January 2014 Archives

2013 Biographies and Memoirs

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Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones

A comprehensive portrait of the iconic cultural figure includes coverage of his Mississippi childhood and college forays into early Muppet TV projects to his years with "Sesame Street" and "The Muppet Show" and his considerable achievements in non-Muppetproductions.

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

The first Hispanic American on the U.S. Supreme Court shares the story of her life before becoming a judge, describing her youth in a Bronx housing project, the ambition that fueled her ivy league education, and the individuals who helped shape her career.


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I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

Describes the life of the young Pakistani student who advocated for women's rights and education in the Taliban-controlled Swat Valley, survived an assassination attempt, and became the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou

The celebrated author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings shares the intimate story of her relationship with her mother, a first black woman officer in the Merchant Marines and a purveyor of a gambling business and rooming house, relating the events that prompted her mother to send young Angela away and the complicated fallout that shaped their family life.


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Autobiography by Morrissey

English singer and songwriter Morrissey recounts the details of his dark and difficult life, blunt and sometimes controversial thoughts, and successful career in music - part of which was his time as the lead singer of The Smiths during the 80s.

Beethoven: The Man Revealed by John Suchet

Drawing on the latest research as well as using source material, a leading authority on the life and works of Ludwig van Beethoven reveals the man behind the legend, painting a complete portrait of one of the greatest composers who ever lived.

Valerie @ Central

The Time Machine by H G Wells

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It's difficult to pick my favorite H.G. Wells story. The Invisible Man? The War of the Worlds? Or maybe The Island of Dr. Moreau! These are all sci-fi stalwarts for sure, but after re-reading The Time Machine, I guess it's my favorite hands down. The Time Machine packs a lot of science fiction wallop for being published in 1895. From freaky crab-monsters inhabiting the beaches of Earth's future to sinister Morlocks dining on what's left of the Human Race, The Time Machine accomplishes much more than creating a timeless science fiction story---it outlines English class struggles and the evils of Victorian life through futuristic parables.

A sci-fi classic in every right, The Time Machine does much more than bend time--it bends the fabric of humanity and opens possibilities into the unfathomable decline of Mother Earth.

Dan @ Washington Park

2013 Favorites

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The Treasury of Knowledge series embodies the major lines of thought and practice of Tibetan Buddhism in a single encyclopedic set.

Making Sense of Tantric Buddhism by Christian K. Wedemeyer

This book dispels the notion that Tantric Buddhism is a degenerative practice by showing its continuity with mainstream Buddhist practices as demonstrated in primary source texts.

Initiatic Eroticism and Other Occult Writings from La Fleche by Maria de Naglowska

This book highlights the best of La Fleche, an early 20th Century French occult magazine. La Fleche and the conferences surrounding it were influential to many avant-garde writers and artists of its time, including Man Ray and Andre Breton.


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Dr. John Dee's Spiritual Diaries: 1583-1608 edited by Stephen Skinner

This edition is much easier to read than the 1974 Magickal Childe facsimile edition, and presents this source material on Enochian Magic along with illustrations of Dee's original manuscripts.

Wormwood Star: The Magickal Life of Marjorie Cameron by Spenser Kansa

This book examines the life of one of the 20th Century's most enigmatic artists, cult film star and occult practitioners, Marjorie Cameron. Wife of the equally enigmatic John Whiteside Parsons, occultist and founding member of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena California, Marjorie went on after Parsons' death to portray occult themes in her paintings and to influence some Hollywood figures, including Dennis Hopper.

John S @ Central

Newbery, Caldecott & Printz Award Winners

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Winners of the American Library Association's top awards for children's and YA books, videos and audios, were announced yesterday.

Kate DiCamillo wins the Newbery Medal for Flora & Ulysses, her second Newbery win. Rescuing a squirrel after an accident involving a vacuum cleaner, comic-reading cynic Flora Belle Buckman is astonished when the squirrel, Ulysses, demonstrates astonishing powers of strength and flight after being revived.

