Tuesday, December 27, 2011


If you love The Beatles, (and who doesn’t?) check out George Harrison: Living In The Material World by Olivia Harrison. Numerous black and white photos lead down memory lane. Many direct quotes from George, his family and friends describe how things really were. There are mementos from the early days in Liverpool, the time in Germany and The Beatles’ first trip to America. The second half of the book showcases George’s growth both spiritually and as a musician. It’s a wonderful look at his life. Enjoy! DB

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fun and frothy

Clare Cosi, manager and head barista of the landmark Village Blend coffeehouse, can brew a beverage to die for. But can she stir up some evidence against a bitter killer who has gone loco for mocha? Clare's Village Blend beans are being used to create a new java love potion: a "Mocha Magic Coffee" billed as an aphrodisiac. Clare may even try some on her boyfriend, NYPD detective Mike Quinn-when he's off duty of course. The product, expected to rake in millions, will be sold exclusively on Aphrodite's Village, one of the Web's most popular online communities for women. But the launch party ends on a sour note when one of the Web site's editors is found dead. Murder by mocha is a light and fun mystery with recipes and coffee-making tips! KR

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Holiday Classic -- With A Twist

I have a love/hate relationship with Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. I like the music, but having spent my formative years in over 6 productions of the ballet, I know the score inside and out -- which somewhat hinders my enjoyment of the holiday classic. For a new take on some familiar tunes, I checked out Harlem Nutcracker, a collection of jazz-inspired renditions arranged by Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and David Berger. Close listeners of Tchaikovsky's original music will be able to pick out "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" in "Sugar Rum Cherry" and the "March" in "Peanut Brittle Brigade." So instead of the same old Nutcracker, try something a little different this holiday season! HM

Monday, December 19, 2011

Author Les Standiford delves into the story of one of the most ubiquitous tales in Western culture in The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol' Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits. Beginning with Dickens' own impoverished childhood, Standiford chronicles the writers' ascent to stardom and fall to near bankruptcy at the time of his penning A Christmas Carol in 1843. With his story of the miserly Scrooge, Dickens was able to turn his career around and ignite a public sentimentality that had been long missing from the Christmas holiday (along with a massive increase in turkey sales).

Be sure to also check out some of Oxford's movie adaptations of Dickens' classic. HM

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Winter in the Country

Fans of Flavia de Luce,the bratty,chemistry obsessed eleven year old, will want to read the latest in the series. In I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley, it's Christmas, and a film crew is at the crumbling mansion in the country Flavia shares with her befuddled dad and two mean older sisters. When the star of the film turns up with film tied around her neck in a strangulation bow, Flavia solves the mystery in spite of the adults who try to dampen her zest for all things sinister. Engaging writing,a precocious heroine and the gloomy country house that contributes to the mood make this a winner. M.L.

Death, in the style of Jane Austen

P.D. James is one of England's premier mystery writers and usually sets her mysteries in contemporary times. In her new novel, Death Comes to Pemberley, she writes in the style and era of Jane Austen. We pick up where Pride and Prejudice left off, with Jane living at her husband's grand estate, Pemberley. When her flighty and disgraced sister and husband come to visit, a comrade of her husband is found slain in the woods. If you are a fan of mysteries or Jane Austen this will be an interesting read. M.L.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Everyone Has the Right to Enjoy It"

For anyone who has visited the Louvre, for those who would like to, and for art lovers everywhere The Louvre: All the Paintings is the must-see reference book at the Library. This catalog of paintings on display at the Louvre (over 3,000 in all) is priceless and will give hours of enjoyment. This book includes essays on each school of art represented in the book (Italian, North, French, and Spanish) and commentary by art historians on over 400 pieces. For anyone who has ever looked at a painting and wondered "what is that all about?" the commentaries will facsinate you as they talk about the artist, symbolism and historical significance. Just as you can't see everything in the Louvre in one visit, plan on visiting this book over and over again. SG

Friday, December 9, 2011

That's a wrap!

