September 2019 Prime Picks
Two new arrivals from craft book publisher Kalmbach are highly recommended picks for needlework and jewelry-making arts holdings alike, combining stitching with jewelry instructions in projects designed for progressive learning.
Virginia Jensen's Two-Hole Bead Stitching: 25+ New Jewelry Designs (9781627006163, $22.99) comes from an artistic designer and teacher who provides further techniques for stringing beads and braiding them in her latest collection of projects.
Instructions are provided in a step-by-step learning manner that creates building blocks of bead stitching basics, receive full color illustrations of different steps and processes, and are accompanied by tips and notes on how to improve stitching.
The concluding discussion of variations and options allows jewelry artists plenty of avenues for creative embellishment once these basics are absorbed.
Bead Stitching Handbook: 300 Tips & Techniques (9781627005531, $19.99) by Bead&Button Magazine holds almost everything any newcomer to bead stitching could want to know, from different kinds of weaves to tips on creating or trying new stitches.
Sixteen stitch tutorials in full color support twenty projects using them, all of which contain literally hundreds of step-by-step illustrations and photos that leave nothing to wonder about.
These basic instructions include overviews and discussions of beads, materials, and tools, including accompanying notes to supplement the illustrations.
These two excellent crafts guides could also have been featured in a needlework section, but are included in The Arts for their importance not just to needleworkers, but to arts and crafts collections.
The Life and Art of Joseph Henry Sharp
Peter H. Hassrick, Editor
University of Oklahoma Press
The Life and Art of Joseph Henry Sharp is a new examination of the artist, his paintings, and why Joseph Henry Sharp focused on America's western Native population as his primary subject. Furthermore, it analyzes the impact Sharp's paintings had on Native American and white population relations and perceptions.
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West holds major collections of art and is an archive of Sharp's papers and works. It has an online catalogue of over 700 examples of his paintings from various repositories across the country, and this book's electronic chapter holds access to these works, further expanding its artistic and biographical importance.
The result is a pick highly recommended for any arts collection strong in American Western art history in general or Joseph Henry Sharp in particular.
The Culinary Corner
America's Test Kitchen
Two fine new cookbooks come with the brand and assurances of America's Test Kitchen, which not only tests all its recipes to assure they are foolproof, but adds information on why each recipe works. This gives cooks useful specifics to further their knowledge of spices, cooking methods, and influencers on culinary success.
Spiced: Unlock the Power of Spices to Transform Your Cooking (9781945256776, $29.99) focuses on using spices in the kitchen. Unlike the usual spice cookbook, however, it creates a reference collection of core techniques. Seasonings, blends, homemade spices, and infusions are all covered, with some 100 recipes demonstrating their applicability.
Many are recipes included here not to be found elsewhere, such as one for an Anise-Rubbed Rack of Lamb with Sweet Mint-Almond Relish, or Spiced Roasted Chickpeas with a blend of coriander, turmeric, allspice, cumin, and other spices. Even sweet spice blends for desserts are covered, making Spiced more than another cookbook, but a lesson plan for cooks looking to expand their knowledge base.
Cook It In Your Dutch Oven: 150 Foolproof Recipes Tailor-Made for Your Kitchen's Most Versatile Pot (9781945256561, $29.99) provides recipes that even include desserts, exploring the versatility of the Dutch oven and its ability to produce succulent world dishes ranging from Caribbean Callaloo to Spicy Moroccan-Style Lamb and Lentil Soup, or Coconut Shrimp with Mango Dipping Sauce.
By including many dishes that go beyond stewing, Cook It In Your Dutch Oven provides a far more multipurpose, wide-ranging discussion than most competitors on the subject, making for a 'must' reference for Dutch oven owners who want to thoroughly explore its diverse possibilities.
Full-page color photos round out the appealing, educational approach of Cook It In Your Dutch Oven.
The Art of Breakfast, 2nd Edition
Down East Publishers
The second updated edition of The Art of Breakfast: B&B Style Recipes to Make at Home offers Maine-based dishes gathered by Dana Moos, an author who is the former innkeeper of the Kingsleigh Inn in Southwest Harbor.
Her experience and personal familiarity with inn fare not just from her own establishment but from those around her makes for a perfect guide not just for other B&B owners, but for individuals who want to reproduce some of this fancier fare at home, with minimal fuss.
Full-page color photos and step-by-step instructions make it easy to produce breakfast dishes that sound and look fancy but lend to home creation, such as Lemon Basil Panna Cotta Topped with Fresh Strawberries and Mango or Fried Eggs on Mushroom Hash with Melted Swiss.
