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broodings from the burrow

January 31, 2006

new books
posted by soe 11:58 pm

I thought I’d add a new end-of-the-month feature where I share my recent book acquisitions. Some months that will be very light. Other months — particularly months when I attend book-related conferences — will be heavier.

January is a “heavy” book month because I attend the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting during it. Somehow I managed to acquire 11 books this month. Now I just need to come up with someplace to put them…

I came home from San Antonio with these new books:

  • The Alps, edited by Krista Dana
  • From the book jacket: “This book shows you how to experience the Alps more intensely and directly than most travelers ever wil — getting out of the bus, taxi, or rental car and seeing it all close-up, through walks, bike rides, horseback excursions, culinary adventures, interacting with the people. Whether you love to walk or you love to find the most unforgettable restaurants, shops, and charming inns, this guide has you covered.”
    Why this book? First, because the publisher, Hunter Travel Guides, was in the booth next to ours. Second, because they didn’t have a book strictly on Austria. Third, because I couldn’t find chili powder to bring back to Rudi as a present. Fourth, because his mother spent many years in Austria as a child and Rudi hopes to travel back with her during the next few years.

  • Bowery Girl, by Kim Taylor (due out April 6)
  • From the book jacket: “The Bowery, 1883: Gamblers and thieves, immigrants and street Arabs, do-gooders and charity houses, impossible dreams and impossible odds. This is the story of two “Bowery Girls” — the pickpocket Mollie Flynn and the prostitute Annabelle Lee. Neither has a family nor an education. … Then their lives are interrupted by a chance encounter with Emmeline DuPre, who has just bought and opened the Cherry Street Settlement House, whoere Mollie and Annabelle are given the opportunity to better themselves. But the city offers many temptations, and on the streets of the Bowery, you do whatever it takes to survive…”
    Why this book? Jane Addams is one of those historical figures whom I really admire and this seemed like an interesting take on settlement houses and what they offered.

  • Ginseng, the Divine Root: The Curious History of the Plant that Captivated the World, by David A. Taylor (due out June 26)
  • From the book jacket: “Prized for centuries by Chinese emperors, Native American healers, and black market smugglers, ginseng launched the rise to power of China’s last great and influential dynasty; inspired battles between France and England; precipitated America’s first trade with China; fostered the study of comparative anthropology; was collected and traded by Daniel Boone; and has made and broken the fortunes of many. Today, its healing properties are being studied for the treatment of diabetes, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. David Taylor takes readers from forests east of the Mississippi to the bustling streets of Hong Kong and deep into remote corners of China as he weaves together the history, culture, and intrigue surrounding the ‘Root of Life.'”
    Why this book? This was the last book I picked up at the convention. It seemed like it could be interesting.

  • Halfway House, by Katharine Noel (due out in March)
  • From the book jacket: “One day, Angie Voorster — diligent student, all-star swimmer, and Ivy League-bound high school senior — dives to the bottom of a pool and stays there. In that moment, everything the Voorster family believes they know about one another changes. Halfway House, Katharine Noel’s extraordinary debut, illuminates the fault lines in one family’s relationships, as well as the complex emotional ties that bind them together.”
    Why this book? I’m a sucker for young adult books about emotional/mental illness. What does that say about me, exactly?

  • Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet, by Kashmira Sheth (due out in April)
  • From the book jacket: “Jeeta’s family is caught up in the whirlwind of arranging marriages for her two older sisters, but the drama and excitement leave Jeeta cold. She knows that tradition demands the parade of suitors, the marriage negotiations, the elaborate displays, the expensive wedding parties — but where is the love and romance that the movies promise? She dreads her turn on the matrimonial circuit, especially since Mummy is always complaining about how difficult it will be to find Jeeta a good husband, with her dark skin and sharp tongue. As Jeeta spends more time with her new friend from school, Sarina, and Sarina’s educated, liberal parents, she begins to question her own tradition-bound family’s expectations. And when she falls in love with Sarina’s cousin Neel, Jeeta realizes that she must strike a balance between independence and duty, and follow her own path.”
    Why this book? I’ve read a number of Indian authors over the last few years and have enjoyed most of what I’ve read. While I realize it’s wrong to pick up a book just because of the author’s ethnicity, I find the struggle modern Indians face between tradition and modernity a fascinating one and enjoy learning more about it through my reading.

