fried walleyeWith its corn by the acre, beef on the hoof, Quaker Oats, and Kraft Mac n’ Cheese, the Midwest eats pretty well and feeds the nation on the side. But there’s more to the Midwestern kitchen and palate than the farm food and sizable portions the region is best known for beyond its borders. It is to these heartland specialties, from the heartwarming to the downright weird, that Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie invites the reader.

The volume brings to the table an illustrious gathering of thirty Midwestern writers with something to say about the gustatory pleasures and peculiarities of the region. In a meditation on comfort food, Elizabeth Berg recalls her aunt’s meatloaf. Stuart Dybek takes us on a school field trip to a slaughtering house, while Peter Sagal grapples with the ethics of paté. Parsing Cincinnati five-way chili, Robert Olmstead digresses into questions of Aztec culture. Harry Mark Petrakis reflects on owning a South Side Chicago lunchroom, while Bonnie Jo Campbell nurses a sweet tooth through a fudge recipe in the Joy of Cooking and Lorna Landvik nibbles her way through the Minnesota State Fair.

These are just a sampling of what makes Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie – with its generous helpings of laughter, culinary confession, and information – an irresistible literary feast. (description from publisher)

american-flagThe Davenport Public Library will be closed on Monday, November 11th in observance of Veteran’s Day. All buildings will reopen on November 12 their regular scheduled hours – Main and Eastern Avenue from 9am to 5:30pm and Fairmount Street from noon to 8pm.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

woundedThe number of soldiers wounded in World War I is, in itself, devastating: over 21 million military wounded, and nearly 10 million killed. On the battlefield, the injuries were shocking, unlike anything those in the medical field had ever witnessed. The bullets hit fast and hard, went deep and took bits of dirty uniform and airborne soil particles in with them. Soldier after soldier came in with the most dreaded kinds of casualty: awful, deep, ragged wounds to their heads, faces and abdomens. And yet the medical personnel faced with these unimaginable injuries adapted with amazing aptitude, thinking and reacting on their feet to save millions of lives.

In Wounded, Emily Mayhew tells the history of the Western Front from a new perspective: the medical network that arose seemingly overnight to help sick and injured soldiers. These men and women pulled injured troops from the hellscape of trench, shell crater, and no man’s land, transported them to the rear, and treated them for everything from foot rot to poison gas, venereal disease to traumatic amputation from exploding shells.

Drawing on hundreds of letters and diary entries, Mayhew allows readers to peer over the shoulder of the stretcher bearer who jumped into a trench and tried unsuccessfully to get a tightly packed line of soldiers out of the way, only to find that they were all dead. She takes us into dugouts where rescue teams awoke to dirt thrown on their faces by scores of terrified moles, digging frantically to escape the earth-shaking shellfire. Mayhew moves her account along the route followed by wounded men, from stretcher to aid station, from jolting ambulance to crowded operating tent, from railway station to the ship home, exploring actual cases of casualties who recorded their experiences. Both comprehensive and intimate, this groundbreaking book captures an often neglected aspect of the soldier’s world and a transformative moment in military and medical history. (description from publisher)

When I grow up I want to be a Lady Detective just like Miss Fisher—elegant, scrappy and clever (words that also describe my other favorite Lady Detective, Jessica Fletcher!) Phryne Fisher has been dancing around the book world for a while (see my review of the first in that series here: Phryne, Rhymes with Briney), but now we can actually see her shake her beaded tassels in a new gorgeously filmed television series by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, shown in the United States on PBS.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries begins just as Kerry Greenwood’s book series does, with the Honorable Phryne Fisher, played by the seductive Essie Davis, returning to 1920’s Melbourne after being away for a decade or so. While she was away in Europe, Miss Fisher had modeled nude for artists, partied with dancers, worked as WWI nurse, and suddenly came into a title and money. Now that she is returned, Phryne decides that her charm and intellect are perfectly suited to solving murder mysteries around her old hometown. She enlists the help of her gentle butler, her communist chauffeurs/handymen, and her new maid, Dot, who finds herself constantly struggling between good Catholic values and the not-quite-legal-or-virtuous things that Miss Fisher persuades her to do. And of course, the local Detective Inspector Jack Robinson does not find Phryne’s frequent interference in his work amusing (even if he does find her annoyingly companionable.) I loved every episode of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, but what most puts a sparkle in my eye is Phryne’s marvelous wardrobe! The silk kimonos! The slinky wide-legged pants! And the hats oh THE HATS!

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is so charming, fun and sexy while still addressing many historically controversial issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and terrorism—all while giving us a cracking good whodunit. I highly recommend this series to fans of Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, and those who love history and mysteries 😉

german kitchenChristopher and Catherine Knuth take you into Oma’s German kitchen, sharing traditional comfort food to warm your heart. These authentic recipes, including meatloaf, rouladen, sauerkraut and seafood, bring the diverse tastes of Germany to your table.

