Tag Archives: cooking

July

July2016coverIt’s July! Celebrate summer and the  July 4th holiday with your loved ones and enjoy the recommended titles below.

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

dogsofbabelThe Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst, Fiction Parkhurst

This engrossing novel deals with the journey of Paul after the death of his wife Lexy. Lexy fell out of the tree in their yard. The police ruled her death an accident, but Paul suspects it may have been suicide. As the novel progresses, we learn he has good reason to suspect suicide. As we visit Paul’s memories of their marriage, we see that Lexy had issues with anger and impulse control and could sink into deep depressions at times. The only witness to Lexy’s death was their dog, Lorelei, who belonged to Lexy before their marriage. Paul is a professor of linguistics and he comes up with the idea to teach Lexy to speak in order to find out what really happened that day. This idea alienates him from his co-workers, who think he has cracked. Some co-workers ridicule him, while others feel sorry for him and try to discourage him from this project. It is a ridiculous idea, of course – dogs do communicate with humans, but not by speaking English. But Paul is in a desperate state and this project keeps his mind occupied during those first several months of intense grief. His progress with Lorelei  moves slowly, however, prompting Paul to get involved with a dangerous and sick group of people who intentionally mutilate and kill dogs in a quest to get them to speak in human language, thus endangering Lorelei. Paul’s relationship with Lorelei is touching – these are the two beings who loved Lexy the most and they are both grieving her loss. And now Lorelei is all Paul has left of Lexy. In the end, Lorelei does help him to learn the truth of the events of that day, but not by talking. The novel treats the issues of mental illness and suicide with sensitivity. We see the tragedy of mental illness and the toll it takes on the loved ones of those affected by it. Paul’s desperate search for meaning after such a loss is heart-breakingly sad, but redemptive in the end. After all Paul has had to go through to get to the point of acceptance, he is able to find peace and move forward with his life.

everyonebraveEveryone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, New Fiction Cleave

This novel begins the day England declares war against Germany and goes through the first few years of WWII, through the summer of 1942 after the Americans arrive in England. The main characters are Mary, Alistair, and Tom, three young people living in London when war is declared. Mary is only 18 and grabs at the chance to volunteer to get her out of finishing school. She is the daughter of a well-to-do family and is very naive as the book opens. She is envisioning being a spy and thinks it must be a joke when they send her to teach at a school. Much to her surprise, she finds that she enjoys teaching and becomes attached to the students she is assigned to teach once the majority of London’s children have been evacuated. Those left are the crippled, mentally handicapped, and a black boy from America named Zachary, with whom Mary develops a strong bond. When Mary is assigned to teach, she meets Tom, a school administrator who has not signed up because he believes passionately in teaching and feels he can serve best by staying behind. Tom’s roommate, Alistair, signs up the day war is declared. First he is sent to France, then Malta. As the war goes on, we see how each character changes as a result of their war experiences. Mary and Tom are caught in the Blitz where the horror of the war is brought home daily, while Alistair sees his men die brutally in battle and then faces starvation due to the Axis blockade of Malta. Mary is the central character and she undergoes quite a transformation, from spoiled, naive rich girl to a much deeper and caring person. We see class and racial prejudice in action and also understand how this began to change after the war. The novel has emotional depth to it and each character is well-drawn and believable.

allwintersafterAll the Winters After by Seré Prince Halverson, New Fiction Halverson

This is a beautiful story about family, love, healing from loss, and taking chances to make a better life for yourself. Twenty years after his parents and brother were killed in a plane crash in their home state of Alaska, Kache returns home for the first time since the crash to visit his ailing grandmother. He has never properly grieved the loss of his family or faced his guilt over their deaths, so his life has been meaningless the last 20 years – not really living, but just sleepwalking through each day. He believes that their home and land has been rented out these 20 years, but his Aunt Eleanor tearfully admits to him that she never had the courage to go back to the homestead, suffering her own guilt over the crash. Kache expects the house to be beyond repair after so many years, but he discovers a young Russian woman named Nadia living in the house. She has been there for the last 10 years, hiding away from her own past tragedy.

All these characters are stuck in time, not able to move forward from tragedy. When Kache and Nadia find each other, they help one another to face the past and be able to live fully again, while Eleanor also blossoms into herself and finds happiness. The story is absorbing and the Alaskan wilderness itself is a character in the book, its magnificent beauty as well as danger an integral part of the lives of the characters.

