Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Linda says, "For a great armchair adventure, you can't beat Nevada Barr."

Anna Pigeon's first case—this is the story her fans have been clamoring for...this is where it all starts. In The Rope, the latest in Nevada Barr’s bestselling novels featuring Anna Pigeon, Nevada Barr gathers together the many strings of Anna’s past and finally reveals the story that her many fans have been long asking for. In 1995 and 35 years old, fresh off the bus from New York City and nursing a broken heart, Anna Pigeon takes a decidedly unglamorous job as a seasonal employee of the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area. On her day off, Anna goes hiking into the park never to return. Her co-workers think she’s simply moved on—her cabin is cleaned out and her things gone. But Anna herself wakes up, trapped at the bottom of a dry natural well, naked, without supplies and no clear memory of how she found herself in this situation.

As she slowly pieces together her memory, it soon becomes clear that someone has trapped her there, in an inescapable prison, and no one knows that she is even missing. Plunged into a landscape and a plot she is unfit and untrained to handle, Anna Pigeon must muster the courage, determination and will to live that she didn’t even know she still possessed to survive, outwit and triumph.

For those legions of readers who have been entranced over the years by Park Ranger Anna Pigeon’s strength and determination and those who are new to Nevada Barr’s captivating, compelling novels, this is where it all starts.

Linda says:
"This is vintage Nevada Barr! She knows how to tell a story, and for those of us who love the outdoors, and maybe especially the National Parks, she is a great and enjoyable find. Her heroine, park ranger Anna Pigeon, is always getting into and out of impossible scrapes, but along the way the reader gets to 'visit' one gorgeous park after another, and always the park plays as big a role in the unveiling of the story as do the characters telling the tale.

This story goes back to the beginning of Anna's career in the park service and is set in the Glen Canyon Recreational Area. Being a desert rat myself, I loved getting to climb around the rocks and pools with Anna, and learn, as she learns, how to navigate the challenges of both the terrain and the evil forces at play.

For a great armchair adventure, you can't beat Nevada Barr, and while this one starts you off at the beginning of Anna's career, you can pick up any of her Anna Pigeon mysteries and jump right in. It's always a great ride!"

The Pre-Civil War South Comes Brilliantly to Life in this Masterfully Written Novel About a Mysterious and Charismatic Healer


Mississippi plantation mistress Amanda Satterfield loses her daughter to cholera after her husband refuses to treat her for what he considers to be a “slave disease.” Insane with grief, Amanda takes a newborn slave child as her own and names her Granada, much to the outrage of her husband and the amusement of their white neighbors. Troubled by his wife’s disturbing mental state and concerned about a mysterious plague sweeping through his slave population, Master Satterfield purchases Polly Shine, a slave reputed to be a healer. But Polly’s sharp tongue and troubling predictions cause unrest across the plantation. Complicating matters further, Polly recognizes “the gift” in Granada, the mistress’s pet, and a domestic battle of wills ensues.
Seventy-five years later, Granada, now known as Gran Gran, is still living on the plantation and must revive the buried memories of her past in order to heal a young girl abandoned to her care. Together they learn the power of story to heal the body, the spirit and the soul.

Rich in mood and atmosphere, The Healing is the kind of novel readers can’t put down—and can’t wait to recommend once they’ve finished.

TC Tidbits: F. Scott Fitzgerald's Advice to His 11 Year Old Daughter

Check it out at

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hank Is Recommending The Riyria Revelations

Hank says:
"Originally published on-line, these stories have been collected into three books: Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, and Heir of Novron. Each contains two continuing, but satisfyingly self-contained, adventures. More toward the political intrigue end of the spectrum, but not devoid of magic, the adventures of Hadrian and Royce will probably appeal to fans of Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar books. I was surprised to read in the bonus interview that Sullivan was not himself a follower of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser; however, he does pay a little homage."

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles-until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom.

Can a self-serving thief and an idealistic swordsman survive long enough to unravel the first part of an ancient mystery that has toppled kings and destroyed empires?

And so begins the first tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

Theft of Swords was originally published as: The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha.

The adventure continues as Royce and Hadrian aid the struggling kingdom of Melengar as it alone stands in defiance against the newly formed empire. War approaches and a desperate gamble behind enemy lines is their only chance at forming an alliance with the Nationalists to the south.

But Royce has plans of his own as he uses this opportunity to discover if an ancient wizard is using Riyria as pawns in his own bid for power. To find the truth, Royce must unravel Hadrian's hidden past. What he discovers will lead them to the end of the known world, on a journey rife with treachery and intrigue.

Rise of Empire was originally published as: Nyphron Rising and The Emerald Storm.

The New Empire intends to mark its victory over the Nationalists with a bloody celebration. On the high holiday of Wintertide, the Witch of Melengar will be burned and the Heir of Novron executed. On that same day the Empress faces a forced marriage, with a fatal accident soon follow. The New Empire is confident in the totality of its triumph but there's just one problem-Royce and Hadrian have finally found the true Heir of Novron---and they have their own holiday plans.

Heir of Novron is the final volume of The Riyria Revelations and includes Wintertide and ---available for the first time--- the final volume, Percepliquis.

Vegan Goodies To Make Your Mouth Water

A Food Network Cupcake Wars winner shares her scrumptious recipes in a new cookbook that has vegans and omnivores alike clamoring for more.

When Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats opened in 2002, it instantly became one of the most popular bakeries in D.C.-a bakery that just happens to be vegan. Soon, Sticky Fingers was voted D.C.'s best bakery by The Washington City Paper, and chef Doron Petersan found herself beating out traditional bakers on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars.

