July 2

id thiefIdentity Thief – Melissa McCarthy, Jason Bateman

Mild-mannered businessman Sandy Patterson travels from Denver to Miami to confront the deceptively harmless-looking woman who has been living it up after stealing Sandy’s identity. Rated R

 

July 16

4242 -Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford

History was made in 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the professional baseball race barrier to become the first African American MLB player of the modern era. 42 tells the life story of Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey. Rated PG-13

trance Trance  –  James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel

After a blow to the head during his attempted robbery of a $27 million Goya painting, Simon, an art auctioneer, awakens to find that the painting, and his memory, are missing. Forced by his ruthless crime partner Frank to undergo hypnosis, Simon enters into a deadly love triangle with his seductive hypnotist. Rated R

 

 

 

Tornado BooksTornados are featured in several recent books – from literary fiction to genre mysteries.

In Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos, a tornado is the catalyst for the trajectory of the lives of several people. A 1978 storm takes the life of a mother; many years later the dysfunctional siblings gather for a funeral.

The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum is another story about the effects of tornados on a family. A sister joins a group of storm chasers in order to locate her mentally ill brother, who is a storm chaser, himself.

A 1963 tornado in Oklahoma changes the lives of four people in crisis in Five Days in May by Ninie Hammon.

There are rumors of a movie of The Breathtaker by Alice Blanchard.  Set again in Oklahoma, this is a fast-paced thriller about a police chief who realizes that foul play, rather than the storm is the cause of death for several deaths. The murders mount as the tornado season progresses.

In other books, a tornado is not the driving force in the narrative or psychology of characters, rather it’s a convenient plot point.

The Riesling Retribution by Ellen Crosby is a mystery that begins with a skull discovered after a tornado.

Similarly, in A Bad Day for Pretty by Sophie Littlefile a body is found in the aftermath of a tornado.

 

 

 

 

four season farmBarbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman are America’s foremost organic gardeners and authorities. Barbara is the author of The Garden Primer, and Eliot wrote the bible for organic gardening, The New Organic Grower. Today they are the face of the locavore movement, working through their extraordinary Four Season Farm in Maine. And now they’ve written the book on how to grow what you eat, and cook what you grow.

The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook is two books in one. It’s a complete four-season cookbook with 120 recipes from Barbara, a master cook as well as master gardener, who shows how to maximize the fruits – and vegetables – of your labors, from Stuffed Squash Blossom Fritters to Red Thai Curry with Fall Vegetables to Hazelnut Torte with Summer Berries. And it’s a step-by-step garden guide that works no matter how big or small your plot, with easy-to-follow instructions and plans for different gardens. It covers size of the garden, nourishing the soil, planning ahead, and the importance of rotating crops. And, at the core, individual instructions on the crops, from the hardy and healthful cabbage family to fourteen essential culinary herbs.

Eating doesn’t get any more local than your own backyard. (description from publisher)

in the city of bikesWhen Pete Jordan arrives in Amsterdam to study how to make American cities more bicycle-friendly, he immediately falls in love with the city that already lives life on two wheels.

In the City of Bikes follows Pete and his new bride, Amy Joy. Despite their financial hardships and instability, Amy Joy eventually finds her own new calling as a bicycle mechanic as Pete discovers the untold history of cycling in Amsterdam. From its beginnings as an elitist pastime in the 1890s to the street-consuming craze of the 1920s, from the bicycles role in a citywide resistance to the Nazi occupation to the White Bikes of the 1960s and the bike fishermen of today, Jordan chronicles the evolution of Amsterdam’s cycling.

Part personal memoir, part history of cycling, part fascinating street-level tour of Amsterdam, In the City of Bikes is the story of a man who loves bikes – in a city that loves bikes (description from publisher)

cooks clown and cowboysYou know the question’s coming: what did you do on your holiday? Master the experiences in Cooks, Clowns and Cowboys : 101 Skills and Experiences to Discover on Your Travels and you can reply:

I created a perfume in France.

I danced the flamenco in Seville.

I mixed the perfect martini in New York.

I earned my cosmonaut stripes in Russia.

I rode with cowboys in Argentina.

Saddle up for a new you, and come back from your travels with more than just a suntan. (description from publisher)

If you think children’s literature isn’t worthy of discussion, pick up one of these books and prepare to eat your words. These books are not just beautiful, simple, cute stories for children: they have big ideas, big hearts, and important messages to teach readers of all ages. Whether you have a little one to share them with or not, I highly recommend all of them.

oliverOliver by Birgitta Sif: gorgeous, rich, layered illustrations in muted earth tones and fluid character lines that suggest life and movement – brava. So beautifully done, and each page has so much going on; you can follow the unwritten story of the mouse on each page, and careful readers will see that many characters turn up over and over (besides Oliver, of course). Olivia is there all along, living her life parallel to Oliver’s; you can see that they will become best friends. So precious and wonderful.

