February 2020: Staff Favorites, Author Readings, and New in Science!

February 2020: Staff Favorites, Author Readings, and New in Science!
Read the latest reviews from our staff, find out which authors are reading soon, and discover what's new in Science. But first....
New Releases
These books are among the biggest new and upcoming releases!
by Cindy Baldwin
Out Now!
It’s been eighty-three days since Annie Lee's daddy died. Mama's been working around the clock to make ends meet, and Annie Lee's friends ditched her over the summer. She feels completely alone—until she meets Mitch. Though Mitch is tough and confident on the outside, she may need a friend just as badly as Annie Lee. But Annie Lee is afraid to let anyone get too close. And Mitch isn't the only friend trying to break through Annie Lee's defenses. Ray, an elderly pianist who plays at a local mall, has been giving her piano lessons. His music is pure magic, and Annie Lee hopes it might be the key to healing her broken heart. But when Ray goes missing, searching for him means breaking a promise to Mitch. Just like in Cindy Baldwin's debut, Where the Watermelons Grow, she brings her signature twist of magic to this authentically heartfelt story. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Colum McCann
Out: February 25
McCann's most ambitious work to date, Apeirogon—named for a shape with a countably infinite number of sides—is a tour de force concerning friendship, love, loss, and belonging. Bassam Aramin is Palestinian. Rami Elhanan is Israeli. They inhabit a world of conflict that colors every aspect of their daily lives, from the roads they are allowed to drive on, to the schools their daughters, Abir and Smadar, each attend, to the checkpoints, both physical and emotional, they must negotiate. Their worlds shift irreparably after ten-year-old Abir is killed by a rubber bullet and thirteen-year-old Smadar becomes the victim of suicide bombers. When Bassam and Rami learn of each other's stories, they recognize the loss that connects them and they attempt to use their grief as a weapon for peace. Preorder Your Copy Here!
by Erik Larson
Out: February 25
Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people "the art of being fearless." It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it’s also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill's prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest; and of course 10 Downing Street in London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports—some released only recently—Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family: his wife, Clementine; their youngest daughter, Mary, who chafes against her parents' wartime protectiveness; their son, Randolph, and his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela; Pamela's illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the advisers in Churchill’s "Secret Circle," to whom he turns in the hardest moments. Preorder Your Copy Here!
by Hilary Mantel
Out: March 10
With The Mirror & the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man's vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage. Eagerly awaited and eight years in the making, The Mirror & the Light completes Cromwell's journey from self-made man to one of the most feared, influential figures of his time. Portrayed by Mantel with pathos and terrific energy, Cromwell is as complex as he is unforgettable: a politician and a fixer, a husband and a father, a man who both defied and defined his age. Preorder Your Copy Here!
New Staff Reviews
Read up on some of the latest additions to our Staff Favorites table!
