Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pennsylvania Ghost Towns

Cemeteries, abandoned buildings, and roads to nowhere are all that remain of several once-thriving towns in Pennsylvania. This guidebook profiles 46 locations that have been abandoned or left to ruin, and some that have seen new life as historic sites, with discussions on their history, daily life, fall, and current condition.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Old Fashioned

American tavern owners caused a sensation in the late eighteenth century when they mixed sugar, water, bitters, and whiskey and served the drink with rooster feather stirrers. The modern version of this "original cocktail," widely known as the Old Fashioned, is a standard in any bartender's repertoire and holds the distinction of being the only mixed drink ever to rival the Martini in popularity.

In The Old Fashioned, Gourmand Award--winning author Albert W. A. Schmid profiles the many people and places that have contributed to the drink's legend since its origin. This satisfying book explores the history of the Old Fashioned through its ingredients and accessories -- a rocks glass, rye whiskey or bourbon, sugar, bitters, and orange zest to garnish -- and details the cocktail's surprising influence on the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and the Broadway musical scene, as well as its curious connection to the SAT college entrance examination. Schmid also considers the impact of various bourbons on the taste of the drink and reviews the timeless debate about whether to muddle.

This spirited guide is an entertaining and refreshing read, featuring a handpicked selection of recipes along with delicious details about the particularities that arose with each new variation. Perfect for anyone with a passion for mixology or bourbon, The Old Fashioned is a cocktail book for all seasons.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

It is 1930, the midst of the Great Depression. After her mysterious role in a family tragedy, passionate, strong-willed Thea Atwell, age fifteen, has been cast out of her Florida home, exiled to an equestrienne boarding school for Southern debutantes. High in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with its complex social strata ordered by money, beauty, and girls’ friendships, the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a far remove from the free-roaming, dreamlike childhood Thea shared with her twin brother on their family’s citrus farm—a world now partially shattered. As Thea grapples with her responsibility for the events of the past year that led her here, she finds herself enmeshed in a new order, one that will change her sense of what is possible for herself, her family, her country.

Weaving provocatively between home and school, the narrative powerfully unfurls the true story behind Thea’s expulsion from her family, but it isn’t long before the mystery of her past is rivaled by the question of how it will shape her future. Part scandalous love story, part heartbreaking family drama, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is an immersive, transporting page-turner—a vivid, propulsive novel about sex, love, family, money, class, home, and horses, all set against the ominous threat of the Depression—and the major debut of an important new writer.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

In this hugely acclaimed author’s new novel, history comes alive before us when, in the seventeenth century, a Jesuit missionary ventures into the wilderness in search of converts—the defining moment of first contact between radically different worlds, each at once old and new in its own ways. What unfolds over the next few years is truly epic, constantly illuminating and surprising, sometimes comic, always entrancing, and ultimately all-too-human in its tragic grandeur.

Christophe, as educated as any Frenchman could be about the “sauvages” of the New World whose souls he has sworn to save, begins his true enlightenment shortly after he sets out when his native guides—terrified by even a scent of the Iroquois—abandon him to save themselves. But a Huron warrior and elder named Bird soon takes him prisoner, along with a young Iroquois girl, Snow Falls, whose family he has just killed. The Huron-Iroquois rivalry, now growing vicious, courses through this novel, and these three are its principal characters.

Christophe and Snow Falls are held captive in Bird’s massive village. Champlain’s Iron People have only lately begun trading with the Huron, who mistrust them as well as this Jesuit Crow who has now trespassed onto their land; and Snow Falls’s people, of course, have become the Hurons’ greatest enemy. Bird knows that to get rid of them both would resolve the issue, but he sees Christophe, however puzzling, as a potential envoy to those in New France, and Snow Falls as a replacement for the two daughters he’d lost to the Iroquois.

These relationships wax and wane as life comes at them relentlessly: a lacrosse match with an allied tribe, a dangerous mission to trade furs with the French for the deadly shining wood that could save the Huron nation, shocking victories in combat and devastating defeats, then a sickness the likes of which none of them has ever seen. The world of The Orenda blossoms to include such unforgettable characters as Bird’s oldest friend, Fox; his lover, Gosling, who some believe possesses magical powers; two more Jesuit Crows who arrive to help form a mission; and boys from both tribes whose hearts veer wildly from one side to the other, for one reason or another. Watching over all of them are the spirits that guide their every move.

The Orenda traces a story of blood and hope, suspicion and trust, hatred and love, that comes to a head when Jesuit and Huron join together against the stupendous wrath of the Iroquois, when everything that any of them has ever known or believed in faces nothing less than annihilation. A saga nearly four hundred years old, it is also timeless and eternal.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Norse Warfare

In this thorough and evocative analysis, Martina Sprague tackles the myth of the Vikings, their unconventional battle tactics, cunning strategies, and bold use of any means at their disposal. From the innovative shipbuilding methods that produced flexible hulls and the ability to glide silently into shallow water, to Asatro, the polytheistic religion that honored the god of war, Sprague casts a fresh light and a scholarly eye on these fiercely independent people.

From the late 700s to the early 1000s, waves of strange and ferocious warriors from the barren lands of the North routinely swept into Britain and the Western Roman Empire. Plundering and pillaging, they left ruins in their wake; their trembling victims never knew when or where they would strike next.

