Romantic Wednesdays: NW Romance Writers

Posted by Marlene

Following in the footsteps of the Science Fiction Fridays series on NW SF & F writers, today’s Romantic Wednesday will take a look at some NW Romance writers.

Cover of Undertow by Cherry Adair

Cherry Adair moved to the Pacific Northwest from South Africa, so it is fitting that the settings of all of her romantic suspense series span the globe with their pulse-pounding mix of action, adventure, suspense and romance. Two of her more popular series are Cutter Cay, and T-FLAC. The Cutter Cay series, starting with Undertow, is set in the world of high-stakes deep sea salvage and high-seas piracy. T-FLAC has an espionage/military organization at its heart, beginning with The Mercenary. Continue reading “Romantic Wednesdays: NW Romance Writers”

Five novels our librarians suggest for holiday gifts

Three Northwest authors just happen to have written some of the hottest new books of the season, but we’re also including a British novel (with a Northwest connection!) and an Australian novelist for some international flair.

Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie
Alexie, one of Seattle’s most enigmatic and daring writers, combines 15 previous and 15 new stories in this volume. Perfect for the reader who enjoys literary fiction with a sharp wit. Continue reading “Five novels our librarians suggest for holiday gifts”

Crime, Seattle Style: A Reading List.

Some of our favorite mysteries set in the rainy streets of Seattle.

Third and Forever by Lowen ClausenThird & Forever, by Lowen Clausen
Grace Stevens investigates a series of rapes involving college athletes, including one dating the daughter of her former partner, in this final chapter of a gripping trilogy by a former Seattle police officer.

Queer Street, by Curt Colbert.
Classic hardboiled P.I. Jake Rossiter and his gal Friday Miss Jenkins take a walk on the wild side when a female impersonator from the Garden of Allah turns up dead. Continue reading “Crime, Seattle Style: A Reading List.”

Cooking the Northwest: Jess Thomson’s Favorite Local Cookbooks.

Pikr Place Market Recipes by Jess Thomson.Jess Thomson’s latest cookbook, Pike Place Market Recipes: 130 Ways to Take Home Seattle’s Famous Market, was released this week. We asked Thomson to comb through her cookbook library for a selection of her favorite local authors.


If there’s one book I want to carry with me at all times when I shop, it’s Edible Seattle: The Cookbook, edited by Jill Lightner, which just came out in April. It’s a deliciousFind Edible Seattle by Jill Lightner in the Seattle Public Library catalog tome that chronicles what’s available in Seattle farmers’ markets, January to December. With recipes for well known local favorites (think Tavern Law’s Fried Chicken and Barking Frog’s Grand Marnier Prawns), foodie treasures (Kate McDermott’s Fresh Peach Pie), and guides for how to use some of the region’s unique ingredients (razor clam linguine!), it’s all-inclusive—and all delicious. Make sure to get a copy with the book jacket still intact; it folds out into an antique map of the city.

Find Pure Flavor by Kurt Beecher Dammeier in the Seattle Public Library catalog.Pure Flavor: 125 Fresh All-American Recipes from the Pacific Northwest, written by Kurt Beecher Dammeier (of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese) with Laura Holmes Haddad, is really a book of basics. Think of a recipe that a well-rounded cook should have in his or her arsenal—good chicken soup, or beef tenderloin medallions, or meatloaf, or cedar-planked salmon—and it’s there, usually with a uniquely Northwest twist. I especially like the authors’ instructions for cooking live crab.

Find Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen in the Seattle Public Library catalog.Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen: A Food Lover’s Cookbook and Guide is my go-to book when I’m having people over I want to, well, impress. Recipes for slightly higher-end dishes are written in a really approachable way; it doesn’t seem outlandish to make Sake-steamed sockeye salmon or ling cod in grape leaves (with pine nut fig butter, obviously) because each page is stuffed with tips and treasures that I keep in my kitchen long after the dishes are done.

