Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Agatha Award Nominees Announced!

The Agatha Awards honor the "traditional mystery." That is to say, books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie as well as others. For our purposes, the genre is loosely defined as mysteries that:

  • contain no explicit sex
  • contain no excessive gore or gratuitous violence
  • usually feature an amateur detective
  • take place in a confined setting and contain characters who know one another

2008 Agatha Nominees

Best Novel:
Six Geese A-Slaying by Donna Andrews (Minotaur Books)
A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen (Penguin Group)
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
Buckingham Palace Gardens by Anne Perry (Random House)
I Shall Not Want by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Minotaur Books)

Best First Novel:
Through a Glass, Deadly by Sarah Atwell (Berkley Trade)
The Diva Runs Out of Thyme by Krista Davis (Penguin Group)
Pushing Up Daisies by Rosemary Harris (Minotaur Books)
Death of a Cozy Writer by G.M. Malliet (Midnight Ink)
Paper, Scissors, Death by Joanna Campbell Slan (Midnight Ink)

Best Non-fiction:
African American Mystery Writers: A Historical & Thematic Study by Frankie Y. Bailey (McFarland & Co.)
How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries
 by Kathy Lynn Emerson (Perseverance Press)
Anthony Boucher, A Bibliography by Jeff Marks (McFarland & Co.) 
Edgar Allan Poe: An Illustrated Companion to His Tell-Tale Stories by Dr. Harry Lee Poe (Metro Books)
The Suspicions of Mr. Whitcher by Kate Summerscale (Walker & Co.)

Best Short Story:
"The Night Things Changed" by Dana Cameron, Wolfsbane & Mistletoe (Penguin Group)
"Killing Time" by Jane Cleland, Alfred Hitchock Mystery Magazine - November 2008
"Dangerous Crossing" by Carla Coupe, Chesapeake Crimes 3 (Wildside Press)
"Skull & Cross Examination" by Toni Kelner, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine - February 2008
"A Nice Old Guy" by Nancy Pickard, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine - August 2008

Best Children's/Young Adult:
Into the Dark by Peter Abrahams (Harper Collins)
A Thief in the Theater (A Kit Mystery) by Sarah Masters Buckey (American Girl Publishers)
The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein (Random House Children's Books)
The Great Circus Train Robbery by Nancy Means Wright (Hilliard & Harris)


Genre Reading Group Recap

EOL's genre bookgroup met last evening to discuss presidential biographies and, let me tell you, conversation was brisk!  We all seemed to be of a similar frame of mind and uniformly avoided modern politics.  

We took a close look at Abraham Lincoln and his marriage into the Todd family with Stephen Berry's House of Abraham: Lincoln and the Todds, a Family Divided by War.  

The nation's first single president and the first to marry in the White House, Grover Cleveland broke several molds while in office as well as fathering the first child born to a sitting president in office.  The child, Ruth, was nicknamed Baby Ruth and a clever candy manufacturer thought it just the right name for a new product!  Pickup a copy of H. Paul Jeffers' An Honest President: The Life and Presidencies of Grover Cleveland and learn about this very candid president.

Theodore Rex is the second in a projected 3 part exhaustive biography of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris.  The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt is the first in the series but there was a 22 year gap (1979 to 2001) between the first and second volumes.  You probably have time to get these two read before the third is available :)

I also chose to read about Theodore Roosevelt from The American Presidents series edited by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.  Louis Auchincloss' short biographical essay on Roosevelt was a particular delight to someone who tends to get bogged down in too much dry detail.  I blogged about this book earlier, so click through if you'd like to read more about the book or the series!

Our conversation about Teddy Roosevelt meandered to two other books that one member now has on a to-be-read list:  River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard and A Bully Father: Theodore Roosevelt's Letters to His Children.

Our next meeting will be for the topic of European Monarchy fiction and is set for March 31st at 6:30pm!  Pick up a novel on any European monarch and come tell us about it!  For more information, call or email me!

205-445-1117 or

Friday, February 20, 2009

We have tax forms!

The Emmet O'Neal Library has FEDERAL and STATE tax forms!  Stop by the library and pick yours up today!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Annual Booksale This Weekend!

