My Account
You are here:  Home Staff Picks Blog

Staff Picks Blog

Author Archive for Beth

YA Romances for Guys & Girls

by Beth on February 24th, 2012
YA Romances for Guys & Girls Cover Image

I just finished listening to a webinar called “Young Love: YA Romances for Guys & Girls” and I really enjoyed it.  The presenters we great:  YA librarians Jennifer Hubert Swan ( a HS Librarian, author, and blogger from the teen book blog Reading Rants )  Anglina Benedetti ( King County Library System, WA) and Egmont USA Editor Greg Ferguson, had some great new books to share:

Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison – a young woman with OCD tries to solve a mystery of a young woman’s death even as she tries to deal with the death of her own brother.

The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal.  Princess Nalia just turned sixteen. Instead of celebrating, she is wisked into hiding where she is told that she’s not actually the princess, but someone named Sinda who was  just a stand in for the real Princess Nilia.  Unable to adjust to a life in hiding, or to the new magical abilities she seems to have, Sinda heads back to the kingdom to put things right, possibly changing not only her future but that of the entire land.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire.  People think seventeen year old Emmerson sees visions.  Visions of things that aren’t really there.  But it’s more than that.  Emmerson can manipulate time. Michael believes in her, and he needs her help to try and prevent a murder that has already happened.  Will Michael and the feelings Emmerson is developing for him change her life?  The sequel “Timepiece” is due out this summer.

Ashes by Ilsa Bick.  What’s a 17 year old with a terminal brain tumor supposed to do when all of the world’s electronic technology and half the population are destroyed by a freak electromagnetic disaster?  Especially when there are very few survivors who have NOT been turned into flesh eating zombies? Band together with two other survivors and try and stay alive, of course.


A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend.   When Cass’s best friend Julia dies,  her dram club friends decide to produce the project she was working on – a musical called “Totally sweet Ninja Death Squad” as a tribute to her. Cass hates all things drama, but how can she not participate?


All About Roasting

by Beth on January 25th, 2012
All About Roasting Cover Image

Some people read cookbooks like magazines, stopping only when something piques their interest, and others read them cover to cover, savoring every page.   All About Roasting by Molly Stevens is one of those books.  You won’t want to put it down!

I’ll admit, it begins a bit peculiarly, with a two pages of side dishes and four pages of conversion tables, right up front before the introduction. But the real magic beings with the first page of chapter 1 “The Principles of Roasting”.

“The Principles of Roasting” is an introduction to the art and science of roasting.  It’s Roasting 101.  Forty nine pages covering all aspects of roasting: dry vs. moist heat, low/medium/high heat and when to use each, salting and brining, carry-over cooking, oven rack position, resting and carving your final product.  The basic equipment needed – a thermometer, roasting pan, and sometimes a rack – are discussed in detail.

The rest of the book contains 150 recipes divided into chapters:  Beef & Lamb, Pork, Chicken & Poultry, Fish & Shellfish, Vegetables & Fruits.   Each wonderfully written chapter begins with its own table of contents and two pages about the specifics of roasting that type of food.  The first recipe in each chapter covers the basics.   It may look long, but Stevens leads you step by step through the process.  Once you master the first recipe progressing on to the more advanced recipes should be easy.

Throughout the book – between the recipes – you’ll find all sorts of wonderful essays.  From shopping guides for specific ingredients, to trimming various cuts of meat  (I can now butterfly a whole chicken), to discussions of spices – from lemon grass to Aleppo or Gram Masala, and choosing the best vegetables.  These make All About Roasting a really fun read, and so much more than just a cookbook.



by Beth on January 10th, 2012
Microcrafts Cover Image

What’s better than a new book full of craft projects?  How about a new book full of itty bitty craft projects!

Microcrafts: Tiny Treasures to Make and Share by Margaret McGuire, Alicia Kachmar, Katie Hats and Friends contains more than 25 miniature craft projects to die for.

This is the perfect craft book for anyone who saves the bits and pieces left over from other projects, or who collects found objects that might be useful some day.  Tiny pieces of felt, shells, bottle caps or scraps of fancy papers become tiny stuffed animals,  miniature books, or little bitty bumble bees to hide in a houseplant.

Step by step instructions, great illustrations, and color photographs will take you through each project, and patterns are included where needed.  Don’t skip the last three sections of the book: “Supplies and Techniques”, “Ideas for Modifying Microcrafts” and “About the Authors” – each will give you lots more inspirations.

