October 2014 Staff Reviews, Halloween, Poetry, and More

Constant Contact
In This Issue:
More Staff Faves
Halloween Books
Staff Reviews
Author Readings
New in Poetry

More Staff Reviews 

Here Are More Great Picks From Our Staff Reviews Table:

Worthy Brown's Daughter
by Phillip Margolin

The Night, and the Rain, and the River
edited by Liz Prato

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage
by Ann Patchett

No Future for You: Salvos from the Baffler
A Star for Mrs. Blake
by April Smith 

Halloween Books 

To celebrate Halloween, we've got lots of spooky books for kids of all ages. Below are just a few of the many items in our Halloween section!

Pinkalicious: Pink or Treat!
by Victoria Kahn

The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel, Volume 1
by Neil Gaiman

That's Creepy!
by Crispin Boyer

In the Shadow of Blackbirds
by Cat Winters

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing
by Sheila Turnage

Lego Spooky! Ultimate Sticker Collection
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October 2014 Staff Reviews, Halloween, Poetry, and More


We present three new Staff Favorites for your reading pleasure. Also, treat yourself to some Halloween books. Plus, check out our upcoming author events, and peruse the latest Poetry books.  
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.

A Sudden Light
by Garth Stein
reviewed by Sharon
This is a ghost story, of sorts, but even more, it is the captivating story of four generations of fathers and sons. Trevor Riddell is fourteen when he visits the Riddell mansion in Seattle to meet his Grandfather Samuel and Aunt Serena for the first time. He is confused and frustrated. His father's business has gone bankrupt, his home is gone, his parents have separated, and divorce hovers over his family like a dark cloud. When he first sets eyes on the Riddell House he is immediately drawn to it, both scared and fascinated at once. The huge house, built from large whole tree trunks, was built by his great, great grandfather, Elijah Riddell, who made the family fortune from timber. Strange things begin to happen to Trevor, and he suspects that there is a spirit in the house, guiding him to clues about the past. With some sleuthing, he learns secrets about his ancestors, including his father. He is forced to examine ideas about his relationship to the past and the future and what his obligation is to them, and he learns the importance of a promise. The more he learns, the more he realizes a great injustice is being done. He must try to stop a chain of events; his father and Aunt Serena have resolved to put Grandpa Samuel in a nursing home and sell the large estate to a developer. Trevor knows this is not the best path. But can he stop it?

 

A Brief History of Seven Killings
by Marlon James
reviewed by Michael
This brilliant novel is centered on the sociopolitical climate in 1976 Kingston, Jamaica, that fostered the attempted assassination of Bob Marley. Similar to HBO's "The Wire," Marlon James utilizes a wide variety of rich character portraits to investigate the many layers of a corrupt and perilous world in which gangsters, politicians, and law enforcers all operate in moral gray areas. James is a masterful chameleon of voice, switching from the slangy patois of Jamaican drug dealers to the smarmy patter of CIA agents, and all points in between. This novel is not for the faint-of-heart--James pulls no punches when describing the brutality and squalor of the Kingston slums. But he also evokes moments of tenderness, beauty, and even humor. This novel is unforgettable.

Lila

by Marilynne Robinson

reviewed by Kathy

Robinson has returned to Gilead, Iowa, to continue her multi-novel exploration of how we find meaning and connection in our complicated lives. The Reverend John Ames is the "old man," still living in the house built by his grandfather, left alone by quiet tragedy as a young man, settling into gentle old age, shepherding his congregation, and being tenderly cared for in return. Lila Dahl doesn't even know her real name. An abused and neglected toddler, she was rescued/kidnapped from a wintery front stoop in the dead of night by Doll, an itinerant laborer. She has learned to endure, to be contemptuous of kindness, to live on nothing, to feel safest alone. Robinson chooses Lila's voice as the vehicle for her narrative, much of it flashbacks to Lila's previous life, giving us graphic insights into the lives of the nameless and raggedy bands that followed the crops in the '20s and '30s before the Dust Bowl. As with her other books, the story of the courtship of the Reverend John Ames and Lila is one to savor, to pause, to reflect.