Dagmar – Circulation

Summer can be a season in which food is greatly celebrated and enjoyed. We associate summers with family get-togethers, with grilling and barbecue garden parties, festive picnics, etc. Food and fun is the theme of the season and that is why I decided to write about food for the month of July. I believe that many readers are familiar with the name Ruth Reichl, a famous chef food and restaurant critic and a gifted food writer. Her books make a perfect summer reading for both their engaging, very personal writing style, and, of course, for her delicious recipes. “Reading Ruth Reichl on food is almost as good as eating it,” wrote the Washington Post Book World. “While all good food writers are humorous…few are so riotously effortlessly entertaining as Ruth Reichl,” commented the New York Times Book Review.

tenderattheboneHer first book, Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table, is a delicious memoir of her apprentice years. Her photo on the cover dated 1955 indeed proves that Reichl was cooking at a very young age – seven years old. Early on, she had discovered that “food could be a way of making sense of the world.” From there, we follow her culinary experience all the way to the organic food revolution in Berkeley, California, in the 1970’s.

 

comfortmewithapplesComfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table is the sequel to it and picks up where the first one left off – living in a commune in California with her first husband, Doug. But things are changing fast and Ruth is about to become a restaurant critic and soon she cooks and dines with some word-famous chefs. She becomes one of the best food critics and her pursuit of good food to write about takes her to exotic places all over the world. She shares her experiences, both personal and professional, along with the delicious recipes, with her readers. Even when she writes about some of her personal difficulties, throughout it all, she is funny and entertaining. Just like in her first book, she is able to combine her humorous food writing and her memoirs into an art form.

garlicandsapphireGarlic and Sapphires: The Secrets Life of a Critic in Disguise is the third of Reichl’s memoirs. This time, she is at the top of her stellar career as a restaurant critic at the New York Times, the food editor and restaurant critic at the Los Angeles Times, and editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine. She is the most important and feared restaurant critic in the country, and her image with her signature black hair is known to every restaurant it town. She is offered special bonuses and cash bonuses for advance notices of her visits and gets royals treatment whether she likes it or not. However, Reichl is aware that in order to be a good and impartial food critic, you have to be anonymous. And voila, an idea of a critic in disguise is born and Reichl begins her “adventure in deception.” She gets a blonde wig and an acting coach and scouts restaurants as Molly Hollis, a retired school teacher from Michigan (in addition being Ruth Reichl) and then she writes reviews with a comparison about her double experiences. Soon the restaurateur’s learn to watch for Molly, so Reichl buys another wig and another persona is designed. She goes on creating several characters and enjoys switching between them. In her undercover roles, she is not only having fun, but also pokes holes in the pretension of food critics, and reveals both the artifice and excellence existing in the Epicurean world. She also reflects about how our appearance influences the ways we act and are perceived in this world. And, of course, she includes her favorite recipes and review.

Chris – Circulation

absolutionAbsolution by Muse, CD 781.66 Muse

Muse is one of the biggest acts right now in modern alternative rock. This trio has produced seven full-length albums, Absolution being the third. Formed in the U.K., this is the piece that broke them into the U.S. alternative scene. Muse expertly blend alternative rock with progressive, punk, electronic, and orchestral elements. Common themes on Muse albums tend to be love, loss, longing, space, and government conspiracies, and Absolution is no exception. Ranging from mellow piano and soft string arrangements to brash, distortion-heavy guitar works, Absolution excels in variety while still maintaining a cohesiveness with its signature Muse style. Singer Matt Bellamy’s distinctive falsetto brings an extra level of emotion to the songs it is featured in, like “Sing for Absolution,” “Stockholm Syndrome,” and “Ruled by Secrecy.” Matt shows off his piano chops in “Butterflies and Hurricanes,” bassist Chris Wolstenholme proves his bass mastery on “Hysteria,” and drummer Dom Howard perfectly matches the tempo and emotion of every track. This is my personal favorite album, and the one I would suggest to someone looking to check out Muse.

Michelle – Administration

13hours13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi starring John Krasinski, New DVD 13 Hours

This is the true story of the six ex-military operators working as security for the CIA in Benghazi during the terrorist attack in 2012. I was blown away by the story and the heroism shown by these six men who went so far beyond to protect both the CIA operatives and the U.S. diplomatic compound. The politics behind and around the attack do not play a part in this movie. Knowing that this is a true account of events made some scenes difficult to watch, but gave the entire movie such gravitas. Star John Krasinski brought such emotion and depth to his role. The movie, directed by Michael Bay, also stars James Badge Dale, Max Martini, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, and Dominic Fumusa.