It's that time again!  The Annual Friends of the Emmet O'Neal Library Booksale kicks off tonight with the Preview Party from 6pm-9pm.  Members of our Friends group get a sneek peek and first pick of the wonderful books on sale!  

Not a member of the Friends of the Emmet O'Neal Library?  No problem!  You can join at the door! Individual memberships are $15 per year and family memberships are $25 per year.  

The Booksale will open to the public on Friday.  

Booksale hours:
Friday February 20th 10am-5pm
Saturday February 21st 10am-5pm
Sunday Febrary 22nd 1pm-4pm

Call 205-445-1101 for more information.  


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The American Presidents

I am officially in love with this series of books after having read only one of them!  The American Presidents series, put together by General Editor Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (preeminent political historian and the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes and a National Humanities Medal), prides itself on striving
"to present the grand panorama of our chief executives in volumes compact enough for the busy reader, lucid enough for the student and authoritative enough for the scholar (from their website)."

A host of notable authors lend their talents to these compact and lucid volumes including (but not limited to!) Louis Auchincloss, Robert Dallek, Elizabeth Drew and Douglas Brinkley.

The Genre Reading Group here at EOL, which I have the awesome priviledge of leading, will be discussing presidential biographies on February 24th at 6:30pm if you would like to join us!  I chose the volume on Theodore Roosevelt written by Louis Auchincloss from the American Presidents series and it is WoNdErFuL!  I will be the first to admit that I was intimidated when the Genre Reading Group selected presidential biographies as a topic but what a delight to find this series.  Each volume is more an essay than a scouring biography.  The website describes it best:
Each volume will be an incisive, meditation-length biographical essay that focuses on the subject's presidency, even as it offers a distillation of his life, character, and career.

I found the information accessible and interesting, artfully arranged and compulsively readable.  Teddy Roosevelt was a man quick to anger and quicker to love.  An avid hunter, TD on safari was an angel of death who racked up considerable kills: nine lions, eight elephants, twenty zebras, seven giraffes, and six buffaloes.  Yet during his tenure as president, TD increased our national forests from 42 million acres to 172 million (much to the disgust and dismay of the timber industry) and created fifty-one national wildlife refuges.  It is this internal opposition that Auchincloss's essay is best at portraying.  He asks the reader, more than once, to consider TD's words and deeds not only within the context of his time but also in ours.  Would the same actions fly in our current time?  Would speeches and opinions such as TD's make him a pariah in the 21st century?

I love a book that takes me outside of my comfort zone and this one, despite being nonfiction, did that as well as some of the best fiction I've read.  I'll say again that I really liked the way that Auchincloss engages the reader, asking, in active language, he/she to consider how TD would fare in today's world or how the reader might fare in TD's.  Auchincloss has piqued my interest in TD's battles with William Howard Taft (unfortunately, not represented in The American President's series!) and Woodrow Wilson (I have requested this volume from another library!).  I don't know that I'll get to them before the Genre Reading Group meets on February 24th, but I'm going to give it my best shot!

p.s. This makes book #17 for my 2009 100+ reading challenge!


Monday, February 16, 2009

"Libraries Made Me Healthier"

In Shakespeare's play, Titus Andronicus, Titus tells his daughter, much abused at the hands of his enemies, "Come, and take choice of all my library/And so beguile thy sorrow."  

For many people, reading is not just a pastime, it is as essential as breathing.  I count myself among this group and it is not a small part, obviously, of what draws me to librarianship as a profession.  Books are important to me, certainly, but it is the library, which I consider to be one of the last true democratic institutions, that continues to draw my fascination thirteen years down the road in my career.  Any frustrations with the ups and downs of public service aside, a person's background, financial situation, gender affiliation, sexual identity, race, creed or any other qualification matters little when you step through our doors.   Article 1 of the American Library Association Code of Ethics states:

We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.

I do my best to adhere to the spirit of this statement every day.  That is how I hope to be viewed by members of my service community and my peers.

