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Coming Clean: A Memoir by Kimberly Rae Miller

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Ever wonder what it would be like to grow up with hoarders as parents? Kimberly Rae Miller dishes it all in this powerful coming-of-age tale about just that. We’ve all got that spot in our house that’s the place we put things that we’re saving for later because we know we’re actually going to use them. Right? Yes? Then months later we stumble across those same prized objects and pitch or donate them because, well, who has the time to do all the things?

Imagine, if you will, that messy place being your entire house and add in never throwing away anything on top of that and you’ll sort of get the idea what it’s like to walk a day in Kim’s shoes. She wasn’t able to ever have friends over and often had to conceal her parents messes and behaviors for fear of children’s services coming and separating her from them. Even worse, one house she and her parents occupied was so messy that it caught fire and they lost absolutely everything they owned. You’d think this would mean a fresh, clean start in a new, uncluttered home but that’s not case as things quickly start to pile up again.  But don’t just take my word for it, read this engrossing title for yourself to learn all about what it’s like to be the child of hoarders. For tackling such serious stuff, it’s quite an enjoyable read but be warned as there are a few graphic moments (think bugs, messes, and even a suicide attempt) that aren’t for the faint of heart.

If you like this title, you should also check out the nonfiction book Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy Frost and the YA novel Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu.

Doctor Sleep : a novel by Stephen King

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Doctor Sleep is not a re-telling of Jack Torrence and the creepy Overlook Motel.  The book works as a stand-alone novel, a bit of a sequel, but truly a new story with recurring characters from The Shining.

Starting with a summary of Danny and his mother's life over the past thirty five years, Doctor Sleep moves into the present where we find Danny coming to terms with his past; recovering from an abusive alcoholic father and fighting his own battle with sobriety.  Doctor Sleep is a humane story with a twist, characters can read minds, see the future, and communicate telepathically. However humane, King's ability to scare the heck out of you is still powerfully strong! 

Picture Book Selection for Travelers

Adele and her brother Simon are coming to America from France to visit their Aunt Cecile, who takes them on a train trip to see the United States!  Simon is more interested in seeing all of the sights than in keeping track of his belongings, which become lost from New York City to San Francisco.  See if you can find what Simon lost in each picture.  The detailed drawings and sweet story will delight readers of all ages, but particularly those ages 4-8. 

The Knitted Slipper book: Slippers and House Shoes for the Entire Family by Katie Startzman

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I am always looking for a last minute knitted project I can use as a gift.  The beauty of this book is half the patterns are felted making the knitting part fast and the felting part a cover up for any mistakes, perfect!

Fun, functional, and an offering of slipper & shoe options with patterns ranging from whimsical to practical.  Get out that leftover skein of wool, grab your needles, and whip up a quick gift.

Holiday Food

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I don’t know if it was Thanksgiving or the swiftly approaching holiday season, but I can’t stop thinking about (and reading about!) food. Whether I’m eating it, talking about it, reading about it, or making it, food is awesome! If you’re anything like me, be sure to pick up one of the following titles to satisfy your appetite for a delicious read:

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Part memoir, part graphic novel, this book will suck you in with its awesome illustrations, delicious recipes and musings on the author’s life, favorite foods, and family. I dare you to read it and not go eat all the things!

Born Round: The Secret History of a Full Time Eater by Frank Bruni

This witty, well written memoir traces the author’s complicated relationship with food from early adolescence to his present gig as a NY Times food critic. It’s refreshing to know that even well revered critics have their limits and weaknesses.

Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table by Ruth Reichl

Reichl was the editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, and this, her first memoir, tells the story of her coming-of-age through recipes. Beautifully written and well worth a read for her excellent food descriptions and recipes.

Relish coverBorn Round coverTender at the Bone cover

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg

Best known for her food blog, Orangette, this is Wizenberg’s recollection of the food and people that influenced her life. Each chapter includes a recipe, and her writing is so fantastic that you’ll be torn whether to keep reading or stop just long enough to cook something before diving back in.

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Flinn

Put down that box of Hamburger Helper and pick up this highly entertaining book about how Flinn, a culinary school graduate, taught 9 women from all walks of life to prepare basic meals for themselves and their families using fresh, simple ingredients.

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci

Relationships are like recipes – some are worth the work and some totally fail.  Melucci does a great job of navigating the sometimes rocky terrain of her romantic life by relating the men she dates to the things she loves to cook. Oh, and there’s lots of pasta!

Homemade coverKitchen counter cooking coverI Love I Lost I Made Spaghetti cover

Picture Book Selection: Each Kindness

In “Each Kindness”, award winning author Jacqueline Woodson and amazing illustrator E.B. Lewis have made a wonderful book about how treating people with kindness can help everyone. Maya is a new student and different from her other classmates with her hand-me-down clothes and old- fashioned toys.  Maya wants to make friends with Chloe and her gang of friends, but they reject her. Their teacher gives a lesson on simple kindness and Chloe realizes the opportunity for friendship that was missed, and how much better it would have been if she had been kind. 

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