Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Genre Reading Group Recap

f you didn’t attend the Genre Reading Group’s science fiction/fantasy meeting last night, then you definitely missed out on some great conversation!  Half of our group was completely new to the genres while the other half had varying levels of experience with both.  We talked about an eclectic mix of alternate history, dystopian fiction, hard-core science fiction, and adventure-filled fantasy.  There was something for everyone! (Reviews taken from Amazon)

Don't miss out next time!  Our next meeting is December 30th at 6:30pm and we will be having a Salon Discussion of our Favorite Books of the Year! Please make plans to join us!  The library will be on Holiday Hours and will close at 6pm but I will be here and I hope you will be too!

The ballot for choosing the next round of genres is now available.  Come by the library to pick up a ballot or send me an email with your name and address and I will get one out to you in the mail.  Choose, but choose wisely...

Without further ado, here is a list of what we talked about:

Ghosts in the Snow by Tamara Siler Jones 
This unique debut thriller combines forensics, fantasy, and edge-of-your-seat suspense like never before. In a world where sorcery is illegal, someone is murdering young women in ways that defy all reason—and all detection. Only one man knows how to track such an untraceable killer…for Dubric Bryerly, head of security at Castle Faldorrah, saving lives has become a matter of saving his sanity. A silent killer is afoot, savagely mutilating servant girls and leaving behind no clues and no witnesses—except the gruesome ghosts of the victims. Ghosts that only Dubric can see.  (READER COMMENTS: feels like historical fiction, gruesome but humorous, this series continues with Threads of Malice and Valley of the Soul

Territory by Emma Bull
Wyatt Earp. Doc Holliday. Ike Clanton.  You think you know the story. You don’t. Tombstone, Arizona in 1881 is the site of one of the richest mineral strikes in American history, where veins of silver run like ley lines under the earth, a network of power that belongs to anyone who knows how to claim and defend it.  Above the ground, power is also about allegiances. A magician can drain his friends' strength to strengthen himself, and can place them between him and danger. The one with the most friends stands to win the territory. Events are building toward the shootout of which you may have heard. But you haven't heard the whole, secret story until you've read Emma Bull's unique take on an American legend, in which absolutely nothing is as it seems... (READER COMMENTS: a good Western tale, but I kept waiting for the magic to happen and it never really did.  I expected more magic and sorcery than actually happened in the book, abrupt ending but a sequel is supposedly in the works)

The Taking by Dean Koontz
A glowing rain begins falling at one a.m. in the San Bernardino Mountains of California, where productive but hardly best-selling novelist Molly Sloan and her ex-priest husband, Neil, live outside a small town. Besides being luminous, the downpour smells strange, Molly thinks, and it brings with it a feeling of oppression. Animals cower from it, as Molly grasps when she sees a pack of coyotes huddling on the porch. They seem to be appealing to her for help, and when she walks out to them, they seem to expect her to lead them. She goes to wake Neil, rescuing him from a nightmare, and to wash--no, scour--her hands where the rain hit them. The torrent continues, taking out the power, but then appliances come on spontaneously, and the hands of clocks run wildly in opposite directions. The Sloan’s conclude they must leave after an interior mirror reflects the house as invaded by ghastly vegetation--but doesn't reflect them at all. Opening sequences come no creepier than this one, and the rest of Koontz's version of the extraterrestrial attack scenario so well lives up to it that the revelation, painstakingly apprehended by Molly, of who the aliens really are, comes as no surprise. Nor do Koontz's authorial insertions about modernity and social degeneracy seem anything but explanatory in the context of this gripping, blood-curdling, thought-provoking parable.  (READER COMMENTS: I snuck away from my family to get in a few more chapters, creepy, atmospheric, I loved it, two other Koontz novels to read are Intensity and Fear Nothing) 

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman
American writer William Goldman's The Princess Bride is the result of a huge labour of love. He fell in love with Morgenstern's 'classic tale of true love and high adventure' when he was ill as a child. In 1973 he produced his abridged version which concentrates on the fantasy and adventure elements of the original, following the fortunes of wonderful characters such as the mighty Fezzik, Prince Humperdinck and Buttercup, the 'beautifulest' lady in the world. This cult book defies category - thriller, fairy tale, adventure, love story - and is by turns scary, funny and magical. Brilliant stuff. (READER COMMENTS: Everyone has seen the movie but no one ever reads the book.  It was very interesting to see what the differences were.  William Goldman wrote the screenplay for the Princess Bride movie and also for the Oscar-winning movies Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men)

