Posted in Blogging for Books

The Graphic History of Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton: founding father, familiar face on the $10 bill, subject of a musical you might have heard of, and now the star of his own graphic history:9780399580000The biography opens with Hamilton’s childhood in the West Indies, where he grew up the “bastard brat of a Scotch pedlar” (thanks, John Adams). Essentially orphaned, Hamilton departed for America after St. Croix’s prominent citizens raised money to fund his education. Alexander Hamilton never looked back. He went on to serve alongside George Washington in the Revolutionary War before becoming the first Secretary of the Treasury (and full-time thorn in the side of Thomas Jefferson). He also repeatedly crossed paths with and developed a profound contempt for Aaron Burr, who ultimately challenged his rival to the duel that ended Hamilton’s life.

Alexander Hamilton casts a wide historical net, covering plenty of background information on the philosophical origins of democracy, the Boston Tea Party, the American Revolution, the creation of the Constitution, and more. Jonathan Hennessey’s exposition-heavy style of narration may deter readers who are hoping for a Hamilton highlight reel. This is, instead, a rigorously-researched factual biography, and the text’s challenges occasionally outweigh its rewards. On the other hand, Justin Greenwood’s vibrant, energetic artwork will hold the reader’s interest on every page. Overall, Alexander Hamilton is an engaging tour through the life and times of one of the Revolutionary Era’s most well-known but somehow unknowable figures, a man who “straddles history and myth.”

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Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Posted in Blogging for Books

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

The Ridley High School Library says hello to Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner…Zentner

“Where are you guys? Text me back.” This seemingly unremarkable text from Carver Briggs to his three best friends may have precipitated the car crash that killed Blake, Eli, and Mars. Now the fourth member of their “Sauce Crew” must face both senior year at Nashville Arts Academy without his closest friends and a potential criminal charge of negligent homicide. Some of his classmates sympathize with Carver, and others (including Eli’s twin sister) blame him for the tragedy. Carver finds solace in the company of Eli’s former girlfriend, Jesmyn, even though part of him feels like he’s betraying Eli by growing closer with her. Meanwhile, Blake’s grandmother invites Carver to spend a “goodbye day” with her doing all the things that Blake loved best. As grief, guilt, panic attacks, and legal fees threaten the stability of Carver’s world he must find a way to make it through the goodbye days and go on living.

Jeff Zentner won the 2017 Morris Award for his debut novel, The Serpent King. In my opinion Goodbye Days, with its emotionally resonant depiction of a hot-button issue, is an even better book. The richness of Nashville’s arts scene and unique locales (including Centennial Park, the iconic Ryman Auditorium, and Parnassus Books) imbues every page and provides a wonderful backdrop to the story. Goodbye Days is a perfect choice for readers who enjoyed Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner. 

Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Posted in Blogging for Books

A gripping, modern Midwestern Gothic!

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel has arrived!!

Was this book written just for Ms. Pickett? It’s so in my wheelhouse! It’s ringing all of my bells! I’m here for The Roanoke Girls! Here’s why: that intriguing cover, a spookily labyrinthine farmhouse, seemingly idyllic small-town life churning with betrayals, a young woman’s struggle to break free of her own history, and the (really) dark secrets of the Roanoke family ….

After her mother’s suicide, 15-year old Lane Roanoke is sent to New Osage, Kansas, to live with her grandparents and cousin Allegra. Ten years later, Allegra has vanished and Lane returns to the Roanoke estate at her grandfather’s request. Chapters alternate between Lane’s indelible summer in Osage Flats (“Then”), and the fraught days following Allegra’s disappearance (“Now”). It all feels like standard girl-gone-missing fare until Amy Engel tosses a literary flash bang at the reader on page 32. Allegra’s own words are prophetic: “Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.” It’s finding out why the Roanoke girls don’t last long that will keep you turning pages at a frantic pace even as the chills run down your spine.

This modern twist on a rural Gothic noir calls to mind some of my recent favorites: S•Town PodcastWhere All Light Tends to Go by David Joy, The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh, All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda, My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh, and (from my TBR list) Let Me Die In His Footsteps by Lori Roy.

The Roanoke Girls is available now in the Ridley High School Library. Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Posted in Blogging for Books

One Pan & Done!

One Pan & Done: Hassle-Free Meals from the Oven to Your Table by Molly Gilbert has just been served up in the Ridley High School Library! onepandone

Molly is the author of the ultra-popular Sheet Pan Suppers, and she’s back with more recipes that are big on flavor, but simple on steps! With this collection, her goals are ease, simplicity, and minimal dish pileup. One Pan & Done offers the best of all worlds: the flavorful, roasted goodness of sheet pan suppers plus the appeal of comfort foods like stews and casseroles. An introduction called “The One Pan 411” includes a helpful primer on pots and pans (complete with icons that appear throughout the book) and some “pantry talk” on how to stock a kitchen cabinet for success.