Hailing from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, yet beholden to no single king, government, or god, the Vikings fought for personal glory, material wealth, and a longing for adventure. They roamed as far as the Arab world, always following the code, "live hard, die with honor."

A Nation Forsaken

Kevin Coolidge

It’s hot. I miss air conditioning. I’m tired. I remember being able to just jump in my car and get an ice cream cone. I could spend Sunday afternoon watching the big game, surfing the internet, or talking to friends on my cell phone. I could even do it all at the same time. Things used to be good. Life used to be easy.

Suddenly, everything just stopped. My beer got warm. The lights went out. Life got hard. Scientists have been warning us for years that something like this could happen. A high-altitude nuclear explosion, a crippling solar storm, I’m not sure what happened. It’s not like I could turn on the news. I’m pretty sure it was an EMP.

An electromagnetic pulse is a high-intensity burst of electromagnetic energy caused by rapid acceleration of particles. It can be generated by a nuclear explosion miles above the Earth. It could come in the form of solar flares that fry satellites and shut down GPS systems. An e bomb could even be made by someone with the right knowledge—and for pretty cheap, too.

The Stone Age could be closer than you think. America’s power grid is vulnerable to an electronic pulse event, from either a natural or man-made cause. We’d quickly devolve to Third World drudgery, but what’s worse is that we are so dependent on electricity. Few have the needed skills to survive in a world of strictly manual labor.

Few if any gasoline-powered vehicles would run. Those with electronic ignitions or computer-directed systems will be rendered useless. You might get lucky and have a car garaged below ground. I hope you know how to siphon, because the gas pumps won’t be working.

Thankfully, an EMP shouldn’t kill humans outright. A pulse burns out circuits due to resistive heating. Anything containing a connected loop of wire could be vulnerable. You should be safe, unless you have a pace maker. Oh, and a hearing aid could end up giving you brain damage, but that’s strictly conjecture.

It’s not science fiction, but science fact that electronic components are highly vulnerable to such an event. Scientists, policy makers, and military leaders are familiar with the potential for destruction and disruption that an EMP could cause.

The power of an EMP is also known by our allies and enemies. Is there evidence that these EMP scenarios could happen? Is there evidence that an EMP attack is being planned? Is there still time to take action?

According to F. Michael Maloof, author of A Nation Forsaken, the answers to these questions are yes. So, is anyone doing anything about it? Maloof warns that U.S government officials have known about this threat to the electrical grid, but have done little about it.

He’s a former senior security policy analyst in the Office of the Security of Defense, with almost thirty years of federal service in the Defense Department. He gives his assessment of the current threat, and it doesn’t look good. It’s time to start taking this threat seriously before the lights go out forever.

It’s growing dark, and hard to see, and I’m hungry, but at least I still have my Kindle*. I’m getting pretty good with it. Now, if that rat would just stick his head out one more time, I can finally have supper…

*I would never actually own a Kindle. This is inserted for comedy relief. Everyone knows you use a rock for rats.

Easy peasy? Or Harden your heart? Email me @ and let me know. Miss a past column? Just visit before it’s too late. Lots of extras await. Do the write thing and prevent a dark future. Read a book. It just might save your life…

Monday, May 26, 2014

World War II in Their Own Words

Gripping firsthand accounts Then-and-now photos of veterans Maps and sidebars highlight battles, generals, units, and equipment
In this companion volume to the popular PCN series, thirty-three of Pennsylvania's World War II veterans recount their wartime experiences.

Although these soldiers hail only from Pennsylvania, they represent a cross-section of the war and Americans who served in it. From the attack at Pearl Harbor to the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, D-Day, and the Battle of the Bulge, these accounts span all the war's theaters, including far-flung China, Burma, and India.

Among these veterans are sailors, marines, medics, nurses, paratroopers, machine gunners, radiomen, and prisoners of war. One served as an aide to George S. Patton, and another would become an NFL Hall of Famer. This is a glimpse of World War II as it happened-in their own words.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ticket Stub Diary

This handy journal is just the ticket for preserving and showing off tickets saved from sporting events, museum openings, rock concerts, and more. The roomy sleeves store tickets of all shapes and sizes, and lined margins provide space to (new art enclosed) jot down notes about the events. The acid-free pages will keep memorabilia in tip-top shape for years to come.

As American as Shoofly Pie

When visitors travel to Pennsylvania Dutch Country, they are encouraged to consume the local culture by way of "regional specialties" such as cream-filled whoopie pies and deep-fried fritters of every variety. Yet many of the dishes and confections visitors have come to expect from the region did not emerge from Pennsylvania Dutch culture but from expectations fabricated by local-color novels or the tourist industry. At the same time, other less celebrated (and rather more delicious) dishes, such as sauerkraut and stuffed pork stomach, have been enjoyed in Pennsylvania Dutch homes across various localities and economic strata for decades.

Celebrated food historian and cookbook writer William Woys Weaver delves deeply into the history of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine to sort fact from fiction in the foodlore of this culture. Through interviews with contemporary Pennsylvania Dutch cooks and extensive research into cookbooks and archives, As American as Shoofly Pie offers a comprehensive and counterintuitive cultural history of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine, its roots and regional characteristics, its communities and class divisions, and, above all, its evolution into a uniquely American style of cookery.