She earned her first Newbery Medal 10 years ago for The Tale of Despereaux, and a Newbery Honor in 2001 for her first novel, Because of Winn-Dixie. DiCamillo was sworn in as the fourth National Ambassador for Young People's Literature earlier this month.

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After three Sibert Honors over the years for his picture books, Brian Floca wins the 2014 Caldecott Medal for Locomotive which presents a visual exploration of America's early railroads, examining the sounds, speed, and strength of the fledgling transcontinental locomotives and the experiences of pioneering travelers. Locomotive also received a 2014 Sibert Honor citation.


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British author Marcus Sedgwick wins the 2014 Michael L. Printz Award for Midwinterblood; seven linked vignettes of passion and love unfold on a Scandinavian island inhabited throughout various time periods by Vikings, vampires, ghosts and a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon.

For a complete list of award winners and honorees, click here.

Jacki @ Central

S by Doug Dorst and JJ Abrams

sabrams.jpegS. by Doug Dorst and JJ Abrams isn't your typical fiction book. No, what's packed between those two covers (and on the cover itself) is an experience, a mystery that overflows from the pages of the book, spilling forth in the form of inserted post cards, letters, even maps scrawled on napkins. The book itself is styled as a copy of 'Ship of Theseus' by a fictional author V.M. Straka, stolen from a California school library. In the margins, there are notes scrawled in different colors: an ongoing conversation between two people intensely studying both the text of Ship of Theseus and the mysteries surrounding the author.

If you were a fan of the intricate mysteries that were part of Abrams' Lost or all the secret society intrigue of Alias, this is a distillation of those themes and elements into a book that is unlike probably anything you've ever read. As a unique experience, I cannot recommend S. highly enough. We have several copies available at the library, though there's a wait list right now. Place a hold today so you can experience this book yourself!

Tim @ Central

2013: Our Favorites

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The Heavy: A Mother, a Daughter, a Diet by Dara-Lynn Weiss

This controversial memoir chronicles the author's efforts to help her 7-year-old daughter overcome childhood obesity and the criticism she received both for enabling her child's condition and enforcing the limits necessary to deal with it.

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance by David Epstein

Sports Illustrated senior writer David Epstein explores the nature versus nurture debate concerning top athletes, and whether their skills are innate or due to force of will and obsessive training. He dispels perceptions about why athletes succeed and does not shy away from controversial questions.

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One Big Happy Family: Heartwarming Stories of Animals Caring for One Another by Lisa Rogak

A collection of stories and photographs of animals of one species parenting babies entirely different from themselves...a cat and her ducklings, a goat and her wolf pup, a Chihuahua and his baby Marmoset. Need I say more?

Anna W @ Central

More 2013 Favorites

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The Atlas of Global Development (World Bank) is a geographical interpretation of socio-economic statistical data allowing at-a-glance evaluation of issues.





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The Lands of Ice and Fire: Maps from King's Landing to Across the Narrow Sea by George R. R. Martin includes full color maps providing the geographic environs of the world of Game of Thrones; it is ideal for fans of the books and the HBO series.



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National Geographic Global Atlas: A Comprehensive Picture of the World Today with More than 300 New Maps, Infographics, and Illustrations

One of the most trusted sources of cartography, National Geographic creates cutting-edge maps and pairs it with authoritative and compelling data on our world.



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The Art of the Map: An Illustrated History of Map Elements and Embellishments by Dennis Reinhartz explores the symbolism and origins of cartographic illustrations with incredibly detailed full color reproductions of historic maps.

Louise @ Central

Scowler by Daniel Kraus

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Ry Burke was a hero when he was 10 years old. He was told to leave his mother alone that awful day but he knew something wasn't right. He rescued his mother from a horrific stunt his abusive father did to her. Their lives became normal for almost 10 years but the family was always nervous Marvin Burke would return to their family farm.