Upcoming Readings
Authors Appearing at Annie Blooms:

Zoologies
Wednesday, October 15, 7pm

Ranging from the Serengeti to Madrid to her own backyard, Deming helps us see the creatures around us with fresh eyes. Along her journey, Deming uncovers what hyenas can tell us about human bloodlust, how the art of leaf-cutter ants complicates our own artistic endeavors, what elephants can teach us about the deep reverberations of war and peace in our communities, and more. Moving beyond the grief and anxiety that so often surrounds any consideration of species extinction, these artful and incisive essays illuminate the mystery and wonder of our shared earthly experience.

Through the Seasons with Dulcy
Thursday, October 16, 7pm

Readers can again find monthly inspiration from Oregonian gardening columnist Dulcy Mahar--as well as get a glimpse into the places in her home and garden she most cherished. Ted Mahar reflects on their fifty-year marriage, their beloved pets and her well-known garden, plus takes readers behind the scenes into Dulcy's favorite places inside their home. he has selected 140 more beloved columns for this second volume, complemented by 150 color photographs.

A Wedding in Provence
Tuesday, October 21, 7pm

Sussman, author of French Lessons, delivers a feast for the senses in A Wedding in Provence--a moving novel of love, forgiveness, and trust, set among the beaches and vineyards of southern France. When Olivia and Brody drive up to their friend's idyllic inn--nestled in a valley in the Mediterranean town of Cassis--they know they've chosen the perfect spot for their wedding. But when their guests check in, their peaceful wedding weekend is quickly thrown off balance.

Dormant
Thursday, October 23, 7pm

Dormant is the first book in a new trilogy from Portland author LeeAnn McLennan. When Olivia is seven she sees her supernormal mother murdered by Mountain of Ash, a super villain terrorist organization. Olivia decides then and there the secretive and dangerous life of a supernormal is not for her. For the next seven years, she lives the life a normal kid with her normal dad--until she is forced to awaken her dormant powers to save hostages in a bank robbery. Now Olivia's powers won't go back into the genie's bottle. Olivia must do what she dreads most--ask her mother's family, the Brighthalls, for help controlling her powers.

Vegan Casseroles
Monday, October 27, 7pm

When it comes to traditional comfort food, most of the key ingredients are off-limits to health-conscious vegans. But giving up shepherd's pie, eggplant parm, and cheesy rice casserole was not an option for Julie Hasson, who took on the challenge to recreate flavors she loved, but without the cheese, eggs, butter, and cholesterol. The focus is on whole-food ingredients crafted into healthier takes on old favorites. The results are a mix of retro flavors--with nacho cheesy sauces and a lighter cream of mushroom soup for that creamy goodness--and fresh, veggie-forward dishes like cabbage rolls and creamed greens. Make your own casserole creations by pairing any of the super-simple sauces with your favorite veggies and rice or pasta. Dig in!

Falling from Horses
Wednesday, October 29, 7pm

In 1938, nineteen-year-old ranch hand Bud Frazer sets out for Hollywood, setting his sights on becoming a stunt rider in the movies--and rubbing shoulders with the great screen cowboys of his youth. On the long bus ride south, Bud meets Lily Shaw, who also harbors dreams of making it in the movies, though not as a starlet but as a writer, a "real" writer. The two strike up an unlikely kinship that will carry them through their tumultuous days in Hollywood--and, as it happens, for the rest of their lives.

David Shafer
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Thursday, October 30, 7pm

The Committee, an international cabal of industrialists and media barons, is on the verge of privatizing all information. Dear Diary, an idealistic online Underground, stands in the way of that takeover, using radical politics, classic spycraft, and technology that makes Big Data look like dial-up. Into this secret battle stumbles an unlikely trio: Leila Majnoun, a disillusioned non-profit worker; Leo Crane, an unhinged trustafarian; and Mark Deveraux, a phony self-betterment guru who works for the Committee. In the spirit of William Gibson and Chuck Palahniuk, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is both a suspenseful global thriller and an emotionally truthful novel about the struggle to change the world in- and outside your head.

Jon Derek Croteau
My Thinning Years
Monday, November 3, 7pm

As a child, Jon tried desperately to be his father's version of the all-American boy, denying his gayness in a futile attempt to earn the love and respect of an abusive man. With this he built a deep, internalized homophobia that made him want to disappear rather than live with the truth about himself. That denial played out in the forms of anorexia, bulimia, and obsessive running, which consumed him as an adolescent and young adult. My Thinning Years is an inspiring story of courage, creativity, and the will to live--and of recreating the definition of family to include friends, relatives, and teachers who support you in realizing your true self.

