Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cathy's Tallking About Fall Fiction, Round Two

The Dovekeepers
In 70 C.E., nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father, an expert assassin, never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her young grandsons, rendered mute by what they have witnessed. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and an expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow soldier. Shirah, born in Alexandria, is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power.

 The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets—about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love.

The Time In Between
Between Youth and Adulthood . . .
At age twelve, Sira Quiroga sweeps the atelier floors where her single mother works as a seamstress. At fourteen, she quietly begins her own apprenticeship. By her early twenties she has learned the ropes of the business and is engaged to a modest government clerk. But everything changes when two charismatic men burst unexpectedly into her neatly mapped-out life: an attractive salesman and the father she never knew.

Between War and Peace . . .
With the Spanish Civil War brewing in Madrid, Sira leaves her mother and her fiancé, impetuously following her handsome lover to Morocco. However, she soon finds herself abandoned, penniless, and heartbroken in an exotic land. Among the odd collection of European expatriates trapped there by the worsening political situation back on the Continent, Sira reinvents herself by turning to the one skill that can save her: her gift for creating beautiful clothes.

Between Love and Duty . . .
As England, Germany, and the other great powers launch into the dire conflict of World War II, Sira is persuaded to return to Madrid, where she takes on a new identity to embark upon the most dangerous undertaking of her career. As the preeminent couturier for an eager clientele of Nazi officers’ wives, Sira becomes embroiled in the half-lit world of espionage and political conspiracy rife with love, intrigue, and betrayal.

The Language of Flowers
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

 The Art of Fielding
At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.

Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne, Henry's gay roommate and teammate, becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz, the Harpooners' team captain and Henry's best friend, realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight, Guert's daughter, returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.

As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. In the process they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths.

The Wedding Quilt
Sarah McClure arrived at Elm Creek Manor as a newlywed, never suspecting that her quilting lessons with master quilter Sylvia Bergstrom Compson would inspire the successful and enduring business Elm Creek Quilts, whose members have nurtured a circle of friendship spanning generations.

The Wedding Quilt opens as the wedding day of Sarah's daughter Caroline approaches. As Sarah has learned, a union celebrates not only the betrothed couple's passage into wedlock, but also the contributions of those who have made the bride and groom the unique people they are. Thus Sarah's thoughts are filled with brides of Elm Creek Manor past and present-the traditions they honored, the legacies they bequeathed, and the wedding quilts that contain their stories in every stitch.

A wedding quilt is a powerful metaphor: of sisterhood, of community, of hope for the future. The blocks in Caroline's wedding quilt will display the signatures of beloved guests. As the Elm Creek Quilters circulate amid the festive preparations with pens and fabric in hand, memories of the Manor-and of the women who have lived there, in happiness and in sorrow-spill forth, rendering a vivid pastiche of family, friendship, and love in all its varieties.

 A Quilter's Holiday
For the Elm Creek Quilters, the day after Thanksgiving marks the start of the quilting season, a time to gather at Elm Creek Manor and spend the day stitching holiday gifts for loved ones. This year, in keeping with the season’s spirit of gratitude, Master Quilter Sylvia Bergstrom Compson Cooper is eager to revive a cherished family tradition. A recent remodeling of the manor’s kitchen unearthed a cornucopia that once served as the centerpiece of the Bergstrom family’s holiday table. Into it, each Bergstrom would place an object that symbolized something he or she was especially thankful for that year. On this quilter’s holiday, Sylvia has invited her friends to continue the tradition by sewing quilt blocks that represent their thankfulness and gratitude.

As each quilter explains the significance of her carefully chosen block, stories of love and longing for family and friends emerge—feelings that are also expressed in the gifts they work on throughout the day. An early winter storm blankets Elm Creek Manor in heavy snow as the quilters find new meanings in their best-loved traditions and new reasons to be thankful. 

Peter Sis Brings Us His First Book for Adults

Celebrated children's book author and illustrator Peter Sís creates his first book for adults, a beautiful and uplifting adaptation of the classic twelfth-century Sufi epic poem, The Conference of the Birds.
In The Conference of the Birds Caldecott Honor-winning children's book author and illustrator Peter Sís breathes new life into this foundational Sufi poem, revealing its profound lessons. 

