Thursday, August 17, 2017

Knives and Inks: Chefs and the Stories Behind Their Tattoos (with Recipes) by Isaac Fitzgerald & Wendy MacNaughton

Every one who gets a tattoo gets them for different reasons; to commemorate a person or moment, to carry something with them for the rest of their lives, or to ensure they will never work a desk job again. Isaac Fitzgerald has only dabbled in the culinary world as a sub-par sushi chef but one thing he noticed was every chef he met sported some kind of ink. The rock star chef life does have a certain kind of glamour to it. The tight-squeeze of a fast paced, fiery kitchen, no time for mistakes, losing yourself in perfecting the transforming craft of raw ingredients to cuisine. Fitzgerald always envied those in the kitchen life and sought to discover the stories behind some of their body's works of art. Accompanied by the pen and ink drawings by Wendy McNaughton, this makes for a fun book of stories, art, and recipes.
Some tattoos like Travis Michael Weiss, executive chef at Rebellion Washington D.C., are a tribute to their work. His tattoo sports all the ingredients he's used since childhood: blue crabs, Old Bay, silver queen corn, and pigs. The pig, Daisy, was the first pig Weiss had ever "harvested" or cooked from beginning to end. He is still taking suggestions for name of the blue crab. Weiss also included his recipe for "Mumbo Sauce". The book loving chef, Kate Romane of E2 Restaurant in Pittsburgh, PA has "TX715.R751975" tattooed on her fore arm. That magic number is the Library of Congress call number for Irma S. Rombauer's classic Joy of Cooking to honor her roots as a chef. Jamie Bissonnette of Toro NYC, Toro Boston and Coppa Boston has a devil chef, because he believes all artists have a sinister side. Or Sean Thomas of Blue Plate San Francisco who said "They're just pretty" which is as good a reason as any.
The back index references each tattoo and the names of the artists and shops where they were commissioned. Some of the tattoo shops and restaurants referenced have closed their doors since the book's publishing but hopefully these artists are still out their working their craft. Fascinated by the restaurant world? Try Food and the City: New York's professional chefs, restaurateurs, line cooks, street vendors, and purveyors talk about what they do and why they do it by Ina Yalof or Something to Food About by Questlove. For more creative professionals doing what they do, try In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers Artists and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney. For more Wendy McNaughton's doodles download Meanwhile in San Francisco on Hoopla.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka

In my previous post for HBO's Big Little Lies I mentioned Michael Kiwanuka and how his song "Cold Little Heart" serves as the opening credits song for each episode (scroll below for a preview of the track). In my many hours of binge watching this weekend, it is safe to say this catchy song is embedded in my head for life.  I had never heard the haunting song before and I could not stop singing/humming it throughout the day so I sought out to do some research to get my fix. I found the album available for checkout on the library's streaming service Hoopla. If you do not yet have a Hoopla account, it is very easy to use and will be the best way to stream the entire Love & Hate album for free. Stop by any library location for more information.

Michael Kiwanuka was born in London in 1987 to Ugandan refugee parents. While studying jazz at the Royal Academy of music and pop music at Westminister University he was influenced by such artists as Joni Mitchell, Radiohead, Otis Redding, and Jimi Hendrix. In an NPR interview he states his true love is folk-rock but thanks to his aching, bluesy voice, he is often pigeon holed as a soul artist. Whatever genre you call it, his music stands for itself. Love & Hate is his second album released in 2016. "Cold Little Heart" is the first track coming in at 10:10 minutes long with a solid 5 minute instrumental intro. The song has most likely gained popularity for its commercial use and has a shortened radio edited version available. 

"Black Man in a White World" is the next track, addressing his bicultural upbringing, where he repeats the phrase over and over again. The music video to the song has an equally subtle but effective impact and, as seen in this weekend's news, this is still a prevalent subject matter as it was a year ago. Throughout the album Kiwanuka is backed by a full choir adding a richness not seen in the stripped down folky first album Home Again.The rest of the songs on the album, like "Falling" and "I'll Never Love," are a bittersweet mix of 60's soul and melancholy heartfelt lyrics of love lost.

