The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson

The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson (2009)
Amy Dickinson, the successor to Ann Landers and writer of the syndicated "Dear Amy" advice column in the Chicago Tribune, has written this warm and funny memoir of her life after her husband leaves her and her young baby for a young Russian woman he's met. Amy's story is about picking herself up after this devastating blow and returning to her small hometown in upper New York. Nurtured by the "Queens," the Freeville women in her family, she does survive and becomes the insightful, wise woman we read in the advice column. This book is a quick, humorous read and Amy's story makes us proud that we, too, can make it and flourish in the face of most anything.

Check out the book's website and read reviews of the book at Amazon.com.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes (1996)
A memoir about an American college professor and her lover who purchase a deserted villa in Cortona, Italy, and attempt to restore it to its former glory; thus, enabling them to enjoy “la dolie vita.” Along the way they learn to deal with the idiosyncrasies of the local workmen and the slower paced Italian way of life. Much different than the movie, I liked the book more. An added bonus is the recipes she includes.

Read reviews and a summary of the book at BookBrowse.com. You can alos explore the book discussion guide.

Shadow Warriors by Tom Clancy

Shadow Warriors by Tom Clancy (2002)
Written with substantial contributions by General Carl Stiner and Tony Koltz and read by Jonathan Marosz, this is the story of America’s Special Forces. The stories include the US embassy bombing in Beirut, the hijacking of TWA 847, the murder of political officer William Buckley, the Achille Lauro, Egypt Air 648, operations in Afghanistan and Somalia and the capture of Noriega. General Stiner and the Special Forces are tough customers and you’ll be glad they’re on our side. This book makes you proud of our Special Forces soldiers.

Check out the reviews at Amazon.com and read an excerpt at Penguin's website.

Panini Express by Daniel Leader

Panini Express by Daniel Leader (2008)
As we were checking in books, we started salivating over the pictures of the sandwiches in this book. To celebrate a colleague’s last day, we made some of the paninis. Delicious!

Read the reviews at Amazon.com. For more staff cooking  recommendations check out our All Time Faves cooking booklist.

The Cheater’s Guide to Baseball by Derek Zumsteg

The Cheater’s Guide to Baseball by Derek Zumsteg (2007)
Find out about the things baseball players and teams do to manipulate the game – some legal and some not. In the Metrodome, the Minnesota Twins have been accused of tweaking with fans in their ventilation system to help their batters hit better. In the 1960s, when the White Sox were awful, they’d freeze baseballs to prevent other teams from hitting the ball far. You can also learn about the antics used in the early days of baseball – like when they’d literally push players off the base and tag them out. The author includes these stories, plus a lot of fascinating others.

Get ready for the start of the 2009 season by learning about what goes on behind the scenes. Also visit the author's blog and read the Hardball Times' interview with the author.

Fred Astaire by Joseph Epstein

Fred Astaire by Joseph Epstein (2008)
Not a biography, but an exploration of what made Fred Astaire the American icon he is. Through an exploration of his sartorial style, his dance and singing technique, and the way in which he partnered each of his of his different female partners, Epstein makes an assessment of Astaire, the master of American dance. One chapter compares him to that other American master, Gene Kelly. A brief, but charming book for anyone who has either dreamed of dancing like or with Fred Astaire.

Read reviews of this book at Amazon.com and Yale University Press.

Depraved by Harold Schechter

Depraved by Harold Schechter (1994)
An excellent companion to Larson’s Devil in the White City, this book tells the almost unbelievable life story of 19th century serial killer and kidnapper Herman Mudgett, a.k.a. H.H. Holmes. He actually confessed to 27 murders, but some of the victims turned out to still be alive later. Others have placed the number at 200 plus. This book is a fast read, mainly because you won’t be able to put it down. H.H. Holmes America’s First Serial Killer, a documentary film by John Borowski, is based on this book. Get them both.

Learn more about the author and his books at Simon & Schuster.com and read reviews of Depraved at Amazon.com.