Sís's deeply felt adaptation tells the story of an epic flight of birds in search of the true king, Simorgh. Drawn from all species, the band of birds is led by the hoopoe. He promises that the voyage to the mountain of Kaf, where Simorgh lives, will be perilous and many birds resist, afraid of what they might encounter. Others perish during the passage through the seven valleys: quest, love, understanding, friendship, unity, amazement, and death.

Those that continue reach the mountain to learn that Simorgh the king is, in fact, each of them and all of them. In this lyrical and richly illustrated story of love, faith, and the meaning of it all, Peter Sís shows the pain, and beauty, of the human journey.

TC Tidbit: A Cool Site We Discovered

Book Drum is the perfect companion to the books we love, bringing them to life with immersive pictures, videos, maps and music. 

Whether it’s video of the Rockettes in The Catcher in the Rye, the Italian opera tracks that accompany Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, the historical context and maps of The Odyssey, stunning South American photography for In Patagonia, or video of Kabul kite fighting for The Kite Runner, we take readers beyond the page to enjoy interactive content alongside their favourite books.

 With the next generation of e-readers in mind, we’re building the biggest library of multimedia companion content for books on the Internet.  Designed using Wiki principles, anyone can contribute to it, adding to and refining each others’ work, making Book Drum one of the liveliest online communities for booklovers worldwide. If you would like to become a Contributor and build a profile of a favourite book, register here.

Each book Profile consists of:
Bookmarks: page-by-page commentary and illustration of the text
Setting: description and illustration of the main places or themes of the book
Glossary: foreign, invented and tricky words deciphered
Summary: objective synopsis of the book
Review: subjective analysis and evaluation of the book
Author: biographical information, interview videos, links and photos

Some tips for navigating Book Drum:

Use the bookmarks as your companion guide while you read the book, or enjoy them in their own right by subscribing to Bookmark of the Day.
The Summary may include plot spoilers, so be careful how much you read!
You can pan or zoom all the embedded maps, or switch between regular, satellite and terrain views.
Install Spotify, if you can, to enjoy all the music links.  Spotify is free, but is not available in all jurisdictions.
What do you think of the profile?  Add a comment to the index page.  You will need to register, but it's quick and free.
If you spot any errors, copyright infringement or other issues, please let us know by clicking the flag icon on the item concerned or by emailing the editor.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Margaret's Mysteries for 2011: The Noteman Files

Margaret is a buyer for Tattered Cover and a HUGE mystery fan.  She's been working on this list for BTC over a month to make sure she put in the best of the best of the genre published in 2011.  Click on any book cover to learn more about the book, the comments here are from Margaret.

Started Early, Took My Dog
This one is for the person who enjoys well written mysteries with unique, unforgettable characters.  I knew while reading this it would be one of my favorite books of the year.  It will also be appreciated by anyone who enjoyed the "Case Histories" on Masterpiece Mysteries on PBS in October featuring the first 3 books Jackson Brodie books.  However, this book can be read as a stand alone.

The Troubled Man
The latest Kurt Wallander literary thriller involves the disappearance of his daughter Linda's future father-in-law and former high ranking navel officer during the Cold War.  This is my other favorite book of the year.

Crunch Time
This is the fourteenth book that features Colorado caterer and sleuth extraordinaire Goldy Schulz.  Not quite a "cozy", but generally not very graphic, this book and all of her others are perfect those who love some recipes with their mysteries.

 The Snowman
Nesbo became my book obsession this year.  I read Snowman first, but I quickly read the three previous titles (The Redbreast, Nemesis and Devil's Star) featuring noir Oslo detective Harry Hole.  His specialty is tracking serial killers.  Harry is a complicated man,
struggling with addiction and relationships.  This book is not for the faint at heart.

 The Keeper of Lost Causes
When Carl Morck returns to the Copenhagen Homicide department shaken after an incident that results in the death of one officer and leaves another paralyzed, he is put in charge of nearly created "Department Q"- a cold case unit.  I loved this blend of police procedural and suspense and look forward to the next Department Q mystery.

The Most Dangerous Thing
Childhood secrets can be powerful things, and when old friends are brought together by the death of one, how will things play out?  I've always enjoyed Lippman's stand alone novels, and this one is no an exception.  Tess Monaghan makes a brief appearance, but this is
essentially a stand alone.

