|February 2017 Staff Favorites, New in Science, and More!
We present brand new staff reviews. Plus, check out our upcoming author readings, read about the latest Science titles, and sign up for Carolyn Wood's writing class.
New Staff Favorites
|Here are some new Staff Reviews:
The Drifter and Burning Bright
by Nick Petrie
reviewed by Edie
Those of us who like mysteries are always looking for a new series, and Nicholas Petrie has provided one. Last year he wrote The Drifter (now out in paper) about war veteran Peter Ash who has a bad case of 'white noise', a type of PTSD that keeps him mostly out of doors. He wanders and runs into people who need rescuing and picks up a few friends who help him out, all vets who don't fit into any mold. Just out is Burning Bright, the second Ash thriller. It covers everything from tree climbing in the redwoods to cyber warfare--with a fascinating red-head thrown into the mix. The writing is spare and moves at speed (you really want to sit and read it all at once, so be warned). I highly recommend both titles and I am not the only one. Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher series, says that Peter Ash is the real deal.
A Very Expensive Poison
by Luke Harding
reviewed by Will
The fall of the Soviet Union left a power vacuum in which organized crime and former KGB agents coalesced in the newly capitalist state.The 2006 London assassination by poison of dissident Alexander Litivinenko served as a lethal threat to Russians who would defy the kleptocratic state and also displayed the willingness of some Western politicians to acquiesce to Putin's authoritarian regime in order to keep new Russian money flowing.Litvinenko had reported on the alliance of Russian mobsters and state actors and he was a potential witness in a related criminal case in Spain.Harding details multiple oafish poisoning attempts and recounts how Litvenenko, while dying in a London hospital, solved his own murder, and how Scotland Yard subsequently followed the radioactive trails to connect the dots.British politicians, however, slow-played the legal proceedings during a period of rapid investment and eventually dodged leveling punishments in deference to Russian capital and power. Over a decade later, as authoritarianism and bloated, predatory tyrants take root in Western governments, the brazenly public murder of Litvinenko may serve as the proverbial canary in the coalmine to those countries who acquiesce to strongmen who issue grave threats against free speech and the rule of law.
by Rachel Cusk
reviewed by Pat
Transit is the second novel of a trilogy that began with Outline. Faye follows a friend's advice that, with limited funds, "it was better to buy a bad house in a good street than a good house somewhere bad," and purchases a rickety apartment on a nice street in London. She's a recently divorced writer with two young sons. The scene is thus set for a renovation courtesy of Albanian and Polish builders and conflicts with the malignant couple in the apartment below. As Faye encounters the builders, the neighbors, an ex-boyfriend, her hairdresser, and fellow writers at a literary festival, she tells their backstories with a fierce intelligence and wit. It's a brilliant novel.
February and March Readings at Annie Blooms:
Wednesday, February 15, 7pm
Portland author Edward Hershey will read from his memoir, The Scorekeeper. Striking out at bat spurred a Brooklyn Little Leaguer to strike out on a path to stadium press boxes, newspaper city rooms, halls of government, and offices in academe. Edward Hershey describes a poignant Jewish-American childhood in America's "borough of dreams," vivid accounts of years as a sportswriter, and the drama of stories he broke on the Attica Prison revolt, the Son of Sam case, and a high-level New York election scam. The Scorekeeper is an irreverent coming-of-age tale, a perceptive take on reporting from the stadium to the statehouse, and an unsparing reflection on an era of urban tension and suburban sprawl, anti-war activism and a war on poverty, rampant crime and imperfect justice, political chicanery and prosecutorial abuse.
R. J. Noonan
Where the Lost Girls Go
Thursday, February 16, 7pm
Portland author R.J. Noonan will be reading from her latest Laura Mori Mystery, Where the Lost Girls Go. When the car of a celebrity author explodes in rural Oregon town Sunrise Lake, everyone assumes that the burned body inside belongs to the author's teenage daughter. When lab reports reveal that the body was actually a teen runaway whose disappearance has been linked with other missing Portland girls, the investigation takes a drastic turn. Just when Laura is making progress in the case, she comes across a suspicious lane in the forest that uncovers new evidence that will once again alter the course of the investigation and rock Sunrise Lake to its core.
