A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods


Greenwood author Dennis Ortblad publishes thriller about Nazi gold trains

September 16th, 2015 by Doree

Greenwood author Dennis Ortblad has just published “The Berlin-Breslau Affair,” a thriller about an American diplomat’s pursuit of an international ring that is smuggling Nazi gold and art treasures excavated in Poland.

It’s fortuitous timing, after recent news that a Nazi gold train may have been discovered in a tunnel complex in southern Poland. Ortblad tells me some key scenes in his novel take place in that exact spot, a Nazi tunnel near Walbrzych in Poland, code named ‘Riese’ by the Nazis.


Ortblad has lived in Greenwood for the last five years after retiring from the State Department as a Foreign Service officer.

“In my thriller, I drew on my familiarity with the workings of an embassy and the conflicts surrounding the work of a diplomat,” he told me by email. “Of course, my descriptions of contemporary Germany and Poland rely on impressions during my work in those countries.

The Berlin-Breslau Affair, is set in contemporary Central Europe, where a U.S. diplomat finds that an influential Berlin think tank is using Nazi wealth to shift political opinion in Germany.

Targeting readers who enjoy continental settings that still bear the marks of WWII, the story swiftly moves from Dresden’s Elbe River promenade, along Berlin-Mitte’s Unter den Linden, to the Hitler bunker hidden beneath Furstenstein Castle in Poland’s Sudety mountains. While treading the terrain of a political thriller, the novel also authentically depicts the atmosphere and working of a large U.S. embassy. Its setting in Germany and Poland closely hews to historical places and events.

The murder of an African-American Fulbright scholar in Dresden leads David Ames, a political officer at the embassy in Berlin, into the shifting allegiances of intelligence services, including the CIA. He uncovers a plot by German nationalists to regain lands lost to Poland after WWII. They finance their conspiracy with the sale of art and gold stolen by the Nazis and long hidden in tunnels built near Breslau (the city of Wroclaw in today’s Poland).

The book is available at both our neighborhood bookstores, Couth Buzzard and Phinney Books, and as an e-book from Amazon.

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Phinney Ridge author Kari Aguila set to publish second book

September 3rd, 2015 by Doree

KariAguila-resizedAward-winning Phinney Ridge author Kari Aguila is ready to publish her second book, “Run Ragged,” the sequel to “Women’s Work,” which won an IndieReader Discovery Award. Her books look at gender stereotypes and relationships in a “dystopic future.”

She has a Kickstarter campaign to help get it published.

Fifteen years after the Last War devastated families and infrastructure, women have taken over under the banner of peace and equality. Only too late do they realize it’s a slippery slope to oppression. In RUN Ragged, Rhia, a strong and independent sea captain finds herself trapped in The Center, a re-education facility designed to help people fit into the rules of the new matriarchal society. The warden claims to be guiding those in her care, but Rhia quickly sees the cracks in the system. Faced with the terrifying torture and brainwashing the warden inflicts, those cracks become gaping holes that threaten to pull Rhia down into the depths of despair. Can she resist this slow subversion and become the reluctant hero the inmates need?

RUN RAGGED-resized

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Greenwood illustrator, graphic designer Frida Clements publishing new book, ‘Have a Little Pun’

July 2nd, 2015 by Doree

Greenwood illustrator and graphic designer Frida Clements will publish her new book, “Have a Little Pun: An Illustrated Play on Words,” on Aug. 11.


Clements’ work is well known in the local music scene, having been commissioned to produce artwork for local events like Sasquatch! and the Northwest Folklife Festival, and also designing posters for major touring acts like Sleater-Kinney, Modest Mouse, Wilco, Iron + Wine, Andrew Bird and others.

Chronicle Books will also release a line of 16 note cards featuring some of Clements’ illustrations from the book.

The book will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Chronicle Books.

Clements is having a book launch party from 6-9 p.m. on Aug. 12 at 1927 Events, 222 Mercer St. Free tickets must be reserved here.

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Greenwood author Donna Chavis publishes ‘H is for Hen: Chickens A-Z’

June 25th, 2015 by Doree

Greenwood author Donna Chavis has just published her first book, “H is for Hen: Chickens A-Z,” an alphabet book all about chickens with colorful graphics and simple text for preschool-age kids.



Chavis studied English at the University of Utah. She and her family live in Greenwood with a small flock of chickens.

The book is currently available on Amazon, and hopefully at local bookstores soon.

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Greenwood Library hosting several upcoming movies and an author signing

May 7th, 2015 by Doree

There’s a lot happening at the Greenwood Library, 8016 Greenwood Ave. N., in the coming weeks, including several movies and a book signing.

As part of the annual “Seattle Reads” program, designed to get everyone in Seattle reading and discussing the same book, Peter Heller, author of “The Painter,” will sign books (available for purchase) from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 16.

“The Painter” tells the story of Jim Stegner, a famous expressionist painter. He shot a man in a Santa Fe bar for making a lewd comment about his daughter, served a year in prison, and has since struggled to manage the dark impulses that sometimes overtake him. Stegner suffered a tragedy that he’s still grieving. He now lives in rural Colorado in a beautiful, peaceful valley where he spends his days painting, reading, and fly-fishing. Stegner is living a quiet life… until the day he comes across a hunting guide beating a small horse, and a brutal act of new violence rips his life wide open. Pursued by men dead set on retribution, Stegner returns to New Mexico and the high-profile life he left behind, where he’ll reckon with past deeds and the dark shadows in his own heart.

On Thursday, May 28, patrons can watch “Good Hair” (PG-13) from 6-8 p.m., as part of the library’s African-American film series celebrating black actors, directors and films that depict the African-American experience.

