|One spring day in 1970, 6-year-old Hannah Teller walks to school in a California neighborhood without sidewalks. She’s walking to school because her parents are fighting. Hannah's mom, Nina, just discovered that morning that her husband, Asher, has been having an affair for 6 years and wants a divorce. Hannah wants to escape the arguing.
Martin Kettle is also trying to escape. A young man of 20 with no idea what to do with his life, other than follow in his parent’s footsteps running the family restaurant business. But is this really what he wants? He is withdrawing from his family and turning to drugs and alcohol for the answers.
That morning in 1970, Martin hits Hannah with his car while driving under the influence. In his impaired state, he can’t figure out what to do and makes the wrong decision. He floors the accelerator and drives away from the scene.
What follows is a study of how this one event shapes the lives of everyone involved – Hannah, her parents, and Martin. At the heart of this novel is a lesson in accepting consequences, taking responsibility, and learning from those unexpected things that happen to you.
Recommended November 2015
|In her darkest thriller yet, Chevy Stevens follows the lives of three sisters over the course of eighteen years. This book begins on the fateful night when their father abuses them for the last time and they need to get out of town quick. Along the way to a new life in Vancouver, their truck breaks down and the two boys they meet from this small town aren’t very helpful, in fact, they’re more hurtful than anything. After a horrifying five days, the sisters manage to escape and make their way to the coast. There they make new names, new lives, and a family for themselves. But their past is always there to haunt their present, until one of the sisters decides she finally has to do something about it.
Recommended October 2015
Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir
|Ever see those people walking down the street with their fancy clothes and bags, getting into luxury cars with drivers? Yeah, me neither. But you would in New York City, especially on the Upper East Side (also known as the UES). This richer-than-rich conclave within a city already known for its excesses has its own rules, language, customs, and hazing rituals. All of this the author came to discover when she made the move from lower Manhattan to the UES. Armed with a degree in anthropology, she chose to study her new environment, and its inhabitants, through the lens of an embedded researcher. This both helped her deal with the hazing and shunning she experienced as a newbie, and learn what behaviors she needed to mimic to assimilate and be accepted as one of them. Told from her personal point of view, and peppered with related notable anthropological studies of both people and animals, this is a fascinating study of a tribe most of us will never get close enough to interact with. (But they just might run us off the sidewalk, if we’re not carrying the right bag!)
Recommended September 2015
The Bluest Eye
|In this classic novel of African American culture, women's history, and family, Pecola desperately wants to have blue eyes. It takes the destruction of her mind and soul for her wish to come "true". You can't be sure who to root for in this novel of family devastation, but you can sympathize with everyone, in one way or another. This is a novel for thoughtful reflection; don't expect to be uplifted, though you just might come out the other end enlightened.
This novel is available to check out from the library in print or a book on CD and online through Overdrive as an eBook or audiobook.
Recommended by Melissa, February 2015
Alice in Tumblr-Land: And Other Fairy Tales for a New Generation
|I’m not sure how “new” the generation needs to be for these re-worked fairy tales, but as a Generation X baby, I certainly found them humorous. Chicken Little, Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Snow White, Pinocchio and their counterparts have all joined us in the age of information technology and suffer the problems that come along with it. Each of these funny fables is less than a page long and is accompanied by a lively illustration. This short narration format allows you to pick this book up to fill in the few minutes you may be waiting for something else and then put it down to come back to. Or you can devour it all in one sitting, like I did. The future King Arthur frets over his attraction to Lancelot. The Ugly Duckling plans for her high school reunion and seeing all of those people who knew her way back when, before she was successful. Little Red Riding Hood is looking for love in all the wrong places. Peter Pan is addicted to social media. Sleeping Beauty sleeps all day and is on the Internet all night, avoiding human relationships. Finally, fairy tales we can relate to! Don’t worry, they still get to the happily ever after, but the happy certainly looks different these days.
Recommended November 2014
The Astor Orphan
|You might be thinking, “Not another story about a poor,
little rich girl.” But actually, this is a story about a poor little
poor girl. Although she is a direct descendant of the wealthy Astor
family, Alexandra’s father and his brother only inherited landed property,
not the money to help sustain it. Alexandra’s mother is a bohemian
artist from Poland whose idea of being a good mother is leaving your
children alone. Her father loves the family estate more than anything
else and it’s caring and upkeep are more than a full-time job. Too
bad it’s an unpaid one. Alexandra never knew where her next meal would
come from or who would be providing it. Her alcoholic grandmother,
who lives in the converted chauffer’s garage, is the closest thing
she has to a responsible parent. At least there’s always food in her
refrigerator. She keeps hoping that a long-lost rich aunt will come
and take her away from all the craziness and provide her with some
stability. Alexandra shares intimate details of her unconventional
childhood and eccentric family in this touching memoir. She’s definitely
an underdog to root for.
