September 2020: Kids Staff Favorites, New in Paperback, and More!

September 2020: Kids Staff Favorites, New in Paperback, and More!
Our staff recommends books for kids, see what's new in paperback, and read about our livestream author Readings. But first....
New & Upcoming Releases
by Bob Woodward
Out Now!
Rage goes behind the scenes like never before, with stunning new details about early national security decisions and operations and Trump's moves as he faces a global pandemic, economic disaster and racial unrest. President Trump has said publicly that Woodward has interviewed him. What is not known is that Trump provided Woodward a window into his mind through a series of exclusive interviews. Rage draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand witnesses, as well as participants' notes, emails, diaries, calendars and confidential documents. Woodward obtained 25 personal letters exchanged between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that have not been public before. Kim describes the bond between the two leaders as out of a "fantasy film," as the two leaders engage in an extraordinary diplomatic minuet. Rage will be the foundational account of the Trump presidency, its turmoil, contradictions and risks. It is an essential document for any voter seeking an accurate inside view of the Trump years—volatile and vivid.
by Yaa Gyasi
Out Now!
Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at the Stanford University School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after an ankle injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family's loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief––a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi's phenomenal debut.
by Elena Ferrante
Out Now!
Giovanna's pretty face is changing, turning ugly, at least so her father thinks. Giovanna, he says, looks more like her Aunt Vittoria every day. But can it be true? Is she really changing? Is she turning into her Aunt Vittoria, a woman she hardly knows but whom her mother and father clearly despise? Surely there is a mirror somewhere in which she can see herself as she truly is. Giovanna is searching for her reflection in two kindred cities that fear and detest one another: Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and Naples of the depths, a place of excess and vulgarity. She moves from one to the other in search of the truth, but neither city seems to offer answers or escape.
by Helen Macdonald
Out Now!
In Vesper Flights Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia for a vanishing countryside to the tribulations of farming ostriches to her own private vespers while trying to fall asleep. Meditating on notions of captivity and freedom, immigration and flight, Helen invites us into her most intimate experiences. By one of this century's most important and insightful nature writers, Vesper Flights is a captivating and foundational book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make sense of the world around us.
If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future
by Jill Lepore
Out Now!
A revelatory account of the Cold War origins of the data-mad, algorithmic twenty-first century, from the author of the acclaimed international bestseller These Truths. The Simulmatics Corporation, launched during the Cold War, mined data, targeted voters, manipulated consumers, destabilized politics, and disordered knowledge—decades before Facebook, Google, and Cambridge Analytica. Lepore came across the company’s papers in MIT's archives and set out to tell this forgotten history, the long-lost backstory to the methods, and the arrogance, of Silicon Valley. The scientists of Simulmatics believed they had invented "the A-bomb of the social sciences." They did not predict that it would take decades to detonate, like a long-buried grenade. This history has a past; If Then is its cautionary tale.
by Ayad Akhtar
Out Now!
A deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque novel, at its heart it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home. Ayad Akhtar forges a new narrative voice to capture a country in which debt has ruined countless lives and the gods of finance rule, where immigrants live in fear, and where the nation's unhealed wounds wreak havoc around the world. Akhtar attempts to make sense of it all through the lens of a story about one family, from a heartland town in America to palatial suites in Central Europe to guerrilla lookouts in the mountains of Afghanistan, and spares no one––least of all himself––in the process.
by Rosanne Parry
Out Now!
In the stand-alone companion to the New York Times–bestselling A Wolf Called Wander, a young orca whale must lead her brother on a tumultuous journey to be reunited with their pod. This gorgeously illustrated animal adventure novel explores family bonds, survival, global warming, and a changing seascape. Includes information about orcas and their habitats. A Whale of the Wild weaves a heart-stopping tale of survival with impeccable research on a delicate ecosystem and threats to marine life. Rosanne Parry's fluid writing and Lindsay Moore's stunning artwork bring the Salish Sea and its inhabitants to vivid life.
