Monday, February 28, 2011

Newest from Chelsea Cain

Did you see Jeff Baker's article on Chelsea Cain and her writing process in Sunday's Oregonian? It was the first in an occasional series of articles he'll be doing, looking into the "hows and whys of writing." Good stuff! And good timing too, because the newest book in Cain's Portland-based series goes on sale tomorrow. In The Night Season, Portland detective Archie Sheridan and Oregonian reporter Susan Ward both return, but they are hunting a different serial killer, as Gretchen Lowell, the evil beauty of Cain's first three books (Heartsick, Sweetheart, and Evil at Heart), is in jail...for now. While I'm not a big reader of thrillers, I'm really enjoying this series because she marries chilly dread with irreverent humor, so the menacing mood isn't nonstop. I'm looking forward to reading her newest one.

In his article, Baker noted that January Jones (who plays Betty Draper on the AMC series "Mad Men") has taken an option on Cain's series because she's interested in playing Gretchen Lowell. I think she could pull it off; she can be pretty creepy. He also mentioned that Cain is thinking about starting another Portland-based series -- happy news for all of us!

March Events at Broadway Books

March events at Broadway Books are now up on our website -- just click on the "Events" tab. We start this month's offerings the day after tomorrow with Dan DeWeese and his debut novel, You Don't Love This Man, and conclude with an Irishish St. Patrick's Day featuring Ger Killeen and Brian Doyle in our Comma Reading Series. In between we'll host Gemma Whelan, John Keeble, Don Colburn, and Oz Hopkins Koglin, for some fiction and some poetry. Hope to see you soon!

Friday, February 25, 2011

West of Here -- and a Bonus!

I'm having fun reading a new novel, West of Here, by Jonathan Evison, set in the fictional Olympic Peninsula town of Port Bonita, in America's last frontier. The novel travels back and forth in time between the late 1800s and 2006, as Port Bonita travels from its hopeful, forward-looking genesis to its contemporary sad-sack town. Evison paints a vast canvas with gorgeous descriptions of the northwest and a wide array of characters. It's a book I'm finding hard to put down (which makes work a challenge) because I want to know what's going to happen next with each character.

Here's what one reviewer had to say: "Evison bravely sets out to conquer big stories and big themes, and the result is a daring, gorgeously structured, and deeply satisfying expedition of a novel. West of Here deftly connects lives and centuries, pipe dreams and fierce realities, the sensibilities of the modern with the storytelling punch of the classic." (James P. Othmer)

And one of my favorite writers, Jim Lynch (The Highest Tide, Border Songs), calls it a "creative bonanza of a novel," and says Evison writes "with a big, playful heart."

Evison's debut novel, All About Lulu, was published in 2008 to critical acclaim, winning the Washington State Book Award. In 2009, he was awarded a Richard Buckley Fellowship from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. Algonquin editor Chuck Adams (Water for Elephants, A Reliable Wife, An Arsonist's Guide to Writers Homes in New England) has called West of Here the best novel he's worked on in more than four decades of publishing. In his teens, Evison was the founding member and frontman of the Seattle punk band March of Crimes, which included future members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. Born in San Jose, California, he now lives on an island in Western Washington.

In the contemporary Port Bonita, characters often gather at the Bushwhacker bar and knock down a few beers, usually a Kilt Lifter. How would you like your very own Kilt Lifter beer glass? We have a handful at the store, and will happily give you one with each copy of West of Here that you purchase. How's that for a deal?

Here's a brief video documentary by Mark McKnight in which Evison discusses his writing process.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Some Sci-Fi Fantasy News

We don't sell TONS of science fiction/fantasy literature, but we do have some steady readers and steady
sellers in these areas. Much of what we sell falls into the young adult category. The finalists for this year's Nebula Awards were recently announced, and here are the finalists in the YA category:

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy:
  • Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
  •  White Cat, Holly Black (McElderry)
  • Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Press; Scholastic UK)
  •  Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, Barry Deutsch (Amulet)
  • The Boy from Ilysies, Pearl North (Tor Teen)
  • I Shall Wear Midnight, Terry Pratchett (Gollancz; Harper)
  • A Conspiracy of Kings, Megan Whalen Turner (Greenwillow)
  • Behemoth, Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse; Simon & Schuster UK)

The awards will be presented in a ceremony on Saturday, May 21st, in Washington, DC. To learn more about the awards and about the finalists in the other categories, visit the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America page about the Nebula Awards weekend. 
And while I'm on the topic of SciFi, I'm thrilled to report that we will finally see Book 2 in the series by Patrick Rothfuss, following the very popular book The Name of the Wind. The Wise Man's Fear, Book 2 in the Kingkiller Chronicles, will be published next week in hardcover ($29.95). If you want us to reserve a copy for you, just let us know.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Finalists for 2010 LA Times Book Prizes

The finalists for the 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes have just been announced. Some surprises in the bunch and some not-so-surprising (such as more kudos for Rebecca's Skloot's fabulous book -- coming in paperback in two weeks). The winners will be announced in a ceremony at the LA Times on April 29. Several of these books are on my to-be-read list, including The Lotus Eaters, which arrived recently in paperback and looks intriguing. Here is the complete list of finalists; how many have you read?