by Ramiza Shamoun Koya
reviewed by Ruby
Koya's The Royal Abduls is a powerful novel. In the wake of 9/11 and the fracturing of a serious relationship, Amina moves back East to be closer to her family. I was swept up by Amina's independent spirit and her nephew Omar's struggles to connect with family and friends. The friction between isolation and community that Koya presents so realistically in every character left me both hurt and hopeful. This book would be the perfect choice for any book clubs looking for a hearty discussion! Read More on Our Website
by Louisa Luna
reviewed by Edie
I'm always looking for a new mystery series and Luna has started one that I like a lot. Her first one, Two Girls Down, takes place in a small town in Pennsylvania. Two sisters have disappeared from a strip mall, and their family gets the runaround from the stressed-out police department. They hire bounty hunter turned private cop Alice Vega, an unorthodox, tough gal from California who has a reputation for finding the missing. She, in turn, hires locally disgraced cop Max Caplan to help her. They are a good team (if oddly matched) and get the job done. The second in the series, The Janes, is just out, and this time the FBI reluctantly ask for Alice Vega's help with identifying two women who are found dead along the border. Human trafficking is suspected and perhaps some inside help from the police. Vega and Caplan team up and go for it. I like that the themes are very contemporary, but the best parts are the backstories for both protagonists. Vega is close-mouthed and unapproachable, and Caplan has this great relationship with his teenage daughter. I'm looking forward to the next in the series, as more will be revealed, I'm sure. Read More on Our Website
by Daniel Immerwahr
reviewed by Will
Out: March 3
Many Americans choose to believe the myth that the U.S. is a nation-state that is merely defending itself in far-off lands. Immerwahl destroys these illusions in his biting and comprehensive history of America in various stages of Empire. The land grabs and forced removals of the indigenous people "domestically" in the 19th Century expanded to the brutal colonization abroad of the Philippines and Puerto Rico with dire circumstances for the natives. A fascinating and lesser known period of resource extraction from the "guano islands" of the Pacific and Caribbean for fertilizer led to the eventual strategic conversion of some of the islands to military functions and listening posts. The next phase of imperialism culminated in statehood for Alaska and Hawaii. Now, of course, the U.S. occupies over 800 military bases in 80 countries, a troubling situation unique to the world. This brief review merely skims the surface of this wildly readable, fact-filled history where the colonized were "shot, shelled, starved, interned, dispossessed, tortured and experimented on" and has details that most of us don't know and that will surprise many. Pre-Order on Our Website
Upcoming Author Readings
A Faithful But Melancholy Account of Several Barbarities Lately Committed
Thursday, February 20, 7pm
The ten linked stories in Oregon author Jason Brown's A Faithful But Melancholy Account of Several Barbarities Lately Committed follow John Howland and his descendants as they struggle with their New England legacy as one of the country's founding families and the decaying trappings of that esteemed past. Set on the Maine coast, where the Howland family has lived for almost 400 years, the grandfather, John Howland, lives in a fantasy that still places him at the center of the world. The next generation resides in the confused ruins of the 1960s rebellion, while many in the third generation feel they have no choice but to scatter in search of a new identity. Brown's touching, humorous portrait of a great family in decline earns him a place among the very best linked-story collectionsJames Joyce's Dubliners, Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, Alice Munro's Beggar Maid, and Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son. More Info on Our Website
American Daughter
Tuesday, February 25, 7pm
In her childhood, Portland author Stephanie Thornton Plymale survived neglect and horrible accidents while living with her mother. After a period of homelessness, she was placed in foster care. By age 10, Stephanie's experience was that of criminal neglect, chronic hunger, truancy, homelessness, and ongoing sexual violation. Stephanie's mother suffered from severe mental illness and was in and out of jail and a series of ghastly psych wards throughout her entire life. Meanwhile and despite all odds, Stephanie's lifelong desire for a sense of home led to her passion for interior design and burgeoning career in the industry. However, time seemed to stop when Stephanie received a call from her mother after a period of estrangement that was enforced by a court order. Her mother revealed her terminal illness and Stephanie became her mother's sole guardian. Her powerful memoir, American Daughter, tells an extraordinary story of trauma, healing and transcendence. More Info on Our Website
Tuesday, March 10, 7pm
