Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Superfoods, Super You! Summer Recipe Series: Easy Turkey Chili

As summer starts to wind down, I would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who participated in our summer reading program and submitted recipes to share! We hope you had a super summer and enjoyed our Superfoods, Super You! Summer Recipe Series. If you are looking for more healthy recipe ideas, come visit the second floor reference desk and our librarians will show you our recipe table or help you to find some healthy cookbooks.


For the last installment of our Superfoods, Super You! Summer Recipe Series, we are featuring our patron Jeanne G.’s deliciously easy turkey chili recipe. This recipe will warm you up as fall approaches and the nights become cool and mild. Enjoy!




Ingredients:


  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 30 oz can diced tomato (salt free)
  • ½ cup of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 small can of tomato paste


Directions:


  1. In a big pot, brown ground turkey along with the onion and garlic
  2. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, canned diced tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and tomato paste
  3. Cook on medium heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally
  4. Serve with fresh steamed veggies and whole wheat or multigrain bread
  5. Top with shredded cheese if desired

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

August 2016 Staff Book Recommendations

American Maelstrom: The 1968 Election and the Politics of Division
By Michael A. Cohen

 

Every four years during election season, people typically mention how the current election is particularly combative and lament the breakdown of political discourse. Anyone who thinks that the 2016 election is uniquely eventful, however, should check out Boston Globe columnist Michael Cohen’s account of the 1968 presidential election, one of the most contentious in American history. In American Maelstrom, Cohen describes how 1968 would see President LBJ decide not to run for reelection, the assassination of RFK, anti-war riots at the Democratic National Convention, and Richard Nixon’s development of the Southern Strategy to stir up racial resentment. All this took place against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Cohen’s account is quite readable and fast-paced, and despite the scholarly nature of the book, makes for an exciting read. Cohen’s experience as a newspaper columnist makes him particularly good at describing events clearly and succinctly. While Cohen does a great job explaining various events and concepts however, he does assume a certain prior knowledge of the American political system that could leave some readers confused. Still, the book should be understandable to a political novice, though politics aficionados will likely get more out of it. 

Beyond a simple retelling of the events of the election, Cohen lays out a compelling case that the events of 1968 created reverberations in American politics that linger to this day. The year 1968 sent the Democratic Party into a tailspin that they wouldn’t fully recover from for years, and changed the way that both Democrats and Republicans campaign. In the closing chapter of the book, Cohen goes through a timeline of presidential elections from 1968 to the present day and clearly shows how events from those elections echo what took place in 1968. As Cohen quotes one presidential aide saying, “It’s never stopped being 1968.”

-Alex

The Girls
By Emma Cline


At a 2002 parole board hearing, Manson family member Leslie Van Houten said: “I take very seriously not just the murders, but what made me make myself available to someone like Manson.”
Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2016 

Much has been made about the fact that this summer's bestselling novel The Girls is about the Charles Manson’s "family” and their notorious crimes of August 1969. And while it is fictional rendering of those real events, what is most compelling about this work is that its answers to the answerable, i.e., "Why would those young women commit such atrocities, based only on Manson’s say-so, without him even present? How did they fall under his influence in the first place?", ring so very true.

Cline’s answers are conveyed through the past and present psyche of her protagonist Evie Boyd. Lulled by a hum-drum summer and feeling adrift since her parents’ recent divorce and breakup with her best friend, Evie’s curiosity is instantly peaked when she spies a group of bohemian girls boldly making their way around a local park: “They were messing with an uneasy threshold, prettiness and ugliness at the same time, and a ripple of awareness followed them.”  Before too long, she has an opportunity to impress the alpha female among them by shoplifting food for her. A chance encounter a few days later, after a fight with her increasingly distant mother places Evie into a dangerous state of rebellion, inspires Evie to follow this group back to their ranch. All it takes after that is a few hours alone with magnetic leader Russell and she’s spiritually committed to “the family”. 

The vulnerability incurred merely by existing as an adolescent female in the world, the stubborn overconfidence of teenagers, and perhaps more than anything else, the very human, overarching need to belong (as so adeptly described in Sebastian Junger’s latest work Tribe), are the weaknesses through which Russell exploits his loyal followers. However, the book is very little about him; it’s all about The Girls. 

