|January 2017 Staff Favorites, New Kids Books, and Drain the Swamp!
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, out just in time for Inauguration Day: "Drain the Swamp."
Here are three new picks from our staff:
reviewed by Bobby
This glorious novel (loosely based on a true person) takes place on New Year's Eve 1984, when the fiery and ever curious Lillian walks the length of Manhattan on the eve of her 85th or 86th birthday. She tends to lie about being born in 1899 and prefers a birth date of 1900. As she strides out this night, she encounters memories of her days as a highly paid ad executive at R.H. Macy's in the 1930s, a beloved job she had to leave when she became pregnant in 1942. She attends an artsy New Year's Eve party and, along the way, is confronted by muggers (with whom she strikes a bargain); comforts a nightwatchmen; and soothes a worried young bodega clerks. There is a new adventure and a heartfelt reminiscence at every turn. Rooney weaves the tale of her life with great candor and humor, and I loved being along for the stroll.
Lincoln in the Bardo
The Book That Matters Most
by Ann Hood
reviewed by Sandy
This novel has haunted me for months. If I were asked what book it was in my lifetime that has mattered the most to me, I couldn't answer. I still cannot decide. So obviously I would not have been welcomed in this particular book club. The members are asked to pick their "matters most" book as a theme for the coming year. Members present their case for each monthly choice. A newcomer to the group chooses an obscure out-of-print title. As the story unfolds, readers come to realize the significance of this book in how it personally relates to the member who chose it, even though she herself is clueless until the end of the book. This novel works well as a mystery. But the question still hangs in the air personally. What book would YOU choose?
by George Saunders
reviewed by Michael
Saunders, the author of four short story collections, turns back the clock to 1862 for his remarkable first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. Based on the death of Abraham Lincoln's son Willy, this is the fantastical tale of the boy's spiritual transition into the next world--the "bardo," in Tibetan tradition. Most of the novel occurs in the cemetery where Willy's body lies freshly interred. His tale is narrated by a Greek chorus of ghosts who remain tethered to the physical realm. Willy Lincoln's spirit is similarly trapped by his father's reluctance to let him go. The President spends the night in the cemetery, seeking the strength to accept not just Willy's death, but also the deaths of thousands of Civil War soldiers. Despite the dark subject matter, Saunders is a bighearted storyteller, and his gloriously absurdist humor lights a bright path through his inventive, thoughtful, and entertaining debut novel. [Lincoln in the Bardo will be published February 14. You can preorder your copy here.]
New Kids Books
Here are some great new books for kids of all ages:
CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOKS:
by Brian Russo
It's a perfect day for yoga, and Bunny is practicing his poses and wishes his friends would do yoga with him But Lizard is too tired, Fox is in a rush, and Bird has the hiccups. Will Bunny ever be able to get his friends to slow down and realize that yoga just might be the solution to their problems? Akin to I Am Yoga by Susan Verde, Yoga Bunny helps readers relax and unwind as they learn beginning yoga poses, from downward dog to tree pose. Debut author-illustrator Brian Russo shows readers just how relaxing yoga can be.
A nurturing mama bird, a fearful baby, and a nest in a tall, tall tree. Ready, set, soar? Nope. Sweetly and humorously told, here is a sparkling debut about the joys that come from embracing new experiences, written and illustrated by nationally-syndicated cartoonist Drew Sheneman.
The Cat from Hunger Mountain
In a place called Hunger Mountain there lives a lord who has everything imaginable yet never has enough. To satisfy his every desire, he hires builders to design the tallest pagoda; a world-famous tailor to make his clothing from silk and gold threads; and a renowned chef to cook him lavish meals with rice from the lord's own fields. What more could he possibly want? Yet when drought plagues the land, and Lord Cat is faced with his first taste of deep loss, he ventures down the mountain and what he discovers will change his life forever.
BOOKS FOR MIDDLE READERS:
by Shannon Messenger
Dark schemes unfold and Sophie's loyalty is pushed to the limit in this thrilling fifth book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series. The lines between friend and enemy have blurred, and Sophie is unsure whom to trust. But when she's warned that the people she loves most will be the next victims, she knows she has to act. A mysterious symbol could be the key if only she knew how to translate it. Every new clue seems to lead deeper into her world's underbelly and the Black Swan aren't the only ones who have plans. The Neverseen have their own Initiative, and if Sophie doesn't stop it, they might finally have the ultimate means to control her.
Teddy & Co.
by Cynthia Voigt
Teddy is a thinking kind of bear. Of all his friends, he does the most wondering. He lives with a ragtag group of lost toys--a very hungry snake, an elephant who likes to bake, two charmingly silly pigs, and a reclusive penguin--and they all bump along happily together. But their peaceful world gets shaken up when new toys arrive--first a rabbit, who is not as soft and floppy as he looks, and then a beautiful doll with royal ambitions. Will the newcomers learn to fit into the community? Or will the community be forever changed by them? As Teddy the philosopher would answer: Yes.
