Category: Fiction

Book Review: Armada

By , August 25, 2015

Armada
By Ernest Cline

A few years ago we all (and I mean ALL of us) geeked out over a little book called Ready Player One. It was an epic battle filled with gaming, fun 80′s stuff, and adventure. It even made our Best of 2012 Popmatic Podcast episode as one of our favorite books of the year. Thanks Crystal for bringing us so much fun and entertainment!

Then we waited. And waitedandwaitedandwaitedandwaitedandwaitedandwaitedandwaited…sigh.

We had to wait three more years until Cline wrote a follow-up to his best seller. But have no fear my friends. It’s finally here!

In his smashing new novel, Ernest Cline brings you…THE END OF THE WORLD!!!! (Insert cymbal crash)

Wait. What?

Well, imagine that all the video games that you’ve played and movies that you’ve watched about aliens invading Earth, weren’t just Science Fiction. That’s right, Star Wars, Independence Day, Contact, Space Invaders, and the fictional game (I think) called Armada are all actually training simulations designed to educate humans and train them to defeat the aliens in the coming invasion. Zack Lightman, aka Iron Beagle, is ranked sixth in the world of Armada fighter pilots. One day he is sitting is class and when he sees the alien warships  from his game hovering over his town. Is he hallucinating? Is he going crazy, just like his dad?

The next day, Lightman is recruited to join to Earth Defense Alliance and the adventure begins. Will they be successful? Will they pull a Will Smith and totally save the day?

You’ll have to read it to find out. In comparison to Ready Player One, this one doesn’t quite beat it. BUT, since I think that RPO was just about the best book written since Gone with the Wind or Harry Potter, that still means that Armada is a pretty decent book. (If you’ve not read any of these books, I still love you, but you need to come into my office for a little chat.) Also, I’ve never been the biggest fan of aliens, so that might be part of the reason that I didn’t super love it. At this point, though, I’ll pretty much read anything Ernest Cline will write, and this will make a great movie someday (hopefully…hint hint).

Speaking of movies, it looks like Steven Spielberg will be directing the big screen version of Ready Player One which is set to come out sometime in 2017. And if you’ll excuse me, I now need to go get in line at the movie theater…

Happy gaming…

:) Amanda

Back to School with the Wilson Collection!

By , August 24, 2015
"The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

This is a favorite time of the year for parents but not so much for kids – that’s right, school is back in session. Summer flies by when you’re having fun, kids! BUT that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun in school. Think of all the awesome books you get to read – both for fun and required. While schools are aspiring to remain modern with their pick of required reads such as Enders Game or The Book Thief, there are still several classics that are both required-reads and must-reads. AND the Wilson Collection at NPL is the perfect place to find almost every required read throughout the last century (and more…)

Currently, several of the most popular required reads such as The Great Gatsby and Brave New World are on display in the Wilson Room, including a few you may be unfamiliar with that were on the Limitless Libraries’ Summer Reading List this year (or a few I was unfamiliar with).

Here’s a sample:

LEC_All Quiet on the Western Front_1969

All Quiet on the Western Front
Author: Erich Maria Remarque
Artist: John Groth
Published by the LEC: 1969

McGavock High School included this book on their summer reading list, along with a few contemporary books such as Divergent and Code Name Verity. It’s required for the German III class because the author is a German veteran of World War I. A real thriller you might say, the story describes the extreme stress that the soldiers went through during and after the war.

The story was first published in 1928 in a German newspaper, Vossische Zeitung. It came out in book form later in January 1929. There was a sequel written in 1930 as well - The Road Back. Both books by Remarque were banned and burned in Nazi Germany. So there’s your reason if you’ve never heard of it.

"Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka

Metamorphosis
Author: Franz Kafka
Artist: José Luis Cuevas
Published by the LEC: 1984

As a part of McGavock’s German IV & V curriculum, Metamorphosis is an even more thrilling story among college students. A classic novella originally published in 1915, Kafka’s story is also commonly known as “The Transformation” due to its content. The story begins with the protagonist, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself transformed into a large, insect-like creature. No reason is given or alluded to, but the rest of the story follows Gregor’s life as he adjusts to his new condition and the response he receives from his family.


