|August 2017 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 book group titles, and see our roundup of the latest books from our Science section.
New Staff Reviews
|Here are three new Staff Favorites:
by Margaret Atwood
reviewed by Pat
Felix, the longtime artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival in Ontario, is in the midst of rehearsals to stage The Tempest when he's unceremoniously fired by two rivals. The play was meant to be a homage to his beloved late daughter, Miranda. He retreats to a rural shack and plots sweet revenge. The perfect opportunity for payback occurs twelve years later. Felix has become a storied theatre teacher at a nearby prison. There, with a superb cast of characters, Felix will at last stage The Tempest, and in a madcap finale seize the day.
Atwood, in retelling The Tempest, has concocted a fresh, modern story that's as delightful as it is clever. (Now out in paperback.)
The Stars Are Fire
reviewed by Carol
Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World Shreve's 18th novel is set in the fall of 1947 during Maine's worst natural disaster. After a severe drought, wild fires devour nine coastal towns and over 1,200 homes. One night, twenty-four-year-old Grace Holland finds herself and her two toddlers homeless, huddling overnight in the waves off the shore struggling to stay alive. Her young fire-fighting husband is missing. As she makes a new home for her children in her recently deceased mother-in-law's home, she discovers a resilience to tragedy and a longing for a better life that is both encouraged and threatened by unexpected forces.
by Suzy Hansen
reviewed by Will
Sometimes one has to leave a place to discover truths that are hidden by its myths and propaganda: In the case of America, fairy tales spun about exceptionalism and indispensability have allowed U.S. imperialism to cause destruction abroad and increasing austerity at home. A highly educated young journalist, Suzy Hansen had to move to Turkey and explore the surrounding region to fully take stock of the corruptions and coups caused by American foreign policy and to realize America's place in projecting power and creating chaos in world events. Hansen's loss of illusions make her a fascinating guide to empire in relating her own travels--and using James Baldwin's works and experiences as political and cultural touchstones--to examine America's outsize, almost willful ignorance of the world. Deceptive policy narratives--where foreign occupations and support for right-wing dictatorships are dressed up as modernization and "good intentions abroad"--are created primarily to be sold domestically. These false stories serve only to obscure the measure of American decline in the world and decay at home--a decay made ripe ironically for authoritarian and kleptocratic figures, similar to strongman dictators that America has promoted abroad, that now ominously threaten our own republic. Hansen's engaging work is necessary for our times.
Upcoming Author Readings:
The Long Haul
Wednesday, August 23, 7pm
More than thirty years ago, Finn Murphy dropped out of college to become a long-haul trucker. Since then he's covered more than a million miles packing, loading, and hauling people's belongings all over America. In The Long Haul, he offers a trucker's-eye view of a nation on the move. Brimming with personality and filled with great characters, Finn's memoir is a resonant portrait of the enduring appeal of manual labor in the dark underbelly of the American Dream.
Lisa Alber, Susan Spann, and Kerry Schafer
Three Mysteries Book Launch Party
Thursday, August 24, 7pm
Join these acclaimed authors for a joint book launch party with wine and goodies. They'll be talking about their latest novels, and playing a game they call, "What would your detective do?" Come join the fun! Portland author Lisa Alber's third mystery novel is Path Into Darkness, a haunting tale of family secrets, madness, and healing in small-town Ireland. Susan Spann's Betrayal at Iga: A Hiro Hattori Novel is set in 1565 and features master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo. Kerry Schafer's World Tree Girl: A Shadow Valley Manor Novel stars Maureen Keslyn, seasoned paranormal investigator, former FBI agent, and new owner of the Shadow Valley Manor Retirement Home. She's discovered a sign that the Medusa, a dangerous paranormal hybrid, is on another killing spree.
Death and Love at the Old Summer Camp
Tuesday, August 29, 7pm
Local author Maggiore will read from her Young Adult novel. For Pina, summer 1959 started off a boring drag, just like every other summer with her folks at Owl Lake Lodge in Maine. The only good thing was seeing Katie and hanging out with her in the creepy cabins of the old boys' camp. But this summer, Katie made her nervous--and excited. As the summer heated up, so did her feelings for Katie. Things got even hotter when Katie's dad, Doc, and his very, very close, old camp friend, Joe, started hiding camp secrets about dead stuff--and other stuff. How hot could Pina stand it? If she didn't want to lose this one chance for a different kind of life, could she solve the murder--and clear Doc's name? And would Katie have her and would Pina have herself?
The Magnificent Losers
Tuesday, September 12, 7pm
Some of history's greatest and grandest reformers, revolutionaries and fighters for freedom and justice lost. They did not achieve their goals in their lifetime. Yet perhaps they did not "lose" after all, for the ideas they fought for lived on. The Magnificent Losers tells the story of twenty of these extraordinary, sometimes forgotten figures over the last two thousand years. The narrative sweeps from the Roman Republic to the Russian steppes, from Boston to Peru and the plains of Nebraska to the Philippines. With swords and speeches, schools and strikes, and despite their apparent defeats, these Magnificent Losers helped create a better world.
