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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.

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, Vanessa Redgrave, Wallace Shawn, Julianne Moore & Josh Hamilton /  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

“Zafón is one of my favorite authors of all time. I found his first book in the series, The Shadow of the Wind, years ago at an airport and was hooked forever; I have been entranced by the adventures of Daniel Sempere and Fermín and many others. In The Labyrinth of the Spirits, the horrors of the Spanish Civil War loom large over Daniel’s family and those he loves. And Alicia Gris — what a story she has to tell. In the midst of this violent time in Spanish history, the love that the characters have for each other shines bright. Through it all, Zafón shares magnificent tales about books, booksellers, authors, and life. This is a must-read!”

Page and Palette image Stephanie Crowe, Page and Palette
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

“Barbara Kingsolver's UNSHELTERED is exactly what you need: a story to tumble into, characters you want to spend time with, and subtle reflections on our current climate in America. I loved this book and highly recommend it.”

Avid Bookshop image Rachel, Avid Bookshop
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 20 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

“I loved Guillory’s debut The Wedding Date so much that I jumped at the chance to read The Proposal. The story starts with the Most Awkward Meet Cute, then blends together hilarious dialogue and steamy sexy times. Guillory gives Nik fantastic girlfriends who are there for her but will not let her get away with anything. This is the romcom we’ve been waiting for. Someone call Shonda Rhimes and make this a movie.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Karena, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Price:

$24.50 USD

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An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

A Novel
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

“Epic in scope, ranging from a brutal slave plantation in Barbados to scenes in the Arctic, antebellum America, and London, plus a thoughtful denouement in the Moroccan desert, Edugyan’s novel explores the complex relationship between slave and master, the hubris of good intentions, and the tense life of a runaway in constant flight with a Javert on his tail. What results is a compulsive page-turner blessed with effortless prose. Highly recommended.”

Matthew Lage image Matthew Lage, Iowa Book
Price:

$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
Price:

$31.04 USD

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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

“In the House in the Dark of the Woods has a wonderful, slowly creepy tone that builds steadily and is well supported by the anachronistic linguistic style. Narrator Vanessa Johansson has a smooth voice suited to the style and range of characters. It's reminiscent of the movie The Witch, and manages to recall Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter as well. Just when you think you've figured everything out, Laird Hunt flips the script, though the questions he leaves unanswered are all the better for it. This audiobook is perfect for infusing a good old-fashioned witchy vibe into my October evening walks, yet not so terrifying that I'm jumping at the black cats that cross my path. Listen to it Halloween night, after the danger of knocking trick-or-treaters has past, and the quiet dark is settling in.”

Powell's Books image Amber, Powell's Books
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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