Recommended September 2014
|Accept, Obey, and Serve. These are the cardinal
rules of the hive. Flora 717 knows this, but longs for experiences
outside those performed by her kin-sisters who are relegated to the
tasks of sanitation workers. Because 717 is strong and shows the abilities
of other worker bees, she is given special permission to feed the
larvae in the nursery, make wax for the Treasury, and also to forage
for pollen and nectar. When she saves the hive by fighting and killing
an invading wasp, Flora 717 even gets to meet the Queen. But when
she starts laying eggs, the trouble really begins, for the most holy
law of the hive is this — Only the Queen may breed. The domineering
religious overtones, examination and challenging of class and caste
systems, preferential treatment of males, even in this most matriarchal
of societies, and the inherent desire of a single individual to overcome
all of these factors, make this a captivating story. This is one book
your book group must read. The topics for discussion are almost endless.
Recommended July 2014
|I was introduced to Chevy Stevens a few years ago with
her debut novel, Still
Missing. I devoured that first book in one sitting. I liked
the way the story unfolded; each chapter was a session in the therapist’s
office for Annie. She was abducted and held for over a year by her
captor, suffering unspeakable horrors on a daily basis. You meet Annie
after her return. You might think that knowing the end of the story
before it even begins would make the book boring, but you would be
so wrong. Having the story doled out in sections made it more compelling
and I often got chills while Annie was recounting her past and talking
about its impact on her present. The ending included a curve ball
I never saw coming. Ms. Stevens’ next two thrillers, Never
Knowing and Always
Watching, were also full of suspense, masterful use of flashbacks
and clever plotting. I liked the connecting thread between the two
novels. Sara Gallagher is visiting a psychologist, Nadine, to talk
about her experiences when trying to reconnect with her birth mother
in Never Knowing. Nadine then becomes the main character
in Always Watching and you get to understand, through her
history, why she became a psychologist. I found myself lost in the
world Ms. Stevens created and time flew by as I was absorbed in her
stories. I was often surprised by how many pages I had read when I
thought that hardly any time had passed. In That Night, once
again you meet the protagonist at what you think is the end of the
story. Toni Murphy and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted 16 years
ago of killing Toni’s younger sister, but they didn’t do it. Now that
they have served their time and been released, will they be able to
move on? Will they finally be able to prove their innocence? Back
were Ms. Stevens’ signature flashbacks, compelling characters, suspense-building
storyline and unforeseen twist at the end. You may think you know
how the story will end, but rest assured, there will be a surprise.
I finished this book in record time and am now regretting that I'll
need to wait at least another year before meeting up again with Chevy
Recommended June 2014
I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon
|This book could be titled “Get to Know Prince (As Much
as Anyone Can) in 150 Pages.” It is a concise and thoughtful treatise,
establishing what makes a popular musician an actual icon, rather
than just a rock star, and then, explaining why Prince qualifies.
But the majority of the book is about how Prince’s life, experiences,
and religious beliefs influenced his music, especially the lyrics.
As much as he is known for pushing the envelope sexually, there is
actually as much, if not more, religious content in his various songs.
I feel like I learned so much about the man and his myth through this
book – his difficult, but driven, adolescence, and his quirky work
habits and song lyrics that I always thought said something completely
different. (There’s nothing like finding out those words you’ve been
belting out in the car all these years are totally wrong!)
Recommended May 2014
The Last Girlfriend on Earth: and Other Love Stories
|This collection of stories is laugh-out-loud funny. The
book is divided into 3 sections: "Boy Meets Girl" (stories about trying
to start a relationship), "Boy Gets Girl" (stories about being in
a relationship), and "Boy Loses Girl" (once the relationship is over).
You'll never forget the story told from the point of view of a condom,
or the canine "missed connections” — and why would you want to?
Recommended September 2013
Stories from Jonestown
|Stories from Jonestown is all about the survivors.
