Friday, May 22, 2015

Recommended Read: The 12 Bottle Bar

 The 12 Bottle Bar: A Dozen Bottles, Hundreds of Cocktails, A New Way To Drink by David and Lesley Solmonson.
Find it in the catalog!

This book is great resource for anyone just getting into cocktails or wondering what to stock their bar with for optimal usage.  However, even hardcore cocktail geeks like myself can find some unique and creative recipes in this title.  The 12 Bottle Bar, as the title implies, highlights 12 different types of liquor for you to stock in your home bar, and then provides a plethora of recipes using each or a combination of those liquors.  The authors also supply recommendations of what brands of alcohol to buy for each of the bottles, suggesting both low and medium priced options.  The 12 bottles highlighted include:
  • Brandy
  • Genever
  • Gin
  • Amber Rum
  • White Rum
  • Vodka
  • Whiskey
  • Orange Liqueur
  • Bitters
  • Vermouth
Thankfully, I already had all of these bottles (and several others) in my home bar, so I could pat myself on the back and dive into the recipes!  However, I had to get some specialty ingredients like Orgeat syrup and Grenadine to make a few of the cocktails (mostly of the tropical variety).  To the authors' credit, they provide recipes for all their "mixers."  I'm just lazy and would rather buy than make my own.  Overall, I was really impressed with the quality and creativity of the recipes in this book.

One of my favorite sections of the book was the vodka section.  I'm a little bit of a snob when it comes to vodka.  Which is to say, I think it tastes like nothing, and there are no cocktails that you can make with it that I wouldn't rather have gin or tequila in.  However, this book makes a compelling case for the lesser spirit.  The Lemon Drop is one of my dark, guilty pleasures as a pretend liquor snob, and their recipe for a Limoncello Drop is amazing!  I add a pinch of basil or mint to garnish.  I also was a fan of their straight forward recipe for a Kamikaze shot as well.  Both good entertaining options for my less well drunk friends.

Additionally, I appreciated their chapter on Genever, though I strongly disagree that it is a bottle cocktail newbies should buy.  Genever is an acquired taste; it tastes like vodka mixed with cigarette smoke, and this is coming from a gin lover.  However, I have an ancient bottle of Bols in my freezer that I regret buying, and I appreciated the suggestions to make it slighter more palatable!  But for an actual home bar, I highly recommend buying some reposado tequila instead. 

While I disagree with the Genever recommendation, overall this is a wonderful book for anyone interested in cocktails or entertaining.  A lot of cocktail books have the same old recipes for pre-Prohibition drinks like the Old Fashioned or Last Word.  This book has a some of those recipes, but they also have lots of lesser known or newly created recipes too.  Best of all, you don't have to worry about blowing the bank on expensive, but lesser used liquors like Absinthe or Chartreuse to make any of the drinks in this book! 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

New Non-Fiction

Here's a selection of new non-fiction titles that recently hit our shelves:

A Bone to Pick: The Good and Bad News About Food, With Wisdom and Advice on Diets, Food Safety, GMOs, Farming, and More by Mark Bittman. This is a compilation of Bittman's columns for the New York Times. A bit of everything on the topic of food and how we get it.

I Regret Nothing, A Memoir by Jen Lancaster. Another humorous read from Lancaster, who reflects on middle age and her bucket list.

Goebbels: A Biography by Peter Longerich. For the history buffs (especially WWII), you can delve into this over 900-page book on Hitler's henchman Joseph Goebbels.

John Hughes: A Life in Film by Kirk Honeycutt. The size and shape of the book reminds me of a yearbook, which is fitting for this photo-packed reflection on John Hughes' life and films (Ferris Bueller, The Breakfast Club, and more).

What Katie Ate On the Weekend... by Katie Quinn Davies. Gorgeously photographed cookbook, with an international bent.

When To Rob a Bank... And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. From the authors of Freakonomics, comes this new book of the best posts from their years of blogging on their website.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. As the title simply states, Pultizer-prize winning author McCullough focuses on the first brothers of flight.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Historical Reads: Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes (2005).
Call #: Fiction Moyes (Adult New Books)
Find it in the catalog! 

