The Gas Grill Gourmet
by A. Cort Sinnes, with John Puscheck
It was great to find a barbecue cookbook that focuses on gas grills so you don’t have to translate cooking times and temperatures from a charcoal grill recipe. The recipes are grouped by category (appetizers, type of meat, vegetables and vegetarian, side dishes, fruit and desserts) and each recipe has a little introduction. They are pretty simple, but there are no photos which is too bad. But the most important thing about a cookbook is whether the recipes are good and these are great! Some of our favorites are the salad Nicoise, skewered herbed potatoes, grilled fresh pineapple, and London broil with black bean and corn salsa. The book also includes information on grill safety, equipment and supplies, and how to use various types of wood chips to enhance your cooking.
Reviewed by staff member Tina Drew
The Wednesday Sisters: A Novel
by Meg Waite Clayton
Five women, wives of engineers, doctors and scientists who have relocated to California to further their careers, meet in the summer of 1968 at a Palo Alto children's playground. They start a reading group which soon changes to a writer's circle. Over the next 5 years marked by now-historical events such as moon landings and Miss America pageants, the women struggle to become published authors, all the time facing more mundane challenges of motherhood, marriage, cancer and career changes. For women who lived through the social upheavals of the 1960's and the early 1970's, this book will bring back memories; for those who came later, it will prompt discussion on issues now taken for granted, such as interracial marriage and women's participation in amateur sports.
Reviewed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library staff member Lucille Boone
Be Near Me : a Novel
by Andrew O'Hagan
Father David Anderton has lived an insulated life, sheltered from conflict and his own strongest feelings. An Oxford graduate, an intellectual and something of a connoisseur of wine and food, his life begins to change abruptly after he is sent to a poor working-class parish in Scotland. Here he encounters the rampant hostility of the locals. The loneliness of his life is tempered by his friendship with his housekeeper Mrs. Poole, blunt, loyal, and hungry for a taste of culture. He is also drawn to two wildly impulsive adolescents, who live in defiance of all order and authority. This attraction has grave consequences for the priest, but leads to the beginnings of self-knowledge and an opening to the world. This is a beautifully written and compelling novel.
Reviewed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library staff member
Tomato Rhapsody : a Fable of Love, Lust and Forbidden Fruit
by Adam Schell
This extraordinary book could change your perception of tomatoes forever. Set in early 16th century Tuscany with the arrival of tomatoes to Italy from the New World, Tomato Rhapsody is indeed a fable, written in the form of a theatrical comedy which borders on bawdy farce. The many intriguing characters engage in lively dialogue and sometimes absurd activities amidst highly descriptive settings. The author puts a highly imaginative spin on both Italian history and culinary delights. This reader laughed out loud at least once every chapter and hopes that a film by the same title will be produced soon!
Reviewed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library staff member RCN
The Red Queen : a Transcultural Tragicomedy
by Margaret Drabble
Fascinating and mysterious 18th century Lady Hyegyong, lived as her status required, confined in women’s apartments behind thick palace walls from the time of her marriage at age 10 to a Korean Crown Prince until her death at 80. But do not expect an neatly embroidered history based on her actual memoirs; listen instead to the Red Queen’s ghost voice describing the strange and tragic events that transformed her life, as she reexamines them from the perspective of 200 years of intellectual exploration and questioning. In the second half of the novel we are introduced to Dr. Barbara Halliwell, puzzling over the anonymous gift of a translation of the original memoirs, received as she is preparing for a flight from Heathrow to Seoul, where she will present a research paper at a professional conference. Upon her arrival a comic confusion of luggage brings Barbara into contact with Dr. Oo, who is familiar with the princess’ history, while her increasing desire to know more about the Red Queen attracts the interest of the conference’s star attendee, Jan van Jost. From this point the two stories, one ancient, one modern, are deftly woven together around themes of beloved children, physical or spiritual entombment, survival after tragedy, immortality, an occurrence of magpies and the persistent longing for a article of red clothing.