Years later when Ry was 19, his worst nightmare returns. After a meteor crashes into the nearby prison, his father escapes and expectantly returns to their home. Strangely, another meteor also lands on their land and when Marvin Burke arrives home to stop his family from leaving, he also decides he wants to claim the meteor for his own and sell it. With the help of his childhood imaginary protectors, Mr. Furrington, wise Jesus, and the bloodthirsty Scowler, Ry may be able to defeat his horrifying father.

Will this family survive the horror that Marvin Burke is causing them? Will the chaos caused by the meteor finally free the Burke's from the fear they have been living with all these years? The tension and gruesome details make Scowler a fast-paced read that grips you until the end. This is just one of the exciting Young Adult titles on the 2014 Milwaukee County Teen Book Award (MCTBA) list. Please check out the blog and follow us on Twitter @MCTBAward.

Katharina @ Central

2013 Favorites Continue

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Ambigrams Revealed: A Graphic Designer's Guide to Creating Typographic Art Using Optical Illusions, Symmetry, and Visual Perception by Nikita Prokhorov

A great collection of typographical case studies "judged" graphic designers - with the technique explained.

Parenting: Illustrated With Crappy Pictures by Amber Dusick

Oh, jeez. This one is hilarious; filled with all-new stories as well as a handful of fan favorites from her blog, the author presents a humorous take on the crappier side of parenting.

The Home Apothecary: Cold Spring Apothecary's Cookbook of Hand-Crafted Remedies & Recipes for the Hair, Skin, Body, and Home by Stacy Dugliss-Wesselman

This book is beautiful. The rustic, home-y photography makes me want to whip up all the tinctures within. And there's something to be said about a great index.

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Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Laura Markham

With a brand new baby and two very active boys at home for summer vacation, this book was a beacon of hope. Markham's book and her www.ahaparenting.com web site both provide useful, age-appropriate techniques for dealing with children's [mis]behaviors.

The No-Cry Sleep Solution For Toddlers And Preschoolers: Gentle Ways To Stop Bedtime Battles And Improve Your Child's Sleep by Elizabeth Pantley

I love Pantley's "no-cry" series books and this one is no exception; it's filled with useful tips of things to try when your toddler decides naps are no longer for him.

Furniture Makeovers: Simple Techniques for Transforming Furniture with Paint, Stains, Paper, Stencils, and More by Barb Blair

Blair's detailed how-to instructions make these projects seem do-able for someone with a penchant for DIY. It made me wish I had more time to work on the furniture graveyard in my attic...

Erin @ Central

Oscar Noms Nod; Book to Film Adaptations

The Academy Awards will be presented March 2, 2014 and four of the nine best picture nominations this year are based on books, resulting in an impressive reading list among Oscar's major categories:

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12 Years a Slave, based on the autobiography by Solomon Northup: best picture, director (Steve McQueen), actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), supporting actor (Michael Fassbender), supporting actress (Lupita Nyong'o), adapted screenplay (John Ridley) and three more nominations.

Captain Phillips, based on A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips & Stephan Talty: best picture, supporting actor (Barkhad Abdi), adapted screenplay (John Ridley) and three more.

The Wolf of Wall Street, based on Jordan Belfort's memoir: best picture, director (Martin Scorsese), actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), supporting actor (Jonah Hill) and adapted screenplay (Terence Winter).

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Philomena, based on Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty-Year Search (originally published under the title The Lost Child of Philomena Lee) by Martin Sixsmith: best picture, actress (Judi Dench), adapted screenplay (Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope) and one more.

August: Osage County, based on the play by Tracy Letts: actress (Meryl Streep) and supporting actress (Julia Roberts).

Dirty Wars, based on the book by Jeremy Scahill: best documentary feature.

Jacki @ Central

More of our 2013 Favorites

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Viking: The Norse Warrior's (Unofficial) Manual by John Haywood

For all armchair "warriors", this book humorously explains everything one needs to know about being a successful tenth-century Viking.

The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville by Clare Mulley

Not much has been written about the first British female spy of World War II and her extraordinary life, but this work covers everything from her Polish heritage, her dangerous yet successful missions, and her death at the hands of an obsessed suitor.