“Survivors” include those few who escaped into the jungle that fateful
day, the Peoples Temple members who were elsewhere in Guyana and California,
and family members of those who died. For many, these interviews were
the first time they spoke of their experiences. Some chose to share
how their lives have been since that day in November 1978. Some talk
about the family members that they lost, who they were and what they
believed in. Many tell about their experiences in the Peoples Temple,
both before and after the move to Guyana. Every single story is riveting
and emotional. According to most books, the story of Jonestown and
Jim Jones ended on November 18, 1978. For Stories from Jonestown,
that date is the beginning of the story.
Recommended July 2013
|Brown, Kody with Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn
Becoming Sister Wives: The Story of an Unconventional Marriage
|Everyone is fascinated by polygamy. The idea that a man
could marry more than one woman and that those women could be happy
about the situation is almost unthinkable to most of us who are struggling
to maintain a "simple" monogamous relationship. In the last few years,
television executives have finally decided to capitalize on the allure
of polygamy by introducing series such as HBO’s Big
Love and TLC’s Sister Wives. I’ll admit it; I have
been watching Sister Wives since the beginning. I started
off, like many others, looking for the prurient details of the lives
of Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn and waiting for the train
wreck that never happened. It turns out that these women, who all
just happen to love the same man, also respect each other and dote
on each other’s children as if they were their own, because, in more
than one way, they are. This book nicely supplements the television
show, providing the back stories for the relationship each of the
four wives has with Kody. It also discusses those hardships and rearrangements
in priority that each wife had to endure whenever a new wife or child
was added to the family or their living situation was altered. I liked
the way the book was organized. Each person had their own chapter
in the sections of Matrimony, Sorority, Family, and Celebrity. This
way, just like on the show, each of the wives had her own voice and
could tell her story in her own words. Then you get to hear Kody’s
take on it as well. I’ve continued to watch the show and looked forward
to reading this book for the same reason; I like how normal their
family is. I am awed by how self-aware they all are, how well they
communicate with each other and their children, and what genuinely
nice people they seem to be. I want to be their friend. Even if you
never plan to watch the show, you’ll enjoy the story of how these
five people make their relationships and family work, and you might
even find a tip or two for your own life in there as well.
Recommended February 2013
Livwise: Easy Recipes for a Healthy, Happy Life
|Eat fresh fruits and vegetables in season. Eat whole grains.
Eat organic. Eat good proteins and fats. Limit red meat. Don't eat
processed foods. Exercise daily. This is the advice we hear over and
over again in almost every mainstream diet/healthy lifestyle book
published nowadays. Are we more likely to listen when we're being
told by breast cancer survivor and "Let's Get Physical" singer Olivia
Newton-John? If you’re a woman of a certain age, the answer might
be "yes". Olivia shares with us some of her favorite healthy recipes
that help keep her, at age 62, feeling fit and looking like a woman
25 years younger. All of the recipes looked very easy to prepare and
almost all of the ingredients can now be found in any large supermarket.
(You might have to visit a health food store for a few.) These delicious
dishes, such as chicken with ginger, orange stuffing and cashew, macadamia
and raspberry tart, have me re-thinking my food and cooking choices.
Recommended January 2013
Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West
|He was born and raised in Camp 14, one of the roughest
of the labor camps in North Korea. Despite satellite photos that prove
their presence, the North Korean government still denies these camps
exist. No one who spent their whole life in a camp is known to ever
have escaped, except for Shin Dong-hyuk. Shin grew up in an environment
that none of us could even begin to understand. In order to survive,
he was required to snitch on his family, classmates, and co-workers.
Everyone around him, even his own mother, was competition for food,
clothing, and shelter. Shin never developed the bonds with other people
that most of us take for granted. There was no unconditional love
from his parents or amusing times shared with friends. His life was
all about back-breaking work and scrounging for food. Shin’s first
memory, at the tender age of 4, is of an execution of a fellow prisoner.
This book kept my attention the whole way through because even though
I knew he would escape, I wanted to see what happened next. Shin’s
story is hard to read and just because he escapes, it does not necessarily
mean that his life gets easy. But this is an account worth reading
and the continued struggle of the North Korean people is important
for people to realize is still very much an issue.
Recommended October 2012
Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of the World's Most Notorious Butterfly Smuggler
|Butterfly collecting is big business. The black market
players earn tens of thousands of dollars a month selling rare specimens
to collectors, while species get closer and closer to extinction.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agent Ed Newcomer finds himself working deep
undercover to catch one of the world’s biggest butterfly smugglers.
But Yoshi Kojima is no fool. He is wily, distrustful of others, and
demanding of his “business” partners. Newcomer has a hard time keeping
up with Yoshi and he slips through Newcomer’s net more than once.
