Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fairy Tale Flavored Fiction for Tweens

"If I'm honest, I have to tell you I still read fairy-tales and I like them best of all."
~ Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993), British actress

 The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry

Fairy Tale Fantasy. Clever, independent, and mightily bored, Princess Patricia Priscilla escapes the preparations for her upcoming 16th birthday bash in this wickedly funny original tale. Donning her chambermaid's simple, rough dress and calling herself "Pat," the princess poses as a peasant girl in order to attend the village school for a week. While the princess learns a lot more than just her lessons in class, her suitors -- all repellent -- prepare for the ball, where unfortunately she'll have to pick one of them to be her husband. 

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Schulman

Fantasy. The New York Circulating Material Repository loans out historical objects, not books, and it also houses a mysterious collection of magical items from the Grimm fairy tales. Soon after Elizabeth Rew gets an after-school job at the repository, a number of powerful enchanted objects go missing. Elizabeth and her fellow pages are suspected of the thefts and must face great danger -- and learn how to harness items like the snarky-yet-truthful mirror from "Snow White" -- in order to catch the thief. Descriptive, funny, and laced with mystery and fantastical adventures, The Grimm Legacy is a great choice for fans of Michael Buckley's Sisters Grimm series or the Harry Potter books.

Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley

Medieval Fantasy. Echoing the familiar Cinderella story and nonetheless spinning a whole new tale all its own, this "gossamer narrative that shimmers both brightly and darkly" (Kirkus Reviews) will spellbind readers who favor beautifully written, intricate, compelling fantasies with a medieval-like setting and a fairy-tale flair. Isabella was born to nobility, but she was raised by peasants after her mother's death during childbirth and her father's cruel rejection. Now 13, Bella (who has had a happy childhood and doesn't want to leave either her foster parents or her best friend, Prince Julian) learns of her true parentage for the first time when her father sends for her out of the blue. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas with Cupid

Get into the spirit of Christmas with these holly, jolly romances designed to be read in front of a cozy fire (roasting chestnuts optional).

The Christmas List by Richard Paul Evans
A successful but heartless businessman sees his own obituary in the newspaper after a case of mistaken identity, setting in motion a series of events that profoundly changes the lives of several people who have suffered due to his ruthless business practices.

1225 Christmas Tree Lane by Debbie Macomber
Beth Morehouse expects this Christmas to be one of her best. Her small Christmas-tree farm is prospering, her daughters and her dogs are happy and well, and her new relationship with local vet Ted Reynolds is showing plenty of romantic promise. But someone left a basket filled with puppies on her doorstep, that's complication number one. Number two is that her daughters have invited their dad, Beth's ex-husband, Kent, to Cedar Cove for Christmas.

Home for Christmas by Andrew Greeley

A war hero on his third deployment in Iraq, Peter is injured and finds himself both alive and dead on a wondrous spiritual journey where he is given a second chance at life from God Himself. With Christmas approaching, time is running out for Peter to complete the most important mission of his life: convincing himself that he and Mariana, the woman he left behind in Chicago, were meant to share a special message of love with the world

Lakeshore Christmasby Susan Wiggs

Prim librarian Maureen Davenport lives for Christmas--and there's nothing more magical than Christmas on Willow Lake. Finally getting her chance to direct Avalon's annual holiday pageant, she's determined to make it truly spectacular. But it might just require one of those Christmas miracles she's always read about if her co-director-- recovering former child star Eddie Haven--has his way. Is he trying to sabotage the performance to spite her? Or is she trying too hard to fit the show into her storybook-perfect notion of Christmas?

A Lawman's Christmas by Linda Lael Miller

Dara Rose Nolan finds herself without a husband or income and Blue River, Texas finds itself without a lawman after the town marshal dies. Things change, though, when Clay McKettrick becomes the temporary lawman and embarks on a marriage of convenience with Dara Rose

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Turkey's Tale of Woe

by Cynthia Pfledderer

I'll be spending another Thanksgiving with the Dallas Cowboys this year, so my family and I decided to have our Thanksgiving one day early. To offer some encouragement and camaraderie to all of you who will be slicing, dicing, and roasting tomorrow, I decided to share my semi-annual adventure into holiday cuisine.