That was a rather long introduction to work my away around to a great article published in a recent issue of Woman's Day magazine!  Woman's Day paired up with the American Library Association to collect the stories of people who found new meaning in life through the use of libraries and books.  Annemarie Conte shares the stories of four of those people here.

Visit your local library today!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Oliver Twist!

This Sunday night on PBS. Who doesn't love Dickens? Don't answer that.
Check out the Masterpiece Theater website for more information (and previews!). For fans of the Harry Potter movies, you will find that Fagin is played by the man who portrayed Wormtail!
Pop some popcorn, make some hot chocolate, and settle in :)

a genre all its own

I found the greatest website today!  If you like fiction of a vampire-variety, then waste no time in visiting The Vampire Library!  

The Vampire Library is a resource for readers of vampire fiction, literature and non-fiction books. This site offers lists of vampire books, detailed book information, and links to purchasing information where available. In association with (from their website)

I looked for some of my favorite authors and they were faithfully listed. See what you can find!


President Obama announced that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (which recently passed) will have a website solely dedicated to fiscal responsibility. This means when you visit you will be able to see where tax dollars are being spent. The site is not operable as of today, but check back, and track where your money is going!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bringing Service to You!

Even when the building is closed, the library is always open!


Log on to the Emmet O’Neal Library’s website and click Book News on the left sidebar.  There are a variety of FREE e-newsletters you can signup for that put great book suggestions right in your inbox!  New fiction and nonfiction, classics, romance, business, large print, audiobooks, science fiction and more!  

Don’t have time to participate in one of Emmet O’Neal Library’s three book clubs (check out our bookclubs on The Daily Read's sidebar)?  Book News also offers FREE online book clubs!  Every day, Monday through Friday, you will receive in your email a five-minute selection from a chapter of a book. By the end of the week, you’ll have read 2-3 chapters and you can decide whether or not you’d like to read the entire book. Every Monday you start a new book.

If you like to listen to audiobooks, try the Jefferson County Library Cooperative’s FREE Downloadable Audio service.  All you need to get started is a valid Jefferson County library card!  Log on to the Emmet O’Neal Library’s website and click Downloadable Audio on the left sidebar.  Read the Quick Start Guide before you begin.  The JCLC has recently started a collection of downloadable audiobooks that are compatible with iPods so visit the website for more information!

Want to learn a new language?  Visit the Jefferson County Library Cooperative’s FREE Aurolog Language Learning service!  All you need to get started is a valid Jefferson County library card!  Log on to the Emmet O’Neal Library’s website and click Tell Me More on the left sidebar.

Need to do some research?  Look through the Jefferson County Library Cooperatives databases.  Your Jefferson County library card gives you access to the Alabama Virtual Library as well as databases funded by the Library Cooperative!  Look for literary criticism, business resources, consumer health information, do historical research, and look at the Birmingham Public Library’s digital archives…all for FREE!  Log on to the Emmet O'Neal Library's website and click Databases on the left sidebar.

The online catalog for the public libraries of Jefferson County is available 24/7!  Look for books, audiobooks, DVD’s, music and more from the comfort of your own home.  You can place holds online as well as renew materials you currently have checked out!  Log on to the Emmet O'Neal Library's website and click Online Catalog.

You may pay library fines online as well!  No need to get out in inclement weather, just click and pay!

Take advantage of all the great FREE services available to you with a Jefferson County library card!  Citizens living outside of Jefferson County are still eligible for a card with the addition of a $30 yearly fee.


Job Hunting

The latest numbers on unemployment in the U.S. are sobering.  Many people just starting to look for jobs or recently laid off may not know quite where to start or may be looking for new resources and markets in which to apply.  

Libraries can help!

Check out all the resources the Birmingham Public Library has pulled together and posted on their website for your convenience!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

RA Roundtable Talk

It seems that mysteries and thrillers have been fighting each other for supremacy since the dawn of genre fiction (whenever that happened to have been) and there is still no clear winner because no two people will define them the same.  Rebecca Kennedy’s Blog notes that David Morrell, former president of the International Thriller Writers organization, makes the following divisive description:

"One crucial distinction is that traditional mysteries appeal primarily to the mind and emphasize the logical solution to a puzzle. In contrast, thrillers strive for heightened emotions and emphasize the sensations of what might be called an obstacle race and a scavenger hunt.... [T]he contrast is between emotion and logic, between an urgent pace and a calm one. True, the two genres can merge if the scavenger hunt of a thriller involves solving a puzzle. But in a thriller, the goal of solving the puzzle is to excite the reader as much as to satisfy curiosity." 


