|March 2015 Staff Favorites, Gardening, Readings, and More!
We've got three new staff reviews for you! Plus, read about our latest Theme section, author events, and the latest in Gardening.
New Staff Reviews
|Three new reviews for you!
A Dangerous Place
by Jacqueline Winspear
reviewed by Carol
Four years after her last case and her departure from England, Maisie Dobbs finds herself reluctantly making her way back home after a devastating personal loss. While staying over in Gibraltar, Maisie is drawn into an unauthorized and largely unwelcome search for the killer of Sebastian Babayoff, a young Jewish photographer whose body she discovers during an evening walk. A Dangerous Place is charged with rising tension as the Spanish Civil War intensifies and Maisie is caught between her deep sadness and the healing power of working a case.
by Scott McCloud
reviewed by Kate
Part Faust, part Pygmalion, and part superhero-love-story, The Sculptor is entirely unforgettable. McCloud tells the story of a sculptor, David, who trades the remainder of his life for 200 days in which he can create anything, with any medium, just by touching it. Despite the premise, the plot steers away from being too fantastical, spending more time developing a cast of believable, personable characters. The story is especially well suited to the format of a graphic novel--instead of trying to find words to describe David's struggles with love, art, and meaning, McCloud just shows us. Fans of graphic novels such as Fun Home, Blankets, or the Sandman series will love this first foray into fiction by a comics grand master, and readers interested in giving graphic novels a try will find The Sculptor a wonderful introduction to the genre.
Five, Six, Seven, Nate!
by Tim Federle
reviewed by Rosanne
This book is a backstage look at Broadway from the view of a child performer. There's something appealing and universal in the summer-campy, we're-all-in-this-together vibe that Federle presents in his story. Kids who act, sing, or dance in community shows will find a kindred spirit in Nate, who is an appealing blend of strengths (memory for lines, heart, team spirit) and weaknesses (perhaps not the best dancer). The arts are so often the red-headed stepchild of after school sports, it's nice to have a book that celebrates theater with such unabashed joy.
Bonus recommendations from Rosanne:
Three terrific new wordless picture books are Draw by Raul Colon, The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee, and Flashlight by Lizi Boyd. Each one has a distinct style and invites multiple tellings and retellings, allowing the story to grow along with the child.
March and April Readings at Annie Blooms:
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
Tuesday, March 24, 7pm
Based on the wildly popular YouTube channel, Portland author Paige McKenzie's The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has been described as "Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity for the new media age." YA fans new and old will learn the secrets behind Sunshine--the adorkable girl living in a haunted house--a story that is much bigger, and runs much deeper, than even the most devoted viewer can imagine.
Thursday, March 26, 7pm
Ali Reynolds's longtime friend and Taser-carrying nun, Sister Anselm, rushes to the bedside of a young pregnant woman hospitalized for severe injuries after she was hit by a car on a deserted Arizona highway. The girl had been running away from The Family, a polygamous cult with no patience for those who try to leave its ranks. Meanwhile, Ali struggles to find a way to protect an elderly woman who's been receiving anonymous threats. She and Sister Anselm race the clock to uncover the secrets that The Family has hidden for so long--before someone comes back to bury them forever.
Thursday, April 9, 7pm
Hampsey's memoir begins during his youth in 1960s Pittsburgh. His world is a mix of exhilarating freedom--because of absent parents, teachers, and priests--and imminent dangers. And his home life is problematic. As the narrator matures his self-concept shifts within a widening world that includes disconcerting sexual experiences with public school girls, and his struggle to frame himself within the realm of the Catholic Church. Novelist Tim O'Brien claims that "Kaufman's Hill is among the most touching, sensitive, and spellbinding memoirs I've encountered in many years. Beautifully and exactly written, this book will surely reach into the hearts of its readers. I was deeply moved."
The Carry Home
Tuesday, April 14, 7pm
NPR commentator Gary Ferguson's new memoir, The Carry Home: Lessons from the American Wilderness, is a haunting meditation on wilderness, conservation, and grief. Kirkus Reviews calls it "A sprawling, lovely, nourishing tonic for all those who dip into it." Publishers Weekly, meanwhile describes it as "a memoir that doubles as an intensely personal, sweet, and melancholy love song to his lost beloved and to the wild places of America. As in the best nature writing, the human experience becomes infinitesimally small and yet paramount, the "mythical shining through the mundane." And The LA Times says it's "a big-hearted, soul-searching memoir about grief and ritual and identity."
