February 2019: Staff Favorites, Libro.fm Audio Books, Author Readings, and New in Science

February 2019: Staff Favorites, Libro.fm Audio Books, Author Readings, and New in Science
Check out our newest staff reviews, find out which authors are reading here soon, learn how to get free audio books when you switch to Libro.fm, and see what's new in our Science section. But first....
New Releases
These three books are among the most anticipated new releases in the coming weeks. Click on a cover or title to pre-order from our website.
by Ann Leckie
Out: February 26th
Gods meddle in the fates of men, men play with the fates of gods, and a pretender must be cast down from the throne in this breathtaking first fantasy novel from Ann Leckie. For centuries, the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by the god known as the Raven. His will is enacted through the Raven's Lease, a human ruler chosen by the god himself. Under the Raven's watch, the city flourishes. But the power of the Raven is weakening. A usurper has claimed the throne. The kingdom borders are tested by invaders who long for the prosperity that Vastai boasts. And they have made their own alliances with other gods. It is into this unrest that the warrior Eolo--aide to Mawat, the true Lease--arrives. And in seeking to help Mawat reclaim his city, Eolo discovers that the Raven's Tower holds a secret. Its foundations conceal a dark history that has been waiting to reveal itself... and to set in motion a chain of events that could destroy Iraden forever.
by Soman Chainani
Out: March 5th
In this fifth installment in the School for Good and Evil fantasy series, the past will come back to haunt the present. A false king has seized Camelot's throne, sentencing Tedros, the true king, to death. While Agatha, narrowly escapes the same fate, Sophie is caught in King Rhian's trap. With her wedding to Rhian approaching, she's forced to play a dangerous game as her friends' lives hang in the balance. All the while, King Rhian's dark plans for Camelot are taking shape. Now the students of the School for Good and Evil must find a way to restore Tedros to the throne before their stories—and the future of the Endless Woods—are rewritten . . . forever.
by G. Willow Wilson
Out: March 12th
The Bird King tells the story of Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret--he can draw maps of places he's never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan's surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan's gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls? As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.
Staff Favorites
Here are two brand new reviews from our Staff Favorites table:
by Charles Finch
reviewed by Edie
What better way to banish the political woes than to drop yourself into a Victorian mystery novel? Finch has written a number of great stories about Charles Lenox, an amateur detective in the 1850s who drives Scotland Yard crazy by solving complicated problems. The first in the series was published in 2007 and they are delightful. This particular new mystery is the second prequel and takes us back to Lenox's first cases and sets you up for more. If you haven't tried them, start with this. Lenox has a neighbor, Lady Jane, who.....well, I won't spoil it. Lenox takes on a case of a missing painting, a vanished duke, and a shocking murder. He is helped by Graham, his valet, servant, devious assistant, and friend. Finch has a wonderful eye for period detail, which makes it all great fun to read. As Louise Penny says, "Bravo Mr. Finch, and keep them coming."
by Shoshana Zuboff
reviewed by Will
Every so often a book is written that clarifies the world in ways that we experience, yet have previously been unable to lucidly and more fully explain. Zuboff has studied the corporate use of technology and its effects on the marketplace and produced this wonderful, scary, and necessary book. Big Tech corporations have broken apart from the controls of democratic society; in the way that the Industrial Age harnessed and exploited the natural world, now Surveillance Capitalism harnesses human nature itself by renditioning our experiences, dealing in predictive products, and eventually modifying behavior. No longer, argues Zuboff, are we the citizen, the consumer—or the product, even—but after the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Cambridge Analytica are done with us, we are more akin to an elephant carcass after the poacher has extracted its ivory tusks. (As I write this, there is a startup corporation in England proposing that for $29 they can brainwash any individual that has a Facebook page—not exactly power to the people.) It will take a much more functional democratic society than we currently have to push back against the parasitic and rapacious surveillance capitalists.
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Upcoming Author Readings
Voices from Bears Ears
Wednesday, February 27, 7pm
A land rich in human history and unsurpassed in natural beauty, Bears Ears is at the heart of a national debate over the future of public lands. Through the stories of twenty individuals, and informed by interviews with more than seventy people, Voices from Bears Ears captures the passions of those who fought to protect Bears Ears and those who opposed the monument as a federal "land grab" that threatened to rob them of their economic future. Journalist Rebecca Robinson provides context and perspective for understanding the ongoing debate and humanizes the abstract issues at the center of the debate. Interwoven with these stories are photographs of the interviewees and the land they consider sacred by photographer Stephen E. Strom. Through word and image, Robinson and Strom allow us to both hear and see the people whose lives are intertwined with this special place.
