Between the Covers / Shhhh... we're reading.   Photo of reading after bedtime
Holly Hoxter Bauer

Holly has worked at BCPL since 2013 when she needed a career change and realized she spent all of her free time at the library anyway. She'll read anything, but especially enjoys memoirs and realistic fiction for all ages. Plus she reads tons of picture books to her three small children. She aspires to write a New York Times bestseller, run a marathon faster than Oprah and finish her Disney World scrapbook before her next trip to Disney World.    

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Holly

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

posted by: June 5, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover Art for Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?Are Barack and Michelle really that cool in person? What should you do if your IBS acts up during a business trip to the Vatican? How do you get a tampon dispenser installed in the West Wing? Alyssa Mastromonaco has answers to all of these questions in her new memoir Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House.

 

In 2005, Mastromonaco became Director of Scheduling for Illinois State Senator Barack Obama’s run for United States Senate and continued working for his presidential administration until resigning as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations in 2014. With plenty of self-deprecating humor, Mastromonaco gives us an inside look at the challenges of working on a political campaign and the highs and lows of having your own office at the White House. Her stories will make you laugh, cringe and be happy that you are just in charge of your own schedule and not the President’s. While there are more than a few endearing Obama anecdotes, this is far from a political tell-all. At its heart, this is the story of one ambitious woman navigating a high-stakes career with few female role models. Anyone interested in politics will appreciate Mastromonaco’s insider tips and advice, while fans of Bossypants by Tina Fey and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling will especially appreciate the humor.


 
 

Girl Code

posted by: May 29, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for Girl CodeIn 2014, teenagers Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser created an 8-bit, side-scrolling video game called Tampon Run, where tampons  are used as weapons instead of guns. In their new book Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral and Getting It Done, they tell about their experience learning to code, creating a viral video game and balancing high school life with their career pursuits.

 

Houser, inspired by her oldest brother who worked at Teespring, became interested in coding as a means of self-expression and creation. Gonzales, who grew up playing video games with her computer programmer father, had previous coding experience and had created a game for English class based on the imbalanced portrayals of men and women in The Odyssey. Both girls wanted to create a game that addressed a feminist issue, and their aim with Tampon Run was to challenge the idea that openly discussing menstruation is a social taboo — especially in a society that has normalized guns and violence. Their goal is to inspire more girls to get interested in computer programming.   

 

Gonzales and Houser were both New York City high school students when they met at the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program and created Tampon Run for their final project. Girls Who Code is a nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology. Although women make up 48 percent of the total workforce, the percentage of women working in computer science is only 25 percent.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about women in computing, check out Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky and read about women like Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, born in 1815, and widely regarded as the world’s first computer programmer.


 
 

Dino-mite Picture Books

posted by: March 15, 2017 - 8:00am

Cover art for How Do Dinosaurs Choose Their Pets?Cover art for Dino-RacingCover art for Dinosaurs in DisguiseIf your little one is besotted by brontosauruses and infatuated with iguanodons, here are three new picture books from acclaimed authors and illustrators to satisfy their undying devotion to dinosaurs.

 

The latest in Jane Yolen and Mark Teague’s popular series is How Do Dinosaurs Choose Their Pets? Written in perfect rhyming couplets, the first half of this picture book explains, with hilarious accompanying illustrations, how a dinosaur should not behave, before explaining the proper protocols. The dinosaurs are colorfully illustrated, and smaller versions on the inside cover let curious readers know the names of each.

 

Dino-Racing by Lisa Wheeler, with illustrations by Barry Gott, is the ninth book in a series about sports-loving dinosaurs. Young readers will be riveted as the dinosaurs compete in a drag race, a three-day off-road trek through the desert and, finally, a stock car race. Little ones will learn more about cars than the crustaceous period, and NASCAR families will especially appreciate this one.

 

In Dinosaurs in Disguise by Stephen Krensky and illustrator Lynn Munsinger, a young protagonist imagines that the dinosaurs are not extinct, but merely hiding in plain sight. Amusing illustrations depict dinosaurs disguised as camels, pilgrims and even Santa Claus. The visuals get even funnier when the boy imagines the disasters that would ensue if dinosaurs came out of hiding and attempted to integrate with modern society.


 
 

Local Interest Picture Books

posted by: March 6, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for Poe’s Road Trip to Ravens GamedayCover art for The Autobiography of a Pigeon Named PeteCover art for Night-Night MarylandWhat’s more exciting than cracking open a book and recognizing your own neighborhood? Here are three new picture books featuring fun and history from the Baltimore area.

 

First, we have Poe’s Road Trip to Ravens Gameday written by the Ravens mascot Poe and illustrated by Brian Martin. Poe begins his week pumping iron at Merritt Athletic Club, shares his favorite story (The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, of course) on the Ravens Bookmobile, visits Maryland’s capital city, goes down the ocean, visits several Baltimore-area landmarks and ends the week on game day at M&T Bank Stadium. Anyone can appreciate this jaunt around Maryland, but football fans will be especially enamored.

