15. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction

Plastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman (Author), Annie Crawley (Photographer), read by Angie, on 05/15/2014

This is the type of nonfiction I really enjoy reading (maybe I just have the mind of a middle schooler!). It is on a fascinating subject I know little about. It contains all kinds of useful information with lots of pictures. And it isn’t so long that I lose interest. 

Plastic Ahoy is all about a scientific expedition called SEAPLEX that traveled out into the Pacific Ocean to investigate the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The scientists onboard wanted to learn how the plastic was affecting the marine life. They investigated whether marine life was using the plastic and garbage as habitats, whether the marine life was consuming the plastic and what happened when it did, and if it was affecting the phytoplankton in the ocean. The book follows three scientists through their experiments and conclusions. It was very educational, but entertaining and interesting at the same time.

10. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Informational Book, Inspirational, NonFiction

Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers by Penny Kittle, read by Angie, on 05/09/2014

I had the pleasure of listening to Penny Kittle talk about Book Love at a conference recently. Her passion and dedication to introducing books to teenagers was inspiring. This book just continues that inspiration. If I had a teacher like Mrs. Kittle in high school I think I would have had a blast. Kittle discusses how most high school students are not readers and do not read at the level to prepare them for their future. Instead of cramming classics and class reads down their throats (which they don’t read any way), Kittle advocates finding the right books for the right kids and building their stamina for reading. She intersperses her philosophy and teachings with stories of her students. These stories are amazing. The fact that she gets so many non-readers to become readers is a testament to her love and resilience. I am not a teacher, but a librarian, and I found all kinds of ideas for books to connect with reluctant readers. Of course, most reluctant readers don’t find their way to the public library, but when they do I might be better prepared. I wish this book was required reading for all high school teachers. I would recommend it to all those interested in getting kids to read.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

My Usual Table: A Life in Restaurants by Colman Andrews, read by Madeline, on 04/30/2014

A vivid portrait of a life lived in food, from renowned food writer and critic Colman Andrews, a founding editor of Saveur, James Beard award winner, and author of the classic cookbooks Catalan Cuisine and The Country Cooking of Ireland

For Colman Andrews, restaurants have been his playground, his theater, his university, his church, his refuge. From his Hollywood childhood through his days in the music business, his first forays into restaurant reviewing, and his ever-evolving career as a food writer and magazine editor—not to mention the course of his obsessive traveling and complicated personal life—he has seen the world mostly from the dining room. Now, in My Usual Table, Andrews interweaves his own story with intimate tales of the seminal restaurants and the great chefs and restaurateurs of our time who are emblematic of the revolutions large and small that have forever transformed the way we eat, cook, and feel about food.

In sixteen chapters, each anchored by the story of his love affair with a cherished restaurant, Andrews evokes the unforgettable meals he has eaten over a lifetime, and the remarkable people with whom he has shared them, tracing the evolution not just of our restaurants but our whole food culture. Beginning with a postwar childhood spent in the banquettes of Chasen’s, the glamorous Old Hollywood hangout where studio heads and celebrities rubbed shoulders, Andrews charts a course through the psychedelic ’60s, when both he and Americans at large fell for the novel “ethnic” food at spots like neo-Polynesian Trader Vic’s or Mexican institution El Coyote. As Andrews began traveling for his burgeoning writing and magazine career in the ’70s and ’80s, he spent countless hours in the family-run cafés of Paris and trattorias of Rome. The timeless dishes so common on their menus, focused on local and seasonal ingredients, would not only come to profoundly influence Andrews’s palate, but also transform the American foodscape forever. Andrews’s unparalleled access to the world of food positioned him perfectly as an intimate witness to the rise of revolutionary restaurants like Spago and El Bulli.

From Andrews’s usual table, he has watched the growth of nouvelle cuisine and fusion cuisine; the explosion of the organic and locavore movements; the rise of nose-to-tail eating; and so-called molecular gastronomy. The bistros, brasseries, and cafés he has loved have not only influenced culinary trends at home and abroad, but represent the changing history and culture of food in America and Western Europe. And all along the way, Andrews has been right there in the dining room, menu in one hand and notebook in the other.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley, read by Madeline, on 04/05/2014

Through the compelling stories of three American teenagers living abroad and attending the world’s top-notch public high schools, an investigative reporter explains how these systems cultivate the “smartest” kids on the planet.

America has long compared its students to top-performing kids of other nations. But how do the world’s education superpowers look through the eyes of an American high school student? Author Amanda Ripley follows three teenagers who chose to spend one school year living and learning in Finland, South Korea, and Poland. Through their adventures, Ripley discovers startling truths about how attitudes, parenting, and rigorous teaching have revolutionized these countries’ education results.

