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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.

19th Wife by David Ebershoff

This incredible novel is part murder mystery, part historical fiction, and part coming-of-age story. The protagonist is a young, gay exile from a fundamentalist polygamist compound, who has been living as a runaway for years. News of his father’s murder (and his mother’s arrest for said murder) brings him back to the home he thought he’d never see again in an attempt to clear her name. Twined with this contemporary narrative is a historical fictionalization of Brigham Young’s journey across America, his adoption of polygamy, and the rebellion of his young 19th wife. There’s a lot going on in this book, and Ebershoff makes it work. A seriously impressive novel.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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The 19th Wife: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780812974157
Availability: Backordered
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - June 2nd, 2009

Sum by David Eagleman

Most neuroscientists do not publish books of short fiction, particularly fiction about the afterlife. David Eagleman, however, is not your typical neuroscientist. He also studied English literature in college, which explains the lyrical, elegant tone of his work, and has also long been fascinated with different takes on the afterlife. Each short story in this collection is an image of what life after death could look like, and each is as fascinating as the last. This is a book that begs to be read out loud. Share it with everyone you know. You will be immensely popular.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780307389930
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - January 12th, 2010

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

I am a huge sucker for ghost stories. I seek them out all over the place – on the internet, among friends, and of course in books. I am happy to report that The Little Stranger is among the best ghost stories I've read; it's one of those rare books that not only manages to be well and truly frightening, but also packs a serious literary punch. A great many things sneak up on you when reading this book, particularly the potential instability of the narrator, a young doctor who finds himself in over his head when he befriends and strange and formerly wealthy family. I can't imagine a better book to curl up with as the first fall rainstorms hit.

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The Little Stranger Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781594484469
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - May 4th, 2010

Deep Blue Home by Julia Whitty

I love the phrase “Intimate Ecology of our Wild Ocean”; it is a carefully worded sentence that perfectly sums up what this book is about. Whitty has been a passionate diver and writer her entire life, and you can feel this in every sentence of her book. She explores coastlines and undersea landscapes inch by inch, reveling in small details and vast histories. Sure to spur conversation about conservation and our species’ impact on the Earth’s dazzling and precious ecosystems.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780547520339
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Mariner Books - July 14th, 2011

Love's Executioner: & Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin Yalom

I was a bit skeptical about the idea of psychotherapy case studies, mainly the not-so-small point of privacy issues; in order to protect the identity of his patients, Yalom was forced to alter certain characteristics and details about their stories. Once I got over the hangup of trying to discern what was true and what was altered, I entered a realm of the most amazing character studies I’ve ever seen. Perhaps the most fascinating element of this book is the narrator himself; Yalom is uncommonly frank, and reveals faults and anxieties of his own as he grapples with the demons of his patients.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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Love's Executioner: & Other Tales of Psychotherapy Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780060958343
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Harper Perennial Modern Classics - September 1st, 2000

Annabel by Kathleen Winter

IF YOU LIKED:

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Picador)THEN YOU SHOULD READ:

Annabel by Kathleen Winter (Grove Press)

Orange Prize nominations always seem to land at the top of my list, and I’ve recently discovered the Giller Prize as another go-to for great fiction. But a book that made the shortlists of both prizes? That certainly caught my attention. Winter’s meditation on gender and identity is set in a rural seaside coast that proves to be as isolating as it is beautiful. When a hermaphrodite baby is born into this small community, both the parents and the doctor decide its best to bring the child up as a boy and choose the name Wayne, a decision that seems final enough, until Wayne hits adolescence. A compelling and complex read in the vein of Middlesex.

Jeffery Eugenedies is one of those authors who packs a small but powerful oeuvre, and his fiction has attracted countless obsessed devotees. Luckily enough, he’s finally got a new novel coming out this fall, The Marriage Plot. If you haven’t caught up on his work, you simply must read Middlesex, a portrait of a character named Cal, who is born a hermaphrodite. Eugenedies twines the story of Cal’s Greek heritage with the story of his life in Detroit, and his struggle to come to terms with his unique identity. Picked by many critics as a contender for the Great American Novel.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
Annabel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802170828
Availability: Backordered
Published: Grove Press, Black Cat - January 4th, 2011

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

Daniel and Sophia have known each other a very long time, but Sophia doesn’t know it yet. In fact, she doesn’t even know that her name is Sophia—she’s always been Lucy, and up until the moment she kisses Daniel in an empty classroom at her high school, her existence has been fairly average. Or so she thought. This is a romantic adventure written with thoughtful detail and skillfully-executed plot twists; a love story in which only one character knows the whole story. Readers who liked The Time Traveler’s Wife will find much to enjoy here.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
My Name is Memory Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781594485183
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - June 7th, 2011

Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue

My favorite thing about Emma Donoghue’s books are her characters. She’s written collections of short stories and many novels set in a wide range of eras and places, and no matter what the topic, her characters sing. This is particularly true of her historical fiction, which she infuses with exhaustive research. I blazed through Slammekrin in a day or two, and after I found I couldn’t get the protagonist’s voice out of my mind. Love her or hate her (…you might hate her), she will certainly spur heated discussion. This is a great summer read for fiction-loving book groups.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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Slammerkin Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780156007474
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Mariner Books - May 1st, 2002

Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy

This is my favorite book of the summer, and I am unabashedly telling everyone to read it, but particularly book groups. This is the kind of gorgeous novel that you can’t wait to talk about, a painstakingly authentic story about three characters who come together in Athens and forge an immediate and strange connection. Their fate and the choices they make will keep you talking late into the evening. I cannot recommend this book enough!

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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Everything Beautiful Began After: A Novel Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780061661488
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - July 5th, 2011

Fantastic Women edited by Rob Spillman

Last year's big anthology release was My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, a book of smartly retold fairy tales. This year, it's Tin House's Fantastic Women, a collection of sublime and bizarre stories told by some of the best speculative and surrealist writers out there. Includes work by Aimee Bender, Miranda July, Karen Russell, and many more. A must-read for those who crave the gorgeous and the strange.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
Staff Pick Badge
Fantastic Women: 18 Tales of the Surreal and the Sublime from Tin House Cover Image
By Rob Spillman (Editor), Joy Williams (Introduction by)
$18.95
ISBN: 9781935639107
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Tin House Books - July 26th, 2011

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