Will Newcomer ever be able to set up the sting to bring down Yoshi
or will he continue to evade authorities and contribute to the further
decimation of the worlds’ butterfly population? This book is nonfiction
but reads like a good suspense/thriller/crime novel. The protagonists,
although completely real, are over-the-top characters, almost comical
in their stereotypical-ness. If you like to read about environmental
issues and like a good legal/police procedural, you will enjoy Winged
Recommended , August 2012
Rules of Civility
| “That’s how quickly New York City comes about – like
a weather vane – or the head of a cobra. Time tells which.” Katey
Kontent (pronounced like the state of well-being) may be young, female,
and working as a secretary in New York City, but she is not naïve.
She is sharp, witty, insightful. Katey understands how the world works
and uses that to her advantage. Or does she? This novel about the
ebbs and flows of friendship paints a picture of 1930's New York that
is hard to resist. You see vivid landscape and buildings covered in
the mist of evening light, like a black and white film, as you get
caught up in Katey’s story. The main focus is a love triangle between
Katey, her best friend, and Tinker Grey, handsome member of New York's
elite. Just when Katey is about to get the upper hand with Tinker,
fate intervenes in a dramatic way. The scenery, wardrobe, and snappy
dialogue scream out to be made into a film. I certainly would see
it. But first, I'd read the book again.
Recommended May 2012
Once Upon a Secret
|“Everyone has a secret. This is mine.” In 1962, nineteen-year-old
Mimi Beardsley lucked into a prime position as a summer intern in
the White House press office. On her fourth day, she slept with President
Kennedy and began an affair that lasted until his death in November
1963. It’s hard to imagine the effect this situation had on a naïve
college girl from the upper-middle class. This secret made a lasting,
devastating impression on her first marriage and her life. The author
explains the choices she made and the reasons she made them, from
the perspective that hindsight gives. One of the major insights this
book provides is an insiders view of the 1960’s White House and the
culture that supported the President, basically allowing him to do
whatever he pleased. Prurient details are few, but they are juicy.
This is a quick, thoroughly interesting read, which may also teach
you a thing or two about the impact of decisions made and words left
Recommended April 2012
| In this beautifully illustrated graphic novel, themes
of female sexual abuse and indifference to the plight of the poor
are skillfully woven with parables and stories from the Qur’an. The
artistry of the frames is dense. Symbolism abounds. The stories of
Dodola and Zam also provide lessons in Arabic script, religion, and
tradition. These lessons do not detract from the plot, which is focused
on the development of their relationship, but allow the reader a deeper
understanding of the context and meaning behind the choices the characters
make during their time together and apart. This hard-hitting graphic
novel may be difficult some for readers due to adult themes, but the
masterful storytelling is well worth reading.
Recommended March 2012
The George Carlin Letters: The Permanent Courtship of Sally Wade
|George and Sally met in a bookstore. They were both wearing
sweatpants and baseball caps. Actually it was her dog, Spot, that
introduced them. George invited Sally to see him perform in Las Vegas.
After the show he thanked her for coming and said he would call her
to go out for coffee in four months. Four months would mark one year
since his wife’s death. George did call Sally after four months passed.
He came over for coffee and never left her home again. This is the
beginning of a beautiful story of love, companionship, and humor.
George and Sally spent the last ten years of his life together. This
book is a collection of the notes, doodles, sketches, jokes, and stories
written by each for the other. The pages are covered with artfully
arranged, colorful scraps of paper, and each chapter covers a theme:
items pertaining to Spot, stories about their true home of Jupiter,
food and dining, and wordplay are just a few examples. This tangible
history of their love and relationship lets you get to know George
and Sally on a personal level. You get to peek at their thoughts and
dreams. You follow along as they adjust to living with each other,
squabble, make up, and make love. Everyone wants to be loved like
this and it’s refreshing to see that people actually are. “There’s
no better place in the world than the room where Sally Wade is located.”
— G. Carlin
Recommended November 2011
Amaryllis in Blueberry
|Exquisite language and phrasing are hallmarks of this
novel. This story of a family who leave everything they know in Michigan
to be missionaries in Africa reveals that though you are related,
you can’t be sure what another person is thinking or feeling. We often
think we know someone, when we really don’t know them at all. This
becomes apparent as each chapter of this book is told from a different
family member’s point of view. But since the tale is told in chronological
order, you never lose the story or have to backtrack. You’ll want
to understand each character's motivation, you’ll empathize with them
all, in different ways. I initially picked this book up because of
its beautiful cover, but what I found inside was even better.