A History of Britain in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps by Chris West

A fresh, quirky, and unique take on Britain's history from 1840 to the present as depicted on these miniature works of art.

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The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon: An Elusive World Wonder Traced by Stephanie Dalley

Scholar Stephanie Dalley, an expert on ancient Mesopotamia, presents an entirely new theory on the exact location and creation of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Marie Antoinette's Head: The Royal Hairdresser, the Queen, and the Revolution by Will Bashor

Author Bashor presents a new point of view on the life and downfall of Marie Antoinette through the eyes of the man who became her confidante while creating her infamous and enviable coiffure.

Jennifer H @ Central

2013: Our Favorites

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Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff

The city is now #1 in unemployment, illiteracy, foreclosure, crime and dropouts - an explanation of how and why Detroit's fall from grace has been so complete and so devastating to those still living there.

Here Is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History by Andrew Carroll

Travel with a noted historian and explore unmarked historic sites where extraordinary moments occurred and remarkable individuals once lived.

The Men Who United the States: America's Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics, and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible by Simon Winchester

Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman, is uniquely able to bring lesser known historical characters to life in a way that is memorable and fascinating.

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The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin

Lincoln's hat, Harriet Tubman's hymnal, Sitting Bull's ledger, Cesar Chavez's union jacket, the Enola Gay bomber, even Dorothy's ruby slippers-- armchair travel to the Smithsonian if you are not able to visit this fascinating museum in person.

Theodore Roosevelt and the Assassin: Madness, Vengeance, and the Campaign of 1912 by Gerard Helferich

It happened here in Milwaukee, October 14, 1912 - go on a scavenger hunt and find the plaque memorializing this event in Downtown Milwaukee.

Tom O @ Central

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Vegan Slow Cooking for Two-or-Just for You: More Than 100 Delicious One-Pot Meals for Your 1.5-Quart or 1.5-Litre Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester

Savvy cooks know a slow cooker can make life a lot easier, providing a fast, hot meal waiting for you when you get home. This particular collection is a healthier, meat-free alternative to all those pulled pork, chicken taco, stuffed cheesy beef sausage soup diet bombs. Recipes heavy on vegetables infuse tofu, seitan, beans and other protein sources and are accompanied by beautiful pictures that will make you want to go buy a little slow cooker immediately. The author even instructs how to make many vegan staples as home, such as gluten crumbles and hazelnut coffee creamer (with real hazelnuts!). Meat and cheese fans may not adapt this book as a kitchen staple but vegetarians and vegans will be happy to have a slow cooker book to call their own.

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The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays: 140 Step-by-Step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations by Ree Drummond

The winter holiday season may be coming to a close, but that doesn't mean you can't celebrate all year long! The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, blogger and television host is known for making hearty meals for her family with lots of love, butter and cream. This recipe book is filled with pies, steaks, brunches and cheesy dips for every occasion. Each recipe is accompanied by gorgeous photos detailing the process, step-by-step. The guide is a fool proof way to celebrate every holiday, including Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine's Day and even St. Patrick's Day. Although this book won't aid in your New Year's resolution to get fit, it will make you a hit at your next holiday party or gathering.

Lizzy @ Central

Great Art Books of 2013

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I Just Like to Make Things: Learn the Secrets to Making Money While Staying Passionate About your Art and Craft by Lilla Rogers

Inspirational and practical tips from an art veteran. Offers guidance and advice for creative professionals on how to transform a creative hobby into a lucrative business, and includes information on leveraging various working styles, promoting one's art, and networking with industry art directors.

Banksy: You Are an Acceptable Level of Threat and If You Were Not You Would Know About It compiled and edited by Gary Shove; words by Patrick Potter

A compelling look at the political satire of this well known British street artist including photographs never previously published.

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iPad for Artists by Dani Jones

How great is it that a book can help you understand how to make art on your iPad or tablet?!

