December 2012 Reviews by Rowayton Library's Reader Advisor, Ruth Freeman
The holidays are the perfect time to check out new cookbooks! Bringing people together around the table is one of the high points - may you be inspired by some of the recipes in these books.
'Secrets of the Best Chefs' by Adam Roberts is a page turner; I think it is so much fun to read cookbooks. He spent a year in professional kitchens across the country absorbing the tricks of the trade from the well known likes of Sara Moulton and lesser known luminaries such as Ana Jovancicevic. Ana memorably quotes the truism "In order to be a good cook you have to love to eat." Even something as simple as substituting lamb for beef in meatballs can bring a standard to life. He effectively translates chef speak into recipes we can all use.
'Celebrate' by Pippa Middleton (yes, that Pippa Middleton) is an Anglophile's delight. The recipes are fairly standard but the party game ideas are fresh and charming. She certainly has the enthusiasm for organizing and the experience. The book is loaded with helpful hints for every holiday you can imagine, and some you may not have thought of celebrating. It's a lot of fun to peruse and the many photographs are easy on the eyes.
''Teen Cuisine: New Vegetarian' by Matthew Locricchio is a welcome follow up to 'Teen Cuisine'. We love his books, and more importantly so do the kids who check them out. This latest emphasizes healthy, tasty vegetarian food without being at all preachy. The author's enthusiasm is contagious and the imaginative recipes will inspire chefs of all ages to make vegetable and grain options the center of their meals. The "smart bars' are a scrumptious alternative to commercial granola bars. You will have a good time with this book!
'Far from the Tree' by Andrew Solomon is at once difficult to read and hard to put down. He has researched the lives of families with children who are well outside the bounds of what is considered normal physical and mental capabilities. The range is wide; he touches on families where there is profound disability to the point where you wonder how they manage, to the completely different challenges of raising a prodigy. The book is divided into sections beginning with a fascinating essay on deafness. This is a very thought provoking read.
'The Dark Winter' by David Mark is a mystery set in Hull, UK. It's very atmospheric, original and spooky. A series of deaths seems to be targeting people who survived earlier tragedies. Who is the killer and what is the motivation? It's an excellent police procedural, as the main character DI Aector McAvoy struggles with his own demons and political distractions in his hunt for the killer. Determined to follow his instinct that there is a connection he strikes out on his own, tangling with all sorts of nefarious types in his effort to solve the murders.
'Brothers' by George Colt is a memoir about growing up with his three brothers, with parallel portraits of famous brothers in history. Highly entertaining and well written, full of detail, it brings to life the Kellog's, Van Gogh's, Wrights and Booths among other preeminent siblings. There is a lot of detail, and moments of hilarity and pathos. Family dynamics are explored; it's amazing how little changes over the centuries.
Barbara Vine's new thriller is called 'The Child's Child'. It is effectively two books in one. It features expert character development as the brother and sister pairs in each generation navigate a callous world which looks askance at differences and has little truck with behavior that is viewed as outside the norm. Vine, the pseudonym for Ruth Rendell, is a specialist in slow burning psychological suspense. This book shows her at her most skilled. It is highly recommended for fans of the uncozy British mystery.
'The Boy in the Suitcase' by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis is set in Denmark. It's a notable entry in the crowded Scandinavian noir field and well organized, forward thinking Denmark has never felt so sinister. A boy is found in a suitcase, still alive but unidentified. The heroine of the book has to use all her wits to protect them both as she tries to determine what happened to him. A great read.