Thursday, April 30, 2009

Genre Reading Group recap

The Genre Reading Group will meet May 26th at 6:30pm to talk about Mark Twain! Read any book written by Twain and come tell us about it!

Tuesday we discussed a nonfiction topic, southern history!  I consulted the U.S. Census Bureau on exactly what was considered to "the south" and the definition was broad.  Maryland was included so that is why you'll see a book on Baltimore among those listed below.  I hope to see you all next month!

Ten Flags in the Wind: the Story of Louisiana by Charles L. Dufour

Washington Burning: How a Frenchman's Vision of Our Nation's Capital Survived Congress, the Founding Fathers, and the Invading British Army by Les Standiford

Driving with the Devil: Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels, and the Birth of NASCAR by Neal Thompson
The reader of this title mentioned that this was the 4th book about this relative time period (very early 20th century) that she had read: Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris, Nicholas & Alexandra by Robert Massie, and Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.  Another title mentioned was a hilarious young adult book by Richard Peck, Here Lies the Librarian, set in rural Indiana around 1904 about a young man trying to operate one of the first auto repair shops in his area while still raising his younger sister to be a proper young lady. 

Lowcountry Hurricanes: Three Centuries of Storms At Sea and Ashore by Walter J. Fraser Jr.
I read this for bookgroup AND as part of my 100+ Reading was the 38th book I've read this year!

Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South by Dan T. Carter
The reader of this title was unable to attend a couple of the last meetings but shared what she did read for those genre: Edith & Woodrow: The Wilson White House by Phyllis Lee Levin and (!!!) Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert Massie.

Charm City: A Walk Through Baltimore by Madison Smartt Bell

Alabama: One Big Front Porch by Kathryn Tucker Windham

Very New Orleans: A Celebrations of History, Culture, and Cajun Country Charm by Diana Hollingsworth Gessler
Several readers had comments about New Orleans in general.  In the French Quarter you can find the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve French Quarter Visitor Center!  They offer a small selection of free guided walking tours.  This led to a comment about Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon series.  She is a U.S. National Park Ranger/amateur sleuth who continually runs into trouble in America's national parks.  Rumor is that Barr's next Anna Pigeon book will be set in New Orleans!  The magazine Southern Accents has a regular City Profile piece and recently featured New Orleans.

At the end of our meeting, when quizzed for some good books in general, Isabel Allende's Daughter of Fortune and Chris Cleave's Little Bee were heartily endorsed!

Happy reading!

mid-year best in mystery!

Booklist magazine has put out a couple of great lists that should be of interest to all of our mystery readers (and listeners!) out there!  

The first list, Top 10 Best Crime Novels, features some great titles, check 'em out!

Cold in Hand by John Harvey

The Dawn Patrol by Don Winslow

Exit Music by Ian Rankin

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

Liars Anonymous by Louise Ure

Mine All Mine by Adam Davies

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith



Amberville by Tim Davys

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

Echoes From the Dead by Johan Theorin

Final Theory by Mark Alpert

Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg

Rules of the Game by Leonard Downie

Sacrifice by S. J. Bolton

Singularity by Kathryn Casey

Takeover by Lisa Black


For all the audiobook fans out there, have a peek at the TOP 10 CRIME NOVEL AUDIOBOOKS!

Blue Heaven by C. J. Box

Exit Music by Ian Rankin

Gas City by Loren D. Estleman

The Genius by Jesse Kellerman

The Ghost War by Alex Berenson

Lady Killer by Lisa Scottoline

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

Swan Peak by James Lee Burke


Have you read or listened to any of these?  What did you think?

Happy reading!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Genre Reading Group meets tonight!

When: 6:30pm
Where: Emmet O'Neal Library Conference Room
What: The Genre Reading Group will be discussing Southern history nonfiction!

Light refreshments will be served.  Have you read a great book lately on southern history?  Stop by the library at 6:30pm and share it with us, plus learn about some great titles from other readers!  New members always welcome!  

See you there!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Dan Brown novel in September!

If you loved Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, get ready!  The Lost Symbol is set to hit bookstands on September 15th of this year with a staggering first print run of 5 million copies.  

That's right...5,000,000 copies right out of the starting gate!

The film version of the book before The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, will arrive in theaters on May 15, 2009.

