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We are always updating our staff picks!
Sharks in the Time of Saviors -- recommended by Christine
Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a groundbreaking debut novel that folds the legends of Hawaiian gods into an engrossing family saga; a story of exile and the pursuit of salvation from Kawai Strong Washburn.
In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone fears for the worst. But instead, Noa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends.
“Old myths clash with new realities, love is in a ride or die with grief, faith rubs hard against magic, and comic flips with tragic so much they meld into something new. All told with daredevil lyricism to burn. A ferocious debut.”
—MARLON JAMES, author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf
“So good it hurts and hurts to where it heals. It is revelatory and unputdownable. Washburn is an extraordinarily brilliant new talent.”
—TOMMY ORANGE, author of There There
Rules for Visiting -- recommended by Christine
“At 40, May Attaway, the protagonist, finds herself alone and feeling profoundly disconnected from her life and from herself. When she receives an unexpected gift of time off, she seizes the opportunity to visit four old friends. May is smart, funny and more than a little prickly. Readers will love her and find her story both moving and reassuring.”—Michael Barnard, San Francisco Chronicle
“Kane’s delightful tale celebrates friendship, family, love, joy in the ordinary, finding peace, and connecting with those around us. Highly recommended for fans of humorous, touching stories about friendship and self-discovery.”—Library Journal, starred review
“Impeccably written and surprisingly moving…May’s journey is lovely and deeply affecting.”—Publisher’s Weekly
“In the age of Facebook, the true nature of friendship can seem muddled . . . [May] voices the doubts and dreams of any woman who has questioned what it means to be a true friend. Rich in subtexts and lush imagery, Kane’s novel is a sure bet for lively book discussions.”—Booklist, starred review
“Engagingly cleareyed prose about a winningly eccentric heroine in love with trees and literature.”—Kirkus Reviews
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson - recommended by Mary
Genre: Science Fiction
In “2312” humanity has mostly moved off-world due to extreme climate change on Earth. The Solar System is being “Geo-formed” and plants, animals and humans are living in hollowed out asteroids, essentially habitats. Robinson’s vision and the science behind his writing is solid. Gender and sexuality is fluid. “2312” is also a love story filled with both catastrophe and hope.
Author of the “Mars Trilogy”, Robinson has kept his long gaze toward humanity’s future intact.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin - recommended by Mary
Wow! What an unexpected surprise and pleasure to read Jemisin's first book in the Broken Earth Trilogy. Fantasy wrapped in suspense and steeped in social commentary. The trilogy deals with complex topics of race, ownership, power and control. Plus Jemisin is great at world building!
N. K. Jemisin is the first author in the genre's history to win three consecutive Best Novel Hugo Awards, all for her Broken Earth trilogy. Her work has also won the Nebula, Locus, and Goodreads Choice Awards.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie - recommended by Ken
Genre: Science Fiction
A science fiction military thriller well deserving of its Hugo Award. Leckie uses familiar genre tropes to explore issues of identity, loyalty, and morality through the lone surviving remnant of a starship's group consciousness and its quest to avenge the betrayal of its captain.
The Dry by Jane Harper - recommended by Christine
So happy to have discovered this amazing Australian mystery. It has everything: uncovering deep secrets, compelling characters and the landscape of Australia itself. Read it straight through! I hope she will go on to write many more.
Jane Harper has worked as a print journalist for 13 years both in Australia and the UK. She is originally from the UK and moved to Australia in 2008, where she lives in Melbourne. The Dry, her debut novel, was an international bestseller.
Mercy of the Night by David Corbett - recommended by Christine
Local author and Bookshop Benicia favorite David Corbett has written another hard-hitting, powerful thriller. Loosely based on actual events (Vallejo), two damaged people aid each other as outside forces move increasingly against them. Tense, disturbing - a book you won't be able to put down!
David Corbett is the author of four previous novels: The Devil’s Redhead, Done for a Dime (a New York Times Notable Book), Blood of Paradise (nominated for numerous awards, including the Edgar), and Do They Know I’m Running? In January 2013 he published a comprehensive textbook on the craft of characterization, The Art of Character. His short fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, with pieces twice selected for the book series Best American Mystery Stories. His nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times, Narrative, MovieMaker, Bright Lights, Writer’s Digest, and numerous other venues. For more, visit www.davidcorbett.com.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles - recommended by Susan
I enjoyed this so much that I hated to reach the last few pages! Taking place in New York in the late 30s, one feels the excitement of a girl from the midwest fleeing the placidity of her hometown - the sights, the sounds, the bustle of crowded streets, and most of all the people. Katey, intent on being herself and amintaining independence, manages to resist being taken in by the glamour of her new experiences. But four people have a major effect on the course of her life. There is no part of this book one doesn't want to know immediately what's going to happen next. It's a wonderful read, always interesting, believable, and thought provoking!
Born and raised in the Boston area, Amor Towles graduated from Yale College and received an MA in English from Stanford University. His first novel, Rules of Civility, published in 2011, was a New York Times bestseller and was named by The Wall Street Journal as one of the best books of 2011.
The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason - recommended by Christine
An absolutely brilliant historical novel of WWI. A young unqualified doctor finds himself thrust into situations that only the horrors of war can produce. and yet there is love and beauty along the journey. I was completely immersed in this world - written with an open eye that all this world can throw at us and the randomness of survival. A MUST READ!!
Daniel Mason is a physician and author of the novels The Piano Tuner and A Far Country. His work has been translated into twenty-eight languages and adapted for opera and theater. A recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts, he is currently a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, where he teaches courses in the humanities and medicine. He lives in the Bay Area with his family.
A Good Neighbor by Therese Anne Fowler - recommended by Jane
This newly released book was a captivating and timely read. Bringing us into a tight-knit North Carolina neighborhood, we are introduced to Valerie Alson-Holt and her bright and talented biracial son, Xavier who is headed to college in the fall on a music scholarship. When the Whitmans move next door with their traditional family and new money, their troubled teenaged daughter finds comfort in her friendship and budding romance with Xavier. With virtually nothing in common except their property line, these two very different families find themselves in a conflict: first, over a historic oak tree in Valerie's yard, and soon after, the growing relationship between their children. This book invokes our own relationship with our fears, jealousies, compassion and tolerance. A worthwhile read!
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi - recommended by Christine
A remarkable first novel by a 26 year old author! Gyasi"s stunning book follows two half sisters and their descendents through 250 years of history. One stays in Ghana and marries an Englishman, the other captured and sold into slavery and her family ends up in the U.S. I have read many books about the horrors of the slave trade and slavery and the injustice of imperialism but never told in such a rich, haunting fashion. What an amazing achievement! Perfect for book groups!
Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she held a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellowship. She lives in New York City.
Virga is a mass of rain that never makes it to the ground. Childs is a seasoned nature writer who focuses (in this book) on the special qualities of dry places. His writing is crisp and clear, reflecting the hard landscapes he loves. A recent discovery for me, Childs' storied are personal journeys. From searching for an exit from and isolated and dangerous slot canyon to crossing the burning playa in the summer to gain entrance to Burning Man, they are all good stories. Edward Abbey would be proud.
Water in California is a commodity that has been purchased, repurchased, promised and not delivered, stolen, diverted, and polluted beyond recognition. Journalist Mark Arax hails from an immigrant farming family near Fresno. In his book "Dreamt Land" he dives deep into California's complicated water history and California's heavy-handed Federal and State allocation programs and management practices, how those practices affect farming, immigration, and the environment. it is a thorough and fascinating investigation. Arax notes that California has never changed from the mindset of the early years of the California Gold Rush and water in this state has always been treated the same way. Federal, State and local politicians need to read this book.