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November

It’snovember2015coverphoto November. Let us all be thankful for our loved ones and enjoy the holiday season with the recommended titles below.

 

Dagmar – Circulation

voraciousVoracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti, New Nonfiction 028.9 Nic

Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books is a delicious culinary journey with things that many of us love the most in life: books and food. The author, Cara Nicoletti, is a butcher, a former pastry chef, and author of the literary recipe blog Yummy Books. Her journey started in her junior year in college, when she, originally from Boston, was fed up, lonely, and exhausted in New York, and ready to leave the city. Her college friend Emily changed everything: convinced her to stay in New York, and years later to create a blog, which led to this book. Four years ago, the author, along with her friend Emily and her husband Ante, started a book club. Every time they finished a book, they would go to Cara’s apartment where they would  discuss a book and Cara would make them a meal from the book so they could eat while discussing. These book club dinners would eventually turn into a literary supper club, which then turned into Yummy Books, which was the starting point of this book. This is a very interesting new take on discussing books – book club readers take notice – the author may be onto something here and it may be just a recipe for success of reading and dining with friends.

cloudsofsilsmariaClouds of Sils Maria starring Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart, New DVD Clouds

Many of us have followed Juliette Binoche and her films during her prolific career. From her first major international hit nearly 30 years ago, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” we saw her in films such as “The English Patient,” for which she won an Academy Award, and “Chocolat” with Johnny Depp, through which she won the hearts of many. Last month, the blog reviewed her recent film “Certified Copy.” This month, her fans will be delighted to see her latest film, Clouds of Sils Maria. In this film, she delivers another career-defining performance. Along with Kristen Stewart, she creates a seductive and mesmerizing masterpiece. Binoche plays renowned actress Maria Enders, who is cast opposite a young Hollywood starlet with a flair for scandal. Aging Binoche must face and come to terms with what it means to be an actress in a youth-obsessed industry. She prepares for the most challenging role of her life with her assistant (Stewart). During the process, tension rises and there may be a hint of another underlying problem for both of them. For her acclaimed performance, Stewart became the first American to win the coveted Cesar Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Sue – Circulation

skyeLetters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole, Fiction Brockmole

This is an engaging love story told completely in letters that spans more than two decades, from the first world war to the second. It opens in 1912 with a fan letter from David in Illinois to Elspeth, a published poet, in the Isle of Skye in Scotland. As Elspeth and David correspond via letter, they slowly fall in love. However, Elspeth is a married woman. When the war begins, David volunteers to be an ambulance driver and goes off to France. The book then jumps forward in time to 1940 and we follow the letters of Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, to her love who is serving in the war. Something happened back in the first world war that tore Elspeth’s family apart, but Margaret knows nothing of her mother’s past or her own father. As Margaret investigates her family’s past, we learn more about the events of 20 years ago and the story comes full circle. Though it is set in wartime, the book focuses more on romance and less on war. The characters and their emotions felt real to me and the story was absorbing and satisfying without being too predictable.

ettaandottoEtta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper, Fiction Hooper

This book tells the life stories of Etta and Otto, a married couple now in their 80s who live on a farm in rural Saskatchewan. The story opens with Etta leaving on a journey all the way across Canada to the sea in Halifax. She intends to walk this great distance by herself. It is something she feels she needs to do, connected to an event in her childhood. Otto understands and lets her go. Otto’s best friend and neighbor, Russell, at one time in love with Etta himself, is not so understanding and sets off after Etta. The book goes back and forth in time, telling each character’s story from their childhood to Otto’s service in the war as a young man and his return to the present day. While Etta walks, she picks up an animal companion she names James, giving us the four characters of the title.

The book has a dream-like quality to it – you are not sure if some of the events really happened or if it was just in the character’s mind. The various events that affect the characters’ lives and how their lives play out over the years makes for compelling reading. The book is beautifully written – a moving story of friendship and loyalty, lives not without hardship, but with family and friends always there when needed to share the joy and the burdens.

hinterlandHinterland starring Richard Harrington and Mali Harries, DVD Hinterland, Series 1

This is a detective drama that follows DCI Tom Mathias and his team as they investigate crimes in a remote coastal area of Wales. Mathias is a brooding, serious man with an unhappy past that has sent him from London to Wales for a fresh start. The show is gritty, dark, and intense with beautiful cinematography showing the barren Welsh landscape. The show is filmed in both Welsh and English, with the Welsh language version broadcast in Wales and the English version broadcast in England. The second season of the show is airing this fall in Wales and a third season has been ordered.