  • Miranda Carter, George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I (Knopf)
  • Selina Hastings, The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham (Random House)
  • Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience & Redemption (Random House)
  • Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir (TWELVE/Hachette Book Group)
  • Edmund Morris, Colonel Roosevelt (Random House)
Current Interest:
  • Jonathan Alter, The Promise: President Obama, Year One (Simon & Schuster)
  • Sebastian Junger, War (TWELVE/Hachette Book Group)
  • Michael Lewis, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (W. W. Norton & Company)
  • Joe Nocera & Bethany McLean, All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis (Portfolio/Penguin Group)
  • Patti Smith, Just Kids (Ecco/HarperCollins)
  • Rick Bass, Nashville Chrome (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Richard Bausch, Something is Out There: Stories (Knopf)
  • Jennifer Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad (Knopf)
  • Jonathan Franzen, Freedom (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Frederick Reiken, Day for Night (Reagan Arthur Books/Hachette Book Group)
Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction:
  • Peter Bognanni, The House of Tomorrow (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam)
  • Leslie Jamison, The Gin Closet (Free Press/Simon & Schuster)
  • Michael Sledge, The More I Owe You (Counterpoint)
  • Christine Sneed, Portraits of a Few People I’ve Made Cry: Stories (University of Massachusetts Press)
  • Tatjana Soli, The Lotus Eaters (St. Martin’s Press)
Graphic Novel:
  • Adam Hines, Duncan the Wonder Dog: Show One (Adhouse Books)
  • Dash Shaw, Bodyworld (Pantheon)
  • Karl Stevens, The Lodger (KSA Publishing)
  • C. Tyler, You’ll Never Know, Book Two: Collateral Damage (Fantagraphics)
  • Jim Woodring, Weathercraft (Fantagraphics)
  • Ron Chernow, Washington: A Life (The Penguin Press)
  • John W. Dower, Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq (W. W. Norton & Company and The New Press)
  • Susan Dunn, Roosevelt’s Purge: How FDR Fought To Change the Democratic Party (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press)
  • Thomas Powers,The Killing of Crazy Horse (Knopf)
  • Steven Solomon,Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization (HarperCollins)
Mystery / Thriller:
  • Tom Franklin, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (William Morrow)
  • Tana French, Faithful Place (Viking)
  • Laura Lippman, I’d Know You Anywhere (William Morrow)
  • Stuart Neville, Collusion (SoHo Press)
  • Kelli Stanley, City of Dragons (Minotaur Books/A Thomas Dunne Book)
  • Henri Cole, Pierce the Skin: Selected Poems, 1982-2007 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Maxine Kumin, Where I Live: New & Selected Poems 1990-2010 (W. W. Norton & Company)
  • Yehoshua November, God’s Optimism (Main Street Rag)
  • Craig Santos Perez, From Unincorporated Territory {Saina} (Omnidawn)
  • Ed Roberson, To See the Earth Before the End of the World (Wesleyan University Press)
Science & Technology:
  • Oren Harman, The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness (W. W. Norton & Company)
  • Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (Scribner)
  • Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (Bloomsbury USA)
  • Lauren Redniss, Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout (It Books/HarperCollins)
  • Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Crown)
Young Adult Literature:
  • Marc Aronson & Marina Budhos, Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom and Science (Clarion Books)
  • Stephanie Hemphill, Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials (Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins)
  • Jonathan Stroud, The Ring of Solomon (Disney/Hyperion Books for Children)
  • Megan Whalen Turner, A Conspiracy of Kings (Greenwillow/HarperCollins)
  • Rick Yancey, The Curse of the Wendigo (The Monstrumologist) (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Comma Launches Tonight with Cody & Johnson

We're so excited about the launch of Comma, a new reading series organized by local writer Kirsten Rian. The series launches TONIGHT at Broadway Books at 7 pm. Please join us to hear local writers Robin Cody and Harold Johnson, two of our favorite writers, customers, and friends. Next month's Comma (Thursday, March, 17th) will feature Brian Doyle and Ger Killeen, two authors quite appropriate to read on St. Patrick's Day. Comma will continue on the third Thursday each month at the store.

