March 2011 Archives

Slamming Open the Door by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno

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I picked up Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno's collection of poems as an afterthought. I needed something to read quickly while waiting for a friend and Slamming Open the Door was a new book on display at my library. What I saw was a slim volume of poems, a cute ladybug on the cover, and a poet I had never heard of. I grabbed the collection and started reading. It took no more than the length of the introductory poem, "Death Barged In," for me to realize this was no ordinary collection and I had just entered a powerful place of sorrow and loss.

Here is what you need to know: Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno's 21 year old daughter, Leidy Bonanno (nicknamed Ladybug), was murdered on July 7, 2003. The police entered her apartment and found her dead; she had been strangled with a telephone cord. Her ex-boyfriend was later charged and found guilty of her murder.

After July 2003 these have become the essential facts of Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno's life. Through her poems we are given a glimpse into the grief that the loss of a child brings. Her language is compact, concise; never flowery or overwrought. The image of death "in his Russian greatcoat / slamming open the door / with an unpardonable bang" who "stands behind me / clamping two /colossal hands on my shoulders" will resonate with many who have felt the heavy weight grief.

I think of Slamming Open the Door often, and not morbidly. The power of this collection is that the poems manage to be beautiful in spite of the tragedy they convey. The American poet Thomas Lux hits the mark with his take on Bonanno's collection, "How does one say I love this book, which I wish never had to be written? Only one way: I love this book. I wish it did not have to be written."

Submitted by Kristina@ MPL Central

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Watch it Made in the USA by Karen Axelrod

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This book has become my travel bible! I am a sucker for factory tours (even if I do not use the product) and try to visit at least one on each trip. I am planning a fall trip to Pennsylvania and this book has helped me discover over eleven factories to visit along the way, including the KitchenAid factory in Ohio and numerous pretzel factories, like Utz's and Snyder's of Hanover in Pennsylvania.

What I like best about the book is that it is categorized by region so if you already know where you are planning to visit, you can check to see what could be on the way. It also offers information like hours of operation, costs, and freebies. I enjoyed just browsing through the book to see examples of places I could go. In the back there is also an index by product.

There is also a website at, but the book offers many more tours and other information.

Check out the book for your next vacation, even if you are planning a staycation for Spring Break - there are plenty of opportunities to watch it made right here in Wisconsin. I highly recommend the Jelly Belly Factory in Pleasant Prairie.

Submitted by Meredith, Wisconsin Talking Book Library

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Garden Variety Mysteries

Pretty much every day the temperature hits 50, I have to fight the urge to go running into my garden. Never mind that it's mostly still covered in snow; I want to plant things! I want spring peas and tender greens and bright flowers!

Then I go outside for about ten seconds, realize I'm freezing, and wonder what I have on the bookshelf.

When it's still too cold to garden but too warm to stop thinking about it, I like to compromise with a gardening mystery. These are fun, absorbing, and sure to give you ideas for your own garden or flower arrangements.

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Mums' the Word by Kate Collins

Abby Knight runs a small town flower shop, and a discount competitor is just killing her business. But when catches a glimpse of a murderer, somebody is out to kill her. The first in the Flower Shop Mysteries series.

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree by Susan Wittig Albert

The ladies of the Darling Dahlias Gardening Club welcome you to Darling, Alabama, in the 1930s. When a beautiful woman with a bad reputation is found dead, the Club discovers they are top-notch sleuths as well as gardeners.

Mulch by Ann Ripley

Louise Eldridge, housewife and amateur organic gardener, unearths a body in the garden of her new home in a wealthy D.C. suburb. The first in the A Gardening Mystery series.

You may also like Janis Harrison's Gardening Mysteries series and John Sherwood's Celia Grant mysteries.