Middle Grade Reading
Thursday, February 28, 7pm
Deborah Hopkinson's How I Became a Spy is a story of espionage, survival, and friendship during World War II. Bertie Bradshaw never set out to become a spy. He certainly never expected that a strong-willed American girl named Eleanor would play Watson to his Holmes (or Holmes to his Watson, depending on who you ask). But when a young woman goes missing, leaving behind a coded notebook, Bertie is determined to solve the mystery. Portland author Molly Gloss's classic dystopian fantasy novel, Outside the Gates, has just been reissued. Thirty years later, it's as timely, poignant, and stirring as ever. Portland's own Carmen Bernier-Grand's middle grade novel, In the Shade of the Nispero Tree, is about a Puerto Rican girl named Tere is caught between caught between the two worlds of her school friends and her mother's dream of Tere going to a fancy private school.
Book Signing Only!
Monday, March 4, 5:30-7:00pm
The local author will be signing copies of her new book, Mastering the Business of Organizing. Anne M. Blumer, CPO(R), owner and founder of SolutionsForYou Inc. and the Institute for Professional Organizers(TM), has trained hundreds of professional organizers from 17 countries, and in this guide, she explores how to turn your love of organizing into a full-fledged career. Mastering the Business of Organizing is an essential guide for professional organizers and productivity consultants, and it advances the message and vision of the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals.
St. Nicholas Salvage & Wrecking
Tuesday, March 5, 7pm
Join us for the Portland thriller author's launch of his latest novel. Michael Patrick Finnigan was a New York City cop and a US Marshal. Katalin Fiero Dahar was a soldier, spy, and assassin for Spain. Together, they created St. Nicholas Salvage & Wrecking, a largely illegal bounty hunting operation based in Cyprus and working throughout Europe. Someone is kidnapping Middle Eastern refugee children as they flee war-torn countries and selling them into prostitution around the world. Finnigan and Fiero get the assignment to track them down and save the refugees. The battle to stop the mass kidnappings ranges from Belgrade and Zagreb, to the Loire Valley and Milan, and to the plains of Kosovo. As Finnigan and Fiero close in, the conspirators realize that the judge of the ICC is the real threat and plan an assassination. Now the partners have to save their patron and the kidnapped refugees from a rogue military force with nothing left to lose.
The Perfect Alibi
Wednesday, March 6, 7pm
The Portland mystery author returns to Annie Bloom's for the launch of his latest book. Robin Lockwood is a young lawyer with a prestigious small law firm and a former MMA fighter who helped pay for Yale Law School with her bouts. She is representing a rape victim for her civil lawsuit against her rapist. At the same time, another client is up on a murder charge—one that should be dismissed as self-defense—but the D.A. trying the case is determined to bring it to trial. Now she has to mastermind two impossible cases, trying to find the hidden truth that links the two of them. Phillip Margolin, the master of the legal thriller, returns in one of his twistiest, most compelling crime novels yet.
Flamingo Lane
Thursday, March 7, 7pm
We welcome back the local author to read from his latest novel of Southern noir. Chance is a hitman with hippie roots and deep emotional wounds, disillusioned by life and stung by love--and his next target is the woman who rejected him. But, as he closes in on his victim, Chance struggles to rediscover the competitive edge that normally makes him so deadly. Faye Lindstrom escaped a life of captivity and addiction in Quintana Roo, but she can't flee the woman she has become. For now, she holes up in a house in Crooked River owned by an old friend, hoping that the violence in her past doesn't catch up to her. Flamingo Lane is a gritty cat-and-mouse pursuit that launches from an island off the Yucatan Peninsula through the cornfields of Indiana to a small town on the Florida panhandle.
Monday, March 11, 7pm
Annie Bloom's welcomes Portland writers Elizabeth Beechwood, Sydney Culpepper, Chloe Hageman, Julia Figliotti, Debby Dodds, LeeAnn McLennan, Tonya Lippert, and Lizzy Carney to read from their contributions to Strongly Worded Women, an anthology of 18 short stories by women authors from across the country. Back in 2015, Oregon press Not a Pipe Publishing announced they were accepting author Kamila Shamsie’s challenge to the publishing industry to only publish women authors in 2018. After publishing eight novels by seven women authors in 2018, they capped off their Year of Publishing Women with an anthology of 18 short stories by women authors from across the country.
Mostly the Honest Truth
Tuesday, March 12, 7pm
Join us for the launch of Portland author and third-grade teacher Jody J. Little's middle grade book, Mostly the Honest Truth. After Pop is sent back to rehab, Jane Pengilly arrives at her newest foster home determined to stick to the straight and narrow and get back to her beloved dad as soon as she can. It’s not the first time they’ve been apart, but Jane’s determined it will be the last. Twelve days out in the boonies of Three Boulders makes Jane miss Pop more than ever. But as the days go by, she realizes that family is more than who you’re related to—and that a home can be found in the unlikeliest of places. This tough yet tender debut is a pitch-perfect story exploring the many meanings of family.
