Portland F R E E VOLUME 2, ISSUE 1 March - April 2012
www.portlandbookreview.com F N• E
TUR A Cooking,
Food & Wine
2 HIGHLIGHTS Salvaging the Truth: Eight Titanic Myths Debunked
Dishing Up Oregon Page 7
16 85 Reviews INSIDE!
By William Landay Delacorte Press, $26.00, 421 pages Imagine you’re a member of a well-replex plot development takes the pedestrispected family living in a tight-knit coman mystery genre to the next level and will munity. You have a good job as an assiskeep readers on the edges of their seats tant district attorney, wondering what will a beautiful and smart happen next. There This is an aspect of crime stories I nevwife and a handsome are enough twists and er fully appreciated until I became one: son. Then, envision turns to keep even it is so ruinously expensive to mount finding out that your the most demanding a defense that, innocent or guilty, the only son, who is just 14, reader satisfied — accusation is itself a devastating punjust when you’ve got might have murdered ishment. Every defendant pays a price. it all figured out, it one of his classmates throws you another — or not. That is the curve. The farcical picture painted of our premise of Defending Jacob, the new myscriminal justice system will make you tery by William Landay. It’s a page-turning wary, and because Landay is a former D.A., roller coaster ride through the criminal he knows what he’s talking about. After justice system, as well as an up-close picreading this highly entertaining mystery, ture into the disintegration of a family. you won’t even want to get caught jaywalkLanday’s writing is being compared to ing. Grisham and Turow and it is justified. His Diane Prokop three-dimensional characters and com-
Breakfast in Bridgetown Page 7
Made in America Page 9
Good Eats 2: The Middle Years Page 10
Wild in the City Page 13
Word Savvy Page 13
Romance When Passion Rules By Johanna Lindsey Gallery, $25.99 388 pages Alana has been raised by her uncle to be independent and witty, knowing her own mind and sticking to her guns. An unusual upbringing among the British elite but perfect for the lost princess of Lubinia. On her 18th birthday Alana’s world is turned upside down when she finds she will not be marrying and settling down as all young ladies in their first season are expected to do. Instead she boards a ship for Lubinia to reclaim her crown and stop a civil war that will tear a country apart. Johanna Lindsey, by far one of the best historical romance writers of our time, has succeeded once again. When Passion Rules encompasses all we have come to know Lindsey for: great characters, mysterious plots, and twists and turns to keep you guessing to the end. All this surrounds two characters who delight and entertain as they fall unwittingly into a passionate love affair. Unfortunately the ending is not all it could be. The book leaves you with unanswered questions and a feeling of being incomplete. Great book, rotten ending. Rebecca Feuerbacher The Orchard: A Novel By Jeffrey Stepakoff Thomas Dunne Books, $22.99 304 pages Grace Lyndon single-mindedly pursues her career with great success. She creates flavors and scents for a large company in Atlanta, and has achieved financial security and respect in her field. One day, her assistant hands her an apple and it dazzles her with its unusual aroma and taste. Her pursuit of its origin leads her to Georgia apple country where she meets the young daughter of the orchard owner where the apple was grown. As she tries to persuade the widowed farmer to let her capture the essence of the apples he grows, feelings on both sides begin to blossom. Suspense builds when they find their future together threatened by the past. Jeffrey Stepakoff has written for many TV series including The Wonder Years, Sisters and Dawson’s Creek. He has also written motion pictures including Disney’s Tarzan and Brother Bear. He authored Fireworks Over Toccoa as well. His sensitive treatment of a love story is laudable. The poignant story and the descriptions of the beautiful countryside make this
March - April 2012
novel an enjoyable read. Anyone who likes a good romance will love this book about two people who are instantly attracted to each other, yet whose lifestyles have little in common. Fran Byram Before Ever After By Samantha Sotto Crown, $23.00 298 pages Samantha Sotto takes readers on a fantastic journey throughout time and around the globe with her debut novel Before Ever After. In the same vein as beloved stories as Tuck Everlasting and The Time Traveler’s Wife, the book asks readers to evaluate a relationship from its beginning to the end. Shelley is still mourning the loss of her late husband, Max, when a stranger appears at her door with information proving Max is still alive, and even more surprising, that he may be immortal. During the rest of the book, Shelley reminisces about how she and her husband met and became engaged and about the amazing stories her history buff romantic used to tell as they toured Europe. However, questions remain about why Max has not come back to her and what remains for their relationship. Larger than life questions are pondered by the characters in the novel, asking what “timeless” truly is, and more importantly, is love worth seeking when there is ultimately a time-limit on any relationship? Sotto is a fantastic writer who writes her characters with a deep understanding of their personalities, uses detailed settings of time and place to create magical scenes, and is so eloquent with her execution of plot and writing that readers will finish the last page and want to start the book again. Sophie Sestero Playing Dirty By Susan Andersen HQN $7.99 330 pages Playing Dirty is the third book in Susan Andersen’s Sisterhood Diaries Trilogy. A senior in high school, Ava Spencer is horror struck and heartbroken to find that the guy she had given her virginity to, Cade Gallari, had slept with her on a bet. Even worse, Cade announced it to the whole school making Ava a laughing stock. Years later, Ava is now a successful owner of her own concierge business and a head turner
to boot. Life is good, until Cade sweeps back into her life determined to win her back. Playing Dirty starts out strong, pulling readers in and getting them invested in the characters. Ava, with her insecurities, is easy to relate to and charming in her need to be the best at what she does. Cade is harder to understand. At first you want to hate him but slowly, as he wins Ava’s heart, he wins yours as well. Andersen has done a fantastic job of writing a novel that draws you in and doesn’t let you go until the end. Rebecca Feuerbacher Red Velvet and Absinthe Edited by Mitzi Szereto Cleis Press, $14.95 224 pages Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance is a collection of erotic romance by well-known erotic author and anthology editor Mitzi Szereto. Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, things that go bump in the night, creatures that would be right at home in a story by Stoker or Poe, coagulate on these pages. They are raw and exposed as readers haven’t seen them before, draped in danger and romance, lit by flickering candles and red tapestries that conjure desire beyond mere mortality. It was a full moon. The room was flooded by its brightness. And then they were roaring together. The classic Gothic writers — Mary Shelley, the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen — started it, and the gothic tale continues here, going beyond Anne Rice, with tales of paranormal erotic romance. From the southern gothic to fallen angels, this book offers exquisite and toe-curling romance, eroticism, danger and a healthy dose of lust. The richness of this volume, like blood, chocolate and candlelight, cannot fail to please. Axie Barclay Out of Control: The Kincaid Brides: Book One By Mary Connealy Bethany House $14.99 330 pages When I saw that Nebraska author Mary Connealy’s latest book Out of Control: The Kincaid Brides was available, I wanted to read it because I’m from Nebraska, and I've heard positive comments about her novels, yet haven’t read
any of her work. My initial impression: Connealy’s writing is subtly humorous and highly enjoyable, especially if you appreciate romance novels. And, she includes plenty of passion. The tension between Julia and Rafe can be felt immediately and continues through until the last page of the story. Unfortunately, I found myself wanting to pull Julia to one side and let her know she needs to stop acting like a spoiled brat, particularly since she hasn’t lived a spoiled life. Her constant whining about exploring the caves goes over the top at times, making her a one-dimensional character. If you can get past Julia’s brash personality, Out of Control provides a lot of entertainment. The Kincaid brothers are good, oldfashioned cowboys trying to deal with an unhappy event from their childhood. Rafe and Ethan try to save two “damsels in distress,” assist with the impending birth of a child, and search for answers from their past. A little mysterious, a touch predictable, but pleasantly difficult to put down. LuAnn Schindler Bet Me By Jennifer Crusie St. Martin’s Griffin, $14.99 430 pages If Pride and Prejudice were a fairy tale set in modern day Ohio, it would read something like Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me. Two characters who are a perfect match for each other despite their different backgrounds cannot seem to get it together because of their personal prejudices and their own pride. Yet, like a fairy tale, every character has a satisfying ending, even the bad guy after he gets his just deserts. In this case, our Elizabeth Bennett is named Minerva Dobbs and she is a boring actuary who is driven to distraction by her batty, calorie-obsessed mother, her busy, distracted father, her two best friends (fairy tale obsessed Bonnie and edgy realist Liza), and her cool, do-nowrong sister who is marrying the perfect man. Minerva’s Mr. Darcy is Calvin Morrisey, a successful businessman from an upper crust family perhaps as zany as her own. Through arguments to decide which Elvis is better: Costello or Presley, the adoption of a deranged but loving feral cat and many, many Krispy Crème doughnuts, a chubby girl learns to cook with butter and a womanizer learns to lose a bet with dignity. As fate forces these two prideful people together against their better judgment, their world becomes an enchanted place where anything could happen, even happily ever after. Rachelle Barrett
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IN THIS ISSUE Biographies & Memoirs....... 4 Children............................16 Cooking, Food & Wine......... 7 Crafts & Hobbies................15 Historical Fiction...............14 History............................... 5 Mystery, Crime & Thriller...11 Popular Fiction..................15 Reference..........................13 Romance............................. 2 Science Fiction & Fantasy.... 6 Science & Nature................13 Self-Help...........................14 Sequential Art...................14 Tween............................... 12 Young Adult...................... 12 Hundreds of reviews in a variety of additional categories are available at www.portlandbookreview.com ‘Like’ us on Facebook www.facebook.com/portlandbookreview Follow us on Twitter @PDXBookReview
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FROM THE EDITOR Welcome to our one-year anniversary issue! It seems as though we’ve just begun and yet, we have a whole year full of activities to look back on, learn from and vividly relive. What stands out the most to me is all the new friends we’ve made…just like you. You mean so much to us and we are encouraged by your comments and support. Without all the new friends we’ve made, I doubt we would be having this first year celebration issue. You drive us forward! So, it seems natural that we share what we love about reading with others who want to share what they love about reading and voilà! We’ve made a new friend or deepened an existing one. It’s easy to escape in a good book and never reach out to others, but I truly believe that in our introversion, we miss out on the entire experience in the life of a exceptional book: read it, tell someone about it, recommend it to others and then, once they’ve read it, talk about it with them. The impact is palpable. Your life has been touched; you have, in turn, touched someone else’s and so on. Join a reader’s group (or better yet - start your own!), or a writer’s group, go to author readings, hang out in bookstores or libraries. Even some coffee shops have been known to spark lively discussions among total strangers about a really good author or book. My mom and I walk our rat terrier, Jaxon two miles every day. He won’t let us miss a day — rain or shine. Sometimes to pass the time, we tell each other stories. We are both avid readers, so usually they are the current story we’re reading or one we’ve recently read. It’s a great way to escape the tedium of a long walk and — let’s just say it — to simply escape. I cherish these times with my mom. You certainly learn a lot about someone by listening to them tell a tale that they really enjoy. That’s the great thing about relationships — sharing. Funny, because that’s the great thing about reading, too — sharing. Don’t let people pass you by! Let’s make it our mission in life to connect people with books and make our own lives richer in the process! Readers Unite!