Handbuilt Pottery Techniques Revealed: The Secrets of Handbuilding Shown in Unique Cutaway Photography by Jacqui Atkin

Handbuilt Pottery Techniques Revealed focuses on projects that produce good-looking and useful finished objects but don't require use of a potter's wheel. Revised and expanded version of a classic how-to manual.

The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti by Rafael Schacter; foreward by John Fekner

Wonderful photographs reveal an amazing amount of skill and creativity throughout the globe, from New York and San Francisco to Madrid and Sydney.

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Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists & Progressive Politics During World War II by Farah Jasmine Griffin

A well told story of three African-American women who paved the way for the Civil Rights movement.

Vanity Fair, 100 Years: From the Jazz Age to Our Age edited by Graydon Carter; essays by Anne Fine Collins, David Friend, Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, Annie Leibovitz, and Jim Windolf

A tumultuous century in America is documented by presenting how the magazine displayed American culture in the many decades of its operation, including the Jazz Age, the Depression, the Reagan Years, and the Information Age.

Art & Place: Site-Specific Art of the Americas edited by Renshaw, Amanda; art by Robert Smithson, Anish Kapoor, John Singer Sargent and Diego Rivera

Presents works of site-specific art from the Americas, from prehistoric pictographs and baroque church interiors to contemporary earthworks and sculptures, arranged by location, from Canada to Argentina. Fun to browse through and useful for planning road trips!

Pat @ Central

At the Fights: Inside the World of Professional Boxing by Howard Schatz

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Boxing is not my favorite sport, but I absolutely love photography. Photographer Howard Schatz took phenomenal pictures for this book. At first glance you might think this is a pretty coffee table book. I know I did. It most definitely is not. Individual fights, scores and records are listed. Each boxer in the book was interviewed and had his portrait taken by Schatz. Some of the amazing photographs are in color, others in black and white, and others are action shots. Also included, are many portraits and interviews with boxing promoters, trainers, and ringside physicians which really give readers who are not familiar with the sport insight into why an athlete would choose to put on some shorts and gloves, hop into a boxing ring and get himself beaten up. On the artistic side, if you like any of the photographs in this book I highly recommend going to Howard Schatz's website to see his impressive portfolio.

The Milwaukee County Federated Library System owns two copies of At the Fights: Inside the World of Professional Boxing. One copy can be checked out; the other copy is a reference item and can only be viewed at Central Library in the Art, Music and Recreation Department.

Valerie @ Central

Two Rhodes Along the Same Path

dusty.jpegFollowing in the footsteps of your father can be tricky. While they've already walked the path you're on, sometimes they can cast a large shadow that will be impossible to step out from underneath. In a business like professional wrestling, that's almost doubly true. Dusty Rhodes, the American Dream, is a living legend these days, a man who has done it all in the wrestling business. He was the common man, the son of a plumber who brought the house down every night when he hit his bionic elbow. His own autobiography, Dusty: Reflections of Wrestling's American Dream is definitely a fun read, if not entirely informative. Dusty's book reads less like a formal biography, and more like the man is sharing a crazy yarn with you over a beer in some dive bar after a show. Don't look for hard-hitting journalism or dark secrets of the pro wrestling world here, but instead a fun read from a man that did it all.

crossrhodes.jpegThen there's Dusty's eldest son, Dustin (better known as his wrestling alter-ego Goldust). His autobiography Cross Rhodes takes a very different tone, less of a tall tale from a wrestling legend, and more the confessions of a man whose own road took some dark twists and turns. Troubles with his father, alcohol, his first marriage, pain medication, and hard drugs, Dustin doesn't shy away from any of his problems in this book. Interspersed, you also get an excellent glimpse into the rise of one of the more talented, yet controversial figures in the WWF (now WWE). The book feels like a confessional at times, a man repenting his former behavior and the terrible things that befell him. While not a book I'd recommend to a non-wrestling fan, the book is very interesting and is quite insightful to the mindset of a man you'll never forget the name of.

There's no book yet for Dusty's other son, Cody Rhodes. Though as he has been tearing it up on TV lately teaming with his brother Dustin as the current WWE Tag Team Champions, it's only a matter of time before he tells his tale as well. So until then, check out either book from your local library branch!