Sweet! is packed with one hundred of her beloved recipes- from indulgent snacks like Fudgetastic Brownies and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies to breakfast treats like Pecan Spice Coffee Cake and Cranberry Ginger Scones, and from celebratory desserts like Chocolate Seltzer Cake and Red Velvet Cupcakes to Sticky Fingers' most popular sweets- Little Devils, Cowvins, and Sticky Buns. Petersan also includes "love bite" nutritional tips and valuable tricks-of-the- trade techniques that every home baker will appreciate.

The number of people embracing a vegan lifestyle continues to grow. Like Erin McKenna's BabyCakes and Isa Chandra Moskowitz's bestselling cookbooks, Sweet! and Petersan's delectable-and secretly healthy-recipes will be greeted enthusiastically by anyone and everyone who loves to bake.

TC Tidbit: Lose (or Maybe Find) Yourself At "Bookfessions"

"These are confessions and/or thoughts of a book lover, bibliophile, book addict, reader, lover of literature, me what you will, but here they are." 

These are the words that begin this fascinating collection of bookish confessions about reading, collecting, loving anything to do with books.  Check it out HERE.

Monday, February 27, 2012

John W. Says This Book Is "pure gold for those who love the music and history of popular music."

If you were a fan of popular music in the 1960s and early ’70s, you were a fan of the Wrecking Crew—whether you knew it or not.

On hit record after hit record by everyone from the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees to the Grass Roots, the 5th Dimension, Sonny &  Cher, and Simon & Garfunkel, this collection of West Coast studio musicians from diverse backgrounds established themselves as the driving sound of pop music—sometimes over the objection of actual band members forced to make way for Wrecking Crew members. Industry insider Kent Hartman tells the dramatic, definitive story of the musicians who forged a reputation throughout the business as the secret weapons behind the top recording stars.

Mining invaluable interviews, the author follows the careers of such session masters as drummer Hal Blaine and keyboardist Larry Knechtel, as well as trailblazing bassist Carol Kaye—the only female in the bunch—who went on to play in thousands of recording sessions. Readers will discover the Wrecking Crew members who would forge careers in their own right, including Glen Campbell and Leon Russell, and learn of the relationship between the Crew and such legends as Phil Spector and Jimmy Webb. Hartman also takes us inside the studio for the legendary sessions that gave us Pet Sounds, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and the rock classic “Layla,” which Wrecking Crew drummer Jim Gordon cowrote with Eric Clapton for Derek and the Dominos. And the author recounts priceless scenes such as Mike Nesmith of the Monkees facing off with studio head Don Kirshner, Grass Roots lead guitarist (and future star of The Office) Creed Bratton getting fired from the group, and Michel Rubini unseating Frank Sinatra’s pianist for the session in which the iconic singer improvised the hit-making ending to “Strangers in the Night.”

The Wrecking Crew tells the collective, behind-the-scenes stories of the artists who dominated Top 40 radio during the most exciting time in American popular culture.

John says:
"The Wrecking Crew is a surprising look into the behind-the-scenes stories of many of the most famous pop tunes of the '60s.  It unearths the stories of the mostly obscure studio musicians in Los Angeles called on to play by producers from Phil Spector to Brian Wilson.

The Crew were a floating group of skilled, creative players who provided the music behind most of the Beach Boys hits, Simon & Garfunkle, The Monkees and scores of others.  They were a closely-kept secret at the time, as it was considered uncool for most musicians not to play on their own records.  Fantastic players like Hal Blaine and Carol Kaye remained obscure despite their work on hundreds of songs you may have heard, ranging from Herb Alpert to 'Mr.Tambourine Man' by the Byrds to most of the Monkees albums, the Grass Roots, up to 'Love Will Keep Us Together' in 1975.     

The only member to emerge from the studio shadow was Glen Campbell, who has a surprising musical background.  His work on Frank Sinatra's 'Strangers in the Night' is the source of one of many hilarious stories contained in these pages.

I found this a fascinating read.  Hartman has done a thorough job of research, though the format he's come up with is needlessly fragmented and at times confusing.  It's still a worthwhile read and pure gold for those who love the music and history of popular music."

Jump In To Carl Hiaasen's Eco-Adventures!

A book for young readers. It involves new kids, bullies, alligators, eco-warriors, pancakes, and pint-sized owls. A hilarious Floridian adventure!

You know it's going to be a rough summer when you spend Father's Day visiting your dad in the local lockup.

Noah's dad is sure that the owner of the Coral Queen casino boat is flushing raw sewage into the harbor–which has made taking a dip at the local beach like swimming in a toilet. He can't prove it though, and so he decides that sinking the boat will make an effective statement. Right. The boat is pumped out and back in business within days and Noah's dad is stuck in the clink.

Now Noah is determined to succeed where his dad failed. He will prove that the Coral Queen is dumping illegally . . . somehow. His allies may not add up to much–his sister Abbey, an unreformed childhood biter; Lice Peeking, a greedy sot with poor hygiene; Shelly, a bartender and a woman scorned; and a mysterious pirate–but Noah's got a plan to flush this crook out into the open. A plan that should sink the crooked little casino, once and for all.

  Bunny Starch, the most feared biology teacher ever, is missing. She disappeared after a school field trip to Black Vine Swamp. And, to be honest, the kids in her class are relieved.