The next time you get the urge to craft, but don’t want to take on a big project check out Microcrafts and have a little fun.


Kitchen Magic

by Beth on November 16th, 2011
Kitchen Magic Cover Image

I love my Crock Pot.  I fill it and turn it on before I leave for work, and when I get home at the end of the day the house smells fantastic and dinner is ready.   And I love finding new crock pot cookbooks on the NEW shelves too!

Slow Cooker Revolution:  One test kitchen, 30 slow cookers, 200 amazing recipes by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen.  The people at ATK spent a year testing and refining these recipes.  Before they started cooking, they tested a variety of slow cookers, and they discovered that each brand and model is different.  They cook at different temperatures, and have different “hot spots”.  So the ATK staff included simple instructions for testing your own slow cooker so you know what you’re working with.

Divided into 13 chapters Slow Cooker Revolution covers a wide range of recipes – from traditional crock pot fare like soups and stews, to more unique offerings like side dishes, eggs & brunch, and casseroles.  Each recipe starts with a paragraph called “Why this recipe works” that explains what they learned when testing that recipe or how they updated it.   Most of the recipes include steps designed to bump up the flavor or to decrease the liquid in the finished recipe, which can make all the difference in slow cooker fare.

There are more than just recipes here.  Throughout the book there are helpful full-page guides like “All About Chicken in the Slow Cooker” and at the bottom of most recipes you’ll find either a “Smart Shopping Tip,”  “Quick Prep Tip” or a simple  “On the side” recipe to go along with the main recipe.  All of these extras make this a fun read even if you’re not cooking, though the photographs will probably make you hungry!

There is one unfortunate thing about many of the recipes in this book: the cooking times.  With all their updates, recipes that used to take 8 hours now don’t take nearly as long.  Which means either I have to run home for lunch and load the crock pot, or I have to save my crock pot experiments for the weekends.  So take note of the cooking time at the top of each recipe before you begin – you may be in for a surprise.  But I can’t wait to try the “Balsamic-Braised Chicken with Swiss Chard” and “Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic” recipes!

Other new Slow Cooker/One Dish Meal cookbooks:

The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester has 150 recipes to choose from.  Well written uncomplicated recipes for a variety of soups, stews, curries, casseroles, pastas and deserts to please even the non vegans at your table.  Soy Free or Gluten Free recipes are noted just after the title, and most recipes have prep work that you can do the night before, to make the next morning easier.

EatingWell One-Pot Meals by Jessie Price. Over 100 recipes are divided in to sections by the type of cooking: salad bowl, wok, skillet, roasting pan, casserole, slow cooker, and dutch oven.  Each section includes a one-page essay by a chef who specializes in that type of cooking.   The recipes are well written, and include nutritional information per serving.  An additional “Resources” chapter has guides to roasting or  steaming vegetables and cooking grains.  The full page photographs will make your mouth water.

Sizzling Skillets and other one-pot wonders by Emeril Lagasse.  Emeril’s ode to one pot cooking, from cast iron, slow cooker, dutch oven, or wok, contains over 130 mouth watering recipes.  From regional classics to recipes with an international flare, just reading the table of contents will make you want to spend the weekend in your kitchen.  But take note – the cooking and prep times are NOT given at the beginning of each recipe – cooking times are written into the instructions.


what’s new at 746.46 ?

by Beth on October 17th, 2011
what’s new at 746.46 ? Cover Image

If you’re a regular library user, you probably have a favorite area of the Library. A call number or area you go to on a regular basis, or scope out on the new book shelf to see if there’s anything new.  For me it’s the number 746.46 – Quilting books.  There are quite a few new quilting books on the shelves these days! Here are a few to whet your appetite.

Stash Happy Patchwork by Cynthia Shaffer
Want to sew, but not in the mood to take on a big quilt?  How about Cupcake Flags, a clothespin caddy, a cactus pincushion, a Bento box, or a candle cozy?  Stash Happy Patchwork has 25 fun, simple, patchy projects, for any time you’re in the mood to sew.

The Practical Guide to Patchwork: new basics for the modern quiltmaker by Elizabeth Hartman.  Do you like the idea of making a quilt, but aren’t really into the traditional quilt designs?  Have a thing for bright modern fabrics?  Then this book is for you!  Hartman will lead you step by step through constructing a quilt, and the 12 projects included give a fresh color and design pallet to your project.  No old school browns and tans here.

