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S.M.C.'s Reviews

Susan McCloskey has worked at Bookshop Santa Cruz since graduating from UCSC in 2000. She is the former Event Coordinator at Bookshop and continues to consult for the store. In her other life, she is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She believes in story, and loves the meld of working with books, narrative, and people.

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Katharine K. Wilkinson

Mixing poetry, art, science, and opinion from women across all ages, races, and classes, All We Can Save looks at climate change from a feminist perspective, where the idea of problem and solution is rooted in the idea of no hierarchy and that we are all “inextricably linked” (Jo Harjo).  Whether it is poet Ellen Bass, author Alice Walker, or Indigenous activist Xiye Bastida reaching across the page, this collection emphasizes that we need not choose science over art , or new ideas versus old, or even hope over despair—it is in the unity of all ideas that solution and transformation can be found. For all who are struggling with current times, this is your read. — S.M.C.

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All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9780593237069
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - September 22nd, 2020

Whale Day: And Other Poems by Billy Collins

Former US poet laureate Billy Collins’s newest collection (his first in 4 years) is a wonderful gathering of poems that shines with its combination of mirth and depth. While the subject of these poems varies, there is an undercurrent of looking at life from the eyes of someone who is aging and holding mortality in view. I was delighted by the humor and wit that Collins juxtaposes with the tender and profound. This is a wonderful, readable book. Collins has once again proven himself, with poems that delight as much as they touch the heart. — S.M.C.

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Whale Day: And Other Poems Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780399589751
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - September 29th, 2020

Stakes Is High by Mychal Denzel Smith

The honest and intelligent exploration of American identity in Stakes Is High couldn’t be more timely. Mychal Denzel Smith shines light on the American Dream and the idea that working hard and holding purpose can lead to success and stability. He shows the schisms in that dream, focusing on Black lives in history and the institutional oppression and racism that are such a part of America’s mythical promises and of Trump and the current political climate. Smith helps us see where change is possible in this important read. — S.M.C.

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Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781568588735
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bold Type Books - September 15th, 2020

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

What if Jesus of Nazareth had a wife? In best-selling author (The Secret Life of Bees) Sue Monk Kidd’s new novel, she imagines just that. With painstaking detail about the historical time, Kidd introduces us to Ana, a young woman born with a gift for words who lives in a time when silence and obedience defined a woman’s place and belonging. Ana’s finding of her voice is intertwined with Jesus’s pursuit for kindness and humanity. What is imagined here is not a tale of one person saving another, but an unfolding love story in which mirroring and respect lead to both risk and reward. Kidd’s ability to hold reverence while infusing new life and perspective to a story that is so known is extraordinary. I cannot explain the beauty and depth of this book, its language, its heart, its anger, its grief, and ultimately its triumph; this is one novel you don’t want to miss.

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The Book of Longings: A Novel Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780525429760
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - April 21st, 2020

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

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The Night Watchman Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780062671189
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - March 3rd, 2020

Louise Erdrich has done it again—she has written yet another novel that weaves together that magical mix of character, heart, wit, and masterful prose. Like Erdrich’s award-winning The Round House, this new novel speaks to the politics and life of the Chippewa living on a North Dakota Reservation. In fact, Erdrich bases The Night Watchman on her own grandfather and his fight to save Native American land and identity from betrayal by the United States Congress in the 1950s. The explicit political undertones in this novel serve only to deepen the virtuosity and depth of its characters. Intertwining several different storylines and characters, their collective plights for understanding, rescue, love, and triumph, created such a crescendo by the novel’s end that once again, I was in awe of Erdrich’s brilliance. It is hard to capture the totality that The Night Watchman: a love story, a haunting, a mystery, cityscape, country, horror, and humor—it’s all here. All I can say is read it, and you will ever be so glad you did.  —S.M.C.


The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

I cannot get over the beauty of this book. It may be one of my favorite depictions of World War II since Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. This is a book that is hard to review. It starts in Berlin in 1941. There is a golem, a heron, heartbreak, and wrenching loss. There are breathtaking scenes of love and loyalty. There is stunning detail of real and vivid scenery set against the sweeping backdrop of unveiled history and visionary magical realism. Since finishing it, I have gone to it again and again. There is always one book each season that strikes to the core, and this is that book. It is a gift like no other. - S.M.C.

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The World That We Knew: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781501137570
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 24th, 2019

A Girl Named Anna by Lizzy Barber

This is a fast-paced mystery with just the right amount of character development and literary heart, told in alternating voices of two teenagers living a world apart. Rosie lives in England under the shadow of her older sister, who went missing when she was just a baby. Anna lives in Florida, the only child of a reclusive and religious mother who was widowed when Anna’s father was killed in a car accident. When Anna receives an unmarked package from a stranger, dangerous questions start to rise. Meanwhile, an ocean away, Rosie reads an email that was never meant for her. Each of the girls separately follows her path as the plot moves toward a thrilling conclusion. - S.M.C.

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A Girl Named Anna Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780778308997
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mira Books - September 3rd, 2019

For Small Creatures Such as We by Sasha Sagan

This delightful book is hard to categorize. Written by Sasha Sagan, the daughter of astronomer Carl Sagan and writer-producer Ann Druyan, For Small Creatures is part memoir, part history, part science, and all heart. Raised by her famous parents as ethnically Jewish but not religious, Sasha Sagan was taught from a young age to find the miracle in the natural world that surrounded her. When her own daughter was born, Sagan was committed to continuing this way of upbringing but wanted to make sure that her daughter also had a sense of ritual and meaning that Sagan herself felt so deeply inside but had a hard time naming. Reflecting on nature, history, science, art, and literature, Sagan tells the story of how across eons and cultures, humans have always developed a way to mark the nature of time’s passing, of life, of death, and of the phenomenon of feeling. In charming prose, she offers a wonderful way to find meaning in everyday life.  - S.M.C.

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For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780735218772
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - October 22nd, 2019

Embroidered Botanicals by Yumiko Higuchi

Although I have been embroidering for almost 2 years now, I still consider myself a beginner. I am often hesitant to look at patterns and new projects, for fear that I will be intimated. But celebrated embroidery artist Yumiko Higuchi’s new book was the perfect one to ease my fears and boost my confidence. With splendid photographs, and clear, step-by-step instructions and diagrams, this book will be a delight for embroidery novices and experts alike. The designs somehow manage to be fresh and simple all at once. My favorite aspect of this book were the tips on using metallic thread to make a motif feel layered and stand out. This is a beautiful and lovely book for any embroiderer in your life (including yourself!). - S.M.C.

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Embroidered Botanicals: Beautiful Motifs That Explore Stitching with Wool, Cotton, and Metallic Threads (Make Good: Japanese Craft Style) Cover Image
$21.95
ISBN: 9781611807738
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Roost Books - August 27th, 2019

Akin by Emma Donoghue

Emma Donohue (best-selling author of Room) proves her prowess as a multi-talented author in her newest novel.  Whereas Room was powerful for its gut-hitting plot and heart-racing psychological story, Akin stands out for its humor and intimate character development. When widowed, elderly Noah gets a call from Social Services, he is thrown overnight into being the sudden guardian for his 11-year old great nephew Michael. Through a series of twists and turns, the two find themselves in Nice, France, Noah’s long ago child hood home. What follows is a delightful tale of intrigue and adventure, but what stands out, is Donohue’s gentle use of humor and heart, as we watch these two, old and young, forge a bond that they are each in desperate need of. - S.M.C.

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Akin Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780316491990
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Little, Brown and Company - September 10th, 2019

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