Kalynn's Staff PicksBy Underground Books
Sarah J. Maas$19.00 $17.67
Do I even need to write anything? You know the hype and yes, it's worth the hype. Just read it and be prepared to think about nothing else but this series for a while :)
Riley Sager$28.00 $26.04
Chin-deep in her own controversy following an unfortunate death in her care, our main character Kit is desperate for more work (and money). She finds this work atop the chiseled Maine cliffside in none other than the infamous Hope's End estate, caring for the alleged family-murderer Lenora Hope. Kit is immediately suspicious of not only Lenora, but the entire existence of Hope's End and the other live-in help too. But, Kit soon finds that she and Lenora have way more in common than she could have ever expected. She's desperate to find out the truth of the Hope family murders at whatever cost. Sager delivers twists and turns in this totally Gothic, atmospheric thriller!
Rachel Hawkins$29.00 $26.97
POV: your adoptive mom, a multi-millionaire and absolute ICON of North Carolina lore and legend, just died. You're set to inherit the entire estate. Sounds great, right? Except maybe the rest of your family hates you and you hate them. They're ready to accuse you of murder, you're ready to run their names through the mud. All this, plus your loving wife trying to remain by your side in (seeming) innocence. What do you do? And here we are just thinking our family gatherings are the worst. Sheesh! This was a whirlwind and I absolutely loved it. Old money, lies, murder, drama. Yes, yes, and more YES!
Naomi Alderman$28.99 $26.96
Alderman’s imagined future is one full of AI, climate disaster, and three tech billionaires leading an industry so advanced and rapidly all-consuming that the world just might be better off without it. Doomsday preparation, religious anxiety, and sneaky subplots drive this story, leaving you wondering, “what would really happen if the world ended?” Will you be a fox, or a rabbit?
Barbara Kingsolver$32.50 $30.23
There is nothing I can say about this book that has not already been said. It is beautiful, an absolute triumph of contemporary literature that will (someday) work to form an entire understanding of literature and life during our time. Though I, personally, have never had a first-hand experience that is anything similar to Demon's tumultuous life, I know and love people who have. Kingsolver's writing and her ability to string Demon's story together is something that will stay with me forever. She immediately earned a lifelong reader of her work, and she will with you too, I am sure of it.
Ben Hatke$22.99 $21.38
What a delightful page-turner this was! A young boy named Milo is tasked with braving the dreaded basement after his baby sister loses a sock. However, he finds that his basement is special...it continues to descend deeper and deeper! On his adventure, he meets unlikely friends in the forms of skulls and eyeballs that help him defeat terrifying, slimy foes. The art work in this graphic novel is absolutely gorgeous, perfectly captivating the creepiness of basements with every page. A perfect spooky season read!
Mike Curato$17.99 $16.73
I picked up this excellent graphic novel after seeing it take the #4 spot on the list of the Most Challenged Books of 2022. This story follows Aiden as he finishes out his last week of summer camp before starting high school. He's struggling with his self image, self acceptance, his sexuality, his teenage desires, his mental health, his home life...all while trying to learn archery and braving the male shower hall that is cluttered with bullies and toxic masculinity. I'm not sure how the author was able to explore so many important topics in one graphic novel, but he does a wonderful job at doing so. I read this in one sitting, and I closed the book with a feeling of wholeness, pride, and comfort in my chest. Read this book, you won't regret it.
Isabelle Schuler$18.99 $17.66
Savvy, relentless, powerful. These are all words that come to mind when I think of Lady Macbeth (Gruoch) after reading this exploration into her history and story before her iconic characterization in Shakespeare’s play. A romantic storyline is weaved through Gruoch's rise to power (and, at times, fall from grace). I really loved listening to this audiobook on my way to work, and I would suggest this book to anyone who loves character driven tales!
Daniel Mason$28.00 $26.04
This beautifully written book tells the cyclical story of one piece of land in Massachusetts over the span of 400 years. It covers the passage of time, the effect on the land, the humans (and nonhumans) who inhabit it, and the ways in which the woods will survive on, always. Daniel Mason artfully constructs an interconnected literary tale that pulls readers into the forest and refuses to let go. I absolutely loved this piece of art in novel form.
Moniquill Blackgoose$18.00 $16.74
There are an infinite number of nice things I could say about this book. It is an alternate historical fantasy that does not hide its exploration into themes of harmful colonialism and indigenous resistance. Our heroine, Anequs, leads the reader through her experience at an academy that wants to essentially change everything about who she is, but she knows who she is, and she is not ashamed of it! This was easily one of the best books I have read so far in 2023!