And now for a few that you might know…

LEC_Scarlet Letter_1941The Scarlet Letter
Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
Artist: Henry Varnum Poor
Published by the LEC: 1941

I remember when I read this one in high school and it was definitely unprecedented to anything else I had ever read. And to be honest, CliffsNotes was a big help to me when I read this as well because at that age, the content and language was a little advanced for me. But I don’t regret reading and encourage others to check it out if you haven’t, because it is a compelling story that speaks volumes about human nature, especially during that time frame (roughly during the years 1642 and 1649).

Considered Hawthorne’s most popular work, The Scarlet Letter tells the story of young Hester Prynne. Hester finds herself in a troubling situation when she becomes pregnant and has a daughter from an affair. I will not spoil the story by revealing the man in which she has an affair with because that is part of the plot, but it is a shocker. Hester is shamed and punished for her adultery and forced to wear the scarlet letter “A” on her clothing. Without revealing anymore details, I will say that this is a must read whether you are required to or not.

Wuthering HeightsWuthering Heights
Author: Emily Brontë
Artist: Balthus (really talented artist that has illustrated several other books for the LEC)
Published by the LEC: 1993

Though I’ve never read this book because it was not required in any of my classes, it is on my to-read list on Goodreads. But from what I can interpret from reviews and descriptions of the story, it is a frustrating and passionate love story between the characters Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. I say frustrating because if you’ve ever read anything by Jane Austen, you’d identify her love stories as well, frustrating…and maybe that’s love. But the story and language is very much similar. A good summary of this love story based on my research is that love is not easy. So how’s that for vague.

But this was Emily Brontë’s only novel, so it makes it even more inviting to sample. It was written sometime around 1845 and 1846, then published in 1847 under her pseudonym “Ellis Bell.” Brontë then passed away a year later at the young age of 30. Emily’s sister, Charlotte (famously known for her book, Jane Eyre), edited the manuscript of Wuthering Heights and republished a second version in 1850.

I love this version of the book by the LEC because the illustrations by Balthus are extraordinary. They really bring out the angst and general atmosphere of the story. This is one of my favorite books in the Wilson Collection so I definitely recommend coming to check it out!


More Pictures! 

White Fang by Jack London. Published by the LEC in 1973

White Fang by Jack London. Published by the LEC in 1973.

The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper. Published by the LEC in 1961.

The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper. Published by the LEC in 1961.

Emma by Jane Austen. Published by the LEC in 1964

Emma by Jane Austen. Published by the LEC in 1964.

If you are interested in viewing more books from the Wilson Collection individually, you can make an appointment by calling either (615) 880-2356 or (615) 880-2363, or simply respond to this blog post.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more next month!

YA Road Trips

By , August 15, 2015

“It’s a road trip! It’s about adventure! . . . It’s not like we have somewhere to go.”

John Green, An Abundance of Katherines

Summer is winding down, the days are getting shorter, and the first day of school is just around the corner. Shake off your back to school blues and go on an end-of-summer vacation with a hot YA Road Trip title. Before hitting the open road, don’t forget to fill up the gas tank, pack some snacks, and create the perfect summer playlist.

Summer Went Up In Flames
How My Summer Went Up in Flames
by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
First comes love, and then comes… a temporary restraining order? Rosie didn’t mean to set her ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. She was just trying to burn everything he ever gave her after finding out he was “dating” i.e. cheating on her with a cute, blond freshman. The summer before senior year was not supposed to turn out like this. Between pending criminal court dates and stalking charges, Rosie’s parents decide it would be best to send her on a road trip to Arizona with neighbor, Matty, and two of his responsible (a.k.a “nerdy”) friends. Can Rosie’s summer be salvaged by finding real love in unfamiliar places?Playlist: 1000 Forms of Fear by Sia