Jane Sobel Klonsky
Unconditional: Older Dogs, Deeper Love
Monday, February 20, 7pm
Experience the deeper, sweeter love of senior dogs with Unconditional. This captivating collection of photographs and anecdotes is a one-of-a-kind celebration of humans special bond with, and love for, their senior dogs. Since 2012, photographer Jane Sobel Klonsky has traveled the United States with one mission: to capture images and stories that focus on the powerful relationship between dogs in the twilight of their lives and the people they share their life with. A book for any dog lover who appreciates the connection, unconditional love, and bond that can only be provided by a canine companion.
Meet Me at the Bamboo Table
Tuesday, February 21, 7pm
Seattle writer A.V. Crofts will read from Meet Me at the Bamboo Table: Everyday Meals Everywhere. Crofts has spent decades eating (and learning) her way around the world. She's studied in China, taught in Italy, and conducted humanitarian communications trainings in war-torn Sudan. Here, she traces a lifetime of meals across states and continents for the ways that food ties us together. This full-color visual tour-de-force will delight foodies, armchair travelers, and anyone who's ever learned a little something from a special meal. Photos, "sketchnotes," and other ephemera from Crofts's globetrotting coalesce into a truly beautiful meditation on how food nourishes community.
Road to the Sea
Monday, February 27, 7pm
In this poignant story of new found love and love discarded, reminiscent of Graham Greene's novels, local author Tim Schell takes us to Central Africa where a young American, an African prostitute and the seventeen-year-old daughter of American Baptist missionaries are on the run from the police and other threats. The American, Jack Burke, has stabbed to death a Frenchman in the act of raping Mari, the prostitute and Jack's former lover. She is the one arrested, but Jack confesses, then flees because of extreme fear of confinement, the result of childhood trauma. The daughter, Faith, joins their flight in her love for Jack. While the novel dramatizes a suspenseful adventure of danger, escape and death, the intense action engages questions of love, loyalty and belief.
The Sky Between You and Me
Thursday, March 9, 7pm
Catherine Alene will read from The Sky Between You and Me, her young adult novel about grief and striving for perfection. Raesha will to do whatever it takes to win Nationals. For her, competing isn't just about the speed of her horse or the thrill of the win. It's about honoring her mother's memory and holding onto a dream they once shared. Raesha knows minus five on the scale will let her sit deeper in her saddle, make her horse lighter on his feet. And lighter, leaner, faster gives her the edge she needs over the new girl on the team, a girl who keeps flirting with Raesha's boyfriend and making plans with her best friend.
So she focuses on minus five. But if she isn't careful, she's going to lose more than just the people she loves, she's going to lose herself to lighter, leaner, faster...
LeeAnn Elwood McLennan
Monday, March 13, 7pm
The Portland author returns to Annie Bloom's for Root, the second YA novel in her Dormant Trilogy. It's been four months since Olivia Woodson Brighthall accepted her supernormal heritage. When Portland is flooded with more supernormal beasts than ever before, Olivia and her family are thrust into a fight to keep people safe. A warning from one beast suggests someone is deliberately sending the monsters. But who among the Brighthall's enemies has the power to compel creatures? And then Olivia's visions start...
Tuesday, March 21, 7pm
Countless people are now cutting back on meat by enjoying more plant-based meals--to look and feel better, have a lighter eco-footprint, or to help animals. If you want to eat less meat and dairy without giving them up entirely, MeatLess offers concrete rationale and easy steps for reducing animal products. Kristie Middleton, senior food policy director for The Humane Society of the United States, shares inspirational stories from people who've lost weight, reached their health goals, helped animals, and improved their environmental footprint through plant-based eating. Along with its delicious, satisfying recipes that anyone can make, MeatLess offers tips and tricks for overcoming common barriers to diet change and how to make a better lifestyle stick-such as easy food swaps, where to dine out, and how to set and meet your goals. Whether you're a passionate meat lover or vegan-curious, MeatLess is the roadmap for a healthier life and a better you.
