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Rodie landed on the island long before nearly all of us. She earned her bookseller chops at the wonderful Madison Park Books before she joined us. Our maven of high end literature, she spends an equal amount of time combing the racks for odd titles. You might be wise to resist her efforts to sell you “How to Sit,” but not so wise if you otherwise spurn her recommendations.
In this big-hearted Mexican-American family epic, a burial and final birthday celebration bring together a large and complicated family. Although death plays a central part, this story is much more of a celebration of life, with the best ending ever!
If I had to choose three phrases to describes Burke’s mysteries, (besides riveting, laugh-out-loud funny, and highly addictive) I would pick intelligent, insightful, and vividly atmospheric. This one, the latest in Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series, includes, as always, a cast of edgy, psychologically complex characters in a superlative thriller set in New Orleans and the bayous of Louisiana. Robicheaux—a wily and charming Cajun detective—and his partner, super-tough Clete, go after an unsavory lot involved in murder, drugs, prostitution, vice and corruption. An edge-of-your-seat drama rich in historical detail and evocative, seductive prose, this is another gem from a master storyteller. I promise you won’t be bored! ~ Rodie
An explanation of aging, death, and the reality of those subjects in America, as well as how the medical profession has lost sight of caring for our aging population.
This novel, based on Texas frontier history, is my favorite work by a grea author. In 1870, curmudgeonly, 71-year-old Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is hired to return a 10-year-old orphan named Johnanna to family in South Texas. Kidnapped by Kiowa raiders, raised as their own and subsequently rescued by the army, Johanna has no memory of her white past and tries to escape at every opportunity. Despite this, she begins to trust the "Kep-dun" and a bond is formed. Arriving in San Antonio, Captain Kidd finds he must make a terrible decision about Johanna's fate. With wonderful prose and wonderful characters, this book is a heart-grabber!
This is a taut thriller about a 19th century whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle. Vivid narrative and an utterly terrifying killer will make you forget everything going on around you. Think Cormac McCarthy at minus 50 degrees below!
While bedridden by an illness, a friend brought Bailey a gift of wild violets and a tiny forest snail. Bailey gave her new companion a bedside terrarium, then observed its daily behaviors and educated herself on the life of gastropods. Her memoir is a gift to the scientifically curious, to nature lovers, to anyone who simply appreciates literary aplomb. It is an absorbing treatise on the intricate synergy of our world, and on Baily's singular battle to survive. It is a flawless melding of the scientific and the mystic.
This small treasure is a delightful collection of reproductions of bird art from international artists and illustrators, both historical and contemporary. The art is interspersed with text about the artists, their work, and snippets of unusual bird facts. A beautifully bound paperback with a very reasonable price, it's the perfect gift for the bird or art lover on your list.
Evocative, tender, brutal and disturbing. Masterful writing. Haunting!
Atmospheric, steamy, gripping. A book to lose yourself in, this is my favorite novel of the year!
It has been three years since Blue Gadsby lost her twin sister, Iris. She feels lost, friendless and invisible. To remain on the periphery, Blue becomes a videographer, recording the Gadsby family in all their eccentricity, including an older sister who’s a drama queen and two younger siblings who adore their pet rats and hold rat races for them in small model sports cars. Blue’s parents are never at home, bringing more angst to a wobbly household. Turmoil is heightened when Joss, a new-boy-next-door, upsets the fragile family dynamic. There is much to love about this achingly sad and laugh-out-loud funny book. I found it irresistible. Ages 10 & up. ~ Rodie
I was hooked by the first sentence of this marvelous, witty and magical book: “On the morning of its first birthday, a baby was found floating in a cello case in the middle of the English Channel.” Baby Sophie is rescued by the eccentric bachelor Charles Maxim. Bookish Charles, now her sole guardian, has little experience with children. Their quirky lifestyle attracts the attention of child services, who wish to place Sophie in an orphanage. Sophie and Charles flee to Paris, where Sophie meets Matteo and his talented gang and becomes a rooftopper, mastering the art of moving stealthily from rooftop to rooftop. I hope this wonderful book is the first in a possible series, as I have learned from the astute Charles: “Never ignore a possibility!” Ages 9-12. ~ Rodie
This masterful account of poor people in Mumbai leading desperate lives in slums adjacent to luxury hotels, written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Boo, is eye-opening and mind-blowing. It is not an easy read, but everyone should read it! ~
The rewards are many in this masterfully powerful debut novel that fuses a grand and terrible beauty with an elegant, richly layered narrative. Having at its core a handful of characters and two main settings—a village in Chechnya and a city hospital in the same country—the story juxtaposes the hurt that humans, sects, and governments wreak upon each other, against the sustaining forces of kinship, friendship, love and survival. What emerges from the pain and devastation is a convincing affirmation of the place of the child in our universe. This is the most moving novel I have read in a long time. ~ John & Rodie
When the United States was recovering from the War for Independence, trade was the answer and China was where the money lay. The U.S. had ginseng, furs, silver, and sandalwood; China had porcelain ware, silk, and tea, to which the new country was addicted. China was a sophisticated country of 300 million people with a rich history of discovery and invention. The U.S. was an agrarian society of two million. The voyage between them was long and dangerous, and there was no shortage of competition. This entertaining book follows the adventures of the brave people who set sail, first in small slow boats and later in the swift clippers. It is a highly informative and well written look at how the first millionaires made their fortunes. ~ Rodie
When pruning time comes around in the garden, there are definitely right ways and wrong ones to go about it. The best advice comes from Turnbull, the founder of Plant Amnesty. Her book, now in its third edition, gives clear instructions and illustrations for many individual plants, shrubs and trees. Enormously helpful even for a novice, this book is a must-have for Northwest gardeners. Your plants and trees will thank you. Snip, snip, snip!
I've never read an Anne Fadiman essay I didn't like. This is a lovely book to savor in bits and pieces-twelve charming observations on life, love, and literature that are, to this reader, as addicting as Fadiman's passion for Haagen Dazs ice cream. I keep going back for more!
Getting Stoned with Savages chronicles Troost's return to the South Pacific, this time to Vanuatu and then to Fiji. Of course, misadventure is not far behind, unavoidable in true Troost fashion. His descriptions of hurricanes, cyclones, cannibalism, native dress, and kava-induced stupors made my stomach ache, but I couldn't put the book down.
The Sex Lives of Cannibals follows Troost to Tarawa, a remote island in the Kiribati Republic. Expecting a tropical Eden, the author finds himself in what looks like a pilot for Survivor. After battling intense heat, polluted water, unusual sanitation practices, toxic fish, crazy natives and non-natives alike, and corrupt government officials, Troost returns to the States-and to his beloved coffee and beer-only to find life in the U.S. a bit stifling.
Fadiman's first essay collection is one of my all-time favorite books. This, in itself, is amazing because in high school I found essay-reading to be, in Ms. Fadiman's words, a complete snore. I avoided essays like the plague. Then I caught the Fadiman bug: I discovered Ex Libris and now, to my great delight, her latest, At Large and At Small.