The shopping is done. Let the wrapping begin! Need some new ideas? Take a look at The Gift Wrapping Book: Over 150 Ideas for all Occasions by Caroline Birkett. Odd-shaped presents pose no problem with these colorful suggestions. There are instructions for making boxes, bags and envelopes for every shape. Directions for making different bows and wrappings made of recycled materials will make gifts cheerful and interesting. Various patterns and templates are also included. Add a personalized gift tag and you’re done. This book will really get your creative juices flowing. Great ideas to wrap up your wrapping! DB

Monday, December 5, 2011

Defend the Turf

Attack the Block is a comedy/horror movie (think Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) with a surprising dash of morality thrown in. When an alien crash lands in their council estate, a gang of teenagers do what anybody else would: they kill it. However, this one fatal decision causes a full-scale alien invasion and the boys and their leader, Moses, are left to defend the block. They team up with Sam, a woman they had previously mugged, to thwart the police, fight against drug dealers, and protect their neighborhood. Along the way, both Sam and Moses begin to realize that they are responsible for the consequences caused by their actions and prejudices. HM

Fun for the whole family... Squirrel!!

Looking for an uplifting (literally) movie that's got something for the whole family? Look Up!

Carl always promised to take his wife, Ellie, to Paradise Falls, South America, a gorgeous spot made famous by their idol, explorer Charles Muntz. Unfortunately, something always got in the way. Carl and Ellie grew old, and Ellie passed away, leaving Carl to stew in his memories and the fact he never fulfilled his promise. When developers trying to get the land Carl's house is built on try to get him committed to a retirement home, Carl surprises everyone by attaching thousands of helium balloons to his house and flying away. But it wasn't a solo flight. Russell, a cute but over-enthusiastic Wildnerness Explorer looking to get his Assisting the Elderly Badge, just happened to be on Carl's porch at the time of lift off. This odd couple ends up--where else?--in Paradise Falls. Here they meet Dug, a lovable talking dog who claims Carl for his new master, and Kevin, a rare tropical bird who takes a liking to Russell--and Russell's chocolate stash. Carl's plans to move his house to the top of the falls before the helium runs out are disrupted when Russell insists on first leading Kevin back home to her (yes, her) babies. Things are further complicated when they find themselves on the wrong end of Muntz's evil plot to kidnap Kevin and bring her back to the States to settle an old grudge. Lessons are learned. Realizations are made. There is a daring rescue. And plenty of heartwarming fun.

Up is one of the best films to be released by Disney in recent years. Also included on the disc are two adorable film shorts: Partly Cloudy, about a stork who must deliver some unconventional babies, and Dug's Mission, in which viewers learn how this cute canine ended up meeting Carl and Russell in the first place. (5 out of 5 stars) --AJL

A funny dish!

I almost hesitate to call Alton Brown's (of the TV cooking show) new book a cookbook because it is stuffed with not only recipes, but drawings, food history and the chemistry behind the food. Oh, and not least, a heaping helping of the trademark Alton Brown humor. Food dishes as common as pumpkin pie and as exotic as whole fish (yes, with the head!) are given the in-depth treatment in the new Good Eats 3:the Later Years Love it! M.L.

a sea voyage

Michael Ondaatje is prolific,he has written five novels,a memoir, poetry and non-fiction. His book The English Patient won the Booker Prize and was made into a wonderful film. His new novel, The Cat's Table, is the story of an ocean crossing in the fifties, from the viewpoint of an eleven-year old boy. "As the narrative moves between the decks and holds of the ship,it tells a spellbinding story about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood."(Book Jacket) I have read many novels by this author, my favorite is In the Skin of a Lion, with some of the most beautiful descriptions I have ever read. M.L.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Seasons Eatings

Entertaining for the holidays? Looking for some different and unique dishes? Check out bite by bite: 100 stylish little plates you can make for any party by Peter Callahan. The recipes and presentations in this book are fantastic! Callahan is known as the king of the mini menu. He has been catering for over twenty years and has created special dishes for many celebrities, including Martha Stewart. His small plate selections include comfort foods, hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and party appetizers. He can really jazz up a PB & J. There are edibles for every meal and some very interesting beverage concoctions. The fabulous photos will really get you cooking. Add some spice to your holiday menu! 'Tis the season for some great eatin'.DB

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What a character!

Jeannette Walls's novel The Glass Castle, about her erratic mother, spent three years on The New York Times bestseller list. Her second novel, Half Broke Horses, tells the story of Walls's no-nonsense, resourceful, and spectacularly compelling grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town - riding five hundred miles on her pony to get there. She learned to drive a car, fly a plane, and, with her husband, managed a vast ranch in Arizona. Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods and the Great Depression but never lost her spunk or spirit. A truly amazing and eye-opening look at a hard life well lived. KR