M. Chris Johnson
Editor In Chief, Portland Book Review email@example.com
March - April 2012
Biographies & Memoirs An Italian Immigrant Looks Back
Growing Up Under Fascism in a Little Town in Southern Italy By Dr. Nicholas La Bianca Xlibris, $19.99 254 pages Remnants of Italy’s archaic feudal system remained when Mussolini became prime minister in 1922. By traditional standards, the author’s family was considered a lower middleclass family of landowners in their small southern village. La Bianca’s factual account is a glimpse of his life during the 1930s through the mid-40s--a taste of their labor-intensive culture, and his struggle to achieve an education in a society that normally sends children to work after they complete the fifth grade. La Bianca’s father left Italy as a teenager to seek employment in America and was eventually drafted by the U.S. military and served in WWI. Proud of his new patriotism, La Bianca’s father continued to work in America to support his family, but the author and his siblings remained in Italy with their mother until after WWII. The author takes us on tour of the town, their small apartment and the quaint Italian culture during a time of deprivation and devastation. He describes the olive and almond harvesting; the drying, storing and pickling of winter foods; the games the children played without the luxury of toys; fleeing from frightening air raids to sleep in barns; and happier times like religious celebrations and carnevales. La Bianca gives Il Duce (Mussolini) his due for solving many of Italy’s problems, including sovereignty for the Vatican and vast infrastructure improvements, like public utilities and schools. The author also expands on the unnecessary carnage in southern Italy, due to poor military strategy by Allied Forces. After the war, his family relocates to America, and La Bianca goes on to graduate school in New York and eventually earns a Doctor of Arts degree. The informational value of this book is extraordinary—a precious resource for anyone researching Italian life during this period. However, it contains errors, and like most memoirs, the author’s voice occasionally seems detached. The numerous pictures, maps and illustrations help to clarify the descriptions and add flavor to the narrative. Sponsored Review
March - April 2012
Seeing Ezra: A Mother’s Story of Autism, Unconditional Love, and the Meaning of Normal By Kerry Cohen Seal Press, $25.00 286 pages This book is boldly honest, vulnerable, charismatic, heart-wrenchingly sincere and completely without apology. It will make your blood boil, your heart sink and, every once in a while, put many smiles on your face. Local author Kerry Cohen bravely writes about her experiences as a mother of an autistic child – her adorable, lovable, engaging child. Like any mother, Cohen loves her children deeply, fiercely and, like any mother, she worries about them too. Often, her thoughts are broken, intangible and digressive, adding credence and drama to her writing style while opening a window into this mother’s mind. Cohen writes, “He does a lot of things differently from other kids his age. But there is nothing wrong. I don’t have the right words yet, and even someday when I do, I will still be misunderstood.” Well, she did find the words and put them all in the right order to invoke empathy, camaraderie, sympathy and righteous anger in this anguishing, humorous and loving account of Ezra’s life. Cohen dexterously weaves the beauty of our Portland neighborhoods, the Columbia Gorge and camping in our magnificent forests into this story, making the whole book the perfect, local, emotional read. M. Chris Johnson Charles Dickens: A Life By Jane Smiley Penguin Books, $14.00 210 pages The good news has two parts: The book is fresh and it clocks in at 210 pages. What is left to be said of Dickens’ personal life? More ink has been spilt on the man’s existence than blood at Balaclava. One suspects the current Wilkie Collins mania is really just a sidewise angle on a new approach to him. “What,” one might fairly ask, “chance does Dickens or the reader have?” A good one, it turns out. This brief book is the best one volume account of Dickens’ life. The author knows the man and his world not only as a scholar and admirer, but as a fellow professional novelist who has fought to capture the truth of her world in prose fiction. The book’s tightly controlled story of Dickens’ ardor acting in and ghosting of Collins’ play The Frozen Deep is illustrative of why
this book succeeds. The play is drawn from the greatest mystery of the mid-Victorian period (Crimea, the Great Exhibition): the vanished Franklin Expedition. Smiley’s light, fleet hand helps the reader to touch a flashing point in her subject’s swift life and epoch. And, without impeding narrative drive, she illumines aspects and qualities of Dickens one either doesn’t know about or hasn’t considered in quite this way. In the manner of all very good books, to buy this one is to invest in your own best interests. Larry A. LaBeck Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 18801918 By Laird M. Easton Alfred A. Knopf, $45.00 924 pages Laird Easton’s translation of the diaries of Count Harry Kessler, as presented in Journey to the Abyss, is a fascinating glimpse into the crème de la crème of the highest echelons of European society in the early part of the 20th century. Anyone with an interest in the arts of the early 20th century will thrill when Kessler, independently wealthy after the death of his father, presents an inside look at many of the famous artists of the day, as well as an intriguing look back at the Impressionists and Postimpressionists whose appeal today is often buried under their commercial success. The last section of the book, which deals with Kessler’s experiences in WWI, moves away somewhat from the more artsy life which had preceded it, but remains a brilliant account not only of the fighting which Kessler witnessed, but also the diplomacy and politics in which he directly participated as an international operative. The book is substantial at 924 pages, and readers who are not familiar with the period may want a companion historical text for reference, or at least close Internet access. Also, the sheer number of important historical figures that Kessler knew is, at times, overwhelming, even to the well-versed historical reader. Katie Richards The Last Colonial: Curious Adventures & Stories From a Vanishing World By Christopher Ondaatje Thames & Hudson, $29.95 256 pages Author Christopher Ondaatje has become so accomplished in his long career that it would be impossible to criticize his wonderful writing style. It draws the reader in, even if one story may not be of particular interest or is uncomfortably grim
in tone. The Last Colonial is a mix of short stories ranging from the 1930s through the 1980s and covering the writer’s experiences in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Canada, Britain and Africa. The stories are anecdotal and most are somewhat dire in one way or another, as the author seemed to court risk and danger throughout his lifetime. That he has lived to a ripe old age with great success is quite an accomplishment. A majority of the stories focus on two things: leopards and the journeys following in the footsteps of Sir Richard Burton and Ernest Hemingway. This hardcover book is beautifully bound and features plentiful artwork by Ana Maria Pacheco. Her somewhat surreal illustrations suit the stories perfectly in that they are more interesting than pleasant. Altogether this compilation of stories forms such a high quality reading experience that the book must be well recommended. Rosalie West Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney By Howard Sounes Da Capo Press, $20.00 600 pages This book takes readers beyond the success of the Beatles — the pop culture icons and classic musicians — and sheds light upon their life before stardom. The author writes with so much heart he makes readers feel as though they’re walking with Paul McCartney through his life, starting as a boy and addressing issues arising with money and family. Later, it discusses how Paul met John Lennon and formed their friendship. However, instead of a historical play-byplay, the book sucks readers into the fledglings of friendship and the deep relationships that made the Fab Four the best band in musical history. Addressing conflicts and emotions the band had, explaining where the inspiration for songs came from and reminiscing about old times when all were happy takes a band full of legends and turns them into people — incredible, amazingly talented musical gods of people, but people nonetheless. A slew of images are in the book: classic black and white pictures showing Paul as just a young boy in grade school, all the way through to his recognition into the Music Hall of Fame. The images are personal and far removed from the mainstream iconography seen on postcards and posters around the world. Fab is an essential piece to add to any Beatles fan collection because it gets inside the mind and the history of the only remaining vocalist from one of the best musical groups the world has ever seen. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves music. Sophie Sestero
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History Guardians of the Frontier: The Cross Family Chronicle 1836-1903 By Joseph L. Gavett Xlibris, $19.99 266 pages Guardians of the Frontier traces the personal history of three generations of the Cross family as they explore and settle land in the Dakota territories in the middle to late 19th century. Author Joseph L. Gavett has written seven books on the history and people of North Dakota and uses a historian’s pragmatism in his storytelling. Guardians of the Frontier is historical fiction, but with the voice and feel of a factual first-person chronicle. Gavett’s tone is established by the use of journals and letters to relate many of the personal landmarks in the lives of Isaac, Abraham and William Cross. The lives of the characters in Guardians of the Frontier are interwoven with actual locations and historically significant events. The American Fur Company, Fort Union, Fort Pierre, Fort Randall and Fort Abercrombie were real and provide fictional context for the character’s lives as trading posts and military settlements. The Assiniboine Indian’s language, culture and tradition feature prominently throughout the book. A glossary of Native American words and phrases is included in the back. The decades spanned by Guardians of the Frontier cannot be told without including the devastation of the Civil War, in which one of the three main characters fights. The location and time also intersect with the increasing tension between the United States Cavalry and Native American tribes, which finds the Battle of the Little Bighorn included in the story. Marriages, births and deaths are cause for celebration and sorrow, but Gavett does not romanticize the joys of the life chosen by the Guardians of the Frontier nor over-dramatize the hardships which plagued them. His writing is meticulously researched and historically accurate, supported by the historical information, people and places addendum at the end of the book. Sponsored Review Queen Elizabeth in the Garden By Trea Martyn BlueBridge, $22.95 336 pages Queen Elizabeth in the Garden is a book detailing the decadeslong rivalry between Lord Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and Sir William Cecil. Both men were vying for Queen Eliza-
Salvaging the Truth: Eight Titanic Myths Debunked beth’s favor, and did so by building elaborate gardens for her entertainment. This book takes you along a tour of these gardens as they are unveiled for the queen. While it is an interesting topic and there is a wealth of information as to the history of this book, I found that the book generally was made up of long descriptions that were difficult to visualize as a reader. It was interesting to read about the dynamic between the two men, but because of the difficulty of visualization, the book was a bit difficult to get through as it came across as dry in spots. However, if you are a history buff or are interested in Queen Elizabeth, this is an interesting read to check out. If you are looking for engaging historical fiction, this might not be the book for you. Rachel J. Richards Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII By Linda Porter St Martin’s Press, $19.99 383 pages Katherine Parr has long been passed over by historians. She appears to come and go quietly without the fanfare heaped upon more notorious queens of her day. Yet this intelligent woman had a life before and after her time on the throne. In Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII, Linda Porter distinguishes this royal as one who was never ambitious for the crown, yet proved herself up to the task, always adhering to her motto, “To be useful in all I do.” Rather than repeating the tired clichés, Porter hones in on Henry when he was no longer the pleasure-seeking young man, but an aging king, looking for a trusted companion — someone who understood his wishes for his kingdom. Sound in mind and motive, Katherine brought stability to the throne. She was a beloved and most influential stepmother – playing a central role in shaping England’s future Queen Elizabeth. Given the religious hostility of the time and the fate of the wives who came before her, what impresses is how she kept her head (literally) while navigating her royal responsibilities and dodging the king’s displeasure. Dutiful in her first three marriages, after Henry’s passing she was free to marry for love, but the union with her reckless old flame, Thomas Seymour, brought humiliation and disappointment. Tudor enthusiasts will enjoy this book that covers the life and times of a clever woman who is finally getting the recognition she deserves. Alicea Swett
Hoboken, NJ (February 2012) - April 15, 2012, will mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the great ocean liner Titanic. And as soon as Titanic sank, myths began to spring up around her regarding why she sank, as well as some of her more peculiar passengers and cargo. If you’re one of the many people who are curious about Titanic’s brief voyage and tragic end, The Titanic For Dummies® (Stephen J. Spignesi, Wiley, February 2012, ISBN: 978-1-1181-7766-2, $19.99) can help you separate fact from fiction. If you want to get your facts straight in time for the 100th anniversary of the sinking, read on to learn about eight Titanic myths. The Titanic carried a cryptic, antiCatholic message. A pervasive myth said that her hull number, 390904, spelled out the words, “No Pope” when looked at in a mirror (while squinting, one presumes!). “However, there’s empirical evidence that the enormous ship was not a slur against Catholicism: According to Harland and Wolff, the shipyard where Titanic was built, the number 390904 doesn’t appear anywhere in the ship’s records,” says Spignesi.
is a 45.52-carat blue diamond, and one myth says that it was lost forever when the Titanic sank. This myth has persisted over the years, yet there isn’t a whit of truth to it. “Part of the confusion might be due to the fictional giant blue diamond, Heart of the Ocean, that appeared in James Cameron’s 1997 movie Titanic,” guesses Spignesi. “Today, the real Hope Diamond resides in the Smithsonian Institution, not on the bottom of the ocean.”
Is that you, mummy? Perhaps one of the spookiest myths claims that a mummy was stowed on board, and that’s why the ship sank. Supposedly this embalmed carcass was the Princess of Amen-Ra, and anyone who took possession of her body died. “As is often the case, the truth is much less dramatic,” admits Spignesi. “There was no mummy on the Titanic, and her sinking had everything to do with an iceberg and nothing to do with a curse.”
The purser’s safe was loaded with valuables. The purser’s safe is where the wealthy first-class women on board stored their valuables during the voyage. “It was commonly believed that the safe contained a treasure trove of diamonds, jewelry, gold, bank notes and other valuables when the ship sank,” Spignesi recounts. “But when the purser’s safe was retrieved and opened in 1987, all it contained was a diamond bracelet.”
A worker was trapped in the Titanic’s hull. One of the ghastliest myths purports that a worker was trapped inside the ship’s hull during construction, and with nowhere to escape, he died, his body sealed in the hull of the ship. “Only two construction-related deaths occurred during the building of the Titanic, a remarkable safety record,” explains Spignesi. “And all workers — living and dead — were accounted for when the ship set sail.”
The Titanic vied for the Blue Riband. The Blue Riband was an unofficial title of achievement awarded to the fastest passenger ship making transatlantic crossings. The myth says the Titanic didn’t slow down in the ice fields, struck an iceberg and sank. “The Titanic was not vying for the Blue Riband, mainly because achieving the speeds necessary to win it was unlikely with her reciprocating-engines design,” explains Spignesi. “She was not built to be a fast ship, but a luxurious one.”
Frank Tower was the luckiest man on earth. A myth tells that Frank Tower was a stoker on the Titanic who survived the sinking in 1912. Two years later, he survived the sinking of the Empress of Ireland. A year later, in 1915, he survived the torpedoing and sinking of the Lusitania. “This makes for a good story, but there is no Frank Tower on the crew rosters of the Titanic, the Empress of Ireland, or the Lusitania,” says Spignesi. The Hope Diamond went down with the Titanic. The Hope Diamond
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White Star advertised the Titanic as “unsinkable.” In reality, they didn’t blatantly advertise the Titanic as unsinkable, but also didn’t do anything to disabuse the world of the notion that its ships were incapable of sinking. “The White Star Line’s choice of words in its brochures and public statements promulgated the belief that the ship was unsinkable,” points out Spignesi. “But the White Star Line didn’t come right out and say that the Titanic — or any of its other ships — was incapable of sinking.”
