real snacksImagine Twinkies, Doritos and Cheez-Its without the artificial colors and preservatives, full of wonderful flavors and nutrients from whole grains and natural sugars, and easily made in your own kitchen including gluten-free and vegan variations.

Lara Ferroni shows you how with Real Snacks, a collection of 50 nostalgic childhood treats that satisfy your junk food cravings but without all the junk!

Yum!

(description from publisher)

I have recently been hearing parents mention how their kids are no longer being taught cursive handwriting in school. GASP! ::fainting spell:: Although this educational shift horrified me at first, I had to admit that cursive’s practical benefit of speedy textual communication had long been eclipsed by the QWERTY keyboard. Luckily, as things often do, handwriting’s decreasing efficiency seems to correspond to a rising swagger for the beauty of calligraphy. I have collected a few items as evidence (available at your local library, of course) to support my case:

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming is perfect example of calligraphy swagger. I read A LOT of books about Amelia Earhart as a kid, but this recent kids’ nonfiction is so amazing that I cannot walk past it on the shelf without stopping and giving it a little hug. Part of my love is due to the fantastic, thrilling writing of Candace Fleming, but it is the book’s design, specifically the hand-lettered chapter titles, that really makes me go weak in the knees. I would like to frame and hang on my wall one page in particular– the opening page for the chapter titled “Vagabonding, Record Breaking and Romance: 1928 to 1935.” Glorious.

As one of the most star-reviewed graphic novels of 2011, Craig Thompson’s Habibi is an epic tale about relationships with people, religion, and text. The story, in addition to the printed pages, drips with intricate lettering:

“The healer wrote out magic squares and sacred texts on a wooden board. A mirrored bowl was filled with water, and the ink was washed into the bowl. I was asked to make a wish in the mirror, and drink the inky water.
Drink each of the letters
The closest one can get to the text
The body absorbs the message
The word becomes flesh”

The Illuminator and a Bible for the 21st Century is a fascinating documentary about the creation of the Saint John’s Bible–yup, the very Bible project displayed at our Davenport Public Library last summer (which I absolutely GEEKED out about). I originally saw this documentary about five years ago as a graduate student in the University of Iowa Center for the Book and it has stayed on the fringes of consciousness ever since. While hearing about the development and production of a such a massive cultural project happening during our time is in itself fully worth the viewing of this documentary, it is watching the brilliant artistry and craftsmenship of the head calligrapher, Donald Jackson, and his staff, which makes me want to dedicate my entire life to improving my handwriting.

appalachian trailCompleted in 1937 by a small cadre of volunteers, the Appalachian Trail spans fourteen states from Maine to Georgia and is more than 2,000 miles long. Now, 75 years after its completion, the A.T. remains America’s premier hiking trail and is known as “the People’s Path.” Visitors from all over the world are drawn to the trail for a variety of reasons: to reconnect with nature, to escape the stress of city life, to meet new people, or to experience a simpler life. Out of three million annual visitors, almost 2,000 attempt to earn the distinction of “thru-hiker” by walking all five million footsteps in one continuous journey.

The only illustrated book officially published with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, The Appalachian Trail explores highlights of this legendary footpath with more than 250 spectacular contemporary images, historical photos and documents from the ATC archives, and detailed maps pinpointing each location along the trail. Readers can experience the trail as if their boots were on the path–passing by the iconic white trail blazes, taking in the surrounding wilderness at scenic overlooks, meeting other hikers at lean-tos or shelters, freezing at the sight of a black bear, moose, or other majestic wildlife.

With fascinating essays on topics ranging from the history of the trail to the hiking experience, this book is perfect for anyone interested in conservation, outdoor recreation, or American history, or for those who dream of one day becoming thru-hikers themselves. (description from publisher)

kiss my asterWho cares what the neighbors think? Kiss My Aster is a hilarious, irreverent, interactive guide to designing an outdoor space that is exactly what you want.

Combining entertaining illustrations with laugh-out-loud text, Amanda Thomsen lays out the many options for home landscaping and invites you to make the choices. Whether you want privacy hedges, elegant flower beds, a patio for partying, a food garden, a kids’ play space, a pond full of ducks, or all of the above, you’ll end up with a yard you’ll adore.

Forget about doing it the “right” way: Do it your way! (description from publisher)

betty goes veganBetty Goes Vegan is a comprehensive guide to creating delicious meals for today’s vegan family. This must-have cookbook features recipes inspired by The Betty Crocker Cookbook , as well as hundreds of original, never-before-seen recipes sure to please even meat-eaters. It also offers insight into why Betty Crocker has been an icon in American cooking for so long-and why she still represents a certain style of the modern super-woman nearly 100 years after we first met her.