Chapters cover the essential cookbook categories: Breakfast and Brunch, Starters and Sides, Veggie Mains, Poultry, Fish, Meat, and Sweets. Numbered, step-by-step instructions walk you through each recipe. Helpful How-To’s are sprinkled throughout, providing tips on how to crack an egg cleanly, how to work with coconut milk, how to clean leeks, and more. Beautiful, full-page photographs accompany nearly every recipe, and they are just the motivation you’ll need to give these one-pan dishes a go! As always, a handful of recipes are especially eye-catching:

  • Herby Egg & Blue Cheese Soufflés
  • Radish & Ricotta Frittata
  • Fresh Berry Cornmeal Muffins
  • Crispy Tomato and Butter Bean Skillet
  • Roasted Shrimp & Chickpea Salad
  • Blackberry Oat Crisp

soufflesOne Pan & Done is available to check out today in the Ridley High School Library! Thanks to Blogging for Books for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Posted in Library News

Don’t Dread the Blank Page!

A teacher once told me that nothing is more intimidating than a blank page that’s just waiting to be filled with words. Whether you dread the blank page or genuinely look forward to filling it with your original ideas, writing sometimes feels like really hard work. Is there a way to make writing easier? Yes! With more writing, and by writing more. That’s where this new addition to the library, Q&A a Day for Writers: 365 Questions for Creative Writers, comes in. The daily prompts in this journal are designed to challenge you through quotes, questions, and thought experiments that will help you hone your writing skills and unlock the benefits of writing every day. Here are some of my favorite examples:

  • Use a handwriting sample to inspire a character sketch.
  • Spend a few moments writing about a book that inspires you.
  • Pick a place and describe the first snowfall of the year there.
  • Describe a memorable person you met just once and will likely never see again.
  • If you could leave a note for yourself to read this time next year, what would it say?
  • Allow yourself a fan fiction moment, and begin a sequel to a beloved book.
  • What’s your sign? Find today’s horoscope and write about how true or false it is.
  • Write about a possession that was prized by you and is now lost.
  • Describe in detail the most recent person you’ve met.
  • What are your top five goals for your writing in the coming months?

q_aforwritersThis lovely, inspiring, and definitely non-intimidating journal is available to peruse in the library today! But please leave the pages blank for the next student who decides to page through it. Q&A a Day for Writers would also make a perfect gift for any aspiring writer in your life. Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing a copy of Q&A a Day for Writers in exchange for honest feedback!

Posted in Blogging for Books, new books

Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow-Cooker Recipes!

The kitchen timer just rang for SkinnyTaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker Recipes by Gina Homolka with Heather K. Jones, and it’s available to be checked out today from the Ridley High School Library! Gina Homolka is the founder, author, photographer, and recipe developer of the tremendously popular food blog SkinnyTaste.comHeather K. Jones is a Registered Dietician and wellness coach. In other words, these ladies bring serious kitchen credentials to this deliciously unique new cookbook!homolkaSkinnyTaste Fast and Slow is full to the brim with recipes that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less, combined with plenty of convenient meals that you can simply toss into the slow cooker to enjoy later. The authors keep it healthy and convenient with lots of whole foods, veggies, and in-season ingredients, all of which can be found at a general supermarket (no internship at an organic farm required!). The authors also provide some time-saving tips and tricks that will help you be more efficient, and have more fun, in the kitchen:

  • Make a meal plan
  • Cook in season (Less work + More Flavor = A winning equation!)
  • Pack your pantry with essentials like grains, canned goods, and seasonings
  • Fill your fridge and freezer with staples of the perishable variety
  • Learn fast cooking fundamentals and slow cooker secrets

The chapters are fairly standard (Healthy Mornings, Meatless Mains, On the Side) with one notable exception: Zoodles, Squashta, Pasta, and Sauce. This is where you’ll find some fresh twists on that same ol’ spaghetti. Skinny Scoops, Food Facts, and nutritional information for every recipe round out this fantastic addition to the library. Gina and Heather also incorporate‘s ultra-helpful Recipe Key within their collaborative effort:recipekeySkinnyTaste Fast and Slow will not only inspire you to cook and eat more healthfully, it will also give you the tools you need to follow through on it! Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing a copy of this book exchange for an honest review!skinnytastepic

Posted in Blogging for Books, new books

Please Pass the Veggies!

Look what just sprouted in the Ridley High School Library’s cookbook section! Martha Stewart’s Vegetables: Inspired Recipes and Tips for Choosing, Cooking, and Enjoying the Freshest Seasonal Flavors is the latest addition to our amazing collection of books for cooks.Vegetables.jpgThe editors of Martha Stewart Living have developed these recipes to help you prepare vegetables in sweet, savory, and generally delicious ways. The veggies themselves range from familiar to totally unknown. (What is a ramp, anyway?) To help guide readers along, the edible plants in this lavishly photographed collection have been divided into categories that double as chapters: bulbs, roots, tubers, pods, shoots, leaves, flowers, and even “fruits” (avocados, eggplant, and tomatoes). Each chapter covers the basics of seasonality, selection, notable varieties, storing, prepping, and cooking. This brief introduction is followed by a dozen or so recipes that run the gamut from simple to showstopper! As always, there’s a long list that I can’t wait to try, including:

  • Beet Risotto with Beet Greens
  • Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes Anna
  • Skillet Pizza with Greens and Eggplant
  • Spinach and Fontina Strata
  • Smoky Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Martha Stewart’s Vegetables is available to be checked out today! Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

P.S. Not to worry if you prefer more protein on your plate; plenty of these recipes feature beef, pork, chicken, or fish in a starring role.

P.P.S. A ramp is a wild onion.