So check out Kiwanuka's tunes and explore some new artists off our Hoopla streaming app.  For more soulful music from Big Little Lies check out Coming Home by Leon Bridges. Need music to make you melt into a weeping puddle on the floor check out Victim of Love by Charles Bradley and Spirit by Amos Lee.

Review by Stevie Z.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Big Little Lies directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

I am still reeling from a weekend of completely binge watching this entire mini-series.... If you are someone who must read the book before watching the film/TV adaptation check out the review for the book Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty here by staff member, Sara. But I am here to talk about the whirlwind multi Emmy-nominated HBO show based off that book.

Having not read the book prior to watching this, I had no idea what the plot was. All I knew that the previews looked drama-filled and juicy. The intro with tunes from Michael Kiwanuka could be an episode in itself. The show starts in the aftermath of a party with one person dead. We do not know who the victim is or any of the suspects. Next are a series of brief police interviews with people from their town of Monterey, California, painting a picture of the lives of the rich, bored housewives in their beach community. But behind all the petty mommy gossip of the little town lies much bigger secrets.

We then meet the three main characters: Nicole Kidman as Celeste, a retired lawyer with a handsome husband and twin boys. Jane, Shailene Woodley, a young, mysterious single mom who has just moved to the area. And Madeline, brilliantly played by Reese Witherspoon, head honcho of Monterey who befriends Jane. As the three women grow closer together, we get closer to the truth as more secrets are exposed. You will laugh at the ridiculous drama between the competitive women, cry at the complicated and familiar relationships with their children, friends and spouses, and be terrified as the killer is exposed.

I do not know if the plot and characters stay 100% true to the book, but I can say the chemistry and performance of the actors chosen for this adaptation were mesmerizing! Witherspoon, Kidman, and Woodley played each role with graceful ease and made you envy to be a part of their clique. Noteworthy supporting characters were played by Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz and Nicole Kidman's wig. The added amazing soundtrack only heightens their performances. I was very disappointed once I had finished all 7 episodes. But if rumors are true we can be on the watch for a season 2... fingers crossed!

For more family mysteries try Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown. For more binge worthy dramas try the Showtime series Billions Season 1 starring Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti.

By Stevie Z.

Friday, August 11, 2017

President of the Whole Fifth Grade By Sherri Winston

Brianna Justice, President of the Whole Fifth Grade! 
That’s step one in the plan to world domination; or at least being a super successful million dollar cupcake chef.
President of the Whole Fifth Grade by Sherri Winston is the story of a girl on a mission. Brianna Justice is a member of the Woodhull Society club; four friends (Brianna, Sara, Rebecca, and Lauren) who are determined to become successful business women. Having already determined the career paths they will take, and saving their money to ensure it happens, there is nothing that will get in their way. This is especially true for the group’s most ambitious member, Brianna.
That is until the new girl in fifth grade, Jasmine Moon, moves in on Brianna’s territory and nominates herself as a candidate for fifth grade president. Not willing to give in to defeat, Brianna begins to utilize unscrupulous campaign tactics to outwit her opponent and secure her victory.
President of the Whole Fifth Grade is an intriguing drama with plenty of political scandal and underhanded elementary schemes. Young fiction readers will enjoy learning about the history of American politics and even pick up a few new vocabulary words while reading about the F-O-O-L-I-S-H-N-E-S-S that takes place at Orchard Park Elementary.
Winston’s writing is captivating and the characters she has created come to life with plenty of spunk and personality. Her use of print awareness engages the reader further by drawing out the significance of the words on the page, establishing familiarity so that the reader develops a personal connection to their meaning. So not only do young reader become enthralled with the story, but also with the act of reading it as well.
I would recommend this book to young readers who enjoy character driven dramas with a particular interest in history and politics. Young readers may also enjoy reading President of the Whole Sixth Grade  by Sherri Winston as well!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Real Lucky Charm By Charisse Richardson

