|August 2015 Staff Reviews, Readings, Science Books, and More!
We hope you enjoy these new additions to our Staff Favorites table. Plus, check out the great author readings coming up, browse some adult coloring books, and see our roundup of the latest books from our Science section.
New Staff Reviews
|Here are three new Staff Favorites:
I Saw a Man
by Owen Sheers
reviewed by Pat
The book opens with the arresting image of a man slipping into the back door of his neighbor's seemingly empty house on Hampstead Heath. The man is Michael, and his neighbors are Josh and Samantha Nelson and their two young daughters. Josh and Samantha have welcomed Michael's friendship in part to ease the tension of a faltering marriage. Michael has recently moved from Wales to London after his wife, a war correspondent, is killed in Pakistan. His grief is subterranean but etches his life in unpredictable ways. At the end of the chapter, we're left with a feeling of foreboding and a compulsion to turn the pages. What is the nature of redemption after an accidental but grievous injury is done? With all of the heartache each character experiences, their search for redemption is as individual as each heart. We are left with hope that it's possible to make amends in thoughtful and meaningful ways.
The Children Act
by Ian McEwan
reviewed by Carol
Fiona Maye has built a fine reputation for herself as a leading judge, upholding the Children Act of 1989 as she presides over family cases in England's High Court: the secular vs. traditional Haredi education of two young daughters of estranged parents, the separation of Siamese twins in which only one has a chance to survive. Fiona's newest case requires her to decide the fate of Adam Henry, a seventeen-year-old Jehovah's Witness with leukemia who is refusing the blood transfusion that will save his life. The decision she hands down for young Adam has an unexpected effect on both of them, especially in light of her 35-year-old marriage, which is coming apart.
by Lawrence Osborne
reviewed by Will
Osborne's compelling story of decadent Westerners carousing at a luxurious villa plopped into the harsh desert of Morocco is one of the fine overlooked novels of the past few years. The descriptions of lavish lifestyles in lush settings contrast with the rigid landscape and the bleak lives of the desert dwellers.The extended weekend-long party allows for a variety of revealing and savage character depictions. Post-Colonial (or really, updated colonial) tribes intersect uneasily, but their contact only yields greater cultural misunderstanding: native and foreigner, Western and Islam, privileged and servant, modern and traditional, European and American, male and female, straight and gay, and importantly rich and poor. But centrally--and fatally--it is the collision of East and West and their disparate values and concepts of justice ("between the two men there existed a mental chasm--centuries of antagonism and mutual ignorance"), that vexes and leads to devastation.
Readings for August & September
Wallace J. Nichols
Monday, August 17, 7pm
Now available in paperback, Blue Mind is a landmark book by marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols on the remarkable effects of water on our health and well-being. Why are we drawn to the ocean each summer? Why does being near water set our minds and bodies at ease? Nichols revolutionizes how we think about these questions, revealing the remarkable truth about the benefits of being in, on, under, or simply near water. Combining cutting-edge neuroscience with compelling personal stories from top athletes, leading scientists, military veterans, and gifted artists, he shows how proximity to water can improve performance, increase calm, diminish anxiety, and increase professional success. Blue Mind not only illustrates the crucial importance of our connection to water--it provides a paradigm shifting "blueprint" for a better life on this Blue Marble we call home.
YA Authors Marni Bates, Livia Blackburne, Robin Herrera & Mary Elizabeth Summer
Thursday, August 20, 7pm
Four great Teen Read authors in one night! In Bates's Awkwardly Ever After, it's prom season, and Melanie is flirting with her best friend's brother, while huge geek Isobel has the attentions of a renowned player, and Corey is dating rockstar Timothy, which might get them both banned from prom. In Blackburne's Midnight Thief, talented thief Kyra joins forces with Palace knight Tristam in acts of survival and vengeance. In Herrera's Hope Is a Ferris Wheel, ten-year-old Star Mackie starts a poetry club at her new school, and, through Emily Dickinson's poetry, learns some important lessons about herself and comes to terms with her hopes for the future. In Summer's Trust Me, I'm Lying, con artist high school sophomore Julep discovers her father missing and struggles to trace his trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care.
Brian Doyle, Tom Janikowski, and Amy Schutzer
Authors on Red Hen Press
Thursday, August 27, 7pm
Brian Doyle is the author of Martin Marten, The Plover, Mink River, Bin Laden's Bald Spot, A Book of Uncommon Prayer, and many others. In Tom Janikowski's The Crawford County Sketchbook, a series of stories wind their way through the lives of the Switchback and Morgan families, framed by several ponderings of moral philosophy and existence. In Amy Schutzer's Spheres of Disturbance, Helen is choosing to die. Over the course of one day in 1985, those who surround her--among them her daughter, an art thief, a high-strung housewife and crochet artist, a lesbian poet, and a pregnant Vietnamese pot-bellied pig--grapple with her impending end.
Novelists M.J. Rose, Wendy Webb and Cat Winters
Monday, August 31, 7pm
In M.J. Rose's The Witch of Painted Shadows, Sandrine Salome flees New York for her grandmother's Paris mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds there is even more menacing. In Wendy Webb's The Vanishing, recently widowed and penniless Julia Bishop accepts a stranger's mysterious yet unique job offer: caretaker to his mother, Amaris Sinclair, the famous and rather eccentric horror novelist whom Julia has always admired ... and who the world believes is dead. In Cat Winters's The Uninvited, Ivy Rowan survives the great influenza epidemic of 1918, only to discover that her younger brother and father have killed a young German, and she still sees uninvited ones: ghosts of loved ones who appear to her.