Even David Morrell agrees that the differences between the two genres are not always so well delineated.  Libraries don’t always get it right and bookstores don’t always get it right but the reader gets it right every time since they are reading exactly what they like (whichever subtle genre it may be!). J


I’ve delved into this discussion today because the Jefferson County Library Cooperative’s Reader’s Advisory Roundtable met today to talk about these fraternal twins, mysteries and thrillers.  We briefly discussed ways of trying to tell the difference between them but came to no consensus.  All that aside, we talked about some GrEaT books, which I will of course share with you!


The Last Theorem / Arthur Clarke et al (self billed as an “intellectual thriller in the science fiction genre”)

Death Do Us Part / various authors (short stories)

Hardly Knew Her / Laura Lippman (short stories)

In the Woods / Tana French (acclaimed new author, this book won an 2008 Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author, second in the series recently published, The Likeness)

Karen Slaughter’s Grant County series as well as her new series that begins with Triptych and Fractured

Cross Country / James Patterson (in the Alex Cross series)

Margaret Maron’s Deborah Knott series (set in South Carolina)

White Soul / Brandt Dodson

Elise Title’s Natalie Price series

Aimee and David Thurlo’s Ella Clah series

Scarpetta / Patricia Cornwell

Executive Privilege / Phillip Margolin

Heartsick and Sweetheart / Chelsea Cain (female serial killer, graphic violence/crime)

Tess Gerritsen’s Jane Rizzoli & Maura Isles series

Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series

Crisis / Robin Cook


Happy Reading!


New Stamp Price Increase Announced!

That's right, folks!  As of May 11, 2009, stamps will go up 2¢ to 44¢ per stamp...

We'd all better stock up on Forever Stamps (The Forever stamp will always be valid as First–Class postage on standard envelopes weighing one ounce or less, regardless of any subsequent increases in the First–Class rate.) now before the price increase takes effect.  After May 11, 2009, Forever stamps will go up to 44¢ also but any you buy now at 42¢ will be usable after the 2¢ increase.

Happy Mailing!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

AL Dept of Revenue Issues Warning to Taxpayers!

I just received word of a new email scam aimed at on the lookout!

The Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR) has alerted taxpayers of an e-mail scam in which taxpayers are reportedly advised by the ADOR that they are due an Alabama income tax refund. In the e-mail communication, taxpayers are asked to click on a link provided in the e-mail and complete a "refund form."    The ADOR advises that if you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to represent the ADOR and seeking personal or financial information do not reply.  The Alabama Department of Revenue does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail.    Taxpayers are strongly cautioned not to open any suspicious e-mails or open any links.  Links or attachments contained in the suspicious e-mail could contain malicious code that would infect the taxpayers' computers. Do not open any attachments, do not click on any links, and most important of all, do not provide any personal or financial information such as bank account numbers, credit card PIN numbers, or account passwords.     "Taxpayers should always use extreme caution when they receive unsolicited e-mails, from any source, especially those seeking any type of personal or financial information," warned State Revenue Commissioner Tim Russell.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

100+ Reading Challenge

Hello fellow readers!  I've found a couple of gems in my quest to complete the 100+ Reading Challenge over at J. Kaye's Book Blog!  I'm up to 14 books so far this year! 

I can’t say enough good things about Robert Hicks’ The Widow of the South.  I’ve read good reviews and I’ve read some tirades as well but I personally loved this book.  I liked this book just as much as I did Geraldine Brooks’ Year of Wonders and that is possibly my favorite book of all time!  

Hicks’ tale centers on the small town of Franklin, Tennessee and one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War that took place there on a November day in 1864.  He draws history to fictionally fill in the gaps in the life of Carrie McGavock

wife of a Franklin plantation owner.  On that day, 9,000 casualties (Confederate and Union combined) resulted from the day’s battle and her house was requisitioned as a hospital.  I won’t go into detail but Civil War medicine was a nasty business on many levels.  Over half those who died did so from sepsis and disease.  