Submitted by Audrey @ Central

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Recently, the 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards nominees for the best cookbook published in English in 2010 were announced. The winners of each category, Cookbook of the Year, and The Cookbook Hall of Fame Inductee will be declared on May 6, 2011. Check out some of the cookbook nominees that are available from the Milwaukee Public Library.
American Cooking
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• The Food, Folklore and Art of Lowcountry Cooking by Joseph E. Dabney
• The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual by Frank Castronovo, Frank Falcinelli, and Peter Meehan
• Pig: King of the Southern Table by James Villas

Baking and Dessert
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• Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours by Kim Boyce
• My Sweet Mexico: Recipes for Authentic Pastries, Breads, Candies, Beverages and Frozen Treats by Fany Gerson
• Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours by Sarabeth Levine

General Cooking
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• The Essential New York Times Cook Book: Classic Recipes for a New Century by Amanda Hesser
• Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys by David Tanis
• Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease by Rozanne Gold

Healthy Focus
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• The Simple Art of EatingWell Cookbook by Jessie Price & The EatingWell Test Kitchen
• The Very Best of Recipes for Health: 250 Recipes with More from the Popular Feature on by Martha Rose Shulman

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• Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy by Diana Kennedy
• Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Master, with Authentic Recipes and Stories by Grace Young

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• The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders. Photographer Sara Remington
• Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson. Photographer Eric Wolfinger

Reference and Scholarship
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• Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes by Mark Bitterman
• What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets by Faith D'Aluisio and Peter Menzel

For a full list of nominees please see the James Beard Foundation website

Submitted by Rebecca@Central

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Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson (c2009)

Kim Stanley Robinson is best known for his award-winning The Mars Trilogy, which traces the colonization of Mars over many decades. His most recent novel, Galileo's Dream, isn't as different from that spaceship-filled future as it may first seem.

Galileo's Dream opens in the seventeenth century, when a stranger tells Galileo Galilei about an invention he has recently seen in northern Europe. It is a device which combines two lenses to make distant objects appear nearer. The story quickly puts the true science in science fiction, following Galileo through his experiments and discoveries with his improved telescope. Just when you're settling in for a story about a historical scientist, Galileo's stranger returns - this time to transport him to one of the moons of Jupiter which Galileo himself discovered, now colonized by humans in the midst of a political and scientific schism. Galileo is soon embroiled in conflicts even more deadly than his struggles against the Catholic Church and the Inquisition in his own time.

The story unfolds across distant worlds and times, exploring the importance of science in the history of the whole human race through the life and dreams of Galileo himself, who asks, "But why should science have to have a martyr?"

Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Mary Lou @ Washington Park

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Hawaiian Dreams

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In this week's Women's Words: A Story Time for Adults, we read Alice Bloch's short story "Learning the Hula." (Find it in the anthology Hers 2.) Even if you couldn't make it to hear the story in person, you'll enjoy these books if you want to explore the culture, landscape, and of course music and dance of this tropical paradise.

Adventurer's Hawaii : photographic glimpses of the Hawaiian Islands as seen by the hiker, kayaker, and adventurer by Peter Caldwell.

Hawaiʻi one summer by Maxine Hong Kingston.
Plants and flowers of Hawaiʻi / S.H. Sohmer and R. Gustafson.

Want to learn to hula? Check out our hula music and instructional videos.

Or explore the landscape from your couch with our travel films.

Submitted by Audrey @ Central

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Who says you can't enjoy a cookbook like a novel? I've found Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Café to be a compelling read both in and out of the kitchen.

The protagonist and author, Joanne Chang, recounts her career shift from applied mathematics to pastry chef extraordinaire and Boston bakery impresario. I'd remembered her and her winning sticky bun recipe from an episode of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" on the Food Network, and had made a mental note to find that recipe online. Now I don't have to!

While I consider Chang a compelling main character, it's the supporting cast that really moves the narrative along for me. Characters like Sugar + Spice Brioche Buns, Rosemary Shortbread, Midnight Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate Buttercream, Milky Way Tart, Brown Sugar Popovers. . .the list goes on. Along with the recipes are included many flavor variations, tips on technique, and personal stories from Chang's personal life and professional experience.

I'm a bit of a baking weekend warrior myself, and am really looking forward to tackling the recipes within these pages. Up first? Perfecting her Basic Brioche dough (p. 73) and using that dough to bake the sticky buns that beat Bobby Flay. I can't wait for the sequel!

Submitted by Mandy @ YCOS

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Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane.


100 years from now, the Church of Real Truth trains and licenses witches to protect humans from hauntings of real ghosts who mainly want to destroy all live humans. Brash church witch Cesaria "Chess" Putnam, investigating another haunting officially, is blackmailed into purging a haunted airport for the local druglord/mobster. Full of street language, sex, drugs, and violence, I would not recommend this to anyone under 16 without guidance, but it is very well written if you like supernatural urban fantasy. This is the first of the Downside Trilogy. The other books in this trilogy are Unholy Magic and City of Ghosts.