School of Dreams: Making the Grade at a Top American High School
by Edward Humes
Think you have busy days? Compare your routine to that of a hyper-achieving teen at a premier public high school, Whitney High in Cerritos, California. Four is the operative number: 4.0 GPA, 4 lattes, and 4 hours of sleep per night. Lest you think everyone succeeds, read about the student who succumbed to crystal meth. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes was granted unconditional access to speak with everyone during the year he spent at the institution. The result is an eye-opening journey to the land of secondary education on scholastic overdrive.
Reviewed by Biblioteca Latinoamericana Branch Library staff member Janice Garcia
Muqtada : Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia revival, and the struggle for Iraq
by Cockburn, Patrick
Muqtada is a summary of the Shia’s modern history and conflict in Iraq as is rooted with a mystery figure, a maverick, and a firebrand young cleric Muqtada Al-Sadar. Patrick Cockburn compiles an account of the Shia modern politics, religion, nationalism, and their conflict in Iraq. The author had a firsthand experience in the modern Iraqi political conflict including Saddam’s brutality, the Shia suffering, and the destruction of Iraqi infrastructure. Mr. Cockburn’s book is a collaboration of valuable interviews and direct contact with many Iraqi figures including Shia, Sunni, and Iraqi officials.
The book is not just a biography of Muqtada Al-Sadar, but details of his family’s history and the Sadirist movement including the feud of Shia’s leadership and their struggle with the Iraqi government and Baath party. Muqtada blended the Shia’s cause with violence, assassinations, and anarchy. The young cleric seized the momentum to conquer by combining his family’s name, assembling the poor with religious rhetoric and nationalism. He became a ruthless militiaman, but he successfully identified himself with the Mahdi army and his movement. Nevertheless, his rivals were many, al-Khoie, Sistani, & al-Hakim including the Sunni, and the middle class. Many saw him as a dangerous figure leading a mob of thieves and robbers and created bitter rivalries, a controversial figure, but a popular among the poor Shia fanatics.
Reviewed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library staff member Ashour Benjamin
The Ghost Brigades
by John Scalzi
A sequel to The Old Man’s War followed by The Last Colony, The Ghost Brigades is a stand-alone book at the same time. In The Old Man’s War the main character is an old man who received a new enhanced body that in combination with his wisdom and experience made him a great recruiter for Colonial Defense Forces (CDF). The Ghost Brigades is focused on a different type of soldiers that are created from the DNA of recruiters who died from natural causes. They are called Special Forces (or Ghost Brigades) and their minds are completely blank without consciousnesses of the DNA of former owners. They are adults without childhood and have to be trained in a special computerized way. Ghost Brigades troopers are used in the most difficult and cruel battles with aliens forces.
The book is easy to read and utterly optimistic. It goes beyond just military science fiction content by exploring some moral aspects of honesty and betrayal as well as organ harvesting practices, which help to extend mortal lives of living people nowadays. It is full of adventure and action.
Reviewed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library staff member Nina Petrova
by Howard Dully with Charles Fleming
In 1960 at age 12, Howard Dully became the youngest patient of Dr. Walter Freeman to receive a transorbital – or “ice pick” – lobotomy. What happens to Dully after the surgery is a life of skipping around to various foster families, halfway houses, juvenile hall, and even an insane asylum. Forty years after the lobotomy, as his father is living his final days, Dully decides he needs to know why this happened to him. What was the lobotomy for? Why did his family abandon him after the surgery? How much of an impact did this procedure have on the rest of his life? With the help of journalist Charles Fleming, Dully begins to look back at his life and investigate his family’s history as well as the history of Dr. Walter Freeman, an unlicensed surgeon that may have performed as many as 40,000 lobotomies during his career.
Dully’s story is shocking and inspiring. He takes the reader through his extremely dysfunctional childhood and an abusive stepmother who was the one that approved of the surgery. Dully and Fleming do an excellent job of weaving Dully’s story with transcripts and letters from family and doctors as well as the story of Dr. Freeman’s career. The last chapters of the story talk about Dully’s adulthood and how he has been able to work through all of his struggles. My Lobotomy is the tragic story of an optimistic and brave person.