Eat, Brains, Love
Eat, Brains, Love
by Jeff HartSenior Year. Zombie Virus. Two Undead Fugitives. One psychic zombie hunter. After Jake and Amanda devour half the senior class during lunch period, they realize something has gone terribly wrong. They’ve become zombies. As suspicious news reports are released calling the lunchtime massacre a run-of-the-mill “school shooting”, Jake and Amanda decide the open road is their only option for freedom and…Food. Meanwhile, Cass, a telepathic, zombie-hunting, government agent is tracking their cross-country movements, as she questions the ethics of her chosen profession. Tensions rise and attractions grow as the hunt for the undead duo continues across state lines and Jake, Amanda, and Cass find themselves in a strange zombie love triangle.Playlist: Strange Desire by Bleachers

The Disenchanchments
The Disenchantments
By Nina LaCourBev and Colby are the only seniors at their high school who are not going to college next year. However, they’ve planned an epic travel adventure filled with music, friends, and fun. First, they’ll embark on a West Coast tour with Bev’s band, The Disenchantments, followed by a year dedicated to exploring Europe. The van is packed, the band hits the road, and everything is going well, until Bev reluctantly admits to applying for college in secret. Colby is finally forced to figure out what his future looks like without Bev, or a backup plan.Playlist: Peace & Noise by Patti Smith

Amy and Roger's Epid Detour
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour
by Morgan MatsonEver since her father’s fatal accident, Amy Curry doesn’t drive. No one talks about what exactly happened or whether Amy is to blame. In the aftermath, solitude becomes Amy’s best friend after her twin brother, Charlie, is placed in a North Carolina rehab center and her mom lands a teaching job in Connecticut. Sad and alone on the West Coast, Amy has to face her biggest fears to get from California to Connecticut with Roger, an old family friend, who is incredibly cute. Can Amy confront the ghost of her past while road tripping with a seriously hot chauffeur?Playlist: Coming Home by Leon Bridges

- Raemona

Back to School with Jack D. Ferraiolo

By , August 11, 2015

The Big Splash
By Jack D. Ferraiolo

I kinda hated school. I know a lot of people think that high school is the “time of your life” or it’s “the glory days.” To you I say, “Bah. Humbug” and then I shake my cane. But even middle school wasn’t that great for me. My mom taught 8th grade math in my school, so she was always there with me. This meant I could do nothing wrong ever because everyone (and I do mean everyone – even other teachers) would run to my mom to tattle.

And yet…

And yet, it still seems like my school experience wasn’t as bad as that of Matt Stevens. Matt goes to Franklin Middle School, aka The Frank, and he is the local PI for hire. Unfortunately, kids at his school are ending up in The Outs – usually with a squirt gun to the pants. Big Boss (and former teasee), Vincent Bigglio, aka Vinnie Biggs is running the show, dictating whose pants get soaked and when.

In Ferraiolo’s first book, The Big Splash, Vinnie’s number one assassin, Nicky Fingers is sent to The Outs and Vinnie hires Matt to find out why. Matt’s also trying to figure out what’s going on with his single mom and her two jobs.

In the sequel, The Quick Fix, Ferraiolo explores the dangerous world of pixy stick addiction. The Outs are still going strong, only this time, Matt has a feeling he’ll be joining them soon. Someone’s gunning for the star basketball player and it doesn’t look good. Plus what is up with his Mom?

These books have been described as Middle School noir and they are really more Maltese Falcon than Veronica Mars. Ferraiolo takes the gritty underworld of the detective and sends him to middle school where his problems are pixy sticks and Super Soakers, instead of drugs and Tommy guns. It’s really very cleverly done – almost to the point of stupefaction. Some of the analogies were almost laughable in the book, but it really works to tell a good story.

I think I most enjoyed how the ending of the second book set up the potential for an Outs rebellion. I don’t want to say more: SPOILER ALERT! But so far I have seen no sign that the author is getting ready to publish a third book. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, though.

These books were funny and enjoyable and relatively quick reads. They are officially listed as Juvenile Fiction, but adults would definitely enjoy them. And if you are a fan of any kind of noir, you need to check these out just for comparison. So I hope that your back to school adventure doesn’t land you in the dreaded Outs, but honestly, I’m pretty happy not to have to join you.

