Book review: The Complete Southern Cookbook

By , August 28, 2012

The Complete Southern Cookbook: More Than 800 of the Most Delicious Down-Home Recipes

by Tammy Algood

Love Southern-style cooking, but don’t know how to cook your beloved dishes?  Local Southern food guru Tammy Algood will tell you everything you need to know in her Complete Southern Cookbook.  With easy to follow recipes, Algood will teach you to prepare Southern staples such as basic Southern cornbread, and chow-chow, as well as more exotic Southern fare like chitlins and vinegar pie.  The chapters are organized alphabetically by the main ingredient.  From almonds to zucchini and everything in between, Algood includes recipes for all your Southern favorites. The recipes I tested and tasted for you: Basalmic grilled peaches (amazing!), orchard-fresh peach ice cream (just as good as the local ice-cream shops we love), cherry-rhubarb crumble (i’m no longer afraid of rhubarb) and savory zucchini pie (so easy-it makes the crust for you!).    But now I return this book so another library patron can host a fabulous Southern feast.  Ms. Algood will be at this year’s Southern Festival of Books to promote her latest book Farm Fresh Southern Cooking .  I wonder if she’d sign my apron…

Book review: Wonder

By , August 23, 2012

 Wonder
By R.J. Palacio

I fall in love with books pretty easily.  It’s kind of my job, after all.  So, it isn’t uncommon to hear me saying, “I love this book.”  But, I. Love. This. Book. It tells the story of Auggie who was born with an unimaginable facial deformity that has prevented him from entering school for medical reasons until now….5th grade.  The reader follows Auggie and a number of people in his life through his first year of middle school.  Alternately told from different perspectives, including Auggie and his sister and two of his friends, the book’s strong anti-bullying message of acceptance is overt without being forced. This is the author’s first novel and is appropriate for ages 8 and up. 

The audiobook version is wonderful, with different narrators for the different points of view. I’m going to put it out there that this is my pick for the Newbery this year (it should also be noted that I have never once chosen a Newbery correctly and rarely agree with the choice.)

Here’s the book trailer, if you’re in to that sort of thing…

- Lindsey

Book review: Women From the Ankle Down: The History of Shoes and How They Define Us

By , August 23, 2012

Women From the Ankle Down: The History of Shoes and How They Define Us
By Rachelle Bergstein

If you enjoy fashion, Sex and the City or simply love shoes, then you will get a kick out of Rachelle Bergstein’s fun, breezy new book Women From the Ankle Down: The History of Shoes and How They Define Us. Bergstein offers up a fun to read, light history of shoes mixed with pop culture tidbits.

Should you find yourself aching for more shoe eye candy we have you covered.

We have books about the master shoe designers….. Salvatore Ferragamo: The Art of the Shoe 1898-1960 and Manolo’s New Shoes: Drawings by Manolo Blahník. For a delightful mix of history and illustration, Shoes Fashion and Fantasy by Colin McDowell. For something more scholarly, Women’s Shoes in America, 1795-1930 by Nancy Rexford and from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Shoes by Lucy Pratt and Linda Woolley.

If you like shoes, we are sure to have your perfect fit.

 

- Karen

 

 

 

Playaway picks: A tale of two writers

By , August 20, 2012

In case you missed Michael Cunningham’s illuminating essay about serving on the Pulitzer jury only to have the Pulitzer Prize Board not award a prize, stop what you’re doing and go read it now. (Ann Patchett also wrote a great piece about the same issue, by the way.) Without overtly saying he was trying to do so, Cunningham convinced me that David Wallace’s The Pale King should have won the prize. I’m convinced he was covertly trying to do exactly that. Bravo, Mr. Cunningham.

Seduced by Cunningham’s praise of Wallace’s meticulous language, I revisited Wallace’s 1996 nonfiction collection, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again on Playaway. These longish pieces focus on Wallace’s own obsessions (tennis, David Lynch, TV) sprinkled with a few solicitations from banner publications willing to throw money at him to make witty observations (the Illinois state fair, a luxury cruise).  If you are interested in what he is writing about, it is the greatest show on Earth. I am interested in David Lynch. If not, it’s like listening to a malfunctioning android prattle endlessly until you are driven to find the plug. I didn’t learn anything about a luxury cruise I had previously assumed; and, I think contrary to his intention, I still love watching over-hyped top-ten professional tennis on TV. Though sometimes he whips out an Ecstasy of St. Teresa of a sentence that will make me want to stop, go back and listen again; never is the boredom of the mundane transmorphed into the empathetic humanity found in the pages of The Pale King.

