|January 2018 Staff Favorites, New Kids Books, and Books on Our Nightstands
We have three new staff reviews for you. Also, read about the latest books for kids of all ages and check out our upcoming readings! Plus, preview our new Theme section: Books on Our Nightstands.
Here are three new picks from our staff:
The Woman in the Window
reviewed by Sandy
It isn't paranoia if it's really happening.... There have been numerous psychological thrillers written of late, and I would list this title among the best. A child psychologist suffering from agoraphobia, living alone and spying on her neighbors--this sounds promising. She believes she saw a crime committed in a house across the park, but no one will believe her. Why? She's an alcoholic who likes to mix her numerous prescriptions with daily bottles of Merlot. She watches old black and white movies of the film noir genre and Hitchcockian thrillers. Do her delusions stem from these? This debut novel is filled with tragedy, sudden revelations, suspense, many literary references, and even a cat. What more could you wish for?
Not Safe After Dark
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden
by Denis Johnson
reviewed by Michael
Completed before his death in May 2017, Denis Johnson's second short story collection comes 26 years after his first, Jesus' Son. Fittingly, the pieces in The Largesse of the Sea Maiden are more reflective in tone, longer in the telling, and lighter on the mayhem. What hasn't changed is Johnson's masterful phrasing and his mordant humor. There's still some mayhem, too: characters besieged by ghosts and obsessed with graves. This collection is a welcome final gift from one of the great writers of a generation.
by Peter Robinson
reviewed by Bobby
In the midst of uncertain and unsettling times, the joys of finely crafted short stories wherein mayhem, murder, and the miscarriage of justice are craftily resolved, are a welcome respite. Robinson is a fine British crime writer whose tales are atmospheric and psychologically complex gems. The title story is a brief but gripping tale. Several of the stories feature DCI Alan Banks, a character somewhat reminiscent of Michael Connelly's Hieronymus Bosch, in musical taste (from Miles Davis to Bach), a slightly world-weary outlook, and rather fraught love life. The volume ends with a moving novella in which Banks goes to his childhood home for his parents' 50th anniversary. This collection of twenty stories has given me many hours of lovely escape.
New Kids Books
Here are some great new books for kids of all ages:
KID'S AND TEEN NONFICTION BOOKS:
by Nicola Davies
The more we study the world around us, the more living things we discover every day. The planet is full of millions of species of plants, birds, animals, and microbes, and every single one--including us--is part of a big, beautiful, complicated pattern. When humans interfere with parts of the pattern, by polluting the air and oceans, taking too much from the sea, and cutting down too many forests, animals and plants begin to disappear. What sort of world would it be if it went from having many types of living things to having just one? In a beautiful follow-up, the creators of the award-winning Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes deliver an inspiring look at the extraordinary diversity of Earth's inhabitants--and the importance of their preservation.
CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOKS:
Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth
by Oliver Jeffers
Insightfully sweet, with a gentle humor and poignancy, here is Oliver Jeffers's user's guide to life on Earth. He created it specially for his son, yet with a universality that embraces all children and their parents. Be it a complex view of our planet's terrain (bumpy, sharp, wet), a deep look at our place in space (it's big), or a guide to all of humanity (don't be fooled, we are all people), Oliver's signature wit and humor combine with a value system of kindness and tolerance to create a must-have book for parents.
One Fun Day with Lewis Carroll
The wordsmith Lewis Carroll is famed for the freewheeling world of Wonderland in his beloved classics Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. In this gloriously illustrated picture book, Carroll's childlike love of life is showcased alongside his brilliance at creating and adapting playful words and phrases. From brillig and uglification to frumious and chortle, the award-winning author Kathleen Krull uses many of Carroll's own words to tell the story of a man who wanted to make children laugh and whose legacy continues to entertain and delight.
It's Shoe Time!
Tie your laces. Zip your zippers. And tap your toes. It's...SHOE TIME! This lyrical beginning-reader by multi award-winning artist Bryan Collier turns the closet on its heel and redefines what it means to be a pair. Beautifully rendered art paired with rich, rhyming dialog creates a powerful reading experience.