The wonderful website Reading Local has a good description of tonight's events and the featured authors; check out their website to learn more about tonight's events and about all things literary in the Portland area.

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's a Win-Win Situation for Love

 Valentine's Day is just around the corner -- Monday, to be exact -- and we're offering you a little Valentine of our own: Come buy $50 or more worth of merchandise in the store, and we'll take $10 off your total purchase. So you can buy a book and a card for your sweetie, some chocolate to share, and toss in a book for yourself as well! What a deal.We have lots of great Valentine-related books to choose from, including some cute new "mailable" books, plus oodles of other delightful books. That's the wonderful thing about bookstores: irresistible new books arrive every day! The sale lasts until Monday night at 7 pm., so come see us soon! And please share this good news with all of your friends. Here's wishing a big Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wow. I Just Finished a Terrific Book

Several years ago I plucked a nonfiction book off the shelves at my local independent bookstore, and a blurb on the back cover said something to the effect of  "Every American should read this book and read it today." So I did. (Yes, I really am just that impressionable.) The book was The Working Poor: Invisible in America, by David K. Shipler, and it opened my eyes to an aspect of our culture that I hadn't given much thought to before. (Although now, with the financial wherewithal of a co-owner of a small independent bookstore, it's much more familiar to me now.)

I think the novel The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, with it's draw-back-the-curtain look at the life of African American maids in the South has resonated with people for a similar reason. It's a view into a part of our culture and history that they might not have thought about before.

The book I just finished reading, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, should also have that advice on its back cover, that every American should read this book and read it today, as it gives us an eye-opening in-depth view into the lives of the almost six million black citizens who migrated north and west from the South between 1915 and 1970. It's not always easy to read their stories -- the cruelties and harm they suffered are unthinkable -- but it's important. "By the time the Great Migration was over," the author writes, "few Americans had not been touched by it."

Most of us have read at least a story or two about foreign immigrants coming to this country -- what drove them to leave (potato famine, war, cruelty and abuse, lack of opportunity or freedom, etc), the courage it took for them to leave their homes and families to move some place unfamiliar with different rules and customs and cultures and in some cases languages, and the challenges and discrimination they faced in their newly adopted homes. But how many of us have read about the African Americans in our own country, who basically lived out similar stories?

The Warmth of Other Suns is a fascinating story, beautifully told by Isabel Wilkerson, Director of Narrative Nonfiction at Boston University and herself the offspring of two who migrated out of the South. She is also the winner of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing while she was the Chicago bureau chief of The New York Times -- the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism.Wilkerson's organizational structure is genius: She tells the individual stories of three people -- a woman who left Mississippi in the '30s to move to Chicago, a man who left Florida in the '40s to move to New York City, and a man who left Louisiana in the '50s to move to California -- to tell the larger (and previously mostly untold) story of The Great Migration.

"I wanted to convey the intimate stories of people who had dared to make the crossing," the author says. She conducted preliminary interviews with more than two hundred people to find the three subjects whose stories she would tell in depth. She then interviewed her primary and secondary subject for "dozens, if not hundreds of hours," interviewing witnesses, cohorts and family members, wading through dozens of scholarly works of the times, reading newspaper accounts dating back to 1900, and researching census, military, railroad, school, state, and municipal records, all to confirm or clarify what she learned in the interviews. She even reenacted all or part of each subject's migration route.

This book has been selling strongly at the store -- in part because almost everyone who buys a copy and starts reading it comes back to buy at least one more to give away to a friend or relative. I wrote about this book in December as part of our 24 Days of Books blog (you'll also find a short video of the author with that post), but I had only read snippets of it at that time. Now that I have finished the entire book I can say, wholeheartedly, everyone should read this book. Today. David Levering Lewis, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography, calls it "an American masterpiece" and "a stupendous literary success." I couldn't agree more. The book was recently named a finalist for this year's National Book Critics Circle award for nonfiction, and The New York Times named it one of the top five nonfiction books of 2010. If you haven't gathered by now, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is phenomenal -- with the added bonus of a gorgeous cover, a beautiful font, and quality paper. Just a delightful reading experience all the way around.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Return of Flavia de Luce in Book Three

One of the most highly acclaimed new mystery series in recent years has been the delightful Flavia de Luce series, written by Alan Bradley. I wrote about the first book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, when it came out in 2009. The second book, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, was published in 2010. These books have received several awards from readers and organizations, including the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger Award, Barry Award, Agatha Award, MacCavity Award, Dilys Winn Award, and Arthur Ellis Award.