Reviewed by Edenvale Branch Library staff member Angie Miraflor
Zen and Now : on the Trail of Robert Pirsig and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
by Mark Richardson
In 1968, Robert Pirsig and his son rode a motorcycle from Minneapolis to San Francisco in 12 days. Later, he wrote the groundbreaking Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance about their trip. Upon publication, it quickly became one of the important American books of the 20th century. In 2004, as a Zen pilgrim, Mark Richardson rode a motorcycle along the same route. He wrote this book, published in 2008 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Pirsig’s original trip. There are 2 trips described in the book. The first trip involves the journey of the author and his attempts to be faithful to Pirsig’s trip. The 2nd trip, interwoven with the first, is a biographical description of Pirsig’s life and family before, during and after his trip. So, if you want to learn something about the man, his background, and his difficult personality that wasn’t in the first book, then this is a good place to begin. In the Afterword, there are a few web links for more information. The book also contains a map of the trip which can be copied and folded into a copy of Zen and the Art, for the next time you read the book.
Reviewed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library staff member Bruce England
Promises I Made My Mother
by Sam Haskell
Sometimes, you may find it easier to listen to someone else’s mother than your own. For one, you can always ignore her, and for another, her counsel may be worth your while. After all, see how her son, Sam Haskell, turned out. Sam Haskell may not be a household name, but his clientele needs no introduction – Ray Romano, Prince Edward of the U.K., Dolly Parton and many more. But this book is not about them (even though they get honorary mention). It is about the indelible imprint Sam’s mother left on his life; and how he has kept faith with her. Sam Haskell grew up in Amory, Mississippi (pop. 7,000) and made his name in Beverley Hills, CA. He started in the mailroom and ended up as the Worldwide Head of Television at the renowned William Morris Agency. He credits his rise to the wisdom of his mother which he shares entertainingly with his readers in Promises I Made My Mother. This inspirational memoir has a bit of everything in it – small town intrigue, cosmopolitan machinations, human frailties, struggles, joys, sadness, drama. Peppered with sagacity and interesting anecdotes, mellifluously melding society column with words to live by, it is delightful reading that packs a powerful punch.
Reviewed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library staff member
The Forever War
by Dexter Filkins
In The Forever War, N.Y. Times correspondent Dexter Filkins captures many dramatic moments of the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars. The book begins in Kabul with the brutality of the Taliban. Mr. Filkins demonstrates the Afghani conflict in many perspectives including the ethnic groups, the struggle against the Soviets, warlords, and the extremism of the Taliban. The book covers the crimes of the "Mujahideen" and the survival of the Afghans in decades of conflicts.
The 2nd part of the book is entirely on the Iraqi war. As an eyewitness, Mr. Filkins reports on many major events in the war including amazing stories where American troops are in the middle of the Iraqi war zone, battling insurgents, and counseling with Iraqis. The author visualizes scenes of battles, car bombs, foreign jihadists, and the suffering of Iraqi people. This section of the book includes GI sacrifices in many hotspots like Fallujah, Baghdad, Mosul, Sadar City, and Najaf. In addition, there are emotional parts in the book, including scenes of killing and death that are unforgettable. The Forever War is a reflection of war memories, democracy, justice, and equal rights for the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s the world of wars and the real story of brave American men and women.
Reviewed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library staff member Ashour Benjamin
The Vikings: A History
by Robert Ferguson
After reading this book, you’ll know more about such famous (or infamous) Vikings, as Harald Bluetooth, Ragnar Hairy-Breeches and Ivar the Boneless. However, one thing that you won’t know is exactly why the Vikings left their homeland in 793, to attack the monastery at Lindisfarne, in northern England, where they murdered defenseless monks, dug up the altars, and seized the treasures of the holy church. For the next three hundred years, more or less, the Vikings continued to plunder, torture, and carry into slavery, the terrified inhabitants of Britain and much of Europe. Robert Ferguson uses his knowledge and familiarity with the literary culture of Scandinavia, along with the latest archaeological discoveries and the evidence provided by picture stones, runes, ships and other objects scattered over northern Europe, to provide us with a modern portrait of the Viking age.
Reviewed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library staff member Diane White