Saturday, January 29, 2011


A sweet, flakey crust filled with warm, juicy there anything more comforting and delectable than pie? I adore pie. I attend pie festivals and pie parties. I like to eat pie, I like to bake pie, and I like to read about pie. Several years ago, I read a book that inspired me to learn how to make my own pies, crust and all. That book, American Pie : Slices of Life (and Pie) from America's Back Roads, is a travelogue where the author, Pascale LeDraoulec, goes on a cross-country road trip in search of the country's most scrumptious homemade pies. She samples coconut cream, shoofly, huckleberry, and many others that made my mouth water with envy.

Of course, if you're going to become a pie baker, you'll need a good pie cookbook, and my favorite is Ken Kaedrich's Pie : 300 Tried-and-True Recipes For Delicious Homemade Pie. Try the cheddar-crusted apple-pear pie or the blackberry silk pie or the lemon chess pie, or really, probably just about any pie in this book. I've yet to have a bad pie from this compilation!

One other wonderful pie book for your consideration: Humble Pie : Musings on What Lies Beneath the Crust by Anne Dimock is what you might classify as a pie manifesto. She writes about what it means to be a Pie Maker, about the fulfillment and joy that come from wielding a rolling pin and crimping a crust.

Are you hungry now?Come on over to the library and pick up one of these books! Just try not to drool on the pages.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Readers Rejoice at the Tucson Festival of Books

The third annual Tucson Festival of Books is just five weeks away! It's nirvana for book lovers--if you've never been, then clear your calendar now for March 12 and 13, head over to the U of A campus, and prepare to be amazed.

I personally am already working out my game plan for checking in on my favorite authors. First on my list is Pete Dexter, former syndicate columnist and National Book Award-winning author of Paris Trout, a chilling tale of social tensions in the deep south. Trout, a storekeeper, kills a black child, unconcernedly and with no remorse. Certain that his white neighbors will be equally as indifferent, he's flabbergasted when the town, embarrassed by his overt racism, tries him for murder. This is a dark, tightly-written examination of small-minded, small town Southern life.

In Spooner, Dexter's latest outing, he considers the relationship of a son and his stepfather in a hilarious memoir-turned-novel. Spooner is a problem child, the family underachiever in a crop of brilliant offspring. Spooner gets into more trouble in a weekend than most kids manage in a year--he gets expelled from kindergarten for being unnaturally fond of his teacher, and has been known to break into neighbors' houses to urinate in their shoes for reasons that even he can't understand. After an injury curtails his brief, shining moment as a baseball star, Spooner-the-adult resumes his shambling way through life, beset by bad luck and poor judgment. The constant in his life is his stepfather, Calmer Ottosson, a man blessed with patience despite his own disappointments. Dexter never fails to spin a great yarn. In Spooner he delivers a tale that is at times heart-breaking, but more often riotously funny.

I'll also be stopping by to hear Lisa Genova, neuroscientist-turned author of Still Alice. A warning: if you've ever walked into a room and forgotten what you came for, you may find yourself discomforted by this disturbing yet spellbinding first-person narrative of a Harvard professor descending into early-onset Alzheimers. The outcome is a tragic and foregone conclusion, but you'll find yourself rooting for Alice in her struggle to remain strong and independent in the face of the inexorable loss of her mind. This is Genova's first outing as a novelist, and its remarkable.

Other literary luminaries on my must-see list are Martin Cruz Smith (his latest Arkady Renko thriller--7th in the series that began with Gorky Park is Three Stations, in which Renko investigates the apparent suicide of a prostitute); Julia Glass (she won the National Book Award with The Three Junes and her latest, The Widower's Tale, features a retired librarian -- I'm a fan!); and Elizabeth Berg (The Last Time I Saw You).

Make your own list! Go to the
Tucson Festival of Books website to see the complete roster of presenting authors, then get ready for an unforgettable weekend of books and authors. The Festival is free, and so is the parking. Don't miss it!

Click on the links to find these books at the library.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichl

Food is everywhere. We aren't just eating it or seeing it advertised; we are cooking it, watching shows (whole networks) about it, and especially reading about it. America is growing a strong culture of foodies.

With that interest, comes the food memoir.

Tender at the Bone is the quintessential food memoir. Written by Ruth Reichl (the editor-in-chief of the sadly discontinued Gourmet Magazine), this hilarious and heartwarming read will have you sauteing inbetween chapters. Her life is not only filled with food; she retells living with a manic depressive mother, trying out a commune in Berkeley, and wooing friends with delicious dishes.

Her favorite recipes are included, hopefully to become some of yours too!

~Roller Derby Librarian

Friday, January 14, 2011


At a time like this, I just need to escape into a good story. Luckily, Neil Gaiman has wonderful stories to tell, such as his fairy tale for adults, Stardust. Everything you want in a fairy tale - a young man on a quest, magic, hidden love, evil witches, enchantment, humor - a perfect place to hide for a few days. I listened to the audiobook (anything that Neil Gaiman narrates is terrific - his voice is spot on) and at the end there was an interview with the author. That's when I found out there was a novel, a graphic novel and a movie! And to make this an absolutely perfect book for right now, it was partly based on a shooting star that he saw while out in the Tucson desert. For this librarian, I take some comfort in that.

Check it out at the PCPL library.

~ More Books

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Few Good Books

On Monday, January 10, the American Library Association announced their yearly award winners for children's and teen literature, including the most famous medals, the Newbery and the Caldecott. It's kind of like the Oscars for librarians, except that attendees tend more toward slacks and sweaters than ballgowns and diamonds.

The list is much too long to reproduce here, but check out the ALA website's press release if you're interested. I just wanted to mention a few of the winners and honor books that I've read and particularly liked.

Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan is about two boys, both named Will Grayson, and how their lives intersect through another boy, Tiny Cooper, who is one Will's best friend and the other one's boyfriend. Told in alternating chapters, it's funny, painful, and some of the best work of both these massively talented authors.

This won a Stonewall Honor. This award recognizes the best books relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered experience.

Ballet for Martha: The Making of Appalachian Spring by by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca
The ballet "Appalachian Spring" is a 20th century classic. In this fascinating book, readers learn the story of the artistic collaboration between composer Aaron Copland, cheoreographer Martha Graham, and set designer Isamu Noguchi as they fused their tremendous talents to create a uniquely American work of art.

This won a Sibert honor, given to the best informational books for young readers.

And finally, if you have little ones in your life, or if you're just young at heart, don't miss this one.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead
Amos McGee is a zookeeper beloved by the animals for his caring and nurturing ways. When he stays home sick one day, the animals decide that it's their turn to care for him. Erin Stead's light, delicate art brings out all the charm of Philip Stead's sweet story.

This won the Caldecott Medal, which is given specifically for excellence in illustrations.

Find them at your library by clicking the titles!

--Maureen K.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Look. In order to look, you have to see. What you see depends on where you look. Where you look depends on your perspective. And your perspective... depends on who you are. And who you are often depends on how others see you.

Meet Meghan Ball and Aimee Zorn. Meghan is overweight and Aimee is anorexic. But take a closer look.

Which is exactly what Madeleine George manages to do in her novel, Looks. There is nothing remote about her prose and her descriptions as she delves into the world of looks, friendship, betrayal, revenge, and self-image. This book stayed with me long after I put it down.

Find it at your library.

~ That One Girl