I've been a big fan of British author Jojo Moyes's previous books including Me Before You and The Last Letter from Your Lover.  She writes smart, thoughtful and funny women's fiction, often times with a historical component.  One of the nice things about her growing popularity stateside is that several of her older works are now being widely published, including The Ship of Brides!

Set just after World War II and based loosely off of real events, this book follows the journey of 650 war brides from their native Australia to England to be reunited with their British husbands.  The brides travel aboard the HMS Victoria, a war ship, and are accompanied by over a thousand British naval officers.  The book primarily focuses on four women who share a cabin on this voyage. 

Maggie is a heavily pregnant farm girl who was raised by her father and is generally used to being surrounded by men.  Because she is a tomboy, she has no problem making friends with some of the men on the ship (in spite of the strict rules about fraternizing between the soldiers and the brides). She also has a warm personality and brings together the four roommates in spite their very diverse backgrounds.  Out of the roommates, Maggie has had the longest relationship with her husband, Joe. 

Avice is probably the least immediately likeable character.  She's a snooty and spoiled society girl who is unhappy with the conditions of her voyage, hoping to be on a cruise liner instead of a war ship.  She finds the other three girls to below her preferred station of friends, but it still somewhat fond of Maggie.

Jean is a teenage bride.  She is quite immature and always trying to have a good time. She knew Avice before the trip, and much to Avice's dismay, winds up sharing a cabin with her.  Jean comes from a more working class background than Avice and her love of partying sometimes gets her in trouble.

Finally, Francis was a war nurse with a mysterious past.  Francis is incredibly shy and tends to keep to herself, despite encouragement from Maggie and Jean.  She says very little about her past or the man she is married to, but acts as a strong advocate for Jean when she gets in trouble.  Because of her medical skills, she is also of assistance on the war ship.

As one might expect, despite very strict rules and punishments, there is still quite of bit of mischief between the brides and the soldiers, with much higher stakes for the brides.  As some brides begin to receive "Not Wanted, Don't Come" telegrams from their husbands, tensions begin to run high among the women on the ship.  Their is also a very sweet, Austen-esque romance between one of the women and a naval officer. 

I really liked the book, but had one minor quibble.  Avice is a pretty annoying character and it's easy to see where her plot line is going.  That said, she was a good foil for the rest of the girls, in particular Francis, who has the most compelling narrative.  Overall, this was a very enjoyable read about a little known part of history.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What Are These?

Curated by: Jack Wendt 

March 8th-March 21st

The Fox River Valley Public Library District is teaming up with the Dundee Township Historical Society to promote National Preservation Week-April 26th through May 2nd, 2015-featuring an exhibit of the permanent collection of the Dundee Township Historical Society. The exhibit is located in the Children's Department and highlights commonly used items of Dundee Township's historical past. Good for children and adults alike!

National Preservation Week is April 26th-May 2nd. Please check out our program for events throughout the week.

Monday, March 9, 2015

While You’re Waiting For: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins…

Give one of these titles a try.

The tone of these books varies, (some are more dark and menacing than others,) but they all feature female protagonists in suspenseful, psychological thrillers, in which not everything is as it seems.

The Good Girl – Mary Kubica

When Mia, the 24 year old black sheep daughter of a prominent Chicago family, is kidnapped, her kidnapper decides to take her to a location other than the one chosen by his employers, in order to save her.

                               Kiss Me First – Lottie Moggach

Leila is so introverted that the Internet feels like the perfect place to join a community of people who care what she thinks and believe that she matters, and Red Pill feels like the perfect site. Aiden, the leader of the site, even recruits her for a special mission: Leila will learn to impersonate, online, another user of the site, named Tess, so that Tess can commit suicide without her family or friends realizing she has done so.
Reconstructing Amelia – Kimberly McCreight

Kate has always worried that she has put her career ahead of her 15 year old daughter’s needs too many times. When Amelia’s exclusive private school accuses her of cheating and suspends her, that self-accusation turns to horror and grief when Kate arrives at the school to discover Amelia has committed suicide by jumping off the school’s roof. The school, and the police, believes overachieving Amelia was simply distraught… until her mother receives a text reading: Amelia didn’t jump.

