BookClique

Here we will post our musings on a wide variety of titles. You can comment on our posts and find the titles in our catalog.

Epic Tomatoes by Craig LeHoullier

lehoullierIf you have any interest in gardening, Epic Tomatoes by Craig LeHoullier is a must-read.  The author discusses tomato history, leaders in breeding and heirloom seed saving, and his own journey from tomato-growing rookie to his job as tomato adviser to the Seed Savers Exchange. He has grown over 1200 different tomato varieties and has introduced many others (There are so many more out there than what is offered at your local store).  Even after growing tomatoes for 20 years and graduating from buying baby plants to growing from seeds, I learned so much from this book. There are large Q & A and problem-solving sections, tips about saving seeds, and even instructions on how to breed your own tomatoes. Of great interest to me were the descriptions of tomatoes (shape, size, season, growth, flavor) broken up by tomato colors: red, pink, purple, brown, yellow, orange, white, green, multi-colored and striped. Who is the publisher of such a wonderful book chock full of information? Storey Publishing, of course!

Stacy W.


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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

larsonErik Larson has a proven record of chronicling history as it intersects with the lives of individuals, and his latest work is no exception. With his customary astuteness and storytelling aplomb, he describes the events that led up to the demise of the passenger liner Lusitania, which was torpedoed by a German U-Boat on May 7, 1915, off the coast of Ireland prior to America joining World War I. The tragedy cost 1,191 lives and immediately propelled the U.S. closer to war.

Dead Wake displays Larson’s ability to draw intimate portraits of key individuals with a minimum of description. American architect, Theodate Pope, and Lusitania captain, William Turner (both of whom survived the sinking), spring easily and memorably to life. In addition to stories of the ship’s crew and passengers, we learn of newly-widowed President’s Woodrow Wilson’s budding romance with Edith Galt (who became his second wife) and how at times, his feelings regarding that relationship may have influenced developing international events. His descriptions often include striking juxtapositions, such as “nine airships [zeppelins]…sending terrifying shadows scudding across the landscape of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice” (p. 81).  Larson captures the mood of this period at the close of the Gilded Age when submarine attacks on ships were increasing and World War I would change the world permanently.

Readers may be surprised to learn that many passengers were well aware of the threat of submarines and that gallows humor was the order of the day on board the vessel. And that the death toll could well have been higher (764 survived), had not the weather been warm and remarkably fine the afternoon of the sinking, facilitating survival and rescue.  As is usual with Larson, his legendary powers of description could benefit from the addition of some photographs of the scenes and people he describes, but it is not difficult to find companion books. Readers who enjoy history that has the qualities of entertaining and suspenseful fiction will enjoy this book.

Alison M.


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The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore

mooreOdette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean have been friends since they were young,  and their favorite meeting spot is their table at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat diner. Labeled “The Supremes” by the folks of the town, the trio have grown up with the wise advice of Big Earl, who presides over the All-You-Can-Eat with wisdom, humor, and good food. The story begins with the death of Big Earl. His death sets the Supremes on a course to reflect on their 40-year friendship and on the choices they have made in their lives. Odette, the fearless one, has to face something fearful. Clarice must make peace with her marriage and her husband’s wandering ways. But it is Barbara Jean who must face the greatest challenge of all…she has to set right a wrong, track down a lost love, and find a way to ease the desperate grief she still carries over the death of her son.

The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat unfolds gently, giving us glimpses of the past and the present as the heart of each of the Supremes is revealed. We meet the members of the Plainview, Indiana community and come to love them as the Supremes do. It is a story filled with warmth, friendship, humor, ghosts, tragedy, and hope. How the author is able to so capture the hearts and souls of the three central characters — who are aging, black women — is astonishing. This is a wonderful tale.

Edward Kelsey Moore was born in Indiana, and received a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. While he now lives in Chicago, his novel is filled with the essence of a small Indiana town. His website says he is working on his second book, and I am already looking forward to it.

Annette G.