Find Northwest Essentials by Greg Atkinson in the Seattle Public Library catalog.We all use cookbooks differently. Most frequently, in my kitchen, my dinner process sounds like this: “I have 14 pounds of XYZ in my fridge. What on Earth will I do with it?” Enter Greg Atkinson’s The Northwest Essentials Cookbook. Divided by ingredient, it’s a great way to see dinner through the eyes of one particular thing, similar to how Alice Waters organizes her fantastic books Fruit and Vegetables, but broader (which, in my kitchen, makes it more useful). In general, the ingredient lists are short and the recipes are very approachable. I use this book regularly for inspiration.

Find The Grand Central Baking Book by Piper Davis in the Seattle Public Library catalog.Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson have translated the pastries, cookies, and pies of Seattle’s Grand Central Bakery to The Grand Central Baking Book—and although I have shelves full of Julia and Rose and Alice (we’ll stick to first names, out of politeness), it’s this bronze book that seems to explain baking best to me. I like how the steps for each recipe are broken up not by number, but by technique; there are also great detailed photographs that chronicle how to do more labor-intensive projects, like layered birthday cakes and puff pastry.

Jess will be appearing on King5 TV’s New Day Northwest program on May 15th. On May 21st, she will do a joint event with Jill Lightner at Book Larder, and on May 29th will be appearing with with Molly Moon Neitzel and Mark Klebeck at Elliott Bay Book Company. Later in the summer, on July 1st, she will be joined by Brian Jones for a demo and book signing in Pike Place Market’s Pear Delicatessen. (Find more Northwest Cookbooks in the Library’s collection).

Nightstand Reads: Novelist Matt Ruff shares what he’s reading

Local author Matt Ruff’s newest novel, The Mirage, comes out tomorrow. Ruff, whose other novels include Bad Monkeys and Set This House in Order (both winners of Washington State Book Awards), among others, will read on Saturday, February 11, at 1 p.m. at the Ballard Branch. We are excited that he’s our guest blogger for today, telling us about his nightstand reading stack and giving us a peek into what he might write next:

My new novel, The Mirage, is a 9/11 story set in an alternate reality, but I expect a lot of the discussion on my book tour will be about the real-world events that inspired it. To prepare for that, I’m rereading Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower, the best single-volume history I’ve found about the formation of Al Qaeda and the planning of the September 11 attacks. It’s an engaging book, full of surprising anecdotes, like how Osama bin Laden once seriously considered giving up jihad to become a farmer. If only.

Matt Ruff, photo by Michael Hilliard.

Also on my to-reread pile is Between Two Worlds by Zainab Salbi, a woman whose father had the dubious honor of being Saddam Hussein’s pilot. It’s a unique glimpse of life in Saddam’s Iraq. Along the way, Ms. Salbi offers a personal portrait of her journey through Shia Islam, which, theological niceties aside, is not so different from the Christian traditions I grew up with.

Mostly for fun, I’m also revisiting Robert Harris’s Fatherland—one of my favorite alt-history novels—and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle.

And at the same time I’m looking backward, I’m also thinking ahead. I haven’t made a final decision about what my next novel is going to be, but the leading contender is a book called Lovecraft Country, about an African-American travel writer and pulp-fiction geek living in the Jim Crow era. For research and general contemplation, I’ve got myself a copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book. Published annually from 1936 until the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, and other establishments across the U.S. that accepted black customers. Consisting primarily of addresses, it’s not a book you read in the conventional sense, but it definitely tells a story—one that is, unfortunately, not from an alternate reality.

The 1949 edition of The Green Book is available online, courtesy of The Henry Ford organization and the University of Michigan at Dearborn. (A copy is also available for in-library use at the Central Library.) Interested readers should also check out James W. Loewen’s Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, which documents why The Green Book and other guides like it were necessary.

Our thanks to Matt for talking books with us! We’re looking forward to meeting him at the Ballard Branch on Saturday!