But when the principal tries to tell the students that Mrs. Starch has been called away on a "family emergency," Nick and Marta just don't buy it. No, they figure the class delinquent, Smoke, has something to do with her disappearance.

And he does! But not in the way they think. There's a lot more going on in Black Vine Swamp than any one player in this twisted tale can see. And Nick and Marta will have to reckon with an eccentric eco-avenger, a stuffed rat named Chelsea, a wannabe Texas oilman, a singing substitute teacher, and a ticked-off Florida panther before they really begin to see the big picture.

That's life in the swamp, kids.

And a fresh new adventure that is coming out on March 27 :

Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he's grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, snappers, and more in his backyard. The critters he can handle.  His father is the unpredictable one.

When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called "Expedition Survival!", Wahoo figures he'll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show's boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger seems to actually believe his PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo's acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who's sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out.

They've only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna's dad shows up with a gun . . .

It's anyone's guess who will actually survive "Expedition Survival". . . .

TC Tidbit: Check Out These Author's Beautiful Homes

courtesy of our friends at

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Egypt's "Internet Revolution"

The revolutions that swept the Middle East in 2011 surprised and captivated the world. Brutal regimes that had been in power for decades were overturned by an irrepressible mass of freedom seekers. Now, one of the figures who emerged during the Egyptian uprising tells the riveting inside story of what happened and shares the keys to unleashing the power of crowds.

Wael Ghonim was a little-known, thirty-year-old Google executive in the summer of 2010 when he anonymously launched a Facebook page to protest the death of one Egyptian man at the hands of security forces. The page’s following expanded quickly and moved from online protests to a nonconfrontational movement.

The youth of Egypt made history: they used social media to schedule a revolution. The call went out to more than a million Egyptians online, and on January 25, 2011, Cairo’s Tahrir Square resounded with calls for change. Yet just as the revolution began in earnest, Ghonim was captured and held for twelve days of brutal interrogation. After he was released, he gave a tearful speech on national television, and the protests grew more intense. Four days later, the president of Egypt was gone.
The lessons Ghonim draws will inspire each of us. He saw the road to Tahrir Square built not by any one person, but by the people. In Revolution 2.0, we can all be heroes.

Richard Mason Brings the Belle Epoque To Our Shelves

From the acclaimed author of The Drowning People (“A literary sensation” —The New York Times Book Review) and Natural Elements (“A magnum opus” —The New Yorker), an opulent, romantic coming-of-age drama set at the height of Europe’s belle époque, written in the grand tradition with a lightness of touch that is wholly modern and original.

The novel opens in Amsterdam at the turn of the last century. It moves to New York at the time of the 1907 financial crisis and proceeds onboard a luxury liner headed for Cape Town.

It is about a young man—Piet Barol—with an instinctive appreciation for pleasure and a gift for finding it. Piet’s father is an austere administrator at Holland’s oldest university. His mother, a singing teacher, has died—but not before giving him a thorough grounding in the arts of charm.

Piet applies for a job as tutor to the troubled son of Europe’s leading hotelier: a child who refuses to leave his family’s mansion on Amsterdam’s grandest canal. As the young man enters this glittering world, he learns its secrets—and soon, quietly, steadily, finds his life transformed as he in turn transforms the lives of those around him.
History of a Pleasure Seeker is a brilliantly written portrait of the senses, a novel about pleasure and those who are in search of it; those who embrace it, luxuriate in it, need it; and those who deprive themselves of it as they do those they love. It is a book that will beguile and transport you—to another world, another time, another state of being.

TC Tidbit: A Lovely Essay on the Solace and Joy of Books

from our friends at The Nerdy Book Club.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Anyone Can Learn To Be A Musician According To This Man's Very Personal Research


On the eve of his 40th birthday, Gary Marcus, a renowned scientist with no discernible musical talent, learns to play the guitar and investigates how anyone—of any age —can become musical. Do you have to be born musical to become musical? Do you have to start at the age of six?

Using the tools of his day job as a cognitive psychologist, Gary Marcus becomes his own guinea pig as he takes up the guitar. In a powerful and incisive look at how both children and adults become musical, Guitar Zero traces Marcus’s journey, what he learned, and how anyone else can learn, too. A groundbreaking peek into the origins of music in the human brain, this musical journey is also an empowering tale of the mind’s enduring plasticity.

Marcus investigates the most effective ways to train body and brain to learn to play an instrument, in a quest that takes him from Suzuki classes to guitar gods. From deliberate and efficient practicing techniques to finding the right music teacher, Marcus translates his own experience—as well as reflections from world-renowned musicians—into practical advice for anyone hoping to become musical, or to learn a new skill.

Guitar Zero debunks the popular theory of an innate musical instinct while simultaneously challenging the idea that talent is only a myth. While standing the science of music on its head, Marcus brings new insight into humankind’s most basic question: what counts as a life well lived? Does one have to become the next Jimi Hendrix to make a passionate pursuit worthwhile, or can the journey itself bring the brain lasting satisfaction?

For all those who have ever set out to play an instrument—or wish that they could—Guitar Zero is an inspiring and fascinating look at the pursuit of music, the mechanics of the mind, and the surprising rewards that come from following one’s dreams.

Listen to the NPR interview with the author HERE.

"It’s a tender, honest exploration of identity and sexuality, and a passionate reminder that love—whether romantic or familial—should be open, free, and without shame." -- Publisher's Weekly

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When they meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the two loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special kind of friendship--the kind of friendship that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through their friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves--and about the kind of people they want to be.