 The Dog Who Knew Too Much
Chet, the lovable canine hero of Dog On It, is on the case again.  Chet and Bernie are tracking a lost camper, and run into trouble on the way.  Chet's narration always makes me laugh.  Make no mistake, this is a real mystery and Chet is a real dog, and serious about his job, though he is easy distracted.  This one is for anyone who enjoys humorous mysteries.

 The Perfect Suspect
In the second book of Coel's new series featuring reporter Charlotte MacLeod (the first book is Blood Memory).  In this one, she searches for an anonymous witness to the murder of a candidate for Governor.  Will Charlotte locate the missing women before the witness, or Charlotte is murdered?  I enjoyed reading a mystery set in Denver. The Lodo Tattered Cover Coffee Shop even makes and appearance. This would be an excellent gift for a former Denver resident as well as any mystery lover.

The Vault
Inspector Wexford has retired, and is living in London with his wife Dora.  When he runs into a former colleague he is offered the chance to consult on a case involving four bodies found in a sewer drain.  The action follows A Sight for Sore Eyes, a stand alone published in 1999.  The detectives are unaware of events of that novel, so one can either read Sight for Sore Eyes, or follow along with the detectives.  Both novels would make an excellent package gift.

 As The Pig Turns
Only Agatha Raisin could find a dead body at a Winter Festival.  This one is great for the cozy reader, a wonderful break from a cold weekend.

The Boy in the Suitcase 
Nurse Nina Borg finds a drugged boy in a suitcase in a train station locker.  Is he a victim of child trafficking?  If she takes him to the police will he end up with the same person who sold him?  In a parallel story a women tracks her missing son.  Why was he stolen?  I found this book impossible to put down.

 The Leopard
This is the final Harry Hole mystery available in English (more translations are coming, too slowly for his American fans).  This mystery definitely surpassed the level of horror I can tolerate, yet I had to read to the end.  Nesbo is a master thriller writer.

Can Anything Be Worse Than Being Stuck Inside With Your Family for the Holidays?

Greg Heffley is in big trouble. School property has been damaged, and Greg is the prime suspect. But the crazy thing is, he’s innocent. Or at least sort of.

The authorities are closing in, but when a surprise blizzard hits, the Heffley family is trapped indoors. Greg knows that when the snow melts he’s going to have to face the music, but could any punishment be worse than being stuck inside with your family for the holidays?

TC Tidbit: Bookish Babyshowers

We LOVE this idea!  Check it out HERE.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Wonderful Book with an Amazing and Heartwarming Backstory

I fell for this book just because it is funny, fantastic and incredibly clever.   For a real challenge (and a lot of laughter), try reading it out loud.  When I was working on adding it to the blog, I stumbled upon it's truly inspiring backstory and just have to tell you all about it.  Read on, folks, read on.


It s an E-mergency! The letter E took a tumble and the only way to get her back on her foot is for people to stop using her. But who can take her place? The other letters have to make a decision ASAP. Z is too sleepy and Y asks way too many questions. Thankfully, O rolls in to try and save the day. Now E can rost up and got bottor . . . as long as ovorybody follows the rulos. Chock-full of verbal and visual puns, this zany book is sure to tickle both the brain and the funny bone.

Here's the original animated short by a very young and very special Ezra Fields-Meyer:

Ezra's father, Tom Fields-Meyer has written about his son that is heartwarming and joyous:
When Tom Fields-Meyer's son Ezra was three and showing early signs of autism, a therapist suggested that the father needed to grieve.

"For what?" he asked.

The answer: "For the child he didn't turn out to be."

That moment helped strengthen the author's resolve to do just the opposite: to love the child Ezra was, a quirky boy with a fascinating and complex mind. Full of tender moments and unexpected humor, Following Ezra is the story of a father and son on a ten-year journey from Ezra's diagnosis to the dawn of his adolescence. It celebrates his growth from a remote toddler to an extraordinary young man, connected in his own remarkable ways to the world around him.

From Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything In Between

A beautifully illustrated, totally engrossing celebration of the piano, and the composers and performers who have made it their own.