Weaver traces the origins of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine as far back as the first German settlements in America and follows them forward as New Dutch Cuisine continues to evolve and respond to contemporary food concerns. His detailed and affectionate chapters present a rich and diverse portrait of a living culinary practice—widely varied among different religious sects and localized communities, rich and poor, rural and urban—that complicates common notions of authenticity.

Because there's no better way to understand food culture than to practice it, As American as Shoofly Pie's cultural history is accompanied by dozens of recipes, drawn from exacting research, kitchen-tested, and adapted to modern cooking conventions. From soup to Schnitz, these dishes lay the table with a multitude of regional tastes and stories.

Hockt eich hie mit uns, un esst eich satt—Sit down with us and eat yourselves full!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Life with Flavor: A Personal History of Herr's

Life With Flavor is the real-life Horatio Alger story of James S. Herr. Jim and his wife, Mim, built Herr Foods from a small, one-kettle potato chip concern in Lancaster, Pa., to one of the major snack food companies in the nation.

While Jim Herr didn't start out to become an entrepreneur, his exemplary success earned him the title. A devout Mennonite, this book contains tips for business owners and the spiritual values that have guided his personal and business life. Now in Paperback...

Friday, May 23, 2014

Pine Creek Villages

Pioneer settlers began arriving in Pine Creek Valley after the Revolutionary War, drawn to the pristine wilderness filled with towering white pines and hemlocks.

In the 1880s, descendants of those settlers began extensive lumbering operations aided greatly by the arrival of the railroad through the valley. Additional logging railroads were rapidly constructed up the tributary runs to the great stands of trees.

Pine Creek's villages flourished, with both large and small sawmills buzzing. Around 1910, when the great lumbering days ended, many of the village populations plummeted.

Throughout the 20th century and into today, the area remains a popular tourist destination for fishing, hunting, and outdoor enthusiasts.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Glenn Curtiss, Aviation Pioneer

Happy birthday to Glenn Curtiss, born May 21, 1878. Glenn Hammond Curtiss was the most important figure in the development of naval aviation - if not aviation, period - in the United States. Both a thrill-seeker and a mechanical genius, he began his career as a bicycle maker and then went on to become the world's number-one manufacturer of high-performance motorcycles.

In 1903 he became the first American Motorcycle Champion; the following year he earned the title "Fastest Man on Earth" by setting the ten-mile world speed record.Looking for a new challenge, Curtiss began to build lightweight aeronautical motors and propellers, and Alexander Graham Bell convinced him to join his Aerial Experiment Association.

Working with AEA, Curtiss designed the "June Bug," which performed the first publicly viewed airplane flight in America. In 1909 he defeated the greatest fliers in the world and won the first airplane race in history, the Gordon Bennett Trophy, for America.

Perhaps most important, he convinced the U.S. Navy of the importance of naval aviation. Curtiss' planes performed the first landing on and takeoff from the deck of a ship. Curtiss invented the twin flying boat, which became a mainstay of both American and British navies in WWI.

His Curtiss "Jenny" set the standard for WWI aircraft, and his giant NC-4 "Flying Boat" crossed the Atlantic eight years before Charles Lindbergh's celebrated flight. In this classic title, Alden Hatch offers the biography of one of the most influential men in twentieth-century American technology.

New Watch

A frightening new danger arises to threaten the Twilight. . . .

For a millennium, the Others have maintained an uneasy peace that has protected them and the Twilight, a shadowy parallel world beneath our own. But the battle for supremacy between the forces of the Light and the Darkness is far from over. . . .

Now older and more powerful, Light magician Anton Gorodetsky has risen to the top levels of the Night Watch. He is also father to a ten-year-old girl who is destined to become a magician of unprecedented power. When he hears a young boy at the airport screaming that a plane will crash, Anton suspects the child is a prophet--a rare type of Other who portends catastrophe.

If Anton is right, then the boy has awakened a terrifying danger--a rare, multifaced beast that exists to stop the prophecy from coming true. With their lives in mortal peril and time running out, Anton must find a way to keep his gifted young daughter safe, and save the Twilight itself.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary by J.R.R. Tolkien

The translation of Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien was an early work, very distinctive in its mode, completed in 1926: he returned to it later to make hasty corrections, but seems never to have considered its publication.

This edition is twofold, for there exists an illuminating commentary on the text of the poem by the translator himself, in the written form of a series of lectures given at Oxford in the 1930s; and from these lectures a substantial selection has been made, to form also a commentary on the translation in this book.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics

If you ever regretted not taking physics in college--or simply want to know how to think like a physicist--this is the book for you. In this bestselling introduction, physicist Leonard Susskind and hacker-scientist George Hrabovsky offer a first course in physics and associated math for the ardent amateur. Challenging, lucid, and concise, "The Theoretical Minimum" provides a tool kit for amateur scientists to learn physics at their own pace.