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
With his wife dead and buried, and life nearly over at 75, John Perry takes the only logical course of action left him: he joins the army. Now better known as the Colonial Defense Force (CDF), Perry's service-of-choice has extended its reach into interstellar space to pave the way for human colonization of other planets while fending off marauding aliens. The CDF has a trick up its sleeve that makes enlistment especially enticing for seniors: the promise of restoring youth. After bonding with a group of fellow recruits who dub their clique the Old Farts, Perry finds himself in a new body crafted from his original DNA and upgraded for battle, including fast-clotting "smartblood" and a brain-implanted personal computer. All too quickly the Old Farts are separated, and Perry fights for his life on various alien-infested battlegrounds. Scalzi's blending of wry humor and futuristic warfare recalls Joe Haldeman's classic, The Forever War (1974), and strikes the right fan--pleasing chords to probably garner major sf award nominations. (READER COMMENTS: a great series that has romance, humor, and mind-bending discussions of humanity, war, and colonization, highly recommended, readers of the Ender’s Game novels would enjoy this and vice versa, the series continues with The Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony.  There is a standalone novel set in the same universe called Zoe’s Tale) 

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Readers of epic fantasy series are: (1) patient--they are left in suspense between each volume, (2) persistent--they reread or at least review the previous book(s) when a new installment comes out, (3) strong--these 700-page doorstoppers are heavy, and (4) mentally agile--they follow a host of characters through a myriad of subplots. In A Game of Thrones, the first book of a projected six, George R.R. Martin rewards readers with a vividly real world, well-drawn characters, complex but coherent plotting, and beautifully constructed prose, which Locus called "well above the norms of the genre."  Martin's Seven Kingdoms resemble England during the Wars of the Roses, with the Stark and Lannister families standing in for the York’s and Lancaster’s. The story of these two families and their struggle to control the Iron Throne dominates the foreground; in the background is a huge, ancient wall marking the northern border, beyond which barbarians, ice vampires, and direwolves menace the south as years-long winter advances. Abroad, a dragon princess lives among horse nomads and dreams of fiery reconquest. There is much bloodshed, cruelty, and death, but A Game of Thrones is nevertheless compelling; it garnered a Nebula nomination and won the 1996 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel.  (READER COMMENTS: well worth the investment of time, somewhat resembles Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth but with a bit more violence and adult content.  Brave but deceitful knights, beautiful yet lethal women, back-stabbing court intrigue…this book has it all.  The series continues with A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows and the fall 2009-to-be published, A Dance with Dragons) 

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
In this delightful first novel, the opening salvo of a trilogy, Novik seamlessly blends fantasy into the history of the Napoleonic wars. Here be dragons, beasts that can speak and reason, bred for strength and speed and used for aerial support in battle. Each nation has its own breeds, but none are so jealously guarded as the mysterious dragons of China. Veteran Capt. Will Laurence of the British Navy is therefore taken aback after his crew captures an egg from a French ship and it hatches a Chinese dragon, which Laurence names Temeraire. When Temeraire bonds with the captain, the two leave the navy to sign on with His Majesty's sadly understaffed Aerial Corps, taking on the French in sprawling, detailed battles that Novik renders with admirable attention to 19th-century military tactics. Though the dragons they encounter are often more fully fleshed-out than the stereotypical human characters, the author's palpable love for her subject and a story rich with international, interpersonal and internal struggles more than compensate. (READER COMMENTS: I particularly enjoyed Capt. Laurence’s developing relationship with Temeraire and the secret integration of women into the Aerial Corps.  Great historical fiction with a dash of dragon, readers of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey Maturin series should take note of these titles, the series continues with Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, and Victory of Eagles)

Happy Reading!


Monday, November 24, 2008

This week at EOL!

Looking for something to do this week?  Make the economical choice (in most cases, there is NO COST to attend our programs!) and visit your local library (of course, I most strongly recommend EOL!).  Here is what you may look forward to this week:

Tuesday November 25th, 6:30 pm
The Genre Reading Group will meet to discuss the wonders of science fiction and fantasy literature! We love to see new members so please join us in the Library's Conference Room for light refreshments and diverting conversation!  Contact Holley for more information, 205/445-1117 or

Wednesday November 26th, Noon
The Brown Bag Lunch program will start a great BBC mini-series based on a classic Charles Dickens novel.  Today's program will run until 2pm and the mini-series will run through mid-December.  Please bring a sack lunch; drinks and dessert provided.  Contact Katie for more information, 205/445-1118 or

Thursday and Friday November 27th and 28th
The Library will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.  We will reopen Saturday November 29th at 9am.  

Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

National Book Award Winners

The Books for the Holiday's Blog has an excellent rundown of both the NBA winners and the finalists for this year's awards, check it out by clicking here

There are some excellent gift ideas listed there *hint, hint*

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Voyage Long And Strange: The Bookies Re-Cap!

If you don't know the Bookies, you should! The Bookies is our library's own book group. We met recently to discuss Tony Horwitz's non-fiction title A Voyage Long & Strange. We all enjoyed the author's sense of humor but we were split over whether or not we liked the book. Many Bookies felt it was too long and could have used better editing. Others genuinely liked it and did not find it too long.
It was mentioned that Tony Horwitz is the husband of Geraldine Brooks, a fantastic writer in her own right, who has written the following HIGHLY recommended titles:
A Year of Wonders
The People of the Book

Others favorite titles that were mentioned during our discussion (and are related to this title in some way or another) were:
Doris Kearns Goodwin's title Team of Rivals - this title has been ALL OVER the media lately b/c of the current political situation here in the U.S. - is the Obama administration going to be a "team of rivals"?????
Another title - The River of Doubt by Candice Millard about Theodore Roosevelt's exploration of the Amazon basic in South America.
Several other Bookies mentioned the title Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick - this particular title came HIGHLY recommended by your fellow Bookies!
Others said that in reading A Voyage Long & Strange they were reminded of the book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond.
Some other thoughts from our reading of A Voyage Long & Strange - we wished we had a better idea of what motivated these different groups of explorers. The chapters (or encounters) were so brief because there were so many. We were all appalled by the cruelty of the Spaniards, but others pointed out that this was a cruel time. We were viewing their behavior through our own modern bias ...

We discussed our next few meetings and talked about taking a trip to Florence to see the Frank Lloyd Wright home there. Vicki H. and Katie will work on travel arrangements. This would be a day trip and probably later in January or early February. Look for more details at our December meeting!!!!

I also forgot to mention that we will be hosting a Great Books discussion series here at the library. This series will focus on the Great Books Foundation's course of readings. We will follow a set list of readings and meet once a month in the evenings. If you are interested, please join us for the organizational meeting which will be Monday night, December 8th at 6:30 pm here at the library.

Please try to stop by the library on Sat. December 6th from 2-4 pm. My department will be hosting an "Open House" (not that our "house" is really ever closed ....) we will have hot chocolate, cookies and door prizes. In addition, from December 1st-12th, every time you check out a book drop your receipt off at the front desk or upstairs and you will be eligible to win one of 2 really great Holiday Gift Baskets! Holley and I personally stuffed these baskets to groaning with all kinds of goodies - so check out books early and often for a chance to win!

Just a reminder, next month we will meet on December 9th at 10:00 am for our annual Holiday Party. Please bring a dish - ANY KIND! from your favorite cookbook, or just your favorite recipe. Also, please bring the cookbook or recipe with you. I will make copies for everyone so we can take home a little "Bookies" cookbook - you could call it a "cookbookie"

Take care everyone!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Do you remember Life Magazine?

If so, you'll be thrilled today!  Google has announced that the Life Magazine photo archive will be searchable through Googles Image Search feature!  

If you don't remember Life, here are the particulars:
Life was first published in 1883 as a general-interest magazine and for more than a century was the pre-eminent magazine for American photojournalism. It went through several incarnations in the latter half of the 20th century, was rescued from closing several times and eventually ceased publishing in 2006. 

Revisit the past today by looking through the LIFE photo archive!

Happy viewing!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Don't Miss Out!

We'd love to see you at one of our Wednesday Brown Bag Lunch programs!

Tomorrow's Brown Bag program will feature a documentary film on weight issues in our society. What lies behind this epidemic and what can we do, both as individuals and as a society, to change it? We will look at biological barriers and cultural habits that combine to make us who we are. This program will run until 2pm.

Contact Katie M by phone (205-445-1118) or email ( for more information or if you would like to receive the Library's calendar by mail.

Read Happily!

Your Thoughts On Translations?