This reading is in celebration of International Women's Day. Cindy Williams Gutiérrez's new poetry collection, Inlay with Nacre, is herstory--the plight of Woman as bride, wife, mother, and daughter--and a call to action to restore the Feminine in the world. Portland writer Kate Gray's new poetry collection, For Every Girl, is a love song to and celebration of the girl, the queer, the survivor in all of us. Gemma Whelan will be reading from Kissing the Witch by Emma Donahue. She is producing the play of the same name, which will be produced by Corrib, in April of 2020. More Info on Our Website
Worse Than Weird
Wednesday, March 11, 7pm
Annie Bloom's welcomes back Portland children's author Jody Little, to read from Worse Than Weird. Readers who love Leslie Connor and Ann M. Martin will adore this story of a citywide scavenger hunt and a girl who learns that family—and weirdness—is relative. Hoping to ditch two months of chicken coops, kale, and her parents’ antiscreen rules, Mac MacLeod sets out to win a citywide food cart scavenger hunt and the money she needs for the summer coding camp of her dreams. But Mac discovers more than just clues during her cross-city sprint—like how her weird parents might not be the worst thing compared to the circumstances of those around her. With the same humor and hope of her debut novel, Mostly the Honest Truth, Jody J. Little gives readers another spunky, unforgettable character to root for. More Info on Our Website
Thursday, March 12, 7pm
Los Angeles author Katharine Coldiron presents Ceremonials, a twelve-part lyric novella inspired by Florence + the Machine's 2011 album of the same name. It's the story of two girls, Amelia and Corisande, who fall in love at a boarding school. Corisande dies suddenly on the eve of graduation, but Amelia cannot shake her ghost. A narrative about obsession, the Minotaur, and the veil between life and death, Ceremonials is a poem in prose, a keening in words, and a song etched in ink. In Portland author Jackie Shannon Hollis's memoir, This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story, she explores what it really means to choose a different path, delving into the messy and beautiful territory of what we keep and what we abandon to make the space for love. Portland author Claire Rudy Foster's new book, Shine of the Ever, is a literary mix tape of queer voices out of 1990s Portland. By turns tender and punk-tough, fierce and loving, this collection of short stories explores what binds a community of queer and trans people as they negotiate love, screwing up and learning to forgive themselves for being young and sometimes foolish. More Info on Our Website
A Reasonable Doubt
Monday, March 16, 7pm
Portland thriller writer Phillip Margolin's latest, A Reasonable Doubt, is the third in his Robin Lockwood series. Former MMA fighter and Yale Law graduate Robin Lockwood is a young criminal defense attorney and partner in a prominent law firm in Portland, Oregon. Professional magician Robert Chesterfield is seeking help in acquiring patent protection for an illusion. This is out of the scope of the law firm’s expertise, but when Robin Lockwood looks into his previous relationship with the firm, she learns that twenty years ago he was arrested for two murders, one attempted murder, and was involved in the potentially suspicious death of his very rich wife. Now, decades later, he debuts his new trick—only to disappear at the end. He's a man with more than one dark past and many enemies—is his disappearance tied to one of the many people who have good reason to hate him? Was he killed and his body disposed of, or did he use his considerable skills to engineer his own disappearance? Robin Lockwood must unravel the tangled skein of murder and bloody mischief to learn how it all ties together. More Info on Our Website
Willa's Grove
Tuesday, March 17, 7pm
The Montana author's new novel is Willa's Grove. Willa Silvester is reeling from the untimely death of her beloved husband and the reality that she must say goodbye to the small mountain town they founded together. Yet as Willa mourns her losses, an impossible question keeps staring her in the face: So now what? Struggling to find the answer alone, fiercely independent Willa eventually calls a childhood friend who happens to be in her own world of hurt--and that's where the idea sparks. They decide to host a weeklong interlude from life, and invite two other friends facing their own quandaries. Soon the four women converge at Willa's Montana homestead, a place where they can learn from nature and one another as they contemplate their second acts together in the rugged wilderness of big sky country. More Info on Our Website
Oregon Authors
Monday, March 23, 7pm
The characters in Cai Emmons's Vanishing: Stories operate in a world in which their voices are not heard, and are navigating prickly paths, doing what they can to survive. The lives of the five women in these stories speak to the difficulty of honing a strong identity in a culture that consistently devalues women. Tammy Lynne Stoner's Sugar Land is a southern fried novel about love, Lead Belly, and liberation. It's 1923 in Midland, Texas, and Miss Dara falls in love with her best friend―who also happens to be a girl. Sugar Land is a triumphant, beautiful novel about the heart's refusal to be denied what the heart wants.