Tim @ Central

Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat. by Katie Shelly

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A common complaint about cookbooks is there aren't enough pictures. Boy howdy do I have a cookbook for those complainers! Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat. by Katie Shelly is a graphic cookbook where the recipes are drawn not written. Each recipe features drawings of the ingredients and the process of preparing the dish, with the instructions contained in the drawings. The recipes aren't strict blueprints for perfect food, but more like a framework to experiment with. Instead of a recipe for tacos, she has "Some Thoughts on Tacos" featuring a huge variety of ingredients that you can combine in any way you want to create your perfect taco. People who are strict recipe followers probably won't like this; it's very loosey-goosey. Shelly does finish each recipe with a ribbon across the bottom of the page featuring the measurements and quantities of ingredients, so you aren't totally out on a limb. If you want a taste of the cookbook (pun intended!), she has posted several preview recipes on her website.

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In addition to the yummy food, I am totally smitten with Katie Shelly's drawings. The lines are beautiful and clean, the colors bold, and the recipes very tempting. Cookbook innovation is pretty infrequent. People stopped trying to change it up once they figured out a standard format. And don't get me wrong, that format is wonderfully efficient; but not all recipes have to be that way! This cookbook is beautiful, interesting, and delicious. Some cookbooks have a tone of haute cuisine, but Picture Cook is just an artist sharing her favorite recipes.

Allie @ Central

Some 2013 Cooking Favorites

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Great Balls of Cheese by Michelle Buffardi is entirely about making balls of cheese into decorative shapes such as owls, penguins, and footballs for festive occasions. The awesomeness of this speaks for itself.

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Beating the Lunch Box Blues JM Hirsch is a book that details healthy, affordable ways to breathe life into your packed lunches without requiring you to spend hours upon hours shaping food into miniature animal sculptures. Because in your normal day-to-day, who has time for that?

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I've reviewed this one briefly in the past, but Natalie Slater's Bake and Destroy: Good Food for Bad Vegans is best summed up thusly: Punk rock vegan cookbook endorsed by pro-wrestlers, 'nuff said.

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I can only imagine what it's like to be married to Jerry Seinfeld and cook for him. "What's the deal with this potato salad? Is it a potato dish, is it a salad? And what's with all the mayo?" Jennifer Seinfeld's The Can't Cook Book, however, is designed not for those who engage in culinary efforts to the soundtrack of popping bass (though you certainly can if you want), but instead is entirely designed for the cooking-phobic to show them how to overcome their kitchen fears and make some delicious recipes.

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To see The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, you'll have to stop by the downtown Central library, as our two copies (available from the Art or the Business and Science desks) are reference only. Why? Well, for one thing, the book is huge. It weighs almost 13 pounds, making it twice as big as your average newborn baby. Inside this behemoth of a book, amazing photographs of equally amazing food are loaded cover to cover. So stop by and take a look today!

Tim @ Central

2013 Favorites

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Clark Howard's Living Large for the Long Haul: Consumer-Tested Ways to Overhaul your Finances, Increase your Savings, and Get your Life Back on Track by Clark Howard

This latest book from the financial advice guru, compiles numerous stories of ordinary people who fought their way back from near-financial ruin.

The Value of Debt: How to Balance Both Sides of a Balance Sheet to Maximize Wealth by Thomas J. Anderson

This counter-intuitive book promotes the idea that debt, when used wisely and judiciously, can be a useful tool in increasing personal wealth.

Potato Chip Economics: Everything You Need to Know About Business Clearly and Concisely Explained by Phillip Theibert and Elizabeth Theibert explains the ins and outs of the business world with an engaging, easygoing style.

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Brick by Brick: How Lego Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry by David C. Robertson is the story of Lego's rise from near-extinction to become one of the most recognized toy brands in the world.

The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature and the Future of Forecasting by Alan Greenspan

Written by the former head of the Federal Reserve, this book analyzes economic forecasting methods and the new technologies being implemented to better predict future crises.

