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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 Sellout by Paul Beatty

In this all-out satire, nothing is sacred, nothing is safe, and we are the better for it. This hilarious but inflammatory novel opens as our young black narrator stands before the Supreme Court, having reinstituted slavery and resegregated the school in his “deleted” hometown as a political act. Yes, it only escalates and alarms from there, but as it does, it challenges us to examine what makes us laugh and cringe, and to face what needs to be faced.
Reviewed by: 
Melinda
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The Sellout: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780374260507
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - March 3rd, 2015

The Last Two Seconds by Mary Jo Bang

Mary Jo Bang’s much anticipated collection of poems is smart and dark, sharp medicine we could all use in these times of geopolitical strife and environmental damage. As she writes in her poem “Worn,” “The form of the dream I just had / is a fact. A serious talk. An inner / outward.” This is how I read her poetry, chastened, hardened, amazed. With tense, evocative imagery, she pulls no punches, but alas we need to be punched.

Reviewed by: 
Melinda
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The Last Two Seconds: Poems Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977047
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - March 3rd, 2015

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Faber has written an incredible book, packaged beautifully—what a gift. I couldn’t help but be completely taken by it. Like all great storytelling, it contains a little bit of everything, but not too much of anything. It’s a moving exploration of relationships, faith, acts of grace and salvation, of humanity. Pick it up, read the description if you must, but then give yourself the book.

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Melinda
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The Book of Strange New Things Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780553418842
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Hogarth - October 28th, 2014

Life Drawing by Robin Black

I am completely stunned by Black’s first novel. I have enjoyed a lot of books lately, but, until reading this, I did not realize how much I’ve been missing the whole body impact of a book. Beautiful writing, effortlessly pinpointed to emotion without being emotive, Black writes life itself, tackling marriage, grief, trust, art, inspiration, friendship, motherhood, all of it.

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Melinda
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Life Drawing Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781400068562
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Random House - July 15th, 2014

Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce

There are a thousand ways to write a sentence and Merritt Tierce seems to find the newest, best one, unique, not all put together, and exactly perfect. It’s not the most uplifting tale, one of a young waitress struggling to find herself amidst the sex, drugs and poor decisions of early adulthood, and yet there is so much heart to Marie, so much hope in spite of herself.

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Melinda
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Love Me Back Cover Image
$23.95
ISBN: 9780385538077
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Doubleday Books - September 16th, 2014

Underwater Puppies by Seth Casteel

Hello, daily dose of pure joy! It matters not whether you already have Underwater Dogs or whether you even like dogs, I dare you to resist smiling as you turn each lavishly photographed page. These wide-eyed, wondrous, adventurous, delightfully adorable puppies are a natural endorphin rush. I swear, this book is good for your health. 

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Melinda
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Underwater Puppies Cover Image
$21.00
ISBN: 9780316254892
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Little, Brown and Company - September 16th, 2014

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

This is one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. Beyond being funny and visually amazing, it is genuinely inspiring. I honestly felt like a more confident, beautiful person after reading it. - Flan Amy Poehler’s book is fantastic of course (plus, pictures!) but some stories are just meant to be heard. I loved listening to her entirely. I dare say we’re BFFs now.

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Melinda
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Yes Please Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780062268341
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Dey Street Books - October 28th, 2014

Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones

In his first book of poetry, Jones blazes forth, his voice new, potent, lyrical, and deadly beautiful. Enveloping his words in the body, its politics, its genders and colors, the legacy of its trials and abuse, Jones sings truths from the perimeter, the disenfranchised, the ready to be heard. “Listen to my darkness, my half-eclipsed notes,” Jones writes, and there is nothing we want more than to obey.
Reviewed by: 
Melinda
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Prelude to Bruise Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781566893749
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Coffee House Press - September 9th, 2014

Windows on the World by Matteo Pericoli

What a delightful literary treat! Pericoli draws the views from writers’ windows across the world, evoking such a sense of place that only writing it can rival. Lovelier and more nuanced than a photograph, then paired with essays by the writers themselves, this collection makes you want to read the world through each destination, and is a reminder of how vast and rich our literary landscape is.
Reviewed by: 
Melinda
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Windows on the World: Fifty Writers, Fifty Views Cover Image
By Matteo Pericoli, Lorin Stein (Preface by)
$27.95
ISBN: 9781594205545
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Penguin Press - November 13th, 2014

The Republic of Imagination by Azar Nafisi

Reading Azar Nafisi is like coming home. Part literary treatise, part history lesson, and part memoir, The Republic of Imagination is a tea-infused midmorning conversation with your best friend, your book group, or your professor. Nafisi (Reading Lolita in Tehran) effortlessly fills all of these roles, using key books from America’s history to remind us that as readers we are not alone and our role is integral to a functioning free-thinking democracy.
Reviewed by: 
Melinda
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The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780670026067
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Viking Books - October 21st, 2014

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