Chris – Technical Services

vintagechicagoDiscovering Vintage Chicago: A Guide to the City’s Timeless Shops, Bars, Delis & More by Amy Bizzarri, New Nonfiction 917.73 Biz

A must-read for Chicago history lovers. A guide to the many unique and historic places around the city; great for planning your own walking tour. Appendix’s by category, by neighborhood, and year of origin.

 

bidbadbillmurrayThe Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World’s Finest Actor by Robert Schnakenberg, Nonfiction 791.43 Sch

An A-to-Z compilation of everything Bill; quotes, filmography, photos, & “Tales from Murrayland.” If you love Bill’s work, you will like this. Not to be read from cover to cover, but to be enjoyed in bits and pieces.

Melissa – Technical Services

hautingofhillhouseThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, Fiction Jackson

For those unfamiliar with the plot of this classic, a group of people gather together in a house with a dark reputation with the goal of experiencing some of the paranormal events held in legend. Jackson does two impressive things with this book: the characters are so rich, which isn’t always the focus of a horror novel. Typically, in a horror novel, much of the emphasis goes towards the atmosphere. And yet, the atmosphere that Jackson creates is superb. The characters get on well with each other, enjoying each other’s company and witty exchanges. It’s only at night that the fear sets in. Thus, readers are removed from the tension of the horror, and laughing, only to be thrown back in again. This makes it all the more terrifying, because every instance of fear follows a period where the characters (and reader) were relaxed and calm. The horror/comedy coupling echoes the madness felt by the narrator, as she slowly loses her sanity as she stays in Hill House.

Pat – Circulation

jinxThe Jinx: The Life and Death of Robert Durst produced by Marc Smerling and Andrew JareckiNew DVD 364.15 Jinx

This is a six-hour documentary broken into six installments. They follow the life story of Robert Durst, a reclusive real estate icon, including his childhood, the murder of his first wife Kathleen, the murder of his close friend Susan Berman, and the murder and dismemberment of his neighbor Morris Black. Robert Durst is in jail today, pending trial, because of the Jinx. His entire story is so bizarre, yet true, each detail more incredible than the last.

Mary – Youth Services

whybehappyWhy Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson, Nonfiction 921 Winterson

Jeanette Winterson is a prominent, lyrical writer of many well-known books such as Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, The Passion, and Written on the Body. Her works often deal with the subversive spirit, or how one can survive in a society ready to strip one’s individual differences. Like her works, Winterson’s memoir is not the typical life story. Often blanketed by her vast knowledge of literature and history, Winterson reveals what her life was like growing up in northern England. The memoir’s focal point is the time Winterson lived as the adopted daughter of strictly-religious, Pentecostal parents. Never knowing when the four horsemen of the apocalypse and Jesus would take her, Winterson’s childhood story is sometimes darkly humorous, sometimes distressing in its portrait of what it is like to mold individual identity; what it means to be both a member of a biological and a created family. This work, among many other things, is a love letter to literature and survivors of childhood trauma. It also serves as a testament to resilience and individuality – a sigh of relief: Thank goodness I am not “normal!”

sleeperandspindleThe Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell, New YA Fiction Gaiman

I have eagerly been awaiting this book’s American release. The long wait is now over, and I can call off the small boat that would have smuggled me into England. The Sleeper and the Spindle is Neil Gaiman’s retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, with lavish, dark illustrations by Chris Riddell. I often find it is hard to breathe new life into certain tales, but Gaiman takes an angle on the beloved story that is interesting and thought-provoking. Combined with the stunning artwork by Chris Riddel, The Sleeper and the Spindle exists as both a beautiful art object and a fresh portrayal of a classic fairy tale.

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October

Oct2015coverphotoIt’s October! Enjoy the cooler weather with bonfires and cider and check out the recommended titles below.

 

 

Stephanie – Youth Services

codenameverityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, YA Fiction Wein (Abe 2015) or YA CD Wein (audiobook)

This 2015 Abraham Lincoln Award Winner is the riveting story of a British spy during World War II who has been caught by Germany. She is prepared to do anything she can to stay alive and avoid being killed by Kerosene. As a spy herself, she knows what Britain does to spies, so she knows what she is in for. This story is more than just staying alive. It is about freedom, triumph, and the story of who she is. Code Name Verity will leave you wondering what is to come and how she can escape her captors…or if.

