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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
Length: 8 hours 43 minutes

Alice Isn't Dead

“If you’ve ever driven Highway 5 late at night, you know there is something ethereal about the long stretch of road when it is blanketed with stars. Joseph Fink evokes the same feeling in his newest novel, Alice Isn’t Dead. After the supposed death of her wife, Keisha—certain Alice is still alive—abandons her life to become a trucker and search for the missing Alice, and runs afoul of a sinister and horrifying organization. Strange and glorious, this book will leave you changed.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Ivy, Bookshop Santa Cruz
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Melmoth

A Novel

By Sarah Perry
Narrated by: Jan Cramer
Length: 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
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Your Duck Is My Duck

Stories

By Deborah Eisenberg
Narrated by: Deborah Eisenberg, Wallace Shawn, Julianne Moore & Josh Hamilton
Length: 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
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The Labyrinth of the Spirits

A Novel

By Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Narrated by: Daniel Weyman
Length: 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
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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
Length: 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
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Unsheltered

A Novel

By Barbara Kingsolver
Narrated by: Barbara Kingsolver
Length: 16 hours 38 minutes

Unsheltered

“A brilliant novel set in two different centuries, eras when lies trumped truth and superstition overruled science. Kingsolver illustrates human resiliency with insight, humor, and compassion in this deeply satisfying novel. While showing the cost of leadership built on false promises and lies, it also illustrates the strength of the human spirit with characters who will not be broken by their times. Kingsolver’scharacters, including historical figures Mary Treat and Charles Landis, shine as they make their way through the maze of survival set before them. Great reading.”

Deon Stonehouse image Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books & Music
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November Road

A Novel

By Lou Berney
Narrated by: Johnathan McClain
Length: 9 hours 49 minutes

November Road

“This deliciously nuanced and layered mystery is a terrific book for Lou Berney fans and thrill-seekers. Set days after JFK’s assassination, November Road follows two people who are on the run from a diabolically evil hitman and have no choice but to do what comes unnaturally for both: trust each other. Berney’s latest masterpiece will have you clutching the pages and your pearls as he takes you on a white-knuckle road trip from the sticky heat of the French Quarter to the dusty skies of Nevada.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Kelly, Bookshop Santa Cruz
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The Feral Detective

A Novel

By Jonathan Lethem
Narrated by: Zosia Mamet
Length: 8 hours 52 minutes

The Feral Detective

“Phoebe Siegler, a Manhattan woman who finds herself shattered and floundering after the results of the presidential election, jumps to volunteer to find her close friend’s runaway daughter. Following leads to the California desert, Phoebe meets an obscure private detective known for his ability to find and aid runaways and strays. In search of the missing girl, the two set out on a journey that feels chimerical and twisted. The pair must rely on the desert’s fringe inhabitants, and the story starts to hint of violence and turmoil. This novel/mystery/love story is both an enigmatic tale of being lost and found and a frame for the subtext of a divided America, one where truth, power, and the haves and the have-nots are in need of deep scrutiny.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image S.M.C., Bookshop Santa Cruz
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Vita Nostra

A Novel

By Sergey and Marina Dyachenko
Narrated by: Jessica Ball
Length: 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
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Killing Commendatore

A novel

By Haruki Murakami
Narrated by: Kirby Heyborne
Length: 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
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The Proposal

By Jasmine Guillory
Narrated by: Janina Edwards
Length: 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
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An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

A Novel
The Carls: Book #1

By Hank Green
Narrated by: Kristen Sieh & Hank Green
Length: 9 hours 24 minutes

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

“Brilliant! Hank Green has written an engrossing debut novel with a fun, vibrant, emotionally powerful and completely non sequitur plot. In a New York crosswalk, protagonist April May’s discovery of giant, sentient, maybe even alien omnipotent robots completely upends her life, both professionally and romantically. Through the eyes of this young, queer antihero and her robots, we see humanity in its modern context: how people love, connect, and create belief in a media landscape that sometimes degrades humanity.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image a.c., Bookshop Santa Cruz
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Washington Black

A novel

By Esi Edugyan
Narrated by: Dion Graham
Length: 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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Fox 8

A Story

By George Saunders
Narrated by: George Saunders
Length: 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
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The Craftsman

A Novel

By Sharon Bolton
Narrated by: Nathalie Buscombe
Length: 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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Zero Sum Game

Cas Russell: Book #1

By S. L. Huang
Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang
Length: 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
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In the House in the Dark of the Woods

By Laird Hunt
Narrated by: Vanessa Johansson
Length: 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
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The Widows of Malabar Hill

Perveen Mistry Mysteries: Book #1

By Sujata Massey
Narrated by: Soneela Nankani
Length: 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
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Transcription

A Novel

By Kate Atkinson
Narrated by: Fenella Woolgar
Length: 11 hours 9 minutes

Transcription

“While World War II isn’t my usual era of interest, Juliet’s hilarious inner monologue about everything that happens around her won me over. There is espionage and intrigue, and twists and turns emerge where you least expect them. I can see the 1940s so clearly, thanks to Atkinson’s fantastic writing. This is a book that will be a hit for a lot of different kinds of readers: people who like historical fiction, mystery, or literary fiction.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Karena, Bookshop Santa Cruz
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Red Moon

By Kim Stanley Robinson
Narrated by: Maxwell Hamilton, Joy Osmanski & Feodor Chin
Length: 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
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