The inclusion of savory main dishes along with sweets creates a well-balanced breakfast cookbook that lingers on the tongue and offers plenty of options for elegant, visually appealing fare.
The Blueberry Cookbook
Sally Pasley Vargas
Down East Publishers
The Blueberry Cookbook: Year-Round Dishes from Field to Table uses blueberries as the basis for everything from pancakes and pastries to cakes, ice creams, pies, and puddings.
Opening discussions of different types of blueberries, from wild to cultivated, and pantry staples for dessert-making preceed chapters packed with such recipes as a Middle East-inspired Maine Wild Blueberry Lemon Sauce or a Jordan Marsh bakery classic, Blueberry Muffins.
The color photos of each dessert both illustrate the fare and embellish the recipes. It should be noted that no savory dishes are included. This is a blueberry dessert cookbook that profiles the use of different kinds of blueberries in all kinds of creations, and is a top recommendation of blueberry fans who want to expand their dessert repertoire.
Cork and Knife
Emily and Matt Clifton
Page Street Publishing
Cork and Knife: Build Complex Flavors with Bourbon, Wine, Beer and More comes from the authors of the food blog Nerds with Knives, who began to see a pattern in the popular recipes they recommended—all included alcohol.
This revelation led to their exploration of how alcohol affects food flavors and how classic dishes can be reinivented with bourbon, wine, beer, and other alcohol infusions. Cork and Knife is the result of this investigation: over seventy recipes packed with flavors enhanced by alcohol.
Chapters are divided by alcoholic beverage, consider how chemical aspects of booze are affected by prep or cooking methods, and provide the technical details necessary to not only successfully duplicate each featured dish, but understand how the alcohol addition will translate to other dishes, as well.
Anyone looking for an introductory primer on using alcohol in cooking will welcome Cork and Knife's appealing compendium of recipes and discussions about why and how an alcoholic additive makes them pop.
Mandalay: Recipes & Tales from a Burmese Kitchen
Mandalay: Recipes & Tales from a Burmese Kitchen joins a relatively small but increasing number of Burmese cookbooks on the American market, but holds several differences that its competitors don't match.
One is a wealth of full-page color photos (by Cristian Barnett) of completed dishes that compliment every recipe to provide tantalizing images of Burmese fare, nestled on attractive serving dishes.
Recipe introductions are often lively, original reading in and of themselves, as in the opener to the Bottle Gourd and Glass Noodle Soup recipe: "Have fun fighting over the slippery noodles and chunks of gourd that bob about in this peppery soup."
From Pickled Beansprouts and a treat considered rare in Burma, a Spiced Crab Curry, to MiMi Aye's own favorite childhood sweet, Coconut Marble Jelly, Mandalay: Recipes & Tales from a Burmese Kitchen is an appealing deliciously easy introduction. It will win attention from both seasoned cooks and complete newcomers to Burmese fare, who should begin any exploration of Burma's cuisine with this comprehensive, appealing cookbook.
Novel New Novels
Thomas & Mercer
In Black Nowhere, FBI Special Agent Lisa Tanchik's investigation into cybercriminal activities leads her into the Dark Web and its criminal operations and possibilities.
Lisa is not a newcomer to the Dark Web's operations, and she's moved through this world before. This time, however, she's facing a different kind of criminal plot with the potential of producing not just singular crimes, but building an interconnected empire rooted in the Dark Web.
Part of a task force designed to locate and bring down this fledgling operation, Lisa faces dangerously brilliant university student Nate, whose efforts have led him into money, success, and criminal operations unprecedented in the cyber world.
Readers who like thrillers immersed in cat-and-mouse games and computer and business savvy will relish Black Nowhere, which offers unexpected encounters and superb tension right up to the end.
Simon & Schuster
Going Dutch is especially recommended for new adults who like their fiction to focus on complex relationships (including some passionate sexual moments) and tells of young man Richard, who feels isolated and lonely as he explores New York City's gay dating scene.
His classmate Anne would seem an unlikely choice for sexual exploration and a relationship, but Richard finds their attraction can't be ignored even as he continues to casually date men.
A story of a young man finding himself, a love triangle, and a search for intimacy that borders on disaster keeps Going Dutch involving, changing, and hard to put down. It's a powerful novel of aspiration and resilience that follows all its characters down roads of self-discovery and revelation.
Walter A. Brown
Lithium: A Doctor, A Drug, and a Breakthrough is both a biography and a science study of a drug and a physician's success in changing lives with it. It tells of a promising drug whose potential was not thoroughly realized due to health issues and the intervention of big pharma.