The Menu
Mushrooms stuffed with crab and almonds (Williams Sonoma's Thanksgiving)
Giada's Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus (Giada's Family Dinners)
Cornbread Stuffing with Homemade Turkey Gravy
Macaroni and Cheese (Not Kraft)
Broccoli and Rice Casserole (A family favorite, made with real Cheese Whiz. Ha!)
Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans (Thanks to my friend Bennett)
Seasoned Corn off the Cob
Mashed Potatoes with Sour Cream and Onion
Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Pecan Pie, Pear-Pumpkin Trifle, Upside-Down Apple Tart

A Turkey's Tale of Woe
The plan is to get up early and get the turkey seasoned and in the oven in time to take my little Joodle Bug (Jude is my 1-yr old grandson) to Story Time at the Library. I have been planning and looking forward to this for a week.  Story Time is 10 am in Southlake. I'm in Bedford.

8:45 am - Running late. Turkey looks like this.

I've worked late the last 2 nights and I don't have all of the ingredients for Giada's recipe. What to do?

9 am -  I decide I will stick with the plan and head to the grocery for missing items. I'm home by 9:20 am but without fresh sage and oregano. Fortunately, I grow my own rosemary and I can make do with dried herbs. Can I get this bird seasoned, in the oven and be out the door in 5 minutes? Let's see.

I love fresh rosemary, it smells so Christmasey. I am happy to report I found the Herbes de Provence required for this recipe. Thanks to Tom Thumb for that. I've used many different recipes over the year, so I do improvise with ideas I've learned from other chefs. I always wrap my bird in parchment paper because it helps maintain the moisture and keeps the foil away from the meat. I'm also a fan of using wine and spirits when I cook, the alcohol always burns off and leaves a nice flavor behind. So I add some white wine to the mix.

9:25 am - Seasoned and ready to go. Making good time.

9:30 am - A little late but it looks pretty good. I can pop it in the oven, drive over to pick up the baby and still make it Story Time for our special date.  That is, until I remember something. My oven is the Devil.

It burns 25 degrees too hot always and it's freakishly small. It's the last part that slipped my mind. The roaster won't fit in the oven! I look at the clock. Ms. Elizabeth is starting at 10 am sharp and I'm already late. What to do? Unlike the too full closet, I can't shove on the door and squeeze it in. There's no latch to hold it closed, so the oven just pops the door back out at me like a protruding tongue.

I won't share with you the harsh words I have with the oven at this point or the text I send to my husband for not having the psychic intuition to have prevented this problem for me. (Don't worry, after 16 years, he's used to this by now and enjoys the absurdity of it.) I have no time to get creative, I pull the bird out of the pan, foil, parchment, and all and throw it into the biggest casserole dish I have. This is a problem. I see it is too small for the job.  But time is ticking and Ms. Elizabeth will be singing in 20 minutes.

I run upstairs and tell my son,

"Watch that turkey in the oven. The pan is too small and I'm concerned it will start another fire in the oven."

Yes, I did say another.  We have a history - this Devil and me. My son doesn't flinch - he is also used to me. After a few words on fire prevention, I grab my purse and rush out of the door.  Halfway to my daughter's home, I call to see if Jude is ready and if I can arrange a speedy pick up. Her groggy voice tells me all I need to know. They are still in bed. Baby is not ready. Story Time will not happen.

I turn my car around and drive back home. A quick message to Ms. Elizabeth and I'm back to the turkey. My son, aka my sous-chef of the day, is in the kitchen surveying the situation. I decide to tackle the turkey issue again. The roasting pan is metal and I think a pair of pliers may solve my dilemma. We pull Tom from the oven and I proceed to deform my new roasting pan. Convinced I have shortened it sufficiently, I move the bird back to the roaster. My son is loading the dishwasher behind me.  I look at him.

"You know if I put this back in there and it doesn't fit, I'm going to have a meltdown, right?"