Happy Reading (and Writing and Arithmetic)…

:) Amanda

Two Days in Hemingway’s Cuba

By , August 8, 2015

Ernest HemingwayErnest Hemingway spent much of the 1940s and 50s in Cuba, where he penned The Old Man and the Sea. This summer, my sister and I spent several days in Cuba and visited some of Ernest Hemingway’s haunts.

Until recently, visiting Cuba has been prohibited due to travel restrictions for Americans, passed in 1963 after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Those travel restrictions have been lifted. Take a literary journey and retrace our steps.

 

Sloppy Joe’s (Freddy’s Bar)

Sloppy Joe's Exterior

One block from our room at Hotel Parque Central, mosaic tiles appeared beneath our feet, announcing that we had found Sloppy Joe’s. Commemorated as Freddy’s Bar in To Have and Have Not, Sloppy Joe’s was renovated and reopened in 2013, after 54 years of neglect. Dark wood paneling and display cases filled with rum bottles line the walls. Large square columns showcase photographs of mobsters and Hollywood celebrities who have visited, including a shot of Hemingway with Noel Coward and Alec Guinness. At the 59 foot bar, the longest bar in the city, we nibbled Spanish peanuts and ordered the Sloppy Joe, a cocktail made from brandy, Cointreau, Port and pineapple juice. With the 1950s Cuban music playing in the background, It was as if Hemingway could be there today.

The Floridita

Floridita Exterior

Our next stop was the Floridita, established in 1817. It was Hemingway’s favorite haunt and was featured in his novel Islands in the Stream. Inside, a life-sized bronze statue of Hemingway leans against the mahogany bar in his favorite corner. He often ordered what is now known as the “Hemingway Special” or “Papa Doble”- a double shot of rum and no sugar. They have the best banana chips we’ve ever tasted (thin and crispy and salted), free at the bar, and the best daiquiris in town. A blue ceiling, heavy red curtains, and Art Deco furnishings evoke an elegant time and place. We had our first taste of live music in the city at the Floridita, where a 4-piece combo played on the miniature stage.

Room 511, Hotel Ambos Mundos

Hotel Ambos Mundos Interior

We made our way through the concrete rubble of a ripped up street to the pink Hotel Ambos Mundo, built in 1924. We took the original Otis screened cage elevator to the 5th floor to see Room 511, a small tidy room, kept as a museum. Hemingway stayed here off and on during the 1930s, when he began writing For Whom the Bell Tolls. The room contains a bed, a small bathroom, and is decorated sparsely with fishing rods, old magazines and other memorabilia. A Royal typewriter sits on a desk in the center of the room. Next to the typewriter is his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in 1954, typed in Spanish. The rooftop bar, with its cooling breezes and views over tiled rooftops of Habana Vieja, is not to be missed.

La Bodeguita del Medio and Hemingway’s Mojito

Quote reading My Mojito in La Bodeguita

Of all the bars we visited, La Bodeguita del Medio had the most authentic atmosphere and was excellent for people watching. It opens right onto the street and has just enough room for the bar itself, a few seats, and the uniformed 4-piece combo crammed in the corner, just an arm’s length away from my stool. The blue walls were covered in signatures, the most famous of which is attributed to Ernest Hemingway and reads: “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita.” My mojito appeared, mint leaves uncrushed, and it was delicious. If you go, buy one of the stogies they have for sale and smoke it for me – it is my one regret of the whole trip.

Cojimar and The Old Man and the Sea

Red car

The next morning, we headed out in the back seat of a red 1955 Cadillac El Dorado convertible with our guide, Roosevelt. Our destination was Cojimar, a small, former fishing village, and the setting of The Old Man and the Sea. Cojimar was also home to Gregorio Fuentes, Hemingway’s friend, and skipper of Pilar, Hemingway’s sport-fishing boat. When Hemingway died, all the fishermen in the town donated brass fittings from their boats to be melted down to create the Monumento Ernest Hemingway. This bust of the writer looks out to sea from a rotunda, near the 1649 Spanish fortress, El Torreón. Two shirtless men fished from the wooden pier, one without a pole.

