Friday, May 22, 2015

Why everyone's listening to books!

There is no denying the rising popularity of audiobooks. Seems like everyone’s listening. Sno-Isle libraries offer free digital downloads through Overdrive, Hoopla and 3M. Overdrive alone offers over 13,000 titles.

A gifted narrator brings the story to life. The right voice for the right book is essential. I particularly enjoy listening to books where the characters have an accent.

Angela's ashes [a memoir]Angela’s Ashes: a memoir is read by author Frank McCourt. McCourt  tells the story of his Irish childhood in a lilting Irish brogue.

The help

The Help written by Kathryn Stockett is the story of a young woman who writes a book from the view point of several black maids. Spoken by several narrators with varying southern dialects.

Doc [a novel]

Doc by Mary Doria Russell is a fictionalized account of Doc Holliday's life. 
Read by Mark Bramhall –you can practically smell the whiskey in his voice. 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is written in letters between London and the people of Guernsey Island in 1946.  The five narrators capture the essence of the residents of Guernsey Island.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Samurai and Shoguns in Manga

One of the things I have really enjoyed about reading and looking at graphic novels is learning about different cultures.  I have gone back and read many of the long standing manga series.  Luckily, several are being reissued in omnibuses. 

The Edo period of Japanese history is the topic of many manga series.  Edo was the seat of the shogunate rulers. It was on the site of the future Tokyo.  It is also know as the Tokugawa period for it's founder.  The era ran from 1603–1867.  This was also a time where merchants and their cities gained power. It was a very difficult time to be a peasant. The Shogunate tried for strict isolation, but European influence was already being felt including Christianity.  To find out more about this era, try the subject Tokugawa in our catalog or our history resource World History in Context.

Warriors who worked for the shogunate and the daimyos were samurai and followed the way of Bushido.  Samurai on their own were ronin.  Many of the characters in the manga are ronin.

Our manga covers the whole range of  the era. Characters can be from real life like in Miyamoto Musashi in Vagabond.  They can be hero like Ogami Itto in Lone wolf and cub or on the wrong side of the law like Akitsu Masanosuke in House of five leaves. Ooku is alternative history where women rule, but follow the true history of the shoguns. Usagi Yojimbo, the rabbit ronin is pure fantasy.

Be sure to check our other new graphic novel lists under Books then Booklists.

Posted by Becky

Monday, May 11, 2015

Baking Bread

by Jackie

I have a confession to make. I... don't really go in for New Year's resolutions. In my mind it really just seems like a set up for failure. At least for me. However, this year, I seem to have subconsciously made one: I haven't purchased bread since January. I've been making it all myself. It wasn't something I intentionally set out to do, but it's been far less of a hassle than I would have imagined. I find that I really only bake once every 10 days or so. Most of the time I fall back on the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day recipes because, well, it's so easy and makes a decent loaf. Although their 1.5 pound loaves are laughably small. I generally up them to two pounds so the loaf lasts longer and I bake less. We find the recipe for the American soft-crusted loaf the most practical, but we've enjoyed everything we've made. The pumpernickel was fun to make since it required coffee for that signature color.

I thought that I was a little weird, but then I looked into the most popular search terms in the library's catalog and it turns out I'm not alone. Bread making was one of the most popular searches Sno-Isle patrons were looking for in 2014. Specifically, "bread" was the third most searched term and "bread machine recipes" the sixth. They were searched for over 15,000 times! We decided to make a list for all of you searching to make your own bread:

I can now lose a shameful amount of time on the King Arthur Flour website (the English Muffin Toasting Bread is amazing for those Midwestern transplants like me who miss that spongy texture) or thumbing through their books.

Wild yeast sourdough success!
But it's the sourdoughs that I really wanted to tackle. All the rest have just been practice. I've been interested in wild yeast starters for a couple years in concept, but other than one failed technicolor disaster, I hadn't fully committed. Wild yeast starters are where you mix an equal amount of flour and water and wait for the mix to become active and bubbly while it sits on your counter for a week or so (you have to feed it occasionally with more flour and water). Sourdough is intimidating. It seems that every book and baker you consult has an entirely different method. I've checked out innumerable books that promise the only way to create authentic sourdough is with complicated sounding brams and sponges, cultures and proofs, pineapple juice, or insulated heating boxes. One loaf of bread by any of these methods will take 3-5 days. That is just completely not a practical timeline for me.

There had to be another way. I really didn't think that the ancient Egyptians were as fussy as, say, The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I finally, improbably, stumbled across a more relaxed approach to the starter in a book called (and this may give you an inkling to how many books I checked out searching for a realistic sourdough approach) Build Your Own Earth Oven : a low-cost, wood-fired mud oven, simple sourdough bread, perfect loaves. I have no intention of building an earth oven, just to make that clear. And then, still not happy about the steps from starter to loaf, I broke down and checked my go-to source: The Joy of Cooking. Yep. It was there on my bookshelf in the kitchen the whole time; see the above photo for proof!

I like to think that I went through all of the practical research so you don't have to. Michael Pollan's Cooked also has a really interesting section (to the bread-inclined academics among us) about yeast and fermentation in bread.

Moroccan Tuna Sandwiches for two!
I used the baguette featured above to make these Moroccan Tuna Sandwiches (based on the amazing one you can get from Sam's Moroccan Sandwich Shop in Seattle). The boule was used for toast and less interesting sandwiches.

Let's see if I can make this bread baking habit last through the heat of summer!

