Bjorn Dihle grew up in the vicinity of Admiralty Island in Alaska - a place that I will never experience a walk through. A place that I would identify on a map as Grizzly Land. His exceptional memoir portrays many personal encounters with the great brown bears of Alaska. But the book is much more than this. Through his educational narrative - whether as a solo hiker for weeks through some of the wildest lands on earth, as tourist guide, hunter or historian - readers vicariously experience the rich and unique ecosystems that comprise this majestic region and what it would be like to wake in the darkness of your tent to the howl of wolves or the cracking sound of a salmon's skull between a bear's jaw. And what have some of the most experienced woodsmen employed to walk away with their very lives when confronted with an agitated 1500 pound grizzly? Simple, gentle phrases. "I am here." "I am sorry." "I am leaving." "Thank you for not killing me." ~ Reviewed by Nancy Scheemaker
Jubilee: Recipes from two Centuries of African American Cooking, by Toni Tipton-Martin, won the James Beard Award in 2020, and is, as the title implies, a celebration. Featuring over 100 recipes, Jubilee presents “techniques, ingredients, and dishes that show the roots of African American cooking.” This is not Tipton-Martin’s first award winning cookbook. In 2015 she published, The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cooking, a groundbreaking work showcasing the author’s coast to coast collection of over 300 African American cookbooks, some dating back to the mid 19th century. And while the publication of The Jemima Code served to unveil and spotlight the legacy of black cooks and their cookbooks, Jubilee expands this story further by utilizing recipes of this collection documented by skilled middle class black cooks. Whether formally or informally trained, as employee or business owner, the story behind the recipes in Jubilee are of cooks whose culinary legacy reaches far beyond the limited perspective that soul food and southern plantation cooking define the entirety of African American cuisine.
I'll continue to cook my way through Jubilee - it receives my highest of recommendations. The 14 recipes I've made so far have become favorites and I have every intention of getting through all 100. ~ Reviewed by Nancy Scheemaker
Morningside Heights is a deeply sensitive portrayal of familial love and marriage that begins with a ride on a moped, and ends through the fluttering curtain of Alzheimers. Pru and Spence Robin's life in New York is marked by the momentous and the ordinary, growing more deeply familiar to the reader with every progressive page. This novel grew on me in the way that it exposed the quiet face of love over time. Perhaps this is why Pru's courage and dedication was so very affecting for me. Strongly recommended to readers who enjoy well flushed out characters and the dramatic landscape of families in evolution. ~ Reviewed by Nancy Scheemaker
Swedish author, Maja Safstrom, has created a delightful book sure to inspire curiosity in the miraculous world of animals while amusing and entertaining every reader. Did you know that penguins laugh when they are tickled? That a group of kangaroos is called a mob? That ostriches can run faster than horses? Every page features a black and white hand drawn illustration accompanied by one or two surprising animal facts. This is a charming compendium for ages 3-93, and quite lovely for gifting. ~ Reviewed by Nancy Scheemaker
I was completely immersed and emotionally sacked during my reading of Unsettled Ground. Fuller takes the life story of grown twins and their parents living a simple life in the English countryside and creates a dazzling, heartbreaking, surprising series of reveals that I will not soon forget. A striking achievement from an utterly gifted writer. I loved it. ~ Reviewed by Nancy Scheemaker