Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Drink Ideas

 Ah...the holiday season- a constant stream of holiday parties, eating, being surrounded by your entire family,'s like being trapped in a wedding that last a month in a half.  But lest you come down with a serious case of bah-humbugs*, there are some upsides- mainly, cookies, presents and best of all cocktails.  Odds are you have to attend at least one  (if not a slew of) holiday fête(s) this year.  Instead of trying to avoid your relatives by hiding the bathroom, try playing bartender and test out a recipe from one of the books below:

Beer Cocktails by Howard and Ashley Stezler
Call No.: 641.973 STE
Find it in the catalog!

Using beer to make cocktails is a great way to lighten up a drink and give it an interesting edge.  This book has lots of great beer cocktails for the holiday season.  The Maru (p.33) seems like a safe bet for a holiday brunch with it's mixture of blackberries, St. Germain liqueur and Sappora.  The Lager Grog (p.28) looks like a fine drink for a cold night with Sam Adams Boston Lager, apple cider, sherry and cloves.  Finally, for something fancy,  the Belgian 75 (p.45) is a twist on the French 75, with Belgian pale ale standing in for Champagne.

Boozy Brunch by Peter J. Joseph
Call No.: 641.874 JOS
Find it in the catalog!

Just because your party starts before noon, it doesn't mean you can't have a cocktail.  This book is full of light drink recipes including mimosas, Bellinis and other brunch favorites.  For those of you who like your drink to double as a meal, there is a whole chapter on Bloody Marys.  I'm not a huge fan of coffee in my cocktail, but the Café Brûlot Diabolique (p. 30) looks intriguing with its notes of cinnamon and clove.  The Lady Germain cocktail (p.79) is a fun twist on the classic St. Germain cocktail, with the addition of strawberries and gin.  Le Perroquest (p. 80) is a sophisticated version of the mimosa with a dash of Campari and gin.  Finally, it's not clear to me if the Smoked Martinez (p.139) with it's bacon-infused gin and maple syrup would be delicious or disgusting, but it certainly would be a conversation starter. 

Dr. Cocktail: 50 Spirited Infusions to Stimulate the Body and Mind by Alex Ott.
Call No.: 641.874 OTT
Find it in the catalog!

Do you want a cocktail that also has curative qualities?  Check out this book by chemist, mixologist and "master alchemist" Alex Ott.  Several of the recipes come with lists of the "active" ingredients in the cocktail.  The drinks are organized by the mood they create (i.e. "aphrodisiacs and magic tinctures," "memory-evoking elixirs") or the conditions (i.e. ""anti-stress cocktails and mental health elixirs.")  For a lighter holiday drink, check out the Fountain of Youth (p. 77) which combines white cranberry juice with cucumbers and gin.  A good drink for reminiscing over holidays past is the appropriately titled Xmas (p.148) which has clementines, gingerbread spice and clementine vodka in it.  Finally, a good party fix-it and forget-it drink is the Rembrandt sangria (p. 174)- a combination of tequila, pinot grigrio (or merlot) and cranberry juice infused with hibiscus tea.

Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles, and Snacks by Rick Bayless.
Call No.: 641.5973 BAY
Find it in the catalog!

Love margaritas, but don't find yourself satisfied by the run of the mill, pre-made mix variety?  This book is perfect for you.  There are lots of fancy, impressive margarita (and mezcal cocktails) here, as long as you don't mind infusing your tequila or making your own margarita mix.  Bayless even has a section on seasonal cocktails that make it easy to plan for your holiday parties.  Stand out recipes include a Tangerine Spice Margarita (p. 29-30) and a Sparkling Ginger Margarita (p. 39-40). 

The PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan and Chris Gall
Call No.: 641.874 MEE
Find it in the catalog!