Poetry Reading
Tuesday, March 24, 7pm
In Mercy, local poet Judith Montgomery chronicles the story of caring for her a husband as he endures cancer treatment. Though brutal in its technology, the medical world Montgomery describes is merciful in its human form. Anyone who has had even the least brush with cancer will find here an honest and hopeful world. Pansies, Oregon poet Carol Barrett's collection of thirty slight, delicate vignettes, recounts her experience of the Apostolic Lutheran community through the lens of the young, Apostolic woman, Abigail, who babysits for her daughter. Each brief yet intimate piece housed within this collection renders the indelible bond formed between Abigail and the narrator's daughter with grace and wonder. Pansies is a finalist for the Oregon Book Award!
Street Books
Street Books is a bicycle-powered mobile library, serving people who live outside. Street Books strives to empower people on the streets through access to literature and create a community of support for people living outside, through a shared love of books. Annie Bloom's Books is partnering with Street Books by offering 10% off books purchased for their wish list. To view that wish list and to find out more about Street Books, please see: Our Street Books Page
Annie Bloom's is now on Bookshop. Bookshop is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community. Check out Annie Bloom's online storefront at Bookshop!
New in Science
by Donald R. Prothero
Prothero offers an accessible, entertaining, and richly illustrated guide to the paleontologist's journey. He details the best places to look for fossils, the art of how to find them, and how to classify the major types. Prothero provides expert wisdom about typical fossils that an average person can hope to collect and how to hunt fossils responsibly and ethically. He also explores the lessons that both common and rarer discoveries offer about paleontology and its history, as well as what fossils can tell us about past climates and present climate change. Captivating illustrations by the paleoartist Mary Persis Williams bring to life hundreds of important specimens. Offering valuable lessons for armchair enthusiasts and paleontology students alike, Fantastic Fossils is an essential companion for all readers who have ever dreamed of going in search of traces of a lost world.
by David Shariatmadari
Think you know language? Think again. Over the past few decades, we have reached new frontiers of linguistic knowledge. Linguists can now explain how and why language changes, describe its structures, and map its activity in the brain. But despite these advances, much of what people believe about language is based on folklore, instinct, or hearsay. We imagine a word's origin is its "true" meaning, that foreign languages are full of "untranslatable" words, or that grammatical mistakes undermine English. In Don't Believe A Word, linguist David Shariatmadari takes us on a mind-boggling journey through the science of language, urging us to abandon our prejudices in a bid to uncover the (far more interesting) truth about what we do with words. Exploding nine widely held myths about language while introducing us to some of the fundamental insights of modern linguistics, Shariatmadari is an energetic guide to the beauty and quirkiness of humanity's greatest achievement.
by Gaia Vince
What enabled us to go from simple stone tools to smartphones? How did bands of hunter-gatherers evolve into multinational empires? Readers of Sapiens will say a cognitive revolution--a dramatic evolutionary change that altered our brains, turning primitive humans into modern ones--caused a cultural explosion. In Transcendence, Gaia Vince argues instead that modern humans are the product of a nuanced coevolution of our genes, environment, and culture that goes back into deep time. She explains how, through four key elements--fire, language, beauty, and time--our species diverged from the evolutionary path of all other animals, unleashing a compounding process that launched us into the Space Age and beyond. Provocative and poetic, Transcendence shows how a primate took dominion over nature and turned itself into something marvelous.
by Francis Su
For mathematician Francis Su, a society without mathematical affection is like a city without concerts, parks, or museums. To miss out on mathematics is to live without experiencing some of humanity's most beautiful ideas. In this profound book, written for a wide audience but especially for those disenchanted by their past experiences, an award‑winning mathematician and educator weaves parables, puzzles, and personal reflections to show how mathematics meets basic human desires—such as for play, beauty, freedom, justice, and love—and cultivates virtues essential for human flourishing. These desires and virtues, and the stories told here, reveal how mathematics is intimately tied to being human. Some lessons emerge from those who have struggled, including philosopher Simone Weil, whose own mathematical contributions were overshadowed by her brother's, and Christopher Jackson, who discovered mathematics as an inmate in a federal prison. Christopher's letters to the author appear throughout the book and show how this intellectual pursuit can—and must—be open to all.
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