July 2010 Archives

Gator a-go-go by Tim Dorsey

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Serge is back. And this time he takes on spring break in Gator a-go-go, Tim Dorsey's newest novel. Serge and Coleman once again take a hilarious and violent tour of the Sunshine State while Serge makes a documentary of where spring break all began. Along the way a mysterious Miami gang leaves a trail of dead bodies, and soon Serge and Coleman have a group of students in tow as they make their way through Florida's most hallowed spring break sites. Throw in protected witnesses, pawned class rings, the best way to keep beer cool on a beach, a kid's pool in a pick up truck, oh and City and Country, and the chaos only just begins as Serge tries to protect the students and dispense his Florida history to anyone who will listen.

Dorsey's 12th novel featuring Florida historian and serial killer Serge A. Storms is the perfect summer read, blending elements of earlier books such as Florida Roadkill, with some of the newer installments such as Hurricane Punch. The new book is classic Dorsey, combing elements of violence and offbeat humor into a fast paced crime novel. Anyone familiar with Dorsey's previous works will find Gator a-go-go a hilariously fun read.

Submitted by Eric @ MPL Central

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The up and down and down and out life of guitar slinger Johnny Winter is thoughtfully chronicled in this enjoyable memoir. Born an albino in the rough and tumble world of southern Texas, Johnny learned his chops listening to elder statesmen of the blues like Muddy Waters and Elmore James. He rose to fame quickly, playing Woodstock with his brother Edgar and releasing a slew of successful albums throughout the 1970's that often mixed traditional blues with rock n roll. From heroin addiction to managers who blatantly ripped him off, Johnny Winter's life has been one of turmoil, staggering success and dismal failure. The author conducted extensive interviews with Johnny, and his bluntness and honesty during these interviews reflect the bluntness and honesty of his music and show a musician of uncanny ability who has the grit and gumption to live life on his own terms as a bluesman.

Check Catalog Availability.

The Milwaukee Public Library offers an extensive collection of CD releases by Johnny Winter.

If you like Johnny Winter's music, you may also like these artists who all played with him over the years: Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer and Muddy Waters.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond

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On her way to from LA to Chicago, a vegetarian city girl stops at home in Oklahoma and meets "The Marlboro Man" in a dive bar she is at with friends. One husband, ten years and four kids later Drummond begins her blog, The Pioneer Woman, writing about ranch life, photography, parenting, homeschooling and cooking. In early 2009, The Times put hers in the "Top 50 of the Worlds Best Food Blogs". Now, in her debut cookbook, we get an entertaining glimpse of ranch life, motherhood and what she (and her family) likes to cook and eat. Chapters called Starters, In the Morning, Dinner (translation: lunch), Sunday Dinner, Supper (translation: dinner), and Sweets comprise a book chockfull of tasty comfort foods. An abundance of lovely photographs accompany every recipe before, during and after preparation. Drummond uses ingredients you usually have, equipment you probably own and techniques you already know. While there are vegetables and fruits featured in many recipes, there are few low-calorie choices. This book is full of flavorful recipes of meat, cream, butter, eggs, cheese and bready richness. According to The Pioneer Woman, the recipes "tickle my cooking fancy, but still make the cowboys hearts go pitter pat." YUM! Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Rebecca @ Central

Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy

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Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy by Melissa Milgrom (c2010)
Still Life begins with Milgrom's exploratory visit to the annual World Taxidermy Championships and ends with the submittal of her own squirrel mount to the WTC novice division two years later. In between, she lays out a brief history of taxidermy and spends time with some of today's more noted practitioners of the trade. Steering away from commercial taxidermy (think fishing and hunting trophies), she focuses instead on taxidermy as a tool of science in natural history museums and its place in the art world. An engaging read with a sense of humor, despite the "stuffy" subject matter. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central

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It's 1956 in Gilead, Iowa and Reverend John Ames is dying. He spends his final days writing letters to his seven year old son. These moving letters are an account of the Reverend's life; his journeys and tragedies, feelings on the beautiful and spiritual, and on the sacred bond between fathers and sons. The return of Jack Ames Boughton, wayward son of close friend and fellow preacher Boughton, heightens tension in the Ames and Boughton households. Through his letters, we see the Reverend Ames' anger and distrust of Jack turn to shame, forgiveness and finally hope for the troubled man who is his namesake. This moving account of a parent trying to give his child something to remember him by reads like a hymn to life and creation. Gilead was the 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner for Fiction and is listed among President Barack Obama's favorite books.