Hiking from Portland to the Coast
Wednesday, March 22, 7pm
A guidebook for both experienced and casual hikers, Hiking from Portland to the Coast explores the many trails and logging roads that crisscross the northern portion of Oregon's Coast Range. While showcasing convenient looped routes, it also describes complete throughways connecting Portland to the coastal communities of Seaside and Tillamook. Designed to both inform and entertain, each of the 30 trails described includes a backstory highlighting the rich histories of Native Americans, white settlers, loggers, and railroad operators. The maps, notes, and tips provided in Hiking from Portland to the Coast
will be invaluable for those adventurers who wish to wander far from the beaten track. Less intrepid explorers will find plenty of short and scenic exploratory hikes in the forests that parallel Highway 26 to Seaside or Highway 6 to Tillamook.
Thursday, March 23, 7pm
Be-Longing is the fourth anthology by the Woodshop Writers, a group of writers in Portland, Oregon, who study their craft under the guidance of writer and teacher Nancy Woods. In this anthology you will read about home and homelessness, exploration and discovery, identity, growth, change, and understanding of both self and others. Together the pieces describe a wide range of human experience. They underscore how basic and vital a sense of belonging is for everyone, and how many different forms belonging can take. The night's featured readers will be: Ann Sihler, Kerry McPherson, Jamie Caulley, Howard Schneider, and Catherine Magdalena.
New in Science
|Here are some of the latest books from our Science section:
From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds
by Daniel C. Dennett
How did we come to have minds? For centuries, this question has intrigued psychologists, physicists, poets, and philosophers, who have wondered how the human mind developed its unrivaled ability to create, imagine, and explain. Dennett builds on ideas from computer science and biology to show how a comprehending mind could in fact have arisen from a mindless process of natural selection. Part philosophical whodunit, part bold scientific conjecture, From Bacteria to Bach and Back will delight and entertain anyone eager to make sense of how the mind works and how it came about.
The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars
by Dava Sobel
In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or "human computers," to interpret the observations their male counterparts made via telescope each night. As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the ladies turned from computation to studying the stars captured nightly on glass photographic plates. The "glass universe" of half a million plates that Harvard amassed over the ensuing decades enabled the women to make extraordinary discoveries that attracted worldwide acclaim. Elegantly written and enriched by excerpts from letters, diaries, and memoirs, The Glass Universe is the hidden history of the women whose contributions to the burgeoning field of astronomy forever changed our understanding of the stars and our place in the universe.
Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity
by Carlo Rovelli
In elegant and accessible prose, Rovelli takes us on a wondrous journey from Democritus to Albert Einstein, from Michael Faraday to gravitational waves, and from classical physics to his own work in quantum gravity. As he shows us how the idea of reality has evolved over time, Rovelli offers deeper explanations of the theories he introduced so concisely in Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. This book culminates in a lucid overview of quantum gravity, the field of research that explores the quantum nature of space and time, seeking to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity. Rovelli invites us to imagine a marvelous world where space breaks up into tiny grains, time disappears at the smallest scales, and black holes are waiting to explode--a vast universe still largely undiscovered.
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life
by Helen Czerski
Did you know you can unveil the secrets of our universe using your toaster? Have you ever wondered how water travels from the roots of a redwood tree to its crown, how ducks keep their feet warm when walking on ice, or why milk, when added to tea, looks like billowing storm clouds? In Storm in a Teacup, Helen Czerski answers the whys behind everyday life and shows the surprisingly simple ways to test the properties that govern our universe. By linking ordinary objects and occurrences like popcorn popping, coffee stains, or refrigerator magnets to big ideas like climate change, the energy crisis, or innovative new medical testing, she gives us the tools to alter the way we see the world. In an engaging voice that is at once warm and witty, Czerski shares her stunning breadth of knowledge to lift the veil of familiarity from the ordinary.