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Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland

Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, with Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan. Viking, $28.95 (324p) ISBN 978-0-525-42765-0

Berry was an average teenager working at Burger King when she was abducted by Ariel Castro in 2003. She and DeJesus, whom Castro kidnapped in 2004, were held captive (along with Michelle Knight) in Castro's barricaded home in Cleveland, Ohio, for many years. He subjected them to daily emotional and sexual abuse until they escaped with the aid of neighbors in 2013. Based on interviews with the women and Amanda's journals (written on everything from notebook paper to napkins and fast food takeout bags), Berry and DeJesus bravely recount that decade with the aid of Pulitzer-winning reporters Jordan and Sullivan. Shackled to their beds and forced to endure multiple daily rapes, the women developed a deep bond that eventually morphed into an odd family of sorts when Berry gave birth to a baby girl in December 2006. Jordan and Sullivan bring depth and tension to the narrative, recounting numerous frustrating dead ends and close calls in the police investigations before reaching the emotional peak of the book: the women's escape and Castro's capture. The bravery and resolve that Berry and DeJesus convey in this well-crafted memoir is both astonishing and inspiring. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 07/03/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on Display

Peggy Levitt. Univ. of California, $29.95 (268p) ISBN 978-0-520-28606-1

In this diligent international study, Levitt (The Transnational Villagers), a professor of sociology at Wellesley, uses a series of case studies to evaluate how museums are adapting to the new global environment, which is marked by rapid immigration and social change. Levitt sets up some revealing comparisons among institutions. While she finds that Sweden's museums, such as the Etnografiska Museet in Stockholm, create global narratives, even addressing issues like human trafficking, the National Museum of Denmark selectively uses global history to celebrate Danishness and sidelines the experience of immigrants. Levitt shows how Singapore's Asian Civilizations Museum and Qatar's Museum of Islamic Art have helped to thrust these countries onto the world stage as cosmopolitan societies, even though certain political freedoms are still very much wanting. Throughout, Levitt draws on extensive interviews with museum curators and directors, situates each museum into its historical and political context, and weighs its strategies of exhibition and interpretation. While China is conspicuously absent, this remains an illuminating study that will be of interest to academics and museum professionals working in the field today. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/03/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Ohana

Theia Mey. Theia Mey, $3.99 e-book (224p) ISBN ASINB00O85KY2M

Mey tells of substance use, struggles with cancer, and domestic abuse in this uneven memoir. Mey grew up in a small village in Spain where little was expected of her beyond marriage and childbirth. She decided to leave school and her village and go to London to learn English. Much of the book chronicles her connections with men: a brief marriage to an Englishman, after which she moved to the U.S.; two romances that left her with two children and a drug addiction; and finally a lengthier relationship with Peter, by whom she had a third child. Peter was financially and emotionally withholding, abusive, and chronically unfaithful. When she finally got up the courage to leave him, he dragged her into a protracted custody battle that finally ended in her losing contact with her youngest child. TMey glosses over the negative results of her drug use or choices and instead focuses on the actions of others. Her narrative sometimes jumps around, making it difficult for readers to follow her statements. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 07/03/2015 | Details & Permalink

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The Great Atlantic Canada Bucket List

Robin Esrock. Dundurn (IPS, U.S. dist.; UTP Canadian dist.) $19.99 trade paper (141p) ISBN 978-1-4597-2971-1

Esrock (The Great Canadian Bucket List), host of the 40-part TV series World Travels, aims to discover the best and most unique experiences in each place he visits. The Atlantic provinces are the focus of his latest book of Canadian bucket lists, providing readers with a slim but valuable guide to exploring the things that make the East Coast special. He covers the famous highlights such as New Brunswick's Bay of Fundy, home to the world's highest tide, and the Anne of Green Gables house in Prince Edward Island, but also many less conventional spots. Esrock suggests staying in lighthouses in Newfoundland and Labrador, rafting a tidal wave in Nova Scotia, and harvesting sea plants in Prince Edward Island. The adventurous can lower themselves face-first off a cliff in New Brunswick, while the more cautious tour the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Esrock writes in an amusing, cheerful style, low on stuffy adjectives and high on action. He's experienced everything he recommends and often includes his own photos. This guide is perfect for those planning a trip or readers who just want to become better acquainted with the wonders of Atlantic Canada. Hilary McMahon, Westwood Creative Artists. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 07/03/2015 | Details & Permalink

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The Best Baby Food: 125 Healthy & Delicious Recipes for Babies & Toddlers

Jordan Wagman & Jill Hillhouse. Robert Rose (Firefly, dist.), $19.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-7788-0507-6

Wagman (750 Best Appetizers), a chef, and Hillhouse, a nutritionist, team up to create recipes for gourmet baby food. More than a cookbook, this is a nutritional and culinary guide to help parents make informed food choices. The authors make a compelling case that commercial baby food is typically higher in calories, lower in nutrients, and is more costly than homemade varieties, plus it contains unnecessary and unhealthy additives. They advise avoiding pesticides, herbicides, GMOs, hormones, and several chemical and inorganic compounds that they say can wreak havoc on a growing child. The recipes span three developmental stages: six to nine months, nine to 12 months, and one year and older. To start, Wagman cooks up simple fare with one or two ingredients, such as roasted beet puree and whole grain oat cereal with grapes. The menu gets more complex for older children, with recipes such as mango lassi, turkey meatloaf, and soft polenta with cheddar cheese and broccoli. The authors provide a blueprint for introducing kids to a wide variety of food textures, colors, and tastes to set them on the path to becoming healthy and, crucially, non-picky eaters for the rest of their lives. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 07/03/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy

Anna Porter. TAP/Dundurn (IPS, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $19.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-45973-103-5