With honed sensitivity and unquestioned expertise, Stuart Isacoff—pianist, critic, teacher, and author of Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization—unfolds the ongoing history and evolution of the piano and all its myriad wonders: how its very sound provides the basis for emotional expression and individual style, and why it has so powerfully entertained generation upon generation of listeners. He illuminates the groundbreaking music of Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Schumann, and Debussy. He analyzes the breathtaking techniques of Glenn Gould, Oscar Peterson, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Arthur Rubinstein, and Van Cliburn, and he gives musicians including Alfred Brendel, Murray Perahia, Menahem Pressler, and Vladimir Horowitz the opportunity to discuss their approaches. Isacoff delineates how classical music and jazz influenced each other as the uniquely American art form progressed from ragtime, novelty, stride, boogie, bebop, and beyond, through Scott Joplin, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Cecil Taylor, and Bill Charlap.
A Natural History of the Piano distills a lifetime of research and passion into one brilliant narrative. We witness Mozart unveiling his monumental concertos in Vienna’s coffeehouses, using a special piano with one keyboard for the hands and another for the feet; European virtuoso Henri Herz entertaining rowdy miners during the California gold rush; Beethoven at his piano, conjuring healing angels to console a grieving mother who had lost her child; Liszt fainting in the arms of a page turner to spark an entire hall into hysterics. Here is the instrument in all its complexity and beauty. We learn of the incredible craftsmanship of a modern Steinway, the peculiarity of specialty pianos built for the Victorian household, the continuing innovation in keyboards including electronic ones. And most of all, we hear the music of the masters, from centuries ago and in our own age, brilliantly evoked and as marvelous as its most recent performance.

With this wide-ranging volume, Isacoff gives us a must-have for music lovers, pianists, and the armchair musician.

Listen to the NPR story about this book.

Audio bonus:
Just in time for the release of his book,  author Stuart Isacoff has put together a Spotify playlist of some fantastic piano pieces that will provide the perfect soundtrack to your weekend.

Stuart writes, “Here is a sampling from various categories of music-making described in the book, including Combustibles like CPE Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven, whose music simmers and explodes; Alchemists like Debussy and Cage, who transport us through the mysteries of harmonic chemistry; Melodists like Chopin and Rachmaninoff, who seduce our ears with tonal arabesques; and Rhythmitizers, who cause our toes to tap and our hips to sway.”

Listen to Stuart's playlist here.

TC Tidbit: Should YouTube Add a Literature Category?

Read what GalleyCat has to say about that.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Artist R. Crumb Celebrates His Other Great Love, Music

A landmark work that pays splendid homage to a forgotten era of seminal American music.

Robert Crumb first began drawing record covers in 1968 when Janis Joplin, a fellow Haight Ashbury denizen, asked him to provide a cover for her album Cheap Thrills. It was an invitation the budding artist couldn't resist, especially since he had been fascinated with record covers-particularly for the legendary jazz, country, and old-time blues music of the 1920s and 1930s-since he was a teen. This early collaboration proved so successful that Crumb went on to draw hundreds of record covers for both new artists and largely forgotten masters. So remarkable were Crumb's artistic interpretations of these old 78 rpm singles that the art itself proved influential in their rediscovery in the 1960s and 1970s. Including such classics as Truckin' My Blues Away, Harmonica Blues, and Please Warm My Weiner, Crumb's opus also features more recent covers done for CDs. R. Crumb: The Complete Record Cover Collection is a must-have for any lover of graphics and old-time music.

Read an interview with Crumb about the book and much more (includes a slide show of the artwork).

Perhaps the First Book Written By an "Atrocitologist"

A compulsively readable and utterly original account of world history-from an atrocitologist's point of view.
Evangelists of human progress meet their opposite in Matthew White's epic examination of history's one hundred most violent events, or, in White's piquant phrasing, "the numbers that people want to argue about." Reaching back to 480 BCE's second Persian War, White moves chronologically through history to this century's war in the Congo and devotes chapters to each event, where he surrounds hard facts (time and place) and succinct takeaways (who usually gets the blame?) with lively military, social, and political histories. With the eye of a seasoned statistician, White assigns each entry a ranking based on body count, and in doing so he gives voice to the suffering of ordinary people that, inexorably, has defined every historical epoch. By turns droll, insightful, matter-of-fact, and ultimately sympathetic to those who died, The Great Big Book of Horrible Things gives readers a chance to reach their own conclusions while offering a stark reminder of the darkness of the human heart.