--Christina

Listen, Slowly
By Thanhhà Lại 


Mai’s a regular Cali girl — she swims, she surfs, and spends most of her time goofing off with her superficial best friend. At school her friends call her Mia, an American variant on her given Vietnamese name. It’s indicative of the way she generally feels about her heritage; it definitely doesn't fit her lifestyle. But this summer, her plans to get a boyfriend and a tan are thwarted when her Ba (grandmother) finds out about her long lost husband who went MIA during the Vietnam War. Mai’s parents are making her go with Ba, not only because they don’t want Ba going by herself but because they think it’s about time Mai experiences her culture. Mai’s bummed, but she doesn’t have the heart to say no to her beloved grandmother. So she leaves to spend her summer on the beach -- just not Laguna Beach. 

Vietnam is hot, humid, insanely buggy, and much of the food upsets her stomach. She’s lonely, tired, and nauseous, and can’t really communicate with anyone besides her Ba. But then she meets a few friends — one with a Texas accent, even — and slowly she begins to understand more Vietnamese. As she becomes more and more familiar with the language, the rest falls into place. She finds dishes she enjoys, cute clothes for sale in markets and friends to hang out with. She travels to Saigon and Hanoi, catches frogs, gets muddy and creates a particularly special bond with her quirky cousin. But the mystery of her grandfather, the underlying reason for her trip, is truly what helps her immerse into Vietnamese culture. 

What I especially love is Mai’s voice. She’s got a kind of swagger to her that’s distinctly pre-adolescent. She’s funny, sarcastic, confident (at times cocky), but she’s not immune to getting crushed by a crush, being embarrassed or insecure, so she's definitely relatable. It's a lot different from Lại's debut novel Inside Out & Back Again, which is written in free verse and set during the Vietnam War. Listen, Slowly is much less intense and more identifiable for a child or young adult reader. 

I was inspired to read this book after a young patron at the Goddard Branch Library checked it out - sans enthusiasm - with her Vietnamese father smiling by her side. I think that finding your cultural roots often begins with parents’ direction, like how Mai’s parents made her go on the trip. Eventually, though, you discover a part of yourself you never knew about. Maybe this patron will feel the same after she reads it, and others like it. 

--Helen


Alpine for You
by Maddy Hunter


Looking for a fun, LOL, travel murder mystery? Look no further than Maddy Hunter’s Alpine for You, the first book in her quirky Passport to Peril mystery series, starring Emily Andrews and her Nana from Iowa. Five exciting attractions that await you!

1.      A lovely locale: Take a nine-day trip to Switzerland, brought to you exclusively by Golden Swiss Triangle Tours!

2.       Delightfully eccentric characters: Emily Andrews, recent divorcée whose ex-husband stole her underwear; “Nana” Marion Sippel, Emily’s grandmother, who just won the lottery and enjoys solving mysteries based on her knowledge of reality TV; a host of Iowan retirees from Nana’s travel group; and, Mr. Nunzio, a resident of Switzerland who bares his bare bottom to unsuspecting fellow senior citizens!

3.       Kills: Triangle Tour escort Andy Simon, a man who was “as randy as a mountain goat on Viagra, hitting on every miss—Swiss or otherwise—within striking distance” (back cover of book) has been snuffed out and the murderer is still on the loose!

4.       Thrills and chills: Will Emily Andrews ever find true love again or will she die having only a can of air freshener and a very high-tech Swiss Army knife with 29 different functions as her weapons of defense?!

5.       No stress: Have all the fun of travel without the added headaches (such as paying for an exorbitantly expensive room that has no windows, hotel staff losing luggage, or having to eat something from “a bowl that was filled with Elmer’s Glue with raisins” (p. 41) because a big group of Iowan retirees ate all the eggs and bacon for breakfast.