Dann McDorman$28.00 $26.04
Wow! This book is entirely captivating and such an interesting take on the mystery genre. Adam McAnnis, detective and friend of one of West Heart Hunting Club's founding family members, is allowed to join the Bicentennial weekend at the elusive club. All seems relatively normal, but with a mystery it never really is normal, is it? Murder, lies, old money, infidelity, and an unreliable narrator voice guide this story, and McDorman bends the book's structure in a way that I have never seen before, making comments about the genre, plot, characters, and reader as it moves along to make for a fully immersive experience. Loved it!
Alix E. Harrow$28.99 $26.96
This darkly gothic and delightfully creepy haunted house tale has much more than may meet the eye. Despite living in Eden, Kentucky for her entire life, Opal has never had a home to call her own. Her feet have always landed on rocky ground...until she begins to dream of Starling House...with its wisteria and kudzu and its labyrinth of twists and turns that lead to more questions than answers. The house's enticing history with an alternate reality "Underland," and the wardens that have kept it hidden from the rest of the world, somehow provide Opal with a strange comfort she has never known. Will Opal finally find the home she has always wanted, or will the secrets of Eden and the Beasts of Underland keep her stuck in a spiral of generational trauma forever? I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this one and I absolutely loved it! So creepy, such a satisfying ending, and I am obsessed with the Alice in Wonderland/Stranger Things vibes. 10/10!!!!
George R. R. Martin's a Game of Thrones 5-Book Boxed Set (Song of Ice and Fire Series): A Game of Thrones, a Clash of Kings, a Storm of Swords, a Feas
George R. R. Martin$98.00 $91.14
After the complete let down of season 8 (if you know, you know), I decided to try my luck with this series. I had never read something so long and with as many intricate details as these books, but I absolutely loved reading this story in its original form. It is truly fascinating to see what was kept and what was changed for the show adaptation. These books open up Westeros in a way that simply can't be brought to the screen. I highly recommend this series for anyone looking for a new series to check out! Start with the first, "A Game of Thrones" and find yourself coming back for more!
Truman Capote$18.00 $16.74
"Hi Crime Junkies..." If you have ever been a fan of true crime, this book needs to be on your bookshelf. After traveling to Kansas in the early 1960s with fellow author Harper Lee, Capote began investigative work to tell the story of the brutally murdered Clutter family. The result was this book, a of non-fiction novel that pioneered the true crime genre. My personal favorite aspect of this book is the dual storytelling. Capote details how the Holcomb residents close to the Clutter family dealt with the murders while also providing exploration into the minds of the murderers themselves. His extensive research shines through each and every page. I read this book in high school, but it is one that I revisit nearly every year. It has also been looped into the list of "banned books" which, to me, gives even more reason to pick it up and read it if you haven't already!
Lauren J. a. Bear$28.00 $26.04
This is a beautifully written reimagining of the story of the Gorgon sisters: Euryale, Stheno, and the most well known, Medusa. Most people are not even aware that the Gorgons were a trio, and that truly is a shame because their story is such a touching and heartfelt journey of sisterhood. They struggle with wanting sisterly revenge despite their desire to protect each other at any cost. Euryale and Stheno (both immortals) grieve their mortal Medusa even as she lives, and as the sisters travel across land and sea they learn what it means to truly love and what that love will cost them in the end. This book is sad, it is SO good, but it is so sad. You know the end before you even begin, but I can promise you that it is worth it to enter this world of Gods and Monsters.
Grady Hendrix$28.00 $26.04
Ok, so, family trauma, generational secrets, and possessed puppets all walk into a bar...what do you get? Surprisingly, this book! Hendrix continues his streak of witty and frightful novels with How to Sell a Haunted House. The story follows Louise, and right after finding out that both of her parents have unexpectedly died she has to travel back to Charleston to make arrangements alongside her brother, Mark. While she has always tried to put space between her and her (admittedly stereotypical yet hilarious) Southern family, what she never expected was to find herself knee deep in her mother's creepy puppets (or should I say elbow deep?). I loved this book. I loved the ominous Southern setting, the layers of character development, and the way that Hendrix writes the creepy scenes literally had me looking over my shoulder!
Rebecca Yarros$29.99 $27.89
One reviewer called this book "brutally addictive" and I have to absolutely agree with that statement! Author Rebecca Yarros brings the reader right into the Rider's Quadrant of Bagsiath War College to follow candidate Violet Sorrengail as she fights tooth and nail to prove herself worthy to ride a dragon. Despite only ever preparing to join the Scribe Quadrant, Violet puts in every bit of effort to successfully pass the Rider's grueling training. This book is full of deadly games, hilariously smart dragons, and sexual tension so palpable you will not be able to put it down! I know I couldn't! With a tagline of "Graduate or die..." I knew this would be an exciting read, and I was not disappointed in the slightest. Read it so you can come back in and we can chat!!!