We stopped at La Terazza, a clean and breezy restaurant with dark wood and beautifully tiled floors. The bartender charged my phone and camera while I read The Old Man and the Sea at Hemingway’s favorite corner table. I ordered the Coctel Fuentes, turquoise blue like the sea, and drank it while being serenaded by a trio of musicians, who I tipped with a pack of guitar strings and CUC$5.

Finca Vigia, Hemingway’s Home

From 1939 to 1960 Hemingway lived at Finca Vigia in the suburb of San Francisco de Paula, 8 miles east from the city center. Here he wrote Islands in the Stream, Across the River and into the Trees, A Moveable Feast and The Old Man and the Sea.

Four story tower where Hemingway wrote

The house and grounds were opened to the public in 1994 as Museo Ernest Hemingway. We drove up the long, shady drive, through the lush grounds to the one-story Spanish colonial, built in 1887. We weren’t permitted to enter the house, but were able to clearly see the interior through the open windows and doors. The rooms are filled with 9,000 books, mounted animal heads, and replicas of the original bullfighting paintings by Picasso, Miro, and Klee, that used to hang here. In the bathroom, tour guides pointed out where Hemingway recorded changes in his weight on the wall. There was also a jar in the bathroom that contains a preserved lizard that one of his cats had killed.

Hemingway's Typewriter

We climbed the steps of the four-story tower to see his first typewriter, a portable Corona #3, given to him by his first wife Hadley, in 1921. He wrote standing, it was explained, due to a war injury. Then, we followed a palm-lined path leading to a concrete swimming pool, where Ava Gardner once swam naked. Nearby, two small buildings serve as display rooms for photographs of Hemingway and his guests relaxing and smiling on pool-side furniture. His wooden boat, Pilar, is nearby, as are graves of four of his dogs. Many of his 57 cats were buried in the terraced garden behind the house, overlooking the city of Havana.

Learn more about Ernest Hemingway:

- Linda

9 Gen-X / Millennial Childhood Favorites

By , August 7, 2015

I’m right on the cusp of the whole Gen-X / Millennial transition, as are several of my coworkers. We were lamenting the fact that many of our beloved childhood favorites now have unappealing covers!

The following titles are just a few of the books I remember reading and loving as a child. I often recommend them to children and parents. But the cover designs from the 1990’s and 80’s, and sometimes earlier, make them a hard sell to the kids who are used to a more cartoon-like illustration style.

I hope you can peruse this list and find a much-loved treasure to offer a child in your life. In fact, read the story out loud to them (keeping the front covered) until they’re so in love with the book they can’t wait to find out what happens next. They’ll tell all their friends. We’ll start a new trend of retro reads.

Beezus and Ramona cover

Beezus and Ramona, by Beverly Cleary

Little House in the Big Woods cover

Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Cricket in Times Square cover

The Cricket in Times Square, by George Selden

Encyclopedia Brown cover

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald Sobol

The Boxcar Children cover

The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Mixed Up Files cover

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing cover

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume

Best Christmas Pageant cover

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson

Pippi Longstocking cover

Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren

What do you think? Did I miss some of your favorites? Mention them in the comments and maybe we’ll blog about them next time!

- Terri

Book review: The Price of Salt

By , August 3, 2015

The Price of SaltThe Price of Salt: Or Carol
by Patricia Highsmith

The new movie Carol, based on this 1952 novel, premiered to a standing ovation at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.  As a huge Patricia Highsmith fan, I couldn’t wait to read the semi-autobiographical source material.  Highsmith’s writing style, in general, lends itself well to film adaptations because of her close attention to detail.  With this book in particular, I felt like I could visualize exactly how Todd Haynes would portray the clothing, settings, and other period details (think Far From Heaven and Mildred Pierce), and also exactly how Cate Blanchett would play the role of Carol.  This actually enhanced the reading experience rather than detracting from it, particularly in picturing the New York City scenes and the road trip out West.

As you would expect from a Highsmith novel, the action turns suspenseful later in the book.  As you would definitely not expect, the romance is tenderly and emotionally depicted.  The last few pages, especially, pack a big wallop.