                                     Just What Kind of Mother Are You? – Paula Daly

Lisa Kalisto, an English suburban mother, is plunged into guilt and fear when her best friend’s daughter disappears, during the time Lucinda was supposed to be at Lisa’s house for a sleepover, and two weeks after the abduction of another local teen.

The Fever – Megan Abbott

When the teen girls, but not the boys, of her small town in Maine begin showing signs of an inexplicable epidemic, Deenie is trapped in a situation with eerie parallels to the events in The Crucible.

                                       Dare Me – Megan Abbott

Addy has always been the loyal second-in-command, and Beth the queen, of their high school cheerleading squad, but when a new coach turns the squad, and their lives, upside down, Addy discovers how frightening Beth can be.

The End of Everything -- Megan Abbott

As friends, thirteen year old girls can be inseparable, and will claim they know everything about each other, but when Lizzie’s friend Evie goes missing, she knows enough about her friend to follow clues the police ignore, but maybe not as much as she thought she did… about Evie, or about the neighborhood.

         How to be a Good Wife – Emma Chapman

Marta’s son is grown, and her husband ignores her – except for making sure that she always takes her medication. She has used a marriage manual, How To Be a Good Wife, given to her by her mother-in-law, as her life’s guide for two decades, but when Marta stops taking her medication, she experiences strange flashbacks, personality changes, and memories that may or may not be real.

Before I Go to Sleep – S.J. Watson

Christine is in her 40’s, but, due to an accident that created ongoing near-term memory loss, she wakes up every day believing she is in her 20’s. Her husband and doctor try to help, but when she re-reads the journal she has been keeping in an attempt to reconstruct her memories, she realizes she can trust only herself.

You may not be able to sleep well after reading some of these, but they'll keep you turning pages! (And if you want to place a a hold on The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, click on the title.)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Recommended Read: Popular Crime by Bill James

Author Bill James is most famous for his baseball abstract books. Popular Crime is quite the departure. This book will be a bit hard to fully explain, but here goes. The basic premise is a chronological review (at 482 pages!) of crimes that have impacted popular culture and/or the justice system. As a well-read true crime aficionado, he slips in critiques of books on the various crimes he discusses, he devises a system of labeling crimes, does some amateur sleuthing, and drops in his theories on why the justice system, and prisons in particular, need some reform.

Because the book is complex in topic it will turn-off some readers. However, I felt he wrote as though he was having a conversation with the reader. (And, who has a conversation in a completely linear way?) He has some interesting theories on the Kennedy assassination, and dissects the Lizzie Borden murders and Lindbergh baby kidnapping thoroughly (I won't divulge his opinions on the guilt or innocence in these cases). He doesn't touch on every famous case (Leopold and Loeb are missing, among others) and some cases you may not have heard of, but were a big deal in their time. Besides obviously appealing to true crime readers, it may also appeal to people interested in sociology and popular culture in general.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

New Non-Fiction

Here's a sampling of some new non-fiction book hitting our shelves:

Arts & Crafts: Living With the Arts & Crafts Style by Judith Miller. A photographic look at the wares of famous Arts & Crafts makers, from Grueby to Tiffany to Oakes.

Hand Made Baking: Recipes to Warm the Heart by Kamran Siddiqi. Perfect recipes for a cold winter night, with gorgeous photos help you along the way.

 It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario. Memoir of a female war photographer (who has been kidnapped twice).

Journeys Home: Inspiring Stories, Plus Tips & Strategies to Find Your Family History. Those interested in travel and/or genealogy will want to check this out. Includes an entry by Andrew McCarthy, the 80s "Brat Pack" actor. Lots of nice photos.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind by Yuval Noah Harari. It's kind of amazing that this book is only 443 pages, although it does say "brief."

Selected Letters of Langston Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel with Christa Fratantoro. Letters of the famous 20th century poet. Presented chronologically by decade.

This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth?: From Eggnog to Beef Jerky, the Surprising Secrets of What's Inside Everyday Products by Patrick Di Justo. Ignorance is bliss, right? After you read this, you might change your mind about some of the products you consume.