TC Tidbit: A Sneak Peak At Arrietty

The movie it's based on:

This is the classic story--read and loved by children all over the world--of Pod, Homily, and their daughter, Arrietty, who live under the kitchen floor in a quiet, half-empty house and get their livelihood by borrowing from the “human beans.”

Saturday, November 26, 2011

How It Is We Can Live in the Sky

The skyscraper is perhaps the most recognizable icon of the modern urban landscape. Providing offices, homes, restaurants, and shopping to thousands of inhabitants, modern skyscrapers function as small cities- with infrastructure not unlike that hidden beneath our streets. Clean water is provided to floors thousands of feet in the sky; elevators move people swiftly and safely throughout the building; and telecom networks allow virtual meetings with people on other continents. How are these services-considered essential, but largely taken for granted- possible in such a complex structure? What does it really take to sustain human life at such enormous heights?

Exploring the interconnected systems that make life livable in the sky is the task of Kate Ascher's stunningly illustrated The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper. Ascher examines skyscrapers from around the world to learn how these incredible structures operate. Just how do skyscrapers sway in the wind, and why exactly is that a good idea? How can a modern elevator be as fast as an airplane? Why are skyscrapers in Asia safer than those in the United States? Have new safeguards been designed to protect skyscrapers from terrorism?
What happens when the power goes out in a building so tall? Why are all modern skyscrapers seemingly made of glass, and how can that be safe? How do skyscrapers age, and how can they be maintained over decades of habitation? No detail is too small, no difficulty too big to escape Ascher's encyclopedic eye.

Along the way, The Heights introduces the reader to every type of person involved in designing, building, and maintaining a skyscraper: the designers who calculate how weight and weather will affect their structures, the workers who dig the foundations and raise the lightning rods, the crews who clean the windows and maintain the air ducts, and the firefighters-whose special equipment allows blazes to be fought at unprecedented heights.

More than a technical survey, Ascher's work is a triumphant ode to the most monumental aspect of modern civilization. Saturated with vivid illustrations and unforgettable anecdotes, The Heights is the ultimate guide to the way things work in the skyscraper.

Shaq Tells It All In This Autobiography

Superman. Diesel. The Big Aristotle. Shaq Fu. The Big Daddy. The Big Shaqtus. Wilt Chamberneezy. The Real Deal. The Big Shamrock. Shaq.

You know him by any number of names, and chances are you know all about his legendary basketball career: Shaquille "Shaq" O'Neal is a four-time NBA champion and a three-time NBA Finals MVP. After being an All-American at Louisiana State University, he was the overall number one draft pick in the NBA in 1992. In his 19-year career, Shaq racked up 28,596 career points (including 5,935 free throws!), 13,099 rebounds, 3,026 assists, 2,732 blocks, and 15 All-Star appearances.

These are statistics that are almost as massive as the man himself. His presence-both physically and psychologically-made him a dominant force in the game for two decades.

But if you follow the game, you also know that there's a lot more to Shaquille O'Neal than just basketball.

Shaq is famous for his playful, and at times, provocative personality. He is, literally, outsize in both scale and persona. Whether rapping on any of his five albums, challenging celebrities on his hit television show "Shaq Vs.," studying for his PhD or serving as a reserve police officer, there's no question that Shaq has led a unique and multi-dimensional life. And in this rollicking new autobiography, Shaq discusses his remarkable journey, including his candid thoughts on teammates and coaches like Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Phil Jackson, and Pat Riley.

From growing up in difficult circumstances and getting cut from his high school basketball team to his larger-than-life basketball career, Shaq lays it all out in Shaq Uncut: My Story.

TC Tidbit: Mysterious Book Sculptures

Scotland's been gifted with some very interesting, and mysterious, book art.  Read about it HERE.

It's Small Business Saturday!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Judy B. Is Championing This Book About a Difficult Summer in a Teen's Life

In the remarkable, bizarre, and heart-wrenching summer before Cullen Witter’s senior year of high school, everything he thinks he understands about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town vanishes. His cousin overdoses; his town becomes absurdly obsessed with the alleged reappearance of an extinct woodpecker; and most troubling of all, his sensitive, gifted fifteen-year-old brother, Gabriel, suddenly and inexplicably disappears.