Over 1700 Confederate dead were hastily buried in a nearby field after the battle.  When the owner of the field decides to return it to cultivation, Carrie and her husband move all the soldiers to their property, creating the only private Confederate cemetery.  So, all of that is the real story.  Hicks’ takes this framework and imagines a life for Mrs. McGavock, her family, and some of the soldiers that you will find in no history book yet it provided me a glimpse into what that time might have been like, unpleasant as it no doubt was.  It is not an easy topic, nor is Mrs. McGavock all that easy to like but she does mature into a character I can respect.  There is a great Author’s Note at the back with some additional information on the Battle of Franklin as well as archival photos of the McGavock plantation, Mrs. McGavock herself, and the cemetery. 


The bookgroup I'm a member of chose The Widow’s War for our February title and I had never heard of it or the author, Sally Gunning, beforehand.  I’m always excited to pickup something new and unheard of…reading wise (and from my perspective obviously, sorry all you Sally Gunning fans out there!).  

What a great, strong female character we have in Lyddie Berry!  She loses her husband to the whaling industry on page 1 so I don’t really feel like I’m giving anything away by telling you that. It’s the aftermath of this that warrants the title.  Lyddie is now at the mercy of man, and I don’t mean that in a mankind sort of way.  I specifically mean that gender.  She cannot own the home she shared with her husband; that has now been deeded to her closest male relative, her son-in-law Nathan Clarke.  He wants to sell, but that would leave her entirely dependent on hi

m and Lyddie’s daughter is clearly not happy with Lyddie in the house.  There are consequences if she stays, consequences if she goes, and consequences if she marries and Lyddie is becoming tired of the consequences of men’s decisions for her and about her.  Can one woman gain independence in such a system?  Why would she even want to?  

The events of this book take place nearly 100 years before the Seneca Falls Convention in New York kicked off the women’s rights movement.  Lyddie Berry’s existence after her husband died is a sobering example of the plight of women before the women's rights movement reached that crisis point.  I am glad to live a life in which I don’t remember a time when women were not allowed to vote or get just about any job they want to have.  There is the pay issue going on now, evidenced by President Obama’s signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act just a few days ago, but we’re always moving forward.  I can hardly wait to hear the discussion surrounding this title when my bookgroup meets next week! 

Happy Reading!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Genre Reading Group Recap

One of our evening book groups, the Genre Reading Group (check out our sidebar items for times and topics and such), met last Tuesday for a great discussion of American Civil War fiction!

Here is the list of books we talked about, made connections to, remembered fondly, etc.:

The March by E.L. Doctorow
In 1864, Union general William Tecumseh Sherman marched his sixty thousand troops through Georgia to the sea, and then up into the Carolinas. The army fought off Confederate forces, demolished cities, and accumulated a borne-along population of freed blacks and white refugees until all that remained was the dangerous transient life of the dispossessed and the triumphant. In E. L. Doctorow’s hands the great march becomes a floating world, a nomadic consciousness, and an unforgettable reading experience with awesome relevance to our own times.

March by Geraldine Brooks
From Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has animated the character of the absent father, March, and crafted a story "filled with the ache of love and marriage and with the power of war upon the mind and heart of one unforgettable man" (Sue Monk Kidd). With "pitch-perfect writing" (USA Today), Brooks follows March as he leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause in the Civil War. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. A lushly written, wholly original tale steeped in the details of another time, March secures Geraldine Brooks’s place as a renowned author of historical fiction. 

Nowhere Else on Earth by Josephine Humphreys
In the summer of 1864, sixteen-year-old Rhoda Strong lives in the Lumbee Indian settlement of Robeson County, North Carolina, which has become a pawn in the bloody struggle between the Union and Confederate armies. The community is besieged by the marauding Union Army as well as the desperate Home Guard who are hell-bent on conscripting the young men into deadly forced labor. Daughter of a Scotsman and his formidable Lumbee wife, Rhoda is fiercely loyal to her family and desperately fears for their safety, but her love for the outlaw hero Henry Berry Lowrie forces her to cast her lot with danger. Her struggle becomes part of the community's in a powerful story of love and survival. Nowhere Else on Earth is a moving saga that magnificently captures a little-known piece of American history. 