Monday, March 18, 7pm
Pacific Northwest authors Vlautin and Evison will read from the paperback editions of their latest novels. In Willy Vlautin's Don't Skip Out on Me, Horace Hopper is a half-Paiute, half-Irish ranch hand who wants to be somebody. He's spent most of his life on the ranch of his kindly guardians, Mr. and Mrs. Reese. But, while the Reeses treat him like a son, Horace decides to leave the only loving home he's known to prove his worth by training to become a boxer. Mr. Reese is holding on to a way of life that is no longer sustainable. He's a seventy-two-year-old rancher with a bad back. He's not sure how he'll keep things going without Horace, but he knows the boy must find his own way. In Jonathan Evison's Lawn Boy, Mike Muñoz is a young Chicano living in Washington State. Not too many years out of high school and still doing menial work—and just fired from his latest gig as a lawn boy on a landscaping crew—he knows that he's got to be the one to shake things up if he's ever going to change his life. But how? Lawn Boy is an important, entertaining, and completely winning novel about social class distinctions, about overcoming cultural discrimination, and about standing up for oneself.
La Luministe
Thursday, March 21, 7pm
The local author reads from her debut novel. Berthe Morisot was a fist in a velvet glove. In 19th century Paris, an haute-bourgeois woman was expected to be discreet to the point of near-invisibility. But Berthe, forbidden to enter L'Ecole des Beaux Arts, started the art movement that broke open the walls of the art establishment. And, unable to marry the love of her life, Edouard Manet, she married his brother. While she epitomized femininity and decorum, Morisot was a quiet revolutionary. As an Impressionist, she created light-infused paintings of women in reverie that the other members of the group deemed the most avant-garde of them all. They called Morisot La Luministe, the painter of light. Her portraits depict women lost in thought, not as objects of the male gaze, but possessing an interior life.
Nina LaCour, Shanthi Sekaran, Zahra Noorbakhsk, Vernon Keeve, and Laura Davis
Thursday, March 28, 7pm
Annie Bloom's welcomes Nina LaCour, Shanthi Sekaran, Zahra Noorbakhsk, Vernon Keeve, and Laura Davis. With Border Crossing, these five authors share fiction, poetry, and comedy that explore the boundaries of where creativity can take us. Nina LaCour is the winner of the 2018 Michael L. Printz Award and nationally bestselling author of We Are Okay. Shanthi Sekaran is the author of Lucky Boy, an NPR Best Book of 2017. Zahra Noorbakhsh is a comedian, writer, cohost of #GoodMuslimBadMuslim, and deemed a “must-listen” by O, The Oprah Magazine. Vernon Keeve III is a poet, teacher, and author of Southern Migrant Mixtape. Laura Joyce Davis is a fiction writer, Fulbright scholar, and winner of Poets & Writers Exchange Award.
New in Science
Here are some of the latest from our Science section:
by Niels Birbaumer
Few things scare us more than inner emptiness. The presumed emptiness of coma or dementia scares us so much that we even sign living wills to avoid these states. Yet, as Zen masters have long known, inner emptiness can also be productive and useful. We can reach this state through meditation, concentration, music, or even during sex. In fact, our brain loves emptiness--it makes us happy. Leading brain researcher Niels Birbaumer investigates the pleasure in emptiness and how we can take advantage of it. He explains how to overcome the evolutionary attentiveness of your brain and take a break from thinking--a skill that's more important than ever in an increasingly frantic world.
by DK
This is an inventive visual take on astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, and physics. With eye-catching artwork, step-by-step diagrams, and illustrations that break down complicated ideas into manageable concepts, The Science Book will have readers conversant in genetic engineering, black holes, and global warming in no time. Along the way are found mini-biographies of the most well-known scientists, and a glossary of helpful scientific terms. For students, and students of the world, there is no better way to explore the fascinating, strange, and mysterious world of science than in The Science Book.
by Philip Ording
This book offers a multifaceted perspective on mathematics by demonstrating 99 different proofs of the same theorem. Each chapter solves an otherwise unremarkable equation in distinct historical, formal, and imaginative styles that range from Medieval, Topological, and Doggerel to Chromatic, Electrostatic, and Psychedelic. With a rare blend of humor and scholarly aplomb, Philip Ording weaves these variations into an accessible and wide-ranging narrative on the nature and practice of mathematics.
by Chris Impey
Frighteningly enigmatic, black holes continue to astound even the scientists who spend their careers studying them. Which came first, the galaxy or its central black hole? What happens if you travel into one--instant death or something weirder? And, perhaps most important, how can we ever know anything for sure about black holes when they destroy information by their very nature? Distinguished astronomer Chris Impey takes readers on an exploration of these and other questions at the cutting edge of astrophysics, as well as the history of black holes' role in theoretical physics--from confirming Einstein's equations for general relativity to testing string theory. Clear, compelling, and profound, Einstein's Monsters reveals how our comprehension of black holes is intrinsically linked to how we make sense of the universe and our place within it.