September 2014 Staff Reviews, Teen Reads, and More
present new Staff Favorites for your reading pleasure. Also, check out
our upcoming author events. And read about Banned Books Week, plus the
latest titles in our Teen Reads section.
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
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
by David Shafer
reviewed by Mary
This Portland-based author has conjured in his first novel a society so
close to home that you may never want to go online again. Okay, that
may be overstating it. But this smart, funny and ultimately disturbing
novel asks who will control the information scooped from our
oh-so-handy devices and how will it be used. Charlatans and do-gooders,
addicts and geniuses, friends and family, the super-rich and the
developing-world poor have roles to play in this all too believable
thriller. Think Snowden, Blackwater, Google, Amazon, NSA ... not
actually named of course. WTF is long on plot, and just as
long on character development. All that and flashes of local color as
Portland's bridges and skate board parks come into play. Yes, I'd call
it brilliant and I want a sequel.
by Rainbow Rowell
reviewed by Kate
Having read several of Rowell's books for teens, I was very excited to
pick up her first foray into adult fiction, and it did not disappoint.
Something of a modern fairy tale for grown ups, the center of Landline
is a telephone that allows Georgie McCool, a television writer who is a
hair's breadth from divorce, to call her husband, Neal. Unlike her
cell phone, however, the landline calls him fourteen years earlier,
when he and Georgie were a hair's breadth from breaking up. The
narrative of Landline goes back and forth, from Georgie's
present to her remembered past; falling for Neal, and falling apart.
The beauty of this sweet, simple love story is in the way that Rowell
writes, luminous and realistic all at once. She perfectly captures what
it is like to fall in love, but more than that, she captures what it
means to choose someone, over and over, despite everything that may be
flawed about them; to be in love, even when being in love is the
hardest thing you have ever done.
Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?
by Dave Eggers
reviewed by Michael
It's tough to construct a single page of pure dialog that's easy
for the reader to follow. Eggers manages to pull this off for 200
pages, while also developing characters, forwarding plot, and
providing clear (if generally spare) settings. For this trick alone,
we applaud. But is this novel just a trick? An exercise in form? A
mere vehicle for ideas? Well, okay, a little bit, yeah. To be sure,
this reads as something of an allegory. But Eggers is content to
simply explore ideas here, without reaching obvious conclusions.
Thomas, our anti-hero (or just plain villain?) is clearly nuts, but
he's also good at parsing information and sorting through the bull.
Then again, he's clearly nuts! Poor Thomas. He just wants some
answers, dammit. But the world doesn't provide easy answers. And neither
does Dave Eggers. We heartily ovate.
Upcoming Readings at Annie Blooms:
Wild Within: How Raising an Owl Inspired a Family
Thursday, September 25, 7pm
will be joined for her reading by Alina Blankenship, representing
American Wildlife Foundation, who wil bring three raptors and talk about
their rehabilitation. Melissa will read from her memoir, in which she
finds herself stranded in rainy Eugene, Oregon. At the local dog park,
she meets Jonathan. Their courtship blossoms in a raptor
rehabilitation center. Melissa and Jonathan start out convinced they
don't want children, but caring for birds who have fallen from their
nests triggers a deep longing in Melissa to mother an orphaned child.
Thus they embark on a heart-wrenching journey to adoption.
Who Am I Today?
Thursday, October 2, 7pm
writes about everyday life with a combination of observation and
invention. In his mind thoughts emerge spontaneously, in all sizes,
traveling at different speeds and often changing direction without
warning. This book is a sampling of thoughts captured on paper that
cover a wide range of subjects including the aging process, parenting
techniques, telephone etiquette, a job interview with a two-headed
applicant, the politically correct treatment of ants and much more.
Don't be surprised to find the bounday lines separating fiction from
reality bending, blurring or disappearing altogether.
Samuel Snoek-Brown & Eva Hunter
Monday, October 6, 7pm
In Samuel Snoek-Brown's Hagridden,
the Civil War winds violently down, and fears of the South's uncertain
future fuse with its unraveling traditions. Against the backdrop of
this post-apocalyptic landscape, so littered with corpses and mythology
and desperation, two women, stranded and alone in the Louisiana bayou,
fight to survive. In A Little Mormon Girl, Eva Hunter
writes of growing up in a strict Mormon household. This is the story of
her flight to freedom and a new understanding of the world--from an
oppressive, anti-female religion, a cold, punishing mother, and the
horror of her father's advances.
Thursday, October 9, 7pm
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!
Alison Hawthorne Deming
Wednesday, October 15, 7pm
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
Through the Season 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
A Wedding in Provence
Tuesday, October 21, 7pm
Ellen 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.
Thursday, October 23, 7pm
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 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
Falling from Horses
Wednesday, October 29, 7pm
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.
New Teen Reads
|Here are some of the best new titles from our Teen Reads section:
Six Feet Over It
by Jennifer Longo
Leigh sells graves for her family-owned cemetery because her father is
too lazy to look farther than the dinner table when searching for
employees. Sarcastic and smart, Leigh should be able to stand up to her
family and quit. But her world's been turned upside down by the sudden
loss of her best friend and the appearance of Dario, the
slightly-too-old-for-her grave digger. Surrounded by death, can Leigh
move on, if moving on means it's time to get a life?
The Rule of Thoughts
by James Dashner
This is the exciting sequel to The Eye of Minds.
Michael completed the Path. What he found at the end turned everything
he'd ever known about his life--and the world--completely upside down.
But it was the only way VirtNet Security knew to find the
cyber-terrorist Kaine--and to make the Sleep safe for gamers once again.
And, the truth Michael discovered about Kaine is more complex than
they anticipated, and more terrifying than even the worst of their
fears. Kaine's Mortality Doctrine will populate Earth entirely with
human bodies harboring tangent minds. Any gamer who sinks into the
VirtNet risks coming out with a tangent intelligence in control of
their body. And the takeover has already begun.
Half a World Away
by Cynthia Kadohata
Eleven-year-old Jaden is adopted, and he knows he's an "epic fail."
That's why his family is traveling to Kazakhstan to adopt a new
baby--to replace him, he's sure. And he gets it. He is incapable of
stopping his stealing, hoarding, lighting fires, aggressive running,
and obsession with electricity. But when they get to Kazakhstan, it
turns out the infant they've traveled for has already been adopted.
Jaden finds himself increasingly intrigued by and worried about a
toddler named Dimash. Already three years old and barely able to speak,
Dimash will soon age out of the orphanage, and then his life will be
as hopeless as Jaden feels now. For the first time in his life, Jaden
actually feels something that isn't pure blinding fury, and there's no
way to control it, or its power.
by Andrew Smith
Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for
rich kids. He's living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers,
and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he's madly
in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.
Ryan Dean manages to survive life's complications with the help of his
sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics.
But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on
to what's important, even when it feels like everything has fallen
apart. Filled with hand-drawn infographics and illustrations and told
in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen's
experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and
heartbreaking. Now out in paperback!