BOOKS FOR GRADE SCHOOL READERS:
Fairy Mom and Me
by Sophie Kinsella
Ella Brook can't wait to grow up, because one day she will become a fairy and have her own sparkly wings and a teacher on Fairy Tube, just like her mom Until then, Ella has to learn by watching her mom in action. But sometimes spells go wrong, and Ella's mom can never seem to remember the right magic codes on her Computawand. A lot of the time, it's up to Ella to come to the rescue. Does she have what it takes to be a fairy one day? Or will there be more glitches than glitter?
The Magic Misfits
by Neil Patrick Harris
When street magician Carter runs away, he never expects to find friends and magic in a sleepy New England town. But like any good trick, things change instantly as greedy B.B. Bosso and his crew of crooked carnies arrive to steal anything and everything they can get their sticky fingers on. Carter teams up with five other like-minded illusionists. Together, using both teamwork and magic, they'll set out to save the town of Mineral Wells from Bosso's villainous clutches. These six Magic Misfits will soon discover adventure, friendship, and their own self-worth.
Keeper of the Lost Cities: Nightfall
by Shannon Messenger
In this sixth book of the series, Sophie Foster is struggling. Grieving. Scrambling. But she knows one thing: she will not be defeated. All paths lead to Nightfall--an ominous door to an even more ominous place--and Sophie and her friends strike a dangerous bargain to get there. But nothing can prepare them for what they discover. The problems they're facing stretch deep into their history. And with time running out, and mistakes catching up with them, Sophie and her allies must join forces in ways they never have before.
by Marissa Meyer
The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies--humans with extraordinary abilities--who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew. Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice--and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to the villains who have the power to end them both.
by Neal Shusterman
In the chilling sequel to Scythe, Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds. The Thunderhead cannot interfere in the affairs of the Scythedom. All it can do is observe--it does not like what it sees. A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid. Since then, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. His story is told in whispers across the continent. As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the "new order." But when her life is threatened and her methods questioned, it becomes clear that not everyone is open to the change. Will the Thunderhead intervene? Or will it simply watch as this perfect world begins to unravel?
The Cruel Prince
by Holly Black
Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him--and face the consequences. In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
January and February Readings at Annie Blooms:
Wednesday, January 17, 7pm
Oregon author and nurse Tracy Calhoun (and her dog, JJ) present JJ's Journey: A Story of Heroes and Heart. In hospice, Tracy's golden retriever lay on the bed of a dying woman. The woman, who had been unresponsive for days, then performed her final, intentional act. She stroked JJ's head. When Tracy's video of that moment went viral, it was a turning point in her mission to explain to a wider audience the joy that therapy dogs provide. Along the way, Tracy's own story has grown and changed through her love of animals, and she's found, in difficult times, she has needed the same comfort her pups offer to patients--for herself.
Your Resonant Self
Thursday, January 18, 7pm
The Vancouver, WA, author Sarah Peyton will read from Your Resonant Self: Guided Meditations and Exercises to Engage Your Brain's Capacity for Healing. Her book synthesizes the latest discoveries in brain science, trauma treatment, and the power of empathy into an effective healing method that literally rewires our brain and restores our capacity for self-love and well-being. Each chapter weaves the core concepts of neurobiology with guided meditations and beautiful illustrations, painting an inspiring picture of the human brain's inherent yearning toward healing and wholeness.
How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t
Monday, January 22, 7pm
North Carolina author and life coach Owen presents, How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits That Are Holding You Back from Happiness. Owen's book is a straight-shooting approach to self-improvement for women, one that offers no-crap truth-telling about the most common self-destructive behaviors women tend to engage in. From listening to the imposter complex and bitchy inner critic to catastrophizing and people-pleasing, Andrea Owen--a nationally sought-after life coach--crystallizes what's behind these invisible, undermining habits. With each chapter, she kicks women's gears out of autopilot and empowers them to create happier, more fulfilling lives.