The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
From Booklist
*Starred Review* Carrie McGavock witnessed the Battle of Franklin in Tennessee, on a day in 1864 when 9,000 soldiers were slaughtered, the vast majority of them Confederate. Carrie, the central character in this mesmerizing novel, was an actual historical figure. Her farm was close by the scene of the battle, and her house was commandeered as a makeshift hospital. And what Carrie the fictional character does after the battle, the actual Carrie did in real life. When more than 1,000 Confederate bodies buried in a neighboring field were threatened with desecration, she and her husband moved them to their own land and organized the only private Confederate cemetery.

Coal Black Horse by Robert Olmstead
From Booklist
Olmstead has fashioned an absorbing tale that is a cross between two of the most respected and widely read Civil War novels. Combining elements of the rite-of-passage motif employed by Stephen Crane in The Red Badge of Courage with the classic odyssey plot device recycled so effectively by Charles Frazier in Cold Mountain (1997), he has provided a fresh perspective on an old--but never timeworn--subject. When 14-year-old Robey Child is sent by his mother to search for his father, a doomed soldier, he witnesses the horrors of war both on and off the battlefield. Arrayed in a jacket (gray on one side, blue on the other) custom made by his mother and riding a talismanic coal black horse, he embarks upon a life-altering journey that will challenge him physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

The Night Inspector by Frederick Busch
An immensely powerful story, The Night Inspector follows the extraordinary life of William Bartholomew, a maimed veteran of the Civil War, as he returns from the battlefields to New York City, bent on reversing his fortunes. It is there he meets Jessie, a Creole prostitute who engages him in a venture that has its origins in the complexities and despair of the conflict he has left behind. He also befriends a deputy inspector of customs named Herman Melville who, largely forgotten as a writer, is condemned to live in the wake of his vanished literary success and in the turmoil of his fractured family. Delving into the depths of this country's heart and soul, Frederick Busch's stunning novel is a gripping portrait of a nation trying to heal from the ravages of war--and of one man's attempt to recapture a taste for life through the surging currents of his own emotions, ambitions, and shattered conscience. 

Beloved by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison's magnificent Pulitzer Prize-winning novel--first published in 1987--brought the unimaginable experience of slavery into the literature of our time and into our comprehension. Set in post-Civil War Ohio, it is the story of Sethe, an escaped slave who has risked her life in order to wrench herself from a living death; who has lost a husband and buried a child; who has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad. Sethe, who now lives in a small house on the edge of town with her daughter, Denver, her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, and a disturbing, mesmerizing apparition who calls herself Beloved.

The Unvanquished by William Faulkner
The Unvanquished is a fast-action war story, which centers on the experiences of two teenage boys as they grow up in the midst of the Civil War battleground in Mississippi. This novel’s first six chapters were initially published in The Saturday Evening Post as six short stories. The novel exposes the glamour and heroism of war as romantic thinking; the traditional picturesque view of the South is replaced by the harsh realities of a defeated nation.

The Dream of Lee (poem) by Reynolds Price

White Doves at Morning by James Lee Burke
1861. Two young Southerners, friends despite their differing political views and backgrounds, enlist in the 18th Louisiana regiment of the Confederate Army: Robert Perry, wealthy and privileged, and irreverent Willie Burke, the son of Irish immigrants, face the trials of battle and find redemption in the love of a passionate and committed abolitionist, Abigail Downing, and in the courageous struggle of Flower Jamison, a beautiful slave. Filled with a cast of unforgettable characters, and penetrating a landscape of shattering Civil War bloodshed as few novels have, this epic from an American literary giant endows readers with the gift of experiencing the past through new eyes, while its timeless prose style -- at once luminous and brutal -- ensures the legacy of this bloodiest of conflicts will never be lost. 

