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Jax's Reviews

Jax Caldwell-Dunn is a bookseller and buyer at Bookshop Santa Cruz who loves table-top roleplaying in addition to books. She cannot resist the urge to make something (like a staff profile) more nerdy when given a chance.


Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Oh, Naomi Novik, is there anything you can’t do? This beautifully written blend of Jewish and Russian folklore, fantasy, and faerie tale will absolutely enchant and delight you. Though not a sequel to Uprooted, it has that same unique take on classic faerie stories that Novik is so very good at spinning. Identity and the nature of what makes a villain are thoughtfully explored, as well as how family and tradition shape you in unexpected ways. I have all the love for this book! - Jax

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Spinning Silver: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399180989
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Del Rey - July 10th, 2018

A Burger to Believe In by Chris Kronner

Everything about this book by Chris Kronner, founder of KronnerBurger in Oakland, is wonderful. First, it has great information about how to make the most magnificent burger. And while there are labor-intensive recipes for the dedicated (roasted bone marrow!), there are also plenty of ideas for adding a cool topping to an otherwise completely store-bought burger. A Burger to Believe In is also written in such a witty and amusing way that I didn’t want to stop reading it. This is how you do burgers. - Jax

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A Burger to Believe In: Recipes and Fundamentals [A Cookbook] Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399579264
Availability: Backordered
Published: Ten Speed Press - May 22nd, 2018

Gather & Graze by Stephanie Izard

I love Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard’s cooking, and I am beyond excited about her newest cookbook. While Gather & Graze is not for the novice, it has plenty of basic recipes and simple sauces that anyone can make. Izard is real about what to spend money and time on versus what to cut corners on. I can’t wait to read this. - Jax 

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Gather & Graze: 120 Favorite Recipes for Tasty Good Times: A Cookbook Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451495945
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Clarkson Potter - April 3rd, 2018

Bow First, Ask Questions Later by Gesshin Claire Greenwood

This is not a “how to” introduction to Zen Buddhism; however, if you’re curious and want to hear about someone’s life experiences as they seek balance and enlightenment, Bow First, Ask Questions Later is well worth reading. I found it to be a fascinating rumination on life, faith, and the practice of caring for oneself. Greenwood’s writing is fun and engrossing, and she impressed me with her ability to look humorously on even the most bizarre situations she finds herself in. - Jax

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Bow First, Ask Questions Later: Ordination, Love, and Monastic Zen in Japan Cover Image
ISBN: 9781614293972
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wisdom Publications - May 8th, 2018

The Far Away Brothers by Lauren Markham

Whoever you are, whatever your political leanings, I urge you to read this story of two boys who fled their country, El Salvador, for a better life in the United States. Told with honesty and a lot of heart, The Far Away Brothers chronicles their journey, from their harrowing passage through the desert to their battles with the legal system in order to remain in a country where their lives are unthreatened. - Jax

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The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101906200
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Broadway Books - May 22nd, 2018

Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Francesca Ramsey

This book is laugh-out-loud amazing! Ramsey tells her story of being boosted suddenly into the limelight via YouTube and of all of the good (and bad) things she was able to use her platform to discuss. For those who are struggling to learn about the racial morass this country finds itself in, or wanting to find a way to speak compassionately to those who are a little dumb about it, this is the book for you. - Jax

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Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538761038
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - May 22nd, 2018

Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

The charming love story within an epic fantasy world intrigued and beguiled me. Two star-crossed lovers are tasked with affecting the fate of the world, while magic and forbidden knowledge dog their every step. I appreciated especially that the prejudice Jasminda suffers is not only because of her inherent power as a magic user but also related to the color of her skin. Lovely romance with some sharp edges, this is a great. transporting summer read. - Jax

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Song of Blood & Stone: Earthsinger Chronicles, Book One Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250148070
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - May 1st, 2018

Circe by Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller is back, this time with a gorgeous story of Circe, the witch of ancient mythology. The writing is so juicy and delicious that it’s hard to tell if I’m falling under Circe’s spell or Miller’s. In a world so brutal, watching a woman forge her own path despite all odds inspired me and made me think hard about what we accept to be true and what might be known if we listen harder. - Jax 

Don't miss our June 13th, 2018 free book talk and signing with Madeline Miller for Circe.

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Circe Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316556347
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - April 10th, 2018

Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill

This collection of short stories is by turns whimsical, bizarre, and deeply moving. I have been absolutely salivating for Barnhill’s first offering for adult readers, and it was well worth the wait; I was blown away and enthralled by these stories. I can’t promise that they will all (or even most) end happily, but if you enjoy beautiful writing and thought provoking supernatural weirdness, this is the book for you. - Jax

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Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616207977
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Algonquin Books - February 20th, 2018

By the Smoke and the Smell by Thad Vogler

I would say that I devoured this book about one person’s quest for spirits to stock his San Francisco bar Bar Agricole but I think perhaps it devoured me. Vogler insists on a farm-to-table approach for acquiring his liquors as well as his food, and travels all over the world to find that which feels worth bringing home. It reminds me of bookselling in that way, where you search for the perfect book that is worthy of your customer. I would give this one to someone who consciously labors out of love, who values enthusiasm over perfection, and who, of course, enjoys a good drink. - Jax

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By the Smoke and the Smell: My Search for the Rare and Sublime on the Spirits Trail Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399578601
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ten Speed Press - September 12th, 2017


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