Tuesday, January 23, 7pm
Portland woodworker and author Gary Rogowski presents Handmade: Creative Focus in the Age of Distraction. In the tradition of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Shop Class as Soulcraft, Rogowski's Handmade is a profound meditation on the eternal value of manual work, creativity, human fallibility, and the stubborn pursuit of quality work. Part autobiography, part guide to creativity, and part guide to living, this is a book for craftspeople, artists, and anyone who seeks clarity, purpose, and creativity in their work--and it's the perfect antidote to a modern world that thinks human labor is obsolete.
The Phantom of Oz
Sunday, January 28, 2pm
"The Vault" at O'Connor's Restaurant
The Multnomah Village author presents her fifth Ivy Meadows mystery, The Phantom of Oz. As usual, Cindy's book launch is part party, part theater event, and this year she's partnering with the award-winning Willamette Radio Workshop as part of the Fertile Ground Theatre Festival. Who dropped a chandelier on the Wicked Witch of the East? Was it the ghost who haunts the Grand Phoenician Theatre? A "wicked witch" among the cast of The Wizard: A Space OZpera? Or is it someone--or something--more sinister? Actress and part-time PI Ivy Meadows has been hired to uncover the mystery. It's Ivy's most personal case so far. Her best friend Candy, who's touring with the show, is caught in a downward spiral of self-destruction, and is in more danger than she knows. To save her friend and the show, Ivy must answer some tough questions: Do spirits really exist? What is real beauty? What does friendship mean? Ivy needs to learn the answers, and fast--before Candy reaches the point of no return.
Some Assembly Required
Wednesday, January 31, 7pm
Oregon author Michael Strelow will read from his latest novel, Some Assembly Required. Jake hears voices, always has. They've never been a problem as long as he kept them to himself. While on a writing assignment to cover an A.I. convention, Jake reads the paper of a Dr. Sewall. What he discovers is puzzling, incomprehensible, maybe even impossible. Jake visits Dr. S after the convention and finds his creation, Rex--which looks like a bowl of gray-green oatmeal--whose voice somehow mingles with voices Jake has heard all his life. So begins an affair of impossible science. The world becomes funny right on the edge of fearful, the cosmic goof at large, and growing larger...
Thursday, February 8, 7pm
The Portland radio personality presents his tale of the greatest collapse in baseball history, told from the perspective of a boy who lived it. The Philadelphia Phillies' bid for the pennant in 1964 was an almost flawless run. With twelve games to play, the team's lead seemed insurmountable. For 11-year-old Carl Wolfson, it was the happiest summer of his young life. Then the unthinkable happened. With each late-season loss, Phillies fans were thrown into despair, and Carl's crumbling dream of a World Series forced him to take refuge in comedy. Luckily, it was all around him.
Wife, Just Let Go
Thursday, February 15, 7pm
An extraordinary love story, Wife, Just Let Go are the last words Robert Briggs wrote to his wife before he passed away from Alzheimer's disease. A publisher, literary agent, and author who deeply felt the influence of the Beat era, Robert never stopped writing. Even in his later stages of Alzheimer's, Robert was able to share insights into what he called "the power of aging," and his love of poetry, jazz, and Zen. His wife Diana, as his long-time partner and primary caregiver, joined him in this telling, as a way to restore for the reader, and for Robert, the parts of the story he was losing. Wife, Just Let Go navigates not only the waters of grief and loss, but also the other side of Alzheimer's: gifts that sustain and inspire loved ones left behind.
Thursday, February 22, 7pm
The Portland author returns to read from her mystery, Curious Tusks. Stuart Lehrman crosses North and East Africa in search of his grandfather, George Atkinson's assassin. A photojournalist, George was found dead on his porch in Arusha Tanzania after several articles revealing inhumane, but lucrative, practices by Africans and others. As Stuart makes his way through the continent others are murdered, including Atkinson's editors. With the help of a clever African family, Stuart collects the story to be certain it is released to the world. This character driven novel is a must read for those curious about the devastating effects of colonialism and resilience of Africans from this scourge.