With its highly original style of storytelling, Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, is a novel reading experience—excuse the pun—and deserving of its many “best of 2015” list appearances. The sci-fi adventure story is told entirely through a collection of hacked documents, including interviews, restricted military files, descriptions of video and audio footage, and more. The reader never knows what the next page will hold. Worth noting: Brad Pitt’s production company is developing a film based on this novel. —Raela Schoenherr
Excelsior Bay Books
Raela Schoenherr is a fictions acquisitions editor at a Minnesota publishing company She also loves to talk books and writing on Twitter at @raelaschoenherr.
This month’s wine, the St. Innocent Villages Cuvée, is one of my favorites, vintage after vintage. St. Innocent, a winery in Oregon, is one of the state’s finest pinot noir producers. Their winemaker mimics the style of many burgundy producers, to create a very balanced, aromatic wine that’s both high-quality and affordable (about $29.99). St. Innocent produces several different bottlings from single vineyard sources. The Villages Cuvée is a blend of several of these vineyards, which gives this wine consistency year after year. Light-bodied and fairly tannic, this wine is enjoyable upon release, but also worth cellaring. Aged in French oak for a full 12 months, it’s got well integrated flavors of vanilla, cherry, raspberry and hints of spice. —Kevin Castellano
Kevin Castellano is the general manager of Wayzata Wine and Spirits, and a respected lake-area wine and liquor expert.
The debut self-titled album from across-the-pond group Gunship stalks its way through 57 minutes of uncut 1980s vibe. Unsurprisingly, the popcorn arpeggios have a neon sheen to them, but a dark drone of synthesized bedrock casts a shadow of grit over even the most sparkly passages. It’s not just the synth talking, either. Mountain-sized vocal melodies cover the retro-future landscape and provide enough hook to grab even the most stubborn ear. Most of the lyrics are silly nonsense, but so was a lot of the decade that inspired Gunship. Radical. —Alex Skjong
Barnes & Noble
Alex Skjong has written for a number of publications in the Twin Cities, Chicago and Atlanta. He is a music lover first and an unreasonably tall human being second.