He nods and decides to leave the kitchen for the time being. I put the pan back into the Devil and it's within millimeters of closing. I attack it with the pliers again and finally decide it's closed enough.  Seeing it is safe to return, Sawyer comes to offer his assistance with the remaining dishes. I tell him I'm going to Starbucks to see if I can return to sanity.

"It's not going to happen," he tells me and I nod in acceptance.

One green tea and an eggnog later, I am sitting in my leopard print chair telling you my story of turkey woe.  (I cut my eggnog with nonfat milk to make myself feel better about drinking it - this makes perfect sense to me.) My sous-chef has snapped the beans during this time and is now peeling apples like a champ. It makes me happy to watch him.

So let my story help you. Whatever kitchen disasters may befall you this Thanksgiving, take heart in knowing it happens to all of us and the best part is sharing it all with your family.

Here's my sweet sous-chef hard at work. And the Devil in the background, looking sooo innocent!

From the Pfledderer House - We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Great New Teen Reads!

Don't start the break without a good book (or several) to keep you entertained!  Here's the latest and greatest in teen fantasy and sci-fi.

The Last Dragonslayer - by Jasper Fforde

Fantasy. In his whimsical YA debut, the bestselling author of the Thursday Next series introduces 16-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange. Jennifer runs Kazam, a combination boarding house and employment agency for sorcerers in a world where magic is fading away. But when magicians all over the Un-united Kingdoms start having visions about the death of the world's last dragon, Jennifer learns that she has a much greater responsibility than finding suitable jobs for washed-up wizards: she is the Last Dragonslayer. Often silly but also highly entertaining, this 1st in a planned series is a good bet for fans of Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching books.

Adaptation - by Malinda Lo

Near-Future SF. In the chaos following a series of plane crashes caused by flocks of kamikaze birds, 17-year-old Reese and her debate-team partner, David, are in a serious car accident and receive medical treatment at a military hospital in Arizona. No one will tell them the details of what happened or how they've been healed...but after they get back home to San Francisco, both of them suspect that they've undergone something more than standard medical procedures. With bizarre happenings, clandestine government agents, X-Files-esque intrigue, and even a bit of romance, this adventure will captivate conspiracy theorists and thriller fans alike.

What's Left of Me - by Kat Zhang

Science Fiction. In this intriguingly original novel's alternate America, every person is born with twin souls in a single body, souls that take turns controlling the body's movements as they learn and grow together. But where most children have one soul that "settles," or disappears as the stronger personality takes over, teenaged Eva and Addie are still both very much present in their single vessel -- and Eva must hide to keep them safe. When Addie/Eva's secret is exposed, they're taken away to a treatment facility, where they'll have to escape in order to survive. First in a projected series, What's Left of Me is an intensely thought-provoking read that grapples with ethics, identity, and prejudice and should entice fans of Mary E. Pearson's The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Who makes us laugh? What makes us laugh? Find out in these forays into the history and evolution of the belly laugh. Topics cover a variety of comedic protoypes including silent, slapstick, and stand-up as well as biographies of well-known comedians and humorists.

This Time Together by Carol Burnett

Burnett, one of the most successful and beloved comedic performers of our time, presents her second memoir.  In it, she recounts her early days as a struggling actress in New York City and her rapid rise to success. She reminisces about her costars and her friendships with luminaries including Jimmy Stewart, Lucille Ball, and Julie Andrews while also touching on more personal and somber issues, like the tragic death of her daughter. Burnett's narration is warm and engaging; her performance is at turns humorous, poignant, and utterly irresistible.

My Life in and out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke

Fans who like Van Dyke's affable, self-deprecating characters will enjoy this first memoir, because his prose is as easygoing and comical as he appears on-screen. At the outset, Van Dyke warns readers that he is not going to dish the dirt, and he doesn't, but he will still engage celebrity watchers with inside stories of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Poppins , and other parts of his career. 

Bossypants by Tina Fey

rom her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon, comedian Tina Fey reveals all, and proves that you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

Monday, November 12, 2012

What's Cooking, Good Looking?