If your family and friends are pretty straightforward drinkers, this book will likely go over there heads.  However, if you want to impress your cocktail nerd friends, this is the book to do that.  There are plenty of drink infusions and obscure liquors that are sure to impress even the most seasoned (and snobby) drinker.  Good holiday drink recipes include: a Cranberry Cobbler (p.97) with simple syrup made with macerated cranberries, Hot Butterred Pisco (p. 144-5) is a combination of two common winter drinks: irish coffee and hot buttered rum, an Apple Daiquiri (p. 51) is a classy alternative of appletini fans, Vieux Carré (p. 262) is a pretty classic cocktail with a warming combo of rye whiskey and cognac.  Finally for fans of sparkling drinks, there is a Framboise Fizz (p. 124) with tequila, crème de cacao and Fraimboise Belgian ale. 

For more drink ideas, check out my post from last year!

*yes, I hate myself for saying this too.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Recommended Reads: Always a Bridesmaid Edition...

Wedding season is pretty much over this year; which means you can resume doing whatever you like on weekends and not having to get dressed up (well, for a couple more weeks anyway, when the holiday season begins).  However, it's not too late to relive the fun (or dread) with these two wedding themed reads.  Don't worry, I'm not a huge fan of weddings.  So if you aren't the type of person whose been planning your wedding since you were 12, you will still enjoy these books.

The Singles by Meg Goldstein
Find it in the catalog!

The only thing worse than attending a wedding, is having to go to one alone.  This book follows the plight of five such unfortunate souls who choose to attend the lavish wedding of Beth "Bee" Evans solo, in spite of the bride's generous offer of a plus one.  Three of "the singles" are friends from college: Hannah- a bridesmaid who is worried about seeing her ex-boyfriend again; Vicki-who is suffering from depression, and Rob-who is unable to make it to the ceremony because of a sick dog.  Another single, Bee's Uncle Joe, is in the midst of mid-life crisis and develops a crush on the much younger Vicki.  The last single is Phil, a die hard momma's boy who is only attending the wedding because his mother is sick and can't attend.  There's a lot of drama, some life altering changes, and a little romance.  The Singles is a fun, light and short read.  I could definitely see this book being made into movie, especially since Hannah works as a casting director and basically casts the book.

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
Find it in the catalog!

This title follows a group of friends from the time they graduate to college to their early thirties.  Throughout this time period, the girls attend many, many weddings (including being bridesmaids for a bridezilla who demands a seemingly endless amount of bridal showers) and watch their friends pair off and settle down.  Women in their twenties and thirties will probably identify with at least one of the girls.  I really liked this book a lot.  It's smart, introspective, a little wistful and very funny.  Recommended for fans of Curtis Sittenfeld. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Up Your Sandwich Game!

 Unbeknownst to me, August was National Sandwich Month.  So while you may have missed your opportunity to celebrate your favorite lunchbox component (this year!), you are still probably going to eat a sandwich every now and again.  So why not try something different?  Check out one of our many sandwich recipe books!:

Funky Lunch by Mark Northeast.
Call No.: 641.84 NOR
Find it in the catalog!

Want to make all the other kids jealous of your child's lunch? Check out this book.  This is less of a recipe book, and more of a food craft book.  You can find how to make a sandwich that looks like a rooster, a piano, or even the Loch Ness monster.

Adorable Sandwiches:  Chomp, chomp! (Caterpillar sandwich, p. 13), Make it snappy! (crocodile sandwich, p.21), Nessy (p.39), and Take Things Slowly (snail sandwich, p. 77).

Lunchbox Horror!:  Clowning around (p.65).

Grilled Cheese, Please! by Laura Werlin
Call No.: 641.84 WER
Find it in the catalog!

Bread and cheese are probably my two favorite types of food ever, so I'm definitely a fan of grilled cheese sandwiches.  This book has tips for grilled cheese perfection and loads of different recipes.

Looks yummy:  Smoky Kim-Cheese (Kimchi, gouda, and ham on baguette, p. 34), Camembert and Comte with Mushrooms (p. 65), and the Cubano (p. 87).

Insanewiches by Adrian Fiorino
Call No.: 641.84 FIO
Find it in the catalog!

