May 2020: Staff Favorites, Graduation Gifts, OBOB Reading Lists, Annie Bloom's Bestsellers, and More!

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May 2020: Staff Favorites, Graduation Gifts, OBOB Reading Lists, Annie Bloom's Bestsellers, and More!
See what our staff is reading, peruse some books for grads, get started on Oregon Battle of the Books, read about our online author events, and check out Annie Bloom's Bestsellers. But first....
New Releases
These books are among the biggest new and upcoming releases!
by Emma Straub
Out Now!
When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she'd been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence? Astrid's youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own. Her daughter is pregnant yet struggling to give up her own adolescence. And her eldest seems to measure his adult life according to standards no one else shares. But who gets to decide, so many years later, which long-ago lapses were the ones that mattered? Who decides which apologies really count? It might be that only Astrid's thirteen-year-old granddaughter and her new friend really understand the courage it takes to tell the truth to the people you love the most. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by John Grisham
Out Now!
Welcome back to Camino Island, where anything can happen—even a murder in the midst of a hurricane, which might prove to be the perfect crime. Just as Bruce Cable’s Bay Books is preparing for the return of bestselling author Mercer Mann, Hurricane Leo veers from its predicted course and heads straight for the island. Florida’s governor orders a mandatory evacuation, and most residents board up their houses and flee to the mainland, but Bruce decides to stay and ride out the storm. The hurricane is devastating: homes and condos are leveled, hotels and storefronts ruined, streets flooded, and a dozen people lose their lives. One of the apparent victims is Nelson Kerr, a friend of Bruce’s and an author of thrillers. But the nature of Nelson’s injuries suggests that the storm wasn’t the cause of his death: He has suffered several suspicious blows to the head. Who would want Nelson dead? As Bruce starts to investigate, what he discovers between the lines is more shocking than any of Nelson’s plot twists—and far more dangerous. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Suzanne Collins
Out: May 19
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute. The odds are against him. He's been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined—every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes. Preorder Your Copy Here!
by Martin Walker
Out: May 26
In book number 15 in the Bruno, Chief of Police series, it's summer in the Dordogne. The heirs of a Périgordian sheep farmer learn that they have been disinherited, and their father's estate sold to an insurance company in return for a policy that will place him in a five-star retirement home for the rest of his life. But the farmer never gets his life of luxury--he dies before moving in. Was it a natural death? Was there foul play? Bruno begins the investigation that leads him to several shadowy insurance companies owned by a Russian oligarch with a Cypriot passport. The companies are based in Cyprus, Malta, and Luxembourg, but Bruno finds a weak spot in France: the Russian's France-based notaire and insurance agent. As Bruno is pursuing this lead, the oligarch's daughter turns up in the Périgord, and complications ensue, eventually bringing the action to the château of an aging rock star. But, as ever, Bruno makes time for lunch amid it all. Preorder Your Copy Here!
Staff Favorites
Here are two new reviews from our staff!
by Ruby Lal
reviewed by: Ruby
Now out in paperback, this biography of a fascinating woman also offers a great introduction to the early history of the Mughal Empire. Nur Jahan became the consort of the Mughal ruler Jahangir (father of the Shah Jahan who commissioned the Taj Mahal) and rose to power in her own right. Lal traces the various legends and stories that surround Nur Jahan’s life while also detailing the the intricacies of the Mughal court and its neighbors. While not a household name here, Nur Jahan has her share of pop-culture references—including being the namesake of the main character in Tasha Suri’s Mughal-inspired fantasy novel Empire of Sand. If you’re looking for a good history to sink your teeth into, Empress is inviting and satisfying! Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Fernanda Melchor
reviewed by Michael
Mexican author Fernanda Melchor arrives on U.S. shores like the titular storm of her novel, her first to be translated into English. Her writing is torrential, her sprawling paragraphs equally beautiful and profane. The rotating cast of narrators in Hurricane Season all live in the same small, run-down town. They are brothel madams and strung-out junkies, big dreamers and colossal losers, mothers and husbands and girlfriends and sons. All of their fragile lives are connected by the Witch, who is equally renown for her promiscuity as for her potions. And everyone knows––or thinks they know––about the treasure locked away in the Witch's decrepit house. For Melchor's hard-luck characters, that temptation proves too strong to resist. Just like the visceral and heartbreaking Hurricane Season, itself. Purchase Your Copy Here!
