Bookshop Santa Cruz staff recommendation:

The following books are recommended by our staff as great choices for book groups. Sign up for our Book Ends email newsletter to receive more great book group recommendations.

Faber has written an incredible book, packaged beautifully—what a gift. I couldn’t help but be completely taken by it. Like all great storytelling, it contains a little bit of everything, but not too much of anything. It’s a moving exploration of relationships, faith, acts of grace and salvation, of humanity. Pick it up, read the description if you must, but then give yourself the book.

Reviewed by: Melinda
ISBN: 9780553418842
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth - October 28th, 2014

I am completely stunned by Black’s first novel. I have enjoyed a lot of books lately, but, until reading this, I did not realize how much I’ve been missing the whole body impact of a book. Beautiful writing, effortlessly pinpointed to emotion without being emotive, Black writes life itself, tackling marriage, grief, trust, art, inspiration, friendship, motherhood, all of it.

Reviewed by: Melinda
ISBN: 9781400068562
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - July 15th, 2014

As I read the first pages of The Children Act, I found myself wanting to slow down, to soak in these words for a while. This novel is pure Ian McEwan—perfectly weighted and paced, with characters who breathe on the page. But the thing about a novel by McEwan is that you can’t linger; the story insists that you continue. The Children Act is the work of a master.

Reviewed by: Kat
ISBN: 9780385539708
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Nan A. Talese - September 9th, 2014

In An Unnecessary Woman, I found a best friend. Aaliya Sohbi lives alone in Beirut, in an apartment stuffed with books. She is neither religious nor married, which makes her an outcast. She is witty and perceptive and vulnerable, and I wish there was a way I might sit with her for just an hour, to share a cup of tea and talk books.

Reviewed by:
ISBN: 9780802122940
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - November 11th, 2014

I was completely engrossed by this incredibly imaginative and thought-provoking novel. You are introduced to a society so alien, yet Paull gives her characters an incredible humanity. The blend of real-life bee behavior and the fictionalization of the characters’ emotions is incredibly alien, and yet familiar. This is a tightrope walk of literary genius and I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: Nici
ISBN: 9780062331151
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco Press - August 13th, 2014

Moreno's debut novel is absolutely stunning. Protagonist Piper Gallagher is an EMT driver living in Los Angeles, and violence is a normal part of her day. Her attempts to grapple with this while running from the demons of her past creates a striking and realistic portrayal of the complexity of trauma. This book will haunt you, and poke you in the places you feel most human.

Reviewed by: Mary
ISBN: 9781940450261
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: McSweeney's Books - September 9th, 2014

This beautiful, sweeping novel captures the feelings of World War II from the vantage point of ordinary lives. Following a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy, Doerr evokes the terror of the war and the hope that continues to survive even in its midst. A true masterpiece with stunning prose and deeply developed characters, this is by far my favorite book of 2014.  

Reviewed by: Casey
ISBN: 9781476746586
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - May 6th, 2014

If and when the first rains of the season come around, you will want to have The Paying Guests on hand. This multifaceted book has many layers: It is a domestic thriller, a searing love story, and an absolutely terrifying crime novel. The characters are vivid and warm, and the tension just climbs and climbs—I can’t remember the last time a book kept me up as late as this one did. I just loved it. Save it for the darkest, stormiest night, and enjoy.
Reviewed by: Kat
ISBN: 9781594633119
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - September 16th, 2014

A devastating superflu and the subsequent fall of humanity serve as the background to a meditation on our mortality and obsession with material meaning. The direct and indirect interactions of a Shakespearean actor, a young survivor, a paparazzo-turned-paramedic, and a budding graphic artist come together in a feat of masterful storytelling. I burst into tears when I finished the last page and haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
Reviewed by: Andrea
ISBN: 9780385353304
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - September 9th, 2014

Neverhome has stayed with me. This story of a woman who leaves her husband behind to fight in the Civil War is so exquisitely well written, so tense, that it took over my life for a few days. I looked up from the last page dazed, unsure of how to go about my day without Ash’s mad, beautiful voice in my head. If you don’t believe me, ask just about anyone else on staff—this book has stolen and broken the heart of almost every fiction reader in the store. Neverhome is certainly one of the best novels of 2014.
Reviewed by: Kat
ISBN: 9780316370134
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little Brown and Company - September 9th, 2014



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