Ryan has been a bibliophile for as long as she can remember, devouring books before she could even walk. (Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration). Her favorite books include Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (Ryan collects all things Alice, including every edition and adaptation she can get her hands on, and her collection is currently overflowing out of two bookcases with no sign of stopping) and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Ryan had a Night Circus themed wedding, and have you heard her interview with Erin Morgenstern?). She will also loudly and passionately handsell you novels from the Fantasy, Young Adult, Psychological Thriller, and Horror genres. Ryan is the host of The Laydown Podcast with coworkers Kelso and Hillary, where she interviews authors and shouts excitedly about her current reads. As a mom to two Bookstore Babies, she is also well versed in picture books and other items for kiddos! Ryan has been with Gibson's since 2012, and heads our social media team in addition to being a Frontline Bookseller and Producer/Editor of The Laydown!
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Ryan's March 2020 pick
In this extraordinarily frightening horror novel, a young woman goes missing for a year and then mysteriously returns with no memory of what happened. Except the person who returns is...not quite right.
Her group of best friends are determined to welcome her back as if nothing has happened, and take her on a weekend getaway to a remote hotel where every room has a ridiculous theme and the drinks are flowing.
As they try to glue their core friendship back together, it becomes clear to one of them, and to the reader, that something is terrifyingly amiss.
Page upon page of increasing dread, spine chilling prose, and the juxtaposition of horrific imagery against an oversaturated upbeat girls weekend at a kitschy location makes for one of the most genuinely scary books I’ve read in years. Very few horror novels actually make me consider leaving the lights on at night once I’ve finished them, but I was jumping at every shadow for a while after setting this book down.
Not only is THE RETURN utterly unnerving, it’s also exceptionally well-written with maddeningly oblivious characters determined to ignore every sign of doom and terror tapping them on the shoulder.
I. Loved. This. Book.
Ryan's February 2020 pick
Pride and Prejudice is a story that has been adapted over and over again, and Pride by Ibi Zoboi is one of those adaptations that should not be missed! Retold with a cast made up entirely of people of color, set in modern Brooklyn, Pride is a fresh take that readers will love whether they are fans or the original or not. The audiobook is read by Elizabeth Acevedo (The Poet X) and is a gorgeous way to absorb this fantastic book. Pride is a story of race, class, gentrification, family, and love, and I think readers will devour it.
Get the audiobook from Libro.fm, and support Gibson’s Bookstore while you listen!
Ryan's February 2020 pick, 2 of 2
This sweeping fantasy from Kelly Braffet weaves gripping tension, political drama, and deliciously complex characters into a gorgeously magical tapestry that will leave you gasping for air. This book will cure your Game of Thrones hangover. Braffet's writing is exceptional. THE UNWILLING is extremely character driven, and readers will feel as though they've been following these remarkable characters for years instead of just a few chapters.
Ryan's January 2020 pick
Doors that lead to other worlds, the ability to imbue power and truth into written words, monsters and villains, a vibrantly fierce and beautifully diverse main character who shines with her entire being, a whole lot of magic, a thrilling adventure, a story of love and loss and abandonment and waiting and searching and never losing hope. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a dazzling debut that is sure to open Doors all over this world and others.
I also highly recommend the audiobook, read by January LaVoy, available through Libro.fm!
Ryan's November 2019 pick
The Starless Sea is another exceptional novel from Erin Morgenstern, the author of The Night Circus.
The Starless Sea is a love story to stories, to storytellers and to lovers of stories. It is fairy tale, myth, mystery, adventure, romance, and so much more. It has depth, it has sweetness, it has sorrows, it has fate, it has heartbreak, it has love, it bends time and space, and most of all, it has stories, which are just stories until they are more.
Erin Morgenstern chooses every word with such care and precision, every sentence in this book could be read aloud to gasps of appreciation. Creativity, magic, and love flow through these pages like light through a window, settling delicately on each word, imbuing this story with a warmth and familiarity more commonly reserved for old friends.
The diversity in The Starless Sea spans across multiple categories of humanity, bringing a refreshing amount of reality into this rich fantastical narrative.
Her alternating chapters weave myths and fairytales throughout the main narrative and bring an added layer of mysticism and mystery to the whole.