The starred review from Publishers Weekly:
" Fifteen-year-old Aristotle (Ari) has always felt lonely and distant from people until he meets Dante, a boy from another school who teaches him how to swim. As trust grows between the boys and they become friends (a first for Ari), Ari’s world opens up while they discuss life, art, literature, and their Mexican-American roots. Additionally, the influence of Dante’s warm, open family (they even have a 'no secrets' rule) is shaping Ari’s relationship with his parents, particularly in regard to a family secret; Ari has an older brother in prison, who no one ever mentions. In a poetic coming-of-age story written in concise first-person narrative, Sáenz (Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood) crystallizes significant turning points in the boys’ relationship, especially as Ari comes to understand that Dante’s feelings for him extend beyond friendship. The story swells to a dramatic climax as Ari’s loyalties are tested, and he confronts his most deeply buried fears and desires. It’s a tender, honest exploration of identity and sexuality, and a passionate reminder that love—whether romantic or familial—should be open, free, and without shame."

TC Tidbit: Author Previews His Newest Book As A Photo Album On His Facebook Page

See his reasoning about doing this, and get link to some of  the translated pages HERE.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pete's Got The News About This New Watergate Novel

From one of our most esteemed historical novelists, a remarkable retelling of the Watergate scandal, as seen through a kaleidoscope of its colorful perpetrators and investigators.

For all the monumental documentation that Watergate generated—uncountable volumes of committee records, court transcripts, and memoirs—it falls at last to a novelist to perform the work of inference (and invention) that allows us to solve some of the scandal’s greatest mysteries (who did erase those eighteen-and-a-half minutes of tape?) and to see this gaudy American catastrophe in its human entirety.

In Watergate, Thomas Mallon conveys the drama and high comedy of the Nixon presidency through the urgent perspectives of seven characters we only thought we knew before now, moving readers from the private cabins of Camp David to the klieg lights of the Senate Caucus Room, from the District of Columbia jail to the Dupont Circle mansion of Theodore Roosevelt’s sharp-tongued ninety-year-old daughter (“The clock is dick-dick-dicking”), and into the hive of the Watergate complex itself, home not only to the Democratic National Committee but also to the president’s attorney general, his recklessly loyal secretary, and the shadowy man from Mississippi who pays out hush money to the burglars.

Praised by Christopher Hitchens for his “splendid evocation of Washington,” Mallon achieves with Watergate a scope and historical intimacy that surpasses even what he attained in his previous novels, as he turns a “third-rate burglary” into a tumultuous, first-rate entertainment.

Pete says:
"When I was first presented with Thomas Mallon's Watergate, I thought, a new book on Watergate? Is this 1978? What more could possibly be said about the subject? At the time I was sampling three or four other titles and was quite prepared to toss this one aside after a chapter or two. But like Watergate, which grew from a nothing story into the resignation of President Nixon, this book took me from two chapters, to three, to four, then finally into the realm of 'I can't put this one down.' Though we all know the story, what a grand re-telling of the story.

Mallon writes a fictional account of Watergate from the perspective of several key participants. But this isn't 'All the President's Men' by any means. This time we hear from the women as well, what it may have been like to be Pat Nixon, torn by her loyalty to her husband or perhaps to another. Then there's Alice Longworth (daughter of Teddy Roosevelt!?), who seems to know everybody's secrets and is not shy about revealing them, and Rosemary Woods, Nixon's loyal spinster secretary in search of an adequate dance partner. Finally, a tipsy Martha Mitchell proving to be an oracle in the end.

Though fiction, the book reads like nonfiction. You'll find yourself fact checking along the way and looking up the real biographies of a wide variety of characters. Of course you'll recognize Nixon and the 'plumbers,' but so many names -- seemingly lost to time -- are back in all their leisure suited glory and ready for another go round with McGovern and the Democrats. For despite all the chicanery, the backstabbing, the opportunism, the sleaze, (the murders?) the affairs, the late night gin and tonics, who knew that Watergate could be such fun?"

151 Great Thinkers Each Pick a Concept to Enhance Your Cognitive Toolkit

Featuring a foreword by David Brooks, This Will Make You Smarter presents brilliant—but accessible—ideas to expand every mind.
"What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?" This is the question John Brockman, publisher of, posed to the world’s most influential thinkers. Their visionary answers flow from the frontiers of psychology, philosophy, economics, physics, sociology, and more. Surprising and enlightening, these insights will revolutionize the way you think about yourself and the world.

Daniel Kahneman on the “focusing illusion” • Jonah Lehrer on controlling attention • Richard Dawkins on experimentation • Aubrey De Grey on conquering our fear of the unknown • Martin Seligman on the ingredients of well-being • Nicholas Carr on managing “cognitive load” • Steven Pinker on win-win negotiating • Daniel C. Dennett on benefiting from cycles • Jaron Lanier on resisting delusion • Frank Wilczek on the brain’s hidden layers • Clay Shirky on the “80/20 rule” • Daniel Goleman on understanding our connection to the natural world • V. S. Ramachandran on paradigm shifts • Matt Ridley on tapping collective intelligence • John McWhorter on path dependence • Lisa Randall on effective theorizing • Brian Eno on “ecological vision” • Richard Thaler on rooting out false concepts • J. Craig Venter on the multiple possible origins of life • Helen Fisher on temperament • Sam Harris on the flow of thought • Lawrence Krauss on living with uncertainty

Take a look inside the book HERE.

