Category Archives: From the Bookshelf

National Pizza Day

It’s February 9, are you celebrating National Pizza Day?

Why not add a little pizza knowledge (or fun) while you chow down on your favorite slice.

Fun facts:

  • In the US, we consume approximately 3 billion pizzas a year. That is the equivalent to 350 slices per second.
  • 17% of all restaurants in the USA are pizza shops
  • The top 10 US states that eat the most pizza in order are: Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Iowa, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, West Virginia

And if you are craving more, here are a few pizza related titles for your dining pleasure.

Slice Harvester: A Memoir in Pizza
By Colin Atrophy Hagendorf Narrated by Roger Wayne

A Pizza My Heart: Book 1 in the Slice series
By Teagan Hunter Narrated by Emma Wilder & Alex Kydd

Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American
By Ian MacAllen Narrated by Paul Bellantoni        

Pasta, Pane, Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy’s Food Culture
By Matt Goulding Narrated by Will Damron

Food Americana: The Remarkable People and Incredible Stories Behind America’s Favorite Dishes
By David Page Narrated by Jonathan Yen           

Shake, Stir. . .”Imbibe!”

By Kaleigh Lawson

Before it was trendy to use the word “crafted” in reference to our beer, wine, and cocktails, it was the only way drinks were made. When you wanted a drink you didn’t walk down the grocery store aisle and grab a plastic bottle of pre-made margarita or Bloody Mary mix— everything was made from scratch.

Yes, making a cocktail from scratch is more work. You will definitely need more ingredients, BUT with a little luck, skill, and patience you are likely to be sipping on a cocktail that tastes 10x times better than your quicker, artificial version.

I am guilty of taking the easy way out when it comes to my cocktails, but I have also sipped on a truly crafted cocktail. On one of my adventures, I found myself in a dimly lit speakeasy in the wild west of South Dakota imbibing on cocktails mixed with ice chipped and carved from a large block of ice. And while absinthe cotton candy dissolving atop a finely aged whiskey might seem more innovative than classic, it definitely made me a believer in taking the time to create an artistic beverage my taste buds will thank me for.

David Wondrich perfectly captures the vibrant history that surrounds the beginning of cocktails in America. In this book, you’ll find yourself being taken on a journey through the history of popular drinks Jerry Thomas made and how to make them, and a little bit about the life of mixologist, Thomas.  I paid close attention to the drink called the Knickerbocker. Knickerbocker is in my blood—not the drink, just yet—the actual New York Knickerbocker family.  Naturally, I was curious to learn more about the drink named for my ancestors. As it turns out, it was a popular drink all the way through the civil war, but the last record of it seems to be in the early 1880s.  This once popular cocktail is definitely one I’ve added to my “Must Try” list along with several others that caught my attention like the Champagne Cobbler, Apple Toddy and a Port Wine Sangaree.

As for the question of shaken or stirred? Well, that is up to you and the drink. You don’t always have to side with James Bond on this one. Some drinks require one versus the other, and in every other case, that depends on if you care if your drink is cloudy or clear.

Imbibe! has definitely stirred up some mixology excitement inside of me. I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves start creating and, of course, sampling some of the classic cocktails that Thomas developed and Wondrich breathed life back into.

The Knickerbocker

Cool with shaved ice; shake up well, and ornament with berries in
season. if this is not sweet enough, put in a little more raspberry
NOTES ON INGREDIENTS: Choose the lime over the lemon. Some
find this recipe too tart. Rather than adding more raspberry syrup
(which can be purchased in larger organic markets or easily made by
macerating raspberries in rich simple syrup), I prefer to increase the
curaçao to 2 teaspoons. Raspberries, blackberries, orange pieces,
even pineapple can be part of the garnish. The only difference
between Thomas’s Knickerbocker and his White Lion is that the latter
replaces three- quarters of the raspberry syrup with pulverized
sugar. I’ll take the knee pants.
In his 1863 book, Thomas offers a “Knickerbocker Punch” that’s
half brandy and half port, with pieces of orange and pineapple in the
glass; delicious, but no Knickerbocker.

NOTES ON EXECUTION: This drink should be built and shaken in
the glass for authenticity. But if you don’t have a shaker small enough
to cover a 6‑ to 8‑ounce tumbler and would prefer not to pour it back
and forth between glasses, the floor, your shirt, and the boss’s wife,
g’ahead and cheat and make it in the big shaker. It really doesn’t
make a damn bit of difference to the final drink. Just don’t shake the
lime rind in with everything else; it can make the drink bitter.

The Three Faces of Mick Foley’s Tag Team Career

By Dan Totten

Every wrestling fan knows the Three Faces of Mick Foley; Cactus Jack, Mankind, and Dude Love.  Each character brings a unique personality and style to the ring.  Like Foley himself, each has made its mark in singles competition, but also in the tag team ranks.  Foley’s tag team legacy is often overlooked, but each character had success with many different partners.  The top combos for each character:

  1. Cactus Jack and Mikey Whipwreck (Extreme Championship Wrestling) – By the time Foley debuted in ECW in 1994, he was a 10 year veteran well-known for his hardcore, risk-taking, style. Mikey Whipwreck was a 21 year old rookie who had been trained by Foley.  The team came together when Whipwreck substituted for Foley’s regular partner, Terry Funk.  From there, the duo won the ECW Tag Team Championship.  At this point the team became a reluctant partnership, predicated on Foley taking Whipwreck under his wing and teaching him, and toughening him up to, the hardcore style of wrestling ECW was known for.  Foley as the slightly unhinged, but knowledgable, veteran and Whipwreck as the scared rookie really clicked and they would go on the have two reigns as ECW Tag Champs.