In The Smartest Kids in the World, Ripley’s astonishing new insights reveal that top-performing countries have achieved greatness only in the past several decades; that the kids who live there are learning to think for themselves, partly through failing early and often; and that persistence, hard work, and resilience matter more to our children’s life chances than self-esteem or sports.

Ripley’s investigative work seamlessly weaves narrative and research, providing in-depth analysis and gripping details that will keep you turning the pages. Written in a clear and engaging style, The Smartest Kids in the World will enliven public as well as dinner table debates over what makes for brighter and better students.

28. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: How To's, Informational Book, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , , ,

How to Find out Anything by Don MacLeod, read by Tammy, on 04/30/2014

how to find In How to Find Out Anything, researcher Don MacLeod explains how to find what you’re looking for quickly, efficiently, and accurately—and how to avoid the most common mistakes of the Google Age.

He starts by explaining what a regular Google search (as the most popular and search engine) is good at and what it is not. He also shows you some tips to improve Google’s ability to find what you are really looking for. He also emphasizes that while Google may be the best place to start a search it is not the best place to end it.

He shares websites that let you tap into the knowledge on the “deep web” or many websites and databases that have reliable information available but that will not be found by a Google search.

In spite of having attended several training sessions on the deep web, MacLeod’s book has some that I had never heard of before. He also had some tips for searching Google that I was unaware of such as how to limit your search by country of origin of the website.

27. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Business, Informational Book, NonFiction, Rachel, Science

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier, read by Rachel, on 04/27/2014

THE DAZZLING NEW MASTERWORK FROM THE PROPHET OF SILICON VALLEY

Jaron Lanier is the bestselling author of You Are Not a Gadget, the father of virtual reality, and one of the most influential thinkers of our time. For decades, Lanier has drawn on his expertise and experience as a computer scientist, musician, and digital media pioneer to predict the revolutionary ways in which technology is transforming our culture.

Who Owns the Future? is a visionary reckoning with the effects network technologies have had on our economy. Lanier asserts that the rise of digital networks led our economy into recession and decimated the middle class. Now, as technology flattens more and more industries-from media to medicine to manufacturing-we are facing even greater challenges to employment and personal wealth.

But there is an alternative to allowing technology to own our future. In this ambitious and deeply humane book, Lanier charts the path toward a new information economy that will stabilize the middle class and allow it to grow. It is time for ordinary people to be rewarded for what they do and share on the web.

Insightful, original, and provocative, Who Owns the Future? is necessary reading for everyone who lives a part of their lives online.

blueprintA Blueprint for Your Castle in the Clouds is full of delightful ideas for escaping into one’s own imagination.  However, it also provides lots of useful tips for dealing with negative emotions you might come across.  Take the negative emotions into various rooms of the castle to deal with them.  That is the essential meat of the book.  There are rooms to express love, creativity, happiness and other positive emotions.  The reader is encouraged to have fun building these mental rooms and is given some great starter questions for building each room.  The author also encourages physical manifestations such as drawings of the rooms and conversations with different aspects of the reader’s personality.  Very enjoyable and lots of great ideas.

 

19. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction, Teen Books

Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football: Make-or-Break Moment by Carla Killough McClafferty, read by Angie, on 04/17/2014

This was a fascinating look at the connections between football and concussions. The first thing you read about in the book is the history of the sport of football. One of the things I found most interesting was the fact that conversations about the dangers of concussions with football players started at the beginning of this game. Football has always been a dangerous sport and it started out even more dangerous than it is today. I knew players didn’t start out with the padding and helmets of today. What I didn’t realize was that they started out with no padding or helmets and that it was a fairly common occurrence for players to die. From the time football started in the 1890s to when it was reformed in the 1900s it seems between 10-20 players died each year as a result of injuries sustained playing football. The fact that the game persists to this day is astounding!

The other thing I found really interesting was the fact that brain injuries are so very common among all ages of football players. The book gets into the science pretty heavily which I think will go over some kids heads, but they will understand the injuries and deaths that football players have sustained. Concussions and football have been in the news a lot lately, but the connection actually started in the 1980s. Repeated concussions and repeated blows to the head without concussion have resulted in dementia, ALS, Alzheimers, and death among football players. And it isn’t just the professional players that have to worry about it. Brain damage has even been found in high school and college football players. The fact that we let our boys start playing at a very early age and then have them continue into their teens means they are likely to get hit thousands of times. This means there is a greater chance they will sustain brain damage or injuries. I’m glad I never played football, but I worry about those who have and will.

17. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, Informational Book, Marsha, NonFiction

Bookworks by Sue Dogget, read by Marsha, on 04/17/2014

bookworksBookworks is a text about bookbinding and gives a lot of information about different methods of putting books together.  To begin, I should mention this may not be the best book for a complete beginner.  Some of the diagrams are rather unclear as are the instructions.  The author seems to assume the reader has done some bookbinding prior to picking up her text.  This is not to say the book is all bad, however.  There is a marvelous section accordion folding that I have not seen in other texts of this nature.  It has a lot of different ideas for using the said folds for various applications.  Dogget also keeps the number of bindings she tries to teach to a minimum, thus not overwhelming the reader with all the different ways available to bind a book.  The areas I feel could be improved include embossing covers and cutting recesses.  These features were glossed over and I feel she could have spent more time with them.  There are lots of great ideas in here, including a method for making a clasp for a diary you won’t want to miss.  It is worth picking up Bookworks and giving it a look.

Spirit AnimalsThe Secret Power of Spirit Animals gives some information on not only learning which animal is the reader’s totem, but also what characteristics those with that totem possess.  Part I is about connecting with a spirit animal and exploring to find out which animal is the reader’s totem.  It also describes topics such as familiars and techniques for working with spirit animals.  In Part II, 200 spirit creatures are described more in depth.  The information given includes characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, how to use the creature’s power, and symbolic meanings of seeing that creature either in a dream or the real world.  Part II makes up the bulk of the book.  As a reader, I myself was hoping to see more information in Part I.  Though some history and mythology is touched on from around the world, it would be nice if the author had gone more in depth with the human-animal connection through time.  Regardless, this is a nice book for those of us who are just curious about the subject matter and want a taste of what spirit animals are all about.  Part II reads much like a dictionary and would be better used as a resource than as something read from beginning to end, but it is still interesting if the reader decides to dive in and read it from cover to cover.  There is a lot of information crammed into each entry and some of the entries made me want to research those animals more thoroughly.  A good book for basic information, but wish it included some resources for further discovery.

07. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Informational Book, NonFiction, Teen Books

Rookie Yearbook Two by Tavi Gevinson, read by Courtney, on 03/27/2014

Can I just say how much I love Rookie? Loooove it. And it makes me really happy that a good deal of the online-only magazine is being published in these “Yearbook” editions. The format is identical to the first Yearbook, but the depth and breadth of the subject matter is fresh and relevant. Rookie tackles things that most other teen magazines wouldn’t dare to. Faith, sexuality, art, music and activism are all given equal weight and credibility. The fashion spreads are moody and creative (and refreshing free from brand names and prices; something I’ve always found particularly irritating about most magazines). Themed playlists and colorful art abounds throughout. There’s not a single teenaged girl I wouldn’t recommend this to. In fact, I think most adults should check it out too. I know I learned a thing or two. And boys? If you want to understand girls a little bit more, consider this a really good starting point.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

The Black Belt Librarian by Warren Graham, read by Madeline, on 03/30/2014

Sharing expertise gleaned from more than two decades as a library security manager, Graham demonstrates that libraries can maintain their best traditions of openness and public access by creating an unobtrusive yet effective security plan. In straightforward language, the author shows how to easily set clear expectations for visitors behavior, presents guidelines for when and how to intervene when someone violates the code of conduct, including tips for approaching an unruly patron, offers instruction on keeping persistent troublemakers under control or permanently barred from the library, gives library staff tools for communicating effectively with its security professionals, including examples of basic documentation. The Black Belt Librarian arms librarians with the confidence and know-how they need to maintain a comfortable, productive, and safe environment for everyone in the library.

01. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

Poop Happened! by Sarah Albee, Robert Leighton (Illustrator), read by Angie, on 03/31/2014

Poop is not just funny for kids. Some adults (**cough** **cough**) find this topic just as interesting. Everybody does it and no one wants to talk about it, but the history of how people eliminate waste is fascinating. Poop Happened takes the reader on a journey through history; the history of poop and what people have done with it. I found it especially interesting to learn that sanitation-wise things were much better during Egyptian and Roman times than they were for a thousand years after. There was a lot of waste just sitting around during the middle ages and no one seemed to know what to do about it.

The first time I read this book we sat in the library reading excerpts from this book for a long time and just couldn’t put it down. It is fascinating, informative and addicting. You have probably always wondered what they did for bathrooms back in the old days…well this book will tell you in all the gross detail. And you probably didn’t really want to know!

For instance, once a knight had his armor on it didn’t come off for anything and it was his squires job to clean it at the end of the day. I definitely wouldn’t have wanted that job! I guess you really can’t stop a battle to take off a hundred pounds of armor to go to the bathroom, but can you imagine sitting in that all day!