Because big drug companies couldn't patent or profit from this natural substance, they were not motivated to fund studies that would bring it to the public's eye and use.
It took a naturalist studying Australian magpies to bring lithium's potential to light—an effort not funded by research firms or big funding sources. Ironically, this meant that physician John Cade was not limited in his scientific studies by funding sources, influences, or issues.
Lithium: A Doctor, A Drug, and a Breakthrough is both a study of lithium's discovery and marketing and a consideration of the medical industry's role in drug success, failure, or study. It should be on the shelves of any consumer or medical history collection.
James H. Johnston
Potomac Books/University of Nebraska Press
Murder, Inc.: The CIA Under John F. Kennedy is not just another rehash of events surrounding Kennedy's assassination, but broadens its area of inspection from the crime scene, narrowing the focus to the CIA's overall assassination operations in the Caribbean, its influence on the Warren Commission, and its efforts to turn attention away from its own assassination operations.
Murder, Inc. considers how these strategies influenced the Commission's findings; but more importantly, it documents (in greatly researched detail) the CIA's plot against Castro and why any investigation into the possibility that Castro retaliated against Kennedy was quashed.
James H. Johnston is a lawyer and historian in Washington D.C. His involvement in these disciplines and his proximity to research archives declassified by the JFK Records Act and political circles in D.C. lend an authority to his contentions that are not present in competing JFK books on the subject.
Murder, Inc. is an outstanding, well-researched probe that holds many questions, unexpected findings, and evidence-based examination of not just JFK's operations, but the CIA's involvements overseas. It should be in collections strong in JFK and political history alike.
A Busy Creature's Day Eating!
The board book A Busy Creature's Day Eating! will appeal to young alphabet learners who will relish the apples, berries, cereal, doughnuts, eggs, and other possibilities that emerge when a very hungry creature expands his idea of food into the world around him.
What begins as a fairly straightforward, food-oriented ABC primer turns into a fun adventure as the creature ventures into territory that can hardly be deemed appetizing, much less digestible.
Parents who use A Busy Creature's Day Eating! as a read-aloud primer will be delighted by its fun drawings and innovative ideas.
Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Two fine new picture books are excellent choices for adults looking for lively leisure readers.
Jacqueline K. Rayner's Hats are Not for Cats! (9781328967190, $17.99) tells of a big dog in a top hat who declares that cats can't wear hats. A simple, fun rhyme explores the dog's contention that there is no kind of hat that would suit a cat. Or, is there? A cat's fun retort adds an unexpected element to the dog's perception of hat wearer limitations.
Ginny Goblin Cannot Have a Monster for a Pet by David Goodner (9780544764163, $17.99) is illustrated with fun drawings by Louis Thomas and tells of a little goblin who loves all kinds of animals, but can't seem to find the perfect pet.
Kids with good reading skills or parents who read this aloud will find this whimsical adventure helps youngsters consider options outside the usual pet qualifications as Ginny embarks on a search through all the options, with fun drawings leading the way into a variety of possibilities and drawbacks.
Both are attractive, unique stories that are fun and thought-provoking reads.
Give Me Back My Bones!
Give Me Back My Bones! is illustrated by Bob Kolar and includes a bone poster. It opens with a fun rhyming story of a stormy night that scatters a skeleton's bones.
Kids are invited to help the skeleton find them in a fun underwater picture book adventure that teaches kids about the names of bones and their purposes.
Parents who use this fun story for read-aloud will find the combination of physiology lesson and adventure story a fine, unusual blend that will keep youngsters engaged and educated.
Simon and Schuster
Seven titles from Simon and Schuster offer young readers fine leisure reading choices that stand out from others.
Robert Quackenbush's Henry's Awful Mistake (9781534415409, $16.99) tells of Henry the duck, who invites his friend Clara to his home for a fine dinner.
Unfortunately, Clara is not the only one coming to dinner. When Henry spies an ant in the kitchen, he's only observing the tip of trouble in this hilarious story of cleanliness, mayhem, and a cook's obsession with the perfect meal for his good friend.
Young picture book readers will love Michael Ian Black's I'm Worried (9781534415867, $17.99), a fun story of a girl, a flamingo, and a worried potato. It's the third book in the authors' series about feelings.
Ages 4-8 receive the vivid story of a worrywart potato and the friends who try to help him, often to no avail. What can friends do, to help?
Diane Kredensor's Superbuns! (9781481490689, $17.99) features a different kind of super-heroine: a bunny whose strength lies in kindness.
Buns thwarts the opinions of those who don't believe kindness is a superpower—including her older sister Blossom—and tells of a bunny who just can't hide her strengths.