~Beth

 

Book List: Genre-Bending Authors

By , July 25, 2015

We all have our favorite type of fiction – for example, I tend to read science fiction and fantasy more than anything else. We also tend to have our favorite authors that are our go-to reads in those genres. So what do we do when our favorite science fiction author puts out a romantic comedy novel set in current times? Or our favorite historical fiction writer suddenly gets the idea to write a science fiction thriller?

 

The Bourbon Kings, J. R. Ward1.First on our list is J.R. Ward. Her Black Dagger Brotherhood series features vampires, romance, and horror – good combinations for those guilty-pleasure reads that have a little bit more…ahem…bite to them. People typically group J.R. Ward with authors like Sherrilyn Kenyon and Charlaine Harris, and her books have a huge following. However, her latest novel moves away from the vampire-loving crowd, and into the exploits of a rich Southern family at the heart of the bourbon empire in a novel called The Bourbon Kings. There is a distinct class division in this – the upper-crust family and their hired help. When lines are crossed between the two, chaos and heartbreak ensues. Changes are coming, in the return of the prodigal son of the family. This novel presents a shift for J.R. Ward and her fans. The novel comes out on July 28th of this year, and coincidentally, she will be at the Nashville Public Library to promote it as part of the Salon @ 615 series! For more information (and tickets) please check out the link here.

 

Cry to Heaven, Anne Rice2. The next author on the list is Anne Rice. Many people know her for the Vampire Chronicles featuring the adventures of the vampire Lestat, as well as the Mayfair Witches books. She also wrote the book Cry to Heaven which is a historical fiction novel based on the lives of 18th century Italian castrati (male sopranos who were both revered and loathed in Italian society). Under another name, A. N. Roquelaure, she wrote a trilogy of erotica novels (simply called the Beauty series) that rivals 50 Shades of Grey. Under the name of Anne Rampling, she wrote two more novels, Belinda and Exit to Eden. Belinda is strongly reminiscent of the novel Lolita, with a bit more dimension in the characters. Exit to Eden seems to be yet another erotica, but this one takes place in the Caribbean, at a very exclusive club. There was a movie made out of it (starring Dan Aykroyd and Rosie O’Donnell) that came out in 1994.

 

The Casual Vacancy, J. K. Rowling3. Anyone who has access to books in the past decade or so has probably run across the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. The series about the Boy Who Lived was one many people grew up with. Each book that came out showed Harry and his friends a year older, a year wiser (sometimes), and facing new challenges in their wizardry careers. After the final book in the series, J.K. Rowling wrote an adult novel called The Casual Vacancy. It was a dark novel,  following the aftermath of the death of a member of a parish council, and the ensuing war for his place. Conflict seems to be at the center of this novel – husband against wife, teenager against parent, rich against poor, and the ending is far more depressing than anything seen from her previously. J.K. Rowling also wrote mystery novels under the name Robert Gilbraith. When the first one came out (before she was revealed as the author), demand for the books exploded. The Cormoran Strike series is expecting a new addition (Career of Evil) sometime this year.

 

Naked In Death, J. D. Robb4. Speaking yet again of authors and pseudonyms, Nora Roberts typically writes contemporary romance novels, that sometimes have a hint of the paranormal to them. Several of her novels have an Irish angle to them – either in the characters or location. Her novels regularly have a long hold list on them at the library – but so do her science fiction hardcore cop dramas (called the In Death series) written under the name of J.D. Robb. In these novels, Detective Dallas is a hardcore detective in the homicide department, in New York City. It is the future, and guns have (for the most part) disappeared.  Homicides take place in interesting ways, and the novels are spent with Detective Dallas and (later) her husband Roarke, as they solve them.

 

On, Off by Colleen McCullough5. Last on our list is Colleen McCullough. Although she typically wrote historical fiction (she has series entitled Masters of Rome which chronicles the life and times of various important figures and wars in Roman history), she also had a series of five books that were murder mysteries (called the Carmine Delmonico series), focusing on forensic science and suspense. These books were a bit more sensational – with murders, sexuality, and detailed descriptions of forensic science. Looking at other people’s reviews of this book, it is obvious to see people who were surprised to see someone who wrote such detailed historical fiction diving into the murder mystery genre.