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Home is Marilynne Robinson's third novel and winner of the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction. Focusing on the Boughton household upon the arrival of son Jack after a twenty year absence, Home takes place during the same time frame as Robinson's previous novel Gilead. Glory, Jack, and their father Boughton confront old wounds as the tale of Jack's life before and after a fateful incident is revealed. Home is an essential companion to Gilead, providing an intimate look at Jack and exploring the relationship between acceptance, forgiveness, and love. Robinson's novels are beautifully written and equal parts somber and joyful, simple and profound.

Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Kristina @ Central

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

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Thirty-two year old realtor, Annie O'Sullivan is busy on the day she is abducted. She has a house to sell, a mother to argue with and a boyfriend to appease. This is a debut that I couldn't put down. Two narratives are interwoven through the novel; one is the story of the year Annie spends in a remote mountain cabin, the captive of a psychopath. The other discloses what happens after her escape, told through psychiatrist sessions, as she fights to put her life back together during the ongoing investigation to find her abductor. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

Buzzing About Bugs: The Secret Lives of Summer Pests

Ah, summer. It conjures up images of beaches, picnics, watermelon - and bug spray, citronella candles, and a whole host of crawly, buzzing, unwanted visitors at your family BBQ. Though these summer pests may be small, their impact on the ecosystem and on human culture is enormous. If you're itching to learn more about our buggy brethren, step away from the zapper and pick up one of these great reads.

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The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us by Bee Wilson

Sex, politics, labor, and pleasure - these aren't just the domain of human civilizations. Through Wilson's concise, humorous prose, explore the mysterious culture of bees and their complex interaction with human mythology, morality, and mores across the centuries.

(For the curious: according to Publisher's Weekly, the author insists she got her nickname, Bee, long before she became fascinated with the insect!)

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Fly: The Unsung Hero of Twentieth-century Science by Martin Brookes

The humble fly: summer pest, cult superhero, or unsung hero of modern science? With intensity and wit, Brookes chronicles its role as the latter. Once you learn about the critical role of the fly in modern biology and genetics, you may think twice before swatting.

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Mosquito: A Natural History of Our Most Persistent and Deadly Foe by Andrew Spielman and Michael D'Antonio.

They don't just make you itch. According to the authors, these tiny bloodsuckers literally stopped the mighty armies of Ghengis Khan and Alexander the Great in their tracks. Are those goosebumps on the back of your neck caused by a chilly summer breeze, or are they from reading the book Booklist calls "creepily fascinating"?

Do you have any favorite books, articles, or facts about insects? How about a bug-related anecdote to share?

Submitted by Audrey @ MPL Central

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

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Alan Weisman examines the impact of humans on the Earth by speculating on what would happen if people suddenly vanished. Discussions with scientists, engineers and other experts, and exploring what happened to cities no longer existing shows him how asphalt jungles would turn to real jungles. While most wild animal species population would recover, find out how our pets, farm animals and crops would fare in a new world order. If the earth reverts back to its pre-human past, could radio and TV broadcast waves traveling through space be the last signs of us? Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Van Lingle Mungo


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Niall Barr's book is arguably the definitive study on the turning point in the North Africa theater of World War II. It goes beyond the debate between the supporters of British generals Claude Auchinleck and Bernard Montgomery to looking at the strengths and mistakes of each commander's approach to leading the British 8th Army to stopping and defeating German Gen. Erwin "The Desert Fox" Rommel's Afrika Corps in Egypt during the summer and fall of 1942. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Van Lingle Mungo

Celebrate St. Swithins with One Day

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July 15 is St. Swithin's Day. Tradition says that whatever the weather is like on St. Swithin's Day, it will continue so for the next forty days. Here is the weather rhyme that has been around in the British Isles since Elizabethan times:

'St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.'