Visit the author's website here.

Submitted by Leah @ Wisconsin Talking Book & Braille Library

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The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

The Lonely Polygamist is the best book I read in 2010 and I was apparently not the only one who thought this way. It made a number of 'Top Ten" lists of 2010, including Publisher's Weekly and Amazon.

lonely polygamist.jpg The Lonely Polygamist tells the story of a Golden Richards, his four wives, twenty-eight children, dog, failing construction company and affair. If that sounds like a lot to cover it is. The book is long (602 pages), but it reads quickly telling the engaging story of Golden trying to provide for his large family by building a Nevada whorehouse. This is of course against his morals and he must hide this from his family and church - not that easy to do when you have so many people vying for your time. While building he runs into a lot of issues, including falling for the owner's wife. There are also interesting subplots that help develop the characters of his four wives and some of his children. As you read the book, you cannot help but feel sorry for Golden and understand that in a family of so many how one can start to feel lonely...

Submitted by Meredith, Wisconsin Talking Book Library

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Blackout & All Clear by Connie Willis (c2010)

Taken together, Blackout and All Clear make up a single story, over 1100 pages long. They are the latest epic work from Connie Willis, the winner of ten Hugo Awards and six Nebula Awards for her science fiction. Blackout and All Clear have been jointly nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel of 2010.

Blackout and All Clear take place in a universe Willis has previously explored in two other novels, which are not necessary to read first (Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog). In this future world, the students and faculty of the History Department at the University of Oxford study history by living it - even undergraduates must complete a history practicum in which they use time travel to experience the time period they have studied.

In Blackout we are introduced to various young historians studying the Second World War in England. Eileen is in the peaceful north, observing children evacuated from London to protect them from the bombing. Mike, doing a study of heroism, is headed to the southern coast to meet civilians who assisted in the evacuation of Dunkirk. Meanwhile, Polly is going straight to the heart of London to work as a shopgirl in the middle of the Blitz, with a memorized list of bombing sites to protect her.

All three will be perfectly safe as long as the theory they've been taught holds true - as long as historians can never change the history they've come to observe.

- submitted by Mary Lou @ Washington Park

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The Bradbury Report by Steven Polansky (c2009)

Written as a first-person journal, this book examines the idea of human cloning for body parts by cloning whole functioning beings rather than individual organs. Using the pseudonym of Ray Bradbury, the journalist - a retired math teacher - describes how he met his own clone and went on the lam to Canada in the company of an old college girlfriend while the clone's language skills are coached and he is acclimated to normal human social mores. There are no good endings in a book like this, nor does Polansky give us more than an outline of conjectures about the clone-raising operation. Still the book gave me an interesting way to look at the consequences - both socially and morally - of such a widespread government-sponsored program. Check catalog for availabilty.

- submitted by Leah @ Wisconsin Talking Book & Braille Library

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I grew up watching the Brady Bunch in syndication; it was my favorite television show for a number of years. Because of that, I have read everything related to the Brady Bunch. With a number of the actors becoming reality stars in the past few years, (Florence Henderson/Carol Brady being the most recent, with her turn in the ballroom on Dancing with the Stars), interest for the Brady's never seems to fade.

The book offers something for everyone. As opposed to other books about the Brady's which concentrate on the actors and any love connections, this one talks more about behind the scenes information, like episodes and the details of producing the show. Readers learn how the Brady Bunch came to fruition and a lot about Sherwood Schwartz, who besides the Brady's, was also the mastermind behind Gilligan's Island.

The book is broken into two parts, one by Sherwood and one by his son Lloyd. The tones of the two are quite different. Each address a lot of the same topics, like problems with ABC, working with child actors and working with the infamously hard to deal with Robert Reed (Mike Brady), but while Sherwood is generally more humble and professional, Lloyd is more egotistical and harsh. The two perspectives offer an interesting new look at the Brady Bunch.

Submitted by Meredith, Wisconsin Talking Book Library

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Which Tiger Title Are You Reading?

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In Tea Obreht's debut novel, The Tiger's Wife, a young doctor is struggling to understand why her beloved grandfather left his family to die alone in a field hospital far from home. In a war-torn Balkan country she takes over her grandfather's search for a mythical ageless vagabond while referring to a worn copy of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.