March - April 2012
Science Fiction & Fantasy And Blue Skies from Pain By Stina Leicht Night Shade Books, $14.99 384 pages
Blue Fall: The Tournament: Volume One By B.B. Griffith Griffith Publishing, $9.99 474 pages
A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor By Robert G. Pielke Altered Dimensions, $14.95 226 pages
We always learn something when we read a book and this reviewer learned a very important lesson while reading B.B. Griffith’s Blue Fall — never underestimate a first-time author. From the very beginning, Blue Fall sucks you in, the characters gripping you by the collar and begging you to follow them. The Tournament is a competition with no limits: a competition that has changed the way world problems are handled and could completely alter the course of history if people let it. Teams from eight of the world’s most prominent countries are pitted against one another in a fight to the death – or what looks like death. Out of several outstanding things about Blue Fall, one of the most pronounced is that the reader has an idea of what is going to happen at the end based on the title, but Griffith manages to suck the breath out of the reader’s body in the last 38 pages. On top of this surprising finish, the reader will be rooting for and against every character in the book, and while it can seem like there are a lot of people to keep track of, each character is important to the development of the story and would lack without them. Blue Fall is a mystery, action and science fiction novel, but don’t stay away from it if you have never liked those genres in the past. Griffith manages to merge love, family, relationships, intrigue and action into almost 500 pages that you will never want to put down. As a bonus, this is only volume one. There are questions left to be answered after the reader closes the book, and Griffith does it in a way that leaves you aching for the next volume – in the best way possible. This reviewer never felt unsatisfied by the way things were wrapped at the end of Blue Fall and anticipates a second volume that will keep readers on the edge of their seats just as much as volume one did. Being thoroughly impressed by Griffith’s writing style and level of detail, I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy reading; there isn’t a reader who wouldn’t be enthralled by Blue Fall. Sponsored Review
The Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle in the history of American warfare, and the most critical turning point in the Civil War. New deadly weaponry and inadequate medical treatments lead to the death of more than 50,000 American soldiers. According to Edwin Blair, that is nothing compared to the plague the Pest will bring. In the first part of this trilogy, A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor, Blair comes to the past to unite Lincoln and Lee into fighting an alien force that could threaten both the past, present and future of mankind. Blair, chosen for this mission due to the fact that this time period is his strong suit, devises a plan that changes the course of history but could possibly be endangering his own life. This alternate historical book is a wonderful read that captures both the imagination and style of the Civil War and delivers it in an entertaining manner. Robert G. Pielke has created a book that is well organized, with every line and action focused mainly on the story. The real draw is the mystery and excitement that pulls the reader into the story. Pielke’s writing style is clean, precise and perfectly well paced. The character development within the book and the relationship between Blair, Lincoln and Lincoln’s cabinet is enjoyable. Blair tries his best to fit in with this crowd, but he can't help but “geek out” over all the historical events happening around him. It is that real emotion of Blair that grounds the book and makes Blair so relatable and loveable. It would be intriguing to see a little more depth to Lincoln’s and Lee’s personalities. Both men are intimidating, but seem to be shoved into the background. Hopefully, they will play a bigger part in the upcoming stories. But, out of everything, I am looking forward to the conclusion of Blair’s story and how it will shape the world as we know it. Sponsored Review
March - April 2012
Things have not been good for Liam Kelly recently – he lost his wife and a good friend, he’s wanted for his participation in the IRA, and he discovered that he was half-Fae. Trying to find his place in both worlds and dealing with his significant (and lethal) personal demons, Liam agrees to undergo testing by the church’s special unit in the hopes of securing a cease-fire between the church and the Fae. Things take a turn for the worse when the church’s staff is infected by demons and Liam finds himself running again. And Blue Skies from Pain is an outstanding novel that is written with a subtle complexity that is refreshing in the fantasy genre. While the overall story is set during the time of upheaval and conflict in Ireland in the 1970s, the focus of the story is on the characters themselves, primarily Liam Kelly and the priest, Father Murray, an ally attempting to broker peace between the church and the Fae. Liam, in particular, undergoes a fascinating transition from a boy running scared to a courageous man willing to stand up for what he believes in. This is a book every fantasy fan should read. Barbara Cothern Switched (Trylle Trilogy #1) By Amanda Hocking St. Martin’s Griffin, $8.99 This novel is a fantasy story about Wendy, who has always seemed to not quite fit in. She has a somewhat troubled life after her mother tries to kill her as a small child. Her mother was sent to a mental institution, and Wendy was left with the burden of a sick mother who could not love her. While in high school, Wendy meets Finn, a mysterious dark stranger. Finn always seems to watch Wendy from afar, until she is attacked one night. Finn steps in and brings her to her new home where Wendy discovers startling facts about herself. As Wendy learns to control her newfound abilities and fit in with a community she doesn’t know, she becomes ever concerned about her place in this world. Amanda Hocking’s novels are always engaging, and Switched is no exception. Her characters are well-developed, and the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next. I highly
recommend this book to any fantasy fan who is looking for something refreshing and different from the vampire and werewolf books that have flooded the market. This first book in the trilogy does not disappoint. Rachel Richards Acquainted With the Night By Piper Maitland Berkely NAL, $9.99 537 pages Acquainted With the Night is the story of Caroline Clifford, who is searching for the murderer of her uncle. On her way to claim her uncle’s body, she meets a biochemist named Jude and soon discovers he may know something about her uncle. Together they travel across Europe. When they find themselves in a cliff-side monastery in Greece, they make a shocking discovery — vampires are real. The storyline of this book is fantastic. A perfect blend of Dan Brown’s religious intrigue, Micheal Crichton’s scientific thriller, and Anne Rice’s vampire novels. The writing is wonderfully done, keeping the reader engaged, not letting go until the last page has turned. The science and explanation behind how vampires came to be and their folklore is believable, and by the end of the story, readers may find they are checking over their shoulders to see if a vampire is close behind. Although this book is an excellent read, there are a few minor shortcomings. With the story being so fast-paced, sometimes the author makes leaps in the storyline, leaving the reader wondering how the story got from point A to point B. The vampire characters are also a little stereotypical, listening to heavy metal music and being obsessed with sex. From a highly creative author who thought up this storyline, more care could have been given to deepen the vampire’s characters and make them even more believable. All in all, this book started great and ended fantastically, never letting up for a second. Anyone who enjoys a good story and getting lost in a book will not regret picking it up. Andrew Keyser
Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.
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F R E E www.portlandbookreview.com Dishing Up Oregon: 145 Recipes That Celebrate Farm-toTable Flavors By Ashley Gartland Storey Publishing, $19.95 288 pages Dishing Up Oregon reads like a travel guide from Oregon’s coast to its mountains. Oregon has had a love affair with food for some time, and this book illustrates how strong the food culture is in the state. Many restaurants promote their farm-to-table approach, and Gartland has demonstrated this by highlighting recipes from the “Who’s Who” of Oregon cooking and farming. The book includes sections on vegetables, fruit, cheeses, meat, desserts and even a chapter that includes Oregon’s fantastic wines and beers in its recipes. Dishing Up Oregon is sprinkled with colorful, tantalizing photos of food and locales including several businesses that contributed recipes. The index is comprehensive and this reviewer appreciated the listing of recipe contributors and suppliers. All the ingredients are readily available and, except for one bread recipe listed in grams, no conversions are needed for the measurements. This book would be a great gift for the food lover in your life or for someone who loves the Oregon food movement. Seniye Groff Breakfast in Bridgetown: Second Serving By Paul Gerald Bacon and Eggs Press, $16.95 294 pages Those whose favorite words are “breakfast is served” are in for a treat — literally — with Paul Gerald’s guide to the best morning meals in Portland, Breakfast in Bridgetown. Gerald claims breakfast is the Rose City’s favorite meal, and while food cart aficionados may argue otherwise, there is no doubt that bacon and eggs have
a special niche in the hearts of Portlanders. Fortunately, this thoroughly researched guidebook (tough job you’ve got there, Paul) delves in beyond the basics. It’s broken down not only by type of breakfast joint (classy, old school, hip, kiddie, even veggie), but discusses where to go for late night breakfasts, options for dining outdoors, and — naturally — breakfast carts. The alphabetical listing contains a wide variety of local breakfast spots, each one including hours of operation, price range, and a website link where applicable. A nice touch for java-loving Portlanders is a mention of the brand of coffee served, as well. Anybody seeking the perfect Breakfast in Bridgetown need look no further than Gerald’s perfectly sized compendium! Mark Petruska The Country Cooking of Italy By Colman Andrews Chronicle Books, $50.00 392 pages The Country Cooking of Italy is a delight. Filled with beautiful pictures, this hefty volume contains a wealth of authentic Italian recipes as well as amusing anecdotes, Italian history and a list of sources for finding unusual ingredients. However, the layout of this cookbook is somewhat chaotic, and cooks who are just beginning their culinary adventures may find it a bit overwhelming. Instructions are mixed in with stories and suggestions, prep/cooking time must be estimated by the reader, and the pictures, while exquisite, are not always relevant to the recipe at hand. In addition, many of the recipes require a fair amount of planning, as some of the more unusual ingredients will need to be ordered at the local butcher or purchased at a specialty grocery store. That being said, the stories are charming, the suggestions are useful, and the recipes themselves are excellent. From basic and beautiful pesto to mouthwatering crostata di marmellata, these recipes exemplify the simplicity that makes traditional Italian cooking so wonderful. Colman Andrews
has once again created an accessible, authentic and thoroughly satisfying cookbook. Elizabeth Goss Ritz Paris: Haute Cuisine By Michel Roth Flammarion, $60.00 255 pages For foodies, food history buffs, or Francophiles, Ritz Paris: Haute Cuisine takes the cake. This oversized padded-cover book is a celebration of the grand culinary tradition of the Ritz Paris. It recounts in great detail the fascinating histories of Cesar Ritz, Auguste Escoffier and Michel Roth. Ritz was one of history’s greatest hoteliers and created the world-renowned restaurant L’Espadon with the help of famed chef Escoffier. Roth is now at the helm of this Michelin twostar restaurant. Sixty of Roth’s recipes are included under the chapter headings of Appetizers, Shellfish, Meat and Poultry, Game, Desserts and Classics. For adventurist sorts who are fearless when faced with making mousseline, nettle coulis, or lemon-thyme foam, and have access to ingredients such as tetragonia (New Zealand spinach) and cazette flowers, then this is also a cookbook. Its beautifully photographed food presentations are aweinspiring and at times beguiling: Is that really macaroni stuffed with black truffles, sliced into disks, molded inside of an egg, steamed, then gently prodded out to sit upright like some polka-dotted sea creature? This is not a cookbook for your average home cook, but it is a feast for the eyes and fodder for dreams. Diane Prokop French Bistro: Seasonal Recipes By Bertrand Auboyneau & Francois Simon Flammarion, $34.95 215 pages Should you be looking for a new cookbook, French Bistro is only mediocre at
From loca l to inter nationa l eats.
