|January 2016 Staff Favorites, New Kids Books, Readings, and More!
We have three new staff reviews for you. Plus, read about the latest books for kids of all ages. Check out our upcoming readings! Plus, preview our new Theme section: Our Top 5 Books of the 21st Century.
Here are three new picks from our staff:
My Name Is Lucy Barton
by Elizabeth Strout
reviewed by Bobby
As a water skipper glides across the still surface of a teeming summer pond, so this beautiful novel gracefully moves across the life of Lucy Barton, gradually testing its depths. Lucy is a young woman living in NYC during the 1980s, married with two beloved young daughters, yet in virtual exile from her home in the rural Midwest. She is confined to a solitary hospital room for over two months with an unidentifiable infection. One day she wakes to find her estranged mother sitting at he foot of her bed. There is a sweet bravery in her mother's presence and, in her gently squeezing Lucy's toes and using her childhood name: "Wizzle". The hesitant give-and-take inevitably deepens into the tension beneath the surface. It is at times sad, but never ugly; and always riveting.
by Lucia Berlin
reviewed by Michael
Written over the last four decades of the 20th century, the forty-plus stories collected here are both vivid and lived-in. Lucia Berlin moved all over the Western United States, married twice, raised four sons, experienced wealth and poverty, worked a wide variety of jobs, and battled assorted illnesses. All of these pieces of her life play out in her stories, many of which seem intimately autobiographical. Berlin possessed a rare ability to capture scenery, characters, and emotional states with an economy of language that nonetheless feels rich. These are wonderful slices of life from a master writer finally receiving the accolades she deserves.
by Ted Koppel
reviewed by Sandy
The United States has three power grids: Eastern, Texas, and the West Coast. If any one of those were hacked (and the probability is high), it would be devastating. Tens of millions of people would be without electricity for months. No running water, no sewage, no refrigeration or light or medical supplies or food. It would be a mid-19th century existence. Renowned journalist Ted Koppel has written a scary scenario of what could happen. Without even leaving home, our foreign enemies, including terrorist groups, could attack our infrastructure via the internet and create havoc for a large portion of our country. Our federal government is aware of this possibility but as yet has taken no steps to form a plan for the aftermath of such a cyberattack. Koppel has written a highly readable work, well-documented and up-to-date with his references. He does offer solutions if we would only listen to his wake up call.
New Kids Books
Here are some great new books for kids of all ages:
CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOKS:
by Ryan T. Higgins
Bruce the bear likes to keep to himself. That, and eat eggs. But when his hard-boiled goose eggs turn out to be real, live goslings, he starts to lose his appetite. And even worse, the goslings are convinced he's their mother. Bruce tries to get the geese to go south, but he can't seem to rid himself of his new companions. What's a bear to do? Ryan T. Higgins is five feet eleven inches tall and has no sense of smell. He doesn't like to wear shoes, but he does like salmonloaf and bike rides (not together).
The Perfect Tree
by Chloe Bonfield
Jack is searching for the perfect tree--one that he can chop, hack, and stack But when it becomes too hard to find, Jack stumbles across three unlikely friends who want to show him their perfect trees. In this lively, enchanting story, The Perfect Tree
is a reminder to notice the wonders we often overlook, and to value our friendship with the natural world. Chloe Bonfield is an illustrator and animator living in London, England, where she illustrates and teaches art and animation to children. She has a passion for handmade books and printmaking.
by David Teague & Antoinette Portis
Billy Hightower spends his whole life alone in a skyscraper high above a big city. Then one day, a skyscraper is built next door and a girl moves in. Could she be a friend? But every time Billy tries to reach out to her, the wily Wind gets in his way Can Billy find a way to outsmart the Wind and make a new friend, or will he be swept away? David Teague is also the author of the picture book Franklin's Big Dreams
. Illustrator Antoinette Portis is the author of many inventive books, including Not a Box
BOOKS FOR MIDDLE READERS:
My Diary from the Edge of the World
by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Spirited, restless Gracie Lockwood is a typical girl in an atypical world: one where sasquatches helped to win the Civil War, where dragons glide over Route 1 on their way south for the winter, and where Dark Clouds come for people when they die. To Gracie it's all pretty ho-hum until a Cloud comes looking for her little brother Sam, turning her small-town life upside down. Determined to protect Sam against all odds, her parents pack the family into a used Winnebago and set out on an epic search for a safe place that most people say doesn't exist: The Extraordinary World.
by Mike Lupica
Forced to live on his own after his mom dies and her boyfriend abandons him, 12-year-old Jayson will do anything to avoid the foster care system. Besides, his real home has always been the beat-up basketball court behind the projects in the North Carolina hills. After he gets caught stealing, a social worker places him with a family from the other side of town, the Lawtons. New home, new school, new teammates. If Jayson can believe that he deserves a better life than the one he once had, he will get to play in the state finals at Cameron Indoor Stadium home to the Duke Blue Devils--a launching pad to his dream of playing big-time college ball. Getting there will be a journey that reaches far beyond the basketball court.