by Allie Brosh
Out: September 22
For the first time in seven years, Allie Brosh—beloved author and artist of the extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller Hyperbole and a Half—returns with a new collection of comedic, autobiographical, and illustrated essays. Solutions and Other Problems includes humorous stories from Allie Brosh's childhood; the adventures of her very bad animals; merciless dissection of her own character flaws; incisive essays on grief, loneliness, and powerlessness; as well as reflections on the absurdity of modern life.
by Marilynne Robinson
Out: September 29
Marilynne Robinson's mythical world of Gilead, Iowa—the setting of her novels Gilead, Home, and Lila, and now Jack—and its beloved characters have illuminated and interrogated the complexities of American history, the power of our emotions, and the wonders of a sacred world. Jack is Robinson's fourth novel in this now-classic series. In it, Robinson tells the story of John Ames Boughton, the prodigal son of Gilead’s Presbyterian minister, and his romance with Della Miles, a high school teacher who is also the child of a preacher. Their deeply felt, tormented, star-crossed interracial romance resonates with all the paradoxes of American life, then and now.
by Chris Colfer
Out: September 29
When a mysterious new witch arrives at the academy, the celebrations are cut short. As the witch begins recruiting faeries into her rival school of witchcraft, it becomes clear she has dark intentions. And soon Brystal's friend Lucy becomes embroiled in an ominous plot against mankind. Elsewhere, the fragile peace is on the brink of shattering. Outrage has spread throughout the kingdoms in opposition to the legalization of magic. And, a dangerous and centuries-old clan known as the Righteous Brotherhood has resurfaced, with one goal in mind: to exterminate all magical life forever . . . starting with Brystal. The enchanting sequel to A Tale of Magic... is filled with brand-new adventures and a cast of memorable characters, both familiar and new.
by Tana French
Out: October 6
Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a bucolic Irish village would be the perfect escape. After twenty-five years in the Chicago police force and a bruising divorce, he just wants to build a new life in a pretty spot with a good pub where nothing much happens. But when a local kid whose brother has gone missing arm-twists him into investigating, Cal uncovers layers of darkness beneath his picturesque retreat, and starts to realize that even small towns shelter dangerous secrets.
by Ina Garten
Out: October 6
In Modern Comfort Food, Ina Garten shares 85 new recipes that will feed your deepest cravings. Many of these dishes are inspired by childhood favorites—but with the volume turned way up, such as Cheddar and Chutney Grilled Cheese sandwiches (the perfect match for Ina's Creamy Tomato Bisque), Smashed Hamburgers with Caramelized Onions, and the crispiest hash browns that are actually made in a waffle iron! From cocktails to dessert, from special weekend breakfasts to quick weeknight dinners, you'll find yourself making these cozy and delicious recipes over and over again.
by John Grisham
Out: October 13
Clanton, Mississippi. 1990. Jake Brigance finds himself embroiled in a deeply divisive trial when the court appoints him attorney for Drew Gamble, a timid sixteen-year-old boy accused of murdering a local deputy. Many in Clanton want a swift trial and the death penalty, but Brigance digs in and discovers that there is more to the story than meets the eye. Jake's fierce commitment to saving Drew from the gas chamber puts his career, his financial security, and the safety of his family on the line. In what may be the most personal and accomplished legal thriller of John Grisham's storied career, we deepen our acquaintance with the iconic Southern town of Clanton and the vivid cast of characters that so many readers know and cherish. The result is a richly rewarding novel that is both timely and timeless, full of wit, drama, and—most of all—heart.
by Jacqueline Winspear
Out: November 10
After sixteen novels, Jacqueline Winspear has taken the bold step of turning to memoir, revealing the hardships and joys of her family history. Both shockingly frank and deftly restrained, her story tackles the difficult, poignant, and fascinating family accounts of her paternal grandfather's shellshock; her mother's evacuation from London during the Blitz; her soft-spoken animal-loving father's torturous assignment to an explosives team during WWII; her parents' years living with Romany Gypsies; and Winspear's own childhood picking hops and fruit on farms in rural Kent, capturing her ties to the land and her dream of being a writer at its very inception. An eye-opening and heartfelt portrayal of a post-War England we rarely see, This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing chronicles a childhood in the English countryside, of working class indomitability and family secrets, of artistic inspiration and the price of memory.
by Ernest Cline
Out: November 24
The highly anticipated sequel to the beloved worldwide bestseller Ready Player One, the "ridiculously fun and large-hearted" (NPR) near-future adventure that inspired the blockbuster Steven Spielberg film.
