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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Frozen Literary Treats to Check Out from the Hoboken Public Library: The Ice-Cream Makers, Sweet Spot, and The Everything Ice Cream, Gelato, and Frozen Desserts Cookbook

20 Sep

I’ve always been a huge fan of ice cream; I’ve taught two ice cream making classes at the Library and even recently had a poem published in a collection of ice cream poetry. If like me you are mourning the end of the warm weather, you can keep the summer months going a bit longer by checking out some of these cool literary treats.

The Ice-Cream Makers by Ernest van der Kwast/ translated by Laura Vroomen

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The Ice-Cream Makers is the second novel and international best seller by Indian born, Dutch author Ernest van der Kwast.  It tells the story of a family of Italian ice cream makers who for several generations has been creating frozen treats in the Netherlands during the summer months.  The extensive research done by the author comes through in the details of their lives and will make you think twice about wanting to open up your own shop due to all the hard work it requires.  The tension and drama in The Ice-Cream Makers comes from the relationship of the two brothers who both are in love with the same girl as well as the one brother, Giovanni’s eschewing of the family business to instead become immersed in the world of poetry while his dutiful brother instead stays and creates ever more elaborate flavors such as fig and blue cheese.  I found the portions of The Ice-Cream Makers dealing with Giovanni and the poetry festivals he was involved with to be some of my favorites.  I am curious to check out his similarly delicious sounding debut novel from 2010 Mama Tandoori, inspired by his Indian mother.

The Everything Ice Cream, Gelato, and Frozen Desserts Cookbook by Susan Whetzel

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After reading van der Kwast novel, you might be craving some actual ice cream so go to eLibraryNJ and check out The Everything Ice Cream, Gelato, and Frozen Desserts Cookbook as an eBook.  Food Blogger Whetzel’s entry into the Everything series of books will provide you with what you need to know to make ice cream and more including tips on storage and a brief history of ice cream.  She includes basic ice cream recipes for flavors like vanilla and several for chocolate, as well as more fanciful flavors like Sage Blackberry Swirl Gelato, Orange Infused Olive Oil Gelato, and Cucumber Mint Frozen Yogurt for those with an adventurous palate.  Besides granitas and sorbets, which are always dairy free, there is a whole section on vegan ice cream including scrumptious flavors that will tempt those beyond vegans and the lactose intolerant such as Cinnamon Swirl Cheesecake and Pineapple White Chocolate Macadamia.  For diabetics and others watching their sugar intake there are tasty recipes including Peanut Butter and Jelly, Decadent Dark Chocolate Raspberry, and Coffee Chip.  Plus you can learn to make ice cream accouterments like your own homemade magic shell, waffle cones, flavored whip creams, and sugar cookie cups to make your desserts even more special.  For those looking to make a celebratory treat there is a section on ice cream pies and cakes perfect for your loved one’s next birthday.  Recipes for milkshakes and their slightly healthier siblings smoothies are also featured in this work that truly does seem to live up to its “everything” claim.

Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across America by Amy Ettiger

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For those looking for a fun nonfiction account about ice cream, you will enjoy Amy Ettiger’s Sweet Spot which takes a look at the history of ice cream and its creation and enjoyment across the USA.  She speaks to everyone from Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s fame to Andrew Zlot, a water buffalo farmer, making made-from-scratch gelato.  Ettiger goes beyond interviews and research; she learns to make ice cream at a famous Penn State ice cream making boot camp and even rides along with an ice cream truck in Brooklyn, where she learns about the ice cream truck turf wars in the process.  A few quirky recipes, including Salty Butterscotch Ice Cream, and photographs are sprinkled throughout the book.  An index for those looking for specific topics and a list of consulted works are included, however, her account though informative, takes a very personal conversational tone which is makes it good for casual non-fictions readers.  Those who enjoy foodie memoirs should find this work a sweet treat.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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