Staff Picks: Books

Staff-recommended reading from the KPL catalog.

Gluten-free Recipes Galore!

If you or a family member are one of the estimated 1 in 133 people needing to avoid gluten, due to celiac disease or gluten intolerance, look to KPL for more information. We have dozens of gluten-free cookbooks. Most have helpful suggestions in front about navigating a gluten-free lifestyle, like which foods to avoid and what ingredients to keep on hand. And the recipes are inspiring!

Consider these options:

Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking, by Kelli and Peter Bronski. Check out the Crab Cakes recipe on p. 52.

Getting your Kid on a Gluten-Free Casein-Free Diet, by Susan Lord. Filled with straightforward advice and easy tips from a registered dietician, whose daughter was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and has been on a gluten-free, casein-free diet for many years. The “Nutrition First” chapter has wise tips for anyone pursuing a gluten-free diet. I can’t wait to try the Pad Thai recipe.

Deliciously G-free: Food so Flavorful They’ll never Believe it’s Gluten-Free, by Elizabeth Hasselbeck, co-host of The View. Chock-full of delicious recipe ideas, such as Smoked Salmon on Corn Fritters, Chocolista Chocolate Cupcakes and French Toast with Caramel Rum Banana. This one is even available in an e-book.


Getting your kid on a gluten-free casein-free diet



I'm All Amped Up

While leaving work on Friday, I noticed the newest release from sci-fi writer Daniel H. Wilson, Amped, sitting on a cart just waiting for me to take it home. I was very excited since I had heard so many good things about Wilson’s previous novel, Robopocalypse, and had already read a few good reviews of Amped. A friend of mine once stated that there are rarely any “new” ideas in science fiction novels. Most stories can be traced back to an idea that had been previously formulated in either book or film. The premise of Amped can be traced to the plotline most recently established in the comic book series X-Men. In Wilson’s novel individuals with technological implants (“amps”) are being persecuted by regular people (“reggies”) just like the mutant super-heroes in the comic book and movie series. When the main character Owen Gray discovers that the technology implanted in him by his father does much more than control his seizures, his life begins to spiral out of control. Soon he finds himself in a trailer park in Oklahoma hiding out with other amps while Senator Joseph Vaughn begins to push for more restrictions on the rights of “enhanced humans.” In the trailer park Owen meets Lyle Crosby, an amp trained to be a member of an elite military group. When Lyle confronts Owen about his role in the impending war between amps and reggies, he must decide if he wants to take his amp to the next level. The consequence of such a move could also lead him on the path to darkness and evil.

Amped fits the requirements of both a summer book and blockbuster. It took me less than three days to read and it was filled with fights, explosions, and super-powered people. There was nothing new in the already established storyline of “extraordinary people being hated for their abilities” but I enjoyed Wilson’s story nonetheless. If you are a fan of science fiction that contains amped up action and dialed down techie-talk, then you should add Amped to your summer reading list.


Kevin King

What’s on your nightstand?

Popular magazines often fill space with little blurbs about what books are on prominent peoples’ nightstands, giving us a glimpse into their world as human beings with curiosities and interests outside of their own celebrity. While I do not presume that my own book choices would attract similar attention, my nightstand currently holds quite a variety that might be of interest to someone:

Hassman, Tupelo Girlchild (fiction) - Rory Dawn Hendrix, growing up in a trailer park in Reno, Nevada, is determind to defy the odds of her environment and family history.

Keaton, Diane Then Again (memoir) - Keaton’s own stories alternate with excerpts from journals kept by her mother, Dorothy Keaton Hall. Poignant account of an interesting life.

Green, John The Fault in Our Stars (young adult fiction) - Combine this popular young adult author with a love story about teenagers with cancer, and you get a fast-moving and powerful narrative that goes beyond the surface.

Cain, Susan Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking (nonfiction) - I have not read this one yet, but am looking forward to it, especially after seeing Cain’s TED presentation.

So many books, so little time...


Karen S

E-book Alert: Penguin Publishers

Changes in the way in which downloadable e-books are bought, distributed, and accessed are coming fast and furious. How will this impact your e-book reading experience at KPL? The most recent change to the way in which you access our e-book collection impacts users who own Kindle devices or Kindle apps. The following alert concerns Penguin Publishers. Starting February 10, Penguin will no longer offer additional copies of e-books and downloadable Audiobooks for library purchase. Additionally, Penguin e-books loaned for reading on Kindle devices will need to be downloaded to a computer then transferred to the device over USB. For library patrons, this means Penguin e-books will no longer be available for over-the-air delivery to Kindle devices or to Kindle apps.

It is even more important now to note who the publisher of your book is when attempting to download and transfer e-books to your computer, e-reader or mobile device. We will continue to bring attention to these kinds of industry changes when they impact library use. Stay tuned.


Moonwalking with Einstein [electronic resource] : the art and science of remembering everything

Gary D. Schmidt: Okay for Now

Gary D. Schmidt does a superb job of character development and reality writing in his Young Adult novel titled: Okay for Now. It’s the late 1960s and Doug Swieteck, the main character, is 14 years old and has just moved to a new town in New York. Doug is the darling who frequently mends his family and community… a gigantic feat for a teen who is abused by his bum father, is mutually loved by his mother, is scorned by his jealous older brother, and is the lifesaver of his oldest brother who returns broken after serving in VietNam.

Doug’s best friend is Lil Spicer; her dad owns the grocery store where Doug gets a delivery job thereby befriending more townsfolk. Doug delights in his weekly redemptive visits to the library where he studies Audubon prints and learns to draw. Doug’s disabilities are painfully uncovered by an astute teacher, while yet another teacher creates nightmares.