Kids Staff Favorites
Rosanne recommends these new picture books and middle grade books:
Sometimes People March by Tessa Allen is the perfect book for talking to young people about protest marches. The simple language and spare illustrations makes it workable for kids as young as 3 or 4 who have questions about the protests they see. I would also use this book for kids up to 10 or 12 because it has both diverse illustrations and a history of protest in the United States from the Newsies strike in 1899 to the current Black Lives Matter marches and Climate Strikes. The police and counter-strikers are not depicted at all in this book and no-one is vilified. 
Another picture book tailor made for the times is The Power of One by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Mike Curato. In this story we see a girl deflated by the unkind words of a boy. But then another child responds to her pain with simple and gentle kindness. That one act plants a seed of hope and cooperation in the larger community. The text is poetic and empowering, and the art depicts a repentant boy who instead of being shunned for his mistake is encouraged to join in a community of compassion. The message is simple enough for a preschooler to grasp and powerful enough to use with children much older. 
And here are three middle grade novels perfect for 9 to 14 year olds:
The Artifact Hunters by Janet Fox is like Harry Potter set in a magical school in Scotland. But, unlike Harry Potter, the characters travel through time in an attempt to solve real historical problems and keep the dangers of the world at bay. It's a companion to The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle but stands alone if you want to read them out of order.
Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor is set in contemporary Nigeria. It's a murder mystery with a kid detective, Nnandi, keen to uncover the corruption in his home town and bring his father's murderer to justice. He is aided by a magical golem-like creature who is much influenced by the Nnandi's anger. Fans of the Marvel universe will love it and the go on to devour Okorafor's many novels for teens and adults. 
Debut author James Bird has a winner in The Brave, the story of a boy who feels completely out of step with his father at home and his friends at school. He is sent to live with his mother's people on the Ojibwe reservation, where he learns to value the very talents that caused him trouble before and embrace life fully. It's the best of the Percy Jackson series theme of a misunderstood child finding his power. But the brilliance is, he doesn't need magic; he needs his indigenous culture, all his relatives, and the time and space that nature provides to claim the power he has had within all along.
Karen recommends three recent YA titles on the theme of #MeToo (recommended for more mature readers.)
Red Hood by Alana K. Arnold is definitely about wolves, and about frightened girls, but Bisou Martel isn't willing to play the victim. The second person narration threw me in the first few chapters, but was worth the minor struggle for this variation on the fairy tale.
Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin is a spin on Macbeth, and our protagonist is a Lady bent on revenge. Deep, dark and gritty––just like it should be.

Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno hit home with its amazing manifesto on pages 80-81. Worth it for that section alone!
New in Paperback
by Margaret Atwood
More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results. Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third: Aunt Lydia. Her complex past and uncertain future unfold in surprising and pivotal ways. With The Testaments, Margaret Atwood opens up the innermost workings of Gilead, as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.
by Timothy Snyder
On December 29, 2019, historian Timothy Snyder fell gravely ill. As he clung to life, he found himself reflecting on the fragility of health, not recognized in America as a human right but without which all rights and freedoms have no meaning. And that was before the pandemic. We have since watched American hospitals, long understaffed and undersupplied, buckling under waves of coronavirus patients. The federal government made matters worse through willful ignorance, misinformation, and profiteering. Our system of commercial medicine failed the ultimate test, and thousands of Americans died. In this eye-opening cri de coeur, Snyder traces the societal forces that led us here and outlines the lessons we must learn to survive. In examining some of the darkest moments of recent history and of his own life, Snyder finds glimmers of hope and principles that could lead us out of our current malaise. Only by enshrining healthcare as a human right, elevating the authority of doctors and medical knowledge, and planning for our children's future can we create an America where everyone is truly free.
