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Bookshop Santa Cruz staff recommendation:

The following books are recommended by our staff as great choices for book groups. Sign up for our Book Ends email newsletter to receive more great book group recommendations.

Looking for more book group recommendations? Find curated book lists for the following categories:

Surviving 2020: Books That Will Make You Believe in Humanity
Strong Women Through the Ages
Book Group Sleepers: Great Books Your Group May Have Missed

Bachelorette party on a remote island? Check. Internet and phone suspiciously unavailable? Confirmed. Secrets and grudges galore? Boy howdy! Hunky yet mysterious chef? Oh, yes. The devices may seem tired at first glance but The Cliff House is extremely entertaining. I kept turning the pages and I think you will, too. This is light reading at its best; you must know what happens next!  


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The Cliff House By Chris Brookmyre Cover Image
ISBN: 9781613164426
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scarlet - November 7th, 2023

Ausma Zehanat Khan’s Blackwater Falls is an exciting, classic-feeling thriller set amidst the Colorado mountains and their diverse, sometimes clashing multicultural communities. Detective Inaya Rahman navigates a tricky balance of identities as police officer, Muslim, and woman, while trying to solve a horrific murder, trace a series of disappearances, and follow a trail of corruption. Unwinding the begrudging trust, small secrets, and bigger threats to find motive in a small town, this tense, fast-paced mystery will keep you turning pages til the explosive end.  


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Blackwater Falls: A Thriller (Blackwater Falls Series #1) By Ausma Zehanat Khan Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250906410
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Minotaur Books - November 7th, 2023

This newly translated novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette inspired by the works of Dashiell Hammett and Jean-Pierre Melville, perfectly encapsulates the gritty existentialism and cool dialogues widely employed in hard-boiled crime fiction. Skeletons in the Closet follows private eye Eugène Tarpon, who is tasked with solving the seemingly dead-end case of a missing philanthropist. Manchette unfolds for us a gruesome mystery, ripe with corruption and greed, that does not lack either humor or heart.  


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Skeletons in the Closet By Jean-Patrick Manchette, Alyson Waters (Translated by) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781681377605
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: NYRB Classics - November 7th, 2023

The mention of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit often starts a frenzy among true crime fans. Hannibal, Criminal Minds, and Mindhunter all dramatize the FBI’s legendary criminal investigation unit. And none of that would have been possible without Jana Monroe. Monroe’s experience as not only one of the first members of the real-life unit but the first (and at the time, only) female profiler is both frustrating and liberating, and is a must-read for fans of the genre.  


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Hearts of Darkness: Serial Killers, the Behavioral Science Unit, and My Life as a Woman in the FBI By Jana Monroe Cover Image
ISBN: 9781419766114
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harry N. Abrams - October 10th, 2023

I’ve been a fan of Naomi Alderman since her Zombies, Run! days and have enjoyed watching her literary career explode with acclaim and success. Her newest book reminds me of Snowcrash in how fun, thrilling, intelligent, and fantastically bonkers it is. It is a genre-defying work that blends social critique, survivalist mania, futuristic tech, and philosophical treaties. I just couldn’t put it down. Two women whose meeting is unlikely and whose relationship is even more so, live in a world that teeters on the brink of disaster. I laughed, I cried, I stared at the ceiling thinking long into the night about my place in the world. Truly, this is one that will be talked about for many years to come.  


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The Future By Naomi Alderman Cover Image
ISBN: 9781668025680
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - November 7th, 2023

This collection opens with a beautiful invitation from Stephan Graham Jones: “Why don’t you come over here into the dark with us?” These short stories don’t feel exactly like legends retold or tales of ancestral horror; they feel like hands reaching out from a dark room, ready to guide you through what your imagination makes of the darkness. These authors, these tour guides, provide truly incomparable stories that force you to sit with them, uncomfortably. This anthology challenged me, and I am honestly thankful for that.  


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Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology By Shane Hawk (Editor), Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr. (Editor) Cover Image
By Shane Hawk (Editor), Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr. (Editor)
ISBN: 9780593468463
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - September 19th, 2023

The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport, at its core, is a dialogue about the harm–benefit ratios inherent in every revolution. This conversation is held through well-developed characters, hilarious dialogue, and a three-wish-granting genie in a lamp (it’s advanced technology, not magic). It will take you around multiple turns, and you will come to love the daughter of revolutionaries, her monkey robot brother, and the tiny story-telling robot that follows them around.  


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The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport By Samit Basu Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250827517
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tordotcom - October 3rd, 2023

This sapphic horror story is absolutely dripping with tantalizing atmosphere. Rosemary meets Ash at a local farmer's market and quickly becomes obsessed. The prose ropes you in with the beauty of a new love and new beginnings, only to sink its teeth in and refuse to let go when things get bloody. Perfect for fans of Hannibal looking for their next meal.  


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Bloom By Delilah S. Dawson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781803365756
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Titan Books - October 3rd, 2023

It’s a tale as old as time. A rich but absent uncle leaves his obscene wealth to his floundering journalist nephew, thrusting him into a world of cutthroat supervillains complete with a secret volcano lair, not to mention the typing cats, unionized dolphins, and a cabal of evil billionaires. Scalzi, once again, is a master of off-the-wall humor with a touch of heart.


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Starter Villain By John Scalzi Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765389220
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Books - September 19th, 2023

This new fantasy romance is a page-turning enemies-to-lovers tale set against a magical war, impending apocalypse, and dragons! The Hurricane Wars is the next read for anyone who loved Fourth Wing. Inspired by the cultures of the Philippines, the incredible and unique world building brings a freshness to all the favorite romantic fantasy tropes Thea Guanzon spins so well.


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The Hurricane Wars: A Novel By Thea Guanzon Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063277274
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Voyager - October 3rd, 2023