It's also a day to make an apple dessert or at least eat an apple. St. Swithin is the patron saint of apples and apple growers used to ask St. Swithin for his blessing each year because they believed:
•Rain on St. Swithin's day 'blesses and christens the apples'.
•No apple should picked or eaten before July 15th.
•Apples growing at St Swithin's day will ripen fully.

You can also indulge St. Swithin reading the novel One Day by David Nicholls. Over twenty years, snapshots of a relationship are revealed on the same day--July 15th (St. Swithins)--of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.

Beginning in 1988 Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. They both know that the next day, after college graduation, they must go their separate ways. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. As the years go by, Dex and Em begin to lead separate lives--lives very different from the people they once dreamed they'd become. And yet, unable to let go of that special something, an extraordinary relationship develops between the two.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

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20th Century Ghosts is a short story collection by Joe Hill. Hill is the son of Stephen King, but is a talented horror writer from his own accord. Hill was recommended to me by my sister, also a librarian and I read his first book Heart Shaped Box and enjoyed it well enough. I really enjoyed Hill's direct, concise writing style and decided to pick up this collection. Though ghost is in the name, only one of the stories - which shares the books title - is really a ghost story. The rest range from the macabre to gruesome to touching to just plain confusing. What impressed me most what that all of the stories were written by the same person - the styles and plots of each story were all so different, that it seemed more like an anthology of horror writers. My favorite story was the first one, "Best New Horror" which almost a week after reading I am still thinking about. Pick up the book to at least read that one!

Submitted by Meredith, WTBBL

Century #1: Ring of Fire by Pierdomenico Baccalario

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It is snowing in Rome the night that four kids, brought together by fate, discover they were all born on February twenty-ninth, Leap Day. Later that night they run into a man who tells them "You know. You all know! It's begun! They know. And they're coming!", and insists the kids take his briefcase. The clues inside send them all over Rome in search of "The Ring of Fire", while a man who kills with his violin goes all over Rome looking for the kids and the briefcase. What is the Ring of Fire? How does it work? And who will find it first? Ring of Fire is the first book in a series of four which will have the kids traveling to four different cities all over the world. The second book, Century #2: Star of Stone, will be available September 28, 2010.

Submitted by Alison @ MPL Central

Playing the Enemy by John Carlin

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I recently saw the movie Invictus which told the story of the 1995 Rugby World Cup held in South Africa. I liked the movie so much that I wanted to find out more about this historic and pivotal time in South Africa's history so I checked out this book on which the movie was based.

I was glad I did. Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation is able to delve into the people and events that led up to the South African victory that began to bring the country together in the years after apartheid was dismantled. Most notable is the author's portrayal of Nelson Mandela and his fierce desire to unite the citizens of South Africa at a time that could have brought civil war. He envisioned a South Africa united in support of the rubgy team even though traditionally the black people rooted against the team because it seemed a symbol of oppression. To change their feelings Mandela appealed to the better natures of his enemies as well as supporters who disagreed with him and was able to inspire the team to an amazing World Cup victory that did gain national support.

These are two of many touching moments:

- the South African team (all white but one player) singing the anthem of black resistance to apartheid

- Nelson Mandela wearing the jersey of the team's captain to the final match

I would highly recommend this story of how Mandela's political will enabled a country to rise above deep and painful differences and begin to heal.

Submitted by Pat @ Central


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Skewer the Food Network and deep fry Alice Waters. Barbecue Rachel Ray until crisp (at least until she sends you a fruit basket). Blend with praise for the unsung (and often undocumented) workers who are keeping the restaurants of this country open. Sprinkle with mentions of Milwaukee, both sweet and sarcastic. Expose "Kobe beef" burgers to the light, along with molecular gastronomy and vegetarians. Roast villains like Gael Green, Alain Ducasse and the James Beard House. Toast heroes like Fergus Henderson and Grant Achatz. Blend some sordid tales of past misdeeds with one father's dirty war against McDonalds. Have an amuse-bouche of 'food porn' writing. Spice heavily with four-letter words and political incorrectness and serve - to the cooks, the curious, the culinary groupies and anyone else who enjoys insider gossip about "the world of food and the people who cook".