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The Red Bulletin Magazine

redbulletinMost people who know me think the last thing I need is more energy, and since I refuse to drink my calories (except milk), I have never tried Red Bull and probably never will. However, I am a huge admirer of the company, and I absolutely love their magazine, The Red Bulletin.  One of the things I admire most  about the company is their sponsorship of sports, and I don’t mean the big ones where money has corrupted everything like the NFL (although embarrassingly, I still like watching the NFL), I mean sports like bouldering, back country freeskiing, ice climbing, extreme running, etc.  Basically, if it’s an extreme sport, Red Bull is probably sponsoring some of the athletes — they sponsor over 600 athletes in over 100 sports. The Red Bulletin usually has profiles of some of their athletes, some entertainment and/or music industry profiles, and lots of articles featuring travel, new gear for the outdoors or for your workout, and reviews of top notch watches. Absolutely beautiful pictures abound throughout each issue. I have read so many articles in this magazine about amazing people who are considered number one in their sport and, sometimes, not only have I never heard of the person, I’ve never even heard of the sport! But I always come away thinking “that looks crazy/like so much fun!” and it’s nice to read about athletes who are so dedicated and passionate about what they do, as opposed to the mega stars in the mega sports who want to hold out for more money or more recognition. It is really inspiring to read the magazine before a long run or a hard workout. If you love sports and the outdoors, this magazine is for you.

Stacy W.


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Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman

himmelmanIsabel was the best bunjitsu artist in her school. She could kick higher than anyone. She could hit harder than anyone. She could throw her classmates farther than anyone. “But,” said Isabel, “Bunjitsu is not just about hitting and kicking and throwing. It is about finding ways to NOT hit, kick, or throw.”

And so, we meet Isabel, also called Bunjitsu Bunny. This is an early chapter book where each chapter tells a tale of Bunjitsu Bunny. A few of these tales are variations of a familiar story, such as the tortoise and the hare. But Isabel brings her own wisdom and Bunjitsu Bunny skills to the mix, and you end up with something refreshing and fun. Zen wisdom is woven through the book, but Bunjitsu Bunny’s exploits are never preachy or heavy-handed. Rather, Bunny is charming and spunky and she is surrounded by good friends. For me, this book gave me the same warm, fuzzy, wondrous feeling I get when reading Winnie-the-Pooh or Little Bear stories. Those stories were about animals we could call friends, but they were also something deeper, in that they shared with us truths about life and love and friends. Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny is much the same, with martial arts action and striking art. Very enjoyable, and a book to recommend to those hard to please, reluctant readers.

Annette G.


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The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by Matthew “The Oatmeal” Inman

oatmealIf you want to read a laugh-out-loud book about running, read The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by Matthew “The Oatmeal” Inman. It was a happy break for me to read this collection of comics that describe the Oatmeal’s running experiences and make fun of a lot of stuff associated with running or keeping fit. The Oatmeal didn’t start running to lose weight, although he did need to lose weight, and he did lose it. He started because he was working 70 hours a week in front of a computer screen and needed to “get that screen out of my face”. He describes his body at the time as having the look of an overweight Tyrannosaurus Rex. Of course at the beginning, it was hard to go very far but he kept plugging away. He says to never listen to yourself because you can come up with thousands of excuses not to be physically active. One of the most common is “I don’t have time,” but as he points out, there are 1,440 minutes in one day and if you work out for 20 minutes, it’s only 1.3% of those minutes! What I love about the Oatmeal is that he’s not what I call a health nut; he even has a tongue-in-cheek cartoon of two characters high fiving each other for having portion control, and that is certainly not the way he is. He describes the way he treats his body and eats as like a “fast moving dumpster.” He says running through forests and cities makes him feel alive, whereas eating salad-type food makes him feel “tired and robotic” — me too! I hate vegetables! He also hates treadmills as do I, although they are handy in bad weather. He thinks the display screen taunts you and makes you constantly check your numbers instead of enjoying your run. I agree and cover mine up with a piece of paper. I think this book is great for even non-runners as he does a wonderful job describing his inner demons and ways to get rid of them. Great short read!

Stacy W.


