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The Healthy Slow Cooker: Second Edition: More than 135 Gluten-Free Recipes for Health and Wellness

Judith Finlayson. Robert Rose Inc., $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7788-0479-6

Finlayson's extensively revised second edition of 2006's highly successful Healthy Slow Cooker reflects the changes in how healthy eating is now defined. Rather than focusing on low-fat, low-calorie recipes, this book addresses, among other things, the issue of wheat consumption and the fact that many diseases are now associated with gluten. The author explains that "the strategy for healthy eating is quite simple: eliminate processed foods from your diet and habitually eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods, including an abundance of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds."Included is a wide range of recipes for breakfast, soups, starters and snacks, vegetarian entrees and main dishes made with poultry, fish, beef, and lamb. She adds nutritional analysis for recipes as well as "bits of recipe-relevant information (for example, the ginger in Carrot Soup with Orange and Parsley is a great digestive)" "Make Ahead" tips are also given to allow home cooks to take "full advantage of the convenience provided by a slow cooker."Some of the delicious dishes include Black Sticky Rice Congee with Coconut, Nettle and Asparagus Soup, Moroccan-Style chicken with Prunes and Quinoa, Ribs with Hominy and Kaleand Vegetable Curry with Lentils and Spinach. An extremely informative, well laid out volume with dishes that are straightforward and easy to execute, this book makes it possible for every home chef to easily cook and eat healthier. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 07/25/2014 | Details & Permalink

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The Gourmet Jewish Cookbook: More Than 200 Recipes From Around The World

Denise Phillips. Thomas Dunne, $29.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-04593-5

As this is not her first foray into Kosher cooking, Phillips (Book of Jewish Cooking, The Gourmet Jewish Cookbook) expands on an intimately familiar topic. Unfortunately, that doesn't translate onto the pages. The food is tasty but not particularly Jewish. There are classics like "Stuffed Brisket" or "Jerusalem Kugel" and some updated dishes like "Italian Matza Salad" and "Passover Beef Lasagne," but most of the recipes have nothing to do with Jewish history. There is no "gefilte fish" or "stuffed cabbage" (Ashkenazic Food) or modern takes on "chreime" or "ma'amoul" (Sephardic food). There is the borrowing of other cultures' cuisines while making the recipes kosher, but kosher doesn't equal Jewish. There are a few saving graces. On the top of each recipe is a good guide for appropriate holidays to serve the dish, the dish's dietary components [if it is meat, dairy, pareve (neither), dairy-free, gluten-free, etc] and there is a nice section in the back that explains the Jewish festivals and provides menus for said holidays. This is a good book to have for those interested in cooking kosher dishes, otherwise, there are better "Jewish" options. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/25/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty

Daniel Schulman. Grand Central, $30 (432p) ISBN 978-1-4555-1873-9

Mother Jones senior editor Schulman's group portrait of the amazingly wealthy, strong-minded Koch brothers is a critical, but surprisingly nuanced tale of money and influence. Casting new light on one of America's most ambitious families, this "unauthorized" biography will disappoint Koch haters. The Wichita-based Koch money (now totaling billions of dollars) comes from oil grown into a closely held conglomerate with a mixed environmental record. David and Charles have used their wealth to fund the libertarian Cato Institute and more recently, contribute to the Republican Party, and campaign against Obamacare and climate change. They have consequently been on the receiving end of White House enmity. Schulman concentrates on the family's intramural battles: the central conflict begins with an ugly 1985 lawsuit for control of the family money; the four brothers have battled each other in court for decades. Frederick, Charles, and fraternal twins David and Bill—ranging in age from 74 to 82—come off as worldly, intelligent, accomplished, and difficult. This is a complex story of epic sibling rivalry, with important political dimensions. (May)

Reviewed on 07/25/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Jeff Koons: A Retrospective

Edited by Scott Rothkopf. Whitney Museum (Yale Univ., dist.), $65 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-300-19587-3