Plus, other recent staff favorite reviews:
by Lily King
reviewed by Carol
Casey has been working on her first novel for six years. She gets up early and writes every day even though her grief over the recent death of her mother nearly consumes her. At the same time, she is suffering from a crushing amount of student debt, a heartbreaking break up, the indignities of being a server at an upscale restaurant, and her depressing living situation in a rental that used to be a potting shed with a toaster oven and a hotplate on a shelf over the toilet. Things couldn’t get much worse. Then they do. Your heart will go out to Casey as she struggles to become a published writer. This girl has heart and you will want to be there to see her through. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Daniel Immerwahr
reviewed by Will
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. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Abbi Waxman
reviewed by Sandy
In these trying times, it's good to just take a step back and find some joy somewhere, anywhere. Reading Abbi Waxman's novel is a good start. From the first page to the last, this is a book that will keep the reader giggling, chuckling and even laughing out loud over an unexpected phrase or incident or reference. Nina Hill works in an independent bookstore. She is young, introverted, shy and highly intelligent. She lives alone in a small guardhouse with her books and a cat. Life is good. Suddenly she is thrown for a loop when she meets a guy she actually might like. In addition, she discovers a father she never knew she had (recently deceased) and a whole passel of relatives thinking she should definitely not be in his will. If you dislike trivia, literary references, non sequiturs, movie quotes or anything of that nature, this is not the book for you. But for those book lovers among us, this novel is made to order. It's witty, charming, fun, highly entertaining, and I cannot praise it enough. Purchase Your Copy Here!
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! Purchase Your Copy Here!
Books for Grads
by Jesmyn Ward
For Tulane University's 2018 commencement, Jesmyn Ward delivered a stirring speech about the value of hard work and the importance of respect for oneself and others. Speaking about the challenges she and her family overcame, Ward inspired everyone in the audience with her meditation on tenacity in the face of hardship. Ward’s moving words will inspire readers as they prepare for the next chapter in their lives, whether, like Ward, they are the first in their families to graduate from college or are preceded by generations, or whether they are embarking on a different kind of journey later in life. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Harlan Cohen
From sharing a bathroom with 40 strangers to sharing lecture notes, The Naked Roommate is your behind-the-scenes look at EVERYTHING you need to know about college (but never knew you needed to know). This essential, fully updated edition is packed with real-life advice on everything from making friends to managing stress. Hilarious, outrageous, and telling stories from students on over 100 college campuses cover the basics, and then some. In college, there's a surprise around every corner. Luckily, The Naked Roommate has you covered. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Dr. Seuss
From soaring to high heights and seeing great sights to being left in a Lurch on a prickle-ly perch, Dr. Seuss addresses life's ups and downs with his trademark humorous verse and illustrations, while encouraging readers to find the success that lies within. In a starred review, Booklist notes, "Seuss's message is simple but never sappy: life may be a 'Great Balancing Act,' but through it all 'There’s fun to be done.'" A perennial favorite and a perfect gift for anyone starting a new phase in their life! Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Jen Sincero
In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up twenty-seven bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word. By the end of You Are a Badass, you'll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can't change, how to change what you don't love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by George Saunders
Three months after George Saunders gave a graduation address at Syracuse University, a transcript of that speech was posted on the website of The New York Times, where its simple, uplifting message struck a deep chord. Within days, it had been shared more than one million times. Why? Because Saunders's words tap into a desire in all of us to lead kinder, more fulfilling lives. Powerful, funny, and wise, Congratulations, by the way is an inspiring message from one of today’s most influential and original writers. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Elizabeth Gilbert
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert's books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the "strange jewels" that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy. Purchase Your Copy Here!
Book Shopping Alternatives
Thank You for Your Continued Support!
Here are some ways you can shop at Annie Bloom's:
• Order books through We are once again offering curbside pickup on prepaid orders, in addition to several shipping and delivery options. While our store remains closed to browsing, our website is always open!
• Purchase audiobooks through Their selection is amazing, and every purchase supports the indie bookstore of your choosing. You can purchase à la carte or by subscription. Switch from Audible for bonus audiobooks!
• Are you an ebook reader? Head over to Kobo, where your ebook purchases also support independent bookstores (including Annie Bloom's, of course). lets you order physical books online and have them shipped directly to you. A portion of all proceeds go to support indie bookstores, and you can choose to support Annie Bloom's specifically!
