I have been working at McLean & Eakin for nearly 5 years. Initially, I started off as a summer staff member, but since graduating from Grand Valley State University last winter, I was lucky enough to become a year-round employee. I am excited to see our customers faces and have the opportunity to reccomend the perfect book to snuggle up with on a long and snowy night. I enjoy reading a bit of everything from nonfiction to light-hearted novels. However, I must say, if you're looking for a cookbook, I'm your girl.
If one thing is for certain, it is that my love for books has remained from my early childhood to my early adulthood...and I don't see that changing any time soon.
I am fairly certain that The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was my generation's Hunger Games. As far as I was concerned, I was the fifth member of the sisterhood. So, you can imagine my excitement when I realized that Ann Brashares wrote one last installment to the series, The Sisterhood Everlasting. The book picks up about 10 years after the last book and gives the reader a glimpse into the girls' lives now that they are "grown up." Lena pursed her love for art and became an art teacher, Bridget is still a free-spirit, Carmen followed her dream and became a successful actress, and Tibby seems to have fallen off the face of the Earth. I could not put this book down, not unlike the previous three, and can honestly say that it was the perfect end to a series that was so much a part of my adolescence.
Every night growing up, my big sister and I would have a story, or part of a story, read to us before bed. It isn't hard to fathom that a favorite topic of ours was horses. By far one of our favorites was an old copy of my Misty of Chincoteague that belonged to our mother when she was younger. For those of you who do not know the history behind this book, it is a ritual to go to the island of Chincoteague, which is off the coast of Virginia, and corral ferel ponies and use a ferry to follow the swimming horses back to the main land to be broken and sold at auction. Misty is a fictional pony and the book follows her (and her foul in the remaining books of the series) as she makes the journey from Chincoteague to the mainland. This is an enchanting book, and series, that need to be in the hands of any young child interested in horses, and let's be honest....who didn't want a pony growing up?
I could not put this book down, and have reread it at least 3 times since. It is the perfect book to read along-side the pool or beach. This book offers a twist on childhood friendship through the main characters, Darcy and Rachel. Although the idea of infidelity might not sound like an intriguing book topic, the events that surround the taboo subject make the book light-hearted and fun to read.
Let me preface by stating that I am the only McLean & Eakin staff member who read (and enjoyed) 50 Shades of Grey. So, naturally, when Fifty Shades of Chicken came into the store I was curious. Okay, curious is an understatement. I spent at least 10 minutes in awe over this cookbook. At first, it was because behind every picture of a dish there was a well-toned man. However, once I read some of the recipes awe quickly changed to intrigued. I had to purchase this cookbook and test some of the recipes out. The book offers new and the occasional spin on old recipes as well as options to prepare and cook a chicken that I never knew were possible. My favorite dish was the "White Wine-Steamed Chicken Breasts With Sesame Oil and Scallions". I will admit, I was a little apprehensive about steaming my chicken in white wine, but trust me, it is AMAZING. This dish is incredibly flavorful, healthy, and easy to make. While titles of some of the dishes, such as "Dripping Thighs", will turn you fifty shades of red, the recipes will turn you fifty shades of satisfied.
My new favorite cookbook is Michigan's Guide to Local Cooking. There are a plethora of extremely neat things about this book, but I will touch on only a few. The introduction of the book discusses the pros and cons of shopping and using locally grown or raised food and emphasizes the importance of incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet. It then provides the reader with a table of crops that are grown right here in Michigan along with the seasons they are available in. Finally, my favorite part, the recipes offer fresh dishes that look so yummy and are healthy for you as well! My favorite recipe, so far, is the "Egg Lemon Soup". The title scared me a little bit; it conjured images of fried eggs and pits of lemon floating around in a watery broth. Nevertheless, I was curious and had to try it out for myself. This soup is flavorful, light, and delicious! It was the perfect dish to serve on a cold winter's night paired with a loaf of homemade bread. I cannot wait to test out some of the other recipes that require ingredients available in the spring and summer seasons such as the "Cherry Granita" and "Cherry Salsa". This is truly an exquisite cookbook and ode to the beautiful state of Michigan.
While I would call this book the sequel to Something Borrowed, it picks up where that book left off, but in the perspective of the second half of the “dynamic duo”, Darcy. I have to admit that I was NOT a fan of her in the prequel, but after reading this book, it made me hate her a little less.
This is by far my favorite children’s book. Along-side the beautiful illustrations is a very eloquently written story of a little girl going Up North to stay with her grandparents on vacation. It is written from her perspective, so it offers a very accurate insight into the mind of a child. She swims in the lake, eats dinner on the screened in porch with her grandparents, and even goes on an adventure in the woods where she imagines she is in an Indian tribe. This is the perfect book for any child to read while on vacation in Northern Michigan.