Like Funky Lunch, this is more of an art book than a sandwich book.  There are lots of sandwiches that resemble objects or people (the Hulk hoagie, p. 82), or are just plain weird.  I don't think I'd attempt to make anything in here.  However, it is an incredibly fun book to flip through.

Adorable Sandwiches:  Eggo-ticons (p. 30), One Tough Cookie (p.90), the Cordless Mousewich with USB Cheesestick (p. 152), the 'Stachewich (p. 154), Flatbread Fred (p. 162) and the Curious Carrot Cake Sandwich (p. 212).

Eww...:  The Quadruple Down (four fried chicken breasts layered with bacon, cheese and special sauce between, p. 110), The Sumo Sandwich (p.116), Banana Split Trickwich (p. 122), and The Bananconator (bananas, chocolate and bacon, p. 150).

Panini Express by Daniel Leader and Lauren Chattman
Call No.: 641.84 LEA
Find it in the catalog!

Do you still have a panini maker lying around your house from when paninis were all the rage several years ago?  You're in luck.  While panini's may no longer be the "it" sandwich, they are still pretty yummy.  Even if you tossed the panini grill ages ago, you can make one stove top (just use another frying pan as a press).

Looks good:  Grilled asparagus, taleggio and prosciutto (p. 56), Manchego, chorizo and caramelized onions (p. 70), Fresh salmon croque madame (p. 108), and Shrimp, avocado, and mango salsa quesadillas (p. 116).

The Big New York Sandwich Book by Sarah Reistad-Long and Jean Tang.
Call No.: 641.84 REI
Find it in the catalog!

This book compiles 99 sandwich recipes from NYC chefs and restaurants.  Even hardcore foodies will find something new to try!

Looks yummy:  Smoked brisket with cheese and smoked chili jam (p. 124), Baguette bahn mi with daikon pickle (p. 176), Adobo pulled pork bun (p. 184),  and Chilorio tortas (p. 196).

Roadfood Sandwiches by Jane and Micheal Stearn
Call No.: 641.84 STE
Find it in the catalog!

Whether you are looking for a new (or retro) sandwich recipe, or a place to stop on your next road trip, this book will help you find something delicious.  Jane and Michael Stern have compiled sandwich recipes from across the United States and you can definitely spot the regional flare.

Looks good!:  Carnitas  from Roque's Carnitas Wagon in Sante Fe, NM (p. 34), Crab Bruschetta from Bread and Ink Cafe in Portland, OR (p. 55), Diana's Different Drummer (Brisket on Rye) from Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor, MI (p. 66), and Smoked Salmon Spread from Smoke House Restaurant in Forks, WA (p.212).

'Wichcraft by Tom Colicchio
Call No. 641.84 COL
Find it in the catalog!

Last but not least, 'Wichcraft is definitely my favorite sandwich book of the bunch.  By Top Chef host Tom Colicchio, this book is full of enviable looking sandwiches and gorgeous photographs.  Don't look at it on an empty stomach!

Looks good!:  Pretty much everything, but especially: Chopped chickpeas with roasted peppers, black olives, lemon confit, and parsley (p. 59), Roasted shrimp salad with tomatoes and olives (p. 75), and Fried squid po-boy with avocado and black chile oil (p. 110). 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Romance in the Stacks: Tempted Again by Cathie Linz

Tempted Again by Cathie Linz
PB Romance Linz
Find it in the catalog!

Teen librarian Marissa Bennett has just went through a painful divorce and wants to start over in her hometown of Hopeful, OH.  Unfortunately, she doesn't exactly make the best first impression when she makes a wrong turn and accidentally crashes the Founder's Day in her beat up lime green VW bug.  She's pulled over by hunky cop Connor Doyle.  Doyle is a former, third generation Chicago police officer who moved to Hopeful after seeing too many of the teens he was trying to protect from gangs wind up murdered.  He also has a history with Marissa.  They dated when she was in high school and they worked at the same pizza place.  Connor dumped her with not even so much as a phone call.  Naturally, she still hates him.

