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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

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

ice-cream-makers
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

everything-ice-cream
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

sweet-spot
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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