by Kevin Wilson
Lillian and Madison were unlikely roommates and yet inseparable friends at their elite boarding school. But then Lillian had to leave the school unexpectedly in the wake of a scandal and they’ve barely spoken since. Until now, when Lillian gets a letter from Madison pleading for her help. Madison’s twin stepkids are moving in with her family and she wants Lillian to be their caretaker. However, there’s a catch: the twins spontaneously combust when they get agitated. Thinking of her dead-end life at home, the life that has consistently disappointed her, Lillian figures she has nothing to lose. Over the course of one humid, demanding summer, Lillian and the twins learn to trust each other—and stay cool—while also staying out of the way of Madison’s buttoned-up politician husband. Surprised by her own ingenuity yet unused to the intense feelings of protectiveness she feels for them, Lillian ultimately begins to accept that she needs these strange children as much as they need her—urgently and fiercely. Couldn’t this be the start of the amazing life she’d always hoped for?
by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
With stark poignancy and political dispassion Tightrope addresses the crisis in working-class America while focusing on solutions to mend a half century of governmental failure. Drawing us deep into an "other America," the authors tell this story, in part, through the lives of some of the people with whom Kristof grew up, in rural Yamhill, Oregon. It's an area that prospered for much of the twentieth century but has been devastated in the last few decades as blue-collar jobs disappeared. About a quarter of the children on Kristof's old school bus died in adulthood from drugs, alcohol, suicide, or reckless accidents. While these particular stories unfolded in one corner of the country, they are representative of many places the authors write about, ranging from the Dakotas and Oklahoma to New York and Virginia. With their superb, nuanced reportage, Kristof and WuDunn have given us a book that is both riveting and impossible to ignore.
by Jacqueline Woodson
An unexpected teenage pregnancy pulls together two families from different social classes, and exposes the private hopes, disappointments, and longings that can bind or divide us from each other. Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson's taut and powerful new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of the new child. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives––even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.
edited by Grace Bonney
Over 100 exceptional and influential women describe how they embraced their creative spirit, overcame adversity, and sparked a global movement of entrepreneurship. Editor Grace Bonney talks to established names like Eileen Fisher and Roxane Gay, and women who are just launching their fledgling careers. In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs profiles media titans and ceramicists, hoteliers and tattoo artists, comedians and architects. Taken together, these profiles paint a beautiful picture of what happens when we pursue our passions and dreams.
by Angie Cruz
Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up with in the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she has to say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by Cesar, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay. As the Dominican Republic slides into political turmoil, Juan returns to protect his family’s assets, leaving Cesar to take care of Ana. Suddenly, Ana is free to take English lessons at a local church, lie on the beach at Coney Island, see a movie at Radio City Music Hall, go dancing with Cesar, and imagine the possibility of a different kind of life in America. When Juan returns, Ana must decide once again between her heart and her duty to her family.
Livestream Author Readings
Northwest Mystery Authors
Thursday, September 17, 7pm
Join here!
Annie Bloom's welcomes these Northwest mystery authors for a livestream reading from their new novels. In Washington author Elena Taylor's All We Buried, a body floats to the surface of Lake Collier. Interim sheriff Elizabeth "Bet" Rivers realizes she doesn't know the townspeople as well as she thought, and nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover. Portland author Baron Birtcher's Fistful of Rain is the sequel to 2017's South California Purples. Set in 1975, it is the story of a nation, a rural county, and a small town coming to terms with turbulent change. Oregon author Kathleen Valenti's As Directed is the third in her Maggie O'Malley mystery series. When Maggie embarks on a new career at the corner drugstore, customers start falling ill. As Maggie and her best friend Constantine begin to investigate, they discover that some of the deadliest doses come from the most unexpected places.
Victoria's War
Thursday, September 24, 7pm
Register here!