Simplify with Camille Roskelley
Pre-cut fabric packs can take much of the guess work out of selecting fabrics for a project.  Fabric is produced in lines of up to 40 different coordinated prints and colors versions, and a pre-cut pack will have a piece of each fabric in a line, cut to a specific size. Fat Quarters (18″x 22″), Layer Cakes (10” squares), Charm Packs (5” squares), Jelly Rolls (strips 2.5” wide by the width of the fabric) Honey Buns (strips 1.5” wide by WOF), and Turnovers ( two 6” half square triangles per design).  Roskelley has designed 14 projects using pre-cut fabric packs. Introductory chapters on the basics of making a quilt are well written and easy to follow and the appendix includes the few patterns needed to complete each of the projects.

Little Bits Quilting Bee: 20 quilts using Charm Squares, Jelly Rolls, Layer Cakes, and Fat Quarters by Katheren Ricketson is another book full of projects for pre-cut fabrics.  Ricketson is also a fan of community quilting. The modern version of the traditional quilting bee, today they are just as likely to be and online community or a blog as they are to be a real life meeting of friends,  and  Ricketson devotes her first chapter to a discussion of this fun social aspect of quilting.   A chapter each devoted to tools, supplies and quilt basics and then you’ll find 20 bright and colorful projects to choose from.

Pennies from Heaven by Gretchen Gibbons
If working with wool is your thing, this one’s for you. Well written and easy to follow, this book is based on Gibbons’ 12 block wool applique quilt “Pennies from Heaven.”  Each of the blocks are beautiful, and could be used on their own as a penny rug or wall hanging. There are also 8 additional patterns for penny rugs, table mats and table runners.


Plan now for a great Halloween

by Beth on September 30th, 2011
Plan now for a great Halloween Cover Image

Nights are getting cooler, apples are ripe for the picking and football season is in full swing.  Fall is on the way,  and with it comes one of my favorite holidays of the year: Halloween!   It’s never too early to start planning for Halloween, especially if you’ll be making new costumes or decorations.  ICPL has lots of books on Halloween costumes and decorating.  Let us help you make this a Halloween to remember.

Big Book of Halloween: Creative & Creepy Project for Revellers of All Ages” by Laura Dover Doran has lots of great Halloween ideas.  From yard and party decorations, party food, costumes for both adults and kids, and some short ghost stories, this is a great guide for a fun Halloween.

“Halloween: a Grown-up’s Guide to Creative Costumes, Devilish Décor & Fabulous Festivities,” by Joanne O’Sullivan, contains a wealth of grown-up costume ideas.  From full costumes, to hands, horns, creature feet, accessories and and masks (including some great paper bag masks), this guide to a grown-up Halloween will help you create your perfect Halloween – especially if you’ve ever wanted to be a Jackson Pollock painting.

To take your Halloween decorating to a whole new level, try “How to Haunt Your House,” by Shawn and Lynne Mitchell.  This is the ultimate guide to creeping out the neighborhood.  Fill your yard with realistic creepy tombstones.  Make spooky, drippy candles that will “burn” all night long or fake poseable hands using your hot glue gun and LOTS of glue sticks.  Want to create your own special effects lighting or make your very own fog machine?  This book shows you how to create the spookiest haunted house on the block.

Tired of the basic smiley-face Jack-O-Lantern?  Create something spooky, scary or just truly shocking with help from Tom Nardone’s “Extreme Pumpkins: diabolical do-it-yourself designs to amuse your friends and scare your neighbors” This pumpkin carving guide is full of ideas for some extremely off-the-wall pumpkin creations.    And don’t pass up the sequel “Extreme pumpkins II: take back Halloween and freak out a few more neighbors.”

And if your Halloween revolves around kids who might enjoy creating their own costumes, try these:

All have some great ideas for off-the-wall kids’ costumes that can be made with some help from mom or dad.  From a giant birthday presents, winged fairies, decked-out princesses, to sword-wielding pirates or dragons, there’s bound to be something to enchant even the most “too-old-for-Halloween” kid.

Visit the Iowa City Public Library soon and check the Library’s catalog for the subject Halloween or Halloween Costumes. to get a bigger list of books and a jump start on your Halloween planning.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

by Beth on September 21st, 2011
Will Grayson, Will Grayson Cover Image

I have a pretty common name.  In fact, there are three of me living in Iowa City this year.  For the most part our lives don’t intersect.  I always thought it would be fun to write a book about two people with the same name.  Young Adult authors John Green and David Levithan beat me too it with Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Will Grayson is a high school junior who lives in Evanston, Illinois.  His parents are both doctors, and since the fifth grade his best friend has been Tiny Cooper.  Tiny, who may be “the world’s largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world’s gayest person who is really, really large” is a linebacker on their high school football team, and a huge fan of musical theater.  Will himself is not gay, even though half the school thinks he and Tiny are a couple.  Will spends most of his time trying to stay invisible, which is hard with a best friend like Tiny.  Tiny falls in love a lot – like multiple times a day.  And now he’s decided to fix Will up with their other best friend Jane – who may or may not be gay herself.  This school year Tiny wants the Gay-Straight Alliance at his high school to help him put on a musical that he wrote- that just happens to be the story of his life and his friendship with Will Grayson.  Now how will Will stay invisible?

the other will grayson, is a troubled high school student who lives with his single mother in naperville,ill.  every morning will “prays that the school bus will crash and we’ll all die in a fiery wreck”.   will takes meds for his depression, but sometimes he’s sure they’re not working.  will is gay, but the only person he has come out to is his online friend isaac.  most of the time will is miserable.

NOTE:  The lack of capitalization above  is how the co-authors of Will Grayson, Will Grayson show you which Will Grayson you’re reading about in the alternating chapters of the book – and once you get to know will grayson #2 you’ll see that lowercase just fits.

Will and Isaac decide to finally meet in person, so Will takes the train into downtown Chicago the same evening that Will, Tiny and Jane head downtown to see a band play.  Will and Will run into each other in the unlikeliest place.  Then when Tiny and the other Will meet for the first time, there is an instant attraction.  What’s Will to do now that Tiny is getting his “Will Grayson fix” with the other Will Grayson?

Being a teenage guy is not easy, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a entertaining look at what’s its like to be a guy just hoping to make it out of high school without spilling his guts to the world, either literally or figuratively.


The Bricklayer: a novel

by Beth on September 5th, 2011
The Bricklayer: a novel Cover Image

Someone in the group is an evil genius. Who else could come up with a blackmail plot so perfect that the victim can do nothing but follow directions?  Especially when that victim’s carefully crafted reputation is at stake, and when that victim is the FBI.

The Bricklayer by Noah Boyd.

Blackmail usually begins with the threat of violence.  Follow these instructions, give up some money and no one gets hurt. The Rubico Pentad knew that the only way to really get the FBI’s attention was to start with the dead body, then follow with the threat.

A well-known retired news anchor in California is murdered and a little blue calling card from the Rubico Pentad is left on her body.  The FBI receives a demand: one million dollars delivered by an agent, guided by GPS coordinates.  If their instructions are not followed another body will appear, and the next demand will be for twice as much.  An agent sets out to deliver the money with a backup team in place to apprehend the Pentad.  But as the path the agent is following gets more and more deadly, he beings to believe he’s been set up to fail.  But why would the Rubico Pentad want him to fail?  No one suspected that he would end up body #2.

When Agent Steve Vail was fired from the FBI he was relieved.  Working for a boss just wasn’t his thing – especially a pencil pushing boss with political aspirations.   He discovered that he likes the physical labor of bricklaying.  He enjoys the solitude and the artistic side of creating shapes and patterns out of solid bricks.  Never mind that he has a series of advanced degrees and many years as a recovery agent behind him;  he is through with the FBI.

The FBI is not through with him though.  As the Rubico Pentad’s body count climbs, newly promoted Deputy Assistant Director Kate Bannon knows things are going wrong fast. The Pentad is getting inside information, and the only way the FBI is going to stop them is if they bring in someone from the outside.   Someone who knows the FBI inside and out, with a reputation for working outside the box.  Steve Vail may be their only choice, but can Kate Bannon convince him to help?

The Bricklayer: a fast-paced, exciting thriller by Noah Boyd – the pseudonym of Paul Lindsay,  who retired after twenty years as an investigator with the Federal Bureau of Investigations to write books.