However, the fates seem to keep on pushing them together.  First, Marissa and Connor are forced to work together on a teen group.  Then, Marissa accidentally signs a lease next to Connor. No way these two adversaries get over their mutual disdain and find true love, right?

Praise:  Cathie Linz is a former librarian, so the portrayal of Marissa's job is pretty accurate.  I like the support characters a lot, especially Connor's extremely proud, Polish granny.  Marissa's dad, a history professor who turns every conversation into a dissertation on ancient Egypt, is pretty funny too.  Also, I found the obstacles to Marissa and Connor's relationship refreshingly realistic.  Marissa is on the rebound and has been hurt by Connor once before, and Connor isn't ready to settle down yet. 

Quibbles:  I'm kind of tired of the police officer/ librarian pairing.  This is the third library romance where the love interest is an officer.  Nothing against dreamy cops (or anyone dreamy), but I'd like a little more variety!  Why not a dreamy firefighter or chef for a change? 

Overall, this book was pretty enjoyable.  It's not too sappy or emotional like some of the romances that I've read.  Some parts of the book are laugh-out loud funny. Tempted Again reads more like witty chick-lit than a traditional romance novel.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

So hot right now: Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn is so hot right now since releasing her third novel Gone Girl in early June to wide acclaim (hints that it will be on many "best of 2012" lists). Because it might be difficult to get your hands on her newest, don't hesitate to get one of her older titles Sharp Objects or Dark Places.

Flynn's novels may not be for everyone; they are dark and suspenseful (although there is occasionally a drollness that pops up). But, and it's a big but, they are skillfully written and rewarding. Her characterization in both books are stellar. She writes people and dialogue realistically and the reader meets the characters as one would in person-- over time. Though this technique might imply a slow-paced read, they aren't.

Sharp Objects follows Camille Preaker, a reporter living in Chicago who is tapped by her boss to return to her home town in Missouri to report on the murders of two young girls. She is not pleased about this prospect, and we find out why as she re-introduces herself into the world of Wind Gap, Missouri. Camille is shut-out of the official investigation by the sheriff, but she's always got good 'ole gossip to go on. However, things get uncomfortable the minute she's back in her childhood home: the memories of her long-dead little sister, her cold mother, her step-father without a spine and her pre-teen half-sister who's got a reputation around town as a trouble maker. She reverts back to her own dark thoughts and memories in mere days of being back home while trying to find out what happened to the two murdered girls.

Dark Places begins 20-odd years after the murder of Libby Day's family. She and her brother Ben were the only two survivors, but Ben is in jail for the murders and Libby (as a seven-year-old) helped put him there. When a so-called murder club offers her money-- something she's run out of-- Libby is motivated to begin an investigation of that day. Did Ben really murder her mother and two sisters?
Libby isn't the most likeable of characters, but, once again, Flynn presents a truthful persona born from a deeply traumatized childhood. Dark Places is also an exceptional study in perception. Flynn drops details which seem insignificant, but we come to find out aren't. What is one person's innocent belongings are another person's proof of guilt. Chapters alternate between Libby in present day, and Ben and their mother, Patty, the day in 1985 leading to the overnight murders. It's an effective device for keeping the suspense afloat as well as giving the reader some perspective. (To those it may interest: in mid May Amy Adams was reportedly in talks to play Libby in the film adaptation of this book.)

Sharp Objects
Find it in the Catalog!

Dark Places
Find it in the Catalog!

Gone Girl
Find it in the Catalog!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Romance in the Stacks: Open Season by Linda Howard

Open Season by Linda Howard
Find it in the catalog!
Daisy Minor is a small town librarian in Alabama, who initially seems very librarian-like.  She's in her 30s and still lives with her mom and aunt.  She hasn't been on date in years and dresses very frumpy.  Basically, she's a pair of glasses and a cat away from a perfect stereotype.  However, on her 34th birthday, she has an awakening.  She wants a husband and family.  So she gets a makeover from Todd Lawrence, a gay antiques dealer in town who once worked on Broadway.  Now blonde and fabulous, she decides to frequent nearby bars to meet men.  Unfortunately, she seems to keep running into brawny cop Jack Russo at every turn, making people think they are couple.  However, when she unknowingly witnesses something sketchy at a night club one evening, Daisy just might need Jack's help.

