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2018 Winter Recommended Fiction

Holiday Gift Books & Winter Reading: Some of Bookshop Santa Cruz's favorite fiction titles of the season.

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Alice Isn't Dead

A Novel
By Joseph Fink
Narrated by Jasika Nicole /  8 hours 43 minutes

Alice Isn't Dead

“Joseph Fink is my hero for making extreme anxiety a superpower and something from which a person can draw strength. Like the Welcome to Night Vale novels, Alice Isn’t Dead evinces a gentleness throughout the story, but as with Keisha, the protagonist, don’t mistake that for weakness. This novel is a road trip into the depths of human love even in the midst of experiencing inexplicable and weird horrors. It will linger with you long after you finish reading it.”

BookPeople image Christine Havens, BookPeople
Price:

$27.59 USD

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Melmoth

A Novel
By Sarah Perry
Narrated by Jan Cramer /  10 hours 39 minutes

Melmoth

“Fans of The Essex Serpent will savor Perry’s deft and effortless character development. Melmoth, a modern-day gothic horror, opens when a haunted translator from Prague learns her friend’s secret, then disappears. The novel grapples with a beast: Melmoth, macabre, who stalks the guilty, compelling them to wander in shame or choose life. Is Melmoth real or abstract? A horror, a haunting metaphor, or both?”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image a.c., Bookshop Santa Cruz
Price:

$31.04 USD

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Your Duck Is My Duck

Stories
By Deborah Eisenberg
Narrated by Deborah Eisenberg, Wallace Shawn, Julianne Moore, Josh Hamilton & Vanessa Redgrave /  6 hours 55 minutes

Your Duck Is My Duck

“A lot less known and heralded than she should be, Eisenberg is one of the finest short story writers working today. Her writing combines the command of character and setting of Alice Munro with the sharp humor and social skewering of George Saunders. Her stories are slyly observant, often edgy, usually funny, and always surprising in their turns and revelations. And they never fail to pack an emotional punch. Because it’s been more than a decade since her last collection of new work—Eisenberg is what is known as a “patient” writer—I, like the rest of her fans, will be lining up for this one.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Rico, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Price:

$24.14 USD

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The Labyrinth of the Spirits

A Novel
By Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Narrated by Daniel Weyman /  27 hours 53 minutes

The Labyrinth of the Spirits

“The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series is the stuff of dreams. I’ve read this book twice now (it came out in Spanish in 2016) and the character, drama, and wry humor still entrance me. Reading/remembering the earlier books is not required to enjoy this story, set amongst the political intrigues and maneuverings of Franco’s Spain. Secret agent Alicia Gris is a compelling Alice in Wonderland at the center of the plot.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Clara, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Price:

$40.24 USD

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Trinity

A Novel
By Louisa Hall
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell, David Colacci, Saskia Maarleveld, John Lee, Brittany Pressley, Yetta Gottesman, Charlie Thurston & Amy Landon /  9 hours 9 minutes

Trinity

“Hall tackles the elusive story of Oppenheimer—a man so soft-spoken and full of foibles it is nearly impossible to reconcile his personality with his atomic work—through “testimonies” from characters on the fringes of his greatness. There is a bittersweet element to these small stories. What is it to walk into a room with someone you never loved? To ask questions you know are cruel?”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Clara, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Price:

$31.04 USD

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Unsheltered

A Novel
By Barbara Kingsolver
Narrated by Barbara Kingsolver /  16 hours 38 minutes

Unsheltered

“A new Barbara Kingsolver novel is always a gift but this time her fictional journey feels even more powerful as she asks, “Can history help us navigate an impossible-looking future?” Unsheltered tells the stories of two families from different centuries living under the same roof, reeling from turbulence on both a national and a familial scale. Shelter is a basic survival need, but Kingsolver, being the literary artist she is, uses her characters to consider how we use physical, intellectual, and emotional shelters to navigate such troubles. The storms of life will surely rage but shelters can save our lives.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Casey & Jenny, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Price:

$42.54 USD

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November Road

A Novel
By Lou Berney
Narrated by Johnathan McClain /  9 hours 21 minutes

November Road

“Lou Berney’s engrossing novel November Road unfolds in the immediate aftermath of JFK’s assassination, but the heady confusion and shock of that dark day play second fiddle to the stories of Frank Guidry and Charlotte Roy, two desperate individuals seeking to outrun the entanglements of their very different lives. Guidry, a once-trusted player for the Marcello mob, is a marked man fleeing for his life; Roy, a weary housewife, seeks better prospects for herself and her daughters, so she must escape from both her dead-end town and deadbeat husband. Told in sharp, cinematic prose, this novel explodes the boundaries of the typical crime novel and offers up something more literary, a finely tuned exploration of the will to change.”