Chance had it my next Playaway was Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone, a collection of Thompson’s best pieces for Rolling Stone, with the added bonus of correspondence between Thompson and his editors. Thompson writes about himself running for office (sheriff – Aspen, CO), the Presidential elections of 1972 & 2004, and about taking drugs while writing all these things (a fact about himself Wallace always wants to hide via the displacement of fiction). Seemingly antithetical writers, Thompson and Wallace were actually very much alike. Both were prescriptive in grammar and usage, and were manic in their editing habits. They shared a love of marijuana. Neither won any major literary awards during their lifetime. Both were suicides. But where Wallace is bland, Thompson is blazing. Thompson’s social consciousness is constantly grinding its axe, verbal sparks shooting in all directions. By contrast, Wallace’s observational comedy routine can be so mind-numbingly neutral it wouldn’t be out of place on the sort of cruise ship he claims to despise. But Thompson’s rants can also devolve to readers’ boredom, repeating the same points over and over, echoing solipsistic obsessions.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again and Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone find these two unique but flawed writers at the peak of their game. Both showcase the literary potential of journalism. Narrators Paul Garcia and Phil Gigante perfectly invoke the voices of Wallace and Thompson. Gigante’s Thompson impression rivals that of Johnny Depp. These performances make the self-indulgent parts tolerable. But when these guys are on, it’s lights out.

D.T. Max’s highly anticipated biography of Wallace Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story will be released next week. Place your hold now.

An oral history of Thompson’s life can be found in Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson which is probably best weighted with Thompson’s own two-cents in The Kingdom of Fear.

If you still can’t get enough, here’s both getting the Charlie Rose treatment: Wallace; Thompson.

- Bryan

Book Review: Alias Grace

By , August 17, 2012

Alias Grace

By Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is an award winning author of over fifty books of poetry, short stories, fiction, and nonfiction. Her list of achievements and honors over her career is quite long, as is the number of honorary degrees she has received from various universities. Her fiction is as diverse as her style, ranging from speculative fiction to historical fiction.

Alias Grace is the story of Grace Marks, a sixteen year old girl accused of murder in 19th century Canada. The story is, for the most part, based on historical fact. In the year 1834, Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery were viciously murdered. The two other members of the household, James McDermott and Grace Marks, were found guilty of the murder of Thomas Kinnear. Interestingly, they were never tried for the murder of Nancy Montgomery, because both were sentenced to death. James McDermott was hanged for his crimes, while Grace Marks got a last minute appeal to keep her from the gallows. She spent time in both an asylum and a penitentiary, before being released thirty years later.

The story begins when Grace has been in prison for quite some time. She is introduced to Simon Jordan, a doctor who is interested in studying mental illnesses. Grace claims to have no memory of the murders themselves, despite the fact that she had given several conflicting confessions to various people. Dr. Jordan spends his time with Grace attempting to help her recall those memories, by having her tell her story from the very beginning. She talks about her immigration from Ireland, her abusive father and many siblings, and her entry into the workforce as a maid. Grace is very detailed in her recounting, but it is never completely clear if she is speaking out loud or thinking her words.

Dr. Jordan’s perspective is used throughout the work as a counterpoint to Grace’s first person narrative. He faces his own trials as an unmarried man seeking to make a mark on the world of medicine by discovering the truth behind Grace’s memory loss. He finds himself at odds with the very people who want to help prove Grace’s innocence, and not because he disagrees with them.

This novel is written in such a way to leave the reader guessing about whether or not Grace is a cold-blooded murderess or a young girl caught up in circumstances beyond her control. Through use of Grace’s first person ramblings, Dr. Jordan’s third person adventures, and various “letters”, the story explores the Victorian era view of women as creatures of dual natures and justice.

Margaret Atwood is the 2012 Nashville Public Library Award winner. She will be giving a public lecture in October, sponsored by the Nashville Public Library Foundation. Please check the Library website for more details as they come available.

Pleasant Reading -

Sharra

Book review: Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now – As Told By Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long For It

By , August 16, 2012

Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now – As Told By Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long For It
By Craig Taylor

 

As someone who has always longed for London I was excited to read this book.  Journalist Craig Taylor, spent over five years interviewing more than two hundred people from all over the city assembling a “collage of voices that could yield a richness about a time and place.” 

 

 

What this book does is open your eyes to what it is actually like to live in one of the world’s major cities, a city with a population of over seven million people and over ten million visiting tourists each year. 

 

Craig Taylor’s book provides a “snapshot of the city here and now “and it makes you pause and think.

 

- Karen

 

 

Music review: Walk the Moon

By , August 14, 2012

Walk the Moon
by Walk the Moon

If you’re a fan of Passion Pit, The Killers, or Foster the People, I strongly encourage you to use your five freegal downloads for the next two weeks and grab the ten tracks that complete Walk the Moon’s  self-titled major label debut album.    Walk the Moon is based out of Cincinatti, Ohio, but they are gathering obsessive fans all over after extensive touring across the US and in Europe, as well as a recent appearance on MTV Unplugged.   Perfect for summer listening, Walk the Moon’s songs create high-energy dance pop with catchy melodies and unforgettable hooks.  The clip below is from  one of my favorites off the album – it’s called Anna Sun.

Other essential album tracks include a galloping tune about traveling with your sweetie called Next in Line.  Then there’s  a musical declaration of the seductive power of a particular girl called Shiver, Shiver.  An album should always end gracefully and Walk the Moon doesn’t disappoint here with the beautiful “this heartbreak too shall pass” anthem I Can Lift A Car.    Start downloading now.