Complete with clear instructions as well as full-color food and location photography, The German Kitchen is more than just a fantastic German recipe book. It is almost as though you are being taken by the hand on a cooking tour of Germany, where you would learn the recipes and techniques needed to cook culinary specialties such as goulash soup, beef rouladen, pork chops with mustard sauce, and spicy, herb-infused seafood native to the riverside outskirts of Hamburg.

Learn how to cook traditional German recipes without having to leave the comfort of your own kitchen. With enough seafood, vegetable, meat, dressing and dessert recipes inside, transform your kitchen into a truly German kitchen. (description from publisher)

monstersFor Rich Cohen and millions of other fans, the 1985 Chicago Bears were more than a football team: they were the greatest football team ever – a gang of colorful nuts, dancing and pounding their way to victory. They won a Super Bowl and saved a city. It was not just that the Monsters of the Midway won, but how they did it. On offense, there was high-stepping running back Walter Payton and punky QB Jim McMahon, who had a knack for pissing off Coach Mike Ditka as he made his way to the end zone. On defense, there was the 4-6: a revolutionary, quarterback-concussing scheme cooked up by Buddy Ryan and ruthlessly implemented by Hall of Famers such as Dan “Danimal” Hampton and “Samurai” Mike Singletary. On the sidelines, in the locker rooms, and in bars, there was the never-ending soap opera: the coach and the quarterback bickering on TV, Ditka and Ryan nearly coming to blows in the Orange Bowl, the players recording the “Super Bowl Shuffle” video the morning after the season’s only loss.

Cohen tracked down the coaches and players from this iconic team and asked them everything he has always wanted to know: What’s it like to win? What’s it like to lose? Do you really hate the guys on the other side? Were you ever scared? What do you think as you lie broken on the field? How do you go on after you have lived your dream but life has not ended? The result is Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football, a portrait not merely of a team but of a city and a game: its history, its future, its fallen men, its immortal heroes. But mostly it’s about being a fan – about loving too much. This is a book about America at its most nonsensical, delirious, and joyful. (description from publisher)

November 5

white house downWhite House Down – Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx

Capitol Policeman John Cale has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer. Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it’s up to Cale to save the president, his daughter, and the country. Rated PG-13

grown ups 2Grown Ups 2 – Adam Sandler, Chris Rock

Lenny has decided to relocate his family back to the small town to have his kids grow up where he and his friends grew up. This time around, the grownups are the ones learning lessons from their kids on a day notoriously full of surprises: the last day of school. Rated PG-13

parklandParkland – Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden

November 22, 1963 is a day that changed the world forever when beloved American President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Parkland is the true story behind that tragic day, told from the vantage point of individuals who are forced to make split-second decisions after this incomprehensible event that will change the world’s landscape forever. Rated PG-13

reniorRenoir – Michel Bouquet, Christa Theret

Set on the French Riviera in the summer of 1915, Jean Renoir – son of the Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste – returns home to convalesce after being wounded in World War I. At his side is Andree, a young woman who rejuvenates, enchants, and inspires both father and son. Renoir locates a fascinating moment of change, with one century’s way of thinking giving way to the next.  Rated R


man of steelMan of Steel – Henry Cavill, Amy Adams

A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind. Rated PG-13

turboTurbo – Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti

After a freak accident, a garden snail with dreams of becoming the fastest snail in the world might just realize his goal.



PlanesPlanes – Dane Cook, Val Kilmer

Dusty is a cropdusting plane with dreams of competing as a high-flying air racer. But Dusty’s not exactly built for racing, and he happens to be afraid of heights. So he turns to a seasoned naval aviator, who helps Dusty qualify to take on the defending champ of the race circuit. Dusty’s courage is put to the ultimate test. Rated PG

millersWe’re the Millers –  Jennifer Anniston, Jason Sudeikis

David is a pot dealer in need of a fake family to use as a cover story in order to smuggle drugs from Mexico into the U.S. He is in major debt with his supplier and is desperate for the money to pay him back. He hires a stripper to be his fake wife, a runaway as his pretend daughter, and a goofy counterfeit son. Antics and madcap adventure ensue as this faux-family attempts to cross the border with the loot. Rated R


red2Red 2 – Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren

Retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses rejoins his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device. PG-13


ripdR.I.P.D. – Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds

Two cops are dispatched by the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.) to protect and serve the living from increasingly destructive spirits hiding among the unsuspecting Earth. When they uncover a plot that could end life as we know it, the new partners have to turn grudging respect into top-notch teamwork to restore the cosmic balance-or watch the tunnel to the afterlife begin sending angry souls the very wrong way. Rated PG-13