Live Stream Author Events
Join us live online for these upcoming author events!
The Names We Take
Tuesday, May 26, 7pm
Annie Bloom's welcomes Spokane author Trace Kerr for a live stream reading from her novel, The Names We Take. Never leave someone behind: it's a promise easier made than kept, especially when seventeen-year-old Pip takes the headstrong twelve-year-old Iris under her protection in the wake of an earth-shattering plague. When they're captured by a violent gang, Pip and Iris meet Fly, a stubborn and courageous older girl. Then their captors exchange them for supplies at Thistle Hill Orchard, an idyllic farm turned commune. As Pip, Iris, and Fly weigh the precariousness of their lives at Thistle Hill against the uncertainty of life on the outside, they simultaneously grapple with the secrets that make their situation all the more tenuous. Pip's vow to never leave someone behind may have made survival more difficult for her, but this promise could also be the key to finding meaning in the ashes of what came before. Preorder Your Book and Read More Here!
In Time’s Shadow
Tuesday, June 2, 7pm
Annie Bloom's welcomes back Portland author Marilyn Sewell for a live stream reading from her latest book, In Time's Shadow. Minister, author, and activist Marilyn Sewell reflects on the everyday, the places we live and work, the thoughts we all have but hardly ever share, though they may carry the most profound of our human concerns. Using a variety of short literary forms—dramatic monologues, vignettes, letters, prose poems, lists, surrealistic tales—Sewell presents quirky, ironic, and compassionate slices of life that will bring laughter and at the same time take you deeper into the mysteries of existence. We love, we lose, we die, and through it all, we ask, "What’s it all about?" Order Your Book and Read More Here!
Katey Schultz
Online Reading Group Invitation
Katey Schultz, author of Still Come Home, would be delighted to visit your Reading Group. Please contact her at to make arrangements for a video chat, and include the following in your email: (1) The date and time that your group usually meets, along with one or two alternative dates and times that might work. (2) How many members you expect to attend. (3) A list of member names and email addresses (for additional instructions). Katey will reply to your email and include instructions on how to use Zoom, a free livestreaming service she uses to host virtual book club gatherings. About Still Come Home: When the odds are stacked against you, doing everything right still might not be enough to protect yourself and the ones you love. The three characters in Katey Schultz's novel are each searching for the best way to be, the best way to live-all the while fighting cultural, societal, and political forces far beyond their control. As their paths intersect over the span of three days, Still Come Home explores how their decisions will forever alter each other's lives. A former Portlander, Katey now lives in Celo, North Carolina with her husband and son. Purchase Your Copy Here!
Oregon Battle of the Books
Here are just a few titles from the 2020-21 OBOB 3rd to 5th Grade Division. The full list is on our website: OBOB Books
by Rosanne Parry
In this irresistible tale by Annie Bloom's very own Rosanne Parry, a young wolf cub named Swift is separated from his pack and must now find a new home. His journey takes him a remarkable one thousand miles across the Pacific Northwest. The trip is full of peril, and Swift encounters forest fires, hunters, highways, and hunger before he finds his new home. Inspired by the extraordinary true story of a wolf named OR-7 (or Journey), this irresistible tale of survival invites readers to experience and imagine what it would be like to be one of the most misunderstood animals on earth. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Hena Khan
Fourth grader Zayd Saleem has some serious hoop dreams. He’s not just going to be a professional basketball player. He’s going to be the first Pakistani-American kid to make it to the NBA. There are only a few small things in his way. For starters, Zayd’s only on the developmental team. Not to mention, he’s a bit on the scrawny side. And his mom and dad don’t get it. They want him to practice his violin way more than his jump shot. When he gets caught blowing off his violin lessons to practice, Zayd’s parents lay down the ultimate punishment: he has to hang up his high tops and isn’t allowed to play basketball anymore. As tryouts for the Gold Team approach, Zayd has to find the courage to stand up for himself and chase his dream. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Cece Bell
Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes things she shouldn’t—but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become "El Deafo, Listener for All." And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she's longed for. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by William Ritter
Magic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong. After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart, so he leaves both babies behind. Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. When they are thirteen years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic. The boys must leave their sleepy town and risk their lives in the Wild Wood, journeying through the Deep Dark to reach the goblin horde and uncover who they truly are. Purchase Your Copy Here!