Dagmar – Circulation

picnicinprovencePicnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard, New Nonfiction 921 Bard

This very delightful book is a sequel to Elizabeth Bard’s first book, Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes. In this equally delicious writing, we follow the New York-born journalist and expectant mother, now married to her French husband, to her new adventure: moving to Provence. Pregnant Elizabeth and her husband take a vacation in the French countryside before the baby arrives and they fall in love with it to the point of no return. They only return to Paris to sell their apartment and move to Provence to start their life anew. With elegance, wit, and humor, Elizabeth comments on her new family life in the French countryside, on her friends and in-laws, on visits of her American family, and on the cultural differences between her upbringing in New York and those of the Frenchmen. This book is not only a good read for the Francophiles among us, but also for those who enjoy pleasant reading full of humor, joy, and delicious recipes. A must read for those who either traveled to Provence, would like to travel there, or simply just enjoy reading about it. Comparable to similar writings by Peter Mayle (on the subject of a life in Provence) with a female twist.

certifiedcopyCertified Copy starring Juliette Binoche, DVD Certified Copy

Certified Copy is a marvelous, mind-blowing movie by the great Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. The story of a meeting between one man and one woman in a small Italian village in Southern Tuscany at first appears to be a simple one. The man is a British author who has just finished giving a lecture at a conference. The woman, from France, owns an art gallery. This is a common story that could happen to anyone, anywhere.

We see the star Juliette Binoche and the handsome co-star William Shimell (a famous British opera singer in his film debut) meet at the lecture. The second day, they take a trip to the Italian countryside. The atmosphere of the Italian countryside and the colors of the buildings, of the sky, and the Tuscany village paint a vivid picture and help to shape the emotional structure of the film. They first talk about his book and about art, about the philosophy of the copy and the original. Later their discussion turns to love, marriage, and commitment, until we figure out that they may be a long-married couple having a difficult reunion. Intriguing and sensual, this film with English, Italian, and French dialog (with English subtitles) is definitely worth seeing.

Sue – Circulation

mrssinclairMrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters, New Fiction Walters

This engaging novel tells the story of two women: Dorothea, now almost 110 years old and living in a nursing home, and her granddaughter, Roberta. Roberta works in a used bookstore and is fascinated by books. A favorite hobby of hers is collecting old letters, postcards, photos, etc. that she finds in used books. One day, her father brings her an old suitcase belonging to her grandmother. Roberta finds a letter from the 1940s in the suitcase written by her grandfather to her grandmother that casts doubt on her beliefs about her family heritage. Roberta starts looking into her grandmother’s past to unravel the mystery. The book then goes back into the past and tells us Dorothea’s story. We learn about her childhood, her marriage, and her life during World War II. Though the story is told in alternating chapters, telling Dorothea’s story in the past and Roberta’s story in the present, the book belongs to Dorothea. Her character is the compelling one. Hers is a bittersweet story, with a broken relationship with her mother, an unhappy marriage, heartbreaking miscarriages, which leave her bereft of her great dream of being a mother, and a thwarted love affair with a pilot during the war while her husband is away. The book is really a story about maternal love rather than the love between a man and a woman and how Dorothea makes a satisfying life for herself in spite of the hardships she faced.

placetocall homeA Place to Call Home starring Marta Dusseldorp, New DVD Place, Seasons 1 and 2

This is a compelling Australian drama series set in the early 1950s. It revolves around nurse Sarah Adams and the members of the Bligh family. Sarah has returned to Australia after 20 years of living in Europe. She takes a job at the local hospital after meeting George Bligh on the ship over and being recommended by him. George is a wealthy businessman whose family is ruled by the iron fist of his mother, Elizabeth. George is widowed with a son, James, newly married, and a daughter, Anna. Sarah suffered deprivation and loss during the war, but she fiercely guards her privacy, which causes local gossip. She and George are drawn to each other, but an incident on the ship has led to great animosity towards Sarah on the part of George’s mother. Plus George is a wealthy landowner and Sarah works for a living in a time when class and social standing still matter. And Sarah has converted to Judaism, while George is Anglican. Can Sarah and George develop a relationship under such circumstances? Meanwhile, James and Anna are dealing with issues of their own while Elizabeth connives to control all their lives. The show has strong characters faced with difficult life challenges. I found myself drawn into their lives and caring about them. The Australian scenery is beautiful and I love the period costumes, especially the dresses worn by the ladies, as well as the soundtrack with golden oldies from the 40s and 50s. Season 3 will air this fall in Australia and a season four has been ordered.

