Check out my new affiliate storefront on Bookshop!

You savvy readers likely have heard of, the new online bookstore that supports independent booksellers. Not only is Bookshop an appealing alternative to Amazon, it has served as a lifeline to many shops forced to close their physical doors during the COVID-19 pandemic. I couldn’t resist joining their affiliate program for authors, so now you can enjoy browsing the Coastal Book Gal online storefront on Bookshop! Right now, the store features my book Going Coastal along with some titles I’ve extolled in past posts. I plan to add plenty of other books: those by writers I’ve interviewed, some by friends of the blog, and others I simply enjoy reading! Don’t see what you want? Search by author, title, or 13-digit ISBN number to find the perfect book. A percentage of each purchase will go to me and to independent bookstores all over the country. Not only will this incur no extra cost to you, many books are offered at a discount! It’s a win-win, and a lot of fun for anyone missing their favorite bookstore’s shelves. (I’m working on updating the “Shop with Coastal Book Gal!” sidebar, but thanks to WordPress editing glitches and my own excitement, I thought a separate post was in order! By the way, I remain a proud affiliate of Bookshop Santa Cruz, so those who prefer that shop’s website are encouraged to use my affiliate link.) As always, I’m grateful for your support! Naturally, I’d love some book recommendations from anyone inclined to comment…

ETA: Not only books! Today I stumbled onto an impressive puzzle selection in the search bar, not to mention 40-plus pages(?!) of Funko Pop vinyl figures for sale. Please explore and have fun!

Romance novelist Jennifer Skully and Pretty Good Advice Chef Matt McNamara featured in Spring 2020 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

While you’re sheltering in place (if you’re able to, you are…right?), you may need something to read. The new Santa Cruz Style features “Romance in the Redwoods,” my profile of Ben Lomond romance novelist Jennifer Skully (who also writes under the pen name Jasmine Haynes). Turn to page 10 (page 12 of the online edition) to learn about her longtime love of the San Lorenzo Valley, as well as her experiences in the ever-shifting world of romance publishing. Then, go to page 46 (page 48 online) to meet Matt McNamara, chef of Soquel’s Pretty Good Advice. In “Enticingly Free” McNamara dishes about what inspired him to leave San Francisco’s fine dining scene, and his switch to an entirely vegetarian (mostly vegan) menu. (By the way, if you feel hungry after reading, never fear! For the duration of the shelter-in-place order, Pretty Good Advice is offering takeout Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) Read the online version here. In Santa Cruz County, free print copies will be available here.

Miranda Popkey and Duarte’s Tavern featured in Winter 2019 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

iWhile Miranda Popkey’s debut novel Topics of Conversation won’t be published until January, it’s garnering plenty of buzz already! Meet the Santa Cruz-born author in my profile “Publishing Beckoned,” featured on page 10 of the Winter 2019 Santa Cruz Style. You’ll learn about the author’s uneasy path to the writing life, her switch of genres for her first book, and how #MeToo anchored the story. Then, turn to page 40 for “A Cherished Tradition For More Than A Century,” where I interview Tim Duarte, Duarte’s Tavern general manager and fourth-generation family member. Located in tiny Pescadero, the restaurant boasts devoted fans up and down the coast (not to mention a 2013 award from the James Beard Foundation). In Santa Cruz County, find free print copies here. The online version appears here.

Why wait for Black Friday?

If you’re anything like me, you appreciate a bargain. Also, the thought of braving Black Friday crowds makes you queasy. You’re willing to hold out for Cyber Monday, but site crashes, fleeting flash deals, and other computer complications make you dread the prospect. All the while, your shopping list lengthens, and you haven’t yet set foot in a store. I know this dilemma well, and have the solution! currently offers 10% off my book Going Coastal (and every other book you order there!) with discount code 10PercentOff at checkout. Enjoy lightning-fast shipping and the fact that you’re helping indie authors (since higher royalties come from sales directly made at the publisher site). Then sit back smugly on Black Friday eating leftovers in your bathrobe, secure in the knowledge that you’ve saved your holiday of choice with weeks to spare.

You may prefer shopping in person, I often do. Never fear! My newly updated Where To Buy The Book page lists many options, from local bookstores to megamarts offering in-store pickup. (It does not, however, include Amazon at this time, since that site’s stocking issues guarantee headaches for everyone involved. Who needs those this time of year, or indeed ever?)