With Thanksgiving getting closer every day, there is the (gulp) enormous and scrumptious feast to prepare. Want some new ideas? Check out these great cookbooks available at the library:

Monday, November 05, 2012

If You Like: the Mortal Instruments series

Set in an alternate Manhattan where humans unwittingly live side-by-side with monsters, demons, fairies, and other supernatural beings, Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series is fast-paced, action-packed, and suspenseful urban fantasy heavily spiced with relationship drama. It captivates fans of steamy paranormal romance; lush, florid writing that's charged with emotion; and stories rife with angst, snarky humor, plot twists, shocking secrets, and gut-wrenching betrayals. Already read all five volumes and still want more? Check out one of the books below for something similar.

Paranormalcy - by Kiersten White
Check Library CatalogPub Date: August 2010Share ParanormalcyCall Number: YA F WHI

Paranormal Romance. Evie, the only known human with the ability to see through supernatural "glamours," works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency (IPCA) tracking down and subduing hags, werewolves, vampires, and other dangerous creatures. (Really, she finds the work dull and would rather be shopping, watching TV, or at the very least at home painting her weapons pink.) But when a mysterious shape-shifter invades the IPCA and brings news of a string of paranormal murders, things start to heat up -- in more ways than one. While it's got plenty of action and some interesting world-building, too, this sassy, fast-paced read will most appeal to fans of the humor and romance in the Mortal Instruments series.

Wicked lovely - Melissa Marr
Check Library CatalogPub Date: June 2007Share Wicked lovelyCall Number: YA F MAR

Paranormal Romance. Aislinn knows that fairies are real and that they aren't the small, cute, winged beings that most people imagine. She has inherited the gift of Sight from her mother's family, allowing her to see them. She lives by rules that have kept her safe from their notice. All of that changes when Keenan, the Summer King, chooses her as his queen, involving Aislinn in a 900-year power struggle between him and his mother, the Winter Queen. If Aislinn refuses him, summer will cease to exist, killing both mortals and fairies alike. If she accepts, she loses her humanity and ties to the mortal world—as if life as a teenager isn't hard enough when you're "normal." This story explores the themes of love, commitment, and what it really means to give of oneself for the greater good to save everyone else. It is the unusual combination of past legends and modern-day life that gives a unique twist to this "fairy" tale..

Need - Carrie Jones
Check Library CatalogPub Date: December 2008Share NeedCall Number: YA F JON

Paranormal Romance. 
Zara's stepfather has died, her mother isn't capable of caring for her, and she has been sent to live with her grandmother in a small remote town in Maine. When her car spins out of control, she's rescued by Nick, an inhumanly fast runner who's mere presence electrifies her.  Too bad she's being followed by someone dark and dangerous—a pixie king. This pixie is no harmless sprite: “when not mated with a queen for an unspecified amount of time,” Zara learns, “the pixie kings will demand... young human men, who they kill after using them for their blood-hungry pleasures.” Will Zara sacrifice herself to this vampire stand-in or let him destroy everything she loves? 

Friday, November 02, 2012


The Doorbell Rang - written and illustrated by Pat Hutchins
Juvenile Fiction. Ma has made a dozen cookies for her two kids to divide between themselves ("'That's six each,' said Sam and Victoria."). But before they can eat, the doorbell rings! And it keeps ringing! The kids and their guests split the cookies equally between them until everybody has one cookie...and then the doorbell rings, again! Who could it be? You'll have to read to see!School Library Journal calls The Doorbell Rang "refreshing, enjoyable, and unpredictable."
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie - by Laura Joffe Numeroff; illustrated by Felicia Bond
Juvenile Fiction. One thing leads to another in this bestselling book that launched Laura Joffe Numeroff's and Felicia Bond's beloved series of similarly unraveling books. In this initial outing, a young boy innocently offers an adorable rodent a treat and quickly discovers that you can never tell where it will stop once you have given a demanding mouse a cookie (but, odds are, you'll be back at the cookie jar).

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? - by Mo Willems
Juvenile Fiction. The latest entry in the hilarious pigeon series by three-time Caldecott Honor-winning author and illustrator Mo Willems finds the irrepressible bird expressing his astonishment and indignation when adorable Duckling politely asks for a cookie...and gets one!