TC Tidbit: The True Power of Censorship

from our friends at

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dispatch From The Field: Joe says, "Ultimately, I found this book to be something of a call to arms."

What if you can’t afford nine-dollar tomatoes? That was the question award-winning journalist Tracie McMillan couldn’t escape as she watched the debate about America’s meals unfold, one that urges us to pay food’s true cost—which is to say, pay more. So in 2009 McMillan embarked on a groundbreaking undercover journey to see what it takes to eat well in America. For nearly a year, she worked, ate, and lived alongside the working poor to examine how Americans eat when price matters.

From the fields of California, a Walmart produce aisle outside of Detroit, and the kitchen of a New York City Applebee’s, McMillan takes us into the heart of America’s meals. With startling intimacy she portrays the lives and food of Mexican garlic crews, Midwestern produce managers, and Caribbean line cooks, while also chronicling her own attempts to live and eat on meager wages. Along the way, she asked the questions still facing America a decade after the declaration of an obesity epidemic: Why do we eat the way we do? And how can we change it? To find out, McMillan goes beyond the food on her plate to examine the national priorities that put it there. With her absorbing blend of riveting narrative and formidable investigative reporting, McMillan takes us from dusty fields to clanging restaurant kitchens, linking her work to the quality of our meals—and always placing her observations in the context of America’s approach not just to farms and kitchens but to wages and work.

The surprising answers that McMillan found on her journey have profound implications for our food and agriculture, and also for how we see ourselves as a nation. Through stunning reportage, Tracie McMillan makes the simple case that—city or country, rich or poor—everyone wants good food. Fearlessly reported and beautifully written, The American Way of Eating goes beyond statistics and culture wars to deliver a book that is fiercely intelligent and compulsively readable. Talking about dinner will never be the same again.

Joe says:
"The subtitle of The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan is 'Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table' and, despite the apt description, it manages to miss some of the scope of this book. Tracie McMillan does, indeed, go undercover while working in these three aspects of American food life.

She picks garlic, peaches, and grapes in the fields of California. Often she is the only white person working in these pre-dawn fields, and one of the few women. What she encounters is the human side of the produce we eat: people who are here because they've been displaced from their own countries and ways of life often by American corporate interests, only to find themselves working in the United States illegally, often for other corporate interests. But these are people who espouse the American ideal: that through hard work and determination, a small piece of the American dream can be theirs. She finds people living on the edges of society, and often on the vast amount of produce leftover from the fields. Generous, friendly people who, upon learning of McMillan's real purpose for working with them, only want her to spread the story of their work. To show Americans how their food is really picked, and how little they are paid.

Her stint at Walmart exposes both the human and less-than-humane side of the world's largest grocer. During her time spent at Walmart, Tracie McMillan learns what life under the poverty level is like for many of this nation's workers. Life without healthcare, full of processed food, and economically pressured into working grueling hours for little pay.

Her stint at Applebee's, the nation's largest restaurant chain, put Tracie into the world of the kitchen staff: long, tedious shifts 'preparing' pre-made food and getting it out to a steady stream of customers. Again, low pay, no healthcare, among workers as grateful for their shift meal as the Walmart workers were of food too old to sell, given to the employees.  Beyond all this work in America's food industries, McMillan shows us how difficult it is to find fresh produce in much of the country, and how easy unhealthy, mass-produced food is to get.

But Tracie's book is about more than just her story. It is about how good food, healthy, fresh produce is available in much of the country. And that there are people working to bring healthier options to the country as a whole, especially the nation's poor, who now make up more than half the population. Farm-fresh produce should not be the exclusive food of the wealthy, McMillan argues. Instead, it is the right of every American.

The American Way of Eating is a book that should be read by everyone who loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle or The Omnivore's Dilemma. It belongs on the shelf next to those books, just as her argument belongs on Main Street, in the halls of Congress, and in the minds of citizens who are striving for a more humane, less corporatized, America. I loved this book. I underlined and commented in so much of it. McMillan swept me up with her story and had me until the end of the book.

Unlike some other books on this topic, this book focused squarely on the role privilege plays in our food system. The effects of not only corporate, but political decisions that support an industrial food system not on the animals, or the plants, but on the people who keep the system running. This book is about so much more than just the American way of eating. It's about immigration, women's rights, the vast poverty in our nation. It's about not only food deserts, but the bright spots that exist within those parts of our inner cities abandoned by corporations and government; how life goes on in them, often richer and more personal than in the suburbs. 

Ultimately, I found this book to be something of a call to arms. Good, healthful food should be available for everyone. We need to examine the true cost behind our cheap food, and demand system-wide changes that benefit our fellow citizens and not just corporate bank accounts. Perhaps that means abandoning our nationwide, corporatized, industrial food system. Perhaps that means living more locally, more seasonally, more communally. Perhaps it's something we haven't invented yet. But action is needed, and Tracie McMillan's book is one that I foresee shining a light on that need."

There's a New Comedian On Our Shelves

Flatscreen tells the story of Eli Schwartz as he endures the loss of his home, the indifference of his parents, the success of his older brother, and the cruel and frequent dismissal of the opposite sex. He is a loser par excellence—pasty, soft, and high—who struggles to become a new person in a world where nothing is new.

Into this scene of apathy rolls Seymour J. Kahn. Former star of the small screen and current paraplegic sex addict, Kahn has purchased Eli’s old family home. The two begin a dangerous friendship, one that distracts from their circumstances but speeds their descent into utter debasement and, inevitably, YouTube stardom.