Brett @ Central

Sue Monk Kidd visits MPL on February 10th

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On Sarah Grimké's 11th birthday in 1803, her mother gives her a birthday gift she tries to refuse--10 year old Hetty Grimké--Sarah's very own slave. And so opens Sue Monk Kidd's third novel, The Invention of Wings. Inspired by the true story of early-nineteenth-century abolitionist and suffragist Sarah Grimké, Kidd paints a poignant depiction of two women inextricably linked by the horrors of slavery.

Sarah writes up a document to free Hetty, but as a member of one of Charleston, South Carolina's first families, her mother reminds her of what's expected of her and that she must oblige. And so the girls grow up together, yet separate, as a result of their very different circumstances. Their extraordinary story is told in the first person and alternates between the voices of Sarah and Hetty. Hetty, by the way, is the name given to her by the Grimkés. Her mother Charlotte named her Handful and carefully doles out bits of their past, stories of Handful's father, whom she'll never meet, and of Charlotte's own mother, who was brought to Charleston from Africa to become a slave as a small girl.

Because Charlotte is an exceptionally skilled seamstress, able to make very fine quilts and clothing, they have a fairly comfortable place in the household. As literacy for slaves is illegal, Charlotte sews Handful a story quilt that tells of the most significant events of her life, and that quilt imbues the storytelling tradition quite gracefully into the book.

Sarah's life also has confines. She is a very bright child encouraged to read books by her father and brother and she dreams of becoming a barrister. This idea is inevitably ruined as it clashes with Charleston's expectations of a young lady. She also learns that it's forbidden to instruct slave children to read, yet secretly she continues to teach Handful. While the girls share a lot over the years, there are nonetheless hurdles to their friendship. In particular, Sarah is haunted by a promise she made to Charlotte when she was very young.

Sarah has strong ideas about abolition and equality, and a time comes when she heads north to be free of her stuffy family and the institution of slavery, which she hates. Her adult life is influenced by a Quaker man and his religion. This also distances her from Handful, who must stay in Charleston. Eventually, Sarah and her younger sister, Nina become infamous activists for abolition and women's rights. While this allows her the independence she has long desired, Handful's fate is not so ideal.

Don't forget to read the Author's Note! It is important, as The Invention of Wings is a novel based on fact: the Grimké sisters were real-life abolitionists, and are joined in the historical record by a number of other characters in this novel, including Denmark Vesey, a free black man executed for planning a slave uprising; Lucretia Mott, a Quaker activist for women's rights and abolition; and Sarah Mapps Douglass, a free black activist and educator. Hetty Grimké's life, however, left few facts: she was given as a gift to Sarah, but disappears shortly thereafter from the historical record. And Charlotte is entirely Kidd's creation, a fascinating character who takes risks, hoping to find something better for herself and her family.

Readers of her previous novels, The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair, will be familiar with the strong, sympathetic characters. A number of issues are deftly explored, including activism, feminism, abolition, religion, and relationships. It's profoundly engaging and thought-provoking and I very much look forward to her Milwaukee visit on Monday, February 10th. She'll be speaking in Centennial Hall (733 N Eighth St) at 7 p.m. A book signing will follow and books will be for sale. The event is sponsored by Boswell Book Company and the Friends of MPL.

Jacki @ Central


Treasures of the Rare Books Room: The Book of Kells in Three Volumes

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Named after one of its early homes, Kells, Ireland, the Book of Kells is undoubtedly one of the most famous and recognizable illuminated manuscripts in the world. Around the year 800 CE monks who worked in a scriptorium, a room in a monastery for storing, copying, illustrating, or reading manuscripts, wrote and decorated each page by hand on vellum (calfskin). The elaborate swirls, knots, figures and beasts in this book brilliantly exemplify the medieval Celtic art style.

Today the Trinity College of Dublin, Ireland, houses the original Book of Kells in the Old Library. A complete digitized version of the original manuscript can be viewed on their website.