soldiersgroveThe Mysteries of Soldiers Grove by Paul Zimmer, New Fiction Zimmer

This is a tender story of two elderly people finding love with each other. Cyril, the only child of alcoholics, found escape from his unhappy life through reading. He found he especially enjoyed reading biographies and autobiographies and has a wide store of “lives” in his memory that he enjoys sharing with people, but most people find him odd and don’t get it when he tries to tell them about the lives he’s read about over the years. Solitary all his life, he’s never had a relationship with a woman and is shy and awkward, but kind-hearted. Louise is an elegant and cultured lady, originally from France. Now a widow, she fell in love with an American soldier during WWII and came back with him to his farm in rural Wisconsin. Her life with him was not what she expected it to be, but was still happy. Nearing 80, both of them now live in a retirement home, which is how they meet. Louise moves in while Cyril is in the hospital, recovering from serious injuries suffered after being dumped in a blizzard by an armed man who tried to rob him. Though very different, Cyril and Louise connect immediately and deeply. As their relationship grows, they begin sneaking out of the facility to have adventures, starting small and working up to bolder doings and eventually finding themselves in a dangerous situation. Being with each other and having these experiences brings joy and fulfillment to lives that might otherwise be sad and dreary as they near the end of their days. The book is beautifully narrated by Cyril and Louise in alternating chapters. This is a sweet and sensitive novel about growing old with dignity and not giving up on life, but finding joy until the end, despite physical frailties and the indignities that come with advanced age. The author, Zimmer, is in his 80s himself and is renowned for his poetry.

Hubbell – Circulation

leagueofdenialLeague of Denial: The NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth by Mark Fainaru-Wada, New Nonfiction 617.1027 Fai

Written by Pulitzer-winning and bestselling brothers Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada, League of Denial is a scathing summary of the NFL’s cover-up of its so-called ‘concussion problem.’ The book proves that for decades, the NFL denied publicly that concussions and head trauma led to disastrous long-term health problems while possessing information which blatantly contradicted their public statements. It is another damning allegation against a league in turmoil during its most profitable period in history. It is a must-read for any football fan as it calls into question whether the sport itself and the way it is played today is even compatible with maintaining long-term normal brain function. It also forces us to reevaluate whether the sport should be played by young people at all. The book was first published in 2013 and has since formed the basis for a PBS documentary of the same name. Its accusations and research have played a role in the NFL’s recent acceptance of the dangers of the game and its change in concussion treatment protocol.

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December

snowmanDecember is here! Time for making snowmen, drinking hot cocoa, and celebrating the holidays with our loved ones. Below are some suggested titles for you this month.

 

Corky – Circulation

Debbie Macomber’s Christmas Cookbook by Debbie Macomber, Nonfiction 641.568 Mac

christmascookbookThis is a Christmas cookbook, but it is so much more. It has the most gorgeous pictures, clear, crisp with vibrant colors. I could have just looked at it and been perfectly happy. On to the recipes: about one hundred from appetizers to Christmas breakfast, lunch, dinner, and finally desserts. The recipes are simple with not a lot of ingredients and easy to make. I tried the Cranberry Walnut Cobbler. It said it took five minutes. It did. I took the dessert to a party, where it was in competition with chocolate cupcakes. The cobbler disappeared.

Debbie Macomber must love the Christmas holidays. She shares family stories and traditions, memories and observations. She includes crafts and decorating ideas, wrapping tips, and again beautiful pictures of all of these. This book is warm, inviting, and did I say it has beautiful pictures.

Sue – Circulation

guernseyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, Fiction Shaffer

Set in 1946 and told entirely through letters sent back and forth among the characters, this book tells the story of a London author named Juliet looking for her next topic for a book who receives a letter from a man named Dawsey in Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands located in the English Channel off the coast of France that was occupied by the Germans during World War II. After the first letter, Juliet and Dawsey continue their correspondence and then other residents of the island begin to write to Juliet as well. They describe to her how their book club, named the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, was founded and share their stories of life on the island during the Occupation. Through their letters, Juliet learns about the residents and the hardships they faced during the war years. She decides to write about Guernsey and visits the island to meet all the people she’s grown to care for through their letters. This book is a joy to read. It is charming and full of life, with wonderful, vivid characters that draw you in and a positive, uplifting tone. Guernsey circa 1946 is a place you would like to visit filled with people you would like to know.