 

Music review: Get a LOAD of Freegal

By , August 13, 2012

While browsing genres in Freegal, I was surprised see “Acid Punk.” I don’t know what “acid punk” is but after clicking the link my chin hit the floor. I saw artists like Lightning Bolt, Noxagt, and The White Mice. All of these bands are on Load Records, an independent, genuinely experimental noise/punk label based in Providence, RI. You can search by label in the advanced search feature, and holy cow, a very large portion of the Load catalog is on Freegal.

I suddenly find myself a super excited tinnitus suffering librarian. The five downloads a week limit, which before seemed fair and sensible, now goads me like some netherworld imp tempting me only to deny me in an effort to shatter my sanity. There are so many artists on Load that I love, so many artists that make me proud to work at library that offers such a diverse selection of material, that I’m not really sure where to start.

Let’s pick three:

If Load had a cash cow a few years back it was (analog) drum and bass duo Lightning Bolt. Their decayed-prog-on-meth melodic trajectories and intense DIY ethos was butter for every kind of rock snob. This frenetic twosome is great for anyone who likes to blaze but not so much into “noise” outright.

“2morrowMorroLand” sample from the album Hypermagic Mountain

 

Nautical Almanac are trickster sound wanderers from Baltimore. Makers before there was such a term, their homemade equipment causes no two of their tracks to ever sound alike, but if I was to attempt an analogy I’d go with if the Island of Misfit Toys had a high school jam band it might sound like Nautical Almanac.

“Ocularis” sample from album Rooting for the Microbes

 

Forget the fun, let’s just jump off the cliff into the deepest darkest most punishing noise. Providence native Prurient, aka Dominick Fernow,  has created one of the bleakest, painful discographies of any contemporary sound artist. Ironically, he also plays in neo-romanticist synth pop act Cold Cave. 2005’s Black Vase is a truce between Prurient’s early feedback warheads and more “ambient” newer works.

“The Black Vase” sample from the album Black Vase

Continue reading 'Music review: Get a LOAD of Freegal'»

Collection: Patsy Cline

By , August 11, 2012

Patsy ClineIf you ever get a hankerin’ to go Walkin’ After Midnight under the Blue Moon of Kentucky but realize you left Three Cigarettes in the Ashtray, then She’s Got You. The One and Only – Patsy Cline.

The contralto songstress recorded hundreds of songs over the course of her short singing career. You can find recordings, from her early Four Star Records years to the lush Nashville Sound arrangements by Owen Bradley, in the library collection. WSM Opry classics, gospel interpretations, honky-tonk standards – she sang them all with a voice and a presence unmistakably her own. Patsy was the first female country singer to perform at Carnegie Hall; so when someone tosses around that worn out phrase that someone “paved the way,” you can know that in the case of Patsy Cline, it’s true.

Next up on our Patsy appreciation playlist are the biographies. Honky Tonk Angel: the intimate story of Patsy Cline, by Elis Nassour is just one of several biographies to choose from. Couple that with I fall to pieces: the music and the life of Patsy Cline by Mark Bego, and you start to get a full picture of her short life. She was only thirty, when she died in 1963. Add Love always, Patsy: Patsy Cline’s Letters to a Friend, a collection of post cards, pictures, and letters Patsy wrote to fan and friend, Treva Miller, from 1955-59.

Patsy Cline: Sweet Dreams StillYou are going to want to watch Patsy Cline: Sweet Dreams Still: the Anthology, hosted by Robert K. Oermann (with consultant, Charlie Dick, aka the second Mr. Patsy Cline).

The cherry on the top is a little gem of a book, Remembering Patsy by Brian Mansfield. Friends and peers in the industry share little snippets of Patsy memories. I won’t give it away here, but Loretta Lynn closes one entry with, “Them were darn good panties. I’d like to get some more of them.”

All the way from Winchester, Virginia to Goodlettsville, Tennessee,  Nashville Public Library gives you the One and Only Patsy Cline.

- Laurie

Book Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

By , August 10, 2012

Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell

I don’t think a review of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas has been written that doesn’t use the word matryoshka to describe the novel’s structure and that’s because it is the easiest way to convey the Russian nesting doll nature of the book. Inspired by Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, each of the six stories in the book is interrupted by the story that follows and then discovered as an artifact by a character in that story. What makes this a novel rather than a collection of short stories is that the main character in each story is the same soul reincarnated throughout several centuries.

The real protagonist of Cloud Atlas is, arguably, humanity itself. Mitchell takes us from the beginnings of modernity (for better or (mostly) worse) in mid-19th-century Polynesian island tribes through the 20th century laying the foundations for the rise of a near-future, dystopian, consumerism-based society and at last to the final remains of humanity in the wake of the downfall of said dystopia. Then we travel back again in reverse.

While some readers might feel that the kind of postmodern structure games that Mitchell plays are a bit shallow, he reinforces it with superb writing. Each section is a dramatic shift in style and genre, which Mitchell handles deftly. For example, the story of Robert Frobisher, a young composer on the run from debtors in the Flemish countryside, is told through letters to his lover in England and  filled with music in a way that is subtle yet hard to miss.

Cloud Atlas has been made into a movie, directed by the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer, to be released in October. Read it now before they start releasing copies with Tom Hanks’ face on the cover.

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