Happy anticipating!

perfect Spring website!

Do you have a plant in your yard that you can't identify?  Visit Southeastern Flora and search for the plant based on some basic characteristics like color of the flower, type of plant, or leaf arrangement.  

The database currently has over 800 species on file with over 10,000 images to help you in identifying native or naturalized wildflowers, trees, shrubs, vines, and herbaceous plants you may find in the southeastern United States.

Happy gardening!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pulitzer Prizes Announced

Fiction - Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

History - The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed

Poetry - The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin  

Happy reading!

Drama - Ruined by Lynn Nottage

Computers down again

We are working to fix the problem.  If you need to use a public computer, nearby libraries, including the Eastwood and Homewood locations, are not experiencing problems.  Our wireless is still working fine! 

Here's hoping we'll be back online soon!


Computers are back!

Come on back, our public computers are back on line!


Public Computers Down!

Unfortunately, service is down for our public computers right now. The wireless network IS STILL AVAILABLE!!!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

tracking the moon

I just answered a question concerning phases of the moon in 1920 and found something interesting, NASA's impressively named Six Millenium Catalog of Phases of the Moon!  The site lists phases from 2000 BC to 4000 AD!  So, if you need to write a book set in the year 3875 and want to know if there's a full moon that night, click over!

The United States Navy offers a more interactive service, actually giving you an image of what the moon would look like.  The date ranges here are 1800 AD -2100 AD.

("Full Moon" by wsweet321 @ Flickr)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Interesting new online resource

The ARChive of Contemporary Music is a not-for-profit archive, music library and research center located in New York City. The ARChive collects, preserves and provides information on the popular music of all cultures and races throughout the world from 1950 to the present.
The ARC takes research requests by phone, fax and email and has a variety of for-fee services for the contemporary music scholar but you may browse the catalog for free!

"365:20..Lost in Music" by fwumpbungle @Flickr


Tax Day Freebies

GovGab reports that there are several national restaurant chains offering freebies and discount deals to diners for this Tax Day.  Click through to see the offerings, including McCormick & Schmicks, T.G.I.Friday's, P.F. Chang's and more!

On the fun side, Seattle Public Library posted 3 totally imaginative tax haikus for your reading enjoyment, check them out!

"Overwhelmed on Tax Day" by thedailyhamster @Flickr


Hot Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction is a proving to be a very popular genre right now and we are getting tons of requests for suggestions and recommendations!  Luckily for us, Booklist has put out a Top 10 list of Historical Fiction for the first quarter of 2009, check it out!

The Black Tower by Louis Bayard
This historical mystery is set during the early years of the restoration of the Bourbons to the throne following NapolĂ©on’s exile. In addition to the many fine, quirky character portraits and the visceral depiction of a chaotic France still reeling under the regime change, the author offers a rip-roaring plot.

Drood by Dan Simmons
Simmons offers a stunning re-creation of Dickens’ London and its characters that is almost as good as, well . . . Dickens. A top-notch, genre-bending tour de force, this is where history and horror meet. (I read this one in ARC before it was published and LoVeD iT mightily!)

The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
Rushdie chooses well in writing a historical novel centered on one of the most fascinating rulers and eras in the history of East Asia: Akbar the Great and his Mogul Empire.

Exiles by Ron Hansen
A veteran historical novelist brilliantly, if soberly, weaves a riveting novel based on the factual background to the writing of Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkin’s classic epic poem, “The Wreck of the Deutschland.

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
Celebrated crime novelist Lehane offers his first full-scale historical epic, a detail-rich exploration of America at the end of World War I, a country on the verge of being torn apart by civil and political unrest. (The Bookies will be discussing this book June 9th at 10am, come join the fun!)

Indignation by Philip Roth
The the main character and the setting are plucked from traditional Roth country: a nice Jewish boy, the son of a kosher butcher, living in Newark in the early 1950s. A fast-paced, compassionate, humorous, historically conscious novel.

A Mercy by Toni Morrison
In the late 1600s in colonial America, slavery still exists as a thriving industry that translates into plenty of business for many people. The women associated with Virginia planter Jacob Vaark, who has quickly risen from “ratty orphan” to man of means, speak their piece in this fitting companion to Morrison’s highly regarded Beloved.

