better on toastHot or cold, savory or sweet–there’s nothing better than fresh, flavorful ingredients on a slice of perfectly toasted bread!

Toasts are the ideal meal, whether you need a handheld lunch, a creative buffet for hungry guests, or a craveable midnight snack. Better on Toast features more than seventy elegantly simple recipes for toasts to appeal to every taste–from Hot Miso Crab to Shaved Asparagus with Serrano-Basil Butter to Lavender Ricotta. Jill Donenfeld layers flavors and uses quality, wholesome ingredients to make each recipe stand out, while her magical toasting techniques bring out the best in every bread, from thick-cut brioche to hearty grain to her signature gluten-free Quinoa Millet Bread.

Let’s have a toast!

(description from publisher)

its not about perfect“When the odds were against me, I was always at my best.” When she retired at age 19, Shannon Miller did so as one of the most recognizable gymnasts in the country. The winner of seven Olympic medals and the most decorated gymnast, male or female, in U.S. history, Shannon tells a story of surviving and thriving in It’s Not About Perfect.

A shy, rambunctious girl raised in Oklahoma, Shannon fell in love with gymnastics at a young age and fought her way to the top. In 1992 she won five Olympic medals after breaking her elbow in a training accident just months prior to the Games. Then, in 1996, a doctor advised her to retire immediately or face dire consequences if she chose to compete on her injured wrist. Undeterred, Shannon endured the pain and led her team, the “Magnificent Seven,” to the first Olympic team gold medal for the United States in gymnastics. She followed up as the first American to win gold on the balance beam.

Equally intense, heroic and gratifying is the story of her brutal but successful battle with ovarian cancer, a disease from which fewer than fifty percent survive. Relying on her faith and hard-learned perseverance, Shannon battled through surgery and major chemotherapy to emerge on the other side with a miracle baby girl. Her story of trial, triumph and life after cancer reminds us all that its life’s bumps and bruises that reveal our character. From early on in her career, Shannon knew that life wasn’t about perfection.

In this incredible and inspirational tale, Shannon speaks out so as to be seen and heard by thousands as a beacon of hope. (description from publisher)

womanpoweredfarmMuch of the impetus to move back to the land, raise our own food, and connect with our agricultural past is being driven by women. They raise sheep for wool, harvest honey from their beehives, grow food for their families and sell their goods at farmers’ markets. What does a woman who wants to work the land need to do to follow her dream? First, she needs this book.

It may seem strange to suggest that women farmers need a different guide than male farmers, but women often have different strengths and goals, and different ways of achieving those goals. In Woman-Powered Farm, Audrey Levatino shares her experiences of running a farm and offers invaluable advice on how to get started, whether you have hundreds of acres or a simple lot for an urban community garden.

Filled with personal anecdotes and stories from other women farmers, from old hands to brand new ones, from agricultural icons like Temple Grandin, to her own sister, this book is a reassuring and inspirational guide that discusses: should you do an internship or jump right in? how to find a farm or how to handle one that you’ve inherited, best practices for selling at the farmer’s market and how to sell your goods locally, farmhouse chores and how to get them done right, how to handle large power tools, including a chainsaw, planning and growing an organic farm garden, incorporating animals as part of a farm ecosystem, where to get started if you want to farm-school your kids, tips for keeping your mind, body and spirit healthy while undertaking the demanding nature of farm work – it’s all here. (description from publisher)

bowlandspoonWhen gathered together in a single bowl, ingredients nestle against each other in a unique marriage of flavor and texture. This is how beloved food blogger Sara Forte cooks everyday-creating sumptuous dishes colorful enough to serve guests, simple enough to eat with a spoon while sitting on the couch, and in amounts plentiful enough to have easy leftovers for lunch the next day.

The Sprouted Kitchen: Bowl and Spoon is a visually stunning collection of recipes that reflects a new and more healthy approach to quick and easy cooking. Forte features delicious ideas for every meal of the day, such as Roasted Butternut Squash, Lentils, Leeks, and Poached Eggs; Yellow Beets with Spicy Greens and Poppyseed Dressing; Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Broth; and Lemon Curd, Berries, and Graham Cracker Crumble. (description from publisher)

newshadegardenThere is a new generation of gardeners who are planting gardens not only for their visual beauty but also for their ability to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In The New Shade Garden , Ken Druse provides this generation with a comprehensive guide to creating a shade garden with an emphasis on the adjustments necessary for our changing climate.

Druse offers advice for common problems facing today’s gardeners, from addressing the deer situation to watering plants without stressing limited resources. Detailing all aspects of the gardening process, the book covers basic topics such as designing your own garden, pruning trees, preparing soil for planting, and the vast array of flowers and greenery that grow best in the shade.

Perfect for new and seasoned gardeners alike, this wide-ranging encyclopedic manual provides all the information you need to start or improve upon your own shade garden. (description from publisher)

truly madly pizzaNo matter what the first day of a new week throws at you, no matter how looming the rest of the days before the weekend seem, a truly, madly delicious pizza promises something familiar, something reliable, something known. It’s confirmation that all the heaviness of the world will be held at bay – if only for a little while – by a combination of bubbling mozzarella, sweet fennel sausage, and balsamic-glazed radicchio. Suzanne Lenzer’s Truly Madly Pizza shows you how.