In Renaissance France the ladies’ dresses were so big they could barely sit down much less squat over a chamber pot so they had maids who would hold sponges under their dresses while they did their business. Yet another job I wouldn’t want. During that time period corners and hallways were also fair game for bathroom usage. I always thought of it as a very elegant time but I bet the bottom of your dress was pretty gross! And that everything smelled disgusting!

There are other awesome facts like these in this book. I highly recommend it. It is written so that you don’t have to read it cover to cover; you can flip through and pick different eras or pages to pour over. But the information is definitely worth the read. I was educated and entertained and I still think back on the book and what I learned and laugh! This is also a book I like to recommend to reluctant readers or kids who like gross facts. It is one that will suck you in!

I have been reading a lot on this subject lately (because I am doing a program on it) so I feel like I have become something of an expert. This is the oldest book I read on sanitation history and perhaps the dullest. The text itself has some interesting facts and there are great pictures throughout the book. However, the author has a very abrupt way of writing and seems to jump around a lot. It is also all black and white which means there is nothing that stands out on the page. I am sure this is because of the age of the book, but it does pale in comparison to the others I have read.

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

Flush: The Scoop on Poop Throughout the Ages by Charise Mericle Harper, read by Angie, on 03/31/2014

Flush: The Scoop on Poop is full of fun little poems about the history of how people dispose of bodily waste (i.e. poop). The poems cover everything from the uses of urine to toilet paper to chamber pots and garderobes to toilets in space. I especially enjoyed the “Fun Facts” sections that accompanied every poem. These paragraphs gave the historical information about whatever topic was covered in the poem. Very fun to read and informational!

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

The Story Behind Toilets by Elizabeth Raum, read by Angie, on 03/31/2014

The Story Behind Toilets offers a brief history of the toilet and then covers the modern aspects of sewage treatment. Lots of great pictures are included along with a very nice timeline of the toilet’s history.

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

What You Never Knew About Tubs, Toilets, & Showers by Patricia Lauber, read by Angie, on 03/31/2014

There is a lot of information packed into this small book. Most of the history covers baths and what people thought of them through the ages. There is a nice variety of information from around the globe included. Fun little book!

14. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: How To's, Informational Book, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

Compact Houses by Gerald Rowan, read by Tammy, on 03/08/2014

compact homesGuide to making the most of smaller homes though several of these I didn’t consider small. The book gives floor plans, guides to what to consider when designing room layouts, ways to remodel small spaces to make them more energy efficient and a few general ideas to make the most of every inch in your smaller home.

I was hoping for more ideas on remodeling an existing small home.

 

05. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Graphic Book, Informational Book, NonFiction

Hip Hop Family Tree, Vol. 1 by Ed Piskor, read by Courtney, on 03/03/2014

Ed Piskor has taken on an extremely ambitious undertaking in his on-going Hip Hop Family Tree comic strip. Originally serialized online at Boing Boing, the comic has now been collected and bound for our reading pleasure. Beginning with some of the earliest house parties and rap battles and moving up through rap’s mainstream breakthrough in Blondie’s single, “Rapture”, this first volume has a lot of ground to cover. The end of the book features an index and discographies, both of the artists and the beats/breaks frequently used by DJs.
I totally get why the format is used for this history of hip hop, but I still can’t help but feel like there’s something missing here. It gets difficult to keep track of all the names and alliances. There are definitely tons of noteworthy moments featured throughout, but more organization and contextual information would have been helpful.

03. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction, Travel

My Venice and Other Essays by Donna Leon, read by Madeline, on 02/28/2014

Donna Leon has won a huge number of passionate fans and a tremendous amount of critical acclaim for her international bestselling mystery series featuring Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti. These accolades have built up not just for her intricate plots and gripping narratives, but for her insight into the culture, politics, family-life, and history of Venice, one of the world’s most-treasured cities, and Leon’s home for over thirty years. Readers love how Leon opens the doors to a private Venice, beyond the reach of the millions of international tourists who delight in the city’s canals, food, and art every year.

My Venice and Other Essays will be a treat for Leon’s many fans, as well as for lovers of Italy and La Serenissima. For many years, Leon, who is a perennial #1 bestseller in Germany, has written essays for European publications. Collected here are the best of these: over fifty funny, charming, passionate, and insightful essays that range from battles over garbage in the canals to the troubles with rehabbing Venetian real estate. She shares episodes from her life in Venice, explores her love of opera, and recounts tales from in and around her country house in the mountains. With pointed observations and humor, she also explores her family history and former life in New Jersey, and the idea of the Italian man.