Wednesday, September 20, 7pm
The Portland author's novel is about two momentous days in the life of a tribe of suburban L.A. teenagers set in 1976. Bunkie, whose view of the world is as charming and skewed as the malapropisms that come out of his seventeen-year-old mouth, begins the tale with a girl and a rock concert. Bunkie maintains his essential honesty and innocence through two days filled with illicit drugs, sex and violence, and celebrates his dawning understanding of the failings of youth, the fight of good over evil, peace on earth, and the clashes that exist between humans and nature.
Tuesday, September 26, 7pm
The Oregon author will read from her memoir, Loving Lindsey. Atwell and her strong-willed daughter, Lindsey--a high-functioning young adult with intellectual disabilities--have always had a complicated relationship. But when Lindsey graduates from Silverton High School at nineteen and gets a job at Goodwill, she also moves into a newly remodeled cottage in her parents' backyard--and Linda believes that all their difficult times may finally be behind them. Life, however, proves not to be so simple. Lindsey soon quits Goodwill, runs away with a man more than twice her age, and slips away from her family. Linda, determined to save her daughter, refuses to give up.
Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart
Monday, October 2, 7pm
Stabile's parents were murdered when he was fourteen. Nine years later, his brother died of a heroin overdose. Soon after that, Stabile joined a cult that would dominate his life. Through all these challenges, Stabile grew stronger and more committed to living his life from love. He forgave the man who murdered his parents, found compassion for his late drug-addicted brother, and finally walked away from the cult leader who had controlled his life for thirteen years. He writes about these experiences and many other personal milestones in ways that are universally applicable, uplifting, and even laugh-out-loud funny. Whether trying (as we all must) to silence shame, show up for friends, or overcome dreaded what-ifs, Stabile shares hard-won insights that return readers to love, both of themselves and others.
New in Science
Here are some of the latest releases in our Science section:
Eclipse: Journeys to the Dark Side of the Moon
by F. E. Close
On August 21st, over one hundred million people will gather across the USA to witness the most-watched total solar eclipse in history. Eclipse: Journeys to the Dark Side of the Moon, by popular science author Frank Close, describes the spellbinding allure of this beautiful natural phenomenon. The book explains why eclipses happen, reveals their role in history, literature and myth, and introduces us to eclipse chasers, who travel with ecstatic fervor to some of the most inaccessible places on the globe. Readers of all ages will be drawn to this inspirational chronicle of the mesmerizing experience of total solar eclipse.
Into the Gray Zone: A Neuroscientist Explores the Border Between Life and Death
by Adrian Owen
The world-renowned neuroscientist reveals his controversial, groundbreaking work with patients whose brains were previously thought vegetative or non-responsive but turn out--in up to 20 percent of cases--to be vibrantly alive, existing in the "Gray Zone." What is life like for these patients? What can their families and friends do to help them? What are the ethical implications for religious organizations, politicians, the Right to Die movement, and even insurers? And perhaps most intriguing of all: in defining what a life worth living is, are we too concerned with the physical and not giving enough emphasis to the power of thought? What, truly, defines a satisfying life?
Caesar's Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us
by Sam Kean
With every breath, you literally inhale the history of the world. On the ides of March, 44 BC, Julius Caesar died of stab wounds on the Senate floor, but the story of his last breath is still unfolding; in fact, you're probably inhaling some of it now. Of the sextillions of molecules entering or leaving your lungs at this moment, some might well bear traces of Cleopatra's perfumes, German mustard gas, particles exhaled by dinosaurs or emitted by atomic bombs, even remnants of stardust from the universe's creation. Tracing the origins and ingredients of our atmosphere, Kean reveals how the alchemy of air reshaped our continents, steered human progress, powered revolutions, and continues to influence everything we do. Lively, witty, and filled with the astounding science of ordinary life, Caesar's Last Breath illuminates the science stories swirling around us every second.
Everything All at Once: How to Unleash Your Inner Nerd, Tap Into Radical Curiosity and Solve Any Problem
by Bill Nye
Whether addressing climate change, the future of our society as a whole, personal success, or stripping away the mystery of fire walking, there are certain strategies that get results: looking at the world with relentless curiosity, being driven by a desire for a better future, and being willing to take the actions needed to make change happen. Here, Bill Nye shares how he came to create this approach--starting with his Boy Scout training and moving through the lessons he learned as a full-time engineer at Boeing, a stand-up comedian, CEO of The Planetary Society, and, of course, as Bill Nye The Science Guy.
This is the story of how Bill Nye became Bill Nye and how he became a champion of change and an advocate of science. Bill teaches us that we have the power to make real change. Join him in dare we say it changing the world.