The Starless Sea is warm, glittering, golden honey. It's stories written on dust motes floating through a beam of sunlight. It's a forgotten verse to a song you heard years ago floating on a breeze. It's an adventure and a love story and a video game where all of the choices have been made for you by someone who is much better at playing the game.
As a fan of fantasy, of love, of stories, and of Erin Morgenstern, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Ryan's October 2019 pick, 2 of 2
Lesbian Necromancers in Space. Need I say more?
Probably not, but I will anyway.
Harrowhark Nonagesimus (Harrow) and Gideon the Ninth have been enemies since childhood, but they have to stick together and feign mutual respect as they participate in a creepy, incredibly difficult trial of wits and skill where if they win, Harrow will achieve immortality and save the House of the Ninth.
I kind of want to be Gideon when I grow up. She’s bitingly sarcastic with an incredibly dry sense of humor and she fully embraces the darkness, popping on her aviator sunglasses and pulling her hood over her fiery red hair, all of which accentuates the white skull painted on her face.
This book is awesome. It has a huge cast of characters, all of whom are incredible, a fascinating series of spooky trials, and one of the most fun, dark plots I’ve read in a long time. It makes my little spooky heart happy. I can’t wait for the sequel.
Ryan's October 2019 pick, 1 of 2
A modern reimagining of Frankenstein told in two timelines. One, in the 1800s as Mary Shelley writes her famous novel. The other in modern day England as transgender Dr. Ry Shelley falls in love with the eccentric and brilliant Victor Stein.
At times steamy and explicit, and other times stifling and proper, this novel is fascinating and unique. It blurs the line between fantasy and reality as novel characters turn up in real life and history repeats itself or timelines converge or universes overlap or some other explanation for the strange occurrences that take place. Whatever the true explanation, this book is a smart read that will have you chuckling and scratching your head and pondering artificial intelligence and bringing the dead back to life.
Ryan's September 2019 pick
If you liked A MAN CALLED OVE, you'll love AKIN by Emma Donoghue. Noah is a 79-year-old widower and Michael is his 11-year-old great-nephew. Michael's father has died from an apparent overdose and his mother is serving time in prison for possession, so Noah, his only available kin, is asked to temporarily care for him. This ruffles Noah's plans of traveling to France, but ultimately he decides to take his great-nephew along with him. Together, Noah and Michael explore France, learning about each other and their family history along the way, and Noah, in particular, learns not to judge too harshly or make assumptions about people before having all of the facts.
AKIN is such a sweet book and the characters are darling and delightfully human, with a level of respect and understanding that our culture could use more of. Despite having next to nothing in common with his 11-year-old great-nephew, Noah treats Michael with dignity and compassion, recognizing that the boy is grieving his father and missing his mother and terrified of his future. The subplot of addiction and the justice system is a perfect balance to the main plot.
I loved this book, and anyone looking to escape into something uplifting and sweet will relish in this story of kin.
Ryan's July 2019 pick, 1 of 2
I had the pleasure of meeting Helen Phillips at an event and when I picked up her book afterwards, I found myself sucked into a creepy story that felt at once very personal and completely out of this world. A novel of motherhood, paranoia, and home intrusion, THE NEED will have you checking every shadowy corner in your home, but absolutely nothing is as it seems. This book takes twists and turns that will give you whiplash and will have you turning the pages as fast as you can to find out what happens next. This book grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go. Fans of Sarah Pinborough's BEHIND HER EYES will love this book. It's terrifying, thrilling, and goes places you can't possibly predict.
Ryan's July 2019 pick, 2 of 2
This is a nonfiction book about the sexuality of three different women. One, a young woman who had an affair with her teacher in high school and later presses charges. Another, a woman who separates from her husband when she rekindles a sexual relationship with her high school boyfriend. The third, a woman who experiments with threesomes, voyeurism, and dominance/submission with her husband. This book, while very real, reads like a novel. The writing is captivating. THREE WOMEN is fascinating, sexy, at times hopeful and at other times heartbreaking.
Ryan's June 2019 pick
When the Apocalypse occurs, American Historian Jon Keller is at a conference in a Swiss hotel. This book is compiled of his journal entries documenting all of the events he witnessed prior to the Apocalypse and everything thereafter, including the discovery of a body and his investigation into the possible homicide. It’s bad enough being stuck in a hotel with a group of strangers with a diminishing food supply and no way to contact family or friends, and no idea if the world outside of your walls even exists anymore, and it’s even worse if you suspect there may be a murderer among you.