The Timberline Review
Tuesday, September 8, 7pm
Join us for an evening of short readings from eleven contributors to The Timberline Review. Willamette Writers has launched Oregon's newest literary journal. The debut Summer/Fall issue features 180 pages of short fiction, creative nonfiction, essays and poetry from 46 writers from the Northwest and beyond. The evening's readers will be: Brittney Corrigan, Jack Estes, Jennifer Foreman, Rick George, Christa Kaainoa, Jill Kelly, Jennie Kiffmeyer, Sherri Levine, Liz Nakazawa, Kate Ristau, and Steve Theme.
Tuesday, September 15, 7pm
The skills and experience of seasoned hospice nurse Deborah Birch are tested when her husband, Michael, returns from his third deployment to Iraq. Tormented by nightmares, anxiety, and rage, Michael has become cold and withdrawn. But Michael is not her only challenge. Deborah's primary patient is Barclay Reed, a retired history professor and fierce curmudgeon. Barclay's last wish is for Deborah to read to him from his final and unfinished book--a little-known story from World War II that may hold the key to helping Michael conquer his demons. Together, nurse, patient, and soldier embark on an unforgettable emotional journey that transforms them all, offering astonishing insights into life and death, suffering and finding peace.
Never Look Down
Thursday, September 17, 7pm
In the latest mystery from local author Warren Easley, Oregon lawyer Cal Claxton encounters Kelly Spence, a tagger and teen at risk. Kelly is four stories up at 3:00 one morning when she looks down and witnesses the brutal murder of a woman in the parking lot below. Unluckily, the killer spies her, but Kelly escapes. Cal is drawn into the case by his volatile Cuban friend and landlord who is devastated by the murder: the dead woman had just become his fiancee. Her ex is the obvious suspect, but Cal's instincts lead him in a different direction, where he will run into Kelly. Can he get her to talk, or will the killer find her first?
The Deception Artist
Tuesday, September 22, 7pm
Fayette will read from her quirky novel for adults. Eight-year-old Ivy has a vivid imagination and tells lies so that people will like her. With her brother, Brice, in the hospital, life at home feels unsettled and things become even more strained after her father loses his job, along with his sense of purpose. Ivy's parents might divorce and her best friend hates her but, ever creative, she abandons her escapist fantasies and determines to uncover the truth. In this sharp and funny literary debut set in Northern California during the 1980s recession, Fayette Fox delves deep into the dark heart of an ordinary American family--and finds out that make-believe isn't just for kids.
The Man Who Wasn't There
Wednesday, September 23, 7pm
This novel is the third in Nedry's mystery series which features the middle-aged amateur sleuth Emma Golden. At the International Pinot Noir Celebration's traditional Salmon Bake, Oregon wine pioneer James Ryder confronts land developer Max Weatherman, who is planning to build a destination resort uphill from Ryder's vineyards. Fisticuffs ensue, and a short while later Ryder is found murdered, and Max Weatherman has vanished. Fans of the series will welcome the return of Emma Golden and her hilarious sidekick, the frequently in error but never in doubt Melody Wyatt. Judy Who needs bookstores? We all do. Judy Nedry is a native Northwesterner and veteran journalist and editor. She spent more than 20 years documenting the rise of the Northwest wine industry.
New in Science
Here are some of the latest releases in our Science section:
The Well-Tuned Brain
by Peter Whybrow
This book is a call to action. Swept along by the cascading advances of today's technology, most of us take for granted that progress brings improvement. Despite spectacular material advance, however, the evidence grows that we are failing to create a sustainable future for humanity. We are out of tune with the planet that nurtures us.Technology itself is not the problem, as Whybrow explains, but rather our behavior. The first step in finding our way forward is to reexamine who we are as creatures of this planet. To this end, Whybrow takes us on a fascinating tour of self-discovery, drawing extensively upon his decades of experience as a psychiatrist and his broad knowledge of neuroscience and human behavior. Neuroscience can open the search for a better future. But technology alone will not save us. To achieve success we will need the strength and wisdom of our better nature as humane social beings.
How We'll Live on Mars
by Stephen Petranek
It sounds like science fiction, but Stephen Petranek considers it fact: Within twenty years, humans will live on Mars. We'll need to. In this sweeping, provocative book that mixes business, science, and human reporting, Petranek makes the case that living on Mars is an essential back-up plan for humanity and explains in fascinating detail just how it will happen. In this exciting chronicle, Petranek introduces the circus of lively characters all engaged in a dramatic effort to be the first to settle the Red Planet. How We'll Live on Mars
brings firsthand reporting, interviews with key participants, and extensive research to bear on the question of how we can expect to see life on Mars within the next twenty years.
Infectious Disease: A Very Short Introduction
by Marta Wayne and Benjamin Bolker
As doctors and biologists have learned, to their dismay, infectious disease is a moving target: new diseases emerge every year, old diseases evolve into new forms, and ecological and socioeconomic upheavals change the transmission pathways by which disease spread. By taking an approach focused on the general evolutionary and ecological dynamics of disease, this book provides a general conceptual framework for thinking about disease. Through a series of case studies, Bolker and Wayne introduce the major ideas of infectious disease in a clear and thoughtful way, emphasizing the general principles of infection, the management of outbreaks, and the evolutionary and ecological approaches that are now central to much research about infectious disease.
by Frank Wilczek
With Nobel laureate Wilczek as your guide, embark on a voyage of related discoveries, from Plato and Pythagoras up to the present. Wilczek brings us right to the edge of knowledge today, where the core insights of even the craziest quantum ideas apply principles we all understand. Gorgeously illustrated, A Beautiful Question
is a mind-shifting book that braids the age-old quest for beauty and the age-old quest for truth into a thrilling synthesis. It is a dazzling and important work from one of our best thinkers, whose humor and infectious sense of wonder animate every page.Yes: The world is a work of art, and its deepest truths are ones we already feel, as if they were somehow written in our souls.