 

For another exciting tale penned by a local bird, check out The Autobiography of a Pigeon Named Pete: A True Baltimore Story by Pete the Pigeon, interpreted by Gary Meyers and illustrated by Stephanie Helgeson. This book tells the true tale of a pigeon with ordinary beginnings in an ordinary Baltimore row home who went on to live a long, happy and extraordinary life with his “person” Muriel. Although the story is largely based on news articles, author Meyers has a special connection to this special pigeon — Muriel is his mother.

 

Finally, we have Night-Night Maryland: A Sleepy Bedtime Rhyme by Katherine Sully and illustrated by Helen Poole. Young readers will recognize the Baltimore-centric landmarks, from sleeping animals at the Maryland Zoo and the ducklings of Patterson Park to the quiet darkness of Fort McHenry and Port Discovery at night. The short, pleasant rhymes make for a nice final book before bed.     


 
 

The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook

posted by: February 16, 2017 - 7:00am

The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday CookbookMaybe you’re trying to eat healthier in 2017. Maybe you just love delicious food. If so, check out The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook: Entertaining for Absolutely Every Occasion by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

 

This is Moskowitz’s 10th cookbook, and each chapter is devoted to one of 17 different holidays. On New Year’s, eat your black eyed peas and cabbage for good luck. On Christmas, you will find the classic chocolate chip cookies to leave out for Santa. There are no set menus, and each chapter contains one or two dozen recipes that fit the holiday theme so you can mix and match whatever suits your taste.

 

When faced with so many tasty possibilities, you may find yourself celebrating holidays you’ve never considered before. Now that you have four different recipes for latkes, why not spin a dreidel and learn a little something about Hanukkah? And who cares if you’re not Irish on St. Patrick’s Day if you’re serving corned beet and cabbage and shamrockin’ shakes?

 

Moskowitz also offers tips on hosting, menu planning and table setting. Of course, this cookbook doesn’t have to only be pulled out on holidays. But if you’re looking for food that is simpler and doesn’t have to be special-occasion-worthy, check out Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week for meals that can be on the table in about 30 minutes.


 
 

Bedtime Books

posted by: February 9, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for Bedtime for YetiCover art for A Number SlumberCover art for Goodnight EveryonePut on your jammies, grab your favorite stuffed animal and snuggle up with these new picture books perfect for bedtime.

 

In Bedtime for Yeti by Vin Vogel, Yeti must put on a brave face at bedtime when he discovers that his favorite stuffed animal is missing. Where could his sidekick be? And is he in danger? Will little Yeti be brave enough to save the day?

 

Various anthropomorphic animals perform familiar bedtime rituals in A Number Slumber by Suzanne Bloom. Then the alliterative text counts down from 10 (terribly tired tigers) to one (really weary wombat). The pastel illustrations are soft and soothing and evocative of dreaming.

 

Goodnight Everyone by Chris Haughton features a simple and repetitive story, with everything from the quietest yawns from the smallest sleepy mice to the mighty yawns of Great Bear. The real pleasure, though, comes from the illustrations. The predominantly pink, purple and blue color palette gets darker as the pages turn and bedtime approaches. The inside cover offers a brief astronomy lesson with its depiction of the solar system and a map of the constellations featuring Ursa Minor and Ursa Major — the namesakes for the story’s Little Bear and Great Bear.  


 
 

The Tao of Bill Murray

posted by: September 26, 2016 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Tao of Bill MurrayLet’s be honest, you don’t need to know anything other than the title to decide if you want to read The Tao of Bill Murray: Real-Life Stories of Joy, Enlightenment and Party Crashing by Gavin Edwards.

 

Murray is, of course, the comedian who starred in such classics as Ghostbusters and Caddyshack, and later in critically acclaimed roles in Lost in Translation and Olive Kitteridge. If you’re even the most casual Bill Murray fan, you’ve probably heard a Bill Murray story. Someone sneaks up behind you on the street and covers your eyes…you turn around, and it’s Bill Murray. Or Bill Murray steals your sunglasses at a winery, or shows up at your party and washes the dishes before disappearing into the night. Basically, Bill Murray shows up randomly, does something random and often ends the encounter by whispering in your ear, “No one will ever believe you.”

 

This book collects these Bill Murray stories, from strangers, from acquaintances, from Bill Murray himself. The first section is a brief history of his upbringing, passions and start in the film business. Next, in “The Ten Principles of Bill,” amusing Bill Murray anecdotes are divided into sections according to which life principle they illustrate (“Invite yourself to the party.” “Surprise is golden. Randomness is lobster.”). Finally, the “Films of Bill Murray” is a chronological listing of his films and, of course, another opportunity to provide more fun stories.

