Books in the Park

suggestions from the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library at Pinellas Park


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Game of Crowns, by Christopher Andersen

In the summer of 2016, we asked our patrons to send us book reviews as part of our adult summer reading raffle. We’ve chose the cream of the crop to feature here on our blog.

This review is by Wendy Risk.

game of crowns andersonMost girls, at some point in childhood, want to grow up to be a princess. The gowns, the palaces, and the prince all promise romance. But the scandals of the house of Windsor provide a more authentic glimpse into modern royal life.

According to Christopher Andersen, the British royal family is the world’s longest running soap opera. Andersen has written the bestselling William and Kate and seventeen other New York Times bestsellers. He’s frequently interviewed on U.S. talk shows.

In Game of Crowns, the author details Queen Elizabeth, her daughter-in-law Camilla, and her granddaughter-in-law Kate’s similarities and differences. The author sets the tone of this gossipy book by calling Camilla the Black Queen and Kate the White Queen.

The author describes royal residences and daily routines. He poses questions, including will the Queen abdicate, letting her son become King Charles III and Camilla become his queen? The majority of Brits hope not. If Charles is passed over, his face will never grace coins, paper currency, or stamps.

For most of the book, the author lets us in on the scandals. He enjoys comparing Kat, whom he calls the most stylish woman on the planet, with Camilla, who underwent a sever makeover including Botox to make her a more presentable future queen.

Royal watchers on both sides of the Atlantic will enjoy the trivia. For example, did you know that a royal piper lays the bagpipes every morning outside their window after the Queen and Price Phillip finish their breakfast? Are you curious to know that Rogers and Hammerstein song he often plays? It’s from Oklahoma, a musical Elizabeth and Phillip saw while dating. The song? “People will say we’re in love.”

And how about Prince Charges, a man of many mistresses, some for decades and simultaneously. What nickname did he ask his paramours to call him? King Arthur.

The book is fun, scandalous, and a quick read. Wondering if it’s for you? Take this quick quiz. The answer to each question is either Elizabeth, Camilla, or Kate:

  1. Which woman drives, according to her cousin, “like a bat out of hell”?
  2. Which woman was nicknames “the Rottweiler” by Lade Diana?
  3. Which woman said, “Strange but I never felt intimated in his presences, never. If felt from the beginning that we were two peas in a pod?”
  4. Which woman’s husband spends $100,000 annually on his wardrobe?
  5. Which woman said: “Let us not take ourselves too seriously. None of us has a monopoly on wisdom.”?
  6. Which woman’s marriage reportedly cost $4 million?
  7. Which woman was photographed rather topless in Provence?
  8. Which woman will be the first commoner queen and college educated queen?

If you took the quiz, you would probably enjoy this book.  The answers are: Queen Elizabeth 1 and 5. Camilla 2, 3, and 4. And Kate 6, 7, and 8.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Game of Crowns.


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Night Work, by Laurie R. King

In summer of 2016, we asked our patrons for book reviews as part of our adult summer reading raffle. We have chosen the cream of the crop to feature here on our blog.

night work kingSynopsis from the publisher:

Kate and her partner, Al Hawkin, are called to a scene of carefully executed murder: the victim is a muscular man, handcuffed and strangled, a stun gun’s faint burn on his chest and candy in his pocket. The likeliest person to want him dead, his often-abused wife, is meek and frail–and has an airtight alibi. Kate and Al are stumped, until a second body turns up–also zapped, cuffed, and strangled…and carrying a candy bar. This victim: a convicted rapist. As newspaper headlines speculate about vendetta killings, a third death draws Kate and Al into a network of pitiless destruction that reaches far beyond San Francisco, a modern-style hit list with shudderingly primal roots.

Review by Christine Hammerman:

This book was a suspenseful and entertaining read.

The story provided mystery and humor at the same time. The main character was well-written and stood up for herself and her principals, despite a tough job role and personal relationship.

Favorite phrase: “My sides were clapping together like an empty portmanteau.”

Check the PPLC Catalog for Night Work.


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Eating on the Wild Side, by Jo Robinson

In summer of 2016, we asked our patrons for book reviews as part of our adult summer reading raffle. We have chosen the cream of the crop to feature here on our blog.

This review is by Wendy Risk.

eating wild side robinsonOne minute the experts say chocolate is bad for you. The next, it is good. The same goes for eggs, saturated fat, and meat. What’s a person to do?

Investigative journalist and New York Times best-selling writer Jo Robinson spent ten years researching the nutrient value of supermarket produce. She helps us understand which produce varieties are the most nutritious and how to extract the most nutrition from the product we eat.

Without exception, wild has more nutritional value than cultivated. Robinson advises eating plants that are close to wild as possible. Man has been breeding nutrition out of food since farming began 10,000 years ago.

Eating the Wide Side won the 2014 IACP Cookbook award in the Food Matters category. Huff Post says the author “busts conventional wisdom on vegetables.”

For example, did you know that baby carrots are just shaved down whole carrots?  Save your money. Buy them whole. Carrots must be juiced or cooked to unlock their nutrition. We should cook them whole and unpeeled. Add fat to access their fat-soluble vitamins. Today, health food stores offer heritage colors. The author advises that purple carrots have more nutrition than the orange ones we all grew up with.

Most everyone understands that iceberg lettuce has about as much nutrition as a cardboard box. The author explains that with leafy greens, dark and bitter is better. Dandelion greens, full of calcium, are powerhouses compared to spinach. Loose leaves, such as arugula, beat heads such as iceberg and romaine.

To release the fat soluble vitamins in any vegetable, fat is required. The author recommends olive oil, a staple of the Mediterranean diet. She prefers unfiltered olive oil, which lasts longer and is healthier.

During World War II, the cash-strapped Soviet army resorted to garlic to treat infected wounds. Many of us eat cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts for their cancer fighting qualities. However, the author maintains that garlic trumps the cruciferous family as an anti-cancer wonder drug. Garlic is anti-oxidant, anti-bacteria, anti-viral, anti-clogging, and anti-cancer.  To use, mince and rest 10 minutes before cooking. Hardneck garlic is wilder and hence contains more nutrition.

The smallest onions contain the most nutrients. Scallions have 140 times more phytonutrients than common white onions. They are the closest to wild onions in appearance and nutrition. Onionskins, which offer the most nutrients, should be saved for broth. Cooking onions releases the quercetin. Shallots are nutritional superstars.

The author lists her super veggies and says that blueberries show promise in fighting the modern diseases of civilization.  They prevent tumors, lower blood pressure, reduce plaque, reverse brain aging, and soothe inflammation. Cooked berries are best. Dried berries are worst. Organic citrus is worth the cost; the peel is edible. The pith contains the most nutrients.

If you are a foodie, or simply interested in food as a medicine, this book is a must read. I give it five stars.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Eating on the Wild Side.