As Cullen navigates a summer of finding and losing love, holding his fragile family together, and muddling his way into adulthood, a young, disillusioned missionary in Africa searches for meaning wherever he can find it. Through masterful plotting, these two stories are brought face-to-face in a surprising and harrowing climax that is tinged with melancholy and regret, comedy and absurdity, and above all, hope.

Judy B. says:
"This book just got a nod from Publishers Weekly as one of the best of 2011, and a ABC New Voices Pick for 2011.

It is a beautifully written story about a young man in a small town who is experiencing the puzzling disappearance of his little brother, the death of a teen cousin from drugs, the scientific search for a missing
bird, once thought extinct, and of course, first love.

It's about death and loss and hope and belief and recovery. And second chances.

I wouldn't be surprised if it won a Newbery award this year.

This Book Will Make Foodies Swoon

Marissa Guggiana spent months on the road, interviewing, travelling, photographing, and sharing staff (or family) meals at more than fifty of America’s top sustainable restaurants from coast to coast.

For every lunch or dinner service, there is a staff meal. The best chefs in the best restaurants take their limitations—affordability, ingredients, and time—and create meals worthy of their compatriots. Ranging from small plates to multi course extravaganzas, the concept is simple: A well-fed staff is a happy one.

Guggiana looked for chefs that sourced locally, thoughtfully, with a big eco-picture in mind and a well-fed staff at their heart. The result is simply unprecedented: a no-holds-barred trip behind the kitchen door, introducing you to every chef, sous-chef, line cook, server, bus boy, bartender, hostess, sommelier, dishwasher, and manager—all of whom you will come to adore. Off the Menu, an homage to cooking with love and leftovers, makes accessibility a delight. Lush, colorful, homegrown, and delicious, it is packed with lessons, tips, substitutes, anecdotes, and American wine and beer suggestions.

At Vetri in Philadelphia, we get a family recipe from Chef Marc Vetri’s father and at Anne Quatrano’s Bacchanalia, we are whisked into the adjoining Star Provisions, described as a “culinary dream shop,” for bahn mi sandwiches. We go from gumbo to hot dogs, chicken and biscuits to duck and lettuce wraps, Tuscan kale salad to Chile Verde. It’s all here.

The icing on the cake is the chef’s profile: Guggiana’s own Escoffier Questionnaire, is a playful epicurean take on the Proust questionnaire. Who better to recommend the best coffee shop or the perfect restaurant for a splurge, than the top chefs in the country? Find out where Paul Liebrandt of Corton goes for an after-work meal and the go-to-guilty-pleasure treat of Chef Michael White of Marea. The restaurants included vary from vegetarian to rustic, old-world Italian cuisine, from Asian-fusion to contemporary Mexican, from Scandinavian to Oyster bar. These are the meals that make a staff a family and family part of the staff.

Inside Off the Menu you will find 100 recipes from more than 50 of the nation's top restaurants. Each entry includes profiles of the restaurants, Q&As with the chefs, behind-the-scenes trips to the kitchens, and dining out tips, restaurant tricks, and cooking techniques from the cream of the culinary crop. Pull back the curtain on the staff meal, and find new, exciting ways to feed your family from the best in the business.

More than 50 Profiles of America’s Top Restaurants.
 "Escoffier Questionnaires": Interviews with America’s Best Chefs.
Behind-the-scenes at America's best restaurants, featuring tips and tricks from the nation's best chefs.
More than 150 delicious, affordable, family-style recipes refined for the home cook.
More than 150 photos.

TC Tidbit: Regarding E-Books

from our friends at McLean and Eakin Booksellers in Petosky, Michigan

Just a Reminder That It's...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bonus TC Tidbit: How About A Little Literary Turducken?

Doubleday started this on Twitter a couple of days ago.   "The  #LiteraryTurducken  combines not one, not two, but three classic works into one, in the spirit of the turkey+duck+chicken creole classic."  Our friends at Mashable have created a video of some of the best so far.  Watch it HERE.

