Carol's Staff Favorites
Carol has been with Annie Bloom's since 1995. A real estate agent by day, she joins forces with Edie every Friday night to sell books to Multnomah Village's rowdy TGIF crowd.
Fans of Paulette Jiles will not be disappointed in her latest book, Simon the Fiddler. Set in the same post-Civil War Texas as her popular News of the World, Jiles takes you on a journey fraught with the uncertainty and danger of a divided state in the early stages of reconstruction. Simon Boudlin has managed to dodge the Confederate conscription men until late in the war. After all, a fiddler is more valuable than a soldier. Simon escapes harsh treatment from his Union victors after the brutal and unnecessary Battle of Los Palmitos by forming a band of ragtag musicians to play at a reconciliation dinner. There Simon lays eyes on Doris, a young Irish immigrant who is working off her 3-year indenture as the governess for a Union colonel with a bad temper, a huge ego, and a salacious eye. From Galveston to Houston to San Antonio, Simon doggedly makes his way across Texas to claim the woman he's already decided should share his new life with him.
Ellie Jacobs takes a walk near her home in the Exmoor countryside one day. While her husband, Clive, is a domineering lout, Ellie tries to create a peaceful life for herself by writing poetry and walking in the woods. On this day, however, Ellie comes across a barn that has been converted into a harpmaker's studio. Dan Hollis, the harpmaker, isn't like anyone she has ever met. He's a quiet loner, spectacularly awkward yet incredibly handsome. When Dan impulsively gives Ellie one of his harps, Clive demands that Ellie return it. Dan takes it back but suggests that Ellie could visit her harp whenever she wants. Dan then introduces Ellie to his erstwhile girlfriend, Rhonda, a professional harpist, who agrees to give her lessons. When Ellie discovers a secret about Rhonda, that revelation changes Dan's quiet world forever. You will find yourself yearning for this odd pair's happiness.
An upright Bluthner piano is the only surviving relic 26-yr-old Clara has from her childhood home, which was destroyed by fire, killing both of her parents. Katya, a young Russian pianist, reluctantly emigrates to the United States in the 1960s with her disillusioned husband and loses her beloved Bluthner in the move. While Clara has never learned to play, she doggedly moves her piano from place to place and relationship to relationship. When her hand is crushed during the latest move, she impulsively puts the piano up for sale online where it’s immediately snatched up by an eager young photographer who has his own fierce attachment to the Bluthner. As Katya and Clara's stories intertwine, one can feel not only the physical weight of the piano but the crushing weight of sorrow and disappointment both women feel as they each come to terms with their loss.
Willy Vlautin has never written a cheerful book in his brilliant writing career and Don’t Skip Out on Me is no exception. Young Horace Hopper, half-Paiute, half-Irish, wants to be a championship boxer. Abandoned by his birth parents, he’s been taken in by an elderly rancher and his wife who love him like a son. They would like nothing better than to have him take over their Nevada ranch. His desire to prove himself in the ring, however, is stronger than his sense of worthiness. The ranch isn’t something he thinks he deserves. In fact, he doesn’t think he deserves much of anything out of life. Your heart will break for Horace as he tries to make his way in the world and you’ll find yourself pulling for him, hoping that he discovers his worth.
Anita 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.
Christina Olson never got to see much of the world. Obligated to run the family’s household and suffering from a degenerative muscle condition that cost her the use of her legs by her early 30s, Christina was bound to her coastal Maine farm. At the age of 46 she meet 22-year-old Andrew Wyeth, the soon-to-be husband of Betsy James, a long-time friend who summered nearby. Andrew visits Christina’s home almost daily over the course of the next 20 summers, commandeering an upstairs bedroom as his art studio. In 1948 he paints one of his most famous works, Christina’s World, the haunting image of a young woman reclining on the ground gazing back at a weathered farmhouse. Written by the author of the bestselling Orphan Train, Christina Baker Klein’s latest work of historical fiction shares the story of the forgotten, yet unforgettable Christina Olson.
Ada has not been raised like a typical daughter. David, her single, socially inept father, is a brilliant computer scientist who heads his own prestigious university lab. He home-schools Ada, which consisted largely of bringing her to work with him every day and teaching her overly-advanced subjects in the evenings. When David starts to show signs of dementia, 14-year-old Ada tries to keep their deteriorating household a secret. Inevitably, David is placed into a nursing home leaving Ada to be raised by Liston, one of his colleagues, along with her three sons. No longer able to communicate, it comes to light that David is perhaps not who everyone thought he was. Liz Moore, the author of Heft, brings us unforgettable characters faced with seemingly impossible circumstances.
Portlandness is a compilation of 150 infographics that started as a project in PSU's Department of Geography. Over the course of several years, students and faculty made quirky, creative, and spot-on contributions ranging from the humorous to the shameful. You'll find depictions of Portland breweries etched in the foam of a pint, of independent coffee shops that looks like a stain running down your brand new white shirt, the invisibility of homelessness, our less than honorable history of redlining, the name origins of the alphabet district--Ankeny to York. And my favorite--Putting Our House in Order--a blueprint map of the city where Multnomah Village is the master bedroom, Division is the kitchen, Beaverton is the guest room, and Gresham is the garage. A great study of the city that will appeal to lovers of local history, maps, and graphic design.
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.
AJ Fikry is an independent bookseller. Tragically widowed after his wife is killed in a car accident while escorting a visiting author, AJ is now sole proprietor of Island Books on Alice Island off Hyannis, Massachusetts. The store's motto, "No Man Is an Island, Every Book Is a World," has lost its meaning, and AJ's on a mission to drink himself to death. He can't even be civil to Amelia Loman, the new sales rep for Knightley Books. Then two things happen. First, his rare manuscript of Edgar Allen Poe's teenage poetry is stolen, then two-year-old Maya is abandoned in the bookstore with a note pinned onto her stuffed Elmo. Booksellers will love The Storied Life of AJ Fikry for the familiar and bookstore lovers will love it even more. This is a story of second chances nurtured among the shelves.
The author of The Secret Life of Bees has created a remarkable and moving work of historical fiction in her latest novel, The Invention of Wings. Set in Charleston, SC, in the early 1800s, readers follow the 35-year journey of Sarah Grimke, a wealthy southern daughter, and Hetty "Handful" Grimke, the 10-year-old slave Sarah was given as her personal handmaid on her 11th birthday. Sarah is as reluctant to own another human being as Handful is to be owned. Each yearns for her own personal freedom in a changing world where slave revolt is conspired behind closed doors while the end of slavery and the rights of women are promoted by handbill in the streets. Inspired by the life of Sarah Grimke, early abolitionist and women's rights advocate.
A sad, thoughtful historical novel of post WWI.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge writes about three siblings who are less than lovable, yet utterly human. Bobby, the twin who lives with the guilt of having put the family car into gear as a toddler and killing their father, reminds one of a sad, humorless Bob Newhart. Older brother Jim--small town favorite son, Harvard Law grad--launched his career in a high profile case defending a popular soul singer who most likely did kill his girlfriend. Susan, Bobby's twin and an ophthalmologist at the local mall, never left Shirley Falls, Maine. When Susan's 19-year-old son, Zach, pitches a bloody pig's head into a mosque full of praying Somali refugees, Bobby and Jim reluctantly return home to help contain a troubled young man's impulsive act from sky rocketing into a national hate crime.