Beginning with the “Mother Crust” recipe, Lenzer argues that pizza dough is a tabula rasa for whatever healthy fresh ingredients you have on hand. To make pizza a nightly affair, she suggests preparing the dough on Sunday – in less than 30 minutes – freezing it, and simply transferring it to the fridge to thaw on the morning you plan to cook. Lenzer gives the timestrapped home cook countless combinations for a healthy, delicious (and quick!) weeknight meal. Balancing lighter healthy alternatives like Summer Squash with Lemon Zest and Ricotta with indulgent options such as Spicy Shredded Pork with Sweet Onion Jam and Burrata, in addition to bonus recipes including “Salad thoughts,” “Small bites,” and even a few ideas about wine, this book covers all the bases. Lenzer’s comforting voice adds a homey touch to her artisanal recipes and immaculately styled photos. (description from publisher)

american-flagThe Davenport Public Library will be closed on Saturday July 4th in observance of the holiday. All of our buildings will reopen their regular business hours on Monday, July 6th – 9am to 5:30pm at Fairmount and noon to 8pm at Main and Eastern.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

uprootedIt’s difficult to love a girl born in a Dragon year – there is always the possibility that she will be chosen by the Dragon and, even if she returns, she will be a different person than the girl you knew.

Every ten years the Dragon comes to the valley to claim a girl to come and live with him in his tower. He isn’t a real dragon of course, but a powerful wizard, tasked with keeping the valley safe from attack and in tribute, every ten years a new girl is given to the Dragon. What happens to those girls is not clear, just that when (if) she comes back she is much changed and soon leaves again to live in one of the distant cities or universities.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik is about Agnieszka, unexpectedly chosen by the Dragon over the beautiful and clever Kasia. Terrified and homesick, Agnieszka must find her role in the Dragon’s life; he is curt and circumspect with her, but  never harms her. It is only by accident that she finds that she is to learn magic from the great wizard but magic comes to Agnieszka reluctantly and she struggles to learn the simplest spells. The Dragon is deeply annoyed with her and Agnieszka is miserable until one day she comes across an ancient book in the Dragon’s vast library. The Dragon dismisses the spells in the book as impossible but they come easily to Agnieszka and suddenly the world of magic opens to her. When the valley is suddenly attacked, Agnieszka and the Dragon must combine their magic to save their people and their valley.

Full of action and vivid descriptions, Uprooted grabs you right away and doesn’t let go. Agnieszka is sympathetic and relatable without becoming saccharine and while her magic is powerful, it is her gritty courage and unshakable love and loyalty that save the day. I especially love the way the magic is described, not as a tool to be thrown but as a living creature to be coaxed and encouraged or how her magic and the Dragon’s compliment the other and intertwine to become more powerful.

Mostly though, Uprooted is about finding your own strength, learning to trust yourself, believing in the power of love and finding magic in the unexpected. Highly recommended.

american-flagThe Davenport Public Library will be closed on Monday, May 25 in observance of the Memorial Day holiday. All of our locations will reopen on Tuesday May 26 their regular business hours – Main and Eastern Avenue will be open 9am to 5:30pm and the Fairmount Street Branch open noon to 8pm.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

royal weRebecca, a bit frazzled and jetlagged from her transatlantic flight, arrives in Oxford for a year of study abroad. Struggling with her suitcases, she accepts the help of a handsome young man who shows her to her room. She jokes with him a bit (including some off-color but good-natured remarks about the Royal Family), then collapses on her bed after he leaves, exhausted, only to be startled when her new neighbor crashes into her room, asking if she’d met “him” yet? “Him” is Nicholas, Prince of Wales and future king of England and also, on occasion, helpful porter.

After this somewhat mortifying introduction, Rebecca (known as Bex), settles into having a prince as a classmate and becomes a member of the tight-knit circle surrounding the prince after proving her ability to be descrete. Bex and Nick become friends, bonding over bad television shows and junk food, gradually becoming confidents and finally, in love. A rocky romance begins, ends and then begins again, this time when they are both more mature and clear-eyed. But can the Prince marry his beloved, or will one more obstacle stop them at the alter?

Witty and fast-paced, The Royal We is a tons of fun. I admit I was skeptical at first but early on the heroine mentions that her hometown is Muscatine, Iowa. That peaked my interest, especially since I grew up in Muscatine myself. (No blunders or missteps in describing Muscatine or Iowa, although 95% of the book does take place in England!) The excellent writing kept me reading and the ups and downs of their adventures kept me entertained. Obiviously loosely based on the lives of Prince William and Princess Kate, it’s interesting to get a (supposed) peek behind the walls of The Firm (as the Royals call their institution). Conversations and actions of the circle of royal friends are made-up of course, but feel realistic and plausible. More interesting is the push and pull of Bex and Nick’s relationship – the conflict between duty and love, of doing what is expected of you vs what you want to do. What seems like a unique and special relationship in fact must struggle through many of the same issues that ordinary people must work through.

Recommended for a quick, fun read that is at turns funny and touching.