Jackie's Talking About The Hottest YA Book This Season

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

Jackie says:
"This is a fantastic book, but difficult to review because a lot of it's power is in the discoveries that happen as you read through it.  To tell you any of them would be taking away from the book, and I don't want to do that.  I can just give you the premise--the world is dying; the animals are gone, food is scarce, and survivors have been rounded up into rag-tag communities organized by The Reestablishment.  17 year old Juliette has been imprisoned in an asylum that might be for the insane or it might be for the simply unwanted.  She's a convicted murderer, but not an intentional one.  Juliette was born with an unusual power--she can kill with her touch.  No one knows why, and everyone is terrified her.  When the book begins, she hasn't touched, or spoken, to anyone, in 264 days.  Not long after we meet her, she learns of the fate The Reestablishment has for her, and her fight begins.  If you like the X-Men, Hunger Games and heavy adventure of any kind with some romance thrown in, this will catch you up in its web.  Fortunately, this is a planned series because by the time you get to the end of the book, you are going to be ravenous for what comes next."

Looking on the Bright Side On The Holidays and Every Day

There's nothing like the holidays. They bring out the best, and sometimes the worst, in everyone. Luckily, Neil Pasricha is here to remind us that not only are the holidays great but there's actually even more to celebrate than we realize. From Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa to such holidays as Mother's Day and Father's Day, Thanksgiving, and beyond, The Book of (Holiday) Awesome will show you why holidays are . . . AWESOME!

* Plugging in the Christmas lights from last year and having them all work.
* When the in-laws leave.
* Successfully regifting a present to someone who actually wants it.
* Drinking with Grandma.
* Just barely wrapping a gift with that tiny scrap of leftover wrapping paper.
* Knowing Kwanzaa is worth more Scrabble points than Hanukkah or Christmas.

TC Tidbit: Book and Drink Pairings

from the folks at HuffPost Books.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Never before have we cared so much about food. It preoccupies our popular culture, our fantasies, and even our moralizing—“You still eat meat?” With our top chefs as deities and finest restaurants as places of pilgrimage, we have made food the stuff of secular seeking and transcendence, finding heaven in a mouthful. But have we come any closer to discovering the true meaning of food in our lives?

With inimitable charm and learning, Adam Gopnik takes us on a beguiling journey in search of that meaning as he charts America’s recent and rapid evolution from commendably aware eaters to manic, compulsive gastronomes. It is a journey that begins in eighteenth-century France—the birthplace of our modern tastes (and, by no coincidence, of the restaurant)—and carries us to the kitchens of the White House, the molecular meccas of Barcelona, and beyond. To understand why so many of us apparently live to eat, Gopnik delves into the most burning questions of our time, including: Should a Manhattanite bother to find chicken killed in the Bronx? Is a great vintage really any better than a good bottle of wine? And: Why does dessert matter so much?

Throughout, he reminds us of a time-honored truth often lost amid our newfound gastronomic pieties and certitudes: What goes on the table has never mattered as much to our lives as what goes on around the table—the scene of families, friends, lovers coming together, or breaking apart; conversation across the simplest or grandest board. This, ultimately, is who we are.

Following in the footsteps of Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, Adam Gopnik gently satirizes the entire human comedy of the comestible as he surveys the wide world of taste that we have lately made our home. The Table Comes First is the delightful beginning of a new conversation about the way we eat now.

One of History's Greatest Mysteries Revealed!

The astonishing true story of Atlantis.

In 1500 B.C. a supervolcano beneath the Greek island of Santorini exploded in a near-apocalyptic eruption. Buried beneath the rubble and waves was the world’s most remarkable lost civilization. . . .
New York Times bestselling historian Gavin Menzies presents newly uncovered evidence revealing, conclusively, that “the lost city of Atlantis” was not only real but also at the heart of a highly advanced global empire that reached the shores of America before being violently wiped from the earth.

For three millennia, the legend of Atlantis has gripped the imaginations of explorers, philosophers, occultists, treasure hunters, historians, and archaeologists. Until now, it has remained shrouded in myth. Yet, like ancient Troy, is it possible that this fabled city actually existed? If so, what happened to it and what are its secrets? The fascinating reality of Atlantis’s epic glory and destruction are uncovered, finally, in these pages in thrilling detail by the iconoclastic historian Gavin Menzies—father of some of “the most revolutionary ideas in the history of history” (New York Times).