VOLUME 2, ISSUE 1 March - April 2012 best. But as an outstanding coffee table and reading book, this certainly excels. The full-page photo illustrations are magnificent, and chances are your eyes are going to linger over each. The writing is equally superb; in fact, I suggest prolonging the pleasure of reading over days and weeks, taking small nibbles at a time. The recipes are good, mostly for accomplished cooks. For many, you will be shopping around for some time to find ingredients (e.g. piquillo peppers, Ukrainian heirloom tomatoes or gelatin sheets). In many recipes the authors insist on weighing the ingredients, but the average home cook will have difficulty with 7 oz egg yolks or 4½ oz egg whites. If you think this recipe is too time consuming, simply come and enjoy it at the Paul Bert. Yet this book is so intriguing that some of you may consider a reservation to Paris to visit the elegant, upscale bistro Paul Bert (take a stack of Euros). Suggested wine pairing will also be a problem unless you live in Paris. Little tidbits under “Dash of Advice” are great. Inconveniently for the reader, many page numbers are missing (aesthetic reasons?). Yet by reading this book, you'll feel your presence in a Paris bistro. George Erdosh The Great Family Wine Estates of France By Solvi Dos Santos Thames & Hudson, $50.00 256 pages You may have tasted many wines and have considered yourself an expert. But few have seen the insides of the generations-old wine estates of the French countryside. Now Solvi Dos Santos, one of the world’s foremost design photographers, takes you to the heart of the wine business in The Great Family Wine Estates of France. Dos Santos explores the wine estates of France that have, until now, remained unknown to the public. You may recognize the labels but do you know about the families behind them? Do you
Cooking, Food & Wine wonder what other treasures these “vineyards” hold? The almost 300 color illustrations make this a book you will want to read and display for others to enjoy. Browse through the pages at your own pace or start your journey at Chateau de Tracy, an estate in the Loire Valley, and jump to Domaine de l’Oratoire Saint Martin of the Rhone Valley. Your course is up to you. Explore these beautiful houses and experience French culture at its finest. Consult the directory for contact information for the chateaus and estates mentioned. The next time you sip your favorite vintage, think of the estates from which they came. Cheers! Elizabeth Franklin Girl in the Kitchen: How a Top Chef Cooks, Thinks, Shops, Eats, and Drinks By Stephanie Izard Chronicle Books, $29.95 256 pages Having lived in Chicago for the past five years, it’s impossible not to have heard of Stephanie Izard’s success, even if you didn’t watch her crowned Top Chef (the only woman in eight seasons to have won the title) in 2008. Her highly successful restaurant Girl & the Goat, located in the West Loop, is worth the long wait it takes to get in. Izard serves delicious tapas-style dishes such as goat chorizo flatbread, with peppers and ricotta, and sweet n’ sour cod cheeks with bacon and broccoli tempura. Her new cookbook, Girl in the Kitchen, is also a worthy venture into the oversaturated cookbook market. In Izard’s introduction, she encourages experimentation and suggests her book be used as a source of inspiration — as a starting point to mastering the art of cooking. I intend for this book to be a guide rather than a rule book. Mix and match sauces and sides, putting together flavors that you enjoy . . . as your confidence grows, you’ll depend on the recipes less and less, using them as quick references while cooking more by feel. Izard also encourages readers to season their food, taste everything before serving and cook with seasonal produce. Each recipe puts a welcome twist on familiar dishes, such as chilled yellow tomato and vanilla bean soup with lump crab and basil; seared tuna with blueberries and snap peas; panroasted New York steaks with sautéed cucumbers and salted goat milk caramel; and roasted radishes with blue cheese, peanuts and cilantro. Izard peppers her book with techniques, ingredient and equipment spotlights, and quick tips. Laura Di Giovine
March - April 2012
Kitchen on Fire! Mastering the Art of Cooking in 12 Weeks (Or Less) By Olivier Said & Chef MikeC. Lifelong Books, $35.00 460 pages Chefs Olivier Said and MikeC., founders and instructors of the Berkeley cooking school Kitchen on Fire give home cooks a “boot camp” version of professional cooking classes in their new cookbook Kitchen on Fire! Mastering the Art of Cooking in 12 Weeks (or Less). The difference between a home cook and a home chef, according to the authors, lies in one’s knowledge of the science that governs the foods at hand: “A cook is someone who can read a recipe, follow the directions and hopefully turn out a good dish. A chef knows how to manipulate food using the right cooking methods to achieve the desired results every time.” More an instruction guide than a cookbook, Kitchen on Fire! is a wonderful, comprehensive resource for the at-home chef who wants to learn not only the details of such knife skills as “swooping” and “roulade,” but also the details of food density, osmosis and diffusion. From 14 pages — color photos included — detailing how to scramble eggs, fry them sunny-side up, and bake eggs in individual ramekins, and including enticing recipes for “Roasted Butternut Squash and Sage Brown Butter Soup” and “Balsamic Pickled Shallots,” Kitchen on Fire! is a must-have for any kitchen. Jennie A. Harrop Ruhlman’s Twenty By Michael Ruhlman Chronicle Books, $40.00 367 pages As a cookbook reviewer, I occasionally come across exceptional cookbooks. Ruhlman’s Twenty is a truly exceptional one. Whether you are a total novice or an advanced home cook with an extensive library, this book is a superb addition to your kitchen shelf. This is not really a cookbook, but rather a cooking instructional text with great supporting photo illustrations. If you learn all about the 20 techniques Michael Ruhlman carefully describes and D. T. Ruhlman illustrates, your cooking is likely to improve by several levels. If you are a beginner, you are on your way to becoming a very good home cook. The author uses easy, clear language in explanation; the photographer illustrates techniques generally in four to six photos per page. Many very good sidebars further your kitchen knowledge. Each of the 20 sections is preceded by a list of recipes of that chap-
ter; they are very good, mostly reasonably simple recipes with nice head notes, using available ingredients and easy instructions. They are well laid out to avoid flipping pages while working on a recipe. Both metric and American units are given in the recipes. The index is also excellent and well cross-referenced. I highly recommend this book to anyone. George Erdosh Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts: Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker By Mark & Michael Klebeck with Jess Thomson Chronicle Books, $16.95 144 pages Few home bakers undertake doughnuts — they are messy, time consuming and rarely can match a good doughnut shop’s products. Yet, if you are into home-fried doughnuts, Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts is perfect for you. The book provides recipes and techniques from the authors’ doughnut shop — a big-business shop — at 1.3 million doughnuts a week!. This small-format, hard-cover, beautifully produced doughnut book gives you everything you need to know in the introduction. The authors divide the recipes into three sections: cake doughnuts, raised doughnuts and old-fashioned doughnuts. The last group is like cake doughnuts with extra leavening and sour cream, fried at lower temperatures and flipped twice in the oil. In this book, we’ve collected all the knowledge we’ve amassed—doughnutmaking tips and tricks… The recipes are very good, giving you quite a variety in all categories. They are well written and easy to follow, stating that you'll still need a good deep fryer or deep frying pan and an accurate thermometer. Giving both metric and American measurements in the text is distracting. Recipe layout is not very good — many require that you flip pages back and forth. Head notes give tidbits of information (many refer to the doughnut shop’s techniques). The book ends with 14 icings and glazes and 22 topping suggestions. Index is good and well cross-referenced. George Erdosh Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story By Kimberly “Momma” Reiner & Jenna SanzAgero Andrews McMeel Publishing, $29.99 292 pages
Books for cooks!
Are you on a sugar high after the holidays? Or are you craving sugar now that the days of cookies and pies have passed us? Fear not, sugar lovers! The “Sugar Mommas” are on a mission to make sure sugar recipes stay available to everyone, all the time, in their new cookbook, Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story. Kimberly Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero (the Sugar Mommas) have added an interesting twist to their cookbook which makes it unique. As the title mentions, every recipe has a story and these stories breathe life into each instruction. Many stories tell of past generations making the same sugary creations that cooks make today. The Sugar Mommas have captured the magic behind the recipes included in the cookbook. Begin by reading a section on equipment and techniques. Then comes the good stuff; the rest of the book is filled with recipes for cakes, pies, cookies, bars, truffles, cobblers, brittle and other mouthwatering sugary confections. The photographs are guaranteed to get you salivating. On top of all this deliciousness are the nostalgic stories collected by the Sugar Mommas. The heartwarming words encourage reminiscing and, of course, cooking with sugar! Elizabeth Franklin So Sweet! Cookies, Cupcakes, Whoopie Pies, and More By Sur la Table Sur la table, $15.00 135 pages The So Sweet! cookbook from Sur La Table is a cute, compact take on some of the recent trends in desserts. It features recipes for cookies, cupcakes, whoopie pies and doughnuts. The recipes, given several taste tests, came out well and were true scratch recipes, with little to no “buy this premade ingredient and incorporate.” The physical size of the book is small, both in length, with 50 recipes spread over four categories, and in dimension, being only about 8 inches square. The size was one of the biggest drawbacks of the book, as recipes are often spread over two to three pages, which can necessitate some page flipping. Instructions also tended to be a little on the wordy side, as the book tried to bridge the gap between more and less experienced bakers. The book also requests some specialized equipment, Some of these things are items that experienced bakers would own (piping bags), and some are one-use items that very few people would own (a doughnut pan, whoopie pie pan). There seemed to be no problem finding workarounds for any missing equipment however (doughnuts made in a mini-muffin tin are not doughnut shaped, but it didn’t seem to particularly impact flavor). Katie Richards
Cooking, Food & Wine The Tipsy Vegan By John Schlimm Lifelong Books, $17.00 164 pages For a growing number of vegans, eating an entirely plantbased diet does not mean a lifetime of tasteless tofu, uninspired legumes and endless salads. Whether choosing to avoid animal products for reasons of health, animal welfare or planet sustainability, for dietary vegans there are numerous menu options that are both delicious, satisfying, and even, as is aptly illustrated in this enjoyable little cookbook, fun! Using ingredients found in most American kitchens and liquor cabinets, Schlimm — an author of several cookbooks and descendent of Peter Straub, founder of Pennsylvania’s Straub Brewery — has put together a winning collection of 75 recipes that feature beer or alcohol in the ingredient list. Each of the eight cleverly titled chapters — including Plastered Party Starters, Boozy Soups, Sloshed Suppers and Drunken Desserts — includes a starter cocktail and several appetizing dishes that will please vegans and non-vegans alike. The accompanying photography and breezy writing style are also appealing. Cheers to a cookbook that brings a collection of vegan dishes from the marginal to the mainstream! Linda Frederiksen Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet By Jack Norris & Virginia Messina Da Capo Lifelong Books, $17.00 284 pages Registered dieticians Jack Norris and Virginia Messina teamed up to create Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet. Their book is aimed at helping people to make “more compassionate food choices” and making veganism easier for the modern diet. Vegan for Life doesn’t just cover the basics of a plant-based diet and reasonable plans for the health of the entire family; it spends a lot of time debunking myths related to veganism. In addition, it also guides the new or experienced vegan through understanding nutrient and supplement needs, making the transition to veganism, veganism during pregnancy, for children and teens, and for aging adults. It also covers the advantages of a vegan diet and how to manage health problems, such as weight management and diabetes, us-
ing soy in a vegan diet and sports nutrition while eating a vegetable-based diet. One of the glaring downsides of the book was its slant toward the negatives of the industrial farming model while blatantly ignoring the existence of organics, pasture-based systems, free-range and sustainable agriculture. Aside from that, if you’re an animal lover, this book may be helpful in helping you find a more compassionate way to eat. Axie Barclay Thrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health By Brendan Brazier Da Capo Lifelong Books, $20.00 352 pages Brendan Brazier is a former Ironman triathlete and this is the third book in his Thrive series. In this book, Brazier introduces his nutritional philosophy and presents an onslaught of mind-blowing ratios and statistics that are designed to serve as powerful motivators in improving not only our personal health, but limiting the strain our choices have on the environment. We’ve all heard that we need to eat our leafy greens, but we’re much more likely to do it when we understand why. Chapters four and five break down the components of good nutrition and list the nutrientdense whole foods our bodies need to thrive. The range of recipes in the book is wide enough to suit anyone wanting to incorporate more whole foods into their diet. Athletic readers will appreciate the inclusion of many nutritional drinks, bars and energy gels. Many of the recipes are raw, but include instructions for a cooked version. At the end of the book, you will find a helpful glossary and a list of the author’s favorite restaurants throughout the U.S. and Canada that offer dishes within the parameters of his standpoint. Portland’s own Blossoming Lotus boasts a spot on the list, and several of their recipes are featured as well. So much more than a cookbook, Thrive Foods will stay on your kitchen shelf as a handy nutritional reference. Alicea Swett My Family Table By John Besh Andrews McMeel Publishing, $35.00 264 pages It’s so heartwarming to see books, particularly cookbooks, designed to bring families together. All too often, when families are discussed, it is in a way of dysfunc-
tion, pain, suffering, bitterness and deep wounds, but there is also great joy, healing, security, love and purpose in families. In My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking, the chapters are designed not by the meal as much as by the gathering. For example, the Sunday Supper or School Nights chapters give mouthwatering recipes for such occasions that are simple and comforting. For the preparer(s), this large cookbook displays several recipes per page, offering not only pictures of the meal being directed, but also how the event might look with families enjoying the specific event; not in a fake food-commercial kind of way, but like an authentic family photo album. The pictures add their own flavor to this well-rounded cookbook. It would work great as a coffee table book, especially as a conversation starter, but would also display nicely on your kitchen countertop or in your library. More importantly though, it would work best being used to start those family gatherings and create those moments of joy with your own family. M. Chris Johnson The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Weekends By Lynne Rossetto Kasper & Sally Swift Clarkson Potter, $35.00 338 pages The only thing missing from How to Eat Weekends is a round of Stump the Cook. Because the theme is weekends “when the pressure is off and … you get to slow down and dig into cooking in a different way,” there are sumptuous menus from around the world and for special celebrations. There are tips that you would expect from the host and producer of the Splendid Table: wine pairings, culinary tools and techniques, shopping and preparation game plans, choosing and setting the table, and how to be a perfect host. But the key ingredients in this book are the recipes from soups to sweets, with meat and vegetarian dishes tucked in the middle. Kasper and Swift season generously with “Cook to Cook” side notes, as well as quotes from Voltaire to Amy Sedaris about food and accompaniments. Oh, and if you want to know how to put together a meal from five random ingredients from your fridge, you are going to have to call into the Splendid Table or email Lynne Rossetto Kasper, because you are not going to get that here. Sue Phelps Simply Fresh: Casual Dining at Home By Jeff Morgan Andrews McMeel Publishing, $25.00 204 pages