roseofsebastopolThe Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon, Fiction McMahon

This historical novel follows two upper-class English cousins with opposite personalities during the Crimean War in the 1850s. Obedient, meek Mariella always follows the rules while strong-willed, determined Rosa is always pushing boundaries. It is Rosa’s dream to be a nurse. Against her family’s wishes, she follows Florence Nightingale to Russia, where her stepbrother Max is an officer in the British Army. Meanwhile, Mariella’s fiance Henry, a celebrated surgeon, also heads to Russia to assist with setting up hospitals for the wounded. At first, Rosa writes home, but then her family loses touch with her. When Mariella gets a message that Henry is very ill, she decides she must travel to the Crimea to see him. Upon seeing Henry, Mariella is devastated to learn that he has apparently betrayed her. She also discovers that Rosa is missing. Already reeling from the shock she received upon being reunited with Henry, Mariella must now embark upon a search for Rosa. Her sheltered life has not prepared her for the horrors of war and illness and she is shocked by what she sees as she tracks Rosa. At first, she is reluctant to continue and just wants to go home. But when she is forced to stay, her journey across the Crimea also becomes a journey of self-discovery and we see her grow into herself and become a stronger, better person. The book has an exciting plot with a look at the devastation of war and how people can rise to become more than they thought they could be under trying circumstances.

lasttangoLast Tango in Halifax, starring Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid, CD Last, Series 1 and 2

This British PBS series tells the story of Celia and Alan, two people in their 70s who were in love as teenagers, but then were separated when Celia’s family moved away. Now 60 years later, both widowed, they reunite. They are blissfully happy together, but each has a daughter and both their children’s lives are a mess. A delightful series following Celia, Alan, and their respective families. Celia and Alan are a charming couple and the supporting characters and plot lines are very entertaining with both humor and drama. The series has been renewed for a third season.

Mary – Youth Services

truediaryThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, YA Alexie and YA CD Alexie (audiobook)

A deserving National Book Award winner, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is one of the best young adult books ever written. It follows Junior: a teenager, budding cartoonist, and a Spokane Indian, who lives on a reservation in Washington. The story revolves around Junior’s decision to leave his reservation, in what is, at first, a mission to have a better education. Heart-breaking, wildly hilarious, and always smart, this story is sure to stay with me for some time. Be sure to check out the audiobook, because Sherman Alexie’s story-telling voice is phenomenal.

sherlockholmesThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, Fiction Doyle

Nowhere else can you have within the span of 200 pages a mystery involving a goose who swallowed a gem, all the way up to a father pretending to be his daughter’s suitor, to ward off a potential mate at a Victorian dance. (But so it goes in the world of Sherlock Holmes.) You are sure to have seen an adaptation of the original Holmes stories, but the canonical tales of the detective and his companion, Dr. John Watson, are always a delightful world to return to. Case after case, client after client, the stories of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are never boring, and highlight the extraordinary hiding under the seemingly ordinary lives of those around us.

Michelle – Administration

snowpiercerSnowpiercer, starring Chris Evans, John Hurt, Ed Harris, and Tilda Swinton, New DVD Snowpiercer

This movie is a great futuristic thriller that provides a very interesting look into the class system. There are many twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end. The movie was written and directed by Joon-ho Bong.

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June

Free Summer Royalty Free Stock Photos - 10036478

Finally warm weather is here. Take a book to the beach and enjoy!

Jacob – Circulation

booksMedium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain, Adult Nonfiction 641.5 Bou

This book is a follow up to Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and once again Bourdain delights. He uses his sharp wit and new-found stardom to critique the most recent food trends and high profile chefs. When not critiquing, he shares stories that are humorous and insightful from his own experiences as a chef. This book is a quick read and quite entertaining.

Sue – Circulation

9545064The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon, Fiction Simon

A beautiful, heart-rending story of a mentally disabled young woman and a deaf mute man, both of whom lived at a state-run institution in which the residents were mistreated. In 1968, the pair runs away from the institution and ends up on the doorstep of 70-year-old Martha, a lonely widow. The young woman, Lynnie, has just given birth to a daughter. That same night, the authorities come to Martha’s house and take Lynnie away. The man, Homan, manages to run away and the baby remains undetected. Lynnie asks Martha to keep the baby safe, and so begins a 40 year odyssey for Martha, the baby, Lynnie, and Homan. How their lives unfold over the decades makes for a compelling and absorbing read. The author’s sister is mentally disabled and though this story is fiction, Rachel Simon did research the history of such institutions as the one Lynnie and Homan were confined in, so the book’s portrayal of these institutions and the changes over the decades is historically accurate.