Palace Council by Stephen L. Carter
Carter explores evolving perspectives on race, violence, and national ideals through a cast of fascinating characters, drawn from both real life and the author’s earlier novels.

Peace by Richard Bausch
A versatile short story writer and novelist tells one soldier’s story in a World War II novel distilled to its chilling essence, steeped in the wretched absurdity of war and the dream of peace.

The Women by T. C. Boyle
The women who inspired Boyle’s latest fictional improvisation on the lives of historical figures are the lovers and wives of master architect Frank Lloyd Wright. A gorgeous novel of artistic conviction.

If you've read any of these titles, what did you think?  Do they live up to their billing?  If any of them have now captured your interest, let us know what you think of them when you're done!

Happy reading!
(photo credits: "A Place to Read, Write and Be" by kimberlyrenee @Flickr)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Stop by the library this month!

Tonight (Monday April 13th) at 6:30pm in the library's Conference Room, the Great Books Discussion group will be exploring Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.  Read it online!

Tomorrow (Tuesday April 14th) at 10am in the library's Conference Room, the Bookies will be discussing Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America.

Don't forget that Wednesday April 15th is TAX DAY!!!!  The library's Brown Bag Lunch program will begin at 12:30pm in the library's Community Meeting Room!  In honor of National Poetry Month we will watch a film featuring several of our country's recent Poet Laureates including Billy Collins, Ted Kooser, and Robert Hass.  Each will speak about their work and read a selection of poems.

Saturday (April 18th) at 10am in the library's Electronic Classroom, drop by the library and learn how to use the online catalog.  Renew materials, access downloadable audio, reserve books, and more all from any Internet-accessible computer!  Class is limited to 8 participants.

Tuesday (April 21st) at 6:30 pm in the library's Community Meeting Room, the Documentaries After Dark film program will feature a film on the world's crude oil crisis.

Tuesday @April 28th) at 6:30pm in the library's Conference Room, the Genre Reading Group will be discussing Southern History (nonfiction).  Read any book on the history of any southern state in the U.S. and come tell us about it!

Happy reading!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Do you have a teen obssessed with the Twilight books?

If they are currently attending junior high or high school (7-12 grades ONLY!), send them on over to the library on Friday April 10th from 6:30-9 for a movie they'll really love!  We'll watch what the Cullens are up to, eat pizza, and give away prizes!  For more information on library programming for teens, click on over to EOL's Teen Scene!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Genre group recap

We had a great discussion Tuesday night and here are the books we talked about!

Pictures by Robert Daley  
From Booklist
Tony Murano is a lower-echelon tennis pro married to the princess of one of Europe's "little" monarchies who is pregnant with the heir to the throne. Unfortunately, the king doesn't like Tony and constantly reminds him of his commoner status. With his wife in the final stages of the pregnancy, Tony is caught on film in a compromising position with another woman. The photos quickly appear in every scandal rag in Europe, Tony is excised from the family, and his wife is heartbroken. To mitigate her daughter's despair, the queen hires New York's premier detective agency to determine who set the trap for Tony. The firm assigns former NYPD cop Vince Conte to the case. Conte finds the woman in the photos, convinces her to cooperate with his investigation, and then, shockingly, finds himself falling in love with her.

The Falcon of Palermo by Maria Bordihn **highly recommended** 
From Booklist
This fascinating fictional account of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II is realistically detailed with all the pomp, pageantry, poverty, and pestilence of the Middle Ages. Born into uncertainty and upheaval, Frederick, the son of Henry Hohenstaufen, is orphaned and running wild in the Muslim quarter of Palermo at an early age. Taken under the wise and kindly wing of an archbishop sent by the pope to recover papal lands that had been stolen in a Sicily overrun by German invaders, Frederick begins the seminal tutelage that sets him on his remarkable journey toward greatness. Amazingly sympathetic to Arabic mores and culture, Frederick blends elements of East and West during his reign as king of Sicily. When Frederick is eventually elected Holy Roman Emperor, intrigue, power struggles, political machinations, and religious controversies run rampant as he struggles to maintain and extend control over a difficult empire. Bordihn artfully humanizes her larger than life subject in this remarkably intelligent and entertaining fictional biography.