Simply Fresh: Casual Dining at Home is a cookbook that offers meals that are simple and fresh. The book is organized like a meal, starting with fresh alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for summer fun, then moving through appetizers, brunch, salads and soups and on through to desserts. On almost every page, a handy tip on preparing that recipe or event is presented for added success. California Club Quesadilla, Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon or maybe an Avocado Turkey Burger — options abound with most ingredients right in your kitchen or at your local grocery store. There’s no need to hunt down unique items at specialty stores. The French Toast with Oats and Coriander is a personal and surprising new favorite! The recipes are mouthwatering in and of themselves. But the pictures accompanying the recipes add such a zest and flavor to the whole book, it would make a wonderful coffee table book or could be left out on the kitchen counter to peruse when you’re not sure what to make for dinner. Thanks to author Jeff Morgan, I have a new favorite cookbook and a whole new world of flavorbursting meals to prepare! M. Chris Johnson Made in America: Our Best Chefs Reinvent Comfort Food By Lucy Lean Welcome Books, $45.00 320 pages I am always a bit averse to reviewing cookbooks written by restaurant chefs/ owners. They seem to forget they are writing to home cooks. Mercifully, author Lucy Lean took care not to fall into this category. In fact, this book is excellent — similar to watching Food Network, as millions do — with no interest in getting into their kitchens. This is a serious book for foodies and average home cooks alike. Even if you don’t intend to test any of the recipes, this book reads like watching “Iron Chef” – very entertaining. The author interviewed chefs and asked them for their comfort food recipes. She introduces each recipe with a page about the chef and the recipe, and her excellent writing is a pleasure to read, not just scan. Quarter- to full-page gorgeous photos of the chef, the dish and a shot or two in the kitchen fill the space between the texts. Many recipes are for dedicated cooks; however, many others any home cook can reproduce. Very few recipes will make you hunt for special ingredients, but some will keep you in the kitchen for hours working on three separate preparations before assembling. Although received from many chefs, all recipes are uniform, re-written by the author and easy to follow with step-
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Cooking, Food & Wine by-step instructions. A useful “Chef’s Tips” follows many recipes, along with sidebars giving historic recipes, mostly from the 19th century. Many chefs based their comfort foods on these, updating, testing and retesting them to make them easy to use for today’s home cooks. Even though this is a coffee table and anytime-reading book, many home cooks can attempt the easier, simpler recipes. But you better leave some for the truly serious cooks, like the “Spiced Corn Broth with Scallops, Noodles and Herbs,” having 20 ingredients. Many of the illustrations show dishes that are attainable by a home cook, but having professional training helps to reproduce others. The nine chapters include everything from breakfast/brunch recipes through desserts. Chances are you will find an updated version of your own comfort food somewhere in there. The index is also very good, cross-referenced and lists all the chefs’ establishments. This serious cookbook benefits any cook or foodie. George Erdosh Bobby Flay’s Bar American Cookbook By Bobby Flay, Stephanie Banyas & Sally Jackson Clarkson Potter, $35.00 262 pages Bobby Flay, Food Network star and owner of several restaurants, has taken recipes directly from his restaurant, Bar American, and produced a cookbook paying homage to our national favorites. Classic regional dishes are featured in sections: Cocktails, Soups and Salads, Sandwiches, Appetizers, Fish and Shellfish, Poultry and Meat, Sides, Breads and Desserts, Brunch and Sauces and Stocks. Some ingredients are regional and/or seasonal and may be hard to find in the off-season. Recipe instructions though, are clear, concise and easy to follow. Throughout the book are mouthwatering and enticing color photographs. Cooks can use this book to plan a full menu from cocktails to dessert. For a down home barbeque, begin with a spicy, smoky Barbecue Cocktail, followed by juicy Country-Style Ribs, creamy Lobster Potato Salad, and finish with slices of warm Thin Apple Tart. Need to impress a mother-in-law for Sunday brunch? Include decadent Bananas Foster Crepes and an icy cold Blackberry-Bourbon Julep to win her over. Holiday favorites will be Pumpkin Soup with Cranberry-Maple Creme Fraiche, Herb-Roasted Turkey, Sourdough, Wild Mushroom and Bacon Dressing and Sweet Potato Pie. Planning your next celebration with family and friends has never been easier. Natalie Hatfield
March - April 2012
The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food By Adam Gopnik Knopf, $25.95 303 pages Restaurants as we know them, complete with menus, waiters and tables dedicated to a single party, are new on the scene, historically speaking. In The Table Comes First, Gopnik shares his admiration for the evolution and proliferation in Paris that followed their late 18th century origins. He rhapsodizes about food and France, still his magical duo, and writes fulsomely about his interest in cookbooks, a favored bedside reading. Gopnik always has surprises with his enthusiasms: here, a muse, the British Elizabeth Pennell, who was an early foodie. Her 1896 cookbook became the seminal transformation from instructional manual to a literary art form, in part because her robust appetite, accompanied by liquor, was an unladylike first. He emails her in each chapter in an amiable, albeit one-sided correspondence. The pages travel far, meeting chefs and restaurateurs with trendy and traditional ideas, discussing the pros and cons of a healthy diet with ‘green’ ingredients, and satisfying the soul as well as stomach. Despite claims that this is not a scholarly book, it comes pretty close, and an index would have saved underlining or searching over and again for the tastiest morsels. Jane Manaster Good Eats 2: The Middle Years By Alton Brown Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $37.50 431 pages Any self-respecting foodie worth his or her weight in foie gras is familiar with Alton Brown. The bespectacled, spiky-haired chef is a mainstay of Food Network, hosting the wildly popular science-meets-food program “Good Eats,” and the Japanese import “Iron Chef America,” among others. His humorous style and skillfully detailed food preparation instructions, liberally accompanied by a heaping serving of never-boring nutritional science, have made him one of the most likable celebrity chefs in the country. Brown has parlayed that success into a series of cookbooks spun off from his show; Good Eats 2: The Middle Years is, of course, the second in the trilogy. Good Eats 2 is one of the most entertaining cookbooks out there. Written like
a faux technical manual, each recipe is an “application,” the ingredients the “software,” and the cooking directions the “procedure.” This whimsical approach is never dull; each recipe includes photos, illustrations and tips or tidbits that may center around the history of the dish, proper knife technique, or a mini food-related essay. Coming in at a hearty 431 pages, plus an accompanying DVD, this cookbook has something for everybody, from the novice chef to the budding gourmet. If you can’t find a delicious meal to cook here, you just aren’t looking very hard! Mark Petruska Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day By Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois Thomas Dunne Books, $27.99 278 pages Hertzberg and Francois, authors of the best-selling Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, return with a new cookbook that features 100 recipes for artisan pizza and flatbread. The main theme is to make professional quality pizza and flatbread in just five minutes a day. It is simple in that you prepare any of the dough recipes ahead of time and store the dough in the refrigerator or freezer for instant access when you are ready to make dinner. Some of the featured recipes include a Chicagostyle deep-dish pizza, Mexican corn flatbread with tomatillo and chilies, and Pizza Spirals on a Stick. The book includes both gluten-free and whole grain recipes. There is even a section on dessert pizzas and tarts that includes the Skillet Apple Pie and a Gorgonzola and fresh fig tart. The best part about the recipes is that once the dough is made, the rest is fast and can be pulled together easily for a delicious family meal. The cookbook is illustrated with 100 black and white photos throughout and 2 inserts with pages of color photos. Hertzberg and Francois are tried and tested authors and bakers. Their newest title will not disappoint. Catherine McMullen Just Tacos: 100 Delicious Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner By Shelley Wiseman The Taunton Press, $19.95 172 pages What makes a taco so fun to eat? Is it all those delicious toppings to choose from, or is it how easy it is to make up a batch? No matter the reason, it’s hard to
find someone who doesn’t love a taco. Shelley Wiseman presents readers with 100 unique recipes in her cookbook Just Tacos. As a master of Mexican cuisine, Wiseman includes recipes for every meal, food group and palate. Start the day with Fried Eggs Ranchero Style Tacos or Mexican Scrambled Eggs Tacos. For lunch try Fried Avocado Tacos or Asian Tuna Tacos. Enjoy Chile-Marinated Pork Tacos with Roasted Pineapple for dinner. Vegetarians will be pleased with a chapter of their own. There are also recipes for salsas and sauces to accompany the meals. The recipes are enhanced by the color photographs of food stylist Paul Grimes. The images are mouth-watering. Wiseman’s passion for cooking shines through. To expand readers’ knowledge about Mexican cooking, Wiseman provides details about the flavors of various spices. Wiseman also reviews recipe basics so readers can master cooking techniques. Find inspiration to begin planning a taco party! The sky is the limit when it comes to tacos. Elizabeth Franklin The Kosher Carnivore: The Ultimate Meat and Poultry Cookbook By June Hersh St. Martin’s Press, $29.99 240 pages Kosher meat is known for its high quality, flavor and the humane conditions in which it is raised and butchered. June Hersh’s The Kosher Carnivore features 120 all new meat and poultry recipes that meet the needs of those who keep kosher and will also delight all cooks looking for innovative dishes and who are interested in mindful eating. Hersh presents a fascinating guide to kosher eating. Did you know that a kosher inspection trumps even USDA standards? In addition to the recipes, Hersh fills the book’s margins with historic tidbits and trivia. To accompany the meat and poultry dishes, readers will find recipes for veggies, carbs, soups, dressings, relishes, salsas and chutney. One drawback is the lack of photographs; there are only eight in total. With so many cookbooks on the market, more photos would be a nice way to stand out from the crowd. If you are looking for a coffee table cookbook, choose something else. This is a book made to be used, written in and enjoyed while creating kosher masterpieces. A portion of the book’s proceeds go to support MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, a nonprofit that works to alleviate hunger among people of all faiths. Kathryn Franklin
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Mystery, Crime & Thriller The Wayward Spy By Roger Croft CreateSpace, $14.95 394 pages The Wayward Spy is not your James Bond type of spy thriller. Croft is more the John le Carré kind of writer with a heavy mix of Graham Greene. International intrigue, twisted plots and spy craft all make for an interesting read. The British Secret Service wants to block an international arms deal being brokered by Ahmed Abdul Kadri. Our hero, Michael Vaux, returns to England from a long stint in the U.S. and Canada with the hopes of buying a home and settling in for a well deserved retirement. Michael offers a bid on a house and no matter how much he offers, someone always offers a higher price. The need for additional money is what leads him into the waiting arms of the British Secret Service. Eventually the price of the home more than doubles (this reviewer wonders why he didn’t just go look for another home). In part two, Michael agrees to help the SIS, and he soon finds out that the mission is deadly serious. His former college acquaintance, Kadri, poses as a high level emissary in the world of Middle East politics but is, in fact, an arms dealer. The game changes when Kadri tells Michael that “only when the Arab side is strong enough to pose a real military threat to their existence will the Israelis come to the table and negotiate seriously.” Here is where the story really takes off, with the plot moving from Geneva to Morocco and eventually to Egypt. The last two-thirds of the book make for a very good read. Michael Vaux is a likeable character that readers are pulling for from the start, and there is just enough humor to keep this book a fun read. sponsored review Box of Rocks: A Maggie Gorski Mystery By Karla Telega Adoro Books, $9.95 288 pages It is not often that a book can be described as fun. This book is the story of two charming Southern ladies who are trying out different hobbies. They try chasing ghosts, but can’t stop giggling, so they decide to look for gold in an area of old mines. When that idea doesn't “pan out,” they head back to their car, and on the way stumble upon a body. Soon they are both embroiled in a murder investigation, with Cher as a suspect, and Maggie trying to clear her by finding the real killer. The story is filled
March - April 2012
with humor as the reader is led through the twists and turns of the plot. Several suspects are introduced and one of the ladies is placed in danger, which builds the suspense. The cast of characters consist of interesting and believable people. Even the dogs are well-described and entertaining. This book is the first for Karla Telega, who lives in South Carolina with her husband and dog. One can only hope this is not her last, as the tale is simply delightful. One of the best things about this book is that it proves there is nothing boring about turning 55. It is a story about middle-aged women, which is unusual in itself. When the ladies seek a way to live more fully instead of fading into the background, the fun begins. Also rare is a mystery told with such a wonderfully humorous slant. Fran Byram A Spark of Death: A Professor Bradshaw Mystery By Bernadette Pajer Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95 222 pages In A Spark of Death, Northwest author Bernadette Pajer has created a new crime-solving character; — Professor Bradshaw of the University of Washington. He is a professor of electrical engineering at the turn of the 20th century, when uses for electricity are first being developed. This story is a real page-turner, with strong character development and historical detail in time, place, social-political circumstances and scientific understanding. The story never lags. A widely unpopular professor is found electrocuted in the electrical engineering lab of the school. The police, with no understanding whatsoever of electronics, turn to their most likely murder suspect, our protagonist, the unfortunate Professor Bradshaw. The story of how he clears himself of the murder charge takes us on a tour of early Seattle and into the surrounding area, while introducing us to what was state of the art electrical engineering at that time. Pajer intends this book to be the first in a new historical mystery series, and this reviewer will look forward to subsequent books. A Spark of Death is highly recommended! Rosalie West
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Point Deception By Jim Gilliam Booklocker, $16.95 314 pages Point Deception opens to undercover cop Tim Kelly’s adventure as his life hangs on the line in the secluded hacienda of a Mexican cartel drug lord. As the story unfolds, the reader follows Kelly’s life back to where it began, on the streets of 1956 New Orleans. It moves to Kelly's time with the Coast Guard, which he joined after lying about his age at 14. Combat and deep personal losses in Vietnam leave Kelly scarred, causing him to make a career move into the hardcore world of undercover narcotics. It’s here that his life comes full circle when he’s charged with the mission of bringing down the drug kingpin, who largely sponsored his early, very hungry days in New Orleans, supported him through everything and helped him become the man he has become. When Kelly fails to check in with his handler, a team of Texas lawmen embark on a daring rescue mission to save Kelly, or recover his body, whichever occurs first, through any means necessary. This novel has a strict, no-frills and no-nonsense approach to storytelling. Obviously the author draws from a deep reservoir of experience, and the book is all the richer for it. The creator’s comfort with military and law enforcement jargon gives the book a raw feel and sense of immediacy. If the book lacks anything in style, it’s made up for in the reality of the information presented. Overall, Point Deception is an interesting novel that draws its rapidfire pace from real life scenarios that are complex, disturbing and touching, making this thriller an engaging production. Sponsored Review Mia By Bernard Leo Remakus Wasteland Press, $13.95 144 pages If Lifetime produced this as a movie, I’d watch. Mia is the story of a soldier who, due to a horrible accident, can only be saved through a gender-changing operation. The CIA then hires her to take down the terrorist responsible for the accident. She then heads back home, where she becomes a teacher and moves in with her widow, and is there to help her widow and son get over their loss. Yes, the plot seems silly on the onset, but it somehow works, and works really, really well. There are a number of twists and turns, yet always seems to straighten out. The biggest problem is the lack of a decent antagonist; Mia overcomes any difficulty placed before her far too easily most of the time.
