February 2014 Staff Reviews & More

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In This Issue:
More Staff Favorites
Staff Reviews
New in Science
More Staff Faves
Our staff enjoyed these books, too.

One More Thing: Stories
by B.J. Novak

Badluck Way
by Bryce Andrews

The Mary Smokes Boys
by Patrick Holland

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
by Anthony Marra

A Star for Mrs. Blake
by April Smith 
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February 2014 Staff Reviews & More


Here are three new staff reviews for you! We also have some great readings coming up. Plus, check out what's new in Science. 
Staff Reviews
Our staff brings you three new favorites:

Unremarried Widow
by Artis Henderson
reviewed by Edie
All the prerequisites for a good story are here--a young college woman falls in love with a man who is an Army helicopter pilot, marries him, and sends him off to Iraq where he is killed. This time, however, all of it is true. Henderson's memoir of her life with Miles and then her life without him is an unsentimental but moving look at the insides of Army life for the women left to cope. Her honest (sometimes to her own detriment) view of the loneliness of living within the military rules and regulations is poignant, unflinching, and feels very real. When she shares with the reader the letter that she receives from Miles after his death--a letter he knows she will read only if he does not come back--you know you have experienced an authentic love story.

The Circle
by Dave Eggers
reviewed by Will
Eggers has created a thoughtful--and at times darkly humorous--idea novel that aspires to challenge the all-encompassing corporate rule of the present day, in the way that Orwell confronted the authoritarian state of the previous century.The Circle is an amalgamation of several recognizable tech/marketing/social media companies, which is led by corporation's "3 Wise Men," seemingly benevolent Big Brothers whose twisted Utopian mission involves making everyone's actions transparent to all. Young Circle hire Mae Holland is ecstatic to join the powerful company and she gradually gives up her own identity in a progressive series of Pavlovian work assignments and lifestyle compromises. Mae leans in eagerly to the slick, soft embrace of The Circle, a totalitarian world where those who acquiesce receive material benefits to drape over their hollow, media-addicted lives--but all are subject to a nightmare of surveillance, attacks on privacy, and assaults on human dignity. But, Mae? She wins the victory over herself. Like Winston in 1984, she loved The Circle.

Saints of the Shadow Bible 

by Ian Rankin

reviewed by Pat
John Rebus, the Edinburgh police inspector who languished in retirement but never in our imaginations, has returned to the force. Rebus is being investigated, along with his old team, for dirty police work in a thirty-year-old case. Planting evidence, intimidating witnesses, and imparting rough justice was part of the culture of policing in that era. As Rebus says, "I'm from the eighties, Peter---I'm not the newfangled touchy-feely model." True to character, though, Rebus wants the truth, no matter what light it shines on his own deeds. At the same time, he's working on a case with Siobhan Clarke, his former protégé, involving a mysterious car accident and a high-ranking politician's son. Now that's just the kind of hornet's nest that Rebus likes to poke a stick into. Both tangled plots are resolved masterfully. Good to have you back, Rebus. 
We have some great readings coming up:

Suzy Vitello & Kate Scott 

Portland Teen Read Novelists

Tuesday, February 18, 7pm


Both of these young adult novels are set in Southwest Portland! In Kate Scott's Counting to D, Sam is sick of being known for her dyslexia. When she starts at a new school, she decides not to tell anyone about her little illiteracy problem. Sam's got to get the grades, get the guy, and get it straight--without being able to read. Suzy Vitello's The Moment Before is a novel about a 17-year-old girl, Brady Wilson, whose popular sister has just died in a tragic cheerleading accident. And the boy everyone blames for the accident seems to be her only ally in her search for answers surrounding her sister's death. 


Judy Nedry
The Difficult Sister
Wednesday, February 19, 7pm
The Difficult Sister is the newest mystery/suspense novel featuring Emma Golden. This latest adventure takes Emma and her friend, Melody, to a remote, southern Oregon Coastal town to search for Melody's missing, ne'er-do-well younger sister, Aurora. However, they quickly both realize that at the very least, Aurora is in some sort of major trouble and may even be dead. Emma, a snarky, fifty-something former food and wine writer, is recovering from a series of sad, drunken escapades that successfully ended her career. Melody, rich, high-handed and spoiled, expects those around her to do her bidding. Instead the two women discover that there are secrets to protect, bodies to uncover, and unexpected passions that threaten to derail the investigation.