River Horse: Across America by Boat by William Least Heat-Moon

River Horse: Across America by Boat by William Least Heat-Moon (1999)
Moon takes a 5,000 mile journey by a small 22 ft. boat he put in at the Hudson River in New York. He travels the inland rivers he mapped from travelogues of past river travelers. The many rivers Moon travels are amazing to read about knowing that these rivers were traveled and uncharted until Lewis and Clark and other trappers went west. The travel by Moon and his small crew details the geography and rivers which make it possible to end up at the Pacific Ocean. Good read for people interested in someone traveling the rivers' routes from Atlantic to Pacific in the 21st Century!

Before you visit the library preview the book and read an interview with the author at Powell's.com.

Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman

Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How it Can Renew America by Thomas Friedman (2008)
Thomas L. Friedman, winner of three Pulitzer prizes, has written another great book. Much like his last book, The World is Flat, this book looks at the big world picture and the changes and dynamics taking place. Using exhaustive research data, he paints his picture of a world where globalization, a growing population, and global warming are converging and bringing us to an alarming situation. His call is for the United States to lead the world in making far reaching changes to make our world sustainable and environmentally safe. If you enjoyed The World Is Flat, you'll find this book another winner from Friedman.

Visit the author's website, read a review at Salon.com, and listen to an interview at NPR.

The Soul of Baseball by Joe Posnanski

The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip through Buck O’Neill’s America by Joe Posnanski (2007)
Buck O’Neill is a famous player and manager from the Negro Leagues. The author accompanied O’Neill for a year as he traveled around the country promoting the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. O’Neill shared many anecdotes, some funny and some sad, from his life and from his time around baseball.

Read a PBS interview with Buck O'Neill and check out the blog dedicated to the memory of Buck O'Neill.

Fix-it and Forget-it 5-ingredient Favorites by Phyllis Pellman Good

Fix-it and Forget-it 5-ingredient Favorites: comforting slow-cooker recipes by Phyllis Pellman Good (2007)
Love, love, love this book! I included the broccoli dish for Thanksgiving dinner for the first time. All 20 guests requested it become a permanent dish on Thanksgiving. Very easy to make.

Check out other slow cooker cookbooks at our library and visit the author's website.

Women and Money by Suze Orman

Women & Money by Suze Orman (2007)
Orman writes in a way that is simple and easy to follow. Get good advice on how to get your life in order and free yourself from financial burden. She mixes a lot of emotional feelings with money – a person out of debt is a happy person. Orman breaks down complicated ideas and provides easy steps you can follow.

She also makes me laugh, especially on her show. It’s pretty funny when people ask her if they should make a big purchase and she bluntly rejects that idea.

Visit the author's website and check out more from Orman on Oprah's website.

Spotlight: Baking

Spotlight: BakingEvery year, while the men watch a Bears game, the women in my family gather to bake Christmas cookies. At the end of the day, each lady goes home with a tray of cookies. This year I looked at these books to get ideas:

Pearl Harbor by Carl Smith

Pearl Harbor: The Day of Infamy by Carl Smith (1999)
This is Campaign Book 62 in Osprey’s superb series of combat histories. It is an extremely detailed yet concise (just 96 pages including appendices and index) telling of the events leading to and including an almost minute by minute account of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which brought the US into the Second World War. It includes thumbnail biographies of US commanders Kimmel, Short, Stark, Marshall, Secretary of State Hull and President Roosevelt, and Japanese commanders Yamamoto, Fuchida, Genda, Nagumo and Ambassador Nomura.

Preview this book and read reviews from Amazon.

The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin

The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin (2004)
This nonfiction book portrays an important but painful time in the development of the United States. In 1888, when the Great Plains were being settled by European immigrants and Eastern transplants looking for a better life for their children, their biggest battle was against the weather. This book recounts the momentous events when a blizzard swept down out of Canada and caught many schoolchildren on their way home from school.

View the reading guide and author's interview.