Mia is such a strong protagonist that she deserves a strong antagonist, and that’s the only lacking element in this book. Otherwise, there’s nice character development, and the characters grow logically. Of special note is the son, who matures nicely and logically without the usual coincidences that seem to litter books. Once Mia shows him how to deal with his anger issues, he becomes a great kid. The romance between husband and widow is especially nice, as it grows rather than explodes. This is definitely a book that will keep you turning the pages. It’s probably one of the more interesting stories one could read this year. It definitely shows the adaptability of the human spirit and how love will always find a way. It also helps that the pun it sends you out on is one that actually makes you smile a little bit. If you think that you have every permutation of the veteran-returns-home story, this one will definitely take you by surprise. Sponsored Review Northern Deception: A Century Series Novel By Joseph S. Nicholas PublishAmerica, $29.95 392 pages Northern Deception is a modern mystery novel set in the fictionalized town of Century, Montana. Century finds itself the center of attention during the state governor’s race, with one of its local (and ethically lacking) native sons running for office. With the help of a former spy, Jamison Handley has the new electronic voting machines hacked to guarantee his election and put him in the state capitol. During the same election, the local sheriff’s race is also an upset, with Century citizens electing young patrol officer John Bingham over the incumbent toady to Century's mayor, Stan Workman. This election was also a personal victory for John, as Stan Workman had beaten John’s father previously for the position. The action starts after the election, as John finds himself in a much more complicated and dangerous position as sheriff than had ever been in Century’s previous history. A cold missing person's case becomes much more active, the fixed election starts to unravel and the players behind it are trying hard to keep it together. The local politics of the county and the nearby reservation both provide an extra layer of stress and complexity to the situation. Nicholas does an excellent job creating the sense of community and personalities and the depth of conflicting agendas between them all. And while the city of Century might be fictional, the Blue Hills of Montana, where it was set, are real enough and provide some colorful background to the setting. Sponsored Review
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How to Feel Good: 20 Things Teens Can Do By Tricia Mangan Magination Press, $12.95 125 pages
Being a teenager is hard during this fast-paced time of life. It is hard for teens to slow down and listen to their insecurities. In her book How to Feel Good, Tricia Mangan presents teens (ages 13-18) with 20 simple, mind-healthy skills to guide them toward self-awareness and to teach self-confidence and calmness. With ten-plus years of clinical, research and teaching experience, Mangan knows
New Kid, New Scene: A Guide to Moving and Switching Schools By Debbie Glasser, PhD & Emily Schenck Magination Press, $9.95 112 pages Being the new kid in school can be one of the toughest things about moving to a new place. Children can feel alone, unsure of where they might fit in, and worried about the unknown. Doctor Debbie Glasser and her daughter Emily Schenck have written New Kid, New Scene to help children get adjusted and ease into their new school and surroundings. Learn how to meet new friends and keep old ones, how to survive the first day at a new school, what to do while you are waiting to make friends, and how to put your best foot forward. The book is filled with real-life stories from kids who have all been the “new kid.” They range in age from 8-14 and give real-world tips and advice. In each chapter, readers will find “Casting Calls” filled with charts and quizzes to help them discover character traits that will help them thrive. “What’s My Next Line?” boxes suggest things to do when kids are having a tough time or things aren’t going as planned. The authors briefly cover bullying and directly address pre-teen and teen readers. Sometimes starting over can be a good thing. Kathryn Franklin Mega Mash-Up: Robots vs. Gorillas in the Desert By Nikalas Catlow & Tim Wesson Nosy Crow, $6.99 94 pages
how to help teens feel less overwhelmed with daily challenges and changes. Each tip has self-reflection questions, activities and easy-to-use strategies to put into action when problems arise. Tip #2: “Shine a Spotlight on Good Things” – when things are going wrong, it seems like nothing will ever again be good. Mangan suggests making a list of events that make you feel good and happy. Then imagine experiencing each situation. Do this every day for five minutes. Tip #3: “Compare Yourself to No One” – you are an original. Think about someone you admire and a time when they didn’t succeed. Did it make you admire them any less? This book can help you learn about forgiveness, patience and an overall holistic approach to feeling good and accepting whatever life you lead. Elizabeth Franklin
In Mega Mash-Up Robots vs. Gorillas in the Desert, gorillas and robots co-exist peacefully trading bananas and oil until there’s an argument. While settling their differences with a desert race, they run into unexpected obstacles. Judging by word count, this quirky story is brief. But the Mega Mash-Up series isn’t just reading. This book was created graphic novel-style with black, white and yellow illustrations splashed across each page. Or are they “almost illustrations”? Each page includes empty spots or half-finished illustrations waiting for the reader’s creative touches. Draw a giant pile of bananas, a mad face, or dials on a loony laser. These 10 to 20-page chapters are the perfect length for young readers but they will probably linger much longer, adding their imagination to the book. Robots vs. Gorillas seems targeted to young boys but who knows? It’s perfect for comic book lovers, crazy/quirky lovers and kids who love to draw. The authors don’t just let young illustrators flounder but include four pages of tips ranging from types of pens to use to suggestions for gorilla expressions to ideas for unusual textures. If you need to convince a young person that reading is FUN, this is the book! Jodi M. Webb Pop-Out & Paint Horse Breeds By Cindy A. Littlefield Storey Publishing, $12.95 88 pages Did you enjoy making paper dolls and designing their clothes? Do you think your daughter would, too? And why stick to paper dolls? Think outside the box. That is what author and artist Cindy A. Littlefield did. She took the idea of paper dolls and ran with it….right to the most beautiful horse stable in town. Now fans
Saving June By Hannah Harrington Harlequin, $9.99 322 pages Saving June by 22-year-old Hannah Harrington is the best young-adult novel I read in 2011. Though Harrington is a young writer, her characterization is both vivid and believable; she does not use teenage drama as a crutch to propel her plot, but patiently allows her characters to develop as a beautiful, realistic story of adventure, friendship and healing unfolds for her readers. Harper Scott, Harrington’s protagonist, is a 16-year-old girl mourning the suicide
of horses, arts and crafts, and painting can make a stable of their own filled with handmade horses. The only things needed are paint, a paint brush and Littlefield’s Pop-Out and Paint Horse Breeds book. Make any horse you’ve dreamed of owning. You will be introduced to each breed and learn about its history. You will get pointers on what paint colors best portray each specific horse. Littlefield suggests ways to add charm to your stable. Learn to make halters, lead ropes, jumps and award ribbons. Each book has basic cut-outs for ten horses. You’ll choose the breed to decorate and then paint it. A shading and highlighting guide helps, as do the tips on manes and tails. And the big project to tackle is building a table top stable. Have fun and enjoy letting your equine creativity flow. Elizabeth Franklin Zero to Hero (Ghost Buddy Series #1) By Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver Scholastic, $5.99 170 pages When 11-year-old Billy moves into a new house with his newly blended family in Ghost Buddy, he thinks the worst thing about it is a pink and purple bedroom. That was before he met Hoover Porterhouse III, the teenaged ghost who’d been living in his bedroom for 99 years. Looking for some fun, Hoover decides to help Billy settle into his new school and make friends. With a best friend for a ghost, things don’t always go as planned. The idea of having a ghost, especially a ghost from a century ago, makes this book hilarious as Billy and Hoover negotiate their obvious language and cultural differences. At least they both love baseball! But despite the ghost, this book is really just about two friends trying to negotiate
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of June, her older sister. June “was always better” in the eyes of her younger sister. Harper, the “disappointment,” wonders why June was the one to slip away. Her house, filled with June’s presence and her parents’ crumbling marriage, becomes increasingly unbearable. When her parents decide to split up June’s ashes, Harper and her best friend Laney decide to steal the urn and scatter June’s ashes in the one place she always wanted to go — California. They travel across the country in a van named Joplin, attend a wild protest, brawl at a mosh club and eventually make it to the beautiful Pacific Ocean. An adventure from front to back, Saving June is a candid, realistic novel about healing and growing up. Emily Davis
the minefields of friendship, bullies, girls and more. Hopefully, while enjoying the fun story, young readers will absorb some worthwhile lessons. Three cheers to a book that ends each brief chapter with a cliffhanger that will leave even the most reluctant young reader wanting more. The book ends, albeit a bit abruptly, with the promise of more Ghost Buddy adventures to come. Jodi M. Webb Scary School By Derek Ghost & Scott M. Fischer HarperCollins, $15.99 233 pages What is the scariest part of going to school? Eleven-year-old Derek the Ghost will tell you that every day can be terrifying! He met his untimely end when one of Mr. Acidbath’s science experiments went wrong. Now he serves as the narrator of Scary School, author Derek Taylor Kent’s story of a year at the most SUPERnatural secret school in the country. Being too scared to come to class isn’t a good excuse at Scary School – the halls are filled with werewolves, zombies, vampires and dragons, and those are just the teachers! Human and monster students mingle and practice for the Ghoul Games, an end-of-the-year competition between monster schools. If you lose your event, you’re eaten! Readers need not worry about being overly spooked. Kent’s style of scaring is more humorous than terrifying. Scott M. Fischer illustrates each chapter with key characters. See what Mrs. T actually looks like. Discover that Nurse Hairymoles really has huge hairy moles! More Scary School books are in the works. Girls and boys will find spine-tingling fun and adventure in this new young adult series. Elizabeth Franklin
March - April 2012
Science & Nature
Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine: The Portland/Vancouver Region’s Network of Parks, Trails, and Natural Areas Edited by Michael C. Houck & M. J. Cody OSU Press, $24.95 427 pages
In 2000, the Audubon Society of Portland published a new guide to the natural areas of the Portland region. Edited by Michael C. Houck and M. J. Cody, Wild in the City: A Guide to Portland’s Natural Areas provided the reader with descriptions of major natural areas in the region, along with short essays about natural history topics appropriate for the area by a variety of local naturalists. A new edition of Wild in the City, subtitled Exploring the Intertwine: The PortlandVancouver Region’s Network of Parks, Trails, and Natural Areas, adds over 12,000 acres of natural areas (such as Cooper Mountain and Graham Oaks Nature Parks) to the list since 11 years ago. At the core of Wild in the City is The In-
tertwine, “the network of parks, trails, natural areas and special places in the Portland-Vancouver region” that is “about providing people with connections to nature, to their communities, and to one another across urban and rural landscapes.” This book is for the walker and the hiker, for the paddler and the biker, for the beginning or the seasoned naturalist, and most especially, as the children and nature activist Richard Louv writes in his foreword, for families with children. Not only does Wild in the City describe with great detail the many places one could explore nature in the Portland region (over 90 locations), but it provides many short essays on far-ranging natural history topics such as salamanders, Great Blue Herons (the city bird), pygmy owls, Peregrine falcons, “urban vermin,” coyotes and salmon. There are also personal essays about particular spaces and their histories like Forest Park, Sauvie Island and the various watersheds. There are also essays from the first edition, that are not repeated in the new edition that makes both editions worth owning. A section of essays at the beginning of the book provides personal windows into
the Portland region as a “sense of place.” Naturalist Robert Michael Pyle’s essay “No Vacancy,” for example, looks further into why natural spaces, even “the little places, the corners and crannies and ravines, the urban greenspaces writ small,” must be part of our lives. Whether it’s a ditch along a trail cutting through your neighborhood or a banana slug-slimed trail at Tryon Creek State Natural Area, there are no better guides to make those natural spaces a part of your everyday life than you, your family, your friends, and a copy of Wild in the City. Michael Barton The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life By Robert Trivers Basic Books, $28.00 397 pages A professor of biology, author Robert Trivers explains not just how effectively, efficiently and effortlessly we self-deceive, but how we are evolution-
Reference Math & YOU: The Power and Use of Mathematics By Ron Larson Larson Texts, $50.95 576 pages Remember in elementary school when math “books” were colorful, relevant and (mostly) fun to work in? Professor of mathematics Ron Larson allows both young folks and grown-ups to go back a bit — before the algebra manuals and pages of figures dedicated to one trig problem — to once again explore the daily uses of basic math. The “elementary” feel of the book is not a mistake, nor apologized for. Larson designed his “textbook” well, with modern images and nods to social networking, but above all, shone his focus on real-life There is a terrible imbalance application for the exercisbetween the mathematics es, from figuring out how that is used to run our coun- much tile to order for your try’s households, business bathroom remodel, to takand governments, and the ing control of one’s grocery mathematics that we teach. spending in a DIY fashion... no fancy budget software needed. Each chapter summary has a “How Does It Apply to You” section to help one analyze his or her own taxes, understand how muscle strength is affected by exercise and even calculate the probability of your unborn child’s eyes being green. The exercises are varied and worded in an intriguing manner, clearly designed to pull the reader in so they might actually remember the examples presented. If nothing else, this book proved ideal for renewing a student’s interest (regardless of age) in exploring the many faces of applicable mathematics. Sponsored Review Find more information about the book at math.andyou.com.