 

Some of the anecdotes come with an implied “Don’t Try This at Home” warning. We can all strive to be more fun-loving like Bill Murray…but we can never BE Bill Murray. Sure, some of the antics would be amusing no matter who was behind them. Others — like hitting a stranger with a snowball, or walking into a stranger’s house and sitting down to breakfast — would be decidedly less charming if you are not an international film star.

 

Though this is a lighthearted read, Edwards also retells stories that paint Murray as impetuous, chronically late and difficult to work with. It’s a good reminder that even an epic folk hero like Bill Murray has his imperfections.


 
 

The Light Fantastic

posted by: September 8, 2016 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Light FantasticThe Light Fantastic by Sarah Combs unfolds over three climactic hours on April Donovan’s 18th birthday. It’s April 19, 2013. The Boston Marathon bombers are still on the loose, and April recalls a litany of other horrific events that have taken place in her birth month — Oklahoma City, Waco, Columbine, Virginia Tech. April suffers from a rare memory condition that leaves her able to remember events from her past in exquisite detail, to make connections that most people wouldn’t notice.

 

April’s story is just one of seven threads in this engrossing, interwoven novel. What’s happening at April’s high school in Delaware? What’s happening with her childhood friend, Lincoln, now living in Nebraska, who moved away after his father died in the attack on the Twin Towers? How are they connected to a girl in Idaho and a boy in California?

 

Each story contains echoes of the others, and these coincidences and small repetitions are part of the beauty of the novel. These people and their stories are connected because everything is connected. It may not feel like it sometimes, but we are never alone in this world.

 

For more of Combs’ fiction, check out her debut Breakfast Served Anytime. For another story with an unorthodox structure about a heavy topic, check out John Darnielle’s Wolf in White Van.

 


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10 New TV Series with Book Tie-Ins

posted by: August 31, 2016 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Marvelous Land of OzCover art for The ExorcistCover art for A Series of Unfortunate EventsAs summer winds down, we look forward to cooler weather, pumpkin-flavored everything and fall television premiers! If you’re like me and you need to read the book before you watch it on screen, here are 10 new series premiering this television season based on books.

 

Hulu’s Chance, based on the book by Kem Nunn, is a psychological thriller set in San Francisco about a psychiatrist, his female patient with multiple personality disorder and her homicide detective husband.

 

NBC’s Emerald City is a modern reimagining of L. Frank Baum’s Land of Oz series featuring 20-year-old Dorothy Gale and a K9 police dog.

 

Fox’s The Exorcist, based on the 1971 novel by William Peter Blatty, follows a new family’s fight against demonic possession.

 

Amazon’s Good Girls Revolt is based on the true story of author Lynn Povich and 45 other women who sued Newsweek for sex discrimination in 1970.

 

Hulu’s The Handmaid's Tale is based on the classic dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood.

 

NBC’s Midnight, Texas is a supernatural drama based on the series by Charlaine Harris — also the author of the Sookie Stackhouse books which formed the basis for HBO’s True Blood.

 

NBC’s Powerless is a workplace comedy about an insurance company set in the DC Comics Universe.

 

CW’s Riverdale is a live-action teen drama based on the characters from Archie Comics, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

 

Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is based on the children’s series by Lemony Snicket about three orphaned siblings.

 

ABC’s Still Star-Crossed, based on the teen novel by Melinda Taub, features the Montagues and Capulets in the aftermath of Romeo and Juliet’s tragic deaths.


 
 

Read Like TED

posted by: August 3, 2016 - 7:00am

Cover art for GritCover art for OriginalsThe first thing I do after watching a really inspiring TED Talk? Search BCPL’s catalog to see if the speaker has written a book. Fortunately, TED presenters are a prolific literary bunch.

 

TED, whose slogan is “Ideas Worth Spreading,” was founded in 1984 and became an annual conference series in 1990. First emphasizing technology, entertainment and design, TED now includes talks on a broad range of subjects, including the academic, scientific and cultural. Talks are now limited to 18 minutes and over 2,400 have been posted online since 2006.    

 

Recently published books by popular presenters include Angela Duckworth’s Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, which explores the question of why some people succeed while others fail, and Adam Grant’s Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, about successful men and women who have rejected conformity and flourished in diverse industries.

 

If you’ve ever dreamed about presenting your own TED Talk — or would just like some tips for improving your public speaking — TED President Chris Anderson reveals behind-the-scenes details in his new book TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking. Also be sure to check out Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds by public speaking coach Carmine Gallo who promises more dynamic presentations — and more confident presenters.   

 

TED’s 20 most popular talks of all time can be found online and include such authors as Ken Robinson, Amy Cuddy and Simon Sinek.

 


 
 

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