Absolutely Truly: A Pumpkin Falls Mystery
by Heather Vogel Frederick
At almost six feet tall, twelve-year-old Truly Lovejoy stands out in a crowd whether she likes it or not. (She doesn't.) So when her family moves to teeny-tiny, super boring Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire, Truly doesn't stand a chance of blending in. But when helping out at the family bookstore one day, Truly finds a mysterious letter inside an old copy of Charlotte's Web
and soon she and her new friends are swept up in a madcap treasure hunt around town. While chasing clues that could spell danger, Truly discovers there's more to Pumpkin Falls than meets the eye--and that blending in can be overrated. Now out in paperback!
by Marissa Meyer
Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend--the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long. Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer's national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.
by Neil Shusterman
Find out what happens to Connor, Risa, and Lev now that they've finally destroyed the Proactive Citizenry, in this collection of short stories set in the world of the Unwind Dystology. Connor Lassiter's fight to bring down Proactive Citizenry and find a suitable alternative to unwinding concluded in "UnDivided." Now Connor, Risa, and Lev are free to live in a peaceful future. or are they? Neal Shusterman brings back his beloved Unwind characters for his fans to see what's left for those who were destined to be unwound.
This Raging Light
by Estelle Laure
Can the best thing happen at the worst time? Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love--messy, inconvenient love--is what she's about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend's brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure's soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.
January and February Readings at Annie Blooms:
The Man Who Wouldn't Kill Cats
Tuesday, January 19, 7pm
Why would anyone want to kill a cat? The reason most often put forward by animal "shelters" is that cat populations are so high, it is a mathematical necessity in order to make space available for continuing numbers of incoming felines. The source of the problem is complex. Cats breed prolifically. Their human companions often do not act responsibly, ignoring the need for spaying and neutering. Evan Kalik and his collaborators reject this conveyor belt mentality toward a species of sentient beings. This book contains stories about levels of dedication to cats that most of us are unwilling or unable to emulate. They can, nonetheless, inspire us to understand that cats are complex beings with profoundly rich inner lives. They are capable of and deserve being loved. They are also capable of loving us in return.
Lost & Found in Egypt
Thursday, January 28, 7pm
With more dumb guts than preparation, a middle-aged woman with a desk job takes a solo journey to the Middle East on the Get-There-and-Wing-it Plan. In a voice both raw and illuminating, Kyla Merwin explores the back roads, bustling bazaars, and shifting sands of Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula. Kyla's journeys take her through dramatic inner and outer landscapes--sometimes frightening, often hilarious and ultimately heartwarming--that finally bring her back home, and back to her most authentic self.
The Timberline Review
Thursday, February 8, 7pm
Portland's literary journal, The Timberline Review, are celebrating their second issue with a reading at "The Vault" at O'Connor's Restaurant. And Annie Bloom's will be selling the journal at the event. Kim Stafford, Jeanne Krinsley, Gina Ochsner, Jack Estes, Wayne Scott, and Julie Young will be reading. The Timberline Review is a new literary journal, a collage of voices speaking through the written word. Short fiction. Creative nonfiction. Essays. Poetry. Work that has the power to inspire a conversation with the times we live in. We're searching for bold new work from writers everywhere. Our mission is to find these voices, to listen, and to let them resound from the treetops. We proudly support literary freedom.
Tuesday, February 9, 7pm
Attorney Amanda Jaffe--star of Wild Justice and Ties That Bind--is back. When Dale Masterson, a wealthy lawyer who has built a career representing coal and oil companies, is found beaten to death in his lavish Oregon home, his fanatical eco-warrior son, Brandon, confesses to the murder. Weeks before Dale's death, a colleague at his large law firm was also the victim of a violent killing. Smart, fierce, and unafraid of confronting the truth, even if doing so puts her in danger, Amanda begins to dig deeper. Why would an innocent man confess to such a heinous crime? Is there a connection between Dale's murder and the brutal death of Christine? What she finds will force her to make the hardest professional decision of her life.
Bitter Is the Wind
Thursday, February 11, 7pm
From Portland author Jim McDermott, Bitter Is The Wind is a coming of age novel that traces the lives of George Johnson, Jr. and his father from the rural blue collar landscape of upstate New York in the 1970s to the halls of Wharton Business School and the heights of Wall Street. After a family tragedy strengthens their familial bond, the Johnsons contend with assembly line monotony, unfulfilled dreams of baseball stardom, and they learn what it means to be tempted, trapped, jailed and ignored by a seemingly uncaring God.
How to Live an Awesome Life
Wednesday, February 17, 7pm