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Who Needs a Box of Chocolates for Valentine’s Day: Sample These Library Books Instead

13 Feb

If you or your loved ones are chocoholics, then we have three sweet recommendations to check out this Valentine’s Day!

The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes
by Maricel E. Presilla.
NewChocolate
Maricel Presilla has two Latin American Restaurants in Hoboken.  She did a chocolate presentation here at the library when her book on chocolate first came out and it is definitely worth checking out if you have not already.  The New Taste of Chocolate looks at everything from the early chocolate rituals of the Aztecs to the new discoveries and innovations surrounding many people’s favorite treat.  You’ll want to try out of some of the recipes with your sweet this Valentine’s Day.

The Sweet Story of Hot Chocolate!
by Stephen Krensky and illustrated by Rob McClurkan
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Of course Valentine’s Day isn’t just for adults.  It is fun to help my son get his Valentine’s ready for his class at school.  I remember how excited I was was each year as a kid to pick out the special card that was meant for all of my BFFs in my class.  My son enjoyed this look at the history of hot chocolate that covers the history of winter’s perfect beverage including facts like chocolate being part of the rations for Revolutionary soldiers. The Sweet Story of Hot Chocolate! is best shared with a cup of warm cocoa with a sprinkling of marshmallows.  On Valentine’s Day the library is holding cookie decorating for kids; click here to learn more.  For healthy foodie fun for kids you also can check out our Cooks & Books Program.

The Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg with Ann Krueger Spivack and Susie Heller
EssenceofChocolate
If – like me – you have enjoyed Scharffen Berger chocolates, then you will want to check out this cookbook, the first from the duo behind the gourmet treats. The Essence of Chocolate includes sweet desserts like White Velvet Cake with Milk Chocolate Ganache, but also savory dishes like vegetarian chili and a cocoa rub (perfect for a Valentine’s Day dinner). The book has three sections “Intensely Chocolate”, “Essentially Chocolate” and “A Hint of Chocolate”.  You will also learn useful tips and get a behind the scenes look at how chocolate is created.

If you are looking for some chocolatey fiction check out our previous blog post where I discuss a trio of novels where chocolate helps magic and romance happen.  You can also get some Valentine’s Day song recommendations from us!

Have a favorite book about chocolate or one with great Valentine’s Day recipes?  Share it with us in the comments!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

Three Great Book Choices You Can Check Out from Home: Blue Plate Special, Space Opera, and Mittens

19 Sep

Yesterday I posted about Read an eBook Day.  Today I thought I recommend two books I’ve enjoyed and one recommendation from my son who is also an ebook fan.  A great feature of eBooks is that they are perfect to borrow on rainy days or when you are feeling under the weather and don’t want to or can’t leave the house to stop in at the library in person.  Share with us in the comments if you checked out an ebook or digital audiobook recently and want to recommend it to our readers!

Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites

by Kate Christensen
BluePlateSpecial
I decided to read Blue Plate Special when I was craving something to read late at night before bed and did a quick search on eBCCLS; this seemed like a great choice since I had enjoyed Christensen’s novel, The Last Cruise, and am a fan of Foodie Memoirs. I enjoyed Christensen’s writing, but her life had a lot of trauma, complications, and was dominated by bad relationships – including an abusive father that made this a bit of dark read. I can see how the complexity of her own life has led her to be able to create such rich and nuanced characters in her fiction. Recipes are included in each section of her autobiography which was broken into the different places she has lived which include everywhere from California, New York, Iowa, and Paris. She mentions several times about journaling and I felt that she had kept logs of her life because of how detailed reflected events were recounted.  Christensen is one of three sisters and I felt her sibling’s lives sounded as interesting as her own with one, an aspiring ballerina and the youngest one, who winds up temporarily becoming part of a religious cult on the other side of the world.  Blue Plate Special ends with Christensen’s move to New England something she chronicles in How to Cook a Moose that I will pick up when the memoir mood strikes me again.

If you want even more foodie memoirs/fiction check out some of our previous posts. Three of the authors I wrote about previously you may recognize now from Food Network shows including Gesine Bullock-Prado’s Baked in Vermont, Molly Yeh’s Girl Meets Farm, and Jessica Tom as a contestant on the Next Food Network Star. You can borrow Jessica’s Tom’s novel Food Whore from eBCCLS and Gesine Bullock-Prado’s memoir My Life from Scratch from eLibraryNJ.

Space Opera
by Catherynne M. Valente
read by Heath Miller
Space Opera
If you are thinking you don’t have time to read an ebook, consider listening to one instead.  They are a relaxing way to commute to work (you might even wish that there was more traffic so you could get through one more chapter) or pass the time while doing some of your daily chores (I love listening to them while I’m folding laundry).  You can listen to Catherynne M. Valente’s latest novel Space Opera as a digital audiobook read by Heath Miller from Hoopla. I have written several times previously about Catherynne M. Valente, including her works Radiance and her Fairyland series, which I am fans of.  Valente’s worlds and characters are always highly original and quirky and those of Space Opera are no exception. Space Opera is set after a brutal intergalactic war tore civilizations apart; now in order to keep order, species must prove their worth not with military might but by competing in a singing competition like one you’ve never imagined.  This year humanity’s only hope is two thirds of a washed up glam rock band.  If you love Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy than you will enjoy Space Opera!

Mittens
by Lola M. Schaefer
Pictures by Susan Kathleen Hartung
Mittens
This pick comes from my son, Tommy, who just started first grade this month.  One of the great things you can borrow for kids from Hoopla is Read-Along ebooks. Think of them as an ebook/audiobook hybrid for emergent readers. It lets children hear books read and allows them to read along.  You can either have the pages automatically turn or turn them yourself. You can even pick how fast the pages are read. Over the summer we tried to read at least one book a day together and we’ve been transitioning from me reading to him to him often reading to me, with me giving assistance when he gets stuck on a word. The Read-Along ebooks provide a fun way for beginning readers to feel more confident about learning to read themselves.  First my son has them read the book and then he tries to read the books himself.  He loves cats and recently got a new kitten of his own so was enamored with the story of Mittens who must adjust to moving into a new home.  Since he was starting a new school this year it provided a good opportunity to discuss concerns about being in a new space himself; books can be a great way to get kids to open up about things. Besides the Mittens series, you can also borrow books in the Tommy approved Biscuit series by Alyssa Satin Capucilli if you have puppy dog fans in your house.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

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