Kevin reviewed this for the Wellsboro Gazette over a year ago, and now it's available in paperback.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fish of Pennsylvania

Make identifying fish easy and enjoyable. The field guide features detailed information about 75 species of Pennsylvania fish, and its waterproof pages make it perfect for the dock or boat. Read fascinating facts on spawning behavior, feeding habits and more. Plus, compare your best catches to the state and North American records. With inside information for locating fishing hotspots, this book is essential for every tackle box, beach bag, RV and cabin.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Think Like a Freak

The New York Times bestselling Freakonomics changed the way we see the world, exposing the hidden side of just about everything. Then came SuperFreakonomics, a documentary film, an award-winning podcast, and more.

Now, with Think Like a Freak, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have written their most revolutionary book yet. With their trademark blend of captivating storytelling and unconventional analysis, they take us inside their thought process and teach us all to think a bit more productively, more creatively, more rationally—to think, that is, like a Freak.

Levitt and Dubner offer a blueprint for an entirely new way to solve problems, whether your interest lies in minor lifehacks or major global reforms. As always, no topic is off-limits. They range from business to philanthropy to sports to politics, all with the goal of retraining your brain.

Along the way, you’ll learn the secrets of a Japanese hot-dog-eating champion, the reason an Australian doctor swallowed a batch of dangerous bacteria, and why Nigerian e-mail scammers make a point of saying they’re from Nigeria.

Some of the steps toward thinking like a Freak:

• First, put away your moral compass—because it’s hard to see a problem clearly if you’ve already decided what to do about it.

• Learn to say “I don’t know”—for until you can admit what you don’t yet know, it’s virtually impossible to learn what you need to.

• Think like a child—because you’ll come up with better ideas and ask better questions.

• Take a master class in incentives—because for better or worse, incentives rule our world.

• Learn t o persuade people who don’t want to be persuaded—because being right is rarely enough to carry the day.

• Learn to appreciate the upside of quitting—because you can’t solve tomorrow’s problem if you aren’t willing to abandon today’s dud.

Levitt and Dubner plainly see the world like no one else. Now you can too. Never before have such iconoclastic thinkers been so revealing—and so much fun to read.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Birds of Pennsylvania

Kevin Coolidge

Big, fat cardinals, chickadees--my cat loves the bird feeder. It's like her entertainment center. When my dad retired, he wanted to start watching birds too, and he wanted to know what to call them. There are lots of good bird books, but some require some experience to get the most out of them.

Birds of Pennsylvania by Stan Tekiela is a great beginner book. It's small enough to put in a large pocket, but has 117 of the most common books in Pennsylvania. It's easy to use. See a yellow bird? Flip to the book's yellow section.

Often, you hear birds rather than see them, and you can buy an audio CD to go with it. All entries have the track number so you can hear what the bird sounds like. Each entry also has information on habitat and a good full page color photo. Now, let's get birding...

Friday, May 16, 2014

More News on Digital Books and Devices to Read Them: the Sony to Kobo transition

by Kasey Cox

Readers may be surprised to know the first time I felt competition from ereaders, it wasn’t in the form of a Kindle. In the summer of 2008, a customer came to the bookstore to trade in some of her books. She had several long-running series by favorite authors, and had, over the months, enjoyed collecting these books a few at a time until she had the set. I asked her why she wanted to trade in all these books now. Her reply shocked me.

She didn’t have room in her small apartment for all the books she loved to read. So, she was replacing many of the series she’d collected in paperback with digital editions on her new ereader. I had, at that point, only heard a few rumors about Amazon’s new digital reading device, the Kindle. (The very first model had been released, but it wasn’t making a lot of waves yet, even in the techie world, and even less had been said about it in the publishing world.) I asked her if she was getting one of those new gizmos from Amazon – because it’s the only one I’d even heard mentioned. But, no, this customer said she found a much less expensive one at Walmart. She was very pleased with her new Sony ereader: it was easy to use, lightweight, and not glitchy.

Fast forward to spring 2014. We’ve all been through the conflagration of a variety of Kindles; the Google ebook; the Nook; and a storm of “apps” for iPads and Smart Phones. The digital revolution shook the music industry before it swept through the publishing industry, but it’s safe to say, even in this technology world with new developments arriving in the marketplace at an exponential rate, that the book world is quite different from what it was even five years ago.
Here’s a piece of news that a lot of book people don’t know: there are more choices than the Kindle and the Nook. You don’t have to have a Smart Phone to read digital books. You don’t even have to be all that tech-savvy.

While Amazon has been trumpeting from the rooftops about how awesome their Kindle is, while trying to run down and run out competitors in every industry from books to diapers, a Canadian company called Kobo has steadily been making gains in the digital market. If you’ve heard of Kobo, you may recall they started as the small, digital division of a bookstore chain in Canada – just a few folks, nearly a decade ago, who realized they should focus on having a digital library available for their customers, the same way their bookstore already offered audio books, paperbacks, and hardcovers. Ebooks, just as one more choice.

Kobo never intended to sell ereaders – digital devices to use in order to read from the Kobo library. The Kobo library has always been designed in open format – these digital books can be read on any device, including your plain old computer. As the market advanced, and Amazon developed their proprietary devices, Kobo found out, along with the rest of us, that if a consumer buys a Kindle from Amazon, they can only ever buy Amazon’s Kindle books. A Kindle only downloads Kindle format. Kobo’s books, on the other hand, can be read on the Nook, your laptop, an iPad, a Sony ereader, a Smart Phone… but Amazon doesn’t want to play nice with others. And they don’t advertise that fact.