Praise:  This book has a definite sense of humor about it, even though the actual mystery is quite dark.  The characters are unique and quirky, not the standard romance archetypes.  Daisy is humorously naive, yet super competent and intelligent.  Jack Russo is sharp-witted and not afraid to swear (every other word or so).  But he's also good at his job and tough as nails.  Some of the interactions between Jack and Daisy are laugh out loud funny.  It definitely has more of a screwball romance vibe to it.  Howard also does a good job at portraying small town life and gossip in a lighthearted way.

Quibbles: Okay, this really isn't Linda Howard's fault or anything, but I kept on picturing Jack Russo as Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.  Both worked as police officers in New York and Chicago, and have greying hair.  The similarities are eerie!  No offense to McCarthy, but I wouldn't exactly describe him as dreamy.  Thank goodness Jack doesn't have a mustache!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  The murder mystery isn't really that much of mystery, but it kept me on edge of my seat as to how it was going to play out.  I would highly recommend the book to fans of Janet Evanovich or Meg Cabot's Heather Wells mysteries.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Romance in the Stacks: Montana Creeds: Dylan by Linda Lael Miller

Montana Creeds: Dylan by Linda Lael Miller.
Find it in the catalog!

Montana is a apparently the official state of library romance, since both The Librarian's Secret Scandal AND this book are set there.  The Montana Creeds series follows three Creed brothers: Logan, Taylor and Dylan, as they learn to tame their wild Creed ways and settle down.  In this book, we follow middle brother Dylan.  Once a hard-partying rodeo cowboy, Dylan is now trying to take care of his two year daughter Bonnie after her equally wild mother left her is his truck one night.  Dylan returns to home to Stillwater Springs to ask his lawyer brother Logan for help gaining sole custody of Bonnie.  However, once in town, he starts to develop feelings again for the town librarian, Kristy Madison, whom he dated before he got into a drunken brawl with his brothers at his dad's funeral.  Kristy is still single but really wants a family.  She is slightly wary of Dylan, but immediately taken with Bonnie. However, she has a lot on her plate right now, like the fact that they found two bodies in her parents yard and her father might have been the killer!   

Praise:  I liked the character of Bonnie.  She seemed like a realistic two year old troublemaker.  I also really liked Dylan's relationship with his brothers.  They are a bunch of stubborn, good ol' boys who reminded me a lot of the Riggins' boys on Friday Night Lights- but with a lot more money. In fact, Taylor Kitsch would be my pick to play Dylan in the movie version. 

Quibbles:  I didn't really like Kristy Madison.  I thought it was cool that she was handy and kind of a spinster (though she's only like 30 in the book), but I didn't like how baby-obsessed she was.  This plays into one creepy, but supposedly romantic love scene.  I also think it's unrealistic that she would be a perfect caretaker to Bonnie right away, despite not having any kids of her own and seeming to be an only child.  I mean, we don't even know if she babysat before taking care of Bonnie!  

I also though the plot was kind of uneven.  It seems like more attention is paid to Dylan's struggles against following in the Creed legacy of being poor parents and jerk husbands, than the murder mystery surrounding Kristy's family. I found the latter plot more interesting, but it never really built up that much suspense. Of course, being a romance book over a mystery, you kind of know how it's going to end anyhow.  Overall, this was not my favorite library romance.  I'd only recommend it to fans of the series or dreamy cowboys.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Recommended read : Hedy's Folly by Richard Rhodes

A famous Hollywood actress and an American composer, predominately active in the first half of the 20th century, are basically responsible for the fact that you can make a cell phone call today. It's so refreshing when you read about the unexpected.