Families can build a simple playground out of recycled materials and found objects from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, May 30. Materials provided will include cardboard boxes, glue, fabric, string, tape, PVC pipes and more. This free event is presented in partnership with Pop-Up Adventure Play and Seattle ReCreative.

A free monthly family film series will be shown on the first Sunday of the month, through Aug. 2.

  • “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (G) from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, June 7.
  • “Wall-E” (G) from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, July 5.
  • “Meet the Robinsons” (G) from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 2.

For comedy lovers, the Greenwood Library also is hosting a free film series highlighting Canadian comedian and actor Rick Moranis.

  • “Strange Brew” (PG) at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 4.
  • “Ghostbusters” (PG) at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 11.
  • “Little Shop of Horrors” (PG-13) at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 18.
  • “Spaceballs” (PG) at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 25.

Seattle Public Library also recently added The Living Computer Museum to its Museum Pass Program, bringing the total to 14 Seattle museum partners offering free admission to Library cardholders.

The Museum Pass program allows patrons of The Seattle Public Library to use their Library card to check out free museum passes. Participants can reserve a pass to an individual museum once every 30 days, and may use one pass per week. All passes are good for up to two people — some passes even include free admission for kids ages 17 and under.

The program reservation system requires the cardholder enter their Library card number, personal identification number (PIN), choose a specific date, and print the museum pass. To read more details and reserve a museum pass, visit www.spl.org/museumpass.

Other participating museums include: The Burke Museum, The Center for Wooden Boats, EMP Museum, Henry Art Gallery, The Log House Museum, Museum of Flight, Museum of History & Industry, Nordic Heritage Museum, Northwest African American Museum, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Aquarium, Seattle Asian Art Museum and Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

And SPL also has added several new magazine titles to its digital collection, including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, GQ, Bon Appetit, Vogue, Glamour and Architectural Digest.

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Celebrate our two bookstores at Saturday’s Independent Bookstore Day

April 29th, 2015 by Doree

We are very lucky to have two independent bookstores in our neighborhood: Couth Buzzard Books and Phinney Books. And this Saturday we can celebrate them during the first national Independent Bookstore Day.

Couth Buzzard, 8310 Greenwood Ave. N., will offer free books for children, plus they’ll have a Celtic Jam from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and their regular Songwriters in Seattle Monthly Showcase at 7:30 p.m. Both events are free.

Phinney Books, 7405 Greenwood Ave. N., has a full day of activities planned, including hands-on crafts, trivia and prizes, a poem workshop, bind your own book workshop, kids’ story time with Steph, treats from Coyle’s Bakeshop for the first 25 customers, and rotating discounts all day long (10 percent off different letters of the alphabet every hour). Check their event page for the complete list. They’ll be open extended hours that day, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Friends of the Seattle Public Library Book Sale May 2-3 at North Seattle College

April 23rd, 2015 by Doree

The Friends of the Seattle Public Library Book Sale will be on May 2-3 at North Seattle College, 9600 College Way N., just east of Greenwood and near Northgate Mall.

The book sale is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 3, in Room CC1161 and the old cafeteria, located in the College Center building. (Enter from the south side of the campus.) Free parking is available.

Items for sale will include fiction and nonfiction books for all ages, CDs, DVDs, audio books and collectible books. Items will sell for $1 to $3. All items will sell for half-price on Sunday. Attendees are encouraged to bring a reusable bag or wheeled suitcase for their purchases.

The Friends of The Seattle Public Library is a non-profit, grassroots organization dedicated to promoting the Library as an essential institution of our society. Friends volunteer members advocate, educate and raise funds on behalf of the Library, its patrons and the larger Seattle community.

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Phinney Ridge mom writes children’s book, ‘Even Superheroes Have to Sleep’

March 30th, 2015 by Doree

Sara Crow, Phinney Ridge mom of three little boys, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to publish her new book, “Even Superheroes Have to Sleep.”


Sara wrote the book after struggling to get her boys out of their superhero costumes and in to bed one night. The rhyming story is designed for children ages 1-6 and stars characters such as a scientist, superhero, princess, doctor and pirate. The book is illustrated by Adam Record.

She’s hoping to raise enough money to self-publish the book by August. The Kickstarter campaign ends on May 3.

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2 Greenwood authors have new books

March 5th, 2015 by Doree

Pieces_of_Home_Cover-resizedGreenwood author and poet A. B. McFarland has just published her first novel, “Pieces of Home,” which is set in Seattle.

Pieces of Home is about a young hermit who loses her Seattle home in a fire and ends up staying with a family she barely knows. Still reeling from her divorce and the loss of her restaurant business, and with no trusted family to fall back on, she goes to stay with her classmate Iya Forsythe and his eccentric relatives. She soon finds herself intensely curious about the puzzling Forsythe family, headed by Orvie and his brother, Marlow. Thrust into the role of part-time parent to an eleven-year-old girl with anger management issues and a fourteen-year-old boy hung up on the contents of a jar in his desk drawer, Skye begins to find the strength to cope with her estranged brother, while picking up the pieces of her own life. Written in the form of a diary, Pieces of Home takes an honest but humorous look at the emotional factors that lead to homelessness, violence and trauma in families.

McFarland says Couth Buzzard Books at 8310 Greenwood Ave. N. has a few copies of “Pieces of Home” on consignment. The book also is available on Amazon.

And another Greenwood author, Deborah Bacharach, will read from her new book of poetry, “After I Stop Lying,” from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, March 15, at the Greenwood Branch, 8016 Greenwood Ave. N.

Bacharach is a poet and essayist and has been published in over 100 journals nationwide. She was the 2015 Poetry on Buses featured poet for the week of Jan. 26, and was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Bacharach is a freelance writing consultant who lives in the Greenwood neighborhood with her partner and two children.

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