The Milwaukee Public Library holds copy number 237 from a limited edition of 500 printed in Switzerland in 1950. It is in three volumes: volume I Reproduction of Folios 1 - 182, volume II Reproduction of Folios 183 - 339, and volume III Introductory. Here is the complete title as it appears in CountyCat: Evangeliorum quattuor Codex Cenannensis. Auctoritate Collegii Sacrosanctae et Individuae Trinitatas juxta Dublin auxilioque Bibliothecae Confederationis Helveticae totius codicis similitudinem accuratissime depicti exprimendam curavit typographeum Urs Graf. Prolegomensis auxerunt viri doctissimi Ernestus Henricus Alton [et] Petrus Meyer.

To arrange a visit to view this item, please call the Central Library Art, Music and Recreation Department at 414-286-3071.

Valerie @ Central

Just some of our 2013 Favorites

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Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government by Gavin Newson

Gavin Newsom, the Lieutenant Governor of California, believes government is stuck in the last century. He preaches revolutionizing democracy in the digital age where Americans must reinvent citizenship in today's networked age.


Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare by Josh Blackman

In a fight that seems to continue today, a conservative constitution lawyer describes the inside story of the legal challenge to Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).


Laws of Creation: Property Rights in the World of Ideas by Ronald A. Cass

Ronald Cass and Keith Hoylton present a defense of intellectual property law that will create a wealthier society and inspire more innovation.

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Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country by Andrew C. Bacevich

All American citizens should take responsibility for defending their country - not just the military forces. If not, the author sees endless war and moral and fiscal bankruptcy for the United States of America.

In the Balance: Law and Politics on the Roberts Court by Mark Tushnet

This book on the Roberts Court, liberalism, conservatism, and balance of power should be a good read for fans of the Supreme Court.

Connie @ Central

Listen up: Our favorite Music of 2013

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Static by Cults - the way a Sixties inspired girl band sounds when filtered through modern psychedelia.

Twelve Reasons To Die by Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan - a great way to get your Wu Tang fix while you wait for the anticipated reunion album.

Settle by Disclosure - electronic dance music that is as appealing in headphones as it is for the dance floor.

Sunbather by Deafheaven - surprisingly beautiful take on death metal, worth a listen for the open minded, especially those who like shoegazey music.

If You Leave by Daughter- haunting female vocals over lovely and mournful music, great for fans of Polica, another band with an impressive release in the same year.

Anna D @ Central

Check out our favorite Teen Reads of 2013

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Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black - In the future vampires and those infected are sent to live in coldtowns to prevent others from being bitten by vampires.



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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - Though twins, sisters take a different approach to their new found freedom as college freshmen.


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Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein - Rose Justice, an American civilian pilot in WWII, writes her accounts in a journal after surviving Ravenbruck concentration camp.


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If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch - Now living with their father, Carey and Janessa are trying to re-adjust after living for years with their drug addicted mother in hiding in a state park in Tennessee.


madnessunderneath.jpegThe Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson - Sequel to Name of the Star, Rory Devereaux is back in London hoping to help the underground police unit solve mysterious cases.



Katharina @ Central

The Tilted World by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly

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Bootlegging, deceit, friendship, betrayal and passionate love make the ingredients for a potent batch of Mississippi mayhem and moonshine in The Tilted World by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly. This is an exciting example of good historical fiction set during the devastating flooding of the Mississippi Delta in 1927.

Federal Revenue Agents Ingersall and Johnson stumble upon a botched robbery in the town of Hobnob, Mississippi while investigating a reported moonshine still in the vicinity. Among the aftermath of the robbery, they find a lone survivor--a baby boy.

The agents give custody of the baby to a nice lady named Dixie Clay Holliver, who also happens to be the very bootlegger they've been searching for! Is Dixie Clay a murderous criminal? Will the levee break and wipe the town of Hobnob off the face of the Earth, taking the poor orphan with it? Can love overcome law and fuel a batch of burning passion? Can The Tilted World be righted? Give this thrilling historical novel a read and travel back to a not so innocent time!

Dan K @ Washington Park

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