Recommended October 2011
What to Cook and How to Cook It
|This has everything I want in a cookbook. The recipes
span a wide range, from an omelet to BLT sandwich to Roast Beef with
Yorkshire Pudding. Each recipe begins with a list of ingredients next
to a photograph of each in its proper amount, stunningly laid out
in neat rows. Besides being simply beautiful, these photos show exactly
what plum tomatoes or shallots look like before you shop for them.
Step by step instructions follow, with a color photo accompanying
each step. You'll know what that dough is supposed to look like once
it has risen, been punched down and stretched out on the sheet pan.
Each recipe concludes with a photo of the finished dish. (“Yes, it’s
supposed to look like that!” or “No, I don’t think that turned out
quite right.”) I have no doubts about succeeding with this fabulous
Recommended September 2011
Cats Are Weird: And More Observations
|If you’ve ever been owned by a cat or been friends with
someone owned by a cat (or two or three or twelve), much in this graphic
novel will look eerily familiar. You’ll wonder how Mr. Brown was able
to get into your house, observe your cat’s adventures, and draw pictures
of exactly what occurs in your domicile on a daily basis. The expressions
he creates on the cats’ faces are precisely animated and precious.
You know exactly what they think and feel. This is a quick read, mostly
sequential picture frames with few words, which makes it accessible
to young readers as well. This wholesome and hilarious graphic novel
can be shared with your entire family, and you’ll find yourself passing
it along to your cat-loving friends. Then you’ll look for the prequel,
Getting Out of a Bag.
Recommended August 2011
Barefoot Contessa, How Easy Is That?: Fabulous Recipes & Easy Tips
|Cooking can be just that easy. Ina shares many tricks
to simplify weeknight dinners and entertaining. She's a fan of shortcuts
and describes them exactly. Her recipes aren’t complicated, and don't
include lots of steps and ingredients. I appreciate that when she
likes a product, she specifies the exact brand. (Heinz ketchup is
a pantry must-have.) Every recipe is accompanied by a full color photo.
The introductions for each recipe are interesting, too. I've been
a fan of Ina’s recipes ever since her roasted brussel sprouts made
me a family legend (in a good way, of course), and I imagine these
recipes would increase my status as the family cook. In particular,
I'm eager to try French mussel bisque, roasted shrimp salad, baked
fontina, caeser-roasted swordfish, couscous with toasted pine nuts,
and easy cranberry & apple cake. If you are also a fan of Ina’s television
show, you might recognize several recipes. When I originally saw them
on the show, I thought, “Oh, I should make that.” Now they are here
in print, I will. Maybe you will too.
Recommended January 2011
|A young real estate agent is kidnapped during an open
house. This is the story of her journey back to "real life" after
the year-long ordeal is over. Each chapter deals with a session in
her therapist’s office, where she recounts what happened during and
after her captivity. An insightful and deeply moving look at her recovery
process. I couldn’t put it down.
Recommended October 2010
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
|This tale is an interesting mix of science, social history,
and ethics. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer. While
being treated and without her knowledge, doctors took a sample of
her cells and sent them to a scientist attempting to cultivate the
first immortal human cells, cells that would continue to live and
divide outside of a human body. No other cells had done this before,
but hers did. Known as the HeLa cells, they continue to live, and
have aided in such medical breakthroughs as the polio vaccine, in
vitro fertilization, and cloning. They have also gone into space and
were the first human cells to test the effects of an atom bomb. The
entire cell and tissue culture business was based on the reproduction
of the HeLa cells. Her family found out thirty years after she died
and have never received financial compensation, even though others
have profited from the cells' sale and distribution. The juxtaposition
of Henrietta’s and her family’s life stories with the scientists and
scientific discoveries makes for a varied and entertaining read.
Recommended August 2010
Michael Symon’s Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen
|Michael Symon, Iron Chef and James Beard Award Winner,
presents his first cookbook. With his background, we might expect
fancy food out of reach of the average cook. But no. He explains in
detail fundamental cooking techniques. Most recipes include a photo
to either illustrate the finished dish or highlight one of the steps.
Helpful “Symon Says” tips appear throughout the book. I recommend
Live to Cook for those ready to try a twist on a standard
dish or to branch out into something slightly unusual, but still within
|This was my first graphic novel, and I chose a good one.