With new classics for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, including omelets, stews, casseroles, and brownies, Betty Goes Vegan is the essential handbook every vegan family needs. (description from publisher)

FEBRUARY  5

Hit and RunHit & Run  – Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell

A nice guy with a questionable past, Charlie Bronson, risks everything when he busts out of a witness protection program to drive his girlfriend to Los Angeles for the job opportunity of a lifetime. Their road trip grows awkwardly complicated, however, when they’re chased by an inept fed and Charlie’s ex-pal, a vengeance-crazed criminal he helped put behind bars. Rated R

celesteCeleste and Jesse Forever – Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg

Celeste and Jesse have been best friends since they can remember. High school sweethearts, they eventually got married–and now they’re getting divorced. While their friends don’t think the couple can stay friends after the divorce, Celeste and Jesse are determined to prove them wrong. But when Jesse begins dating again, Celeste finds it harder to move on than she thought it would be. Rated R

alex crossAlex Cross – Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox

Follows the young homicide detective/psychologist as he meets his match in a serial killer. The two face off in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, but when the mission gets personal, Cross is pushed to the edge of his moral and psychological limits in this taut and exciting action thriller. Rated PG-13

flightFlight – Denzel Washington (Lead Actor Nominee for Oscars 2013)

A seasoned airline pilot miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every soul on board. After the crash, Whip is hailed as a hero, but as more is learned, more questions than answers arise as to who or what was really at fault and what really happened on the plane. Rated R

last quaretA Late Quartet – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken

A powerful story that blends raw emotion with fiery passion to form an unforgettable cinematic masterpiece. After 25 years together, the members of a world-renowned string quartet learn that their beloved cellist may soon be forced to retire. But the news stirs up equally painful challenges when competing egos, harbored resentment, and irrepressible lust threaten to derail the group as they struggle to maintain harmony in their music, and their lives. Rated R

FEBRUARY 12

PERKSPerks of Being a Wallflower – Emma Watson, Logan Lerman

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is based on the wildly popular novel by Stephen Chbosky about a freshman named Charlie who is always watching from the sidelines until a pair of charismatic seniors takes him under their wing. Beautiful, free-spirited Sam and her fearless stepbrother Patrick shepherd Charlie through new friendships, first love, burgeoning sexuality, bacchanalian parties, midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the quest for the perfect song. Rated PG -13

ROBOTRobot & Frank – Frank Langella, Peter Sarsgaard

Frank is an aging ex-jewel thief, and his two grown children are worried that he can no longer care for himself. In deciding what to do with Frank, the most likely option appears to be putting him in a nursing home. But Frank’s son comes up with another option: buy Frank a walking, talking robot programmed to look after him and improve his physical and mental health. Frank resists the robot at first, but he warms to it after realizing that it could be the perfect heist companion. Rated PG-13.

BULLYBully

This is a character-driven documentary following five kids and families over the course of a school year. Offering insight into different facets of America’s bullying crisis, the stories include two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter, who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus. Documentary provides an intimate and often shocking glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias and principals’ offices. Rated PG-13

sessionsThe Sessions – John Hawkes, Helen Hunt (Supporting Actress Nominee for Oscars 2013)

Paralyzed and confined to an iron lung since childhood, poet-journalist Mark O’Brien has overcome adversity time and time again. But now, at age 38, he faces his toughest challenge yet: losing his virginity. With the help of a beautiful therapist, a sympathetic priest, and his own unbridled sense of optimism and humor, Mark embarks on an extraordinary personal journey to discover the wondrous pleasures that make life worth living. Rated R.

FEBRUARY 19

end of watchEnd of Watch – Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena

Two young officers are marked for death after confiscating a small cache of money and firearms from the members of a notorious cartel during a routine traffic stop. Rated R

 

argoArgo (Best Picture Nominee 2013 Oscars) – Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin (Supporting Actor Nominee 2013 Oscars)

On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the American embassy in Tehran and captured dozens of American hostages, sparking a 444-day ordeal. There’s a little-known footnote to the crisis: six Americans escaped and a midlevel agent named Antonio Mendez devised an ingenious yet incredibly risky plan to rescue them. Rated R

FEBRUARY 26

masterThe Master – Joaquin Phoenix (Lead Actor Nominee 2013 Oscars) Philip Seymour Hoffman (Supporting Actor Nominee 2013 Oscars), Amy Adams (Supporting Actress Nominee 2013 Oscars)

A striking portrait of drifters and seekers in post-World War II America, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master unfolds the journey of a naval veteran who arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future, until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader. Rated R.