The Warden's Daughter
by Jerry Spinelli
Cammie O'Reilly is the warden's daughter, living in an apartment above the entrance to the Hancock County Prison. But she's also living in a prison of grief and anger about the mother who died saving her from harm when she was just a baby. And prison has made her mad. This girl's nickname is Cannonball. In the summer of 1959, as twelve turns to thirteen, everything is in flux. Cammie's best friend is discovering lipstick and American Bandstand. A child killer is caught and brought to her prison. And the only mother figures in her life include a flamboyant shoplifter named Boo Boo and a sullen reformed arsonist of a housekeeper. All will play a role in Cammie's coming-of-age. But one in particular will make a staggering sacrifice to ensure that Cammie breaks free from her past.
Carve the Mark
by Veronica Roth
On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not their gifts make them vulnerable to others control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world? When Akos is thrust into Cyra's world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive or to destroy one another.
by Marissa Meyer
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen. Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
by Neal 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. Now out in paperback.
January and February Readings at Annie Blooms:
Monday, January 16, 7pm
Be-Longing is the fourth anthology by the Woodshop Writers, a group of writers in Portland, Oregon, who study their craft under the guidance of writer and teacher Nancy Woods. In this anthology you will read about home and homelessness, exploration and discovery, identity, growth, change, and understanding of both self and others. Together the pieces describe a wide range of human experience. They underscore how basic and vital a sense of belonging is for everyone, and how many different forms belonging can take.
LeeAnn Elwood McLennan
Tuesday, January 17, 7pm
Portland author McLennan's YA novel Root is the second book in her Dormant Trilogy. It's been four months since Olivia Woodson Brighthall accepted her supernormal heritage. Four months since her cousin Emma went dark side. Four months since Ben was forced into a prison coma. Now Olivia spends her days balancing supernormal life--training, hunting, and improving her fire and ice powers--with normal life--school, family time with Dad, and hiding her secret life from her dwindling group of normal friends. When Portland is flooded with more supernormal beasts than ever before, Olivia and her family are thrust into a fight to keep people safe. A warning from one beast suggests someone is deliberately sending the monsters. But who among the Brighthall's enemies has the power to compel creatures? And then Olivia's visions start.
Closing the Store
Thursday, January 19, 7pm
Oregon author Maren Anderson will read from her novel Closing the Store. Liz didn't mean to start a sex strike... but she'll use it to end a war and win an election. Liz Stratton is running for President of the United States to end the unpopular war in Mesopotamianstan. Everything goes as planned until the first debate when Liz's competitors patronize her. She loses her temper and declares that if every woman in America withheld sex, the war would be over in weeks. So women all over the country actually "close the store." Now what?
Voices in the Stones
Wednesday, January 25, 7pm
Native Americans are lauded for their profound spirituality and deep understanding of the land. Kent Nerburn here draws on his three decades living and working among Native peoples to offer stories and reflections that reveal what the ways of Native Americans have to teach us all about giving, sharing, grieving, and celebrating. Nerburn takes readers inside a Native feast that highlights respect for elders, to a nearly forgotten Nez Perce battlefield, and to both the traditional burial of a young man and the reinterment of the ancient bones of two teen-aged girls. At a dusty roadside cafe he introduces us to an elder who remembers when his ancestors could talk to animals. Whether moving and dramatic, delightfully humorous, or all of the above, these vignettes remind us that as common children of a common land, we have much to learn from each other if only we have the heart to listen.
John Sibley Williams, Annie Lighthart, Jeff Whitney
Thursday, January 26, 7pm
Three Portland poets in one night! Williams's Disinheritance acknowledges loss while celebrating the uncertainty of a world in constant revision. From the concrete consequences of each human gesture to soulful interrogations into "this amalgam of real / and fabled light," these poems inhabit an unsteady betweenness. Lighthart's first collection of poems, Iron String, lives up to the complexities of that sound, that difficult music of living. Written with a mature lyricism, these poems weave the thread of song through destruction and doubt, through quiet rooms and resilient hours. Whitney is the author of The Tree with Lights in It and Note Left Like Silver on the Eyes of the Dead. Along with Philip Schaefer, he co-authored Smoke Tones and Radio Silence.
The Elusive Elixir
Monday, January 30, 7pm
Mystery author Gigi Pandian will be joined by Portland writers Cindy Brown and Lisa Alber. In Pandian's The Elusive Elixir, Dorian Robert-Houdin, the three-and-a-half-foot gargoyle chef who fancies himself a modern-day Poirot, is slowly turning into stone, and it's up to Zoe Faust to unravel the alchemical secrets that can save him. When they discover that a long-lost stone gargoyle with a connection to Dorian has reappeared in Europe, the stakes are even higher. From Portland to Paris, Zoe searches for the hidden knowledge she needs, but a cold case that harkens back to 1942 throws her off course. With an ailing friend desperately trying to discover his own elixir of life and a new romantic interest offering the first chance at love she's had in nearly a century, Zoe is torn between a dangerous form of alchemy and her desire for a safer life. Cindy Brown's third Ivy Meadows novel is Oliver Twisted. Lisa Alber's Whispers in the Mist is her second County Clare Mystery.