Step Into Nature
Thursday, April 16, 7pm
Step outside your door and reconnect with nature. This guide will replenish your connection to the earth and inspire you to develop and strengthen your imagination. The natural world has inspired artists, seekers, and thinkers for millennia, but in recent times, as the pace of life has sped up, its demands have moved us indoors. Vecchione demonstrates how nature can support and enhance your creative output, invigorate your curiosity, and restore your sense of connection to and love of the earth. Included throughout the book is "The Cabinet of Curiosities," exercises and suggestions for practical and unexpected ways to stimulate your imagination, deepen your relationship with nature, and experience the harmony between creativity and the natural world.
When Your Mother Doesn't
Tuesday, April 21, 7pm
Nearly three decades of secrets lie between Lola Ashby and the two girls she reluctantly raised. Now, badgered by the one father figure she respects, older daughter Frankie agrees to drive from Portland to visit her ailing mother, Lola, who abandoned her and her adopted sister, Callie, when they were in high school. When Callie announces she's moving her fashion model career to LA from the East Coast, Frankie guilt-trips her sister into meeting up in the Idaho panhandle for a family reunion to dilute the impact of their mother's indifference. However, on Frankie's first night on the road, the trip gets more complicated when a well-dressed elderly woman at a rest stop dumps a young boy in her lap with a request to take him on to Montana. And Callie's exit from Pittsburgh is fraught with its own shady and violent difficulties. Meanwhile, Lola strengthens her resolve to keep the past and the secrets where they belong.
The Shark Curtain
Thursday, April 23, 7pm
Set against the changing terrain of middle-class values and the siren calls of art and puberty, The Shark Curtain invites us into Lily Asher's wonderful, terrible world. The older of two girls growing up in suburban Portland, Oregon, in the mid-1960s, her inner life stands in quirky contrast to the loving but dysfunctional world around her. Often misunderstood by her flawed but well-intentioned parents, teenage Lily orbits their tumultuous love affair, embracing what embraces her back: the ghost of her drowned dog, a lost aunt, numbers, shoe boxes, werewolves, rituals, and stories she pens herself (including one about a miscarried sibling she dubs "Frog Boy"). With "regular" visits from a wisecracking Jesus, an affectionate but combative friendship is born--a friendship that strains Lily's grasp of reality as much as her patience.
New in Gardening
Check out these great new Gardening books
Seven Flowers: And How They Shaped Our World
by Jennifer Potter
The lotus. The lily. The sunflower. The opium poppy. The rose. The tulip. The orchid. Seven flowers, each with its own story full of surprises and secrets, each affecting the world around us in subtle but powerful ways. But what is the nature of their power and how did it develop? Why have these particular plants become the focus of gardens, literature, art--even billion dollar industries? Drawing on sources both ancient and modern, and featuring lush full-color illustrations and gorgeous line art throughout, Potter examines our changing relationship with these potent plants and the effects they had on civilizations through the ages.
Grow All You Can Eat in Three Square Feet
by DK Press
Want to grow your own vegetables and food, but don't have enough space for a garden? Don't let lack of space get in the way of growing healthy, organic foods at home. Apartment dwellers, schoolteachers, and anyone else who wants to grow a lot of food in a little space will find a great small garden resource in Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet. This guide is packed with information on window boxes, potted plants, patio gardening, raised beds, small square-foot gardening, container gardening, and everything else related to growing your own small garden. Whether you want to grow a full garden, grow tomatoes, grow an herb garden, or just pick up great tips for small gardens, this is the resource you need.
by Craig Lehoullier
Savor your best tomato harvest ever. LeHoullier, tomato adviser for "Seed Savers Exchange," offers everything a tomato enthusiast needs to know about growing more than 200 varieties of tomatoes, from sowing seeds and planting to cultivating and collecting seeds at the end of the season. He also offers a comprehensive guide to the various pests and diseases of tomatoes and explains how best to avoid them. No other book offers such a detailed look at the specifics of growing tomatoes, with beautiful photographs and helpful tomato profiles throughout.
Grow a Little Fruit Tree
by Ann Ralph
Grow your own apples, plums, cherries, and peaches in even the smallest backyard. Expert pruner Ralph reveals a simple yet revolutionary secret that keeps an ordinary fruit tree much smaller than normal. These great little trees take up less space, require less care, offer easy harvest, and make a fruitful addition to any home landscape. Ann Ralph is a fruit tree specialist with twenty years of nursery experience. She teaches pruning classes in the San Francisco Bay Area and lives in the Sierra foothills near Jackson, California.