Kobo has since partnered with a Rakuten, a Japanese company, to make top-of-the-line, award-winning devices. Since then, Google has gone through several transitions and their ebook projects have fallen off. Just recently, Sony announced they would no longer be dealing in ereaders, and are transitioning all their ereading customers to the Kobo company, with its enormous digital library of over 4 million titles.

If you are interested in reading digitally, be certain to scrape beyond the surface of the superficial, loud advertisements from your television set, and update your horizons before plunking down your credit card info. Fifteen years ago, even twenty years ago, Amazon and Barnes & Noble made names for themselves in the book business because they were focused on being good stewards in the publishing industry. Now, Amazon wants to take over the world, and Barnes & Noble is really struggling. Am I a biased reporter on this situation? Certainly. Does it make these statements less true? Not in this case. Check out Kobo, both the devices and the digital library available. Pay less attention to the "Great and Powerful (Jeff Bes-)Oz", and more attention to the man behind the curtain and what his company is really doing.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

When's the Doctor?

The Doctor's travels through time and space can lead him quite literally anywhere...which is probably why he's so tough to find. Search for him and his loyal companions as they make their way through some of the most iconic periods in Earth's history, from the Stone Age and Ancient Rome to the the future and beyond. And, to keep them their toes, they're joined along the way by whole host of familiar foes and secret surprises.

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Kevin Coolidge

Graduation time is upon us, and it's often hard to know what I should get my favorite graduate. Money is always appreciated, but it seems impersonal. What I really want to do is impart wisdom, but wisdom comes from experience and experience comes from bad choices.

I love to get books, but it's too easy to be over serious. Graduation should be fun. I loved Dr, Seuss books growing up, and Oh, the Places You'll Go! came from a graduation speech he gave, and the last book published before his death.

It's a great choice for your high school or college graduate. Life is a balancing act, but there should always be room to be a little silly. If you have some fun along the way, you will be successful. As the good doctor said,"Will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed. (983⁄4% guaranteed.)"

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Stories Julian Tells

Kevin Coolidge

Julian is quick with a lie, and great at telling stories. He can make people believe just about anything, but some stories lead to a lot of trouble, and trouble is just where Julian is heading, especially, once his father finds out.

There’s the story about the catalog cats. Julian and his brother want to plant a garden. His father says he’ll order a catalog. His brother asks, “What’s a catalog?”

“A catalog is where cats come from. It’s a big book full of pictures of hundreds and hundreds of cats…”

Ann Cameron shows us in The Stories Julian Tells and the sequel More Stories Julian Tells just how Julian’s curiosity and imagination can get him in a whole heap of trouble—such as when he convinces his brother to taste a pudding made for their mother.

These books carry a great message for young readers ages 6 to 9. You can be a quick thinker, but not always quick enough to avoid trouble. The underlying message is that though stories are creative. Lies get you into more trouble. A few little words gets Julian into big trouble again and again…

Ann Cameron has worked in publishing and as a teacher. She’s written a number of books about a small boy named Julian and his brother Huey, as well other stories for young readers.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Art of War Klingon Style

“If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.” ― Sun Tzu

The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise attributed to Sun Tzu, a military general, strategist and tactician. It's known as the definitive work of military strategy of its time.

This book is still read today. It's influence has been felt on Eastern and Western military tactics as well as business and legal strategy.

Klingons too have a book of a warrior's code. The Klingon Art of War is Passed down from the time of Kahless, ten precepts have shaped Klingon culture and indoctrinated Klingons in the Way of the Warrior.

With this new translation, people from all walks of life--and all worlds--can harness the ancient Klingon wisdom and learn to embody courage, discipline, and honor.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Demon Trapper's Daughter

Kevin Coolidge

The great thing about working in a bookstore is that I get to read a lot. The downside is that I feel I have to read a lot. I often start a book series so that I can give an informed opinion, but often if the series isn't finished, or if my backlog is too high, I end up leaving a series unfinished.

I don't do this to a series that really catches me. There are lots of good books out there, but a book that keeps me up even after I should turn off the light is not as common as it once was. A recent series that did just this was The Demon Trapper series written by Jana Oliver.

The book was recommended by my friend Jen. She mentioned a Biblio-Fiend. Biblios are about three inches tall, have burnt-mocha skin and peaked ears. They're demons that are into books--into destroying books. It sounded terrible as book lover, but a great premise for a story, and for the web series I'm working on with my friend Bill Robertson.

Jen told me she has read all four books in the series, and suggested I read at least the first one. I thought I should learn a little more about these fiends. I totally got swept up in the story. The protagonist is a strong, spunky female named Riley, who is the daughter of a famous demon trapper.

It's our world, but a little twisted. Demons are real, and have been a menace to society for centuries. The series takes place mostly in Atlanta, and the Big Peach has become a little rotten. Demons have always been a hazard, but the reach of Hell has grown longer.

Riley has to prove herself, not only as the first female to become a demon trapper apprentice. With every Hell-spawn knowing her name, her job just got tougher. Can she prevent a war between Heaven and Hell and still get her homework done?