As soon as you open the cover, hilarity ensues. This nonfiction gem takes the reader back to Chelsea Handler’s yesteryears and had me literally laughing out loud many, many times. Chelsea writes in a sarcastic tone as she retells stories of her past, at times very crazy, life.
Let me preface this by saying that I am not a historical fiction reader....at all. However, when I read this book (pre movie) I was captivated. I knew next to nothing about the notorious Henry VIII prior to reading The Other Boleyn Girl, besides the fact that he clearly had issues keeping a wife. Along with a brief history lesson, the book is written in a way that makes the reader feel like they are actually in the scenes perhaps as a member of the court, or an ear for either Boleyn girl to vent to. Thanks to this book, I am now intrigued by the Tudor era. Be warned, this is one book you can't put down!
This was the first book that I was able to read all by myself. In hindsight, it might have been because I had it read to me too many times to count and therefore had plenty of opportunities to memorize it. Either way, Eric Carle has a special place in my heart and still remains to be one of my favorite children's author ever. His stories are short enough for children to remain engaged while the book itself is interactive for children to play with while it is being read.
The Velveteen Rabbit holds a special place in my heart. I have a stuffed lamb, Lamby, who I took everywhere and was very loved, not too unlike the Velveteen Rabbit. This story is so relatable to most children and belongs on every child's bookshelf. It is a treasure and is absolutely timeless.
This was the first book I bought at McLean & Eakin. I was 11. Michigan author, Gloria Whelan, tells the story of a young girl, Mary O'Shea and what it was like for her living on Mackinac Island shortly after the war between England and the United States in the summer of 1812. Mary's father joins the army, taking him away from the island and leaving her to take care of their family farm with her sister, Angelique. I am a very visual reader, and whenever I am on Mackinac Island I often wonder what life was like before all of the fudge shops and bicycles. Whelan does an outstanding job painting a canvas for her readers and made the book educational as well as fascinating.
Hello, my name is Kirstyn and I am a cheesaholic. My love for all things cheesy has really gotten out of control...and I blame the "Mac and Cheese Cookbook". Although it appears to be on the small side, don't be deceived. The Mac & Cheese cookbook is full of recipes that I would have never thought of in my wildest dreams...and I would have been stuck with my blue box blues had I not picked it up. Seriously, who would think of making breakfast macaroni and cheese?! The brilliant minds at Homeroom, one of America's favorite mac & cheese restaurants. Yes, there are restaurants whose menus boast copious unique recipes. From the Crab Mac to the Mexican Mac and all of the macs in between, do yourself a favor and indulge in one of the yummiest cookbooks I have seen (and tasted) in years!
I know what you're thinking. How could I ever be so in love with a memoir written by a girl who was abducted from her bedroom at knife-point. I do not have an answer for you. However, I cannot remember a book that I got lost in as much as Elizabeth Smart's "My Story". Don't get me wrong, there are certainly some points in the book that made me cringe and wonder how on earth Elizabeth was able to pen what many of us would think was unimaginable. I think that's what made me fall so in love with this book. Elizabeth is smart and leaves no rock unturned as she recounts the events she was forced to experience and how she survived them. Elizabeth is truly one of my heroes after learning of her strength and courage to remain optimistic in the darkest of times. It may have taken her 10 years to write, but I am so glad that she didn't allow anybody else to tell her story. Elizabeth is truly and inspiration and we could all use even a little bit of her strength and courage.
This cookbook has been staring at me for months. It seemed like every time I walked out from the back, “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook” was calling me like a siren. Once I finally opened up the cover, I knew that I had to own it. From delectable and fluffy pastry to savory and hearty meals, I loved everything about this cookbook. However, it wasn't until recently that I had the opportunity to bake a few recipes. It all started with my grandmother and I going through page by page deciding what we absolutely needed to try first and marking the recipes of importance, which as it turns out, is not an easy task. However, after scouring the pages and recipes very carefully we decided that the Brioche Chocolate Pretzels were number one followed closely by the Gooey Cinnamon Squares. Sometimes the pictures of recipes are completely unrealistic and your tasty treats could never come out looking like the photographs. This is not one of those times. “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook” was seemingly written for those of us who have not attended a pastry school or the Culinary Institute. Thus far, the recipes are delicious, easy to follow, and super pretty, making it very hard not to boast about. Seriously. If you have not looked at this cookbook, you must. It is an absolute gem.