Landsman by Peter Charles Melman
As fictional characters go, few embody such striking contradictions as cardsharp Elias Abrams: Jewish by birth, he joins the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Indeed, the question of duality runs deep through this novel — not only is Elias a Jew defending the right to oppress a people, but after he helps to commit a horrific crime, he finds himself unexpectedly overtaken by the power of love. Exploring themes of literature, redemption, atonement, and love, this novel delivers a startling dose of moral ambiguity, keen insights into the human condition, and unexpected moments that devastate with their casual simplicity.

Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horowitz
Written with Horwitz's signature blend of humor, history, and hard-nosed journalism, Confederates in the Attic brings alive old battlefields and new ones 'classrooms, courts, country bars' where the past and the present collide, often in explosive ways. Poignant and picaresque, haunting and hilarious, it speaks to anyone who has ever felt drawn to the mythic South and to the dark romance of the Civil War.

A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horowitz
On a chance visit to Plymouth Rock, Tony Horwitz realizes he’s mislaid more than a century of American history, from Columbus’s sail in 1492 to Jamestown’s founding in 16-oh-something. Did nothing happen in between? Determined to find out, he embarks on a journey of rediscovery, following in the footsteps of the many Europeans who preceded the Pilgrims to America. Tracing this legacy with his own epic trek—from Florida’s Fountain of Youth to Plymouth’s sacred Rock, from desert pueblos to subarctic sweat lodges—Tony Horwitz explores the revealing gap between what we enshrine and what we forget. Displaying his trademark talent for humor, narrative, and historical insight, A Voyage Long and Strange allows us to rediscover the New World for ourselves.

(Reviews from Amazon)

Our topic for the February 24th meeting is Presidential Biographies and I have some selections on hold at the 2nd floor Reference Desk for your browsing convenience. As usual, you are welcome to browse the shelves on your own if you wish! If you are interested in joining the Genre Reading Group, call (205/445-1117) or email me (!

Happy Reading!

Links for Librarians and Other Booky Types

I did a presentation last Friday at Homewood Public Library on blogs and promised I would post all my links on our blog, so here they are:

Best Bets for Bloggers

Presented at Public Library Division

Mid-Winter Conference

Homewood Public Library

Katie Moellering

Emmet O’Neal Library


Below is a complete list of the blogs and other websites I mentioned in my section of today’s presentation. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments, and thanks for joining us today!

Top Sites for Blogs:




Gather Your Stats!

Site Meter:

Google Analytics:


What is RSS and why do I need it?

Check out this quick and dirty definition over at Feed 101:

RSS Readers (so you can subscribe to ALL those blogs you want to read!)





* Take a look at all of these sites before you decide which one to use, they offer some pretty neat services above and beyond blog subscription services.

Challenge Blogs:

100+ - You can find this “little” challenge here:

The challenge? Read 100+ books this year, and review them! This is a great way to get out there in the blogosphere and be social! It’s also a really great way to hone those writing skills J

R.I.P. – This one is a favorite of ours at Emmet O’Neal because many of us are big fans of horror writing! R.I.P. stands for Readers Imbibing Peril and is a horror fiction challenge, although the challenge rules have morphed in the past few years. You can read more about this challenge For THE master list of reading challenges check out this blog: The author, a self described “ravenous reader” wanted a place to go in the blogosphere to find all the reading challenges in one spot. It’s quite a list, and a lot of fun. Offering reading challenges is a fun and easy way to broaden your reading list and your blog readers at one time!

Library Blogs You Should Visit:

Public Library Blogs Wiki:

Morton Grove Public Library:

Seattle Public Library – Shelf Talk:

Emmet O’Neal Library -

Gardendale Public Library – The Book Drop:

Homewood Public Library:

Birmingham Public Library:

Librarians Who Blog:

The Shifted Librarian:

Free Range Librarian:

Librarian In Black:

Some Great RA Blogs:

Amazon Daily (it’s not just books!):

Bantam Dell News:

Book Club Girl:

Book Group Buzz:

Knopf Borzoi Reader:

Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist:

Fantasy Book Critic:

Early Word:

Library Journal Pre-Pub Alerts:

Potter Craft News:

Reader’s Advisor Online Blog: