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Melinda's Reviews

Melinda Powers is the head book buyer at Bookshop Santa Cruz and is therefore responsible for choosing which of the 300,000 titles published each year will make their way to our shelves (not including the children’s section). Formerly at Capitola Book Café, she can’t seem to quit this wonderful community of readers, booksellers, and books. She is okay with this addiction.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates has already established himself as an important cultural voice on race relations. Now with his first novel, he adds to the conversation in ways best left to provocative fiction, exploring the cascading damage done when enslaved families are sold away from each other. Hiram Walker is an orphan of this crime and this is his remarkable story of deciding to leave his situation and become involved as a singular conductor in a slightly mystical, still historical Underground Railroad. The result is a captivating, resonating read. - Melinda

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The Water Dancer (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel Cover Image
$22.40
ISBN: 9780399590597
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - September 24th, 2019

Out of Darkness, Shining Light by Petina Gappah

Zimbabwean writer Petina Gappah has written an astonishing novel that looks smartly sideways at the history of British colonialism through the death of 19th-century explorer Dr. David Livingstone and the richly rendered funeral group who endeavors to deliver his body across Africa, sending it home. Two within his entourage, his loyal cook Halima and the Christian freed slave Jacob, narrate this journey through their own complicated perspectives, painting a broader, more nuanced understanding of slavery and colonialism, all while telling an engaging, atmospheric story. - Melinda

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Out of Darkness, Shining Light: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781982110338
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - September 10th, 2019

Arias by Sharon Olds

When Sharon Olds sings truth, whether on the global or the familiar, in the resistance or in the bedroom, one cannot help but listen. Arias is her 15th collection, and its voice and range speak just as fully to her particular mind and our current humanity (or lack thereof) as ever. Smart, evocative, and exacting, her work is one of my favorite lyrical lodestars, both expanding my boundaries and attending me home. - Melinda

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Arias Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9781524711603
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - October 15th, 2019

Make It Scream, Make It Burn by Leslie Jamison

I have been ready for this book since devouring The Empathy Exams, Jamison’s first collection of essays that blazed new vistas in the landscape of narrative nonfiction. Here Jamison explores what it means to be wanting, whether as a blue whale, in Second Life, or in our own everyday lives—how do we live with want, how does it haunt, how can it enrich? Make It Scream, Make It Burn does not disappoint; rather it does exactly as the title directs, each of its essays bridging disciplines in astute, thoughtful, urgent ways. A beautiful, mind-reeling pleasure to read. - Melinda

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Make It Scream, Make It Burn: Essays Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780316259637
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - September 24th, 2019

High School by Sara Quin & Tegan Quin

Friends, it’s Tegan and Sara! These twins, Canadian indie pop bandmates and LGBTQ icons, have been creating revelatory music together since the late ’90s, and now they’ve turned to the page, writing a bracing memoir that sends them (and us!) back to high school and all the powerful emotions that lie therein. Told in alternating chapters, each explores her own path of emerging identity and sexuality, isolation, ferocity, and joy, and finally their unifying passion for music. High School is at once deeply personal and achingly universal, just like their songs. - Melinda

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High School Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374169947
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: MCD - September 24th, 2019

Life Undercover by Amaryllis Fox

I came for what Amaryllis Fox could reveal to me about the life of working clandestine CIA missions worldwide but was captivated by the ease of Fox’s writing, the pull of her storytelling, and the giant beating heart amid it all. Fox spent her twenties immersed in post-9/11 surveillance of terrorist groups while also getting married and becoming a mother in the most extraordinary circumstances. Now she’s written a spirited espionage narrative and an insightful memoir, and I am here for every single word of it. - Melinda

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Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780525654971
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - October 15th, 2019

Erosion: Essays of Undoing by Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest Williams’s latest work is powerful, poetic, and absolutely necessary—an offering for how to understand, survive, grieve, and challenge our current political and environmental crises, acting as both balm and tonic. Written with an open heart, a seeking mind, and unfathomable honesty, these essays range from conservation activism to life in the desert, from plumbing the depths of personal grief to public outrage. She speaks to the natural erosion of all things, and how in that loss, there is also strength and reformation, a way to hope. - Melinda

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Erosion: Essays of Undoing Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374280062
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sarah Crichton Books - October 8th, 2019

Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie

In her elegant collection of essays, acclaimed Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie considers how time and place shift within a rapidly changing world, unearthing the past and untethering the present, whether while on an archeological dig in Arctic Alaska, in the Highlands, or stopped along a country road. A combination of longer think pieces and shorter meditations, with lyrical simplicity as its through line, Surfacing is itself a welcome practice in timelessness. - Melinda

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Surfacing Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143134459
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - September 24th, 2019

Home Work by Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews begins her second memoir where her first, Home, left off, with her Hollywood entrance and the quick succession of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Writing with heart, candor, and an authentic invitation into her world of hard work, show business, family, and self, Andrews has crafted the most considerate tell-all possible, taking care with her reader as well as with the movies and experiences that have made her life so extraordinary. It is a delight to spend time with her, practically perfect in every way. - Melinda

Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780316349253
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hachette Books - October 15th, 2019

Nomad by Emma Reddington

Nomad is equal parts dream board and resource guide, exploring the life less conventional and how best to live it, whether in a converted van, a tiny home, a school bus, or a boat. Profiling people worldwide (including one family in the Santa Cruz Mountains!) who have defined home for themselves in simplified, revitalizing, workable ways, this gorgeous design book is perfect for those in need of everyday inspiration as well as those in search of trailheads for a new path forward. - Melinda

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Nomad: Designing a Home for Escape and Adventure Cover Image
By Emma Reddington, Sian Richards (Photographs by)
$29.95
ISBN: 9781579658137
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Artisan - October 15th, 2019

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