In 1940, Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil invented a secret communication system which was (and is) the basis for many communication technology advances in the last half century, including but not limited to, the cell phone. Lamarr and Antheil created a system that would allow frequency hopping (or spread spectrum). 

Rhodes quotes quite a bit directly from Lamarr and Antheil themselves, as well as Antheil's wife Boski. This is fascinating in that the reader is able to hear it directly from the source. The portions about the patent process were informative as well. Hedy's Folly is not an in depth biography of either subject, rather a biography of what led each to be informed, meet, and develop their invention together. Hedy was influenced early on by her father, who encouraged her to think about how things were made (Hedy, in fact, invented other things). She was also influenced heavily by her first husband, Fritz Mandl, who was a very wealthy munitions manufacturer in Austria. Hedy was naturally exposed to his colleagues and work-life, paid attention, and as a result, most likely learned a lot about weapons-- which would help in her developments with Antheil.

Antheil had other endeavors besides his avant-garde composing: he briefly wrote articles and a column for Esquire magazine, and wrote two books (one about the coming involvement of the US in WWII and the second an autobiography entitled Bad Boy of Music). But, most importantly, George's early musical compositions were mechanically inclined. In one of his most famous symphonies, Ballet Mecanique, he used an airplane propeller, among other things, and tried to synchronize multiple player pianos (pianos that automatically played using pre-programmed music). His experiments with synchronicity would become a fundamental pillar of their invention.

While Hedy found fame during her lifetime, which inevitably waned with age, Antheil found modest fame, often barely scraping by financially. At the time, they did not gain much attention for this influential invention. It's such an inherently interesting story-- it's not to be missed.

Hedy's Folly by Richard Rhodes
Find it in the catalog! (Book)
Find it in the catalog! (eBook)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Awkward Moments with Ted Allen

What's the only thing better than delicious looking food pictures in cookbooks?  That's right, goofy, awkward chef photographs.  Thankfully the chefs keep them coming.  In Ted Allen's defense, I think most of these pictures are supposed to be funny.  Also both of his cookbooks look like they have some yummy recipes inside. 


Pepper spray?  Like I'd be afraid of that; I'm immune!

This is how a man eats a steak!  One bite!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tome Trivia

I had a reference question recently about the first book printed in the United States, which wasn't too hard to track down: The Whole Booke of Faithfully Translated Psalmes in English Metre, more commonly know as the Bay Psalms Book. It was printed in 1640 and, as the title suggests, is an English translation of scripture. Read more about it, and see a couple of photos, at the Library of Congress American Treasures webpage.

So, now you can throw out this tidbit of information at your next party and impress (?) your friends.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Recommended read: The Watch That Ends The Night

The Watch That Ends The Night: Voices From the Titanic by Allan Wolf
Find it in the catalog!

In The Watch That Ends The Night poet Allan Wolf narrates the tragic maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic through poems in verse. The poems are told from the points of view of the passengers and crew on the ship, from millionaire John Jacob Astor to third class refugee Jamila Nicola-Yarred, from Captain E.J. Smith to assistant telegraphic operator Harold Bride, from shipbuilder Thomas Andrews to postman Oscar Woody. Other voices include nine-year-old Frankie Goldsmith, who hopes to find dragons on the journey, the ship rat ("follow the food"), and even the iceberg:
I am the ice; I am of water made.
That's why it's now of water that I speak:
Watch how the water licks Titanic's hull.
Hear how the water makes her rivets creak.
See how, before her trip even begins,
the water is obsessed with getting in. (p. 43)

This creative approach to writing about the Titanic really intrigued me and made this book a real page-turner. The reader follows the days leading up to the sailing, time at sea, the sinking, and the survivors' time on the Carpathia, the ship that rescued them. Wolf intersperses Titanic's journey with poems from the point of view of undertaker John Snow, as he works to retrieve the bodies from the sea.