I was only going to read the first book to get the feel of the series, but the book was so well-written, the premise intriguing, and the back story masterfully blended into the narrative. I kept reading. I don't always read all the books in a series back to back, but I just had to read the next one, and the next one...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Bears Crap in the Woods, Should You?

Kevin Coolidge

I love the woods and the outdoors, and I've done my share of hiking and camping. I'm fine with going several days without a shower. I don't mind the bugs or the bears. I'll pack my garbage out, but I never really get used to going to the bathroom.

I don't mean emptying my bladder. That's easy. The world is an urinal if you are male. I mean dropping my pants and taking a crap. Where do you go? Bowels aren't considered a polite subject for conversation, but it's a common problem.

Kathleen Meyers has written an entertaining and informative book on the subject called, How to Shit in the Woods. She covers everything from digging a hole to what to do when digging a hole isn't an option. She covers the toilet paper dilemma. Hint, it's just as important that you know what NOT to use.

There's even an entire chapter for women. There may not be such a thing as penis envy, but it sure is easier to have one sometimes. Ladies, you do not want to pee in your hiking boots. Learn the secrets of avoiding splatters and showers, and what a FUD is.

My definition of civilization involves indoor plumbing, but I do love the outdoors. It's a lot easier to enjoy with a contingency plan.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Cat Butts

I'm ready to sit down and catch up on my favorite TV shows, and the cat just has to jump up and put her butt in my face. If you have a cat, or maybe if you just know a cat. You know all about the cat butt.

Cat Butts is a mini-kit contains five popular breeds immortalized on die-cut magnets with a bonus hairball piece, too. "The Educational North American Cat Butts Field Guide" rounds out this epic gift opportunity...

Vampires, Rats, and Books...

Kevin Coolidge

I love reading. I read about a topic that interests me, and I have to know more. Yes, books are a gateway drug to more books. Hey, it's cheaper than heroin, and more socially acceptable. Fiction, non-fiction, reading leads to more reading.

I enjoy the visual style and storytelling of the director, Guillermo Del Toro. When I found out he co-wrote a vampire triogy called The Strain, I had to check it out. It's a delightfully creepy tale that's hard to put down. It's hard to do something new with the vampire genre, but it's a thrilling read that kept me interested.

I especially enjoyed the exterminator character. Pest control experts just don't get the chance to be heroes that often. Del Toro is quite the reader himself, and much of his research for the rats came from the book Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants.

Rats, love 'em or hate 'em. Rats are here to stay. The history of rats and mankind are intertwined. In Rats, Robert Sullivan spends a year investigating a rat-infested alley just a few blocks away from Wall Street.

Sullivan gets to knows not just the beast but the city itself. Sullivan is an urban Thoreau. The book is part nature writing, part history of NYC. He takes you deeper into the world of rats than most people would ever go by themselves. New Yorkers have always shared their city with the rat, and the rat isn't going anywhere.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Cat Moms

Kevin Coolidge

This Sunday is Mother's Day. A celebration that honors mothers and mothers in society. It's a great idea to have a special day for mothers. The only reason any of us are here is because of one. It's also important to remember that not all women can be mothers. Well, not of human children.

This Mother's Day don't forget cat moms. If you have a women in your life, you might want to honor her maternal bonds with Cat Women: Female Writers on Their Feline Friends.

From a tale about how rescuing a stray cat ended up saving a friendship to an unapologetic piece by a confirmed — and proud! — crazy cat lady, the essays in Cat Women range from thought-provoking and heartrending to laugh-out-loud funny, all delving into the many ways these often aloof little divas touch our lives.

Unscheduled Stop

Kevin Coolidge

On Memorial Day, 1893, Alfred Thomas took his hunting rifle, walked into the woods near his home in Tyrone, and shot a Bengal tiger. What was a tiger doing in the forest in Central Pennsylvania?

The wreck of the Walter L. Main circus train. The people of Tyrone weren't expecting a visit from the circus. The heavy train and the steep mountain proved to be too much for the brakes and crew of Locomotive No. 1500. On a sharp curve at the foot of the mountain, the train left the tracks.

The Walter L. Main Circus was reduced to splinters and twisted steel. Five people were killed, but more than 125 performers escaped serious injury. More than fifty horses died, and dozens of other animals including tigers, lions, a gorilla, alligators, zebras, kangaroos, and several large snakes escaped crushed cages and fled into the woods of Central Pennsylvania.

The people of Tyrone quickly came to the aid of the circus, and in just nine days, the circus was back on the road. The circus left town, but many of the escaped animals stayed in Tyrone and the surrounding countryside. Today big snakes are often thought to be the offspring of these escaped reptiles.

This event may have been forgotten. There are bigger stories of war, and social change, but the impact on this little town was profound. One circus clown who survived the wreck came back every May to attend services for the victims that was held each year from 1895 to 1958.

Local Tyrone historian Susie O'Brien keeps this true story alive by presenting in local schools, and along with archaeologist Paula Zitzler have written a book called Unscheduled Stop: The Town of Tyrone and the Wreck of the Walter L. Main Circus Train. Available at the Tyrone Area Historical Society, or of course From My Shelf Books.