Recently, it seems as though many famous comedians have penned their own book tackling everything from social issues to funny stories of their past. Seriously, though, I'm not kidding. You need to own this book. Once more, you need to listen to it on audiobook. I am a fan of her talk show and for some crazy reason, had never read “Seriously..I'm Kidding” until recently, and I have never been more convinced that she is, in fact, nothing short of an extraordinary person. She leaves nothing alone in the book. She discusses what it was like for her to come out as a gay woman, the importance of screening for colon and breast cancer, and last but not least her life and how there is nothing different from her life than that of anybody else. Ellen connects with the reader, or listener, and makes you feel as though she is speaking only to you..and her book is incredibly motivating and not to mention, laugh out loud. “Seriously...I'm Kidding” is written in a way that allows the reader to pick it up and read chapters at a time rather than insisting that you read the book in one sitting to make sense of it all. And if I haven't convinced you that you must read or listen to this book yet, just imagine listening to Dory from “Finding Nemo” reading aloud to you. How could it be anything short of uplifting and entertaining?
Kelly O'Connor McNees has done it again. Island of Doves is filled with a sense of nostalgia that is perfect for a lazy summer afternoon in Northern Michigan, especially if the reader is familiar with Mackinac Island. Chances are, that if you came into the store asking for a recommendation within the last month, I immediately went to this book and gave you a spiel on how I read Island of Doves in one sitting. I also probably told you that you absolutely must read it if you're at all familiar with the history of Mackinac Island or if you were looking for a good book to transport you from the modern day hustle and bustle back to yesteryear. McNees introduces not one but TWO very strong female characters, Suzanne and Magdelaine, who could not be more different.
Suzanne Frazer has only one person in her life: her husband Edward. Edward is an extremely controlling and abusive man who does not allow Suzanne her own life and always keeps her at arm's length. It is with the help of a Catholic nun that Suzanne plots her escape that lands her on Mackinac Island taking shelter with Magdelaine, a fur trapper with her own haunting history. Once on the island, Suzanne becomes known as 'Ms.Dove' and for once in her life, she is allowed to find herself- something that is easier said than done. The best part of McNees' story was, that although they did not know it at the time, Suzanne and Magdelaine needed each other in order to find out who they truly are and let go of their pasts.
Island of Doves is a perfect story about 'caged birds' and what it takes to become who you truly are and set yourself free.
When I initially looked at Nightingale by Kristen Hannah, I thought two things; 1) Oh no, ANOTHER World War II novel and 2) Holy crap! Kristen Hannah wrote a WWII novel?! Because of those two things, I picked it up thinking I'd give it the old college try, and I am SO glad that I did. Hannah's writing style is not her normal beach reading type, but rather a completely captivating and mysterious type that left me wanting to do nothing but continue reading.
The story focuses on France during the Nazi invasion in the 1940's and two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, who did not have such a great upringing because of the first world war. When Vianne's husband is called to war she is left with their daughter, Sophie, and eventually the strong-willed and extremely independent Isabelle. As to be expected, the sisters go through trial after trial and tribulation after tribulation whilst trying to navigate through the Nazi invasion. The reader experiences everything alongside Vianne and Isabelle from the cold winters to a Nazi commander taking up residence with them.
Kristen Hannah has written an absolute historic and magical gem that I could not peel myself away from. I have read many world war novels and non-fiction works alike, but I have not been as drawn in quite as much as I was to Nightingale
I picked up A Paris Apartment on a whim this summer for a light read not knowing that it was based on real events...well, relatively real events. It is fiction, after all. The story begins as April, an antique appraiser, is sent on a trip to Paris, France to appraise furniture that has been in an unopened apartment for 70 years. Among the items April finds in the apartment, a favorite is a Giovanni Boldini painting of a woman, Madame de Florian. Perhaps even more important, April finds the journals of Madame de Florian and becomes captivated with Madame's illustrious life and the perils of her time, ultimately eliciting April to think about her own life. When she left for Paris, she left behind a cheating husband, and truth be told, a career that was quite stagnant. A Paris Apartment is a beautiful piece of historical fiction and is an absolute gem of a debut novel for Michelle Gable. This book is perfect for anybody looking for a little escape with a lot of historical information.
I've always been intrigued by books with no words. When I was young, the intrigue was disgust. I could not comprehend why or how there could be such a thing as a book with no words. As I grew, so did my appreciation for the artistry and creativity that has to go into these books. Beatriz Martin Vidal recently published a book with no words called Bird and, ironically, there are no words to describe it. The pictures are sequenced to the times of a black bird flying, while a little girl, dressed in white, begins to suit up for what looks like flying an airplane. She puts on a hat, goggles, and finally harnesses on her own wings. While the little girl is changing into her flight suit, the black bird morphs into a little boy. The two meet on a seesaw and as the little boy lands, the little girl takes flight.
The illustrations are absolutely exquisite- perhaps the best I have ever seen visually as well as evocatively. The most genius aspect of this book is that it allows the reader to come up with story after story in countless scenarios of how the little girl earned her wings, how she and the little boy know each other, and what it feels like to soar above the world. Okay, so I lied. There is one line of text on the back cover, "let your imagination fly"...and it truly does with Bird.