Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology

If you have dreams of living off the grid, or vicariously enjoy the journeys of those who do, you’ll love this book, and admire the pluck of the author and his wife as they deal with their joys and challenges. The couple lived among the Amish and Mennonites for a year and a half without electricity and technology.  As they manage their livestock, their buggy, their crops, and their daily chores, they learn what a rich and full life it can be.


If you need a dose of deep peace, try this delicious recording by the four-time Grammy nominated Austin-based choral group Conspirare,singing: Requiem by Herbert Howells; Three Songs of Faith (based on poems by ee cummings) by Eric Whitacre; We Remember Them by Donald Grantham; Missa de Requiem  by Ildebrando Pizzetti; The Road Home by Stephen Paulus; and  Requiem  by Eliza Gilkyson. The notes say that the assembled pieces reflect on death, loss, and gratitude for living.

The Uncommon Reader

What if the Queen of England, while searching for her runaway corgis, came upon the mobile library at the back of the castle, and what if she followed the lead of one of her kitchen staff and checked out a book to be polite? Well, she might become enamored of reading and find all kinds of opportunities to vex her staff and astonish her subjects as she pursued her new hobby.  And you might find this delightful novella a sweet and surprising little bon-bon of a book. 

The Lobster Chronicles

She proved her sea-mettle when her swordfish boat rode out the perfect storm (The Hungry Ocean) and now Greenlaw, home on her Maine island, chronicles the changing life of the fisher. As a woman skipper she is an anomaly, and she is also something of an outsider on her island; so she writes of the characters on her boat and on her island with wit and compassion.  Do you enjoy strong women narrators and reading of the seafaring life? Pick this one.

Rip-Roaring Roller Coasters

This DVD has four teens going on a field trip to ride roller coasters and visit amusement parks, the circus, and big events like pro wrestling. In the first episode, they learn how roller coasters work and about roller coaster safety and maintenance, the roller coaster loop, and gravity and weightlessness. In “Ticket to Ride,” the teens visit amusement parks and Universal Studios: Island of Adventure where they learn about motion sickness, see how animated figures work, and about special effects.

Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife

Peggy Vincent spent 15 years as a nurse-midwife, delivering babies in hospitals, birth centers, homes, and sometimes in elevators and boats.  This heart-warming and empowering book is a well-written adventure that lets readers experience the wonder of birth, the love of babies, and the power of women.  A strong advocate for the healthy-until-proven-otherwise approach to pregnancy and childbirth, Peggy tirelessly advocated for affordable insurance, midwife privileges at hospitals, and fought years of ostracism and unprofessionalism from the obstetricians on hospital staffs.  <

The Cry of the Dove

This is the heartbreaking story of Salma, aka Sally, a Bedouin Arab forced to flee her village of Hima to escape an honor killing.  "I used to be a shepherdess, who under a barefaced sun guided her goats to the scarce green pastures with her reed pipe.  But I saw the moon at night, and prayed, Forgive me, Allah, for I have sinned.  The heat of passion had made me bend."  Consumed by shame, obsessed by her daughter's cries, and lost in the drastic change of culture, Sally tries to make a life for herself as a seamstress, while bussing tables at night and tak

A Model Summer

Anyone who remembers the first generation of supermodels from the 80's will recall the name Paulina Porizkova, who was the sophisticated grin of Estee Lauder's cosmetic line for many years.  In her fiction debut, Porizkova writes a semi-autobiographical novel about a 15-year-old girl who leaves Sweden and the dysfunctional relationship with her family for the opportunity to model in Paris for the summer.  Predictably tall, skinny, and painfully insecure, Jirina attempts to compete in the world of high fashion, in turns both discovering herself and losing all sense of integ


Allison Johnson drinks too much.  She drinks to escape her panic and anxiety, her abusive boyfriend, her past mistakes, and her intense self-hatred.  Her only moments of peace come from self-cutting and imaginary conversations with Paul Newman, who provides the only source of hope in her life.  Finally fed up with the cruelty of her boyfriend, Allison runs off to Reno in a sad and futile attempt to build a life for herself, but Allison can never outrun her vicious self-loathing.  Set in the harsh and inhospitable desert, Vlautin's spot-on dialogue captures the futili

Sultry Moon

Lovers of literary form and accomplishment, those with an existentialist bent, or anyone still haunted by Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, will devour Sultry Moon, a near-perfect example The Novella.  Concentra

Wee-phabet Songs With a Fun Twist

“Wee-phabet Songs With a Fun Twist” is an educational teaching tool that helps children learn the alphabet and vowel sounds in a fun and engaging way. Children can hear and sing familiar songs such as “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” “Yankee Doodle,” and “When the Saints go Marching In” and then use the same melodies to sing the ABCs. Eleven suggested hands-on activities that help build alphabet recognition are included in the CD booklet. Check out this CD if you and your family enjoy singing, dancing, and wiggling!

Dancing at the Rascal Fair

Doig opens this fine tale with two 19-year-old men, Angus McCaskill and Rob Barclay, as they stand on a dock in Scotland in 1889 about to step onto a ship that will carry them to America. They make their way to Montana, planning to join Rob’s uncle Lucas, a miner, but things are not as they expect and the two Scotsmen take up homesteading and sheep ranching instead. The book follows their lives over the next 30 years as they marry, raise families, take part in various joint ventures, battle the harsh Montana winters, and live within sight of the unparalleled beauty of the Rockies.

Whose body

 If you’re looking for a quintessential detective novel in the style of Sherlock Holmes, check out Whose Body?   Lord Peter Wimsey solves crimes as a hobby.  A body in a bathtub appears to be missing financier Sir Reuben Levy-or is it?  Follow Lord Peter as he unravels clues, solves a murder, and tracks down a killer.  This is the first book in a series of mysteries that feature Lord Peter, his man Bunter, Detective Parker, and other characters.  If you like British mysteries, titles that feature British aristocrats, and are not fond of blood

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

Michael Scott’s fantasy series that begins with The Alchemyst is a strong, well-written story full of action and mystery, about an ancient alchemist who is even mentioned in the first of J. K.

Multiplication Mountain

Multiplication Mountain” helps listeners practice the multiplication tables while singing the thirteen catchy tunes. The CD starts with the ones, fives, tens, and elevens and as children climb up the imaginary mountain, they are introduced to the other facts. Each tune is repeated twice, once with the answers and then without the answers. This allows children to learn and memorize the multiplication tables.  Various music genres are included:  jazz, reggae, rock and roll, country and classical and there is a backup chorus.