Thanks, everybody! Back to your irregularly scheduled programming…

Song In My Head #109: “Dead End Justice” by the Runaways

As longtime blog readers might guess, I’m not exactly a horror devotee. (True story: I sat down to watch the Alice Cooper episode of The Muppet Show as a little girl, burst into tears shortly into “Welcome To My Nightmare,” and didn’t try again for another thirty years. Even though I had become an Alice Cooper fan by then, I still ended up pretty spooked by the end.) Nevertheless, I found myself reading We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix this past week. How did that happen, you ask? Well, even though I had to take occasional (okay, semi-frequent) squeamishness breaks, the guitar-wielding heroine and the rock ‘n’ roll in-jokes kept me riveted. One running gag involves Kris and her bandmates invoking the lyrics to the Runaways’ “Dead End Justice” at every opportunity. Needless to say, I had to track the song down. Why it’s not a karaoke bar standard is beyond me:

At one point I gasped, “Redd Kross HAS to cover this song!” Guess what?

Mystery author Leslie Karst and Soif Wine Bar and Restaurant features in Spring 2019 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

If you enjoy cozy mysteries or the local food scene, keep an eye out for the Spring 2019 edition of Santa Cruz Style. In “Mystery with a Santa Cruz Flavor,” I introduce you to Leslie Karst, the renowned author of the Sally Solari mystery series. Beginning on page 12 of the magazine, Karst tells me how Santa Cruz inspired her unexpected path to writing, the origins of Sally Solari, and the birth of the “snarky cozy.” Want to know how a 17-year-old restaurant has stayed buzzworthy? Turn to page 42 for “Soif and Santa Cruz: The Perfect Pairing.” Soif Wine Bar and Restaurant owner/founder Patrice Boyle reflects on Soif’s evolution, and discusses the restaurant’s new collaboration with UCSC’s Coastal Science and Policy Program. New chef Tom McNary reveals his culinary inspirations, and bar manager Matthew Barron discusses the cocktail menu that’s swaying the allegiance of Soif’s most devoted wine drinkers! If you’re in Santa Cruz County, find free print copies here. The online version appears here.

Song In My Head #104: “I Left My Wallet In El Segundo” by A Tribe Called Quest

I’m in the middle of reading Hanif Abdurraqib’s engaging Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest. Naturally, the first A Tribe Called Quest song I heard has been my mental soundtrack all week. Abdurraqib links this song to classic ’70s sitcom Sanford and Son in delightful fashion, but you should read his book to find out how. In the meantime…

DIGGING SOUND COLLECT at San Jose’s Kaleid Gallery

Yesterday I headed to San Jose to see Digging Sound Collect, the current photo exhibition at the Kaleid Gallery. (Photographer Abraham Menor has just released a companion photo book of the same name, which expands on the display.) The show features record collectors from throughout the Bay Area, as well as locales from Arizona to Johannesburg. There is no biographical information displayed other than name and city, and it’s intriguing to see the visible record sleeves give the glimpses into the subjects’ personalities. (I especially liked one San Jose collector’s hometown rep via a picture sleeve 45 of local punk-pop legends The Odd Numbers.) As for me, I felt sheepish that most of the collections displayed were far more organized than mine. Sigh! The gallery cleverly adds a crate filled with R&B records to the space, which makes the viewer feel like a participant. Definitely check this one out before it closes on January 25th! Kaleid Gallery is located at 88 South Fourth Street in San Jose, Tuesday through Saturday from 12 to 7 p.m. Admission is free, but there’s a ton of cool and reasonably priced artwork for sale! You can take a sneak peek at Menor’s Digging Sound Collect Instagram page.

Song In My Head #101: “Egg Man” by the Beastie Boys

One day during our first or second year of college, my friend Genevieve animatedly discussed “that Beastie Boys song where they throw eggs at a guy.” Assuming she meant the trio’s lickety-split hardcore tune “Egg Raid on Mojo,” I was amazed to learn the band covered the same incident in two different genres. Many times during this period of our acquaintance, one of us would start rapping “Humpty Dumpty was a big fat egg” or yelling “The egg, a symbol of life!” when the conversation lagged. So, while Beastie Boys Book delighted me these past two weeks, it was inevitable that “Egg Man” would be my mental reading soundtrack. (I wonder how she’d react if I threw out random “Egg Man” couplets during our next phone call…)

This year’s summer reading (so far)!


Summer reading is in full swing again, and what better way to celebrate than with my annual library book shelfie (as requested by the Santa Cruz Public Libraries summer reading bingo card)? So far, I highly recommend Robert Gordon’s Memphis Rent Party, which is every bit as spellbinding as his 1995 classic It Came From Memphis. Since I’m enrolled in eight different summer reading programs so far (with more to follow, because I’m obsessed), I’ll need plenty of book suggestions. Please sound off in the comments!