WORD SAVVY: Use the Right Word Every Time, All the Time By Nancy Ragno Writer’s Digest Books, $14.00 216 pages
A Practical Wedding By Meg Keene Lifelong Books, $16.00 240 pages While planning nuptials can bring out the worst in even the most sedate among us, Meg Keene works to calm such chaos in her book A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration. Keene effectively uses both sarcasm and practical advice to cut the tension. Consider, for example, her humorous adaptation of “The Six Stages of Wedding Planning”: (1) Euphoria: “Squeee”; (2) Discovery: “Ooooh, Pretty”; (3) Panic: “How the Hell?”; (4) Outrage/Depression: “What the Eff,” “Eff Me”; (5) Rebellion: “Eff It”; and (6) Zen: “It Is What It Is.” The creator of APracticalWedding.com, an alternative wedding planning website, Keene offers couples of all faiths, ages, budgets and sexual orientation a wise and well-written hands-on guide for navigating the complexities of etiquette and cultural expectation. Again and again, Keene astutely reminds her readers that advice-givers frequently don’t know what they’re talking about. As Keene reminds us throughout her book, the engagement and vows are about joy; so if it’s not making you happy, she argues, just chuck it: “Here are the basic rules of wedding etiquette,” Keene writes: “Be kind, be thoughtful, be honest, and don’t mortgage the farm to pretend you’re someone you’re not for five hours.” Jennie A. Harrop
arily primed to do so. In his telling, success — whether financial or interpersonal — depends on one’s ability to narrate what might be called ‘reality.’ Human senses have adept skills to determine truth, but they matter less than our ability to get others to accept our self-interested versions of it. Convincing others, who are equally selfinterested in telling better stories, means deception, artifice and the motivations of reason. Thus, his thesis could be summed up as this: we must first adapt the ability to deceive ourselves to better enrapt our competitors. Trivers writes with a light tone, teaching and elucidating as he goes. Most of his points have ample support in scientific research (such as his truly novel nexus of evolutionary theory and neuroscience) and trenchant, revelatory personal anecdotes; however, the sheer weight of evidence bogs down the speed and adds a bit too much clarity. The reader cannot be faulted for wanting a bit less, if only to let more of his thoughtful and often counter-intuitions have greater resonance. Understanding too easily should make us suspicious, since we might just be telling ourselves what we already know. Neil Liss
No longer is the simple misspelled word the monarch of errors in writing. After a couple of decades of being spell check-oholics, people have made the misused word the new champion of writing mistakes. Have you ever stared at a screen, wondering if you meant weather or whether, accept or except, every one or everyone? Not only does the book point out 76 of the most commonly confused word pairs, but it has a way of training you not to make those mistakes again. Each pair has parts like famous quotes, standard definitions and quizzes to make you a stronger writer. There are also sections on misused words, on 25 no-nos of speech and writing and on how to spot these errors. There are nine chapters in all that deal with specific wrong word usage. There is even a chapter on buzzwords to place on resumes, which I found enlightening. This book is an achievement to literature. It is true that spell check has been holding our hands for too long when writing papers and emails. Word Savvy’s main focus is to bring back proofreading and find our inner editor. Like an addict, the first step is acceptance. I understand now that I have a problem with homonyms — those tricky words that sound the same but have different meanings. While using the book for the past couple of months, I’ve also noticed an improvement in my grammar. I think it works so well because Word Savvy honestly seems like it wants to help. Other books, such as a dictionary or thesaurus, are cold and strictly informational. This book is warm and amusing. Nancy Ragno’s writing style is perfect for teaching. English is one of the hardest languages to master, but this book is a great start to understanding it. I strongly recommend Word Savvy to anyone who owns a computer or anyone who wants to strengthen his or her ability to communicate. Sponsored Review
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March - April 2012
Historical Fiction Hitler’s Silver Box: A Novel By Allen Malnak Two Harbors Press, $16.95 328 pages Imagine finding out that you, alone, are responsible for preventing a second-coming of Nazism and all the destruction that accompanies the political regime!? This is exactly what happens to the unfortunate Dr. Bruce Starkman after his beloved Uncle Max dies of a sudden “heart attack.” Given that Uncle Max was a practicing Orthodox Jew, his sudden death and cremation (which is strictly forbidden in the religion) tips Bruce off to the fact that something very sinister is going on. After some investigation, he discovers a hidden message from his uncle (who was, in fact, murdered) instructing Bruce to find and destroy Hitler’s Silver Box – the contents of which contain plans for a resurgence of Nazi power. In his quest to save the world, he allies himself with a beautiful Israeli woman, discovers two more murders and is viciously hunted down by Neo-Nazis. The ending will shock and excite you! Allen Malnak has written an incredibly readable text. His researching is well done, and his ability to carry a reader through a story based around relatively improbable plot lines is superb. His weaving of Bruce’s identity crisis, two love affairs and eventual understanding of his roots is admirable. Parts of Uncle Max’s account (via a diary) of his time in the concentration camps are almost physically painful to read — but even this speaks to the skill of Malnak’s writing. I would recommend this to all. Sponsored Review The Death of King Arthur By Simon Armitage Norton, $26.95 301 pages No one but Simon Armitage, poet and translator of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, could bring Le Morte d'Arthur into the 21st century with such respect to poetic meter and alliterative language. The Death of King Arthur presents the legendary tale of Great Britain’s most famous king in the original Olde English 4,350 line poem beside Armitage’s meticulous translation into modern English. Fans of this legend will be pleased to read this composition, which is as close to the original legend as one can come without attempting a translation themselves. The poem begins after Arthur’s reign has been established and follows the man through war and betrayal, to his last breath. Seductively compelling, Armitage’s translation promises to be the definitive version of this epic work for our generation. Rachelle Barrett
Sequential Art Green River Killer: A True Detective Story By Jeff Jensen & Jonathan Case Dark Horse Comics, $24.99 235 pages
ringers for their real-life counterparts. This is a fascinating read and tells the story in a way no other book dares. Mark Petruska Around The World By Matt Phelan Candlewick Press, $24.99 235 pages
The Green River Killer remained one of America’s most notorious and prolific serial killers for many years. When finally captured, Gary Leon Ridgway confessed to 47 murders – though the actual number may be considerably higher. With the popularity of macabre but gripping true crime novels à la Ann Rule and others, there is no shortage of books on Ridgway. However, Green River Killer: A True Detective Story is unlike any other for two simple reasons: it was penned by Jeff Jensen, whose father was a Seattle detective and integral member of the Green River Task Force in charge of tracking down Ridgway – and it’s a comic book. Or, more accurately, a graphic novel. Culled from interviews with the killer and personal recollections from his dad, Jensen, along with artist Jonathan Case, has crafted a unique and easily approachable tale of the quest to find the killer. Opening with a chilling prologue of young Ridgway killing a boy because he “wanted to know what it felt like,” the novel does not shy away from the violence of the case, or the frustrations of the Task Force as they were unable to find their man for nearly two decades. The illustrations are done in black and white – a sinister effect that plays off the concepts of good versus evil – and the subjects have been rendered with amazing detail, the key players dead
The Thinking Life: How to Thrive in the Age of Distraction By P. M. Forni St. Martin’s Press, $21.99 175 pages
He offers sound advice on how to incorporate thinking into a hectic lifestyle to improve mental health. Thought processes such as attention, reflection, self-control, decision making, proactive thinking, positive thinking and problem solving are explored as personal skills one can acquire and use at will — if we make the time. At the end of each chapter are exercises where the reader may choose to “read this book . . . or live it.” The hardcover’s quality makes it an impeccable gift for the philosophy lover. The book’s formatting, size and paper feel like an old friend. However, like most academic work, the paragraphs are long and may be cumbersome for those with a short attention span (see page 29 for information on the importance of attention). Sheli Ellsworth
When author Jules Verne published Around the World in Eighty Days at the end of the 19th century, the public was greatly inspired and yearned to set out on their own worldwide journeys. Matt Phelan profiles the lives of three such adventurers in his book Around the World. Although primarily written in graphic novel format, Phelan communicates a lot of information through his carefully chosen words and beautiful illustrations. There is a nice balance of both. In 1884, former miner Thomas Stevens left his job and made a trip around the world on an old fashioned bicycle with a big front wheel. In 1889, pioneer female reporter Nellie Bly participated in a global race to beat Verne’s estimate of 80 days. She reported from her destinations and gained a huge following. In 1895, retired sea captain Joshua Slocum set sail on a 36-foot sloop and became the first person to sail around the world alone. Each story ends with an epilogue that explains what happened to each traveler after they arrived home. These three adventure tales show young readers that anything is possible when you set your sights on a big goal. Elizabeth Franklin
Self-Help When the Hurt Runs Deep: Healing and Hope for Life’s Desperate Moments By Kay Arthur WaterBrook, $14.99 272 pages Perhaps the most poignant moment of Kay Arthur’s new book When the Hurt Runs Deep: Healing and Hope for Life’s Desperate Moments comes midway through the book when she describes her own marriage at age 20 and subsequent divorce from a bipolar man. Arthur’s former husband, Tom, committed suicide several years after their divorce, and Arthur writes of the three assurances she heard from God in the days following: (1) “In everything give thanks,” (2) “I won’t give you anything you cannot bear,” and (3) “I will
March - April 2012
use this for your good.” No matter what our pain, Arthur writes, the Lord will find a way to bring it to light: “You will be all right and more than all right. The healing that is beginning in your heart this very moment will grow and grow until it finally overflows and spills over into the lives of others,” she writes. Arthur openly tackles such painful issues as sexual abuse, murder, divorce and deception, recounting the tales of others and using both Old and New Testament references to present a biblical worldview of healing. While her book contains nuggets of insight and her midpoint personal stories are memorable, much of it is repetitive of other Christian self-help and healing books. Kay Arthur fans will find it of interest, while the rest of us could just as easily look to other sources on healing and recovery. Jennie A. Harrop
Do you spend every waking moment either on your phone, using the computer or watching television? If you do, you may be missing out on what John Hopkins professor P. M. Forni describes as “the first necessary step toward life’s elusive grand prize — true happiness.” In The Thinking Life, Forni extols the virtues of introspection and reflection as the process by which we learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. In an age where every waking minute is spent on competing technology, the art of thinking has been relegated to the back burner.