By story’s end, through unlikely acts of courage and kindness, roles will be reversed, reputations resurrected, and charges (hopefully) dropped. Adam Wilson writes mischief that moves the heart, and Flatscreen marks the wondrous debut of a truth-telling comic voice.

TC Tidbit: A Clever List About What's To Love About YA

The ladies of have come up with a FANtastic list of the top ten reasons why they love YA literature.  Check it out HERE.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Jackie says that this is an "engrossing tale about dreams, reality, memory,community, family, love, faith, survival and, above all, storytelling."

"First they see bomber planes fly over their houses at the beginning of WWII. Then a refugee who threw herself into the river after seeing her husband and children killed washes up on their riverbank. Aghast at what they learn from her, this small village of  102 people decide that the best way to avoid the horror that was clearly coming was to create their own world.  They already live on a peninsula, so only one small spot on the river needs to be hidden and they can start anew.

That is indeed what they do, but it isn't as easy as it seemed.  It forces some pretty crazy realignments involving commerce and family/social arrangements.  It even changes their religion.  But, alas, the past cannot be completely erased, and they could not hide forever.

This is a very odd but engrossing tale about dreams, reality, memory,community, family, love, faith, survival and, above all, storytelling.  The ugly and the beautiful are both presented in a quiet, simple prose that hides the profundity of its message. At times it can take your breath away with all the innocence and awfulness mixing together.  There are parts of this novel that will haunt me for a long, long time.  More so because I know that this story is based on the author's family history.  In short, this is an amazing book."


There's Some Great New Titles In Our YA Sections

The second book in The Chemical Garden Trilogy reveals a world as captivating—and as dangerous—as the one Rhine left behind in Wither.

Rhine and Gabriel may have escaped the beautiful prison of Wither’s mansion, but they are far from escaping danger. First they’re chased for stealing a getaway boat, and then the fleeing pair ends up in the eerie den of Madame, an old woman who collects girls and sells them to the highest bidders. Worst of all, Vaughn, Rhine’s sinister father-in-law, seems to be on her trail every step of the way. Rhine remains determined to get to her brother in Manhattan—but the road they are on is long and perilous.

Now that Rhine has finally regained her freedom, what lengths will she need to go to in order to keep it?

A page-turning realistic novel with a shocking twist from bestselling author Lisa McMann.

Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family. It’s a miracle…at first. Then the tensions start to build. His reintroduction to his old life isn’t going smoothly, and his family is tearing apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he’d be able to put the pieces back together. But there’s something that’s keeping his memory blocked. Something unspeakable...

 Cassel comes from a family of curse workers—people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, all by the slightest touch of their hands. Since curse work is illegal, they’re all criminals. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, so he’s an outsider—the straight kid in a crooked family—as long as you ignore one small detail: He killed his best friend, Lila. Now he is sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat. He also notices that his brothers are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of one huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen.

  Sometimes sorry isn't enough....

It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems...

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better--the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel...something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.

Em and Chase have been chosen.

TC Tidbit: Dorothy's There, In Spirit

Dorothy Parker – American Gin

Made with dried hibiscus petals and elderberries this very feminine gin tantalizes the tastebuds with soft integrated flavors of berries, citrus and floral tones. Made by Brooklyn's NY Distilling Co and named for NY's legendary, witty poet Dorothy Parker this is a gin we would have loved to have mixed in a sour cocktail at the Algonquin Round Table. Botanicals are juniper, orange, lemon, grapefruit, cardamom, cinnamon, elderberry and dried hibiscus petals. Corn spirit base

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lynn says Gabriel is "a biographer adept at fleshing out the evolution of these human characters within their particular historical context, bringing vividly to life the dawn of the industrial age, in all its awesome wonder and horror. "

Brilliantly researched and wonderfully written, Love and Capital  is a heartbreaking and dramatic saga of the family side of the man whose works would redefine the world after his death.

Drawing upon years of research, acclaimed biographer Mary Gabriel brings to light the story of Karl and Jenny Marx's marriage. We follow them as they roam Europe, on the run from governments amidst an age of revolution and a secret network of would-be revolutionaries, and see Karl not only as an intellectual, but as a protective father and loving husband, a revolutionary, a jokester, a man of tremendous passions, both political and personal.

In Love and Capital, Mary Gabriel has given us a vivid, resplendent, and truly human portrait of the Marxes-their desires, heartbreak and devotion to each other's ideals.

Lynn says:
"I'll admit that this rather massive book (709 pages, if you count the character list, political timeline, notes, index etc) at first gave me a few weeks' pause before I plunged in, but now that I've finished Mary Gabriel's biography of Karl and Jenny Marx, I feel as though I've just taken one of those trips of a lifetime abroad with some pretty unforgettable fellow passengers.  Once pulled in by the complexities of its charismatic subjects navigating an era that rivals our own in terms of political and economic turmoil and the masterful storytelling of its author, I found myself coming up with excuses to go to Boulder on RTD, just so as to secure nice chunks of uninterrupted reading time! Reading Love and Capital immersed me in the tempestuous late 19th century, and Gabriel's nuanced portrait of the Marx family's navigation through that time was completely absorbing. 