The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth 
Product Description
The Radetzky March, Joseph Roth's classic saga of the privileged von Trotta family, encompasses the entire social fabric of the Austro-Hungarian Empire just before World War I. The author's greatest achievement, The Radetzky March is an unparalleled portrait of a civilization in decline, and as such, a universal story for our times.

Gone with the Windsors by Laurie Graham **an entertaining social commentary** 
Product Description
When Maybell Brumby, frisky, wealthy, and recently widowed, quits Baltimore and arrives in London, she finds that her old school chum, Bessie Wallis Warfield, is there ahead of her. Impoverished and ambitious as ever, Wallis is on the make. Hampered by plodding husband number two, but armed with terrific bone structure and a few erotic tricks picked up in China, Wallis sets her sights on the most eligible bachelor in the world: the Prince of Wales, heir to the throne. Maybell, with her deep pockets, makes the perfect ally, and her disarming dimness makes her the most delicious chronicler of the scandal that rocked a monarchy and changed the course of history.

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner **a sad, but beautiful story** 
Spanish Princess Juana, 13, watches as her parents, King Fernando and Queen Isabel, unite Spain, vanquish Moors and marry their children off to foreign kingdoms for favorable alliances: Princess Catalina becomes first wife to Henry VIII; Princess Juana, who narrates, is shipped off to marry Philip of Flanders, heir to the Hapsburg Empire. Although Juana balks at leaving Spain for the north and a husband she has never met, their instant chemistry soon turns to love. Years and children later, Juana unexpectedly becomes next in line to the Spanish crown and must carefully navigate every step of the journey from Flanders to Spain, fearful of alienating husband or parents or both. Emotional and political tensions soar as Juana's loyalties are tested to their limits. Disturbing royal secrets and court manipulations wickedly twist this enthralling story, brilliantly told.

The King's Favorite by Susan Scott **highly recommended** 
Product Description
Nell Gwyn has never been a lady, nor does she pretend to be. Blessed with impudent wit and saucy beauty, she swiftly rises from the poverty of Covent Garden to become a sensation in the theater. Still in her teens, she catches the eye of King Charles II, and trades the stage for Whitehall Palace—and the role of royal mistress. Even though she delights the king, she must learn to negotiate the cutthroat royal court, where ambition and lust for power rule the hearts of all around her. For beneath her charm and light-heartedness, Nell has her own ambition—to become no less than the king’s favorite. 

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett **short, fun, and fabulous** 
From Publishers Weekly
Briskly original and subversively funny, this novella sends Queen Elizabeth II into a mobile library van in pursuit of her runaway corgis and into the reflective, observant life of an avid reader. Guided by Norman, a former kitchen boy and enthusiast of gay authors, the queen gradually loses interest in her endless succession of official duties and learns the pleasure of such a common activity. With the dawn of her sensibility... mistaken for the onset of senility, plots are hatched by the prime minister and the queen's staff to dispatch Norman and discourage the queen's preoccupation with books. Ultimately, it is her own growing self-awareness that leads her away from reading and toward writing, with astonishing results. Bennett has fun with the proper behavior and protocol at the palace, and the few instances of mild coarseness seem almost scandalous. There are lessons packed in here, but Bennett doesn't wallop readers with them. It's a fun little book.

The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. by Sandra Gulland **highly recommended**
Product Description
In this first of three books inspired by the life of Josephine Bonaparte, Sandra Gulland has created a novel of immense and magical proportions. We meet Josephine in the exotic and lush Martinico, where an old island woman predicts that one day she will be queen. The journey from the remote village of her birth to the height of European elegance is long, but Josephine's fortune proves to be true. By way of fictionalized diary entries, we traverse her early years as she marries her one true love, bears his children, and is left betrayed, widowed, and penniless. It is Josephine's extraordinary charm, cunning, and will to survive that catapults her to the heart of society, where she meets Napoleon, whose destiny will prove to be irrevocably intertwined with hers.

Our next meeting will be Tuesday April 28th at 6:30pm in the Library's Conference Room and we will be discussing Southern history (this is a nonfiction genre).  There is a selection of books on reserve at the 2nd floor Reference Desk but, as usual, you are welcome to browse for your own at your local library or bookstore!  Contact me (Holley) by phone (205/445-1117) or email ( if you have any questions or would like to know more about the most fun book group in town!  New members are always welcome so bring a friend!

Happy reading!