A Tiger in the Kitchen describes Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan's quest to recreate the dishes of her native Singapore during one Lunar Calendar year, as a way to connect food and family with her sense of home.

The efforts of a tiger conservation leader are documented in The Tiger by John Vaillant. Men were forced to hunt a man-eating tiger through the brutal Siberian winter, an effort that familiarized them with the creature's history, motives and unique method of attack.

Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna takes place in turn-of-the-20th-century southern India. Devi Nachimada falls in love with Machu, a daring tiger hunter, and in the process endangers her friendship with a motherless boy, Devanna, thus setting the stage for a devastating tragedy.

Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso describes the tragic family conditions that led to the author's victimization at the hands of a pedophile, describing how her abuser became an insidious part of every aspect of her young life and traumatized her for more than 14 years before he committed suicide.

Amy Chua traces the rewards and pitfalls of a Chinese mother's exercise in extreme parenting, describing the exacting standards applied to grades, music lessons, and avoidance of Western cultural practices in Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

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Good Crafternoon, Milwaukee!

Hi, my name is Mandy and I am addicted to, the world's online craft fair. You name it, I've bought it there: artwork, jewelry, knit goods, even fudge. And that's barely the tip of the iceberg of what you can find on this site. Enter one search term and you'll find yourself down the rabbit hole again and again. I dare you to log on and limit yourself to 5 minutes of looking around - it's the Lay's potato chip challenge for websites!

But wait, this entry isn't just an unsolicited, unpaid advertisement. Every time I click through and let PayPal make my consumerist dreams come true, this thought crosses my mind: I could make a lot of these items myself! Take a look at these books and perhaps you can avoid my fate. Or, take it a step further, hone your skills, and open your own shop on Etsy! I likely will be your best customer.

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If I ever move past basic scarves and hats in my knitting repertoire, these adorable creatures will be my next step. I am particularly fond of Hugo, the Couch Potato Monster on pp. 48-49. Great gifts for the young and young at heart!

ceramics for beginners.jpg Ceramics for Beginners: Surfaces, Glazes and Firing by Angelica Pozo
This was my favorite subject in art classes in high school. This book skips the potter's wheel and jumps right into decorating techniques for clay pieces at all stages, from newly formed to already fired in the kiln. Numerous photographs and encouragements from the author to be creative abound.

textile art.bmp The Complete Photo Guide to Textile Art by Susan Stein
Gorgeous photographs outlining color theory and a multitude of fabric techniques from screenprinting to tie-dyeing to quilting. As inspirational as it is instructional.

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The Ultimate Jeweler's Guide by Joanna Gollberg
A concise yet seemingly comprehensive guide to the tools and techniques needed to make your own jewelry masterpieces. The spiral-bound book lays open flat, so you can keep this right next to you while you're soldering away! (welding degree not included)

Patternmaking for a perfect fit by Steffani Lincecum
I'll be honest: I can barely sew on a button. But from the number of patterns and articles of clothing I've seen for sale on Etsy, the art and science of sewing is alive and well. This book is for the budding Project Runway contestant!

Submitted by Mandy @ Central

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The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi.


Set in an unnamed city in "Afghanistan or elsewhere" during one of the interminable civil wars, a woman cares for her comatose husband while he dies of a gunshot wound in the neck. That his dying takes many weeks only makes the wife's nursing duties in the middle of street battles more ludicrous and heart-rending. To pass the time, the woman talks to her husband--at first about inconsequential events and then escalating into more personal secrets. Eventually, like the patience stone that sucks evil out of bad situations, the telling sucks the bitterness out of the woman's abused psyche until--like the stone that bursts to bring the Apocalypse--the woman can no longer tell what is real and what is false. This psychically violent book is a short fable for modern feminism in a constricted society. This novel won France's literature award Prix Goncourt for 2008.

Submitted by Leah @ Wisconsin Talking Book & Braille Library

Click on the book cover above to check the catalog for available copies.

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Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford (c2010)

After the family Christmas dinner, grandmother, aka "the Almighty," gathers the Sullivan family together to make a big announcement - they will be cut out of her will. Someone has offended her and must confess. This near tragedy must be stopped. Which Sullivan sister could it be? Who needs to beg for the Almighty's forgiveness? The deadline of New Year's Day is fast approaching and no one wants to tarnish the family name or forfeit fortune. If you enjoyed The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, you will surely enjoy the mischief of the Sullivan sisters.

Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Katharina @ MPL Central

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UFOs, JFK and Elvis by Richard Belzer

belzer.jpg While Richard Belzer, aka John Much on Law and Order: SVU, was working on the television show Homicide: Life on the Street, he wrote UFO's, JFK and Elvis. Originally, I picked this up because I am such a Law and Order fan, and was quickly enthralled.

The book focuses on the JFK assassination and the conspiracy theories around that event. As someone who did not grow up during the Kennedy era, this book taught me lots about the assassination and conspiracies - something they do not teach you in school. I found myself talking to people about it, making notes and going to the internet to check the sources Belzer cites in his extensive bibliography.

The book also touches on if Elvis is really dead, aliens, and if man really has walked on the moon. These topics are not written on extensively, which I found to be a shame. His writing is very direct, fluid and sensible, making it easy to ponder his theories, if not actually believe them. Belzer has written other works as well and because of his writing style I cannot wait to read them!

Submitted by Meredith, Wisconsin Talking Book Library

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Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

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Girl in Translation relates the struggles of a Hong Kong immigrant girl and her mother as they try to succeed in Brooklyn despite the malicious plans of the mother's sister who has paid their passage to the United States. Kim's knack for excelling in the classroom quickly brings her to the attention of her sixth grade teacher who secures a scholarship for her at an exclusive college prep charter school. Kim's home life of an unheated apartment in a condemned building (with electricity but no phone) and after-school work in a sweatshop contrasts starkly with the privileged life of her classmates. She works hard to keep the two worlds isolated from each other. We follow her story as she matriculates to high school and discovers the American style of courting while still maintaining connections to the Chinese cultural community. Well described and carefully crafted, the book reads like a memoir because of its vivid descriptions. Kim's understanding of English improves over the length of the book so that the phonetic mystery words slowly move into more recognizable American English phrasing.

Submitted by Leah @ Wisconsin Talking Book & Braille Library

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Remember Me by Mary Higgins Clark

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Known as the "Queen of Suspense" Mary Higgins Clark never fails to tell a good story. This is one of her older books, but is nonetheless just as entertaining, if not more, as her newer ones.

Remember Me's general plot is centered on Menley Nichols who is suffering post-traumatic stress disorder from the death of her son a year ago. Her husband, her, and their new baby travel to Cape Cod to help the family relax. Menley's symptoms seem to other to be getting worse, she is hearing her dead son call to her and people hear her crying when she is not. She denies the allegations and blames them on the mystery of the house. The mystery of the house involves a sea captain, his wife, and her assumed lover; this subplot helps weave an interesting history of Cape Cod into the book. There is also a mystery of a drowned newlywed and if her death was accidental or caused by her husband. The plots are artfully interwoven and all come back to a woman with Alzheimer's. Though there are a lot of plots and plot twists, the book is engaging and easy to follow. Even if it does not leave you guessing whodunit, it will leave you guessing as to why and how!

Submitted by Meredith, Wisconsin Talking Book Library

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Though relatively new to canning, I have already grown bored with some of the recipes out there. I personally only have so much use for jams and jellies and would love more ideas for my peppers. This book offers fantastic recipes - personal favorites are the pickled dilled green beans, Indian cauliflower and farmer's market corn salsa. Even the jelly recipes are tasty!

Beyond just great recipes, it also offers easy to understand step by step directions for canning. I remember before I started canning, I tabled it for a while because other books looked difficult to understand and follow. This book offers steps in language that non-canners will understand and offers photographs and descriptions of all the items you will need, including produce.

Other pluses of the book are its good use of white space (each page has just one recipe) and beautiful use of pictures. This book is a must read for anyone interested in canning.

Click on the book cover above to check the catalog for available copies.

Submitted by Meredith, Wisconsin Talking Book Library

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Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

sing_you_home.jpgJodi Picoult has never backed away from tackling tough issues. In her newest book she tackles a ton: infertility, gay marriage, alcoholism, and the religious right.

Zoe and Max Baxter try for years to have a child. When another miscarriage tears them apart, they divorce and go their separate ways. Zoe falls in love with a woman and marries her; Max lives with his brother, reverts back to his alcoholic ways, then finds religion. Their lives cross again when they realize they never decided what to do with their frozen embryos. Zoe wants her partner to carry the child. Max wants his brother and sister-in-law, who also have fertility issues, to have the embryos. A typical Picoult courtroom drama ensues.