This book is well-researched, and I learned new facts about the passengers and particulars about the ship, including morse code. Wolf provides character notes at the back of the book discussing liberties he took with certain people, in addition to translated morse code messages and a helpful bibliography.

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical fiction and those interested in the Titanic. The Watch That Ends the Night is an engrossing read that connects the reader to the passengers and crew of the Titanic in a way that other books do not.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book spine poetry

April is National Poetry Month, and since we are currently in the middle of National Library Week (today is National Library Workers Day), I thought about writing some poems with library books. You read that right-- I was inspired to break out some book spine poetry.

To create book spine poetry all you have to do is wander up and down the rows of shelves and pick out eye-catching titles. Then lay the books out on a table, and you're ready to stack them on top of each other to assemble your poems. Here are the poems I created from books I grabbed from the adult and teen collections:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cute Author Alert: Jens Lapidus

Jens Lapidus is a Swedish criminal defense lawyer turned author (with a penchant for extra wide ties).  His debut novel, Snabba Cash (Easy Money, for you non-Swedes), was just recently translated into English.  Snabba Cash is the first part of the Stockholm Noir series, which has already spawned two sequels in Sweden.  I haven't had the chance to check out the book yet (beyond the author photo), but his writing has been compared to James Ellroy and Dennis Lehane.  Sounds promising!

Check out Snabba Cash in the catalog!

Side rant:  I'm sure I'm the only person bothered by this.  But the o-slash (Ø) that is in "money" on the cover is not actually a letter used in Swedish.  The o-slash is a Danish, Norwegian thing.  Swedes would use an o-umlaut (Ö), thank you very much.  But whatever, I'm sure the graphic designer just thought it was cute.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New York Public Library's "Mad Men" Reading List

If you are a dedicated fan of AMC's Mad Men (and I'm just going to assume that you are), you know that the characters frequently reference books and films specific to the show's 1960s milieu. One of the more notable examples would be Don Draper's  moving voice-over recitation of a poem by Frank O'Hara in the second season. But even the more casual glimpses of what books the characters are interested in can be revealing. Don's daughter, Sally, reads age-appropriate Nancy Drew mysteries. Bert Cooper, not surprisingly, extols the virtues of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand's 1100-page love letter to the free market. The ladies of the secretarial pool whisper about Lady Chatterley's Lover, the genuinely racy D.H. Lawrence novel that was the subject of an influential obscenity trial in 1959. These are just a few of the many literary works that have been spotted on Mad Men. And, for that reason, we can thank the fine librarians at the New York Public Library for compiling a fairly extensive list of the books cited throughout the show's run. Needless to say, you can search our catalog for any of the titles that interest you.

The 'Mad Men' Reading List - New York Public Library

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Recipe Tester: The PDT Cocktail Book

The PDT Cocktail Book (2011) by Jim Meehan and Chris Call
Call No.: 641.874 MEE
Find it in the catalog! 

Named after the super popular NYC cocktail lounge PDT at which nationally renowned mixologist, Jim Meehan, is the head bartender, the PDT Cocktail Book is a must read for bartenders and cocktail geeks.  It has all kinds of information on how to set up a bar, bar etiquette, bartending techniques, a lengthy bibliography (lest you run out of cocktail books to read), and lots and lots of recipes.  Even cooler, Jim Meehan includes liquor recommendations and exact recipes for drinks served at PDT, so if you can recreate them at home, if you are so inclined. That is--if you have the skills and a sizable liquor budget. Meehan also provides the background for each drink in the book, so you know who was responsible for creating a drink, as well as when and where a drink was created.  