Meticulously analyzing exciting new geologic research, recently unearthed archaeological artifacts, and cutting-edge DNA evidence, Menzies has made a jaw-dropping discovery: Atlantis truly did exist, and was part of the incredibly advanced Minoan civilization that extended from its Mediterranean base to England, India, and even America. In The Lost Empire of Atlantis, he constructs a vivid portrait of this legendary civilization and shares his remarkable findings.

As riveting as an Indiana Jones adventure, The Lost Empire of Atlantis is a revolutionary work of popular history that will forever change our understanding of the past.

TC Tidbit: N.Y. Chef Shows Off His "Humongous" Bookshelf

from the folks at

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What If You Could See 15 Years Into the Future?

It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.

Jackie says:

This is a shared brain child of two already heavy hitting YA authors--Jay Asher  (Thirteen Reasons Why) and Carolyn Mackler (The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things).  In a letter to booksellers, the authors say that they decided they may want to work together before they really knew each other.  "In one of our first phone conversations, we wondered, 'What if there was a way for teenagers to see who they end up marrying?'  That was followed with, 'What if they could see that--and more--on Facebook?  Oh, and...check this out...what if Facebook hadn't been invented yet?'".

That's how the story of two teenagers, Josh and Emma, a high school sophomore and junior in 1996, begins (years before Facebook and just as computers were becoming popular), the two having been very good friends until 6 months before (when an ill-timed kiss and a freak-out got in the way of the friendship).  Emma gets a computer as a "guilt" present from her father remarries, moves to Florida and has a new baby.  Josh's mother sends him over to her house with an AOL free disc (remember those?) to use on it.  Once it is loaded in and boots up, it shows Emma her Facebook page--from 2011.  Emma lets Josh in on the secret--it turns out he has a page in 2011 too--and the weirdness multiplies.  Every time either of them makes a decision based on something they learn on Facebook, it changes their future.  This is both alluring and terrifying to the teens, and it's an intense

secret to keep.

This is an unusual book about the price of decisions and their consequences, pointing out the fact that what you do NOW can effect you FOREVER.  It's a fabulous read that just sends your mind racing with the possibilities, and the dangers, of what this glitch in time could be.

What Happened To Philip K. Dick on 2-3-74?

"A great and calamitous sequence of arguments with the universe: poignant, terrifying, ludicrous, and brilliant. The Exegesis is the sort of book associated with legends and madmen, but Dick wasn’t a legend and he wasn’t mad. He lived among us, and was a genius."—Jonathan Lethem

Based on thousands of pages of typed and handwritten notes, journal entries, letters, and story sketches, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is the magnificent and imaginative final work of an author who dedicated his life to questioning the nature of reality and perception, the malleability of space and time, and the relationship between the human and the divine. Edited and introduced by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem, this will be the definitive presentation of Dick’s brilliant, and epic, final work.

In The Exegesis, Dick documents his eight-year attempt to fathom what he called "2-3-74," a postmodern visionary experience of the entire universe "transformed into information." In entries that sometimes ran to hundreds of pages, Dick tried to write his way into the heart of a cosmic mystery that tested his powers of imagination and invention to the limit, adding to, revising, and discarding theory after theory, mixing in dreams and visionary experiences as they occurred, and pulling it all together in three late novels known as the VALIS trilogy. In this abridgment, Jackson and Lethem serve as guides, taking the reader through the Exegesis and establishing connections with moments in Dick’s life and work.

TC Tidbit: Mason Crumpacker and the Hitchens Reading List

Last month at the Texas Freethought Convention, author Christopher Hitchens spent 15 minutes creating a reading list for an eight-year-old girl named Mason Crumpacker.  Learn more about this meeting and get the list HERE.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Buy Local Week Starts This Friday!!! Help Your Local Indies and Keep Your Money In Your Community!!!

The 5th Annual Buy Local Week is coming soon! Every year, Americans do most of their holiday gift shopping the week after Thanksgiving, starting that Friday (i.e. Black Friday). And that's part of the reason why we've officially named that week Buy Local Week.

The other part of our reasoning is if we shift that spending from big box stores to neighborhood shops, we're boosting our local economy. This means, more shops can continue to provide you with a vibrant neighborhood setting as well as a great shopping experience.

So remember that where you spend your money really does matter and choose to buy local for your holiday shopping. Take advantage of this opportunity to connect with locally owned businesses in our community.