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Jennifer Torres’ debut novel, “Stef Soto, Taco Queen,” is one of five children’s books highlighted in Time Magazine’s Dec. 12, 2016, feature TimeOff Kids’ Books.

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Holiday gift ideas: Books, music and more from University of the Pacific authors and artists

Dec 5, 2016

Books and music by University of the Pacific authors and artists make welcome holiday gifts. This year's list includes new jazz and opera recordings, a prize-winning volume of previously unpublished Nez Perce stories, and a scholarly tale of Melania the Elder and Melania the Younger, wealthy Roman women who helped shape Christianity as we know it today. You'll also find detective, historical and young adult fiction. A final gift idea: A membership to OLLI@Pacific, offering a year's worth of academic and general-interest classes for lifelong learners. 

Books - Nonfiction

Encounters with the People: Written and Oral Accounts of Nez Perce Life to 1858"Encounters with the People: Written and Oral Accounts of Nez Perce Life to 1858," by William Swagerty, Washington State University Press, $50, 522 pages. Swagerty, a professor of history and director of the John Muir Center at University of the Pacific, creates this Nez Perce history using previously unpublished stories from unique sources, including Native American oral histories, diaries, reports and maps. Swagerty, along with fellow editors Dennis Baird, a professor emeritus at the University of Idaho, and Diane Mallickan, a Nez Perce and Shoshone-Paiute and park ranger, scoured archives, federal documents and museums to find cultural and environmental history records. The book is the 2016 winner of the Western History Association's Dwight L. Smith Award for the most important bibliographic or research tool in Western Americana.

Melania: Early Christianity Through the Life of One Family"Melania: Early Christianity Through the Life of One Family," by Caroline Schroeder, University of California Press, $95, 344 pages. Schroeder, a professor of religious studies at University of the Pacific, brings together 16 prominent religious studies scholars to look at early Christianity through the eyes of two Roman women, Melania the Elder and her granddaughter, Melania the Younger. The women were major figures in Christian history and used their wealth and status to help shape what we now know as Christianity. The book provides insights on the rise of Christianity and our understanding of women's roles.

City of Flowers: An Ethnography of Social and Economic Change in Costa Rica's Central Valley"City of Flowers: An Ethnography of Social and Economic Change in Costa Rica's Central Valley," by Susan E. Mannon, Oxford University Press, $20, 224 pages. Mannon, an associate professor of sociology at University of the Pacific, writes about social and economic changes in Costa Rica and how people in four different classes handle them. She argues that class, race and gender aspirations and anxieties have a hand in determining those reactions. The book is a volume in a series that looks at issues arising from globalization and how it affects people.


Garlic Capital of the World: Gilroy, Garlic, and the Making of a Festive Foodscape "Garlic Capital of the World: Gilroy, Garlic, and the Making of a Festive Foodscape," by Pauline Adema, University Press of Mississippi, $55 hardcover, $27 paperback, 212 pages. Adema joined University of the Pacific in June as the director of the university's Master of Arts in Food Studies program in San Francisco, the first such program on the West Coast. Adema looks at how food festivals can create brand identity. Specifically, she examines the role that garlic played in developing the successful marketing campaign that made Gilroy the tourist destination it is today.


Books - Fiction

Blood Flag: A Paul Madriani Novel "Blood Flag: A Paul Madriani Novel," by Steve Martini, William Morrow and Co., $19, 336 pages. Martini, a McGeorge School of Law alumnus, writes his 14th thriller novel in the Paul Madriani series. In this latest installment, Martini's attorney character is drawn into a conspiracy dating back to World War II. Madriani's latest client denies she killed her father and believes his death is connected to a package he received from a member of his Army unit. With Madriani's assistant and other members of the Army unit dying under similarly suspicious circumstances, it's time for Madriani to undercover the truth.


Stef Soto, Taco Queen"Stef Soto, Taco Queen," by Jennifer Torres, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $10, 176. This debut novel for Torres, director of community relations at University of the Pacific, is one of five children's books highlighted in Time Magazine's Dec. 12, 2016, feature TimeOff Kids' Books. Torres' contemporary novel for students grades 3-7 tells of Estefania "Stef" Soto's desire for a little independence from her overprotective parents and her wish that they retire her father's taco truck, Tia Perla. She wants to be a normal seventh-grader and with the same material things as her friends. In the end, family and friendship win out.

Dessert First "Dessert First," by Dean Gloster, Merit Press, $17, 304 pages. Gloster, a University of the Pacific alumnus, is a former stand-up comedian, lawyer, and law clerk to two U.S. Supreme Court justices. He writes his first young-adult novel about 16-year-old Kat Monroe. In this moving, bittersweet story, a bone marrow transplant from Kat may be her younger brother's only hope to recover from leukemia. She also has to deal with loss and heartbreak along the way.


The Tsarina's Legacy "The Tsarina's Legacy," by Jennifer Laam, St. Martin's Griffin, $17, 352 pages. In her latest historical novel, Laam, director of advancement services at University of the Pacific and 1994 alumna, connects the Romanov throne of old with a modern-day heiress struggling to decide between royal perks and staying true to herself, while working to safeguard a better future for the country she loves.


2016 music releases

2014-2015 Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet "2014-2015 Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet," Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet, released by Brubeck Institute (University of the Pacific), $10, jazz. The 2014-15 Brubeck Fellows - Lucas Bere, tenor sax; Joel Ross, vibraphone; Sean Britt, guitar; Sarah Kuo, bass; and Jalon Archie, drums  - combine their impressive individual talents to present this CD of 12 songs, all composed or arranged by the fellows. The new release is available on the Brubeck Institute's website: (Click on the "Merchandise" button on the right to find this and other Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet CDs.)

Perspectives On Light and Shadow: Sonatas By Beaser, Ysaÿe, Bartók "Perspectives On Light and Shadow: Sonatas By Beaser, Ysaÿe, Bartók,"
by Ann Miller and Sonia Leong, Hhr, $9 for MP3 download and $14 for CD, classical sonata. Miller and Leong, both on the faculty of University of the Pacific's Conservatory of Music, offer music that represents shadows and darkness giving way to playful light. The CD is available on iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, Spotify, and all other leading digital music outlets.


Medea in Corinto "Medea in Corinto,"
by Giovanni Simone Mayr, Dynamic, $25, opera video. Marco Stefani, a graduate of University of the Pacific's Conservatory of Music, performs the role of "Tideo" in this DVD of one of Mayr's best operas directed by Matteo Ricchetti. It is a story based on Euripides and tells of revenge, jealousy and passion. The two-DVD set is available on Amazon and other leading video outlets.


Lifelong learning

OLLI logoOLLI@Pacific, one of 119 Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes nationwide, offers a rich array of classes and learning opportunities for adults 50 and older. The holiday discount for a gift membership for 2016-17 is $30 and offers the same benefits as an "active member": notices about upcoming speakers, events and enrollment, free on-campus parking, free admission for two to Pacific Conservatory of Music concerts, discounts at Valley Brew Take 5 Jazz club and other performances, and more. Participants can explore academic and general interest classes in a friendly, intellectually challenging environment without the stress of tests and grades. For more information about OLLI@Pacific and a gift membership, visit or call 209.946.7658.

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