Susan Winkler
Portrait of a Woman in White
Tuesday, November 4, 7pm

1940, France: The day before ardent young lovers Lili and her distant cousin Paul plan to marry, the Nazis invade Paris, and they are irrevocably thrust into the pressure cooker of war. The family flees toward Lisbon, but at the border Paul is detained and compelled to join the French army, while Lili is forced ahead to America. When a beloved Matisse portrait of Lili's mother is looted by top Nazi Hermann Goring, their fate is ultimately interwoven with that of the portrait. The search for lost family, lost love and lost art was inspired by the Portland author's family history, and while the Rosenswig family is fictitious, other key players and events include the historic, from Matisse and Goring to French museum spy Rose Valland.

Kate Gray, Stevan Allred & Joanna Rose
"Simplified Maps"
Wednesday, November 5, 7pm

Join us for this trio of local authors, each of whom will read from works containing "simplified maps." Kate Gray takes an unblinking look at bullying in her debut novel, Carry the Sky. Set at an elite Delaware boarding school 1983, Gray's novel sings a brave and honest anthem about what it means to be different in a world of uniformity. Stevan Allred's A Simplified Map of the Real World is set in the richly imagined town of Renata, Oregon. The book's fifteen linked stories chart a true course through the lives of families, farmers, loggers, former classmates, and the occasional stripper. Joanna Rose, a Portland writing instructor and author of the novel Little Miss Strange, will read from a work in progress that includes a "simplified map."

New in Poetry 

Here are some of the best new titles from our Poetry section:

Blue Horses
by Mary Oliver
In this stunning collection of new poems, Oliver returns to the imagery that has defined her life's work, describing with wonder both the everyday and the unaffected beauty of nature. Herons, sparrows, owls, and kingfishers flit across the page in meditations on love, artistry, and impermanence. Whether considering a bird's nest, the seeming patience of oak trees, or the artworks of Franz Marc, Oliver reminds us of the transformative power of attention and how much can be contained within the smallest moments. At its heart, Blue Horses asks what it means to truly belong to this world, to live in it attuned to all its changes. Humorous, gentle, and always honest, Oliver is a visionary of the natural world.

Splitting an Order
by Ted Kooser
Pulitzer Prize winner and best selling poet Ted Kooser calls attention to the intimacies of life through commonplace objects and occurrences: an elderly couple sharing a sandwich is a study in transcendent love, while a tattered packet of spinach seeds calls forth innate human potential. This long-awaited collection from the former U.S. Poet Laureate--ten years in the making--is rich with quiet and profound magnificence.

Saint Friend
by Carl Adamschick
Saint Friend is that rare book that speaks in the voice of a generation. The voice comes from an acclaimed young poet who, after working years in obscurity, was fêted with the prestigious Walt Whitman Award for his first collection. This, his second book, is a freewheeling explosion of celebrations, elegies, narratives, psychologically raw persona pieces (one in the voice of Amelia Earhart), and a handful of punchy lyric poems with a desperate humor. It is, as the title suggests, a book exalting love among friends in our scattered times.

You Haven't Asked Me About My Wedding or What I Wore
by Jana Harris
Based on primary research of nineteenth-century frontier women, Harris uses her compelling poetry to resurrect a forgotten history. She captures the hope, anxiety, anger, and despair of these women through a variety of characters and poetic strategies, while archival photographs give faces to the names and details to the settings. Harris's meticulous research and stirring words give these pioneer women a renewed voice that proves the timelessness of the hopes and fears of love and marriage.

Collected Poems
by Mark Strand
Gathered here is a half century's magnificent work by the former poet laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize winner whose haunting and exemplary style has influenced an entire generation of American poets. Strand has delighted in reminding us that there is no poet quite like him for a dose of dark wit that turns out to be deep wisdom and self-deprecation. He has given voice to our collective imagination with a grandeur and comic honesty worthy of his great Knopf forebear Wallace Stevens. With this volume, we celebrate his canonical work.