This was a quick read, with well drawn out characters. I liked that neither side was demonized too much. The ending was a little too quaint, but still a satisfying read when you consider all that it tackled. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Meredith, Wisconsin Talking Book Library

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The Terror of Living by Urban Waite

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Phil Hunt, a full time horse rancher and part-time drug mule, finds himself up the proverbial creek without a paddle after losing both a shipment of cocaine and a Vietnamese drug courier whose belly is loaded with $90,000 worth of heroin. Since making good decisions isn't one of Phil's assets, he decides to stand and fight against the angry drug dealers instead of fleeing with his wife Nora. Or maybe Phil was really fighting the good fight all along? Or is Phil one of those rare individuals where his brawn outweighs his brains?

You'll have to read this volatile novel to find out what happens to Phil, but be forewarned, this is a bloody, perverse novel that features a professional killer with an affinity for knives, a deputy sheriff with a past, graphic scenes of horse mutilation, and body appendage amputations. In short, this novel packs the punch of a Mike Tyson left hook. It's the literary equivalent of sticking a well-meaning drug mule into a blender with a ruthless drug cartel, a merciless killer- for- hire, a concerned wife, a whole lot of blood and a few automatic weapons and pouring out violence juice. Cormac McCarthy beware, this is a country for young writers.

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Submitted by Dan@Central

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Jumping off a train is easy. It's landing that's difficult.

But 12 year old Abilene Tucker is used to jumping off trains. It's the dust-bowl days of the depression, and she's been riding the rails with her father as long as she can remember. When he sends her away to his hometown of Manifest, Kansas over the summer, Abilene is crushed.

Despite its name, Manifest is slow to give up its secrets. Why is this struggling little town so different from the bustling, lively place in her father's memories? Why did Abilene's father send her here, so far from him and the only life she's ever known? Who is the Rattler, the mysterious spy rumored to be skulking in the woods? And above all, why doesn't anybody seem to have any stories about her father?

With the help of two school friends, a pastor who also runs the local speakeasy, a fortune-teller who lives on the Path to Perdition, and a spunky nun, Abilene uncovers Manifest's true past - and her own.

This Newberry award winner will captivate you from the first page to the last with its honest and perceptive narrator, deeply evocative setting, and beautiful language. You don't have to be a child to remember the thrill of an illicit game of exploration, the long hot days of summer vacation, or the way your world changed when you realized your parents were only human. A brilliant debut.

Submitted by Audrey @ Central

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An Old Fashioned Ghost Story

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The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters is the kind of ghost story that fans of Henry James and Shirley Jackson wish there were more of. The horror is subtle and psychological, not explicitly gruesome. The place is Warwickshire England and the time is shortly after WWII. The narrator, a local physician, is called to treat one of the maids at the home of an upper class family whose fortunes are in decline. Awed by the family's wealth as a child, the doctor is now taken aback to see how much things have deteriorated. The once grand house is crumbling and in need of repair, it's inhabitants' money almost gone.

The doctor finds himself paying frequent visits to the household and getting involved in the lives of the family members. He develops a romantic interest in the unattractive spinster sister who is just barely keeping the family finances together. As strange, inexplicable things begin to happen in the house, the doctor becomes obsessed with getting to the bottom of them.

Although the pace of the narrative is leisurely, the story is gripping. Keep reading at least until you reach the part where the child is bitten by a dog--after that you will not be able to put the book down. Not just a ghost story, this is also an examination of England's class system, as well as a perceptive character study. The chilling ending took me completely by surprise, and had me wanting to reread the entire book in search of clues.

Submitted by Mary @ Forest Home

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Lara Belacqua embarks on a long and dangerous journey in parallel worlds to travel north in order to save her best friend Will and other children who have mysteriously disappeared from becoming the subjects of painful and deadly experiments. Accompanied by her daemon Pantalaimon - a supernatural animal that permanently bonds with one human for life - Lyra encounters newly discovered friends, a polar bear Iorek Byrnison and a witch Serafina Pekkala, and foes, her mother Mrs. Marisa Coulter and golden monkey daemon. This book is full of magical places, fantastic events, and seemingly never ending peril. Although this trilogy is a long read, the story is well told and definitely worth the time.

Click on the book cover above to check the catalog for available copies.

Click on the photograph above to visit the author's website.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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