The Book Stall image Mike Wysock, The Book Stall
Price:

$31.04 USD

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The Feral Detective

A Novel
By Jonathan Lethem
Narrated by Zosia Mamet /  8 hours 52 minutes

The Feral Detective

“Lethem’s latest is a treat for fans and new readers alike. His personal brand of detective fiction (shrewd character descriptions, razor-sharp dialogue, and scene-setting that engages all five senses) has always been indebted to the (wild) West Coast — Hollywood specifically — so it’s unsurprising that The Feral Detective is as satisfying as his New York novels. A compelling and timely tale of why even going off the grid won’t save you from going off your rocker.”

Bank Square Books image John Francisconi, Bank Square Books
Price:

$27.59 USD

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Vita Nostra

A Novel
By Sergiy Dyachenko & Sergey and Marina Dyachenko
Narrated by Jessica Ball /  18 hours 21 minutes

Vita Nostra

“One part coming-of-age parable and one part psychological horror, this book combines dark fantasy with contemporary magical realism, and I can’t stop thinking about the resulting magnificence weeks after finishing it. Beautifully translated from its original Russian, Vita Nostra brilliantly explores the period in early adulthood where we consider the price we’re willing to pay to discover our full potential, and how we make ourselves vulnerable when we strive for outside approval.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Ilana Darrant, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Price:

$42.54 USD

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Killing Commendatore

A novel
By Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel & Ted Goossen
Narrated by Kirby Heyborne /  28 hours 24 minutes

Killing Commendatore

“Part ghost story, part fairy tale, wholly human, Haruki Murakami’s new novel is a quiet burn of redemption and rebirth and the stories that cannot be told. An unnamed artist is asked by a faceless man to paint his portrait, a culmination of 9 months lost in art and music, loss and sex, the memories of love and empathy of men. Once you accept the impossible, you can only find yourself enthralled upon a mountain, listening for a bell, ruminating on what is left behind.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Jocelyn, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Price:

$42.00 USD

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The Proposal

By Jasmine Guillory
Narrated by Janina Edwards /  8 hours 58 minutes

The Proposal

The Proposal is a smile in book form. When I realized it was about Carlos, the best friend from Guillory’s The Wedding Date, I smiled. Carlos is fun, smart, and loves to cook — he’s also not perfect, not horrible, just the normal quirks. Nikole has some issues too. The two meet, enjoy each other’s company, and try to make their quirks fit together.Guillory writes these wonderful, engaging romance stories that are totally realistic and charming — think of the best cocktail party story you’ve heard about how a couple met, and this book will be better. Funny, uplifting, and lighthearted, The Proposal is a perfect Friday night date.”

Julie Karaganis image Julie Karaganis, Cabot Street Books & Cards
Price:

$24.50 USD

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An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

A Novel
The Carls: Book #1
By Hank Green
Narrated by Kristen Sieh & Hank Green /  9 hours 24 minutes

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

“This book is so much fun. When April May stumbles across the first ‘Carl,’ she initially thinks it’s an art installation. It turns out these giant statues turned up overnight in major cities around the globe. Due to the viral video she made with her friend Andy, April May finds herself in the middle of a worldwide conversation and trying to manage her newfound celebrity status. Green is an excellent storyteller and has delivered a great coming-of-age/sci-fi debut novel.”

Powell's Books image Jennifer Hill, Powell's Books
Price:

$28.00 USD

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Washington Black

A novel
By Esi Edugyan
Narrated by Dion Graham /  12 hours 18 minutes

Washington Black

“From sweltering Barbados to London streets, Arctic ice to Moroccan heat, skies above to depths below, fear to love and back again, again, again. Esi Edugyan’s epic new historical novel follows the young Washington Black from the unrelenting brutality of slavery to the edges of the world as he searches for freedom, finding the complexities of the world, of the heart, and of humanity. A journey that vividly lingers long after turning the last page.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Jocelyn, Bookshop Santa Cruz
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$31.50 USD