Annie Bloom's welcomes Portland author Catherine Hamilton for a livestream reading from her novel, Victoria's War. A work of historical fiction, Hamilton's novel is about 19-year-old Victoria Darski, a Polish Catholic woman sold into slavery during the Nazi occupation of Europe, and Etta Tod, the 20-year-old deaf daughter of a German baker who buys Victoria. Victoria's War is a World War II story that hasn't been told before, giving a voice to ethnic Polish women who were kidnapped into the Nazi slave labor operation. This lost chapter of history revealing wartime slavery is not to be forgotten.
Pretty Chrysanthemum and Other Stories
Monday, September 28, 7pm
Join here!
These sixteen stories remind readers how family is at the core of human experience and how relationships, especially those between parent and child, rely on the power of love to overcome challenges. Five stories feature historical content from 1897 through 1971. Eleven contemporary stories pose challenging situations. Throughout these tales, the pull of family, the power of love, and unshakeable human decency prevail.
A Small Crowd of Strangers
Thursday, October 8, 7pm
Register here!
Annie Bloom's welcomes Portland author Joanna Rose for a livestream reading from her new novel, A Small Crowd of Strangers, from Southwest Portland publisher Forest Avenue Press. She will be joined in conversation by fellow local author Stevan Allred. A Small Crowd of Strangers, Joanna Rose's second novel, is part love story, part slightly sideways spiritual journey. Allred's second book, The Alehouse at the End of the World, is a juicy fable for adults, and a hopeful tale for out troubled times.
A View from the Borderline
Thursday, October 15, 7pm
Register here!
A View from the Borderline is a collection of short fiction by Charles Souby that runs the gamut from dark and gritty satire to sweet and serious love. This volume includes a man plotting to poison a park full of pigeons to frame a bothersome old lady; a high school delinquent who falls for a dispossessed girl about to be shipped off to an asylum and a rave promoters' diabolical plot to abduct mindless teenagers for unthinkable purposes. Stories in this collection have appeared in the Saturday Evening Post Online, E-Fiction Magazine and the Opening Line.
Reading and Conversation
Tuesday, October 27, 7pm
Register here!
Annie Bloom's welcomes Portland authors David Biespiel and Vanessa Veselka for a livestream reading and conversation about their new books. Biespiel's A Place of Exodus tells the story of the rise and fall of his Jewish boyhood in Texas, and his search for the answer to his life's central riddle. After a near-forty-year exile, Biespiel returns for a day to the world he left behind as a different person. In Vanessa Veselka's The Great Offshore Grounds, when half sisters Cheyenne and Livy meet with their estranged father, he gives them a name––a stunning family secret. They each set out on journeys that will test their faith in one another, as well as their definitions of freedom.
In Case You Missed it
Check out Annie Bloom's new YouTube channel! This is where you can watch previous livestream author events that you might have missed, like Jeff Wallach, Kim Johnson, poetry readings, and more to come.
E-Gift Cards
We now offer an alternative to physical gift cards. E-gift cards are available in any amount, from $5 to $200. The e-gift card will be emailed to the recipient and can be used online at our website. Of course, our good ol' Molly Bloom physical gift cards are still available, too.
Thank You!
Thank You for Your Continued Support!
While our store remains closed to browsing, our website is always open! We offer curbside pickup on prepaid orders, in addition to several shipping and delivery options. (See our website for more details.)
Looking for other ways to support Annie Bloom's? Please visit one of our affiliates, below. Audiobooks
Support Annie Bloom's by purchasing audiobooks through, an indie vendor dedicated to indie bookstores. They offer the same deep catalog of audiobooks as Audible at the same prices. You can choose various membership options or shop à la carte. Click to visit our store.
Kobo eBooks
Are you an ebook reader? Head over to Annie Bloom's Kobo store, where your ebook purchases also support independent bookstores (including Annie Bloom's, of course).
Street Books
Street Books is a bicycle-powered mobile library, serving people who live outside. Street Books strives to empower people on the streets through access to literature and create a community of support for people living outside, through a shared love of books. Annie Bloom's Books is partnering with Street Books by offering 10% off books purchased for their wish list. To view that wish list and to find out more about Street Books, please see: Our Street Books Page
Annie Bloom's Books | 503-246-0053 | 7834 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland, OR 97219