17834834Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson, New Fiction Balson

A compelling and deeply moving novel that combines elements of historical fiction with legal drama. It tells of the experiences of a Jewish family named Solomon in Poland during the Holocaust and the betrayal of that family by a German youth who was taken in and raised as a part of that family. The story opens in 2004 with 83-year-old Ben Solomon publicly accusing famous Chicago millionaire and philanthropist Elliot Rosenzweig of actually being an SS officer named Otto Piatek. Rosenzweig of course denies the accusation, but Ben is certain that Rosenzweig is actually Otto Piatek. He engages a lawyer named Catherine to bring a civil suit against Rosenzweig. In preparation for the lawsuit, Ben tells his story to Catherine over time so that the entire story of what happened to Ben and his family is told over the course of the novel. We learn that Otto was a 12-year-old boy with a German mother and Polish father who was left in the care of the Solomon family in the 1920s when the unemployed father could not care for him after the mother returned to Germany. So Otto and Ben grew up as brothers. The story of Otto’s transformation into a loyal Nazi and his betrayal of his foster family is chilling. The question of whether Rosenzweig is or is not Otto is revealed near the end of the novel. A powerful story about love and evil that will grip you until the final page.

 

FrenchLeaveFrench Leave by P.G. Wodehouse, New Fiction Wodehouse

This is a stand-alone Wodehouse novel written in the 1950s, not part of the Bertie-Jeeves, Blandings, or other Wodehouse well-known series, but just as funny as his better known novels. It is set primarily in the French Rivera and involves three sisters who run a chicken farm in Long Island and inherit some money. They decide to spend the money on an opulent vacation, where the two youngest sisters take turns pretending to be rich in order to find a wealthy man to marry. The daughter named Terry meets an elderly marquis, fallen on hard times and looking for a rich wife for his son, Jeff. Thinking Terry is rich, he wants to set them up. Being a Wodehouse novel, of course all kinds of humorous complications and misunderstandings ensue until all is worked out in the end.

Mary – Youth Services

17999159Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, New YA Graphic Novel: BROSH

Based off the blog of the same title, “Hyperbole and a Half” recounts the hilarious, touching, and odd happenings in the life of self-proclaimed shut-in, Allie Brosh. Using childlike paint illustrations to describe her adult life, and childhood, Hyperbole and a Half humorously approaches topics such as the almighty love of cake, her dog’s bizarre behaviors, and most notably, her own struggle with depression. Don’t let the illustrations fool you. There is a great brevity, and wit, and pathos behind the wonderful scribbles of Allie Brosh.

11343Women in Art: Figures of Influence  by Reed Krakoff, New Adult Nonfiction 704. 042 Kra

Women in Art is a love-letter to modern women artists, art collectors, and curators. With large photographs, and wonderful interviews laced throughout, Women in Art is a physically beautiful book, well-designed; and a museum in and of itself. More importantly, however, this collection does not spread the giant misnomer: “Look, here are women! They do art, too!” But rather, Women in Art serves as a well-deserved collection of the personal portraits of women who are established and upcoming in the art world. The photographer who collected these women’s stories, and photographed their art, was reverent, and open-minded in the documentation of his subjects. This art book is a must-see for any person interested in entering, and impacting the art world. In short: brilliant.

Her2013PosterHer
, Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Scarlett Johansson, DVD Her
Taking place years in our immediate future, Her is the story of Theodore, an introverted man who works for a company whose main job is to write love-letters, or intimate messages for clients. This industry serves two types of people: 1). Individuals who would like intimacy in their lives, but do not have it. OR 2). Individuals who are too busy to send their loved ones personal, intimate messages, gifts, and gestures. Down on his luck and feeling lonely himself, Theodore purchases a computer operating system that uses artificial intelligence, which mirrors and develops just as a human being may. What Theodore does not foresee is the bond he forms with this artificially intelligent voice as she develops to learn about Theodore’s life, and emotionally support him. Her is such a funny, strange, and sometimes unsettling portrait of the way us human beings treat one another, and how we scar each other – especially those we are physically and emotionally intimate with – and how that effects our drive to isolate in a dawning age of technology.

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