The artwork is simple but effective. The writing is believable and
laugh out loud funny. I especially liked the placement of words for
sound effects and other wordless happenings, which reminded me of
the old Batman television show. This adventure comic features
characters with hidden pasts, conflict, intrigue, a touch of romance,
a mythical island, and circus sideshow performers. In short, Far
Arden has a bit of everything for everyone.
Recommended February 2010
|Have you ever had lunch or drinks with a friend who tells
great stories, but doesn't necessarily tell them in chronological
order? Stories that are funny, revealing, a little disjointed, eminently
entertaining. That is what this book reminds me of. I felt like I
was having a personal conversation with Carrie Fisher as she told
me about her life in a stream-of-consciousness kind of way. I enjoyed
insights about her famous parents. Her tales of the making of the
Star Wars movies are priceless. She talks about all of the failed
relationships she has witnessed and in which she has participated.
But her willingness to discuss her addiction and mental health problems
is what moved me the most. Plus, she provides a list of other famous
people who have had similar issues. It always softens the blow when
you can see that others have walked the same path before you. This
is a quick, entertaining read.
Recommended December 2009
Confections of a Closet Master Baker
|This light, satisfying read reminds me of a good pastry.
It has multiple layers, comforts and delights you, and leaves you
wanting just a little bit more. Through an hour by hour account of
her day as master baker and owner of a patisserie in Montpelier, you
learn about the author’s past and present -- connections between her
childhood and family, experiences in soulless LA, and the formation
of her sweet treats. At the end of each chapter is a recipe so you
can recreate one of her decadent pastries. I read four chapters before
I figured out the author’s sister, Sandy, was that Sandra. Bullock,
that is. Part anti-Hollywood exposé, part diary of a Vermont baker
and shopkeeper, and part cookbook, I thoroughly enjoyed it all.
Recommended November 2009
The 19th Wife
|The 19th Wife contains chapters that alternate
between the historical story of Ann Eliza Young, one of Brigham Young's
many wives, and a young man, Jordan Scott, who was kicked out of his
fundamentalist sect in present-day Utah. Ann Eliza left her powerful
husband and then gave many notable speeches against the practice of
polygamy in the late 1800’s. Her chapters trace her childhood, marriage,
subsequent "divorce," which was hotly contested, and her mysterious
later life. The chapters on Jordan constitute a modern-day murder
mystery and center around his efforts to vindicate his mother, the
nineteenth wife of a polygamist, who is accused of killing her husband.
If you’re interested in the private lives of those who practice plural
marriage, this book will not disappoint.
Recommended October 2009
Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea
|If you watch E! late at night, you'll be familiar with
the author of this collection of personal essays. Chelsea Handler
is the star of Chelsea Lately, Girls Behaving Badly
on the Oxygen network, and is an accomplished stand-up comedian. If
you've seen Chelsea’s shows or routines you won't be shocked by her
subject matter (her own life), and the language she uses. After reading
these essays, you won’t be surprised that Chelsea became a comedian.
With her penchant for spinning outrageous lies, it was either that
or become a criminal. None of her family members or friends escape
her sharp tongue and sarcastic view of life’s events. You'll likely
recognize someone from your own past or present in her colorful collection
of characters. And no doubt you'll laugh out loud. If you're looking
for a quick read to pass an amusing afternoon, Are You There,
Vodka? is a good contender.
Recommended September 2009
|Shulman, Martha Rose and The Culinary Institute of America
Culinary Boot Camp: Five Days of Basic Training at the Culinary Institute of America
|If you’ve ever dreamed of going to culinary school, but
reality got in the way, one answer might be to attend a CIA Boot Camp.
These sessions introduce food enthusiasts to basic cooking techniques,
combined with fine dining at award-winning campus restaurants. Part
cookbook, part memoir, part campus restaurant review, Culinary
Boot Camp is the result of the author’s attendance at two such
camps. I enjoyed reading about the personalities and quirks of the
chef instructors, as well as their sometimes contrasting procedures
for creating the same dish. Recipes for most of the menus created
in the author’s camps are included. But the real heart of this book
is the explanation and understanding of primary cooking methods: simmering,
braising, poaching, roasting, frying, searing, etc. Each technique
is covered fully, in language familiar to non-chefs – no exclusive
techie terms here. The lesson is that good food doesn’t have to be
fancy, even when coming from one of the premier cooking schools in
the world. Inspired by a short paragraph on how the author’s group
prepared scallop appetizer, using the same simple technique, I pan
fried scallops in butter for only minutes on either side. They were,
in my husband’s opinion, the best scallops he'd ever had. You can
never beat easy and delicious!
Recommended August 2009