These are just some of the titles from the 6th to 8th Grade Division. For the full list: OBOB Books
by Hena Khan
Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she's in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the "cool" girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more "American." Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized. Amina's Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani-American and highlights the many ways in which one girl's voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Jerry Craft
Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself? Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Cassie Arroyo, an American studying in Rome, has her world ripped apart when someone tries to kill her father, an art history professor at an Italian university. Is she their next target? Cassie sets out to uncover what is happening, only to learn that she is a member of an ancient bloodline that enables her to use the Spear of Destiny––a legendary object that can shape the future. Now running from a secret organization intent on killing those from her bloodline, Cassie must––with the help of some friends––decipher the clues that will lead her to the Spear. Her life––and the fate of the world––depends on it. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Eric Gansworth
Lewis "Shoe" Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he's not used to is white people being nice to him––people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family's poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath. But when everyone else is on Evan's side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis's home––will he still be his friend? Purchase Your Copy Here!
Annie Bloom's Bestsellers
by Glennon Doyle
Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member's ability to bring her full self to the table. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Erik Larson
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. The Splendid and the Vile takes readers out of today’s political dysfunction and back to a time of true leadership, when, in the face of unrelenting horror, Churchill's eloquence, courage, and perseverance bound a country, and a family, together. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by N.K. Jemisin
Jemisin's most incredible novel yet is a story of culture, identity, magic, and myths in contemporary New York City. In Manhattan, a young grad student gets off the train and realizes he doesn't remember who he is, where he's from, or even his own name. But he can sense the beating heart of the city, see its history, and feel its power. In the Bronx, a Lenape gallery director discovers strange graffiti scattered throughout the city, so beautiful and powerful it's as if the paint is literally calling to her. In Brooklyn, a politician and mother finds she can hear the songs of her city, pulsing to the beat of her Louboutin heels. And they're not the only ones. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Ken Forkish
From Portland's most acclaimed and beloved baker comes this must-have baking guide, featuring recipes for world-class breads and pizzas and a variety of schedules suited for the home baker. In Flour Water Salt Yeast, Forkish translates his obsessively honed craft into scores of recipes for rustic boules and Neapolitan-style pizzas, all suited for the home baker. Forkish developed and tested all of the recipes in his home oven, and his impeccable formulas and clear instructions result in top-quality artisan breads and pizzas that stand up against those sold in the best bakeries anywhere. Flour Water Salt Yeast is more than just a collection of recipes for amazing bread and pizza—it offers a complete baking education, with a thorough yet accessible explanation of the tools and techniques that set artisan bread apart. This book is an indispensable resource for bakers who want to make their daily bread exceptional bread. Purchase Your Copy Here!
by Louise Erdrich
It is 1953. Thomas is the night watchman at the jewel bearing plant, the first factory located near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. He is also a Chippewa Council member who is trying to understand the consequences of a new "emancipation" bill on its way to the floor of the United States Congress. The bill is a "termination" that threatens the rights of Native Americans to their land and their very identity. Patrice makes jewel bearings at the plant, a job that barely pays her enough to support her mother and brother. Patrice’s shameful alcoholic father returns home sporadically to terrorize his wife and children and bully her for money. But Patrice needs every penny to follow her beloved older sister, Vera, who moved to the big city of Minneapolis. Thomas and Patrice live in this impoverished reservation community along with young Chippewa boxer Wood Mountain and his mother Juggie Blue, her niece and Patrice’s best friend Valentine, and Stack Barnes, the white high school math teacher and boxing coach who is hopelessly in love with Patrice. Illuminating the loves and lives, the desires and ambitions of these characters with compassion, wit, and intelligence, The Night Watchman is a majestic work of fiction from this revered cultural treasure. Purchase Your Copy Here! Audiobooks
Support Annie Bloom's by purchasing audiobooks through, an indie vendor dedicated to indie bookstores. They offer the same deep catalog of audiobooks as Audible at the same prices. You can choose various membership options or shop à la carte. Click to visit our store.
Kobo eBooks
Are you an ebook reader? Head over to Annie Bloom's Kobo store, where your ebook purchases also support independent bookstores (including Annie Bloom's, of course). lets you order physical books online and have them shipped directly to you. A portion of all proceeds go to support indie bookstores, and you can choose to support Annie Bloom's specifically!
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
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