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Fox 8

A Story
By George Saunders
Narrated by George Saunders /  37 minutes

Fox 8

“Another charming, inventive, and bizarre short story from a master of the form, Fox 8 will pinch your heart and make you cackle with laughter. With gorgeous illustrations by Chelsea Cardinal, this is an Aesop’s fable for the modern era. As with all of George Saunders’s other work, Fox 8 will leave you feeling like you’ve ridden a roller coaster through the entire range of human emotions—and isn’t that what literature is for?”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Jessica, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Price:

$2.79 USD

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The Craftsman

A Novel
By Sharon Bolton
Narrated by Nathalie Buscombe /  11 hours 55 minutes

The Craftsman

“Sharon Bolton’s latest gothic-tinged crime fiction The Craftsman is set at the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, where the UK’s largest witch trial was held. Assistant Commissioner Florence Lovelady attends the funeral of a child murderer whom she arrested 30 years before, only to find evidence all these years later that the case isn’t closed after all. This promises to be a twisty, chilling read, perfect for the colder, darker nights.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Ilana, Bookshop Santa Cruz
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$31.04 USD

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This holiday season is crucial for bookstores weathering the financial challenges of 2020—it could determine whether they remain open or are forced to close their doors.

Join the movement and #ShopLocalBookstores.

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Zero Sum Game

Cas Russell: Book #1
By S. L. Huang
Narrated by Lauren Fortgang /  11 hours 42 minutes

Zero Sum Game

“A fun, fast-paced action thriller featuring a snarky math superhero who has some serious character flaws. Cas Russell is good at math, so good that she intuitively performs vector calculus at lightning speed, allowing her to dodge both incoming fists and bullets. She’s a mercenary “retrieval expert” with ambiguous morals, available for hire in Los Angeles, and her latest job is proving to be much more challenging and dangerous than she anticipated.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Trey, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Price:

$31.04 USD

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In the House in the Dark of the Woods

By Laird Hunt
Narrated by Vanessa Johansson /  5 hours 20 minutes

In the House in the Dark of the Woods

“Gothic and atmospheric, this book is a terrifying fever dream, an extended waking nightmare. It follows Goody, our unreliable narrator, as she gets lost in the woods and discovers what lies beyond the veil. Lurking behind Laird Hunt’s lush and evocative prose is a sense of dread that creeps up your spine as the story twists and writhes. It’s a haunted-woods tale full of wolves and witches—the brutal kind who eat children and steal your very soul. A perfect and easy-to-devour book to usher in Halloween or give you a fright any time of the year. Just be sure to read it with all the lights on.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Kelly, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Price:

$29.88 USD

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The Widows of Malabar Hill

Perveen Mistry Mysteries: Book #1
By Sujata Massey
Narrated by Soneela Nankani /  14 hours 34 minutes

The Widows of Malabar Hill

“I loved this novel! Sujata Massey is a strong, confident storyteller and this captivating mystery, set in 1920s Bombay, features superb world-building, a riveting plot, and great characters. Perveen Mistry is a richly written protagonist: By turns confident and conflicted, she strives to do the right thing and is more than capable of getting herself out of trouble. Highly recommended for a fresh take on the mystery genre.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Stuart, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Price:

$24.99 USD

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Transcription

A Novel
By Kate Atkinson
Narrated by Fenella Woolgar /  11 hours 9 minutes

Transcription

“In Transcription, Kate Atkinson brings the past of mid-20th-century Britian so thoroughly to life that she almost seems to be reporting rather than inventing. Her details are so rich and her hand so certain that, as readers, we are there — we are walking those streets, sitting in those smoky rooms. And, most of all, we are completely caught up in the emotional power of the tensions and fears of that past. With Juliet Armstrong, Atkinson has given us a remarkable addition to the canon of British spies.”

Rakestraw Books image Michael Barnard, Rakestraw Books
Price:

$29.88 USD

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Red Moon

By Kim Stanley Robinson
Narrated by Maxwell Hamilton, Joy Osmanski & Feodor Chin /  15 hours 13 minutes

Red Moon

“Given Robinson’s pedigree, there was little doubt I would like this book. If you enjoy intrigue and action in the low gravity of our closest neighbor, Red Moon will draw you in. Despite the lightness of the setting, it pulls its weight. Similar to last year’s Artemis.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Ian, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Price:

$34.48 USD

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