In Artforum editor-in-chief Michelle Kuo's prologue to this lavish catalogue for Jeff Koons's touring retrospective, she claims: "We have seen the future, and it is Jeff Koons." While discussions of contemporary art are prone to exaggeration, Koons perhaps earns more than his share of hyperbole and disdain. Happily, the contributors to this volume, edited by Whitney Museum of Art curator Rothkopf, wax rhapsodic about Koons, while recognizing that his work provokes unease in his viewers. The majority of the book is devoted to brilliant reproductions of his iconic work, from his oversize balloon animals to pornographic photos of the artist with his ex-wife. His creations are recognizable by their lavish audacity, and the catalogue's high production values do them justice. Likewise, critics and writers, including novelist Rachel Kushner and art dealer Jeffrey Deitch, successfully address the full range of Koons's aesthetic and cultural concerns. Koons is a ridiculously wealthy artist with considerable media savvy; rather than shy away from such truths, this retrospective faces them head-on. 306 color and 36 b&w illus. (July)

Reviewed on 07/25/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Wild Within: How Rescuing Owls Inspired a Family

Melissa Hart. Globe Pequot/Lyons, $25.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7627-9680-9

Hart (Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood) was a depressed, recently separated transplant to Eugene, Ore. when she met Jonathan, a volunteer at Cascades Raptor rehabilitation center, who was equally unlucky in love. What follows is the harrowing story of would-be adoptive parents and the redemptive powers of dedication to a cause, laid out in brutally honest detail. The couple's courtship begins with a road trip to retrieve six hundred pounds of frozen rats to feed the center's raptors and ends with a wedding featuring an owl ring bearer and the release of a newly healthy red-tailed hawk. While Hart begins spending time at the center to be with Jonathan, she learns quickly that volunteers often "found themselves rehabilitated along with the birds." The book follows the couple as they embark on a long, painful process to adopt a child. They find themselves shut out from adopting in Korea, and China, suffering relationship-threatening tension and a stressful social worker's visit in a home containing "half-empty Merlot bottles, eight shedding pets, and [her] husband's collection of animal skulls." Meanwhile, Hart develops affection for a human-imprinted snowy owl named Archimedes and becomes resolved to train him despite his reputation as a "difficult bird." These twin narratives skillfully woven together make for an exciting and endearingroller coaster of a memoir. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/25/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Naked and Marooned: One Man. One Island.

Ed Stafford. Plume, $16 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-14-218096-9

After setting a world record by walking the length of the Amazon River, adventurer Stafford's (Walking the Amazon) next challenge strands him on Olorua, a remote Fiji island, for 60 days armed with only cameras to document his stay for the Discovery Channel. Naked, and without tools and weapons, he recounts his epic feat. What could come off as a droning procedural (woke up sore, ate some snails, dislodged a coconut, rinse, repeat) is anything but—Stafford shares his immediate regret once he arrives on the island and the gravity of his situation fully sinks in and he realizes that food, shelter, and hydration will be constant worries. He artfully engages and draws in the reader as he battles the elements and struggles to secure a reliable source of fresh water and rejoices when he's finally able to start and sustain a fire. The author's humility and gratitude are truly inspiring. Readers will not only come away with an admiration for Stafford's will to survive, but also a greater appreciation for everyday comforts easily taken for granted. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/25/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Virtue Falls

Christina Dodd. St. Martin's, $25.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-02841-9

In the predictable first of a new suspense series, bestseller Dodd (Lady in Black) tracks West Coast turmoil of all sorts. For starters, a serial killer who delights in murdering young women and mutilating their children is loose in California. Meanwhile, an earthquake hits the town of Virtue Falls, Wash., with an attendant tsunami and aftershocks. The geologist on the scene, Elizabeth Banner, has crime in her background. Her father was put away decades ago for fatally stabbing her mother, Misty, with a pair of scissors. But did he? Papa Banner has always maintained his innocence, and odd similarities between Misty's death and the serial killer's m.o. raise the terrifying possibility that the Banner killer might still be at large. Steamy romance between Elizabeth and her ex, as well as charming minor characters, such as an amiable retired physician, help alleviate the tedium of this novel, whose conclusion one can see hundreds of pages before the end. 100,000 first printing. Agent: Mel Berger, William Morris Endeavor. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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The Broken Hours

