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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.

Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity by Darrel McLeod

In his follow up to Mamaskatch, the memoir of his childhood, McLeod offers an intimate window into adulthood as a queer Cree man in Canada. We follow his career path from teaching to negotiating, working with the government towards First Nations rights and treaties, feeling his celebrations and frustrations. We are taken on his personal journey back to his Cree heritage, one forced from him by the systemic erasure and untying of his people. While there is trauma and loss, both personal and generational, there is also healing, generosity, and introspection – a balance that helps us all. —Melinda

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Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity Cover Image
ISBN: 9781571313973
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Milkweed Editions - August 10th, 2021

Seeing Ghosts: A Memoir by Kat Chow

When Kat Chow was thirteen, her mother died of cancer, and she has been living with her ghost ever since. In this powerful memoir, Kat turns to her family’s stories and ephemera to find answers for what she had lost, what haunts her still. In doing so, she unearths and honors the complexity of her entire family, from her father who immigrated from China and dreamed in America, to his parents, to her own childhood and that of her older sisters, all affected by grief and loss and always undying love. —Melinda

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Seeing Ghosts: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538716328
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - August 24th, 2021

Skinship: Stories By Yoon Choi

In her assured debut collection, Yoon Choi plumbs the depths and writes to the breadth of the Korean American experience in these penetrating short stories. Through the eyes of the young and the aging, the parents, their children, husbands and wives, sisters and aunts, Skinship honors the complexity, affection, and grace of identity in relationship, especially those stressed by the transition between countries and cultures. This is not so much a book of a-ha moments, but one of expert unveiling and seeing fully—a beautiful, deeply humanizing read. —Melinda

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Skinship: Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593318218
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - August 17th, 2021

Gordo by Jaime Cortez

Jaime Cortez’s lively debut collection is set in the farm camps and communities of Watsonville and San Juan Bautista in the 1970s, and is explored largely through the singular, earnest, and endearing voice of Gordo, a young boy discovering his own identity amidst the pressure and antics of his peers and the love and expectations of his community. Cortez grew up in Watsonville and speaks lighthearted, unerring truth to the area in these often funny, always heartfelt interconnected short stories. —Melinda

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Gordo Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802158086
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press, Black Cat - August 17th, 2021

Martita, I Remember You / Martita, te recuerdo by Sandra Cisneros

In her latest work—a perfectly distilled elixir of maturity, fondness, and truth—Sandra Cisneros somehow knows my soul, pinpointing exactly how it feels to grow up. This is a novella of sorts, but it defies categorization, except to say it is essential. In it, middle aged Corina reminisces over a series of letters, looking back on her youth when she lived in Paris with two girlfriends, waiting for her life to begin. In her iconic lyrical style, Cisneros immerses us in this past and present, and we will live lifetimes before coming up for air. It is magical. —Melinda

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Martita, I Remember You/Martita, te recuerdo: A Story in English and Spanish Cover Image
By Sandra Cisneros, Liliana Valenzuela (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780593313664
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - September 7th, 2021

Waves and Beaches: The Powerful Dynamics of Sea and Coast by Kim McCoy & Willard Bascom

It’s hard to imagine a more perfect book for ocean-loving Santa Cruzans. Part coffee-table piece in a lovely package and with full-color images throughout; part scientific primer on water, shore, wind, and waves; part firsthand accounting and personal experience, this Patagonia publication is a treat from cover to cover. Updated from the 1963 original, it also has much to say on climate change and its effects today, making it a key read for environmental activists as well as for our surfers, sailors, and ocean enthusiasts. — Melinda

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Waves and Beaches: The Powerful Dynamics of Sea and Coast Cover Image
ISBN: 9781938340956
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Patagonia - March 16th, 2021

Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl

Late Migrations is everything I want nature writing, memoir, and essay to be: gorgeous, contemplative, connective. Renkl weaves her own family’s story into the fabric of the living world around her, marking love, loss, and the passage of time in ways both heartbreakingly real and refreshingly expansive. Her brother's accompanying illustrations further encapsulate all the wonder. — Melinda

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Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss Cover Image
ISBN: 9781571313836
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Milkweed Editions - March 30th, 2021

Becoming Wild by Carl Safina

By spending deep time with Carl Safina and the sperm whales, scarlet macaws, and chimpanzees he studies, we become armchair travelers, delighting in his knowledge and wonder for these animals. Becoming Wild explores the ways sperm whales care for their young, macaws use beauty, and chimpanzees relate to one another. It reminds us that we cannot trademark these aspects of culture, we are not unique; more importantly, it returns us to our own better natures and asks us to care for the world we’re missing when we center ourselves. — Melinda

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Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250787613
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - April 6th, 2021

Rockaway: Surfing Headlong into a New Life by Diane Cardwell

Diane Cardwell was a recently divorced, career New Yorker in her late 40s when she caught the surfing bug and began spending her weekends in Rockaway, just outside the city. Soon, she committed for good, bought a bungalow, and had just finished renovations when Hurricane Sandy hit. Her journey to happiness and her newfound community’s character and spunk through disaster is a joy to read. Perfect for those who are surf-curious, at the start of their own obsession, or invigorated by secondhand inspiration—this book is life-affirming. — Melinda

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Rockaway: Surfing Headlong into a New Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9780358561965
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - May 25th, 2021

AFROSURF by Mami Wata

Afrosurf is a dynamic collection of surf photography, essays, poems, recipes, profiles and so much more. Its immersive experience celebrates the wide swath of African surf culture, featuring 18 coastal African countries and exploding Western stereotypes of the sport—a joyous and much needed revelation. Compiled and designed by Mami Wata, a Cape Town surf company with African-produced goods and a philanthropic mission, Afrosurf is beautiful to behold and even harder to put down. — Melinda

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Afrosurf Cover Image
By Mami Wata, Selema Masekela (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781984860408
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ten Speed Press - June 15th, 2021


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