Ten years after Kitchen Confidential, ex-chef, former addict and reformed hustler (and current writer, husband and father, and television host) Anthony Bourdain is back with another helping of his controversial and hilarious stories and opinions with Medium Raw.

Submitted by Christine @ MPL Central

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Bryant provides us with the definitive biography of Hall-of-Famer, Henry Aaron. His professional baseball career spanned the years 1954-1976. Hank Aaron started out with the Milwaukee Braves, moved to Atlanta, and ended up with his curtain call as the designated hitter for the Milwaukee Brewers. The man who broke Babe Ruth's home run record, was known for his durability and his amazingly strong wrists. As the records of the modern day greats, such as Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez, become tainted, the amazing achievements of this retired superstar are becoming all the more remarkable. Looking at his family life and community involvement, we see a man who stood against racism, and helped to promote the image of the black athlete with dignity and determination. A must read for baseball fans of every generation. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Marion @ MPL Central

In the Stormy Red Sky by David Drake

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In the Stormy Red Sky (check catalog for availability) is the seventh installment of David Drake's Republic of Cinnabar Navy (RCN) series. David Drake is one of my favorite authors, mainly for his ability to slip effortlessly between the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres.

His Republic Of Cinnabar Navy series is a true space opera, complete with large space battles reminiscent of the naval battles of the 19th century. Beyond the well-crafted action sequences, the plot moves along at a fast clip.

Drake's character development is exquisite. I got hooked on the series with the first book because the main character was a librarian. Adele Mundy is my kind of female protagonist. She is extremely intelligent, practical, efficient, and ruthless in pursuit of her goals and the goals of Daniel Leary, her close friend and captain (in this book). While Adele started out as a librarian she is now one of the most accomplished spies in the Republic of Cinnabar.

The story unfolds mainly from Adele's point of view. The captain and crew of the RCN's newest ship are tasked with transporting a new ambassador to a star cluster that is allied to Cinnabar. When they arrive at their destination they realize that the new ruler of this area is not especially stable. They also learn that the Alliance of Free Stars' navy has just won a major battle and has succeeded in taking over one of Cinnabar's star systems.

Adele and Daniel must somehow return to Cinnabar space in one piece both physically and politically. This is a fun novel that is reminiscent of Horatio Hornblower. It is the seventh in the series, and while it can be read alone I would recommend at least reading the first book in the series With the Lightnings (check catalog for availability) in order to get a handle on the main characters' history with each other.

Submitted by Rose @ MPL Central.

Alex and Me by Irene Pepperberg

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Normally I don't like books that make me cry. Sitting down with a tear-jerker of a novel has never been my idea of a good time. However, I enjoyed Alex and Me immensely even though I was crying my eyes out by the end.

Irene Pepperberg, a scientist who studies animal cognition especially involving parrots, explores her relationship with her African Grey Parrot, Alex after he passed away suddenly at the young age, for an African Grey, of 31.

The author takes the reader back through her early interest in birds and her initial acquisition of Alex through his 30 years of life. Alex's personality comes through vividly through her recollections and it is clear he is an intelligent bird with a domineering personality who still manages to endear himself to everyone he meets, and the reader. Pepperberg also takes the reader through the various tests that were created to test Alex and the other parrots' intelligence, as well as taking the reader through the learning strategies that she and her research assistants employed to teach the birds.

While Pepperberg attempts to keep her distance from Alex in order to maintain a working relationship with the bird, she and by extension the reader become enamored by Alex's intelligence and the sheer force of his personality. Alex was able to not only learn words, and had a vocabulary of around 150 words, but he was also able to use that vocabulary to appropriately label and describe different objects and concepts.

Also by Pepperberg, featuring Alex is The Alex studies : cognitive and communicative abilities of grey parrots. While this book features anecdotes about Alex, it is primarily a scholarly research paper that reports on the remarkable amounts of data collected by Dr. Pepperberg. If you are as enamored with Alex as I now am, you may want to try working your way through this one as well.
Check catalog for availability of Alex and Me or The Alex Studies

Submitted by Rose @ MPL Central.

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