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Take a Virtual Vacation with these Travel Shows on Hoopla Digital

7 Mar

After a stressful day, sometimes I find it can be hard to shut off my brain, at those times I often find it comforting to read a book, but another favorite way to unwind is by watching a travel show and drifting off to sleep imagining my own virtual vacation.  Here are a couple shows that Hoboken Library Resident Card Holders can check out from Hoopla and take a relaxing virtual trip, no passport required.

The Kimchi Chronicles

The Kimchi Chronicles stars Marja Vongerichten who was the daughter of a Korean woman and an American GI who was adopted by Americans, but returned to Korea to find her birth mother.  The Kimchi Chronicles moves between showing Marja sampling mouthwatering food and experiencing Korean culture while exploring Korea with friends and relatives, and her and her talented French husband Jean Georges creating Korean-inspired dishes back home.  Several of their celebrity friends, including Hugh Jackman and Heather Graham, make appearances in some episodes.  I enjoyed how each episode focused on a different ingredient such as pork or areas such as Seoul.  If you are like me and can’t get enough of Korean delicacies check out a previous post were I discussed Edward Lee’s Korean/Southern Fusion Cookbook/Memoir, Smoke and Pickles.

Café SecretsSeason 1 and Season 2

Café Secrets is a charming series about the Café culture in New Zealand with popular Kiwi food writer and former café owner, Julie Le Clerc.  Each episode features recipes from the café owners as well as some of Julie’s own café classic recipes.  The series is a bit heavy on product placement, but this didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the show.  I appreciated that the series explored not just the cafés, but also the local communities, with Julie taking part in local events from participating in a fashion show to helping out in a community garden.  Those looking for more New Zealand travel/cooking shows may want to check out New Zealand with Nadia Lim (the Masterchef New Zealand winner travels and cooks her way around her native country) and Cook the Books (featuring a variety of New Zealand Cookbook authors, including Julie Le Clerc in one episode).

The Shelbourne HotelSeason 1 and Season 2

The Shelbourne Hotel is a Dublin landmark which recently celebrated its 190th birthday.  The TV series gives a behind-the-scenes looks of the running of the hotel as it celebrates holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, has special events like a historic tasting menu, and hosts celebrities like a Rugby team.  From living through my own renovations at the library and at home it was interesting to see how the hotel coped with their own restoration of their historic structure.  The show portrays the hotel in a very positive light so don’t expect juicy gossip, but it is perfect for those looking for a quaint virtual trip.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

40 Years of Favorite Part Two: My Favorites From My Twenties

9 Feb

You may remember I started a list of my favorite books or series of books through the years in honor of my milestone 40th birthday with books I loved as child and teen.  I thought I’d finish out my 40th year with part two and three of that post and look at favorite books from my twenties (and in the next post my thirties).

21. The Works of Tanith Lee

I went through a period as a teen into my early twenties of being a huge fan of the dark fantasy of Tanith Lee and it would be impossible for me to pick only one of her works as a favorite from that time period; unfortunately not all of her prolific work is currently in print.  For vampire fans check out Personal Darkness available from BCCLS libraries.  For those who enjoy retellings of Fairytales, like I do, check out a very adult retelling of Snow White, White as Snow.  You can borrow her Lionwolf Trilogy as eBooks from Hoopla.

22. Ray Bradbury’s From the Dust Returned


Ray Bradbury’s prose always hooks me into his stories. From the Dust Returned is composed primarily of a series of short stories Bradbury wrote decades earlier, centering on a family of monsters, vampires, and ghosts named the Elliotts. When I was in college I remember being on a Goth Music Discussion email list (these were the days before Facebook and even Myspace) where one of the participants was in love with one of the stories in From Dust Returned and encouraged everyone to check it out; I did and it remains a favorite. The cover art for the novel was provided by Charles Addams, who created his own macabre family, The Addams Family.

23. Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls and 24. Drawing Blood


Poppy Z. Brite, pen name of transgendered author Billy Martin, was known in the early 90’s for his horror stories.  My two favorites from that time are the haunted house tale Drawing Blood and the vampire novel Lost Souls.  Brite then went on to write several dark comedies in the late 90’s/early 2000’s set in the culinary world of New Orleans in the Liquor series.  Hopefully Martin will chose to come out of authorly retirement and start writing again sometime soon since I’d be curious to see what he has for his next chapter.

25. Spider Robinson’s Callahan Series, 26. John DeChancie’s Castle Perilous Series, and 27. Alan Dean Fosters’s Spellsinger series


Following my dark fantasy period, there was a time in the 90’s where I couldn’t get enough of funny fantasy and science fiction.  Spider Robinson’s Callahan series is set in a bar where the regulars include a talking dog, a time traveler, and alien life forms; many puns and shenanigans ensue.  Several of Robinson’s books are available from BCCLS Libraries.  John DeChancie’s Castle Perilous series features a castle with thousands of doors, each of which opens onto another dimension; those who enter often receive surprising magical abilities.  Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger series features a student who is pulled into a world where animals talk and behave like humans, and the protagonist gains the power of using music to cast spells.  Books in these series are all available from Hoopla as eBooks or digital audiobooks.

28. Connie Willis’s Bellwether


You may remember my post about Connie Willis’s terrific books about time travel; our book discussion group even read Doomsday Book one month. The book of hers I first picked up my freshman year of college when it came out was Bellwether which looks at a group of scientist who are attempting to study what causes and how to create a fads. Looking back on it now Bellwether seems predictive of the current fad of viral marketing and social media influencers, though at the time I just fell in love with the funny, quirky book.

29. Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic


I have written previously about my love of my Alice Hoffman’s magical fantasies which feature bold female heroines either in historical or contemporary settings. My first and still one of my favorites is her novel Practical Magic. It is definitely worth rereading since she just published in 2017 a prequel The Rules of Magic, where she writes about an earlier generation of the Owens family: Franny, Jet, and Vincent, set in the 1960’s.

30. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale


Speaking of Dystopian works, The Handmaid’s Tale was shocking and thought provoking to me when I read it as a college freshman. The story has gotten a renewed buzz with its adaptation as a streaming series. I also enjoyed Atwood’s other fiction and poetry.  I got to see her at a reading/Q&A when I was in graduate school at a Non-for-Profit Theater in Brookline, MA, which for a book nerd was practically a holy experience at the time.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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