November 2013 Staff Reviews, New Novels & Nonfiction, and More

 
In This Issue:
More Staff Faves
Staff Reviews
Author Readings
New Novels & Nonfiction

More Staff Reviews 

Here Are More Great Picks From Our Staff Reviews Table:

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train
by William Kuhn

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking
by Anya Von Bremzen

Standing in Another Man's Grave
by Ian Ranking

May We Be Forgiven
by A.M. Homes

The Color Master
by Aimee Bender
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November 2013 Staff Reviews, New Novels & Nonfiction, and More


We present three new Staff Favorites for your reading pleasure. Also, check out our upcoming author events. Plus, read about the latest Novels and Nonfiction releases.  
Staff Reviews
Our staff brings you three new favorites. Click on a title or cover image to link to our website, where you can read more about the book or purchase it from our secure webstore.

The Great War
by Joe Sacco
reviewed by Will
This essential book's power is revealed in it's unique format. Printed on accordion-style paper to reveal 24 drawings that fold out to depict the first day in the Battle of the Somme, Sacco's black-and-white illustrations show the horror of the war by drawing us into details of the battle. Inside the endless trenches, nearby the constant explosions and oddly--both distinct from and very much a part of--military regiment and routine, Sacco beautifully renders the devastation and human toll of the war. Because of the unique nature Sacco's art, this is a book to reflect on small details by yourself, but also to share and observe with others.

The Wednesday Wars
and Okay for Now
by Gary Schmidt
reviewed by Mary
Thanks to my daughter the English teacher, I have been "discovering" some compelling young adult fiction. Both of these books by an award-winning author (Newbery Honor and National Book Award finalist) deal with life in junior high school, with all the inevitable issues of friends, teachers, parents. But even more significant is the compassionate, humorous way Schmidt handles the underlying questions of morality and values. All that and an irresistible and informative dose of Shakespeare and the politics of the 1960's (The Wednesday Wars) and art and Audubon's paintings (Okay for Now). Good-hearted, insightful, and reassuringly well-written.

Year Zero: A History of 1945
by Ian Buruma
reviewed by Jeff 
When Americans think about the end of World War II, most of them visualize victory celebrations and our troops coming home to rejoin their families. In other words, we won and the world became a better place. But history is never that simple. As Ian Buruma shows in Year Zero, the defeat of the Axis powers in 1945 was actually the start of a new round of global conflict. As millions of war refugees struggled for survival in cities destroyed by war, former colonies of the European powers were demanding independence and preparing to fight for it. A complicated new world order that would play out during the next 50 years was already taking shape, even as the final shots of World War II were being fired. 
Upcoming Readings
Upcoming Readings at Annie Blooms:

Susan Blackaby
Brownie Groundhog and the Wintry Surprise
Saturday, November 16, 1pm
Kids will love this wintry-wonderful follow-up to the popular Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox. Brownie is ready for a long winter's nap. "Just don't wake me up," she warns. But her friends miss her so much that they can't bear to obey her orders--and they turn Brownie's "do not disturb" into a comic commotion, complete with a stunningly beautiful nighttime surprise. Portland author Susan Blackaby has created a fun romp filled with delightful wordplay, enhanced by Carmen Segovia's illustrations featuring splashes of color against a snowy backdrop.

Theo Pauline Nestor
Writing Is My Drink: A Writer's Story of Finding Her Voice
Wednesday, November 20, 7pm
"Theo Nestor is a writer who, I am positive, will be heard from," wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt, and hear from her we do in this enthralling memoir that doubles as a witty and richly told writing guide. Yet the real promise in Writing Is My Drink lies in Nestor's uncanny ability as a storyteller and teacher to make sure we'll also hear from you, the reader. Brimming with stories from her own writing life, and paired with practical "Try This" sections designed to challenge and inspire, this disarmingly candid account of a writer's search for her voice delivers charming, wise, and often hilarious guidance that will motivate writers at every stage of their careers.

Lisa Borders & Ron MacLean
The Fifty-First State & Headlong
Thursday, November 21, 7pm
The Fifty-First State is the new novel from Lisa Borders, author of Cloud Cuckoo Land. After her father's death, Hallie Corson returns from her New York photographer's life to her south Jersey hometown to care for her long-estranged brother during his final year of high school. As they learn their family's history, Josh and Hallie will invite disaster into their lives, and will learn, together, to navigate its currents, keeping further losses at bay.
Ron MacLean's Headlong is a literary thriller about fathers, sons, murder, immaturity, anarchism, marriage, friendship, and failure. Nick, a 42-year-old former journalist, has returned to Boston to tend to his dying father. He soon becomes involved in a web of protest, eco-terrorism, and violence.

New Novels & Nonfiction 

Here are some of the latest Novels and Nonfiction titles:

New Novels:

The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt
Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Tormented by his unbearable longing for her, he clings to one thing that reminds him of his mother: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art.

The Luminaries
by Eleanor Catton
It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky.

The Good Lord Bird
by James McBride
Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry's master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town--with Brown, who believes he's a girl. Eventually Henry finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859--one of the great catalysts for the Civil War. This novel is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.

The Lowland
by Jumpa Lahiri
Born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other in the Calcutta neighborhood where they grow up. But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead. Udayan stays close to home to fight inequity and poverty; Subhash moves to America to pursue scientific research. But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family's home, he goes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind.

Doctor Sleep
by Stephen King
Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father's legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant "shining" power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan's own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra's soul.

New Nonfiction:

Amsterdam
by Russell Shorto
The author traces the idiosyncratic evolution of Amsterdam, showing how such disparate elements as herring anatomy, naked Anabaptists parading through the streets, and an intimate gathering in a sixteenth-century wine-tasting room had a profound effect on Dutch--and world--history. Weaving in his own experiences of his adopted home, Shorto provides an ever-surprising, intellectually engaging story of Amsterdam from the building of its first canals in the 1300s, through its brutal struggle for independence, its golden age as a vast empire, to its complex present in which its cherished ideals of liberalism are under siege.

The Bully Pulpit
by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Goodwin describes the broken friendship between Teddy Roosevelt and his chosen successor, William Howard Taft. With the help of the "muckraking" press, Roosevelt had wielded the Bully Pulpit to challenge and triumph over abusive monopolies, political bosses, and corrupting money brokers. Like Goodwin's chronicles of the Civil War and the Great Depression, The Bully Pulpit describes a time in our history that enlightened and changed the country, ushered in the modern age, and produced some unforgettable men and women.

Leading Through Uncertainty
by Raymond P. Davis
Umpqua Bank CEO Ray Davis shares a concise set of smart, actionable leadership practices that leaders can use to navigate their businesses and teams through difficult times. These include focusing on honesty and transparency, motivating and inspiring employees, building an outstanding corporate reputation, paying attention to details, and more. By showing leaders how to maintain a clear value proposition and strong leadership, Leading Through Uncertainty will help any company secure a lasting foothold in any economy.

I Am Malala
by Malala Yousafzai
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.

David and Goliath
by Malcolm Gladwell
The author challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks. David and Goliath draws upon history, psychology, and powerful storytelling to demonstrate how much of what is beautiful and important in the world arises from what looks like suffering and adversity.