Jacqueline Baker. HarperCollins Canada, $26.99 (309p) ISBN 978-1-44342-566-7

The spectral life of a horror legend is examined in this dark, tenebrous novel. In Providence, 1936, Arthor Crandle, in dire need of employment and suffering from a troubled marriage finds a job as a live-in personal assistant to an unnamed employer. His new boss communicates only through phone and letters signed with the moniker "Ech-Pi," his physical presence almost nonexistent. Crandle types his stories and correspondences from which he gleans his real name: Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Occupying an apartment in the large house is Flossie Kush, a vivacious, aspiring actress whose mysterious presence seems to enliven the gloom of the Lovecraft home. Disturbed by visions of a phantom girl, a monstrous tentacle on the shore, and an employer who seems barely human, Crandle is compelled to solve the mystery behind the "malevolence" of his new home on Sixty-Six College Street. Baker (The Horseman's Graves) writes with the conviction of a fan, adeptly evoking the shadowy melancholy of Lovecraft's world while always keeping the narrative's momentum moving. While lacking in the intensity of Lovecraft's own work, the novel creates an atmosphere of haunted New England menace that sinks subtly into the skin. Agent: Anne McDermid & Associates. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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My October

Claire Holden Rothman. Penguin Canada, $22 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-14-318867-4

For Hugo Lévesque, life in Montreal in 2001 is not easy. He is the son of the famous francophone author Luc Lévesque, considered the voice of his generation of francophone Quebeckers who dream of Quebec as an independent nation. But Hugo's mother is anglophone, and he struggles with fitting into Quebec society. He speaks both of Canada's official languages but quickly realizes only one is considered acceptable in Montreal and especially in his father's view. In an effort to find where he belongs, Hugo attempts to make a connection with his maternal grandfather. "In Montreal, he used English as a weapon. But here, in his grandfather's home, it was just a language," he finds. After bringing a gun to school and showing pride in his English heritage, Hugo is suspended from school and forced to complete a project about violence. While researching, he discovers his family's connections to the FLQ crisis of October 1970. Rothman (The Heart Specialist) expertly weaves the intimate story of this family with the political history of Quebec. This novel about power, language and acceptance should resonate with those who have felt torn between languages and cultures, as well as those who have felt like outsiders in their own city or country. Agent: Samantha Haywood, Transatlantic Agency. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Journey by Moonlight

Anatal Szerb, trans. from the Hungarian by Len Rix. New York Review Books, $16.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-59017-773-0

In this 1937 masterpiece from the late Hungarian novelist Szerb, businessman Mihaly takes his new bride Erzsi to Italy on their honeymoon, but from their first night in Venice, when Mihaly gets lost wandering the back alleys, their plans for an orderly vacation are thwarted by fate. With each chapter, mysterious characters from the past appear, strange letters are received, and locales shift from the merely exotic to the fantastical. It emerges that in Mihaly's youth, he had an intense friendship with wealthy brother and sister Tamas and Eva. The shadow of this passionate entanglement hangs over Mihaly's adult life; Italy turns out to be full of clues relating to Tamas's death, and Eva seems to literally be around every corner (at one point spying on Mihaly though holes cut in a tapestry). The romanticism crossed with middle-European emotional claustrophobia and the surreal suggests a love child of Stendhal and Kafka. The wonderfully assured shifts in tone and substance from chapter to chapter are clearly the work of a master. This is an important translation that will hopefully spur the rediscovery of a major talent. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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