This book is at once a cozy mystery and also a vast Apocolyptic event written from the perspective of a potentially unreliable narrator.
Ryan's October 2018 pick
An exciting sci-fi thriller adventure about the dangers of viral fame featuring a diverse set of strong characters, this book truly is an absolutely remarkable thing.
Ryan's July 2018 pick
Fans of the hysterical Dungeons & Dragons Podcast hosted by The McElroy Brothers (of “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” fame) with their dad Clint, will delight in this deliriously charming and witty graphic novelization of the first part of the Balance Arc from “The Adventure Zone”.
Follow Taako, Magnus, and Merle as well as their omniscient and sarcastic Dungeon Master, Griffin, through all manner of adventures and hijinks.
Even if you know nothing about Dungeons & Dragons or The McElroys, you will love this incredible graphic novel.
Paired with Pietsch's gorgeous illustrations The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins is a fantastic tale of heart, humor, and truly magnificent storytelling.
Here There Be Gerblins is unique, it's funny, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I am already foaming at the mouth for the next one.
“The story of four idiots who played DnD so hard that they made themselves cry.” – Justin McElroy, summing up the entire “Balance” campaign
Ryan's November 2017 pick
The Girl Before, by Rena Olsen
When a woman is taken from her home, from her husband and daughters, she thinks her life is over. Then she slowly begins to realize that perhaps her life wasn't quite as perfect as she'd thought it was, and her situation begs the question: can we be convinced that what we're doing is right, even if it's very VERY wrong?
Ryan's October 2017 pick
The Circle, by Dave Eggers
Utopia or dystopia? You decide. Feed meets 1984 in this eerily familiar world where social media rules supreme and there is no longer a semblance of anonymity or quiet solitude. But it's totally your choice. Probably.
Ryan's September 2017 pick
Heartless, by Marissa Meyer
The author of the incredible Lunar Chronicles takes us to Wonderland long before Alice falls down the rabbit hole. We all know the wildly ruthless Queen of Hearts, but before she was ordering the decapitation of everyone in sight, she was a teenage girl named Catherine. Heartless does for the Queen of Hearts what Wicked did for the Wicked Witch of the West. Not all villains were born evil.
Ryan's August 2017 pick
So, you're the lone survivor of a horrific massacre. Congratulations! What do you do now?
Final Girls is riveting and intense. Fans of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train will devour this psychological thriller. Oh, and keep some snacks nearby. The main character likes to bake.
Ryan's July pick
Words in Deep Blue, by Cath Crowley
This book is bittersweet and beautiful. It is first love and best friends. It's letters and loss and books. So many books. It is heart-achingly lovely. This is a book for bibliophiles and everyone who knows the healing power of a good book.
Ryan's February 2017 pick
Behind Her Eyes, by Sarah Pinborough
A psychological thriller with a twist.
And then another twist.
And then more twists.
The writing is great, the characters are insane, and the story is one that you will never forget. And don’t even get me started on the ending. You’ll never, ever, ever see it coming. Even when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you’ll be wrong.
This book keeps you on your toes until the final page.
Ryan's December 2016 pick, 1 of 3
Behind the scenes of the most popular show on Broadway.
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Ryan's December 2016 pick, 2 of 3
Fans of The Time Traveler’s Wife will devour this sweet romance.
Ryan's December 2016 pick, 3 of 3
This horror novel is unsettling and has an underlying feeling of dread throughout. If you liked House of Leaves and The Room, this one is for you.
Ryan's November 2016 pick
When I found out that Hannah was writing a memoir, and that it was full of things she'd never talked about before, I expected saucy tales of her lesbian sexcapades or wild drunken nights or her favorite or least favorite MDK guests, that sort of thing.
What I did not expect was a heartwrenching tale of poverty and suffering and survival perpetrated by her mother's mental illness and the abandonment of family members who simply couldn't deal with it all.
I did not expect stories of adversity and pain, self-harm and self-hatred, homophobia and ultimately, acceptance and love.
This is not a book of puns (well, not entirely) and raucous tales (okay, there are some).
This is a book of strength and love and self-worth.
Hannah Hart has fought, and is still fighting in many ways, incredibly hard for everything she has.
When I found out Hannah was writing a memoir, I did not expect to be so completely humbled and inspired. But there you have it.