Fortunately for us, Karl and Jenny Marx, as well as most of their family circle (by blood, marriage, and by visionary zeal) were incredibly prolific and erudite letter-writers and authors whose now scattered archives sparked the imagination of a biographer adept at fleshing out the evolution of these human characters within their particular historical context, bringing vividly to life the dawn of the industrial age, in all its awesome wonder and horror.  The economic times' parallels with our own are undeniable as we follow the courtship of this passionately intellectual couple who early on dedicate their initially privileged lives to challenging the class disparities looming ever larger as Europe's power elites' militarist and profit-driven responses to the increasing rage of the most exploited laborers grow ever more oppressive and violent.  The Marx household becomes a magnet for fellow refugees fleeing censorship or worse, and the once aristocratic Jenny Von Westphalen and her ferociously brilliant philosopher husband find themselves frequently moving... from Prussia... France... Belgium... England... due to Marx's scathing critiques of the injustices and excesses that have the entire region teetering dangerously upon a precipice ready to fall into class warfare. 

With the happy exception of Marx's astoundingly loyal lifelong friend, co-ideologue and benefactor, Frederick Engels, they become increasingly cut off from moneyed supporters and are hounded not only by their political opponents, but by poverty and debts incurred as started newspapers go under, book publication is delayed for months and years by all manner of exhaustion or distraction or by the demands of a seemingly imminent revolution.  As dreadful illnesses plague members of their circle and personal betrayals and tragedies mount, pushing and pulling them from place to place, uprising to uprising, a resilience and irrepressible zest for life that early on seemed indomitable is relentlessly worn down both individually and collectively... Of Jenny and Karl's seven children, 3 pass away in infancy, their beloved and precocious son Edgar dies in childhood and the 3 daughters who live to adulthood are beset with frequent uprooting, financial struggles, stifling gender norms, and setbacks at least as devastating as their parents'. 

Yes, it's a lengthy book... a commitment, in fact. But Love and Capital is a book to be savored and revisited, as its themes are universal. Throughout this narrative and despite (or maybe part and parcel of) its chronicling of considerable anguish and upheaval, there burns an undercurrent of very imperfect but abiding human love, solidarity, conscience and humor that had me reading late night after night, determined to question more deeply what undercurrents of ideas and principles might most hopefully and healingly connect that distant era's sanity in supremely difficult times with our own."

The Fascinating History of Hollywood's Effect on American Politics

In Hollywood Left and Right, Steven J. Ross tells a story that has escaped public attention: the emergence of Hollywood as a vital center of political life and the important role that movie stars have played in shaping the course of American politics.

Ever since the film industry relocated to Hollywood early in the twentieth century, it has had an outsized influence on American politics. Through compelling larger-than-life figures in American cinema--Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Edward G. Robinson, George Murphy, Ronald Reagan, Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Charlton Heston, Warren Beatty, and Arnold Schwarzenegger--Hollywood Left and Right reveals how the film industry's engagement in politics has been longer, deeper, and more varied than most people would imagine. As shown in alternating chapters, the Left and the Right each gained ascendancy in Tinseltown at different times. From Chaplin, whose movies almost always displayed his leftist convictions, to Schwarzenegger's nearly seamless transition from action blockbusters to the California governor's mansion, Steven J. Ross traces the intersection of Hollywood and political activism from the early twentieth century to the present.

Hollywood Left and Right challenges the commonly held belief that Hollywood has always been a bastion of liberalism. The real story, as Ross shows in this passionate and entertaining work, is far more complicated. First, Hollywood has a longer history of conservatism than liberalism. Second, and most surprising, while the Hollywood Left was usually more vocal and visible, the Right had a greater impact on American political life, capturing a senate seat (Murphy), a governorship (Schwarzenegger), and the ultimate achievement, the Presidency (Reagan).

TC Tidbit: Michael Pollan's Coming To Denver!!!

Tattered Cover folks will be there, selling books!  Don't miss it!!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pete's Got ALL The Dish on Denver These Days

From the infamous Sand Creek Massacre to the building of Coors Field, It Happened in Denver gives readers a unique look at some of the most intriguing people and episodes from the history of the Mile-High City. Discover why Denver nearly burned down in 1863 and why it was flooded a year later. Learn how wine barrels helped lay a foundation for the ski industry. And meet David Moffat, the man most responsible for building a rail line across the Rocky Mountains. In an easy-to-read style that's entertaining as well as informative, author Stephen Grace recounts some of the most famous (and infamous!) moments in the history of Colorado's largest city.

Pete says:
"Denver boasts two pretty good rock songs in Warren Zevon's 'Things to do in Denver when you're Dead' and Bob Seger's 'Get out of Denver,' several forgettable movies, a big blue bear, and a maniacal-looking horse at the airport. I learned in Stephen Grace's It Happened in Denver that our Mile High City is the only major metropolis that's ever relocated its international airport. That they moved it nearly to Kansas is another story altogether.  We're also the only city on record to ever turn down an Olympic games. Can you imagine that kind of offer today?

"Hey, how would you guys like to host the Olympics?"
"Uh, no thanks, we're good. But thanks for asking."

We've recently been reminded in Denver that our snow totals can be measured in feet rather than inches. In the great blizzard of 1913, they had so many feet of fallen snow that buildings throughout town were flatted by its weight. And what about that trickle of water that runs through town, the less than imposing Cherry Creek? Why, in 1864, after a few hard mountain rains, a twenty foot wall of water came crashing through the city
washing away several homes and businesses along with a few unfortunate souls. Never turn your back on the sea, so they say.

