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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.

Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Rosalind Harvey

If you are like me, these days you are a bit wary of yet another novel on the complexity of motherhood, but IGNORE THE IMPULSE TO SHY AWAY. Still Born is freaking fantastic. It is literary, heart-squeezing, smart, lovely, and real, all while being very much about two friends and their changing ideologies as children come into their lives and expand what it means to be a caretaker. Both are tested and empowered in Guadalupe Nettel’s excellent novel, which was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize. —Melinda

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Still Born By Guadalupe Nettel, Rosalind Harvey (Translated by) Cover Image
By Guadalupe Nettel, Rosalind Harvey (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781639730032
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - August 8th, 2023

Fox Has a Problem by Corey R. Tabor

Fox is such fun! In Corey R. Tabor’s latest Fox adventure for the My First I Can Read! series, our dear friend has a problem—a kite-in-tree problem—that escalates into a bigger problem with each attempted solution. What to do? With sweet and clean illustrations in warm fall colors, simple skill-building text, and plenty of mishap, humor, and heart, Fox Has a Problem is an ideal read-aloud for our emerging book lovers and problem solvers.—Melinda

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Fox Has a Problem (My First I Can Read) By Corey R. Tabor, Corey R. Tabor (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Corey R. Tabor, Corey R. Tabor (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780063277922
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - August 1st, 2023

Thin Skin: Essays by Jenn Shapland

What I love about essays is their ability to put my own thoughts into a broader and yet often more succinct context. Jenn Shapland’s magnificent collection does just that. Through the framework of her “thin skin” condition, an extreme sensitivity to the outside world, she investigates the barrier between self and other, how permeable it is, how interconnected we are. Whether speaking to gender dynamics, consumerism, or environmental concerns, Shapland’s work is both introspective and expansive—it is wonderful.


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Thin Skin: Essays By Jenn Shapland Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593317457
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon - August 15th, 2023

The Quickening: Creation and Community at the Ends of the Earth by Elizabeth Rush

In 2019, Pulitzer Prize finalist Elizabeth Rush joined a research vessel sailing to study the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, called the Doomsday Glacier for its potential effect on sea level rise. What follows is a wondrous combination of environmental journalism, travel writing, and memoir that also asks: how do we build community in the face of escalating climate change? How can we choose to bear children into this world of uncertainty? Amiably and thoughtfully articulated, Rush shines refreshing light on science, her on-board crew, and an offer of collective, intentional hope.


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The Quickening: Creation and Community at the Ends of the Earth By Elizabeth Rush Cover Image
ISBN: 9781571313966
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Milkweed Editions - August 15th, 2023

The Apology by Jimin Han

The Apology begins after 105-year-old Jeonga has died. As a newly-fledged spirit in the afterlife, she is tasked to reveal her long-held family secret and prevent the living from unknowingly cursing them all. Moving back and forth through time, accompanied by her equally old and bold sisters, we are treated to a heartfelt, madcap escapade of sorts through South Korea, the U.S., and the afterworld, all while exploring deeper themes of family, duty, and love set in a century of Korean history.


The Apology By Jimin Han Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316367080
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - August 1st, 2023

Where There Was Fire by John Manual Arias

One night in Costa Rica, 1968, a banana plantation is razed by fire and a family violently implodes. Thirty years later, the root cause remains a mystery for those left in its tragic wake to solve, but first Teresa and her estranged daughter must find a way back to each other, back to the complicated bond of their family. This astonishing multi-generational debut is rich with Costa Rican landscape and history, dynamic prose, and so many spirits waiting to tell their stories. I loved it...more, please.


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Where There Was Fire By John Manuel Arias Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250817389
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Flatiron Books - August 29th, 2023

Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone

When Ariel Pryce wakes up alone in her Lisbon hotel room, her newlywed husband suspiciously missing, she begins a race against time. She seeks help from the local police, the American embassy, and one person better left behind. The plot thickens, storylines cross, reporters and the CIA become involved, and the past comes back to inform the present—but whose past? Chris Pavone writes with pace and depth, making it as enjoyable to read as it is impossible to put down. 


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Two Nights in Lisbon: A Novel By Chris Pavone Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250872302
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - May 2nd, 2023

Meltwater: Poems by Claire Wahmanholm

Sometimes you just read poetry to feel things. (Most times I just read poetry to feel things.) And, wow, is my heart wondrously weighted down by Meltwater, filled up to the brim. Claire Wahmanholm writes with such lyricism, a playfulness with words, a symphony of sound, that it almost soothes away the dread of oncoming collision between family, future, and ecological disaster. There is formal drought and deluge in this collection, some poems scatter along, biting and smart, others are elegiac, graceful, knowing—all have moved me. 


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Meltwater: Poems By Claire Wahmanholm Cover Image
ISBN: 9781639551019
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Milkweed Editions - March 14th, 2023

Bay Curious by Olivia Allen-Price

Whether or not you’re already familiar with KQED’s Bay Curious podcast, this delightful book will expand your understanding and experience of the Bay Area with its quirky array of local trivia, factoids, lesser-known histories, and more. Playfully illustrated and covering people, culture, places, food, nature, and the city, you will learn about Charley Parkhurst, the White Horse Inn, rocky road ice cream, and so much more. Dip into it whenever the mood strikes, or use it as a guide—either way, Bay Curious is a must-have!


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Bay Curious: Exploring the Hidden True Stories of the San Francisco Bay Area By Olivia Allen-Price Cover Image
ISBN: 9781797214368
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books - May 2nd, 2023

A Living Remedy by Nicole Chung

Here’s the thing about the best memoirs: Even when they’re about the saddest things, they are so full of truth and humanity that you feel buoyed by their grace, you feel seen by a story that is not yours. This is what it is to read A Living Remedy, a beautiful work about the deaths of Nicole Chung’s adoptive parents, about healthcare and the pandemic, about family, community, and belonging, loving and being loved, in spite of it all, because of it all. What a gift.


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A Living Remedy: A Memoir By Nicole Chung Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063031616
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - April 4th, 2023


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