Just before dawn on May 30, 1893, the Walter L. Main circus train carrying dozens of animals and performers ran off the tracks in an epic crash in central Pennsylvania.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Once Upon a Time...

Kevin Coolidge

Recently, the Williamsport Sun Gazette ran a great article on the World of children's literature and bookstores in our area. One of those bookstores that was the focus of the article was Wellsboro's very own From My Shelf Books and Williamsport's independent bookstore, Otto's.

The article by Nancy Baumgartner highlights the amount of expertise a bookseller utilizes to choose the right book for the child. Of course, you don't work in a bookstore if you aren't passionate about reading, and the good news is that many of the books you've read as a child are still relevant.

Kasey and myself were asked to review some of our favorite children's books. What is a children's book. At what age do you make the distinction? We had a hard time choosing. So we chose both a picture book and a middle reader.

For the younger crowd, Kasey really likes Hondo & Fabian written and illustrated by Peter McCarty geared to ages 2-6. "It's my new favorite picture book for kids. I love the soft, sweetly funny illustrations. It's a deceptively simple story about a dog and cat who are best friend. and what a typical day is like for them.

A favorite of Kasey's for readers from sixth grade on is Gilda Joyce by Jennifer Allison. "I believe this series is a lesser-known treasure. The first book in the series is Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator, introducing us to the unsinkable Gilda, her back story, her family, and her friends. Think a modern day Nancy Drew, with a dash of Harriet the Spy, and a smattering of Encyclopedia Brown.

I chose Big Red because I love the timeless appeal of Jim Kjelgaard's stories. I love the straight forward approach to the relationship between man and nature. His characters are involved in vocations that are closely related to the outdoors and his well-researched insight into these nature involving careers make an excellent resource for young readers ages 9 and up. His books are interesting, entertaining and colorful.

I don't remember a time when I couldn't read. I went to a rural school without a library, but had books at home, as well as weekly visits from the bookmobile. I often read books by Bill Peet and my favorite was Farewell to Shady Glade. I love his illustration style. Bill Peet worked for Disney studios before going on to write and illustrate over 30 books of his own.

In Shady Glade, a raccoon and his friends must leave the glade because bulldozers are coming. They must find another Shady Glade. His animal characters are lifelike and lovable and his storytelling is excellent. Appropriate for ages 5 through 8.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Best of Metallica for Ukulele

Admit it: you've often wished you had your ukulele handy when your favorite Metallica song popped in your head. Now there's no excuse not to bring the uke out and put those strings to the test! This folio features 18 of their best arranged specifically for uke, including: Enter Sandman * Fade to Black * For Whom the Bell Tolls * Master of Puppets * The Memory Remains * Nothing Else Matters * One * Ride the Lightning * Seek & Destroy * The Unforgiven * Until It Sleeps * Welcome Home (Sanitarium) * and more!

The Famous Wellsboro Diner

Kevin Coolidge

I've always loved the Wellsboro Diner. The food is good and served in generous portions. It appears I'm not the only one who appreciates Wellsboro's porcelain jewel. The Wellsboro Diner was recently named one of top ten classic diners.

The diner has been a fixture of Wellsboro since 1939. It's Pennsylvania's only surviving example of a New England barrel roof diner and manufactured by Sterling in 1938, according to Diners of Pennsylvania.

Established in 1939 by Louis Meier and his brother-in-law, Walter Schanaker. The sixty-eight diner was first called Schanaker's. Walter left for New York to open a new diner, and Louis put Wellsboro's diner up for sale.

The diner remained unchanged until 1994 when an adjacent building was converted into a dining room and gift shop. It's now owned by Nelle Rounsaville, who keeps the diner in original peak condition. Check it out, but leave room for desert.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How to live with a HUGE Penis

Is Bigger Really Better?

Here at last is the first self-help book for men with Oversized Male Genitalia (OMG), a genetic birth defect that grows the penis to absurd proportions. Every year, thousands of men are diagnosed with OMG. Sadly, most are banished to the fringes of society, victims of their own freakish length and girth. How to Live with a Huge Penis brings them an inspiring message of tolerance and hope—along with helpful information on

• Unzipping: Coming Out to Your Friends and Family
• Sharing Your Pain: Sexual Intercourse with a Huge Penis
• Big Blessings: Unexpected Advantages of a Huge Penis
• and much, much more

Complete with prayers, poetry, a daily affirmations journal, and thoughtful quotations from leading self-help experts, How to Live with a Huge Penis will inspire men of all shapes and sizes.

Makes a great gift for the man who has everything

Makes a great bachelor party gift

Of course there's always this book. This board book parodies children’s finger puppet books with its bold colors and simple illustrations, but this book is not for children!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Z is for Zamboni

Kevin Coolidge

I don't watch a lot of sports. It's probably because growing up in a rural area. I had the choice of watching the sport on TV, or I had to settle for high school sports. Hockey wasn't an option. I never thought I would enjoy so much.

I had the chance to attend a professional hockey game in Denver Colorado. I won a pair of tickets to see the Avalanche, and invited a friend who had played hockey in college. I got to see my first hat trick, hockey fight and of course the Zamboni.