Not your everyday craft books!

by Beth on August 5th, 2011
Not your everyday craft books! Cover Image

Summer time.  When the humidity hits 75% and the heat advisories start popping up, I start looking for things to do inside. And what better way to while away the hours by the fan or AC then by breaking out the craft supplies!  So I wandered through the library’s craft section (upstairs at 745)  and came up with a handful of odd-ball craft books with lots of neat thing to try.

Want to make yourself a duct tape kitchen apron, a wallet, or a cell phone case?   Brake out a few rolls of duct tape and take a look at  Ductigami : the art of the tape by Joe Wilson.

Are you a fan of monsters, or do you know someone who is?   Check out Me Make Monster! A mish mash of monster craft by Jenny Harada.  Make all sorts of monsters – little or big.  Each project has a list of supplies and tools needed followed by simple, well written instructions and lots of color photographs to help you make your very own monsters.



Now if crafting to you means Christmas or Holiday decorations, try Fa la la la Felt: 45  handmade Holiday Decorations by Amanda Carestio.  A very bright and colorful felt crafting book with 45 simple holiday projects.  Nice photos of the finished projects, but not of the steps, although most are so simple they don’t really need photographs.  Starting with an introduction that talks about different types of felt, making your own felt by recycling old wool sweaters, and a section on basic embroidery stitches, and templates  for all the projects this could get you in the holiday spirit months early!

Subversive Cross Stitch by Julie Jackson contains “33 designs for your surly side” and instructions on how to turn your own favorite snide comments or phrases in the cute little bits of non-work-friendly art for you or someone special. 



Just in the mood to craft, but have nothing in mind?  Go for AlternaCrafts by Jessica Vitkus.  This book has a lot of neat ideas.  Broken down into three  sections: Projects to Wear, Projects for your Home, and Projects to Give, this book contains a wide range of projects including stamping with raw vegetables, tying a macrame bracelet, up-cycling clothing, making sachets, or making bouquets of paper flowers.

Consider yourself an advanced crafter?  Making Stuff: an alternative craft book edited by Ziggy Hanaor might be more your speed.  Starting with an instructional section to learn how to knit, felt, applique, sew and crochet, then sections on crafting clothing, jewelery, plus three more sections of oddball crafts, this book is lots of fun, but more for the experienced crafter or knitter.  And just a note – this book was published in England, so sometimes some of the English is confusing.  (I think Fairy Lights are just white Christmas Lights)

Now of all the craft books I looked at, there was one I just have to buy for myself, and it’s huge.   The Big-Ass Book of Crafts by Mark Montano has over 150 craft projects – little to big / simple to complex.  Things that made me burst out laughing or stare at in disbelief.  Things I never would have thought of on my own, but that he breaks down so simply I can’t wait to try them. Beware of this book.  You’ll want to buy it too.

Retirement is boring.

by Beth on June 6th, 2011
Retirement is boring. Cover Image

Frank Moses is bored.  He lives in an unremarkable house, in an unremarkable suburb.  The high point of his month is chatting with his retirement plan’s customer service rep when his monthly check never arrives.  Or when he tears up the check to have an excuse to call and chat with her about her life and the newest paperback espionage thriller she’s reading.

Frank is retired, but not really liking it much.   Especially when people start shooting at him in the middle of the night.  That’s enough to bring anyone out of retirement.

Turns out Frank is actually RED: “Retired/Extremely Dangerous”   The designation given to retired black-ops CIA agents when they want out.  And what happens when the bad guys come after a RED agent?  He’ s going to fight back – after he figures out what in the heck is going on and who’s after him this time.  And he’ll need help from the rest of his old team of course.

Based on the DC serial of the same name, and directed by Robert Schwentke (Time Travelers Wife/Flight Plan)  RED is a fun espionage/caper film  starring Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Dreyfus.

To explain who does what to who and why would give it all away,  but picture Dame Helen Mirren dressed to the 9′s firing an enormous machine gun in a parking ramp, John Malkovich chasing the bad guys on foot while wearing a huge bomb strapped to his chest, and Bruce Willis getting the girl.


About Beth

Where you might find me in the Library:
At the Help or Reference Desk, at a Library program, or someplace near 746.46.
Interesting facts:
I have an entire room in my house full of fabric and sewing machines.
I have a "prairie in progress" in my back yard, and it is actually possible to lose a 130 pound dog there.
On weekends I go trolling through junk shops looking for strange garden art.
I own more board games than anyone I know.
Entries (RSS) | Comments (RSS).