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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.

Book of the Little Axe by Lauren Francis-Sharma

Rosa Rendón is the headstrong yet loyal daughter of a landed Black family in turn of the 19th century in Trinidad. She ends up married to a Black Crow chief near the Bighorn Mountains, and has an inquisitive son who, at the edge of adulthood, is faltering, untethered from his Apsáalooke identity. Her subsequent journey into her past is both her son’s salvation and the reader’s delight. As majestic and adventurous as it is emotional and deeply rooted to family, I loved every moment of being immersed in this novel. — Melinda

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Book of the Little Axe Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802158543
Availability: Not Yet Published - Available for Pre-Order; Please See Publication Date Below Before Ordering
Published: Grove Press - May 18th, 2021

Heart and Seoul by Jen Frederick

If you’ve ever wondered what K-drama might be like in book form, look no further than Heart and Seoul. Beautiful people; sweet, complicated romance; plenty of plot twists; and a much- needed escape. But do not be deceived by its simplicity: Jen Frederick addresses interracial adoption and thoughtfully explores its effects on identity and belonging, making this light read a much fuller experience and one I hope continues with a follow-up book! — Melinda

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Heart and Seoul Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593100141
Availability: Not Yet Published - Available for Pre-Order; Please See Publication Date Below Before Ordering
Published: Berkley - May 25th, 2021

Monkey Boy by Francisco Goldman

In Goldman’s latest autobiographical novel, his protagonist Francisco Goldberg returns to Boston to visit his aging mother and a high school girlfriend. Within these five days is a deft yet delightful exploration of self, from his bullied childhood to his time as a reporter, his family’s troubled history and his own biracial identity as American and Guatemalan. Through it all, Goldman maintains such a light and intimate touch that one feels privileged just to be in the conversation. — Melinda

Monkey Boy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802157676
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - May 4th, 2021

Things We Lost to the Water by Eric Nguyen

In Eric Nguyen’s stunning debut novel, Huong and her two young sons are forced to leave Vietnam. They arrive in New Orleans in 1978, and over the next two decades, each must find themselves in their new lives—a single mother with one son reaching back to the heritage of his birth country, the other moving toward his newfound culture. Their diverging identities challenge the family dynamic and its enduring ties, adding an intimate, nuanced voice to the complexity of the experience of being an immigrant from Vietnam. — Melinda

Things We Lost to the Water: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593317952
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - May 4th, 2021

The Souvenir Museum: Stories by Elizabeth McCracken

I feel certain that Elizabeth McCracken was born to write short stories. Her newest collection tracks the shared life of Jack and Sadie in four pieces threaded through the book, tracing the path and wholehearted truths of long relationships. The remaining standalones continue to explore our enduring, complicated, lovely relationships, with humor and heartbreak. How she is able to excavate and elevate humanity with such breathtaking poignancy, hitting different tonal marks in story after story is beyond me, but I will reread with pleasure until I figure it out. — Melinda

The Souvenir Museum: Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062971289
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - April 13th, 2021

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong

The power of Minor Feelings is that it demands to be seen, just as it offers the opportunity to see. A poet first, Cathy Park Hong writes with clarity and lilt, performing a personal dissection of race in America through the lens of the Asian experience. With memoir, essay, and cultural criticism, she gives visibility to a group often overlooked or purposely hiding itself, probing the historical context, its harm and effects, and widening the discourse. Courageous, honest, and at times uncomfortable, Minor Feelings could not be more essential or longer overdue. — Melinda

This book is part of our Spring Reading Challenge. Read more here.

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Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984820389
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - March 2nd, 2021

What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster

My heart is full to bursting with Naima Coster’s life-affirming novel. What’s Mine and Yours follows two families at the turn of the 21st century, connected by love and conflict through North Carolina’s policy of busing students to diversify schools. Each character is fully formed, complicated, beloved, and absolutely necessary to the thoughtful exploration of how we are bound together and also isolated, by the past, by race and class, by being imperfectly human. The reading experience is at once intimate and expansive. —Melinda

This book is part of our Spring Reading Challenge. Read more here.

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What's Mine and Yours Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538702345
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - March 2nd, 2021

The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson

When Rosalie Iron Wing finds herself middle-aged and alone again, she returns to her family’s deserted cabin in the deep woods and to a past she had been stripped of as a child. From this winter, debut novelist Diane Wilson weaves a multigenerational story of resilient Dakota women and their determination to pass on their stories, their way of life, and the seeds that tie them to the land. The Seed Keeper is graced with nuanced characters, essential history, and a light touch—offering a metaphoric and verdant spring. — Melinda

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ISBN: 9781571311375
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Milkweed Editions - March 9th, 2021

Distant Shores: Surfing the Ends of the Earth by Chris Burkard

Surfers, nature photographers, adventure travel enthusiasts, take a look—Distant Shores is a gift book worth reveling in! Few people have traveled to such remote corners of the world in pursuit of their passion, and Chris Burkard seems to have found them all, bringing back dramatic landscape photography of perfect waves with a single surfer and an empty lineup. From Chile to Iceland, Christmas Island to Russia, these shots are an inspiration and an instant armchair adventure. — Melinda

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Distant Shores: Surfing the Ends of the Earth Cover Image
ISBN: 9781623261177
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Chroma - September 22nd, 2020

World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

I do not know if I learned more about Nezhukumatathil or the intriguing plants and animals she so delightfully connects to her own life (the corpse flower! the axolotl!) but I am delighted to not care either way. Already renowned as a gifted Filipina-Indian poet, her ability to detail, celebrate, and use the natural world to bring nuance to social issues and the personal puts this lovely illustrated book in that beautiful blend of science, memoir, and truth—for me, that’s nature writing at its best. — Melinda

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World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments Cover Image
ISBN: 9781571313652
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Milkweed Editions - September 8th, 2020


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