To test out the cocktails in the book, I tried making to unusual PDT cocktails that involved some liquor infusing- Benton's Old Fashion and the Cinema Highball.  Below are the results of my experiments: 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Book(s) I Read

I've been on string of good books.  Below of my favorite reads of late: 

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (2011)
Find it in the catalog!
This is a cute book about three semi-dysfunctional sisters who return home to a small Ohio college town care for their mother who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Their father was a Shakespearean scholar, so each of the girls have a Bard-inspired name.  They are all also running from something.  The eldest Rose (Rosalind) is happily engaged, but is concerned as her fiance isn't as tied to staying in Ohio as she is and he seems to have his heart set on working for Oxford University.  She has long been the family caretaker and is worried the rest of them will be unable to survive on their own.  Bean (Bianca) is the middle child who leaves New York City in debt, after being fired for skimming off the payroll at her law firm.  The youngest, Cordy (Cordelia) is the overgrown baby of the family who had been living a hippy nomadic existence (partly funded by her parents) until she discovered she is pregnant.  The Weird Sisters is definitely a light, fun read with a fair amount of literary allusions, so it's a guilt-free pleasure! 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (2012)
 Find it in the catalog!
This book is about two teenagers with cancer who fall in love.  Hazel Lancaster is a 16-year-old girl who has been diagnosed with terminal thyroid cancer, but her life has been lengthened indefinitely by a "miracle drug" that she started taking when she was 13.  At a cancer support group meeting she runs in the gorgeous Augustus Waters, a 17-year-old boy whose in remission but lost his leg to cancer.  The two quickly hit it off and bond over a book called "An Imperial Affliction" by a reclusive author named Peter Van Houten.

I was worried that I wouldn't really enjoy this book.  The premise sounds like it could easily be maudlin and Nicholas Sparks-y.  Thankfully, John Green managed to strike the right balance.  This book is definitely my favorite thing he's ever written.  It's funny, romantic and just a little bit heartbreaking. Highly recommend!

Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner (2011)
Find it in the catalog!
This is a story of two childhood friends, Vaclav and Lena (collectively Vaclena).  Both are Russian immigrants who live in Brighton Beach in Brooklyn.  Vaclav is an only child who lives with his loving parents and dreams of being the next Harry Houdini.  His lovely assistant Lena isn't so lucky.  She's an orphan who lives with her aunt and is largely neglected.  Vaclav's mom, Rasia, takes Lena under her wings, but she can't save her from her home life.  Eventually Rasia witnesses something horrifying and Lena is taken away.  Later on, Vaclav and Lena meet up again as teenagers. 

Though the subject matter is often dark, this is a delightful book.  I really like the character of Rasia and her point-of-view.  She is a tough, hardworking mother but she is also so loving and tolerant.  I listened to audiobook, which is wonderfully acted. It's hard to imagine reading this in print as the thick Russian accents were half of the fun!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Favorite Literary Romances

In honor of the most famous Hallmark holiday: Valentine's Day, I thought it would be fun to discuss favorite literary romances. This topic is kind of a can of worms because people often have strong feelings towards their favorite books and couples, while finding other romances (cough: The Notebook) a little too sappy.  Personally, I'm not a big romance reader; however, I'm a sucker for anything British and literary.  And like any girl who spends too much time with her nose in a book, I love Jane Austen.  However, for my choice of all-time favorite romance novel has to be Jane Eyre.  Jane is strong, smart heroine and Rochester is uber-dreamy, even if he has some minor personal problems like (spoiler alert!) a crazy pyromaniac wife.   Below are a couple of runner-up favorites for me.  I realize I'm leaving out a lot of usual suspects (Romeo and Juliet, Gone With The Wind, Wuthering Heights, and so on), so please feel free to post your favorite literary romances in the comments!
Find Jane Eyre in the catalog!


Sense and Sensibility: Before you curse my name- yes, I love Pride and Prejudice and Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy are awesome.  However, my favorite Austen novel is Sense and Sensibility.  Even though I know what's coming, I still get a little weepy at the end. 
Find it in the catalog!

Speaking of Austen, I'm a big fan of Persuasion as well.  Captain Wentworth is a catch, even if he's a little bit stubborn!
Find it in the catalog!

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. This book is about more than the relationship between Kath and Tommy, but I really liked the way their relationship grows and changes over time.  Ishiguro is a master at breaking your heart, so have tissues handy!
Find it in the catalog!