Rowayton Library
October 2012                Reviews by Rowayton Library's Reader Advisor, Ruth Freeman

Stay warm, stay safe, curl up with a good book...


'The Double Game' by Dan Fesperman chronicles skullduggery in Europe over the generations. The author asks the age old question of how well we really know people close to us and gives it a great spin. This has clever renderings of spies and the people who write about them. The twists start in the first ten pages and the tension is ratcheted up steadily from there.


'My Berlin Kitchen - A Love Story with Recipes' by Louisa Weiss is a memoir of a life spent between cultures. She was partly raised in Berlin, ultimately ending up as a young adult in New York City. Her parents divorced when she was young so she became a transatlantic house hopper after her father settled in Boston. The full circle resolution of her life, complete with tantalizing recipes tested in her home kitchen, makes for a mouthwatering read.


'Kingston Noir', edited by Colin Channer, blows the lid off any ideas formed about Jamaica based on Montego Bay vacations. This collection of short stories is the latest in this acclaimed series known for urban atmosphere and a strong sense of place. As with any collection some writers are stronger than others. All convey a Kingston full of shivery, dark unease, whether set in the depths of the Trenchtown slums or among the wealthy living in Stony Hill.


'The Yellow Birds' by Kevin Powers was just nominated for the National Book Award, and it's a well deserved nomination. The author was a machine gunner in Iraq in 2004-05 and then got an MFA in Poetry. This is his first novel. This seemingly incongruous background informs some of the best writing of the year. His deep understanding of the field of desert battle and the images he paints with words truly take your breath away. The portraits of the soldiers in the profiled unit are both heartbreaking and brutal. I couldn't put it down.


'The Beautiful Mystery' by Louise Penny brings back Inspector Gamache to detect among isolated, chanting monks, one of whom stoops to murder. This series goes from strength to strength. The author successfully combines backstories on Gamache's family and professional life with the intriguing setting of an island monastery in northern Quebec populated by a few dozen monks who are dedicated to prayer and chant. As it turns out their isolation is short lived as murder opens their doors to a police investigation. The background history on Gregorian chanting is a fascinating bonus.




'Bread' by Nick Malgieri really brings the staff of life to life! Gorgeous photography and a carefully edited selection of recipes will hook bakers on the ease and superior flavor and texture of homemade bread. There is a lot to tempt you here, and if you have never made bread this is a book that can show you the way. Malgieri is a professional teacher as evidenced by the easily followed step by step instructions. I appreciated the inclusion of some less well known but delicious breads.


'Watching the Dark', by Peter Robinson brings the long awaited return of Inspector Banks. We have an early copy just published in the UK. Inspector Banks is working to solve the murder of a police officer, but the trail confusingly points backwards to the disappearance of a young woman six years ago. It's a tautly written police procedural featuring a sympathetic, music loving protagonist and his team, now intact again. It provides a close look at the terrible circumstances of poor immigrants from Eastern Europe who are virtual slaves to unscrupulous cartels once they arrive in the UK.


'Simply Sensational Cookies' by Nancy Baggett is a fabulous collection of mouthwatering cookie recipes of all types. Her explanations are impeccable and the two recipes I tried were scrumptious. The combination of riffs on old favorites and new ideas is terrific. Highly recommended for holiday baking! It also has excellent appendices for ingredient sourcing.







The Rowayton Library is hosting Bob Spitz on Friday, November 2 at 7 PM
(if Hurricane Sandy allows us to) for a book signing of his Julia Child biography 'Dearie'. Please join us for what promises to be a fun and delicious event!



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