Book review: Nelle Harper Lee

By , July 11, 2015

In anticipation of the release of the new Harper Lee title, Go set a watchman, you may want to visit the classic, the title by which all American modern fiction is measured, To Kill a Mockingbird.  The new title was written before Mockingbird, remained unpublished and is a sequel to Mockingbird, telling the tale of the adult Jean Louise Finch Scout.

Here is a review pleading for folks to read the classic, Mockingbird,  first posted here in June 2012:

I thought I knew the story. I’ve heard it discussed, referred to, and referenced since I learned to read. I felt I knew more about this book (that I’d never read) than most of the books I have read. I fancied myself knowing more than most about Nelle Harper Lee – how Scout is based on her own child self and how Dill is Nelle’s childhood friend Truman Capote. I’ve heard the literary rumblings that Scout is not, in fact, based on the childhood Nelle, but Boo Radley is Miss Nelle as a girl. And ole mean spirited Truman got his just rewards in the end by alienating all his high society New York “swans” and died a social leper his self.

Turns out I knew nothing. Do you feel like you know the story? Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird? No? I’m telling you, read it. Read it for the brave child of nearly nine that you know, or knew, or were, or wish you still were. Read it for the language, the pure unaffected Southernness of it. Read it because the last three pages of chapter thirteen will break your heart. The very last pages of chapter fifteen will stop your heart. And you will never read anything as true in any book ever.

““Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

- laurie

Savor Summer: Food of the Fandoms

By , July 9, 2015

Star Trek Cook Book coverFood: the final frontier. These are the recipes of the Star Trek Franchise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new dishes, to seek out new delicacies in new civilizations, to boldly go where no diet has gone before.

The Star Trek Cookbook is a culinary journey through the Star Trek universe including Original Series, The Next Generation (TNG), Voyager, and Deep Space Nine (DS9). Featured are Earth-friendly recipes of character favorites, recipes from the actors themselves, and even food prop recipes from TNG and Voyager property master Alan Sims. As a self-identified Trekkie, I just had to try a couple.

Entree: Mushroom-and-Pepper Ratamba Stew

Because I consider DS9 the best of the franchise, I chose the Bajoran Ratamba Stew over spinach linguine as my entree – just the way Captain Sisko prepares it…well, almost. The grocery store didn’t have spinach linguine so I substituted whole wheat linguine. The dish turned out super tasty.

Ratamba Stew 2

Dessert: Klingon Blood Wine & Rokeg Blood Pie a la Neelix 

Even though I consider DS9 the best of the franchise, I am hardcore nostalgic for TNG. It was my first exposure to the Star Trek universe and Worf’s Blood Wine feels like the perfect tribute. The recipe is non-alcoholic, but I modified mine and used a berry-infused sparkling wine in lieu of juice to make it more adult-interesting. My favorite part of the recipe is the frozen fruit stuck through the blender to give it the effect of containing “floating red corpuscles.”

Lastly, I paired my blood wine with the obvious choice – blood pie! Blood Pie a la Neelix is a dish created for one of my favorite characters – Voyager’s B’Lanna Torres. Sure, the recipe is basically cherry pie, but if it works for B’Lanna and Dale Cooper (sorry, mixing my fandoms), it works for me! I did however opt for mini blood pie tarts instead of a typical pie because it’s funny to render Klingon food dainty.

Blood Pie and Wine 2

Honorable Mention

Don’t exclude your pets from the fun! Try the recipe for “Data’s Cat Food #219, Subroutine |DataSpot\Nancy|.”

More Fandom Food:
The Geeky Chef Cookbook
The Star Wars Cook Book: Wookie Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes
The Star Wars Cook Book II: Darth Malt and More Galactic Recipes
True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps
The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook
The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook
The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook

Sci-Fi and Fantasy not your thing?
Cocktails for Book Lovers
Tequila Mocking Bird: Cocktails with a literary twist
The Unofficial Downtown Abbey Cookbook
The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook

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