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A Killing at Cotton Hill by Terry Shames

shamesSamuel Craddock, retired police chief in the town of Jarrett Creek, Texas, gets a late night call from his elderly neighbor, Dora Lee Parjeter. Dora Lee is worried that someone is spying on her, but Dora Lee has a long history of calling Samuel with groundless fears. Yet, the next morning, Dora Lee is found dead, stabbed to death in her own kitchen, and Samuel Craddock is left with a terrible case of guilt. Since the town’s current chief of police is known to be an incompetent drunk, Samuel takes responsibility for investigating Dora Lee’s death. The prime suspect is Dora Lee’s grandson, Greg, and Samuel is pretty sure the kid isn’t guilty. Samuel starts digging into Dora Lee’s affairs and soon finds that she is deep in debt and has a parcel of discontented family members. Soon, Samuel has his hands full with trying to keep Greg out of jail, getting Dora Lee properly buried, and keeping her family matters in some sort of order while trying to find her killer.

A Killing at Cotton Hill is a terrific debut novel for fans of Agatha Christie. It is a gentle mystery, that is, one without graphic violence or situations. Yet, this is not a group of knitting circle ladies solving a mystery. This is a good, solid mystery with a serious, intelligent investigator. Samuel may live in a small town, but he’s capable of solving big crimes. The other people in the town are well-developed, interesting characters. And there are cows! I love cows. I look forward to more Samuel Craddock mysteries. This is book one of what is already a four-book series.

Annette G.


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Apples of Uncommon Character by Rowan Jacobsen

jacobsenYou might think that books about trees and bushes are probably dry and boring. For the most part, that’s true, although they are also very useful when planning what specimens to buy. Every once in a while though, a gem comes along, and Apples of Uncommon Character by Rowan Jacobsen is one of them. Jacobsen has the same writing skills as the masterful horticulturist Michael Dirr  (Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants is one of the best books I’ve ever read). Jacobsen gives you all relevant information on the item he is discussing while also using humor and regular language to make it easy for the layperson to read. I have read so many sources on apples and did a lot of research before ordering my apple trees, but this book still told me new things.  Reading about my Fuji tree, I learned that 70% of apples grown in China are Fuji apples, and China grows half of the world’s apples — eight times more than the United States! A neat anecdote regarding my Summer Rambo tree: When David Morrell was writing First Blood (the first book in the Rambo series), his wife came home with some apples from the farmer’s market, and when he tasted one, he thought it was so delicious he asked her what kind it was. She told him Summer Rambo, and he decided to name the main character in his book after it! Beautiful pictures and descriptions abound in Jacobsen’s book!

Stacy W.


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Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman

gaimanI was in TCPL’s youth room searching for a missing Hansel and Gretel book when I came across a newer version: Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman. It looked much darker and scarier than the versions I am used to so I took it home to read. I wish this book had been around back in the days when I served as a children’s librarian at an elementary school. I would have scared the socks off of the older kids with this one, though I would not have read it to the younger ones. Gaiman adapts the Grimm Brothers tale so that it reads easily and does not seem outdated while still keeping true to the original. And the pictures! Gaiman was inspired to write the story when he saw Lorenzo Mattotti’s drawings and collaborated with him to create this dark, haunting book.  Probably not anything you’d want to read to your 4-year-old child, but older kids would enjoy it and maybe even reluctant middle school readers. I am an adult, and I loved it!

Stacy W.


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I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

nelsonJude and Noah are thirteen-year-old twins, and while they have different personalities, they are incredibly close. Jude is feisty and wears too much red lipstick. She is the daredevil of the family and the apple of her daddy’s eye. Noah is artistic, insightful, and his mother’s favorite. Noah sees the truth in everyone’s hearts and puts what he sees into his art. Jude, the talker for both of them, puts Noah’s insights into words and helps the rest of the world understand her complicated brother. Yet, three years later, the twins are barely speaking, and it is Jude who is in art school, not Noah. Jude sees the ghost of her dead grandmother, and Noah has sworn off art all together. What has happened to so radically change their lives and drive the twins apart?

Told in alternating points of view, you get to see the twins at ages thirteen and sixteen, and as the story unfolds, you slowly piece together what has happened. Jandy Nelson gives us two amazing characters in Noah and Jude, and she writes in such a compelling style. I’ll Give You the Sun was a little slow to start, and I felt that perhaps the last half of the book tried to take on the emotional issues of too many characters to be completely satisfying at the end. However, Nelson’s exuberant writing style makes up for those minor faults. She has a unique way of showing us a character’s view of the world. This title is the winner of the 2015 Printz Award.

Annette G.


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Tippecanoe County Public Library * 627 South Street * Lafayette, IN * 47901 * 765 429-0100