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Chorel's Reviews

Chorel is the Events Director at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Mostly she reads books by women. Not intentionally. They're just usually better.




Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Reading the stories in Her Body and Other Parties has been among the memorable literary pleasures of 2017. Carmen Maria Machado writes with fearless exploration, precision, and tenderness that would prompt envy if gratitude and admiration weren’t first to arrive on the scene. From the lovely, apocalyptic love story “Inventory” to the dizzying and original “Especially Heinous,” Machado’s work is curious, inventive, and thrilling. It’s feminist and pop culture, classic and weird; the stories are complex and the characters are haunting. What a debut! - Chorel

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Her Body and Other Parties: Stories By Carmen Maria Machado Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977887
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - October 3rd, 2017

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb

This remains one of my favorite books. We meet Dolores Price at age 13 and stay with her until middle age. Along the way Dolores attempts various personas, deals with or avoids her various traumas, and tries to temper her wise-ass personality with her longing to be loved. Unpredictable, funny, and emotionally wrenching, She’s Come Undone is truly unforgettable. - Chorel

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She's Come Undone By Wally Lamb Cover Image
ISBN: 9780671003753
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Washington Square Press - December 1st, 1996

Golden: The Miraculous Rise of Steph Curry by Marcus Thompson

If you’ve watched the Golden State Warriors in the last couple years, it’s likely you have fallen for the charm of Stephen Curry, whose incredible 3-pointers look effortless and whose smile is infectious. In Golden, Marcus Thompson II explores Curry’s rise to the top of the NBA and the ways in which he has changed professional basketball. Thompson moves smoothly from one area of Steph’s life to another: from his youth on the court to his family (his father was an NBA star himself, and his wife Ayesha and their children have their own following), to his ethos as a player. Reading Golden has me watching games differently, more closely attuned to the plays on the court, more appreciative of the players—not just Steph or the Warriors favorites, but also those on other teams and the coaches, too. - Chorel

Spoils by Brian Van Reet

The author of this penetrating debut novel about the early days of the war with Iraq is an Army veteran who served there. What you see through the characters’ eyes won’t soon be forgotten: the mundanity and violence of war; the adversity faced by female soldiers within a decidedly male culture. Van Reet’s gift for narrative, his ability to evoke the nuances of place and culture, and his cast of characters create a haunting and tragic story of the dysfunction of contemporary war. - Chorel

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Spoils By Brian Van Reet Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316316163
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Lee Boudreaux Books - April 18th, 2017

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

For fans of literary fiction, there’s so much to love in Elizabeth Strout’s beautiful and quietly disturbing stories, which trace the secret lives of the residents of a small town in Illinois. The stories in Anything Is Possible are rich variations on several tightly connected themes: poverty, familial bonds and broken marriages, and the mysterious, subtle qualities of forgiveness and acceptance. - Chorel

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Anything Is Possible: A Novel By Elizabeth Strout Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812989403
Availability: Hard to Find - Believed to be Out of Stock Indefinitely
Published: Random House - April 25th, 2017

Shrill by Lindy West

Lindy West writes about difficult subjects with a hilarious, sharp style that may make you squirm, and is guaranteed to make you laugh—possibly quite loudly. Shrill is bursting with extraordinary insights into the social system that contains and ruins us, and ways to expand beyond what we’ve internalized (“We were all raised in the same f---ing septic tank,” she writes. “Real change is slow, hard, and imperceptible. It resists deconstruction.”). With a vulnerable (but again: hilarious) rendering of her own experiences, West gives the reader an inside look at what it means to be a brave, troll-fighting, fat feminist, and she somehow does so with simultaneous unapologetic intellectual passion and with a gorgeous empathy. Like me, you might find the packed-on layers of your assumptions soften and lift, your eyes widen in surprise as you come face to face not only with the ways in which you fold yourself to fit into an artificial system of self-hatred, but judge others on their failure to do so as well. West’s resounding concerns are fatphobia and feminism, but she is far from oblivious of the privilege she does possess, and in this way, Shrill also contains the kind of intersectional critique we need today. She also is a gifted writer with lovely, masterful sentences that are a pleasure to read. Be prepared to be more lit and awake through reading these essays! - Chorel

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Shrill By Lindy West Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316348461
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hachette Books - February 28th, 2017

The Gloaming by Melanie Finn

The Gloaming is a dreamy, dark book about a woman escaping the fallout of a tragic accident she doesn’t fully remember, and the abandonment of her husband, by hopping a plane to Africa. With powerful prose that evokes disturbance and uncertainty, the novel is divided effectively into two sections: the first told from the perspective of beautiful Pilgrim Jones, and the second from the various characters who encounter her. Some view her with conviction and envy, others with desire. With undertones of women’s vulnerability/strength and the ways in which they are preyed upon, the sense of place, and of being out of place, are also strong. Finn's writing has all the hallucinatory pleasures of Paul Bowles, with that language and story so clear yet unsettlingly veiled.

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The Gloaming By Melanie Finn Cover Image
ISBN: 9781937512477
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Two Dollar Radio - September 20th, 2016

People Like You By Margaret Malone

People Like You is, first and foremost, gorgeously written. Each page of the slim collection contains treasures of language that are a joy to behold, and Malone’s writing feels effortless even in its literary intensity. The stories all concern being stuck—in less-than-perfect relationships, addiction, infertility—and the characters struggle within a powerlessness that seeps onto the reader and troubles deeply. By the end, however, the recurring thread of one set of characters comes out on the other side, and hope is restored. I loved this book. —Chorel

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People Like You By Margaret Malone Cover Image
ISBN: 9780989302364
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Atelier26 Books - November 17th, 2015

Blackout by Sarah Hepola

Blackout is more than a memoir of drinking—it’s a revelation of recovery, with incredibly profound insights (the best kind: simple and striking) that are applicable not just to those emerging from the depths of substance abuse, but to any human seeking to live authentically. Hepola’s story of sobriety is a comment on culture, too, specifically in noting the ways that drinking can, and has, served as an assertion device for women, allowing loud freedom from the constraints of “femininity.” Hepola’s writing is clear and lovely, and Blackout is a read you won’t soon forget.  —Chorel

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Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget By Sarah Hepola Cover Image
ISBN: 9781455554584
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - June 7th, 2016


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