September 2014 Staff Reviews, Teen Reads, and More

Constant Contact
In This Issue:
More Staff Faves
Banned Books
Staff Reviews
Author Readings
New in Teen Reads

More Staff Reviews 

Here Are More Great Picks From Our Staff Reviews Table:

Command and Control
by Eric Schlosser

The Farm
by Tom Rob Smith

Rise of the Warrior Cop
by Radley Balko

Orfeo
by Richard Powers 

Banned Books! 

Banned Books Week officially begins September 21, but we're getting an early start. Beware! These books will corrupt your mind.

Feed
by M.T. Anderson

The Bean Trees
by Barbara Kingsolver

And Tango Makes Three
by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley

A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle 
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September 2014 Staff Reviews, Teen Reads, and More


We 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 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.

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.

Landline
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
Upcoming Readings at Annie Blooms:

Melissa Hart
Wild Within: How Raising an Owl Inspired a Family
Thursday, September 25, 7pm

Melissa 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.

Jeffrey Shaffer
Who Am I Today?
Thursday, October 2, 7pm

Shaffer 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
Portland Authors
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.

Julie Hasson
Vegan Casseroles
Thursday, October 9, 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!

Alison Hawthorne Deming
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.

Ted Mahar
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 photographs.

Ellen Sussman
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.

LeeAnn McLennan
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 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.

Molly Gloss
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.

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.

Winger
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!