What I like about
It Happened in Denver is that it says so much in such a few pages (approx. 130). You learn all about the good, the bad, and the ugly, and you'll never see the city in the same way again. When you're on Market Street, for instance, you'll find out why it's named that and what came before. You'll see that Red Rocks has been jamming much longer than most would believe. You read how everything changed when Jack Kerouac and his Beats buzzed into town joining Denver's own Neil Cassady. How Coors Field became, in my opinion, the best place in the country to watch a baseball game. Then there's the Denver Mint robbery of 1922, still unsolved. One of the only clues was a bullet-riddled body found in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. I guess some things never change.

Read this fun, little book and fall in love with Denver (The Queen City of the Plains -- or, to you young whippersnappers, The Mile High City) all over again."

Read. Watch. Listen. Feel. Look. Discover. View. Imagine.


After her mother died, Glory retreated into herself and her music. Her single father raised her as a piano prodigy, with a rigid schedule and the goal of playing sold-out shows across the globe. Now, as a teenager, Glory has disappeared. As we flash back to the events leading up to her disappearance, we see a girl on the precipice of disaster. Brilliant and lonely, Glory is drawn to an artistic new boy, Frank, who moves in next door. The farther she falls, the deeper she spirals into madness. Before long, Glory is unable to play anything but the song "Chopsticks."

But nothing is what it seems, and Glory's reality is not reality at all. In this stunningly moving novel told in photographs, pictures, and words, it's up to the reader to decide what is real, what is imagined, and what has been madness all along....

Chopsticks is a novel, an app, a website.

It is a collage of original drawings, objects, text, sound and video.

It is a love story.

It is a mystery.

Read it.

View it.

Experience it.

TC Tidbit: Carleen Brice's Recommended Reading About The Mixed-Race Experience

Carleen Brice is a hometown woman for us here in Denver, as well as a former bookseller at Tattered Cover.  However, most of you will recognize her in her as the best selling author of the novels Orange Mint and Honey and Children of the Waters.

The Lifetime Movie "Sins of the Mother" based on Orange Mint and Honey won the 2011 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding TV Movie.

She also wrote Lead Me Home: An African American’s Guide Through the Grief Journey, Walk Tall: Affirmations for People of Color and edited the anthology Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife .  She is currently working on her third novel, Every Good Wish.

She created a wonderful recommendations list for of books that speak to the mixed-race experience, and is allowing us to share it HERE.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"Whenever I approach Dan Chaon's gripping, masterful fiction, I know the temperature will drop. 'Stay Awake'... is his chilliest work yet. " --The Plain Dealer

Before the critically acclaimed novels Await Your Reply and You Remind Me of Me, Dan Chaon made a name for himself as a renowned writer of dazzling short stories. Now, in Stay Awake, Chaon returns to that form for the first time since his masterly Among the Missing, a finalist for the National Book Award.

In these haunting, suspenseful stories, lost, fragile, searching characters wander between ordinary life and a psychological shadowland. They have experienced intense love or loss, grief or loneliness, displacement or disconnection—and find themselves in unexpected, dire, and sometimes unfathomable situations.

A father’s life is upended by his son’s night terrors—and disturbing memories of the first wife and child he abandoned; a foster child receives a call from the past and begins to remember his birth mother, whose actions were unthinkable; a divorced woman experiences her own dark version of “empty-nest syndrome”; a young widower is unnerved by the sudden, inexplicable appearances of messages and notes—on dollar bills, inside a magazine, stapled to the side of a tree; and a college dropout begins to suspect that there’s something off, something sinister, in his late parents’ house.

Dan Chaon’s stories feature scattered families, unfulfilled dreamers, anxious souls. They exist in a twilight realm—in a place by the window late at night when the streets are empty and the world appears to be quiet. But you are up, unable to sleep. So you stay awake.

"As illuminating as a hand grenade, and just as powerful."--Kirkus Reviews

A soldier returns home from Iraq forever changed in this poignant and pivotal novel from award-winning authors–one a veteran.

Ben lives a charmed life—effortlessly landing the lead in the high school musical, dating the prettiest girl in school. When he decides to enlist in the army, no one thinks he’ll be in real danger. But his decision has devastating consequences: His convoy gets caught in an explosion, and Ben ends up in a coma for two months. When he wakes up, he doesn’t know where he is—or remember anything about his old life. His family and friends mourn what they see as a loss, but Ben perseveres. And as he triumphs, readers will relate to this timely novel that pairs the action and adventure of the best war stories with the emotional elements of struggle and transformation.

As an underage soldier in WWII, Henry Mazer has firsthand experience of what it means to be a young man in the military.

TC Tidbit: The 100 Greatest Books For Kids

According to Scholastic's Parent and Child division.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Otto the Book Bear Has Won Jackie the Book Lady's Heart

Otto lives in a book and is happiest when his story is being read. Otto is no ordinary storybook character: when no one is looking, he comes to life! Otto loves to walk off of his book’s pages, but when his book is taken away while Otto is off exploring, the book bear sets off on a grand adventure to find a new home.'s an awfully big world for such a small bear and Otto misses his warm book. Will Otto ever find the perfect home?

With sweet, timeless illustrations and a story that will have young readers watching their bookshelves in hopes of spotting wandering book creatures, this charming story is sure to delight book lovers everywhere.  

Jackie says:
"I am so happy this book is finally coming to America because it is completely enchanting.  It is the tale of a storybook bear who is his happiest when children are reading his book, but sometimes, when no one is around to read, Otto comes to life and goes on adventures.  Alas, during one of his trips, his book was given away.  Not liking being alone, he sets out to find company and a new home.  This is such a magical story about the secret lives of books!"