Cost?  FREE!! (at your local library) Try out Maddy Hunter’s Passport to Peril mystery series today!
Book 1: Alpine for You
Book 2: Top o’ the Mournin'
Book 3: Pasta Imperfect
Book 4: Hula Done It
Book 5: G’ Day to Die
Book 6: Norway to Hide
Book 7: Dutch Me Deadly
Book 8: Bonnie of Evidence
Book 9: Fleur de Lies
Book 10: From Bad to Wurst

--Cara

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Superfoods, Super You! Summer Recipe Series: Chilled Edamame with Star Anise

Here is a tasty twist on a simple edamame snack. This week’s recipe in our Superfoods, Super You Summer Recipe Series is chilled edamame with star anise. The flavor of the star anise adds a delightful flavor to this protein packed snack. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen edamame (in the husks)
  • 3-4 cups of water, enough to cover the edamame in the pot
  • 1-1 1/2 tablespoons salt (to taste)
  • 3 star anise

Directions:
  1. In a small pot, boil 3-4 cups of water along with the edamame, salt, star anise
  2. Boil for 5-6 minutes without the lid
  3. Drain and serve or put in the fridge overnight to serve

Have a healthy recipe you enjoy and would like to recommend? Submit it through our Summer Reading Program and complete the “Share Your Favorite Recipe” challenge or email me at jmarien@mywpl.org and perhaps your recipe will be featured on this blog!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Superfoods, Super You! Summer Recipe Series: Easy Chickpea Snack

Looking for a quick and healthy snack? This week’s recipe in our Superfoods, Super You Summer Recipe Series is an easy chickpea snack that is high in fiber and protein, submitted by Colleen!




Ingredients:


  • One 16 oz can of chickpeas
  • Coconut oil or olive oil
  • ½ to 1 tsp of seasoning, such as ras el hanout, curry powder, fennel powder, or garlic powder


Directions:


  1. Drain and rinse chickpeas
  2. Saute over medium-high heat with a little coconut oil or olive oil until warmed through and toasty on the outside. They will start jumping in the pan when they are ready.
  3. Stir in 1/2 to 1 tsp of your favorite dried seasoning and serve.


Have a healthy recipe you enjoy and would like to recommend? Submit it through our Summer Reading Program  and complete the “Share Your Favorite Recipe” challenge or email me at jmarien@mywpl.org and perhaps your recipe will be featured on this blog!

Patron Review: A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

Share YOUR review on our summer reading site, and you'll be entered into a drawing for a WPL Book Bag!



A Murder in Time 
By Julie McElwain 

This was my first time reading a book by this author. A Murder in Time is a very interesting and had me on the edge of my seat. I could not figure out who the murderer was and it kept me guessing through the whole book. The characters were funny and engaging.
--Joan M.





By Rick Yancy
The story starts out very action packed which originally made me very confused; however, it backtracks throughout the book, explaining each character's perspective, and explaining the plot thoroughly. Once I understood the story line, it instantly became a fast read and motivated me to finish the trilogy within a week. I would recommend this series to anyone who is into alien invasions.
--Joyce L.



To Beguile a Beast
By Elizabeth Hoyt


A quick, light read. This romance proceeds along the expected path, with (given the genre) likable and believable-enough characters. The problems that arise in the main couple's relationship are quickly dealt with rather than drawn out in fanciful plot twists. Overall, a fun read with no surprises.

--Victoria D.





Elantris
by Brandon Sanderson

Review by patron Frances F. 


I read Elantris, a novel by fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson, based on recommendations from several friends. Although my friends had actually recommended Sanderson's Mistborn series, I was too daunted by that kind of commitment, so I decided to cut my teeth on Elantris. This story, which begins with the fall of the magical city Elantris and its residents, details Elantris' resurrection, led by the prince of a neighboring kingdom. 

Although this book was on the long side, it was a very fast read. In Elantris, Sanderson combines watertight, original worldbuilding with compelling characterization. This is sometimes a difficult-to-find mix in fantasy novels, but Sanderson pulls it off really well. This was a great, quick summer read.



Everybody’s Fool
By Richard Russo 
Review by patron Lori C. 

If you only read one book this summer, Everybody's Fool by Richard Russo should be your pick! This book continues the story of Sully and the other characters in Russo's prequel entitled Nobody's Fool. You do not have to read the books in order to become immersed in the small town of North Bath located in upper New York state. The story is written from the heart and Russo's insight and humor will make you want to meet these fictional people in real life.



Longbourn
By Jo Baker

Review by library patron Lex P. 


As someone who reads Jane Austen novels and their variations often, I have to admit this was something completely different. Jane Austen’s characters take the backseat while the Longbourn staff are the stars of the show, especially Hill. This version truly demonstrates the less glamorous life of the Regency era and how hard domestic staff needed to work to keep the house in order. Normally, we don’t think "Oh, while Hill is taking care of Mrs. Bennet's nerves, she must not be able to get any of her chores done!" or "Gosh, a maid is going to have to scrub hard to take out all those mud stains out of Elizabeth's petticoat." I really enjoyed this different perspective. 