Who says that girls can’t ball?
The Real Lucky Charm by Charisse Richardson proves that when it comes to basketball and girls, no luck is needed.
Mia Robertson is a fifth grader who happens to be twin sister to Marcus, star basketball player. When not enough girls register for the newly developed all-girls basketball team during fall sign-ups, a single co-ed team is formed and not everyone is happy about it.
When Mia starts to outshine her twin brother on the court, Marcus begins to wonder if the engraved basketball charm on her bracelet which she rubs ritually before each game is actually lucky.
This theory is put to the test when Mia begins to stretch the limits of her “lucky charm.” After her charm goes missing, Mia is faced with a major decision that impacts every aspect of her life, including the pact that she made with her best friend, Gabbie. In the end, Mia learns a valuable lesson from her father about believing in self, and never giving up. This story is great because of the strong message of hard work paying off. Author, Charisse Richardson brings these young characters to life with a relatable premises of sibling rivalry and sportsmanship.
I would recommend The Real Lucky Charm to young readers who enjoy reading about sports with play by play action. Readers who enjoy this book will also enjoy The Crossover by Kwame Alexander and Teammates by Tiki and Ronde Barber, which ironically enough, both feature narratives about sets of twin athletes.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Keena Ford and the Secret Journal Mix-Up By Melissa Thompson

Keena Ford and the Secret Journal Mix-Up by Melissa Thompson is about an epic, most disastrous incident.
Keena Ford is a second grader who speaks her mind. She may even be a little bit of a know-it-all; though she’d never admit it. This is because Keena’s opinions are usually reserved for her personal journal. However, when frenemy,  Tiffany gets her hands on Keena’s journal, chaos ensues.
While trying to recover her journal, Keena is faced with a dilemma, tell on Tiffany and risk having her darkest secrets exposed to everyone, or be forced into playing best friends in order to please her worst enemy.
Kenna discovers a valuable lesson on the importance of standing up for herself and more importantly, she learns a lesson about friendship from the most unexpected person.
The characters in Keena Ford and the Secret Journal Mix-Up demonstrate the fine line between friend and foe. This drama-filled tale of Keena Ford will please young fiction readers who are new to chapter books. In fact,  some may even feel inspired to begin their own journaling; that is once they learn some of the valuable lessons that Keena has to teach.  Author, Melissa Thompson does an incredible job creating  realistic fiction for youth, while the illustrations by infamous, Frank Morrison provides the visual catch-eye to bring the story to life.
Other Keena Ford titles include Kenna Ford and the Second Grade Mix-Up and Keena Ford and the Field Trip Mix-Up. I would recommend this series to young readers who enjoy reading about boisterous characters. Keena Ford will not disappoint!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Minnie Saves the Day by Melodye Benson Rosales

Minnie Saves the Day by Melodye Benson Rosales is an adorable tale about the make believe world of toys.
Minnie is a handmade rag doll, gifted to Hester Merriweather from her grandmother. Upon receiving the doll, it becomes obvious that she is very special, or so Hester's family would have her believe. But actually, Minnie is special. Her cotton-filled mind is set on being the best doll possible.
When Hester’s handmade rag doll comes to life, she forges new friendships with forgotten toys to help Hester and her family. This Toy Story-esque tale which toggles between the world of Hester’s toys and the “really-for-real folk” is laced with plenty of historical context and African American culture from Chicago’s 1930s Bronzeville community.
Minnie Saves the Day is a great adventure tale for young chapter book readers. In fact, parents will enjoy reading along for the colorful historical subtleties of yesteryears. This book is filled with humor, heart, and morale.
I would recommend Minnie Saves the Day to young readers who enjoy historical fiction and a little bit of make believe to boot. And as an added bonus, author, Melodye Benson Rosales included some “Chocolate Covered Memories” along with a sweet recipe for those who want to experience more of Minnie's adventure!