Ryan's August 2016 pick, 1 of 2
In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware
If you enjoy books along the lines of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, then you’ll also enjoy In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. Set during the most awkward bachelorette party ever, there’s a murder most foul and someone at the party is the murderer. Probably. This thriller is well-paced, full of frustratingly capable murder suspects, and sprinkles of hilarity throughout.
Ryan's August 2016 pick, 2 of 2
The Paper Magician, by Charlie N. Holmberg
Ceony Twill is kind of a brat. She’s smart, she’s fierce, and she’s full of herself. She thinks she’s too good to be a paper magician, and she throws a fit when she’s assigned an apprenticeship in that field instead of something more worthy of her skills like metal or glass or plastic or even rubber. Alas, paper magicians are rare, and her skills are needed, so off she goes, grumbling all the way. As it turns out, paper magic is beautiful and fascinating and useful, and Ceony has a knack for it. Plus, her instructor is gorgeous, so that doesn’t hurt.
This is the first in a trilogy of light fantasy with a very cool system of magic and plenty of romance. And don’t worry; Ceony gets better.
Ryan April 2016 pick
Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend, by Alan Cumyn
Yes, this book is as weird as the title suggests. Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend is a fever dream of hormones, hysteria, and high school, with the added bonus of one spellbindingly hot Pterodactyl. Perfect for fans of Christopher Moore (A Dirty Job, Bloodsucking Fiends, You Suck, Bite Me, Secondhand Souls, etc) this book will make you feel high as a kite while reading it, and probably for several hours afterwards. I recommend waiting at least two hours after reading before operating heavy machinery. This book is hilarious, sexy, and completely weird. I loved it.
Ryan's March 2016 pick
A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
It's hard to describe A Little Life without using the words tragic, heartbreaking, and beautiful, because it is all of those things and more. It follows the lives of four men, best friends from college, through the ups and downs of their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. Told in a non-linear format, we discover backstories the way one would recall memories - out of order, and often sparking other trains of thought. One character in particular has a dark, traumatic history involving severe abuse that has shaped his adulthood, and one which he despises talking or even thinking about. These characters will break your heart, and you will close the book feeling as though they are your friends. They will stay with you long after the final page has turned.
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Ryan's February 2016 pick
The Love That Split the World, by Emily Henry
Sometimes you need a luscious, delicious, heart-aching romance about young love that traverses the constraints of time and space and possibilities.
Fans of The Time Traveler's Wife will fall in love with The Love That Split The World. Curl up on a cold February day under a warm blanket with a cup of hot chocolate and this book and prepare to read the whole thing in one sitting. You will adore these characters and their innocent true love that is so strong and pure, time itself cannot contain it.
Ryan's January 2016 pick
After Alice, by Gregory Maguire
After Alice is Gregory Maguire's fresh new take on Lewis Carroll's fantastical tale. There are seemingly infinite adaptations of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland out there (trust me, I own all of them), but this feels more like a companion than a retelling.
In this story, Alice's childhood friend Ada accidentally follows Alice down the rabbit hole where she encounters many of the same creatures and adventures as Alice, in her friend's wake.
We also get glimpses of the "real world" when the adults realize that Alice (and Ada) have gone missing.
Wonderland is more or less the way we remember it, with some old friends (a bit frazzled having just met the delightfully naive and curious Alice) and some new friends.
After Alice is perfect for fans of the original.
Welcome back to Wonderland.
Ryan's October 2015 pick
Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
It's tough being "The Chosen One". It's tougher when your roommate is also your nemesis who might be a vampire and is definitely a girlfriend-stealing git.
Carry On is a fantasy. It's a love story. It's a ghost story. It's enemies turned friends, and more. It's Simon. It's Baz. It's beautiful and heart-wrenching and funny and clever. If you loved Fangirl, if you loved Harry Potter, if you love love, you'll love Carry On.
Ryan's September 2015 pick
A Dirty Job, by Christopher Moore
If you haven't yet discovered the dark humor that is Christopher Moore's novels, do so starting with A Dirty Job. Life for Charlie Asher is pretty good, and fairly normal, until people start dropping dead around him and he starts hearing voices that no one else hears. He's been recruited as a merchant of Death. It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it.
Once you've finished A Dirty Job, pick up his newest novel, Secondhand Souls - it's the long awaited sequel to A Dirty Job and you won't be disappointed.
