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Kat's Reviews

KatsronautKat first came to Bookshop Santa Cruz by winning the short story contest in 2008. She convinced the management to give her a job, and went on to become an event host, the used book manager and an avid connoisseur of fiction. In her other life, she is often found enjoying tacos. She now works for the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks managing their ParkStores.

Heft by Lizz Moore

This quiet book knocked me over with its unassuming depth and high emotional stakes. It’s the story of two characters, one a former academic who hasn’t left the house in ten years, and the other a struggling young baseball player. It is clear that these two need each other; what is unclear is how they will ever meet. This is one of the best novels to come out in 2012. Don’t miss it.
Reviewed by: 
Kat
Staff Pick Badge
Heft: A Novel Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780393343885
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 4th, 2012

Catherine the Great By Robert K. Massie

I’ve never been one to read weighty biographies, but after cracking this one, I’m a convert. It helps that this particular story reads like the most literary of novels. The pages whip past as you absorb Catherine’s childhood with her cold, ambitious mother, her marriage to the strangest of princes, her voracious and intelligent mind, and her adjustment to royal life and ascension to power. I’ve yet to meet a character like this in a novel.
Reviewed by: 
Kat
Staff Pick Badge
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9780345408778
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - September 18th, 2012

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Before Wild became the Oprah-sanctioned bestselling explosion that it is today, Cheryl Strayed wrote an anonymous advice column for the literary website The Rumpus. Her penname was Sugar. Thousands of people wrote in to confess, vent, and beg for advice, and she answered them. But what sets Strayed apart is her format: instead of dispensing clichéd tidbits, she wrote essays in response. Wrenching, soulful, vulnerable essays that somehow reach right in and poke at the heart of what her desperate readers are really asking. By the time I finished it, I was considering three different tattoos from the book. It’s that kind of read.
Reviewed by: 
Kat
Staff Pick Badge
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780307949332
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - July 10th, 2012

The Final Leap by John Bateson

Every month, an average of 3-4 people leap to their deaths from the Golden Gate Bridge, and several more are talked down from the edge. This is a startling fact, one that few people are aware of. John Bateson wants to challenge the stigma and the fear that keeps these stories from being told. The issue of whether or not to erect a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge is hugely divisive and heated, and Bateson argues that it is indicative of the way we think (or fail to think) about mental illness. Whether or not you agree with him, this is a book that will challenge preconceptions and make you think. I highly recommend it.
Reviewed by: 
Kat
Staff Pick Badge
The Final Leap: Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9780520272408
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: University of California Press - April 18th, 2012

Feed by M.T. Anderson

This book will scare the heck out of you. It will make you want to delete your facebook account. And I don’t say this as a luddite—I have a smartphone, though I mostly use it to take pictures of puppies—but as someone who was genuinely shaken by this book’s eerily prescient description of technology literally taking over human bodies. There is so much to talk about in this book—our roles as consumers, the inescapability of the internet, and how technology alters our lives and what it forces us to give up. Harsh but not gloomy, with crackling dialogue and subtle, precise world-building.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
Staff Pick Badge
Feed Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780763662622
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick - July 17th, 2012

Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

This is one of those really amazing “what if” books, the kind that introduces a disastrous, novel event and then picks through it with salt-of-the-earth characters. The “what if” in this book is the rapture – kind of. In a single moment, millions of people simply vanish, leaving not even smoke in their wake. The ‘victims’ cross all religious, cultural and socioeconomic borders, leaving those left behind bewildered and unable to define the phenomenon. The result is fiction that is at once strange and all too realistic.
Reviewed by: 
Kat
Staff Pick Badge
The Leftovers: A Novel Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781250054227
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - June 10th, 2014

Trapeze by Simon Mawer

Marian Sutro is an ordinary nineteen-year-old living in extraordinary times. She comes of age in England during World War II (yes, another one, but I promise this is good!), and she cannot escape the desire to serve her country. She is accepted into a secretive program, spirited away to a training camp in the wilds of Scotland, and then parachuted into occupied France, where she must work undercover. She does not entirely understand her position, but the stakes could not be any clearer. Despite the over-the-top storyline, this is a quiet book that does not flaunt any James Bond tropes, and that is what makes it so piercing and believable.
Reviewed by: 
Kat
Staff Pick Badge
Trapeze: A Novel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781590515273
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Other Press - May 1st, 2012

Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman

This is a good pick for someone who loved The Year of Magical Thinking. It’s not quite a memoir, but not entirely a novel either—somehow, I like to think of it as a shrine. Francisco Goldman had been married for only two years when his beautiful, talented wife was killed in a freak accident at the beach. Say Her Name is sad, yes, but what brings it to life is the glow of love and devotion in every sentence. Reading it, one gets the feeling that no one has ever loved anyone as much as Francisco loves Aura. And that’s not going away. Visceral, delicate, unrelentingly beautiful, and so worth the tears.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
Say Her Name Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780802145802
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Grove Press - April 10th, 2012

City of Women by David R. Gillham

I am occasionally accused of recommending too many books set during WWII, and I’ve tried to respond by recommending only the best WWII fiction I’ve read. City of Women now ranks in my top 5. It is the story of an ordinary woman living in Berlin in the 1940s, and her utter transformation from a passive, dissatisfied wife and worker to an underground activist and secret agent. The stakes are high in this book—everyone is always being watched, and every carelessly chosen word is noted, often with fatal results. 
Reviewed by: 
Kat
Staff Pick Badge
City of Women: A Novel Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780425252963
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Penguin Books - May 7th, 2013

Nightwoods by Charles Frazier

This is one of the spookiest books I’ve ever read, and there is nary a vampire or zombie to be found in its pages. The villain is perfectly human, a monster of an average man compelled by fits of jealousy and revenge. The heroine is Luce, a reclusive young woman living in an old lodge in the mountains, who has taken in the children of her murdered sister. An incredible, addictive blend of southern crime fiction and nature writing. My pick for paperback of the summer.
Reviewed by: 
Kat
Staff Pick Badge
Nightwoods: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780812978803
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - June 12th, 2012

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