Tuesday, February 7, 7pm
Local author Brett Webb-Mitchell's Practicing Pilgrimage: On Being and Becoming God's Pilgrim People explores both the theological, cultural, and spiritual roots of Christian pilgrimage, and is a "how-to" book on doing pilgrimage in our suburban backyards, city streets, rural roads, churches, retreat centers, and our everyday life. Brett Webb-Mitchell takes the ancient practice of Christian pilgrimage and applies it to our contemporary lives.
Lives of Museum Junkies
Thursday, February 9, 7pm
Portland author Marilynne Eichinger will read from her book, Lives of Museum Junkies. Peer into the political and educational climate of the 1960s to discover factors that propelled the hands-on education movement into prominence. Follow the missteps and breakthroughs of Marilynne Eichinger and 11 other naive but dedicated museum directors, board volunteers, and National Science Foundation managers as they strove to change the way science was taught. Their oft humorous stories are revealed with candor and clarity. Responding to the latest research in learning and child development, they created engaging, self-teaching displays that impacted the landscape of 2,900 centers worldwide while serving 98 million people in the U.S.
Wednesday, February 15, 7pm
Portland author Edward Hershey will read from his memoir, The Scorekeeper. Striking out at bat spurred a Brooklyn Little Leaguer to strike out on a path to stadium press boxes, newspaper city rooms, halls of government, and offices in academe. Edward Hershey describes a poignant Jewish-American childhood in America's "borough of dreams," vivid accounts of years as a sportswriter, and the drama of stories he broke on the Attica Prison revolt, the Son of Sam case, and a high-level New York election scam. The Scorekeeper is an irreverent coming-of-age tale, a perceptive take on reporting from the stadium to the statehouse, and an unsparing reflection on an era of urban tension and suburban sprawl, anti-war activism and a war on poverty, rampant crime and imperfect justice, political chicanery and prosecutorial abuse.
R. J. Noonan
Where the Lost Girls Go
Thursday, February 16, 7pm
Portland author R.J. Noonan will be reading from her latest Laura Mori Mystery, Where the Lost Girls Go. When the car of a celebrity author explodes in rural Oregon town Sunrise Lake, everyone assumes that the burned body inside belongs to the author's teenage daughter. When lab reports reveal that the body was actually a teen runaway whose disappearance has been linked with other missing Portland girls, the investigation takes a drastic turn. Just when Laura is making progress in the case, she comes across a suspicious lane in the forest that uncovers new evidence that will once again alter the course of the investigation and rock Sunrise Lake to its core.
Jane Sobel Klonsky
Unconditional: Older Dogs, Deeper Love
Monday, February 20, 7pm
Experience the deeper, sweeter love of senior dogs with Unconditional. This captivating collection of photographs and anecdotes is a one-of-a-kind celebration of humans special bond with, and love for, their senior dogs. Since 2012, photographer Jane Sobel Klonsky has traveled the United States with one mission: to capture images and stories that focus on the powerful relationship between dogs in the twilight of their lives and the people they share their life with. A book for any dog lover who appreciates the connection, unconditional love, and bond that can only be provided by a canine companion.
Meet Me at the Bamboo Table
Tuesday, February 21, 7pm
Seattle writer A.V. Crofts will read from Meet Me at the Bamboo Table: Everyday Meals Everywhere. Crofts has spent decades eating (and learning) her way around the world. She's studied in China, taught in Italy, and conducted humanitarian communications trainings in war-torn Sudan. Here, she traces a lifetime of meals across states and continents for the ways that food ties us together. This full-color visual tour-de-force will delight foodies, armchair travelers, and anyone who's ever learned a little something from a special meal. Photos, "sketchnotes," and other ephemera from Crofts's globetrotting coalesce into a truly beautiful meditation on how food nourishes community.
Road to the Sea
Monday, February 27, 7pm
In this poignant story of new found love and love discarded, reminiscent of Graham Greene's novels, local author Tim Schell takes us to Central Africa where a young American, an African prostitute and the seventeen-year-old daughter of American Baptist missionaries are on the run from the police and other threats. The American, Jack Burke, has stabbed to death a Frenchman in the act of raping Mari, the prostitute and Jack's former lover. She is the one arrested, but Jack confesses, then flees because of extreme fear of confinement, the result of childhood trauma. The daughter, Faith, joins their flight in her love for Jack. While the novel dramatizes a suspenseful adventure of danger, escape and death, the intense action engages questions of love, loyalty and belief.