In reading over Amazon's daily blog, Omnivoracious, I found an excerpt from a review of the new translation of The Canterbury Tales. This translation, by Burton Raffel, is supposed to be a great one, but this reviewer in The Los Angeles Times had an interesting comment:
  • Alexander Theroux on The Canterbury Tales, translated by Burton Raffel: "I commend Raffel for his ambition to get folks to read and understand this complex poem. But the problem is that, in so doing, while giving readers access to the mysteries, he ironically robs those mysteries of their beauty. The genius of this magnificent poem is precisely in its original words.... Translating Chaucer is hazardously compromising at best. Technical words become ordinary. Puns can lose their significance. Rhymes are lost. Colors fade. Substitution can seem like a violation.... Chaucer is the crown, the full flower, of English medieval verse. As Ezra Pound declared in 'ABC of Reading,' 'Anyone who is too lazy to master the comparatively small glossary necessary to understand Chaucer deserves to be shut out from the reading of good books forever.
So what do you think? Is the new translation as valid as the original? If you cannot take the time to read Chaucer in the original, should you be shut out of reading forever? If I cannot read Don Quixote in the original, am I losing the whole crux of the novel? After all, Cervantes was a master of the pun. What are your thoughts?

Monday, November 17, 2008

This CRACKS Me Up!

Voted one of the best book covers of 2008. Do you deny it?
Others are listed here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's That Time of Year Again!

That's right, people, the holidays are approaching and so is 2009! What does that mean for you, dear reader? Best Books of 2008, that's what!
Last week, released their Top 100 Books of 2008 (editor's picks). Take a look here.

Some of my favorites from the list:

#5. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

#6. The Likeness: A Novel by Tana French
I chose this one not because I have read it, but because I just love Tana French. If you have not read the engrossing and fascinating mystery she wrote called In The Woods - READ IT!

#12. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (see my last post!).

#33. A big favorite at the moment at our library is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. Our patrons have loved this!

#38. The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston - just ask Holley about this one!

#39. The Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri - love her. Love love love love love her!

#50. Paper Towns by John Green - because we love him here at EOL.

#54. Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain - again, just ask Holley!

#56. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson - aGaIn - HOLLEY!

#85. Ballistics by Billy Collins - is, I believe, the only book of poetry on the top 100 list. It got rave reviews for being so accessible a collection of poems!

#90. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton - like crumbling English houses and a gothic atmosphere? Then you need to read this one!

#91. Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh - here's the starred review off of from Publisher's Weekly:
Diaspora, myth and a fascinating language mashup propel the Rubik's cube of plots in Ghosh's picaresque epic of the voyage of the Ibis, a ship transporting Indian girmitiyas (coolies) to Mauritius in 1838. The first two-thirds of the book chronicles how the crew and the human cargo come to the vessel, now owned by rising opium merchant Benjamin Burnham. Mulatto second mate Zachary Reid, a 20-year-old of Lord Jim–like innocence, is passing for white and doesn't realize his secret is known to the gomusta (overseer) of the coolies, Baboo Nob Kissin, an educated Falstaffian figure who believes Zachary is the key to realizing his lifelong mission. Among the human cargo, there are three fugitives in disguise, two on the run from a vengeful family and one hoping to escape from Benjamin. Also on board is a formerly high caste raj who was brought down by Benjamin and is now on his way to a penal colony. The cast is marvelous and the plot majestically serpentine, but the real hero is the English language, which has rarely felt so alive and vibrant.

What have been your favorites this year? Were they on my list? Let me know!

Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

On of our favorite bloggers over at Both Eyes Book Blog had this to say about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo which is a sleeper hit of late. The premise? Here's the publisher's summary:

A sensation across Europe—millions of copies sold

A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue.
It’s about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.
It’s about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet’s disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age—and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness to go with it—who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism—and an unexpected connection between themselves.

It’s a contagiously exciting, stunningly intelligent novel about society at its most hidden, and about the intimate lives of a brilliantly realized cast of characters, all of them forced to face the darker aspects of their world and of their own lives.

 Sounds like a great book, I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Attn all Outlander series fans!!!

Visit Diana Gabaladon's website, click on Excerpts, and feast your eyes on sneak peeks of the newest novel in the Outlander series, An Echo in the Bone!

Get started on the series today so you'll be ready when this book is published!

(to be published) An Echo in the Bone

Happy Reading!