You might ask, Why read this book? Doug is fun. Doug is cool. Doug triumphs. By the way, Gary D. Schmidt lives near Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is an English professor at Calvin College and has written other great must-reads!


Okay for Now

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

A novel based on a random selection of vintage photographs, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children creates a fantasy world that blurs with modern day doldrums.  The reader is never quite sure what is fact and what is fiction as Jacob makes his way from one reality to the next.  Were the children in Miss Peregrine's home sequestered because they were simply unusual or because they were dangerous?  Was Jacob's grandfather delusional or a product of the horrors of WWII?  Author Ransom Riggs does a fine job of blending the details, creating a suspenseful story, and keeping the reader wondering. Rumor has it Tim Burton might direct a film based on the book and that Mr. Riggs might have a sequel.  Both great ideas!

NOTE:  I started this novel in hardcover and finished it in ebook format on an iPad.  Because of the photos being an integral part of the story, a basic e-ink ereader without the ability to show the images well might not do the story justice.


Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Download a Little Bit of History

An important academic voice for more than three decades, Manning Marable’s scholarly career was defined by an eclectic and astute collection of books that explored the relationship between racial politics, capitalism, and African American history. His final book prior to his death in April of this year was a controversial biography of Malcolm X (Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention). This National Book Award nominated title can be downloaded to your e-reader device or tablet.


Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

The Paris Wife

It has been a long time since I’ve read any Hemingway. The Paris Wife, although fiction, is a look at his early years and the jazz age literary scene in Paris in the 1920’s.

The book is written in the voice of Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first wife. They met in Chicago, were married after a whirlwind courtship, and headed to Paris—part of the “lost generation” that included Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, among others.

Although Hemingway wrote “I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her,” their marriage was doomed in the hard drinking, fast living, huge egos of the time as Hemingway struggled to find his writing voice and eventually published The Sun Also Rises, dedicated to Hadley.

My book group will discuss The Paris Wife later this month. I’m guessing we all will have thoroughly enjoyed it and we’ll have some interesting conversation about the times, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and the others. Did the books of that generation stand the test of time? Are they still read and appreciated? There will be much to talk about!


The Paris Wife

Surf’s up, dude!

Ever since I heard Susan Casey (the author) interviewed by Jon Stewart, and surfer Laird Hamilton (the book’s real-life character) grilled by Stephen Colbert, I knew that The Wave: in pursuit of rogues, freaks and giants of the ocean was a must-read for me.

While vacationing in Southern California or parts of Southwest Mexico, I remember encountering some 10 to 15 foot waves. For a good swimmer (which I consider myself as being), these don’t appear too daunting or intimidating. But they can and do come in succession of three or more at a time. If one knocks you down, another one is sure to quickly follow and it can be difficult to catch your breath and equilibrium by the time the next wave arrives. I remember meeting a particularly nasty little set of waves off the Malibu coast, that produced such a tremendous force that they left me completely discombobulated, disheveled, and practically disrobed! I was barely able to keep my bathing suit on as I struggled to swim. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I now appreciate what wiser Pacific Coast beach residents say, “Never, ever turn your back on a wave.”

In this tautly structured page turner, author Susan Casey examines giant, no make that humongous monster waves from three points of view:

  • — The scientific by interviewing wave scientists who study them;
  • — The practical by talking to mariners who have come across them in their voyages, and;
  • — The playful/suicidal by spending time with the adrenaline junky extreme surfers who travel the world searching out these behemoths in the hopes of catching a ride, chief among them being Laird Hamilton.

At one time not so long ago, reports of 100 foot waves encountered by ships were dismissed by the scientific community based on the belief that such phenomena are counter to the theories of ocean physics. However, it turned out that it was the theories that should have been dismissed and not the reports, after a British research ship chock full of scientists ran into a North Sea storm about 10 years ago. Its research data collection equipment documented 90+ foot waves, and the existence of the giant wave phenomenon was confirmed. Later on, tracking satellites were able to determine that these rogue waves appear consistently and with greater frequency than was previously thought across all oceans.

This is also a story of personal obsessions, and some might say death wishes. These descriptors of course refer to the extreme surfers who seek out the rogues in an attempt to achieve hang-ten heaven. To gain their perspectives, Casey tags along with premier surfer Laird Hamilton, as he jet-sets across the globe in pursuit of this dream.

But watch out while reading this book! Because just like a strong rip current, Casey’s tale will easily pull you in, and before long you’ll find yourself powerless to resist this great watery read.


The Wave: in pursuit of rogues, freaks and giants of the ocean

Minding Frankie

Minding Frankie is one of Maeve Binchy’s best novels yet! Baby girl Frankie is born to mother Stella, who is dying of cancer. Stella names Noel--an alcoholic struggling with work and life, who has had no recent contact with Stella—as the father. Noel is forced to step up to the plate and do right by this infant. As a result, his life is transformed, as well as the lives of many family members and neighbors.

As happens also in Jan Karon novels, the lives of Maeve Binchy's characters intertwine with each other in unexpected ways. We get to know and care about who they are, how they are growing and how their lives touch each other. In recent Binchy novels, I’ve felt a strong thread of cynicism that has frankly put me off. The classic Binchy irony appeared again in this novel, but she left the cynicism out, allowing the humor and richness of the busy world we inhabit to shine through.

I would rank this one right up there with Evening Class.


Minding Frankie
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