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Crafts & Hobbies tern to try is nearly as much fun as the actual knitting itself. This volume fits the bill on both counts. Linda Frederiksen
Socktopus: 17 Pairs of Socks to Knit and Show Off By Alice Yu Taunton Press, $19.95 159 pages If the 6,000 people who attended the most recent Sock Summit are any indication, Portland is a city that likes to knit socks. Based on a custom designed and colored sock yarn called Sokkusu – hence the name Socktopus – the 17 patterns in British designer Alice Yu’s latest collection are a treat for experienced knitters. Although the first pattern is a basic one-color sock made entirely in stockinette stitch, the remaining 16 designs call for intermediate to advanced knitting skills. Samples are beautifully photographed, showing the intricate detail of each design. Top-down and toe -up charted designs are written for both double pointed and circular needles. The true joy of a hand-knitted sock is the combination of feel and fit, and each of these patterns comes with clear measurement and sizing information. For the true sock addict, the pursuit of the next pat-
Cutest Ever Baby Knits By Val Pierce Trafalgar Square Books, $19.95 96 pages This is a book of baby knitting patterns, which, after an introduction of a stitch dictionary and mechanics, goes on to include a typical set of knitting patterns. Included in the pattern set are cardigans, booties, hats, blocks, blankets and more. In addition to the typical knitting stitches and patterns, there are also patterns for interesting edging and items such as flowers and animal faces. What makes this book fun is that there is a cute and modern twist placed on the patterns, so that they feel fresh and new. Often my frustration with knitting books is that there are only a few patterns that I like, and those that are in a book feel dated and exhausted. On the other hand, this book is
Glaciers: A Novel By Alexis M. Smith Tin House Books, $10.95 112 pages
Alexis Smith’s slender debut novel follows her heroine, Isabel, through a day in her life. Isabel is a twenty-something Portlander who repairs books for the library, collects postcards and yearns after another employee who fixes her computer. She is passionate about vintage clothing and repurposing things other people have discarded, both of which make Portland the perfect setting for her.
Although the story unfolds in a single day, Smith does a beautiful job harvesting Isabel’s past and present by writing almost solely from an internal perspective. The reader is given a profound glimpse into Isabel’s thoughts, feelings and dreams. We see where her love of all things vintage starts and feel her nostalgia for her childhood in Alaska. Her pervasive feeling of loss is captured by Smith’s lean yet evocative writing. The only downside to this is Smith’s frequent use of sentence fragments. This has the potential to confuse the reader, but it often brings home Isabel’s disjointed sense of sadness. At 112 pages, Glaciers can easily be read in one sitting, but the wistful, pensive nature of Isabel will stay much longer. Catherine Gilmore
QUEEN OF AMERICA is the follow up to Luis Alberto Urrea’s bestseller, The Hummingbird’s Daughter, based on his real great-aunt Teresita (legendary in Mexico for her healing powers and proclaimed by many there as the “Saint of Cabora”)
“This is a rich, full story, beautifully told.” ~Portland Book Review~
darling. The patterns are easy to knit and easy to read and to work without much prior knitting experience. Overall this is a great and refreshing book. Rachel J. Richards Totally Simple Crochet By Tove Fevang Trafalgar Square Books, $21.95 90 pages It’s amazing how therapeutic a ball of yarn and a crochet hook can be. Discover this for yourself with Totally Simple Crochet: Over 30 Easy Projects for the Home and to Wear. Norwegian author Tove Fevang has put together a unique variety of projects with European flair. After a brief explanation of the abbreviations you’ll need to know in order to follow the patterns, Fevang eases into the world of crochet with a set of six dishrags designed to introduce you to several basic stitches. Step-by-step photographs aid readers in their learning. Once you find your groove, you can advance to scarves, afghans, fin-
Irises By Francisco X. Stork Scholastic, $17.99 288 pages Sisters Kate and Mary have never been what people in El Paso consider normal. They rarely leave home, dress oddly and have to spend their afternoons caring for their mother, who is in a persistent vegetative state. When their father dies, Kate and Mary are sent into a whirlwind of questions – where they will live, how they will survive and how they will care for their mother. The girls react to the loss differently: Kate disconnects from everyone and focuses only on her dream of leaving home and going to Stanford, and Mary tries desperately to keep things the same. Independently and together, the sisters learn about the true meaning of love and family. Irises is a moving story about family, love and letting go. The novel starts out with a family already fractured and shows how they get further blown apart by the death of their father. The language is vivid and creates a haunting picture of grief and growth. The author deftly shows the sisters’ individual experiences and how they change and mature throughout the story. The characters are well-written, complex and intriguing. This is a story that will stay with the reader well past the end. Barbara Cothern
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gerless gloves and four different shawl patterns. There are felted cushions, (adult and child-sized), a shopping bag made of sturdy hemp yarn, and pillows in various stitch patterns that will add texture to your home. The last page lists the websites where you can order the recommended yarn in case you can’t find it in your area. The variety of projects found in this book will appeal to those with elementary crochet skills and old pros alike. Alicea Swett Hand Printing from Nature By Laura Bethmann Storey Publishing, $20.95 191 pages Do you remember making leaf prints at camp or school? Spreading a bit of paint on a leaf made details like stems and veins magically appear on paper. Artist and author Laura Bethmann shares her love of this spontaneous art form in her new book Hand-Printing From Nature. It is both an instruction manual and creative guide. Artists will need tools, inks, paints, paper, (continued on p. 16)
Queen of America: A Novel By Luis Alberto Urrea Little, Brown & Co, $25.99 491 pages Queen of America is not about a queen. It’s about a saint. At least, that is how people refer to Teresita Urrea: the Saint of Cabora. Teresita is a young woman like any other, wanting friends, family and love. But she is also a young woman unlike any other, healing the sick with a touch of her hands, kind words and herbs. She is a figure of controversy, driven with her father from their Mexican home, pursued equally vehemently by both crazed followers starting revolts in her name and hired guns sent to kill her. Her journey across the United States is one of humor and heartache, love and loss; a saga of magical realism as she searches for a life of her own. Author Luis Alberto Urrea’s writing is lyrical, with a cadence that lulls you into the tale. Queen of America is the type of book you want to take your time with, making sure to savor the nuance and detail. Teresita is a contradiction – naïve and wise – and her personal odyssey is as vivid and complex as she is. This is a rich, full story, beautifully told. Leah Sims
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Children Bunny Loves to Read By Peter Bently, Illustrated by Deborah Melmon Parragon, $7.99 32 pages On a sunny day, Bunny would rather read than play outside. When his friends try to cajole him into joining them in other activities, they are instead sucked into the world of make-believe because Bunny has so many books, he can satisfy any literary appetite. Simple phrases and engaging animal character pictures make Bunny Loves to Read an easy read-aloud or introductory book to encourage an appreciation for reading. Mostly written with dialogue instead of narration, this story would be better suited to a comic-book style than that of a storybook. As the animal characters explore different genres of books, parents will recognize many of their favorite classic tales mentioned and children may be inspired to find another story they wish to explore further. Rachelle Barrett Loowit’s Legend: The Story of the Columbia River Gorge By Erin K. O’Connell, Illustrated by Diana Thewlis Parallel 45 Publishing, $20.00 32 pages How was the Columbia River Gorge created? According to an ancient legend, the mountains of the Gorge (Mount Hood, Mount Adams and Mount Saint Helens) were formed when two brothers fell in love with the same woman. Author Erin K. O’Connell tells the tale in Loowit’s Legend. The Great Spirit had two sons, Pahtoe and Wy’East, and they argued constantly. To encourage them to bond, the Great Spirit offered them each a nation of their own if they could live together peacefully. As it often happens with brothers, the fighting did not stop, especially when the men fall in love with a beautiful young maiden named Loowit. Find out how the siblings’ issues are resolved. Diana Thewlis’ illustrations are stunning. Her pastel color palate evokes the beauty of the natural wonder that is the Columbia River Gorge. People have lived along the Columbia River for more than 12,000 years. They recorded clues about their lives by carving petroglyphs and drawing pictographs into rocks and cliffs. The book includes examples of these images. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of the book will go toward the preservation and conservation of the Columbia River Gorge. Elizabeth Franklin
March - April 2012
My Life by Me: A Forever Book By Beth Barber, PsyD Magination Press, $14.95 64 pages Beth Barber’s My Life by Me takes on a heavy topic in a very whimsical way. Her beautiful workbook allows a terminally ill child to document his or her life, memories, family and illness. This memory book, developed for children ages 7-11, uses pictures, quirky fonts and honesty to address a difficult situation in a child’s life. There is even a page where the sick child can document who should take care of the child’s prized possessions. Although death is never an easy topic, especially when a child is involved, I imagine that this workbook would help open up the lines of communication about the situation and give the grieving parents a lasting keepsake of their beloved child. Seniye Groff French Ducks in Venice By Garret FreymannWeyr, Illustrated by Erin McGuire Candlewick Press, $16.99 50 pages Along the canals of Venice, California, two ducks, George and his sister, Cecile, swim the calm waters and enjoy the friendship of Polina Panova. Polina makes magical dresses made from thread, silk, cotton, velvet, grass, flowers, pieces of the night sky and strawberry jam. She is quite happy, until her prince charming, Sebastian Sterling, leaves forever. Everyone deals with loss differently. In French Ducks in Venice, author Garret FreymannWeyr, gives readers a touching, heartfelt story about recovering from loss. Time and good friends are often what is needed to begin to heal a broken heart. Illustrator Erin McGuire’s digitally-created artwork is lovely, gives the story depth and meaning and is reminiscent of traditional animated movies. Readers will notice that each character copes with Sebastian’s absence in a different way. Polina closes up her little house and does not come out, even to visit her duck friends. Cecile accepts what has happened. George follows Sebastian and wants an explanation. He realizes that sometimes all a friend can offer is love and support during troubled times. Children and adults can find meaning in this sweet book about the healing power of time and friendship. Kathryn Franklin
Bambino and Mr. Twain By P.I. Maltbie, Illustrated by Daniel Miyares Charlesbridge, $15.95 32 pages Bambino and Mr. Twain is a masterpiece of children’s literature. The story is about how Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, shut himself off from the world after his wife Livy died. That part is true, but this story is how a cat named Bambino got Mr. Twain to see the folly of shutting himself off from his friends and admirers. Is it a work of fiction or the real story? Only Sam and Bambino will ever know the truth of that. Bambino and Mr. Twain is brilliantly written and well researched by P. I. Maltbie, and beautifully illustrated by Daniel Miyares. As a longtime fan of Mr. Twain’s work, I must say, “You did him proud,” as they say here in the South. Around here, there is no higher compliment. The only thing I wonder about is what age group it’s for. It’s not for the very young; they wouldn’t understand. Any Twain fan will love it. Hopefully, this book will introduce a new generation to Mr. Twain’s writings. But in today’s sound-byte world, maybe not. At least with this book in the educational arsenal, there is a chance. Maybe the “Twain shall meet” after all. David Broughton Why Are You So Scared? A Child’s Book About Parents With PTSD By Beth Andrews Magination Press, $9.95 32 pages How do children learn to cope when a parent has post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? Author Beth Andrews gives kids a book that helps them learn about PTSD using nonthreatening, kid-friendly language. Andrews is a licensed social worker and author of two other self-help books for children. She describes what PTSD is, what side effects accompany the disorder, and what kids should and shouldn’t do to help their mom or dad while they work on their recovery. The most important message is that a child’s job is to be a kid, to play, to have friends and to do their best. The book is filled with questions and exercises that kids and parents can work through together. The interactive layout allows kids to express their thoughts through writing, drawing and designing. One page asks kids to draw a picture of themselves with their parent. Another page invites readers to draw the emotions they are feeling on various faces. Illustrator Katherine Kirkland’s drawings are charming and warm. Former active-duty U.S. Army psy-
chologist and veteran Bret Moore offers advice for using this book to help kids communicate their feelings and emotions that accompany their parents’ PTSD recovery. Elizabeth Franklin Meet the Planets By John McGranaghan, Illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein Sylvan Dell Publishing, $16.95 32 pages There is no need to wait until spaceships start taking passengers into the galaxy to get up close and personal with the planets. From the comfort of their own living room or classroom, kids can now soar through the solar system and witness the first ever “Favorite Planet Competition,’’ emceed by none other than the former ninth planet, Pluto (now a dwarf planet). John McGranaghan’s Meet the Planets allows young readers to take a journey through space. Learn about the unique qualities of each planet as Pluto introduces them with quirky facts. Readers become the judge after the sun can’t pick a favorite and the meteors leave for a shower. Illustrator Laurie Allen Klein has the planets dressed up, looking their very best for the contest. Children will spend hours searching the pages for all the references to famous scientists and people of history, space technology, constellations, art and classic literature. A section “For Creative Minds” encourages readers to poll their families, friends and classmates to determine the community’s favorite planet. Other activities discuss how time, temperature and distance differ on each planet. This humorous and educational book mixes math, science, astronomy and geography. Read to find out who will win the “Favorite Planet Competition”! Kathryn Franklin (Continued from p. 15) and items from nature! Bethmann suggests ways to collect natural objects such as flowers, shells, fruit, twigs and herbs. She focuses on pigments and supplies. Detailed instructions give tips on which mediums and natural items complement each other. She also includes a summary of printing surfaces including wood, metal and fabric. Bethmann does an excellent job guiding readers through the process of putting items, paint mediums and surfaces together to create unique projects. Activities range from making note cards to creating gifts and decorating walls. Nature inspired quotes by authors, scientists and philosophers provide added inspiration. This book will encourage you to take a closer look at items we see every day and find ways to bring them creatively into your life. Elizabeth Franklin
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