Today the third book in the series comes out (and at the same time the paperback version of The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag): A Red Herring Without Mustard. When I first wrote about the series, I described it as Nancy Drew meets Harriet the Spy for grown-ups. The newest installment once again features the unflappable, insidiously clever, and just a little bit cheeky eleven-year-old sleuth Flavia de Luce, living in a broken down mansion with her father and sisters in the hamlet of Bishop's Lacey in post-WWII rural England.

The Red Herring Without Mustard involves a cantankerous old Gypsy woman who reads Flavia's palm, a murdered local layabout, and a village baby who went missing years ago. Flavia's deceased mother, Harriet, also plays a role.

While I haven't yet read the newest book, I expect it to once again tickle my fancy. The books are terrific for anyone who appreciates a little whimsy and clever humor with their mysteries and who isn't keen on gore and high body counts. I highly recommend the series, and it's been quite popular with our customers.

Monday, February 7, 2011

February Events at Broadway Books

February events are now posted on our website. This month we are launching a new reading salon organized by Kirsten Rian, which debuts on February 17th. The reading series of local authors in different genres will be held at Broadway Books the third Thursday of each month. Kirsten has lined up some great authors!

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Valentine's Gift for All of our Friends

Valentine's Day swiftly approaches, and we want to make sure you're feeling the love -- our love for you! So, how about a special Valentine's sale??? Here goes: Buy $50 or more of any items in the store at one time, and we'll give you $10 off the total sale. The sale starts Saturday, February 5th, and goes through Monday, February 14th.

We've got a whole table full of great Valentine gift ideas, plus oodles of wonderful cards, from silly to sappy and everything in between. And the great new books keep pouring in every day. [Currently I'm loving The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson. I'm about three quarter of the way through, and when I finish it I'm going to dive into a new novel about a fictional city in the Olympic Peninsual: West of Here, by Jonathan Evison. I'm very excited about that one as well.] Plus a ton of great books recently released in paperback.

Won't you be our Valentine and take advantage of this great offer? Did I mention we have chocolate? In addition to the yummy bars from Theo, we have decadent guilt-and-smile-inducing chocolate caramels in various flavors, all organic and free trade. Yum. Times two. [Fine print: this special cannot be combined with any other discount, coupon, pink card, or gift certificate. But it's still a heckova deal.]

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sally's 2011 Reading Challenge

Are you one for reading challenges? I've never done one myself; my only challenge each year is to try to whittle down my to-be-read piles, a logistically impossible task since I add to them much more frequently than I take from them.

But lately I've been intrigued by the notion of a book challenge, especially one that might motivate me to read some books outside of my comfort zone. I tend to read narrative nonfiction and literary fiction predominantly, with an occasional mystery tossed in to "cleanse my palate" between those -- a sort of "literary sherbet," if you will. Perhaps a reading challenge might be just the thing to get me to delve into, say, a science fiction or fantasy title, or a book by an Irish writer (that bugaboo is too long to go into in this blog), or a graphic novel (it's been a while) this year.

Are there genres that you avoid? Would a reading challenge motivate you to try something new? Here are some suggestions of challenges compiled by Laura Miller at I particularly like the Chunkster Challenge -- might be just the thing to get me reading The Instructions, by Adam Levin, which covers only four days but clocks in at more than a thousand pages! I tend to shy away from books of such girth, because I have so many other books that I want to read and, sadly, my reading speed seems to have slowed substantially with age. I also rarely read (or reread, as the case may be) classics any more, because I feel the need to keep up with all of the new books being published. I would definitely like to revisit some of those.

For many people, book clubs can function to help them avoid reading ruts, but I am not a book clubber (my stubborn nature won't allow me to be told what to read), so I have to try other techniques. Given my tendency to set grandiose New Year's resolutions that I toss by the roadside by February, I think I'll start small and attainable: Sally's Reading Challenge in 2011: Read three books in the next year that I wouldn't typically put on my reading list. There. That sounds doable. And even a little exciting. Now I just have to figure out specifically what those three books will be. How about you? Want to tackle a reading challenge this year? Tell me what you're going to read.

Chat with the Author of Unbroken

Another one of our bestselling nonfiction books of 2010 (and still going strong) is Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption,  by Laura Hillenbrand (who also wrote Seabiscuit). Now you can participate in on online discussion of the book with the author and other readers through a book-club-meets-social-media experiment that NPR is hosting.

NPR will be facilitating discussions of the book on Facebook and Twitter and at through the month of February, culminating in an online chat with the author near the end of the month. You can find more details about the Unbroken discussion here. Everyone I have spoken to who has read the book raves about it, and the bit that I have read tell me it's a definite page-turner.