Good reading skills or parental read-aloud assistance will enhance youngster delight in this uplifting tale.
Older readers ages 10-14 will appreciate Cynthia Kadohata's A Place to Belong (9781481446648, $17.99), a story of Japanese-American experiences after the end of World War II.
Many accounts focus on the dislocation of Japanese citizens during the war, but twelve-year-old Hanako's life after the war is still much changed. Imprisoned, isolated, and alone, Hanako and her family are forced to move to war-torn Japan, where their dream of new and better lives lies in shambles.
Japan is a country ruined and starving. Can Hanako help others in her new home while maintaining the tradition of improving her world? A moving story emerges which stands out from the usual focus on Japanese-Americans rebuilding their lives in America.
Katherine Johnson's Reaching for the Moon (9781534440838, $17.99) provides the autobiography of a NASA mathematician whose work fostered the Apollo landing program and the space shuttle launches.
As a young girl, Johnson demonstrated exceptional math abilities and studied with a professor who fostered her growth. But the challenges to success were many, as she grew up an African-American girl in an era replete with racism and sexism.
Her drive to achieve is captured in an inspirational story filled with uplifting admonitions to inspire modern young women: "If you want to know the answer to something, you have to ask a question. Always remember that there's no such thing as a dump question except if it goes unasked. Girls and women are capable of doing everything that boys and men are capable of doing. And sometimes we have more imagination than they do."
Anonymous's Breaking Bailey (9781534433083, $19.99) emphasizes its connection to the classic best-seller Go Ask Alice with cover art that looks very similar, an author who also remains anonymous, and a diary-style format that captures the anguish of Bailey, who wanted a new start at a new school far from her mother's recent death, but who finds herself in trouble when her new friends propose a scheme.
It's a powerful story, presented in the first person and filled with insights and anguish as powerful as Go Ask Alice.
Margaret Rogerson's Sorcery of Thorns (9781481497619, $17.99) presents older fantasy readers ages 14 and up with a powerful story of sorcery, magic, evil, and transformation.
Elisabeth has been raised in a library with the tools of sorcery all around her, but when the library's most dangerous grimoire is accidentally released and Elisabeth is mistakenly accused of the crime, she must find refuge not only with an evil enemy sorcerer's, but by uncovering an old conspiracy that involves her on many levels.
The future of the world is at stake. Is Elisabeth's upbringing strong enough to resist the powers she discovers in herself?
A potent story of choices, consequences, and frightening futures emerges.
Sleeping Bear Press
These two picture book stories are top recommendations for young readers. Each offers an important life lesson about understanding and problem-solving.
Kia Heise and Christopher D. Park's Little Sock (9781534110052, $14.99) tells of a little sock who is worn and washed repeatedly. Nothing seems likely to change, but he seeks adventure, and so he heads for Sock City after escaping the confines of his drawer.
Once there, will he realize his dreams of adventure and a different life? Kids will enjoy this engaging tale of change, fueled by an odd kind of hero.
Trinka Hakes Noble's A Fist for Joe Louis and Me (9781534110168, $17.99) is illustrated by Nicole Tadgell and will appeal to ages 6-10 as it explores Gordy's world of the 1938 Great Depression, his friendship with the tailor's son Ira (who also loves boxing), and how a historic match between boxing legend Joe Louis and Germany's Max Schmeling inspires two very different boys.
Issues of bullying, diversity, and sports achievement are all themes in a picture book story that requires good reading skills and an interest in boxing, but rewards young readers with a lively fictionalized story about real events.
Two fine new books from Tundra are excellent choices for picture book readers and their read-aloud parents.
Janet Hill's Life Lessons for a Cat Countess (9781770499225, $17.99) tells of Miss Marcella Mink, who lives with over sixty feline friends in her big house by the sea. Miss Mink has long been a cat enthusiast: a passion that nearly sunk her own business, which began to take over her life.
She turned to her cats for help when she no longer had time for anyone, and they set an example that reminded the cat countess of what was really important in life.
Good reading skills are required for Life Lessons for a Cat Countess, which will appeal to both older readers with reading abilities set to move beyond the picture book level and adults looking for lessons on success, setting priorities, and developing life values.
Gina Perry's Now? Not Yet! (9781101919521, $17.99) follows Peanut, who always questions whether 'now' is the right time, and his opposite Moe, who thinks that the time is never quite right. The two friends are very different in their approaches to life, but when a camping trip goes awry, they discover that their very different perspectives are actually complimentary to problem-solving in this fun story of differences and friendship.