina Lugo creates a world and characters with a pure sense of representation and creativity. You can feel the authenticity and excitement flowing in every corner she's illustrated; Zelda, queer, Dark Souls, Taíno, Dragon Ball, Muay Thai, Princess Mononoke, Berserk--there's something for everyone in this growing story. Would love to see more calm, emotional panels of the environment and characters in the volumes to follow. The simple details in some of the dialogue-less images are so exquisite.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    The Invisible Hour: A Novel By Alice Hoffman Cover Image
    $27.99
    ISBN: 9781982175375
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Atria Books - August 15th, 2023

    A book about our passion for books and a tale that flutters through various genres. (3.5) Unfortunately, the third act/ending didn't feel strong enough for me. The start was enchanting with the usual Alice Hoffman magic infused into the wild characters and the lush east-coast surroundings. A mother-daughter bond that felt authentic and true to the story. But I found myself speed reading once the past and the present collide. It felt like I had been abruptly thrust into a historical biopic about Nathaniel Hawthorne--which is fine except I wasn't expecting that storyline to feel so Outlander-esque, you know? I can't quite explain it but Mia also started to feel more like an annoying fangirl than a mystical time-traveler. For me, the strongest parts of the story are at the library where Mia finds solace and safety with its caretakers, Sarah Mott and Constance Allen. I desperately wanted more of this relationship with more moments showing how the library acts as a place of power and peace for the community, especially after the dangerous throes of the cult.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    The Dead are Gods By Eirinie Carson Cover Image
    $27.99
    ISBN: 9781685890452
    Availability: Out of Stock; Usually Arrives in 7-10 Days
    Published: Melville House - April 11th, 2023

    A transformational love-letter to friendship, grief, and identity. In reading this, I felt seen in how I reacted to a close friend of mine's sudden death years ago and the grief that followed. I also found so much solidarity in how Eirinie explores her closest friendship with such pure passion. A beautifully examined female friendship is too far and few in nonfiction books.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    The Story of Art Without Men By Katy Hessel Cover Image
    $45.00
    ISBN: 9780393881868
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: W. W. Norton & Company - May 2nd, 2023

    Each life story included in here--though brief--took me on a journey of solace. This book reminded me that these artists have dealt with not just creative blocks and barriers or success and joys, but also a whole range of just simply living life. There are so many names, so much art that I'm excited to return to later in order to honor and really dig deeper.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    Chrysalis: Stories By Anuja Varghese Cover Image
    $17.99
    ISBN: 9781487011666
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Astoria - March 14th, 2023

    Vibrant and voluminous writing. Stories that speak to the strange spectrum of life, each with their own complex characters who feel equally magical and real. This is one of my favorite short story collections of the decade. I can't wait to see what more Anuja Varghese creates.


  • Staff Pick Badge
    The Haunting of Alejandra: A Novel By V. Castro Cover Image
    $28.00
    ISBN: 9780593499696
    Availability: On Our Shelves Now
    Published: Del Rey - April 18th, 2023

    Visceral, in all the ways that also turn out to be therapeutic and revolutionary. Reading this felt like a screaming circle of women from past, present, and future. V. is quite simply my favorite contemporary author of the decade. Just like my favorite contemporary author of previous decades, Francesca Lia Block, I find myself in these stories, and by extension I learn about others so much more too. There are so many lines in this book that took my breath away, so many moments that helped soothe my own trauma (I'm childfree by choice for life, but I have mother-wounds that refuse to heal). The connective tissue of learning about and utilizing therapy with magic for a Latinx woman was exceptionally represented, too. Mothers are hard for me to connect with--as mentioned above, I have mother-wounds and actively fight for my right to not carry/birth/raise a child--but I felt myself empathizing, screaming, crying, laughing, and loving Alejandra and her kids throughout the entire story. I hope V. continues to bend genres and represent all aspects of Latinx life.