Frank Zamboni invented the motorized ice-resurfacing machine in 1949. That same machine is still used in ice arenas all over the world. Mr. Zamboni was inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2000 and the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2006.

Z is for Zamboni is a children's ABC book perfect for your future hockey player. Vibrant illustrations bring the action alive. A to Z poems describe the basic elements of the sport making it accessible to even the youngest hockey fans.

One of Wellsboro's local authors, Vicki Locey (V.L. Locey) is a hockey lover, and she's recently been published in a smokin' hot, new romance anthology, featuring hockey players. The collection of short stories is called, "Seduced by the Game", and has some really big names in contemporary romance.

Perhaps, more exciting, this book is being backed by the NHL. Vicky will be at From My Shelf Books in Wellsboro Pennsylvania May 10, 2014 to promote and sign her new book, from noon to 3PM. Fight the good fight, and read...

Vicki's book available at From My Shelf Books. Come by and get it signed!

Tequila Mockingbird

A clever tribute to literature, Tequila Mockingbird is the cocktail book for the literary obsessed. Combining beloved classic novels with witty humor and delicious drink recipes, some of the charming recipes include Vermouth the Bell Tolls, Gin Eyre, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margarita, Bridget Jones’s Daiquiri, and more. Accompanying the 65 cocktail recipes are a list of tools and techniques, a spirits glossary, and a handful of drinking games and bar bites, making this cocktail book both fun and functional. With a special cover designed to look like a classic novel, whimsical illustrations, and a two-color design throughout, Tequila Mockingbird is a one-of-a-kind cocktail book.

Credit Repair for Dummies

Kevin Coolidge

It can’t buy you class, and we all know it can’t buy happiness. Money isn’t everything. Studies show that as long as you can afford to avoid the basic miseries of life*, having lots of cash doesn’t make you that much happier than having very little.** Regardless of how much money you have, you need good credit.

New car, new house, even a new job is going to take good credit. Today’s tight credit standards mean that it takes better and higher credit scores than in the past. The criteria for great credit have grown more selective, and the penalties for bad credit have multiplied.

Bad credit can keep you from getting a job, getting promotions, getting affordable healthcare, getting a mortgage, or even renting an apartment. You must successfully manage your credit if you want to live a successful, satisfying life in today’s United States***

If you are looking to fix damaged credit, improve thin credit, reduce your insurance costs, or recover from credit score hits caused by mortgage foreclosure, you need to read Credit Repair Kit For Dummies by Steve Bucci, BA, MA. Steve is a personal finance expert and a syndicated financial columnist.

If you don’t have formal education in credit or personal finance, this book can help give you the concepts and tools you need so you can apply them to your situation. You might be establishing credit for the first time, or trying to reestablish credit after the loss of a spouse.

If you don’t understand credit, you can’t fix it. The first chapter is about getting you started in repairing your credit. The author discusses how credit works and how to apply that knowledge to get what you want, how to deal with the effects of setbacks from bad credit, and to recover from those setbacks as quickly as possible.

Other chapters build on this information. He’ll show you how to make your credit the best it can be, and keep it that way. If you’ve gotten behind in your payments, you may feel you can’t recover. It can be overwhelming, but you can reverse the cycle.

You’ve heard the ads. “Settle your debt for pennies on the dollar.” Debt settlement is often misunderstood. It may work for you, but only if handled properly. There are usually large fees and you are personally responsible for the actions of any debt settlement company you hire. Make sure to read chapter six to see if this is your best option.

You are going to want to check your credit reports and dispute any inaccuracies or out-of-date information. To rebuild, you need an accurate history, not one full of errors that will hold you back. There are free ways to review them, and you’ll find out everything you need to know about credit reporting.

You have to use credit to build credit. Make those payments on time and in the specified amounts. Every month you do so builds better credit, while your older bad credit counts for less, or drops off your report. If a credit card is difficult to attain, you might want to look into a secured credit card. Chapter 9 has the details.

Be realistic. Assess your situation. Set goals. Plan your spending and saving. Use your credit as part of the plan and you can rebuild your credit. Happiness, good times, and credit are interlinked. Today, it takes good credit to get the things you want. You can get great credit, keep it, and achieve your dreams…

*Starvation, dehydration, predation and Jehovah Witnesses--it’s easier to ignore with a door.

**It is, however, more comfortable to live in a warm house, than a wet sleeping bag, or to fight a cougar for breakfast.

***You could quit the rat race and live off the grid, but that’s another column.

Credit where credit is due? Or cash is king? Email me at and let me know. Miss a past column? Submit your application at past columns and exciting extras available, check it out.

If you'd like to buy this book, why not buy it where you tried it? Simply click on the photo below, or the title, highlighted throughout this post, to purchase the book at From My Shelf Books & Gifts, and to support the writers of this fine blog ;) We thank you!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

Wendy McClure is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder—a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places she’s never been to, yet somehow knows by heart. She traces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family— looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota. She immerses herself in all things Little House—exploring the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura’s hometowns. Whether she’s churning butter in her apartment or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure is always in pursuit of “the Laura experience.” The result is an incredibly funny first-person account of obsessive reading, and a story about what happens when we reconnect with our childhood touchstones—and find that our old love has only deepened.