  • Small Steps, by Louis Sachar
  • From the book jacket: “In his first major novel since Holes, critically acclaimed novelist Louis Sachar combines his signature wit with a unique blend of adventure adn profoundly real characters to explore issues of race, the nature of celebrity, the invisible connections that shape a person’s life, and what it takes to stay on course. Doing the right thing is never a wrong choice — but always a small step in the right direction.”
    Why this book? Karen gave me Holes for Christmas last year and I enjoyed its sweetness when I read it over the summer. I heard Sachar interviewed on NPR a few weeks back and was excited to hear he had a new book out. Imagine my delight when they were handing out complimentary copies at the convention!

  • The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth, by Tim Flannery (due out in March)
  • From the book jacket: “Sometime this century the day will arrive when the human influence on the climate will overwhelm all other natural factors. … Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers is both an urgent warning and a call to arms, outlining the history of climate change, how it will unfold over the next century, and what we can do to prevent a cataclysmic future.”
    Why this book? I’ve been interested in environmental studies since high school, so this book just called to me.

  • The Wizard, The Witch & Two Girls from Jersey, by Lisa Papademetriou (due out in May)
  • From the book jacket: “The ancient land of Galma mourns, shrouded in darkness and woe. It has been thus since the Queen of Twilight began her evil reign. The only hope for Galma’s delivery lies in the hands of one foretold by Landron the Sage: Princess Arabelle, The One. Or maybe it’s in the hand of those two girls from New Jersey who mysteriously appeared at the end of Chapter Two. … Wait. What? That’s not right. This is supposed to be a fantasy adventure full of courageous heroes, terrifying dragons, and giant spiders! But ever since Veronica Lopez and Heather Simms got zapped into the pages of The Queen of Twilight, the novel has gone completely haywire. Now it’s up to a wizard with no magic, an elf-bakery reject, a talking squirrel, and two Jersey chicks to tackle the most terrifying evil known to the fantasy genre. Galma is, like, totally doomed.
    Why this book? Did you read that blurb?

I also stopped by Olsson’s last Sunday for their seasonal sale. I came home with three new additions:

  • Great Grilled Cheese: 50 Innovative Recipes for Stove Top, Grill, and Sandwich Maker, by Laura Werlin
  • From the book jacket: “Brie and apricot jam on a baguette; spinach and goat cheese on a croissant; blue cheese and fresh figs on crusty Italian bread: This is not your mother’s grilled cheese sandwich. … For cheese aficionados, parents whose kids insist on grilled cheese at every meal, and the kid in all of us who craves comfort food, Great Grilled Cheese will satisfy everyone’s cheese dreams.”
    Why this book? Because I adore grilled cheese. Really. I started getting more adventurous a few years back when we moved to D.C. and I found a local cheese monger. I’d walk up, ask for whatever cheese they thought would make a good grilled cheese, and try it at home. Good results every time. This book, however, will let me make grilled cheese without having to visit my cheese monger. As an afterthought, the brie and apricot jam combo is a definite winner, although we had it on regular whole-grain bread instead of baguette.

  • Hot Chocolate, by Michael Turback
  • From the book jacket: “No longer just a simple, syrupy sweet drink, today’s hot chocolates are brimming with extraordinary flavors like cayenne, vanilla beans, Nutella, buttered rum, pistachios, wasabi, peanut butter, and malted milk balls.”
    Why this book? It may have been because I’d recently finished a very satisfying cup of hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream. Or that I keep a box of Carnation hot cocoa mix with mini marshmallows at work for cocoa cravings. But the tipping point was when I discovered that the owner of Taste Budds, the chocolatier who makes hot chocolate ganache and chocolate truffle budds for my annual folk festival foray, had contributed a recipe.

  • The Safe-Keeper’s Secret, by Sharon Shinn
  • From the book jacket: “Damiana is safe-keeper in the small village of Tambleham. Neighbors and strangers alike come one by one, in secret, to tell her things they dare not share with anyone else, knowing that Damiana will keep them to herself. one late night, a mysterious visitor from the city arrives with an unusual secret for the Safe-Keeper — a newborn baby. Damiana, who is expecting her own child, agrees to take the foundling. She names him Reed and raises him side by side with her daughter, Fiona. As the years pass and the two children grow into teenagers, they must come to terms with who they are — and who they may be.”
    Why this book? Olsson’s was either out of all the fiction I was looking for or the books aren’t yet out in paperback — Cornelia Funke, Jasper Fforde, Dave Barry, Susan Cooper, Shannon Hale — so I settled on this small book, which looked like it could be promising.

Well, that’s it for new additions. Look for a post sometime in the next few days detailing what I’ve been reading in the last month.

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