Many of the characters are likable and I had a hard time putting the book down. My only complaint is that Elizabeth is a bit of a drag in this book. She comes off as selfish, self-centered, and a bit insecure, not at all like the Elizabeth we all know and love. Of course, from a maid’s point-of-view, this may more realistic. 

What I liked most about this book is that it is like taking apart a beautiful functional clock to see how all the grimy gears move. We get to peek behind the stage curtains and observe the stagehands, the theatrical  illusion gone.



by RJ Palacio
Review by library patron Helen O.
I work in an elementary school – how have I not read this book by now?! This novel is an absolute gem, and has been extremely popular among elementary school-aged children since its release in 2012. In my library, there’s rarely a copy available to check out due to demand. 
In the story, August “Auggie” is a 10-year-old about to enter fifth grade. He’s going to a real school for the first time – up until now, he’s been homeschooled. Auggie isn’t like the rest of the kids, he’s a wonder. He’s intelligent, funny, kind, talented, tough, brave, and a major Star Wars expert. Oh yeah, and he has a rare facial deformity. This is why he’s been homeschooled for so long, but he’s more than ready for middle school when his parents make this decision. 
Even though the principal arranges three students to show him around the school and “hang out” with him, one of the kids, Jack Will, sticks around well after they fulfill the principal’s request. Also, a quirky girl named Summer sits with Auggie at lunch – that was her own decision. Summer is my third favorite character next to Auggie and Auggie’s sister Olivia. Via, as they call her, is such an interesting character. If there’s one thing about the book I wish were different, it’s that we learn more about her. It’s not easy growing up with such a unique brother: the ongoing medical trauma, the bullying, the constant attention from parents. Via is academically gifted, but often feels overlooked in the family next to her brother. She’s sympathetic toward her brother and sticks up for him each time he’s bullied, but she admits to these struggles too.
Speaking of perspective, the edition of Wonder I enjoyed included “The Julian Chapter,” a section at the end of the novel written from the point of view of the fifth grade’s biggest bully. It doesn’t exactly make him any more likeable, but it’s interesting to see how crazy his parents are, especially his mother, who pretty much single-handedly tries to kick Auggie out of school because she disagrees with the way he looks. What a beautiful story. Despite incessant bullying, mostly from Julian, Auggie overcomes obstacles to graduate with honors and a special award. Turns out, everyone realizes what a wonder he’s always was.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Learning Online with Learning Express Library

Learning Express Library is an interactive online learning platform featuring over 770 practice tests, tutorials, and eBooks related to job search and workplace skills improvement, career certification and licensing exam preparation, college entrance and graduate school admissions exam preparation, HiSET exam preparation, and basic skills improvement in reading, writing, and math, for all ages. You'll get immediate scoring, complete answer explanations, and an individualized analysis of your results.You can save your work and return again to practice tests, tutorials, and more. Material is divided into the following centers:

Adult Learning Center:  Build Your Math Skills, Become a Better Reader, Improve Your Writing, Reading and Grammar, Become a Citizen

Career Center: Learn More About a Career, Prepare for an Entrance or Occupation Exam, Join the Military or Become an Officer, Job Search and Workplace Skills, WorkKeys Assessment and TOEIC

School Center: Practice, Lesson and Study Plans for Elementary, Middle and High School

College Preparation Center: Prepare for Your AP Exam, SAT, PSAT, NMSQT, TOEFL iBT Test, Improve College Essay Admissions Writing

College Center:  Math, Reading, Science, and Grammar and Writing Skills Review, Prepare for Graduate School Admissions Exams, College Placement Exams, and CLEP Exams

Recursos Para Hispanohablantes:  Mejore sus habilidades, Sea Mejor Lector, Desarolle sus habilidades matematicas, Preparese para su examen de GED, Sea ciudadano estadounisdense

High School Equivalency Center: Build Your Basic Skills, HiSET Preparation, Prepare for the TASC Test

All you need to begin is your Worcester Public Library card. Click here, select Learning Express Library from the alphabetical list, and create an account today!