 

anna the bookbinderAnna the Bookbinder, by Andrea Cheng and Ted Rand: A fantastic picture book! Anna’s father is a bookbinder; she’s helped him in the shop her whole life, and she knows the process very well. When her father is called away from work, Anna steps in to complete an important order. It’s odd to see these historical books where children and parents are coworkers as well as family members, since it’s so unusual now. Despite this book’s happy ending, I found myself wondering if Anna would be able to go to school, to travel, to marry for love – or if her father’s need of help in the bookshop would keep her tied to home forever. Maybe I’m thinking about it too much. 

miss mooreMiss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough and Debby Atwell: Oh Anne Carroll Moore! How I wish I were you. This book – the story of how Miss Moore created the Children’s Library space as we know it today – will make you thankful for children’s libraries. Miss Moore blazes her own trail, she has agency and verve and it’s just so satisfying reading about her successes! Since this is a children’s book, it is biased towards the positive, which made me wonder what Anne’s life was really like, and whether she ever wanted to give up, and what she dreamed of doing but couldn’t finish, and who were the intractable powers-that-be that she overthrew to make her dreams a reality for children everywhere? (It also really, really made me want to time-travel to the opening of the NYPL. Where’s my tardis?)

Rabbityness by Jo Empson: because neon paint splatters. And because of the word ‘rabbityness.’ And because this is a book that doesn’t pretend bad things don’t happen, it’s one that acknowledges that good & bad and old & new change in relation to each other all the time; and one person (or rabbit) can have a big impact.
Rabbityness

one pan two platesOne pan + fresh ingredients = dinner for two!

With an emphasis on reducing prep time and the usual sinkful of dishes, cooking instructor Carla Snyder serves up the ideal couple’s guide to simple, complete, and truly delicious meals in One Pan, Two Plates. Imagine Balsamic Braised Chicken Thighs with Figs and Creamy Polenta or Thyme-Rubbed Salmon with Shallots and Caramelized Cauliflower “Risotto”—that can be made in one skillet, in less than 60 minutes.

With recipes for home-cooked pasta, grains, sandwiches, beef, pork, chicken, and seafood, plus wine or beer pairings for each dish, One Pan, Two Plates will nourish couples, from newlyweds to empty nesters, every night of the week. (description from publisher)

InterceptThe Intercept is Dick Wolf’s first book. Unsurprisingly, it feels like the start of a long-running series. The master of the successful drama, Wolf is the creator of  Law & Order and its many spin-offs.

Jeremy Fisk is an NYPD detective who works in the Intelligence Division, where police officers comb through bits of information from surveillance cameras, email and other computer data in order to uncover terrorist plots.

When a group of passengers and crew  foil an airplane hijacking, the new heroes are sucked into a media and pr machine. Some bask in the limelight and some are desparate to avoid it.

After chasing a few false leads, Fisk begins to suspect that the original attempt is a distraction and another bigger plot is the ultimate goal.

Fast-paced and full of insider information about terrorism and forensics, Wolf writes with an assurance and cool confidence well suited to the thriller genre.

Family_Fang-Kevin_WilsonIt is hard enough to be well-adjusted while raised under typical circumstances, but Annie (Child A) and Buster (Child B) spent their childhood as players in their parent’s mischief disguised as art (or is it art disguised as mischief?).  They have spent their adult years attempting to distance themselves from their famous artist parents, but when their new lives start to fall apart, they find themselves back under their parent’s roof.

In his debut novel, The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson introduces us to the Fang family. With disdain for traditional art forms, Caleb and Camille Fang choose unexpected public performance art as their medium and have included their children in all of their greatest pieces. When their children return home, Caleb and Camille plan one final performance, and Annie and Buster are participants whether they want to be or not.  The quirky story (think Wes Anderson meets Arrested Development) is bolstered by flash-back chapters that help the reader better understand the character’s motives and gives clues to the final outcome.  Exceptionally written and a fun read, this book should please fans of Zadie Smith and Karen Russell.

rookie1.cover_webGet this book for any teen girl you know. Tavi’s online zine, Rookie Mag, has been collecting accolades since the fifteen-year-old blogger started it from her Midwestern bedroom. Tavi has been a respected style blogger since 2008, when she began her fashion blog Style Rookie at the tender age of eleven. Since then, she’s been invited to attend and review fashion shows all over the world, but it’s not just clothes anymore; this clever writer and all-around gifted young woman has created a magazine where teens can go for conversations with other teens about school, friends, music and movies, feminism, body image and self esteem, fashion, sex, and all the minutiae of teenage life that seems so monumental to those who are living it. She writes about the problems and the questions that real, modern teens have. She’s frank and funny and I wish I’d been even one-tenth as smart and confident as she is when I was a teenager. What I’m getting at is: here is a great, realistic role model. And a great book!

Rookie: Yearbook One is an ink & paper retrospective of the online magazine’s first year. It contains a lot of writing by Tavi, but it’s been touched by dozens of others; Miranda July, Lena Dunham, Aubrey Plaza, Joss Whedon, Patton Oswalt, and many others make appearances – either in pieces they’ve written for the magazine or as the subject of one of Tavi’s excellent interviews (I love how she is just as comfortable grilling Whedon about his modern-day interpretation of the sexual politics of “Much Ado About Nothing” as she is sharing a laugh with Plaza about how much they love the film “Reality Bites”). These are articles that matter, ideas that resonate, and interviews that are exciting and in-depth; it’s also lighthearted (you’ll love the section on how to cry without anyone catching you), and the graphic design of the book is phenomenal. If you have any taste for collage (and a little bit of the ridiculous) your eyes will pop at the juxtaposition of textures, photos, and hand-drawn illustrations. It’s just amazing, and I wish so much that I’d had it when I was a teenager!