February 2012 Archives

Click for availability and more information Man Overboard: Inside The Honeymoon Cruise Murder, by Joan Lownds
In the early 1990s, as supervisor at the Cos Cob Post Office, I met George Smith III and his son, George IV. They ran a local store, and were very friendly people. In 2005, I was shocked to find out George IV had gone missing from a Mediterranean cruise during his honeymoon. Recently, I received a reference copy of Man Overboard: Inside The Honeymoon Cruise Murder. I just had to read it to find out what happened to him.

George IV married Jennifer Hagel, and they were celebrating on the cruise when he disappeared. Several other passengers reported hearing loud noises and sounds coming from the couple's cabin. George and Jennifer had befriended some dark characters, who were the last known people to see George alive. The cruise ship personnel cleaned up the crime scene before any investigation could be conducted. This angered relatives, who started an investigation which revealed startling information: such occurrences on cruise ships were more prevalent than one would think. It also revealed a deliberate cover-up by company officials.

The Smith's took on "the system" and have worked to get legislation to make the cruise lines more accountable. They joined forces with families of victims, and went to Washington. This book took little time to read. It answered some questions, but not all. It also raised other questions. Once you read this book, you'll never think about cruises the same way.

The Casserole Queen's Cookbook

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Click for availability and more information The Casserole Queen's Cookbook, by Crystal Cook
Recently while channel surfing, I landed on a "Throwdown" episode with Bobby Flay challenging two women from Austin Texas that were famous for their chicken pot pies. I was curious to find out more about these women, and was thrilled to find out they have released a book called The Casserole Queens Cookbook. Authors Crystal Cook and Sandy Pullock put the "kitch" in kitchen by presenting mouth-watering one dish made from scratch meals that give a nostalgic nod to the 50's and 60's.

With the authors on the cover dressed in vintage clothing, this book has over 100 one-dish recipes that are sure to satisfy even the pickiest eater. The chapter named "Fun for the Whole Family" includes recipes for Meatball Casserole, Royal Cottage Pie, and their signature "World's Greatest Chicken Pot Pie". The "Savory Gourmet" chapter includes "Osso Bucco Fit For A Queen", Coq au Vin, Beef Burgundy, and "Pimpin' Paella". There are even breakfast casseroles such as Bed and Breakfast Casserole, Smokin' Strata, and Blueberry Coffee Cake. There are lots of tips and helpful hints so that you can stock up your freezer with these go-to meals. I truly enjoyed this cookbook and have tried many of the recipes. The meals have been met with rave reviews by my family, and have also resurrected many happy memories of meals from another era.

Townie: A Memoir

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Click for availability and more information Townie: A Memoir, by Andre Dubus III
Andre Dubus wrote the much-praised and popular House of Sand and Fog in 2000. His latest book, Townie: A Memoir has also received great acclaim for its direct, candid and, at times, brutal recounting of Dubus's growing up in a series of dilapidated Massachusetts mill towns that have experienced far better days in the past. His family life was often chaotic. One of four children, Dubus's father was an English college professor and aspiring writer troubled by alcohol addiction. After Dubus's parents divorced, his father basically became an absent father and his mother struggled to provide Dubus and his three siblings a stable home life with infrequent success. Financial issues were constantly challenging his family. Often their refrigerator and kitchen shelves were nearly empty of food.

This is a bleak story of a childhood filled with constant upheavals and family struggles. Eventually though, Dubus does achieve a relationship of sorts with his father and his family does come together, in their way, as a unit. Dubus's writing style powerfully recreates his youth, adolescence and early adulthood very vividly. He writes in a crisp, direct manner which makes for engrossing reading. For those readers who enjoyed House of Sand and Fog, Townie is an excellent book to show the talented development of Andres Dubus III as a terrific writer.

Click for availability and more information From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg
Winner of the 1968 Newbery Medal and a modern day classic. The story of Claudia and Jamie Kincaid, sister and brother who run away from their Greenwich home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Readers are along for the trip, living among the treasures of the Met and New York City. Claudia's wish for adventure comes true when the two set out to discover the secrets of the Met's newly acquired angel.

I Was a Third Grade Science Project

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Click for availability and more information I Was a Third Grade Science Project, by Mary Jane Auch
Josh and Brian have come up with an idea for the Science Fair---they are going to hypnotize Brian's dog Arful to believe he's a cat! In the weeks leading up to the fair, they attempt hypnosis several times and record their observations. Is Arful acting like a cat? Will they win the science fair? A funny story that will have readers looking for Brian and Josh's next adventures in this start to the "I was a Third Grade..." series of books.

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