George Soros built his financial empire trading in high-risk derivatives while giving away billions of dollars to scholars, human rights activists, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions. Based on interviews with Soros and his friends, colleagues, and business partners, Porter (The Ghosts of Europe) writes an extraordinary biography of the billionaire, focusing on his legacy. She traces numerous activities of the Open Society Foundation, an international charitable organization founded by Soros "to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens." Branches of the foundation have emerged in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Africa, South East Asia, and the U.S., and Morton Abramowitz of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace dubbed Soros the "only private citizen with his own foreign policy." But Porter notes that Soros's belief that money can make a world a better place if you are able "to intervene at the right moment" is challenged by ongoing problems in the places where he has invested. She quotes the aphorism (often erroneously attributed to Churchill) that "Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm," but questions how many failures the foundation can sustain while still laying claim to making things better and how long it can survive. John Pearce, Westwood Creative Artists. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 07/03/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Get Your Bake On: Sweet and Savory Recipes From My Home to Yours

Brian Emmett. S&S/Gallery, $18 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-476-77256-1

Emmett, winner of CBS's The American Baking Competition, shares 75 recipes that have been passed down through the generations of his family. Dessert classics, such as lemon meringue pie and a yellow cake with vanilla buttercream frosting, are offset with savories including chicken pot pie, Chicago- and New York–style pizzas, and a "Mile-High" quiche. Fans of The American Baking Competition will recognize the "Petit Four Flag Cake"—the dessert the author made for the finale, assembled from small cakes filled with raspberry cream and topped with a chocolate glaze and berries. Emmett offers clear instructions on his popular "Peanut-Vanilla Chiffon Roll with Peanut Praline and Gold-Dusted Peanuts" and carefully walks home bakers through the multiple steps, including making a chocolate-peanut mousse, chocolate ganache glaze, peanut praline, and gold-dusted peanuts. His down-to-earth tone makes this a good buy for those new to baking. (May)

Reviewed on 07/03/2015 | Details & Permalink

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The Barbecue Lover's Big Book of BBQ Sauces

Cheryl and Bill Jamison. Harvard Common Press, $18.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-55832-845-7

The Jamisons, powerhouse authors of seven collections on grilling and barbecue, take a deconstructive turn here, advising how to create a Thai-style white-hot peppercorn rub, a Peruvian marinade, and 223 more sauces, mops, rubs, and other condiments, but stopping short of providing actual grilling instructions once the spice has been applied. The essential principle of this work is nicely spelled out in the introduction: "A concoction that works great on a pork dish won't necessarily taste equally right on a hamburger, chicken breast, or ear of corn." Thus, the chapters are arranged by what is being sauced, rather than what type of sauce is being built. Pork, beef, poultry, fish, game, vegetable, and fruit are the substrates, each receiving its own appropriate spectrum of flavorings. Among the diverse sauce offerings for pork are pomegranate cream, rye whiskey and maple, and ginger-tangerine. Toppings for veggies include a smoky sweet paprika rub, spicy hummus sauce, and blood orange mayonnaise. The authors also toss in over 50 "spicing tips," with suggestions ranging from the proper wood to use when smoking fish to which outdoor cooking tools one should always have on hand. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 07/03/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Truly Madly Pizza: One Incredibly Easy Crust, Countless Inspired Combinations, and Other Tidbits to Make Pizza a Nightly Affair

Suzanne Lenzer. Rodale, $27.50 (240p), ISBN 978-1-62336-218-8

Lenzer's obsession with—and discovery of—the perfect pizza crust fuels her compelling case for making homemade pizza a weekly (or even daily) ritual. Early on she dispels the myth of pizza as junk food—"These are not topping-laden, cheese-smothered, thick-crusted affairs"—and she's unapologetically all about the gluten. She sings the praises of pizza as a "tabula rasa," a blank slate happy to be topped with the "bibs and bobs" floating around your refrigerator. Her lawless approach to pizza-making, and her savvy tips and tricks (consider smearing bacon fat on your crust in lieu of tomato sauce), bring a solid dose of whimsy to weeknight dinners. Take a really good crust and have fun repurposing leftovers. What could go wrong? For guidance, the book offers up Lenzer's favorite pizza combinations in chapters organized by primary ingredient, including caramelized fennel and pears with stilton; spicy shredded pork with sweet onion jam and burrata; and the unexpected: clams with creamy tomato sauce and basil, à la Nigel Slater. This approachable collection of inventive recipes will inspire readers to experiment with their own pizza combinations. (May)

Reviewed on 07/03/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Death Row Chaplain: Unbelievable True Stories from America's Most Notorious Prison

Earl A. Smith, with Mark Schlabach. Howard, $22.99 (242p) ISBN 978-1-4767-7777-1

In this sometimes inspiring, sometimes pedantic memoir, Smith recounts his years as a rebellious, drug-running, gun-toting teenager from a broken family, when he roamed the streets of Stockton, Calif., and his subsequent reinvention as the chaplain at San Quentin prison. Most of Smith's friends and family believed he was headed for a life behind bars, but his life changes miraculously after he's shot and critically injured. Lying in bed, he hears a voice loud and clear telling him that he's not going to die—and that he's going to be the chaplain at San Quentin. Smith, a powerful storyteller, describes learning about the power of forgiveness eight years after the shooting when he meets Ace, the man who shot him, who is now a prisoner. He also meets Black Panther leader Huey Newton and starts up a chess relationship with Charles Manson, who's not a "very good chess player, but he has an extraordinary mind and masterful way of influencing people." In spite of Smith's flat-as-pavement prose and his penchant for hyperbole, his stories reveal the power of redemption in the lives of those whom society thinks are unsalvageable. (May)

Reviewed on 07/03/2015 | Details & Permalink

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