Although Prohibition might seem like an unfathomable law in this century, there are still plenty of modern-day backwoods distillers who find pleasure in creating their own throat-burning moonshine. Author Max Watman was so intrigued by the sting of “white lightning” after sipping a friend’s concoction that he wrote Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw’s Adventures in Moonshine (Simon & Schuster, $15). The book chronicles the historical roots of bootlegging, from the pioneers of the 1700s and bathtub gin-runners of the ’20s to current moonshine enthusiasts. Along the way, he introduces readers to a slew of entertaining booze-lovers and even profiles his own attempt — and eventual success — at making a jar of ’shine.
Some Manhattanites look to the Valley for a weekend retreat, while others decide that the region’s green acres are the place to be full-time. But the transition to a slower pace isn’t always easy. Author Tina Traster recounts her move from the Big Apple up to Woodstock in Burb Appeal: A Collection of Essays About a Hardboiled Urbanite Who Softened Into a Suburbanite ($10). The humorous short stories — which range in title from “I’ll Leave Manhattan in a Body Bag” to “Who Stole My Chicken?” — offer a witty perspective on the excitement, curiosity, and bewilderment many face while shedding their city skin.
Valley resident Daphne Uviller’s latest novel, Hotel No Tell (Random House, $15) follows Zephyr Zuckerman, a street-savvy junior investigator trying to solve a big-city crime while working for the fictional NYC Special Investigations Commission.
Newly single Zuckerman — her boyfriend left after she decided she didn’t want children — goes undercover at the Greenwich Village Hotel, where a hundred grand has gone missing. Before she even has time to fret over her ex-boyfriend, the sassy sleuth finds herself in the middle of a multimillion-dollar scandal. With characters based on people Uviller met while working for the actual New York Department of Investigations, Hotel No Tell — a sequel to the witty mystery Super in the City — offers a fast-paced read, as the heroine rushes to solve the mystery at hand (as well as the one in her own heart).
With the structure of the modern family undergoing nearly constant upheaval, today’s grandparents face challenges that their own grandparents never encountered. Child of My Child: Poems and Stories for Grandparents (Gelles-Cole Literary Enterprises, $14.95) features contributions from 60 writers (10 of whom live in the Valley) that express their thoughts, fears, hopes, and experiences of what it means to be a grandparent in this day and age. The compilation touches upon tough issues that many grandparents are all too familiar with: being thrust back into the role of caregiver; dealing with adult children who are struggling with legal and financial problems; and discovering you are a grandparent years after a child is born.
Cold Spring author Frances Pergamo’s first novel, The Healing (iUniverse, 19.95), tells the encouraging story of a family in crisis and the trials they must endure. When retired FDNY firefighter Mike Donnelly is diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis, his wife Karen assumes the role of caregiver as he deals with the physical and emotional toll the disease takes. At the same time, their fragile teenage daughter begins to fall victim to her own destructive behaviors. As Karen searches for answers to help her cope with the upheaval in her family, she meets a stranger who offers her a life-changing gift. Pergamo aims to highlight the power of true, unselfish love amid all-too-common tragedies.
From the lives of native sons like FDR and naturalist John Burroughs to ice yachting on the Hudson and building the Poughkeepsie railroad bridge, Dutchess County history is rich with stories to tell. In Their Own Words (Dutchess County Historical Society, $15) recounts this history. The book is a compilation of 16 interviews, articles, and first-person narratives by those who experienced these events — and many others — firsthand. Edited by Holly Wahlberg, history buffs and local residents alike should enjoy this collection which provides a new perspective on everything from the early days of Vassar College to the establishment of the La Deliziosa Italian bakery.
When Albany resident Warren Roberts took a bike ride in the heart of his beloved city, he was inspired to learn about its history. The deeper he researched, the more he found out about Albany’s role in the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the construction of the Erie Canal. In his nonfiction tome, A Place in History (SUNY Press, $29.95), Roberts delves into the lives of the men and women who were key figures during these times, and discusses the events which took place between 1775-1825 that saved one revolution, caused another, and shaped the city that we know today.
For the kids:
Cold Spring author Deb Lucke once sneezed so hard she suffered temporary memory loss and forgot her own name. This inspired Sneezenesia (Clarion Books, $16.99), a tale about a young boy named Zack who experiences a similar dilemma. Every time he sneezes, Zack forgets more and more: where he is, who his mom is, his favorite baseball team, and even Christmas. With one big sniff, he regains all of his memories — except one. Lucke’s colorful and comical illustrations — which show Zack’s memory exiting through his nostrils — will delight youngsters from five through eight.
For the kids:
If your pet could talk, what would he say? In Talk, Oscar, Please! (Sterling Children’s Books; $14.95), a young boy practically begs his best pal, an adorable pooch named Oscar, to utter something other than a bark, yip, or growl.
Written by Hopewell Junction resident Karen Kaufman Orloff, with whimsical illustration by Tim Bowers, this title allows three to six year-olds to wonder what it would be like to swap bedtime stories or chat on the phone with their own playful pups.
For the kids:
Penny is a little girl who is prone to hatching big plans (she’s already written her first novel, and put on a puppy fashion show). Penny wants to throw a birthday bash for her grandma, Bunny, but she has no money. How will she raise the funds? By turning Bunny’s attic into a shopping mall, of course! Pretty Penny Sets Up Shop (Random House, $16.99) teaches four to seven year-olds the facts of economic life, taking them through the process of pricing, buying, selling, and — eventually — spending money. First-time author/illustrator Devon Kinch isn’t afraid to poke gentle fun at her feisty heroine (whose index finger automatically points toward the ceiling every time she’s hit with a big idea). But kids are likely to find her exploits both amusing and instructive.
For the kids:
In Nova Ren Suma’s Y.A. paranormal thriller, Imaginary Girls (Dutton Children’s Books; $17.99), a young girl named Chloe discovers the dead body of another girl. Not long after this tragic day, she’s sent away from her family to live in another town. Her older sister Ruby — the girl everyone else wants to be (or be with) — does whatever she can to bring Chloe back home. Chloe finally does return two years later, and learns that the girl she supposedly saw dead is actually alive and well — no one else remembers the events that are still etched so vividly in her mind. What’s more, there are mysterious secrets about Ruby’s involvement in the whole affair. This surreal story should appeal to teens who enjoy an ending with a good twist.