Continue reading The Three Faces of Mick Foley’s Tag Team Career

September 2017 Audiobook Giveaway of For Two Thousand Years

Mihail Sebastian’s classic 1934 novel delves into the mind of a Jewish student in Romania during the fraught years preceding World War II. Read the full description.

“His prose is like something Chekov might have written – the same modesty, candor, and subtleness of observation.” –Arthur Miller

For Two Thousand Years wonderfully captures the sense of prewar Romania in all its sophistication, its beauty, and its horror . . . I love Sebastian’s courage, his lightness, and his wit.” –John Banville, author of The Sea



How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to
  2. Put the word “disconnected” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by Sept 30, 2017. Open to US only.

Congratulations to Ross Goertzen, winner of last month’s giveaway of These Vicious Masks. Thank you to all that entered.

August 2017 Audiobook Giveaway of These Vicious Masks

Book 1 in the These Vicious Masks series

Jane Austen meets X-Men in this thrilling Victorian adventure full of magic and mysticism, perfect for anyone who loves a confident, rebellious heroine, snappy dialogue, and a hint of romance. Read the full description.

“This is a perfect pick for someone who wants a little magic in their Victorian novels, and its combination of historical fiction and mysticism will remind readers of Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy.” ―Booklist



How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to
  2. Put the word “superpower” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by Aug 31, 2017. Open to US only.


Congratulations to Lynne Neidenbach, winner of last month’s giveaway of The Many Lives of Catwoman. Thank you to all that entered.


June 2017 Audiobook Giveaway of I Was Told to Come Alone

In this compelling and evocative memoir, Washington Post reporter Souad Mekhennet shares her journey behind the lines of jihad, starting in the German neighborhoods where the 9/11 plotters were radicalized and the Iraqi neighborhoods where Sunnis and Shia turned against one another. Read the full description.

“Mekhennet provides an eye-opening picture.” —Kirkus

“Compelling, insightful, and shockingly relevant.” —Booklist Starred Review

I Was Told to Come Alone
By Souad Mekhennet
Read by Kirsten Potter


How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to
  2. Put the word “alone” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by June 30, 2017. Open to US only.

Congratulations to Janan Cheskis, winner of last month’s giveaway of A Stitch in Time. Thank you to all that entered.

May 2017 Audiobook Giveaway of A Stitch of Time

For fans of Brain on Fire and My Stroke of Insight, an incredible first-person account of one woman’s journey to regaining her language and identity after a brain aneurysm affects her ability to communicate. Read the full description.

A Stitch of Time is fascinating reading for those who want to learn how language works.”  —Dr. Temple Grandin, author of The Autistic Brain and Thinking in Pictures

“There has been over a century of research on Broca’s aphasia but few accounts of patients’ own experiences as they struggle to recover.  A Stitch of Time is a striking exception – it’s a thoughtful, introspective memoir that allows us to catch a rare glimpse of the inner mental life of such patients.” —Dr. V.S. Ramachandran, author of The Tell-Tale Brain


How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook
1. Send an email to
2. Put the word “resilience” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by May 31, 2017. Open to US only.


Congratulations to Lisa Snyder, winner of last month’s giveaway of The Sting of the Wild! Thank you to all that entered.

April 2017 Audiobook Giveaway of The Sting of the Wild

“Schmidt’s tales will prove infectiously engaging even to entomophobes.”
Publishers Weekly Starred Review

In The Sting of the Wild, entomologist Justin O. Schmidt takes us on a journey inside the lives of stinging insects, seeing the world through their eyes as well as his own. Read the full description.



“Not only does he explain his Schmidt Sting Pain Index, wherein he rates the pain of numerous stings on a scale of one to four, but he also relates the fascinating natural histories of these animals.” —National Geographic


How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to
  2. Put the word “Ouch” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by April 30, 2017. Open to US only.


Congratulations to Ray Sutton, winner of last month’s giveaway of The Cyanide Canary! Thank you to all that entered.

March 2017 Audiobook Giveaway of The Cyanide Canary

From Robert Dugoni, the #1 Kindle bestselling author of My Sister’s Grave, and Environmental Protection Agency Special Agent Joseph Hilldorfer comes a true story of good and evil, greed and its consequences, and an elusive quest for justice. Read the full description.

“[An] electrically charged narrative . . . Top-notch nonfiction legal thriller, reminding readers of the baseline: ‘This all comes down to one thing. It’s all about money.'” –Kirkus Starred Review

“[An] enthralling legal drama . . . a fully rounded, gripping story of how environmental crime is prosecuted in the real world.” –Booklist Starred Review


How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to
  2. Put the word “cage” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by March 31, 2017. Open to US only.

Congratulations! To Linda Townsend, winner of last month’s giveaway of The Antiques. Thank you to all that entered.

February 2017 Audiobook Giveaway of The Antiques

g1805_antiquesdagostino_aA rollicking tableau of life in all its messy complexity, The Antiques is a heartbreaking, nimble, laugh-out-loud funny send-up of modern family life.

“It’s witty and trenchant and dark and stylish, the black sheep of the family-novel genre, the one who’s not invited to Thanksgiving but crashes it anyway to the delight of the younger relatives and the horror of the elders.” —Teddy Wayne, author of The Love Song of Johnny Valentine

Read the full description.


How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to
  2. Put the word “hurricane” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by February 28, 2017. Open to US only.


Congratulations! To Lindell Martin, winner of last month’s giveaway of Steven Spielberg. Thank you to all that entered.