Mary Anne Radmacher & Liz Kalloch
She: A Celebration of Greatness in Every Woman
Tuesday, March 11, 7pm

Each page spread of She features a collection of vintage art and ephemera elegantly designed by Liz Kalloch paired with a love letter by Mary Anne Radmacher to each quality along with a tribute to women's strength, character, and the extraordinary capabilities within each and every woman. She gathers the wisdom of many wise women including Madeleine L'Engle, Laura Schlessinger, Erica Jong, Rachel Carson, Oprah Winfrey, Harper Lee, Lucille Ball, Mother Teresa, Pearl Buck, Cheri Huber, Julia Child, Drew Barrymore, and many more.

Mark Braverman
A Wall in Jerusalem
Monday, March 24, 7pm
Braverman thought he understood the reasons for Israel's existence. But when he began to understand the forces perpetuating the conflict, he realized just how far we are from achieving peace. Drawing on the historical lessons of the Civil Rights movement and the struggle against South African apartheid, Braverman offers a course of action both at home and abroad that will bring about a just and lasting peace. He delivers a strong message to Jews and Christians alike: it is not anti-Semitic to stand up for justice for the Palestinian people. A Wall in Jerusalem offers a provocative and unique perspective on this controversial issue and specific, real-time prescriptions for action, with specific emphasis on the role of the church in our time.
New in Science   
Here are some of the latest titles from our Science section:

by Marlene Zuk
Armed with a razor-sharp wit and brilliant, eye-opening research, Zuk takes us to the cutting edge of biology to show that evolution can work much faster than was previously realized, meaning that we are not biologically the same as our caveman ancestors. Our nostalgic visions of an ideal evolutionary past in which we ate, lived, and reproduced as we were meant to fail to recognize that we were never perfectly suited to our environment. Evolution is about change, and every organism is full of trade-offs. From debunking the caveman diet to unraveling gender stereotypes, Zuk delivers an engrossing analysis of widespread paleofantasies and the scientific evidence that undermines them, all the while broadening our understanding of our origins and what they can really tell us about our present and our future.

The Accidental Universe
Alan Lightman
Lightman brings a light touch to heavy questions. Here is a book about nesting ospreys, multiple universes, atheism, spiritualism, and the arrow of time. Throughout, Lightman takes us back and forth between ordinary occurrences--old shoes and entropy, sailing far out at sea and the infinite expanse of space. Lightman looks toward the universe and captures aspects of it in a series of beautifully written essays, each offering a glimpse at the whole from a different perspective: here time, there symmetry, not least God. It is a meditation by a remarkable humanist-physicist, a book worth reading by anyone entranced by big ideas grounded in the physical world.

Learning from Leonardo
by Fritjof Capra
Leonardo da Vinci was a brilliant artist, scientist, engineer, mathematician, architect, inventor, writer, and even musician--the archetypal Renaissance man. But he was also, Fritjof Capra argues, a profoundly modern man. Capra's overview of Leonardo's thought follows the organizational scheme Leonardo himself intended to use if he ever published his notebooks. So in a sense, this is Leonardo's science as he himself would have presented it. Obviously, we can't all be geniuses on the scale of Leonardo da Vinci. But by exploring the mind of the preeminent Renaissance genius, we can gain profound insights into how best to address the challenges of the 21st century.

Beautiful Geometry
by Eli Maor & Eugen Jost
If you've ever thought that mathematics and art don't mix, this stunning visual history of geometry will change your mind. As much a work of art as a book about mathematics, Beautiful Geometry presents more than sixty exquisite color plates illustrating a wide range of geometric patterns and theorems, accompanied by brief accounts of the fascinating history and people behind each. With artwork by Swiss artist Eugen Jost and text by acclaimed math historian Eli Maor, this unique celebration of geometry covers numerous subjects, from straightedge-and-compass constructions to intriguing configurations involving infinity. The result is a delightful and informative illustrated tour through the 2,500-year-old history of one of the most important and beautiful branches of mathematics.