Christopher Moore is the author of such classics as: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, Island of the Sequined Love Nun, Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, You Suck: A Love Story, Bite Me: A Love Story, The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror, and many others.
Christopher Moore is hands down the funniest, most creative and bizarre author I've ever read. If you're itching for something wickedly hilarious, look no further.
Ryan's August 2015 pick
The Martian, by Andy Weir
Astronaut Botanist Mark Watney is on a mission to Mars to collect dirt samples, when there's a terrible storm and subsequent accident, and his crew, thinking him dead, leaves him behind. It's not their fault really: he was impaled, his life readings zeroed out, and if they didn't get off the planet in the next 10 seconds, they'd all die. Except, he isn't dead, and now he's stranded on Mars. Alone. Luckily for him, the crew left behind most of their supplies in their urgent escape. Now Mark has to find a way to make those supplies last until he can be rescued. Oh, there's another catch. Everyone thinks he's dead, so there's no rescue mission. Astronaut Botanist Mark Watney is in a tough spot.
The Martian by Andy Weir is basically MacGyver in space. It's incredible. The story is relayed to us via Mark Watney's logs journaling his survival, so the science is sound, but delivered in laymen's terms. Watney is sarcastic and dry and hilarious, and it's nearly impossible to put this book down once you've started it.
Make sure you read The Martian before the movie (starring Matt Damon as Mark Watney) comes out this October!
Ryan's July 2015 pick
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a must-read for all bibliophiles. A.J. is the owner of a small, independent bookstore, whose life changes beyond recognition (for the better) when someone leaves an unusual package for him in his store. "A.J. Fikry" is a story with heart, a story with soul, and a story with book lovers.
Ryan's June 2015 pick, 1 of 2
A Head Full of Ghosts, by Paul Tremblay
Picture "The Exorcist" as a reality television show: That's A Head Full of Ghosts. There are dual unreliable narrators, psychotic breaks, demonic possession and so much more! Get this for the horror movie fan in your life!
I loved this book. The writing is clever and it hooks you immediately. The story is creepy and keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way through.
Ryan's June 2015 pick, 2 of 2
Method 15/33, by Shannon Kirk
Fans of Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, and Room, this is your next read! A young, pregnant girl is kidnapped on her way to school, but she's not the vulnerable child you may think she is. This book is excellently chilling and creepy, and makes you wonder if you're really rooting for the right character.
Ryan's April 2015 pick
Charisma, by Jeanne Ryan
A cripplingly introverted teenage girl gets the opportunity to try a gene therapy drug called "Charisma" that gives her just that. Her life changes overnight as she finds herself not only able to have casual conversations with strangers, but flirt with her crush, speak publicly, and she suddenly craves the attention she's always gone out of her way to avoid. It's everything she's ever wanted, but is it too good to be true?
I loved this story. It's smart and interesting and unnerving and tempting and exciting.
Ryan's March 2015 pick, 1 of 2
Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard
I judged this book by it's incredibly cool cover, and luckily for me, it worked out in my favor. Red Queen is an action-packed fantasy that fans of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones will love. There's romance, violence, betrayal, and a quest for power in which no one is safe and you can't trust anyone. This book is electric and magical, and I couldn't put it down.
Ryan's March 2015 pick, 2 of 2
The Walls Around Us, by Nova Ren Suma
I had the absolute pleasure of reading the manuscript of The Walls Around Us. This book is stunning in its execution, a brilliant, twirling, spinning novel that when completed, made me want to give a standing ovation and throw roses at its feet. The story - told in split narrations, three years apart yet happening simultaneously - is one that grasps the reader tightly and doesn't let go until the very end. Stop what you're doing and read this book right now. You won't regret it.
Ryan's February 2015 pickGrace's Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-up, by Grace HelbigSo here's the thing about Grace Helbig - yes, she's hilarious and charming and wonderful, but she's also smart and has solid advice for people trying to figure out their lives. I picked up this book because I wanted to support Grace, and I read it, knowing there would be some laughs and curious to learn more about her as a human. I was not expecting, however, to learn about myself and find myself nodding as I agreed with her very astute, very sincere advice and life tips. I found myself relating to her, empathizing with her, and even sympathizing at times. Yes, Grace is funny, but she's also human, and a beautiful one at that.