Jennifer Saint$28.99 $26.96
In this lovely reimagining of an Ancient Greek story, author Jennifer Saint introduces readers to the fearless and bold Atalanta. As a woman raised by bears in the heart of Artemis' forest, Atalanta becomes the fiercest of huntresses and yearns for adventure despite her solace in the forest. When given the opportunity to represent Artemis as one of the famous Arognauts on a quest for the Golden Fleece, she does everything in her power to prove herself as a respectable heroine. Artemis warns her that if she marries, it will be her undoing, but Atalanta has never been concerned with marriage in the first place. She craves adventure and finds comfort in the heart of battle, and it stays that way until she finds herself in a passionate affair with another hero. This story works to juggle both personal desire and serving a grander purpose, all with enchanting description and thought-provoking dialogue. If you are a fan of Circe, you should definitely check this one out!
Tj Klune$28.99 $26.96
In a version of Earth set far into the future, TJ Klune brings together a band of hilariously sweet, psychotically witty, and ferociously protective robots led by one human, the last human, Vic. When disaster strikes and Vic's father is abducted, the crew must try to save their found family from utter destruction. Throughout their adventure, they learn that in order to snap the puppeteer strings and truly embrace their own desires, they must do it all with love in their heart...or operating system. Klune continues his streak of heartfelt storytelling and touching dialogue in this one, blurring the line between man and machine for a read that will surely have you reaching out to hug the ones you love.
Bell Hooks$16.99 $15.80
This is one of the smartest, most thought provoking books I have ever read! bell hooks works to answer the age old question of "what is love?" from a critical and very scholarly perspective. hooks looks at love in a way that I truly have never considered, picking apart the selfishness and lack of compassion in our society and signaling those traits as proof of lovelessness in a world that could be so filled with love if only we tried a little bit harder. This book has the ability to change your heart, your mind, or both. It is for that reason that I highly recommend it! It is also a great introduction to more scholarly writing if that is something you have considered getting into.
Emily Ratajkowski$26.99 $25.10
Model and actress Emily Ratajkowski writes extremely personal and profound essays with themes of femininity, the sexualization of womanhood, personal empowerment, and the impact of masculinity and the patriarchy on those themes. Though she does write from a personal perspective, she is still able to critically talk about issues she has faced in the modeling/acting industry in a way that any person can understand. I did find parts of this book really sad because I felt so much empathy for all of the people who can relate to the issues she writes about, but it was also somewhat comforting to read about how Ratajkowski takes her power back into her own hands. If you liked The Body Keeps the Score, this would be a good one to add to your reading list!
Kate DiCamillo and Bagram Ibatoulline$8.99 $8.36
This sweet story follows a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. While he starts off rather pretentious and well taken care of by his owner Abilene, he is eventually lost. What follows is a classic tale of love, loss, and learning how to cope with feelings even when one feels their most sensitive, their most breakable. Edward dreams of finding Abilene again, but he must go on a "miraculous journey" to do so, one that shifts his perspective entirely. My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Childers, read this book to my class, and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since. I highly suggest this book for young readers, or if you are looking for something to read alongside your kiddos!
Celeste Ng$17.00 $15.81
Celeste Ng is able to paint such an interesting juxtaposition between the picture perfect Richardson family and the mother-daughter duo Mia and Pearl in this story. Mia and Pearl rent their house from the Richardson family, and it is because of this that their stories become intertwined. When friends of the Richardson family are in the process of adopting a Chinese-American baby, the small suburb of Shaker Heights is fully split on their opinion about the adoption and its process. Mia and Pearl are included in this divide, on opposing sides. Themes of racial tension, class disparity, and the age old, complex mother-daughter relationship come into play in this book to create a story that grabs hold of you and refuses to let go.
Gillian Flynn$18.00 $16.74
Gillian Flynn's extremely well received book is extremely well received for good reason. This is one of the first books I ever annotated, simply because I wanted to figure out the mystery of Amy's disappearance myself. Both Nick and Amy Dunne are incredibly layered characters. They are unreliable, funny, shocking, and (oddly enough) relatable at times. Their actions are even more layered than their characterizations, causing readers like me to exclaim, "What?!" at several different points. I recommend this story for anyone who has been in a reading slump because this will surely get you out! While the movie adaptation is pretty great, if you haven't got the chance to read this, you totally should!
Jennifer Saint$17.99 $16.73
If you are a fan of Madeline Miller's books, this is something that you will probably enjoy! In this retelling of the well-known Minotaur myth, Ariadne (Princess of Crete and sister to the Minotaur) faces internal and external battles as she tries to find her own happiness while also juggling her family's expectations. She does all of this with the looming threat of her brother's required blood sacrifice hanging over her head. When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives as one of the sacrifices to her brother, Ariadne tries to hatch a plan for escape, for permanent happiness. Will it work, though? If you love mythology mixed with timeless themes like sacrifice and familial relationships, this is the read for you!