What's your experience with bread making? Do you have a favorite recipe, technique, or book?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

2015 Edgar Awards from Mystery Writers of America

by Marina

On April 29, 2015, at their 69th Gala Banquet held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City, the Mystery Writers of America announced the winners (and nominees) in a variety of mystery categories (including fiction, nonfiction and television) for the Edgar Allen Poe Awards.

Here are the winners:

Best Novel
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Best First Novel by an American Author
Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman

Best Paperback Original
The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Abani

Best Fact Crime
Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann

Best Critical/Biographical
Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe by J.W. Ocker (on order)

Best Short Story
"What Do You Do?" by Gillian Flynn in Rogues

Best Juvenile
Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Best Young Adult
The Art of Secrets by James Klise

Best Television Episode Teleplay
"Episode 1" from Happy Valley, teleplay by Sally Wainwright (not available in U.S. at this time)

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Armchair Birder

Everyone is familiar with the term “armchair traveler”.  Well, I confess to being something of an armchair birder.  Despite my pleasure in observing the birds drawn into my garden by various tantalizing feeders, cozy bird cottages, strategically placed water basins and a myriad of tempting flowers, what I often crave is immersing myself in a book, reading a great story about someone’s personal relationship with birds.  Here are a few reading selections that may bring out your inner armchair birder:*&query=&page=0&searchid=16*&sort=RELEVANCE&page=0&searchid=20*&sort=RELEVANCE&page=0&searchid=22*&query=&page=0&searchid=10*&sort=RELEVANCE&page=0&searchid=18

Monday, April 27, 2015

Horse Stories

Anyone who works around books has seen trends come and go. Feng Shui, eating paleo, macrame, vampires...

So what is always popular?

Horse Stories!

For our youngest equine fans:

A child creates her dream pony by drawing it on paper 
and imagining the adventures they would go on.

Harry keeps a horse in his room. 
A trusty horse only he can see.

The Classics:

Anna Sewell's moving story is one of the best-loved
 animal adventures ever written.


On an island off the coasts of Virginia and Maryland 
lives a centuries-old band of wild ponies.
 Among them is the most mysterious of all, Phantom.

Horse Care:

Comprehensive and up-to-date reference on the care 
and management of a horse. 

For the adult lover of horses:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

For fans of The Boys in the Boat

Last week, author Daniel James Brown spoke about his book,  The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics at several Whidbey Island locations.  For those of you who've enjoyed this fantastic book, here are some other stories of remarkable individuals meeting the trials of WWII with courage. (Each of the following books received at least one starred review, and were published within the last 3 years).

Agent Garbo: how a brilliant, eccentric spy tricked Hitler and saved D-Day, by Stephan Tally.
Describes the life of Juan Pujol, a poultry farmer who opposed the Nazis and concocted a series of staggering lies that lead to his becoming one of Germany's most valued spies, while actually acting as a double-agent for the Allies.

Diary of the Dark Years, 1940-1944: collaboration, resistance, and daily life in occupied Paris, by Jean Guehenno.
Jean Guehenno's diary is the most oft-quoted piece of testimony on life in occupied France.  A sharply observed record of day-to-day life under Nazi rule in Paris and a bitter commentary on literary life in those years, it has also been called "a remarkable essay on courage and cowardice". (Caroline Moorehead, Wall Street Journal).  This is the first English translation of this important historical document.

Frozen in Time: an epic story of survival and a modern quest for lost heroes of World War II, by Mitchell Zuckoff.
Drawing on intensive research and a firsthand account of the dangerous 2012 expedition, this thrilling true story of survival which moves between World War II and today, follows the survivors of a U.S. cargo plane crash in 1942 and their 148 days spent fighting for their lives during a brutal Arctic winter.

Isaac's army: the Jewish resistance in occupied Poland, by Matthew Brzezinski.
Describes the formation of one of the most daring underground movements of World War II under the leadership of twenty-four-year-old Isaac Zuckerman and the group's collective efforts to gather information, build and arms cache, participate in uprisings, and organize escape systems.

Pere Marie-Benoit and Jewish rescue: how a French priest together with Jewish friends saved thousands during the Holocaust, by Susan Zuccotti
Unlike many Catholics of the time, Franciscan priest Pere Marie-Benoit vehemently opposed anti-Semitism and championed protection for the Jews.  He rescued thousands of Jews during WWII by sheltering refugees in France, and assisted Italian Jews after his transfer to Rome.

Prague winter: a personal story of remembrance and war, 1937-1948, by Madeleine Korbel Albright.
The former Secretary of State paints a portrait of her early life from 1937-1948 during which she witnessed teh Nazi invasion of her native Prague, the Holocaust, the defeat of fascism, the rise of communism, and the onset of the Cold War.

The dog who could fly: the incredible true story of a WWII airman and the four-legged hero who flew at his side, by Damien Lewis.
And instant his in the UK, this is the true account of a German shepherd who was adopted by teh Royal Air Force during World War II, joined in flight missions, and survived everything from crash-landings to parachute bailouts--ultimately saveing the life of his owner and dearest friend.

The liberator: one World War II soldier's 500-day odyssey from the beaches of Sicily to the gates of Dachau, by Alex Kershaw.
Traces the achievements of the world War II regiments under Felix Sparks, documenting their clashes with Hitler's elite troops in Sicily and Alerno and their heroic liberation of the Dachau concentration camp.

You are not forgotten: the story of a lost WWII pilot and a twenty-first-century soldier's mission to bring him home, by Bryan Bender.  
Follows the story of a Marine corps pilot who was shot down in World War II and the J-PAC soldier who resolved to bring home his remains six decades later, offering insidght in to the factors that challenged the recovery mission.