Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Genre Reading Group Recap - Man Booker Prize winners

Remember, next month (July 27th) is our Salon Discussion meeting so bring whatever book you'd like! Also, it's time to vote on genres for the rest of the year so drop by the library and fill out a ballot. I'm happy to send you the email version if you'd prefer, just let me know!

CLICK HERE for more information on the Man Booker Prize.

Last Orders by Graham Swift
Four men gather in a London pub. They have taken it upon themselves to carry out the last orders of Jack Dodds, master butcher, and deliver his ashes to the sea. As they drive towards the fulfillment of their mission, their errand becomes an extraordinary journey into their collective and individual pasts. Braiding these men's voices, and that of Jack's widow, into a choir of sorrow and resentment, passion and regret, Swift creates a testament to a changing England and to enduring mortality.

The Gathering by Anne Enright
A return to an intimate canvas and a moving, evocative portrait of a large Irish family haunted by the past. The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan are gathering in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother, Liam, drowned in the sea. His sister, Veronica, collects the body and keeps the dead man company, guarding the secret she shares with him—something that happened in their grandmother’s house in the winter of 1968. As Enright traces the line of betrayal and redemption through three generations, she shows how memories warp and secrets fester. As in all Enright’s work, her distinctive intelligence twists the world a fraction, and gives it back to us in a new and unforgettable light.

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre
When sixteen kids are shot on high school grounds, everyone looks for someone to blame. Meet Vernon Little, under arrest at the sheriff's office, a teenager wearing nothing but yesterday's underwear and his prized logo sneakers. Moments after the shooter, his best buddy, turns the gun on himself, Vernon is pinned as an accomplice. Out for revenge are the townspeople, the cable news networks, and Deputy Vaine Gurie, a woman whose zeal for the Pritikin diet is eclipsed only by her appetite for barbecued ribs from the Bar-B-Chew Barn. So Vernon does what any red-blooded American teenager would do; he takes off for Mexico. Vernon God Little is a provocatively satirical, riotously funny look at violence, materialism, and the American media.

Troubles by J.G. Farrell
Major Brendan Archer returns from the Great War to claim his fiancee, whose family owns the Majestic Hotel in Kilnalough, Ireland. She is strangely altered, however, along with the hotel, which is in spectacular decline — cats roam its upper stories, the Palm Court is a jungle, and the last guests are little old ladies with nowhere else to go. Outside the formerly grand hotel, the British Empire also totters. There is unrest in the East, and Ireland itself senses the mounting violence of its "troubles."

Other books that cropped up in the discussion were:

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (the 2010 winner)
No character in the canon has been writ larger than Henry VIII, but that didn't stop Hilary Mantel. She strides through centuries, past acres of novels, histories, biographies, and plays--even past Henry himself--confident in the knowledge that to recast history's most mercurial sovereign, it's not the King she needs to see, but one of the King's most mysterious agents. Enter Thomas Cromwell, a self-made man and remarkable polymath who ascends to the King's right hand. Rigorously pragmatic and forward-thinking, Cromwell has little interest in what motivates his Majesty, and although he makes way for Henry's marriage to the infamous Anne Boleyn, it's the future of a free England that he honors above all else and hopes to secure. Mantel plots with a sleight of hand, making full use of her masterful grasp on the facts without weighing down her prose. The opening cast of characters and family trees may give initial pause to some readers, but persevere: the witty, whip-smart lines volleying the action forward may convince you a short stay in the Tower of London might not be so bad... provided you could bring a copy of Wolf Hall along.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (shortlisted, but lost to Wolf Hall)
The Little Stranger follows the strange adventures of Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline-its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Genre Reading Group reminder!

Our upcoming meeting is next Tuesday June 29th at 6:30pm for a discussion of Man Booker Prize winners. We'll also be voting on topics for the rest of our year's reading! I hope to see you there!

Happy reading!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lemon Cake Could Be A Hit This Summer!

Some of you may have been at the Summer Book Preview that Holley and I gave during Brown Bag in May or a few weeks ago in June, but if not, we talked about a new book called The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. The main character is blessed or cursed (depending on how you look at it) with the ability to taste the emotions of the person who has cooked her food!
Imagine that people.
So far this book has appeared on Oprah's Summer Reading list, the USA Today Summer Reading list, and has hit #18 on the New York Times hardcover fiction list.
Look out for it!
Happy Reading

Monday, June 14, 2010


I just finishedThe Devil's Teeth by Susan Casey and I mean I read this book in about three days. It was EXCELLENT! Perfect book for summertime reading as it is all about Great White Sharks!
Having grown up spending summers at the Gulf of Mexico the tale was exotic to me as it is all about a shark research center at the Farrallon Islands which are off the coast of San Francisco. In fact, on a clear da
you should be able to see these islands from the shore. The author becomes fascinated with the islands and the research (and the sharks, obviously!) and eventually "borrows" a yacht in order to spend time close to the shark's winter feeding ground.
This was a really absorbing tale, I couldn't put it down and am now off in search of more non fiction about sharks. A few things really struck me about the story, the main one being the greed and stupidity of your average human. In fact, except for the fact that is was downright scary, some of the stories would have been funny. Case in point - the captain who took a group of pleasure seeking snorkelers to the islands and dropped them in the water. The shark researchers spotted this from their vantage point in the lighthouse and sent an emergency mayday message to get the people OUT of the water. Know why? Because they looked like fat seals in their wet suits and flippers. And sharks in the Farrallon Islands in September ARE HUNGRY. Also? This shark picture was taken off the coast of the Farrallon Islands. See what I'm talking about????
Good stuff!
At Holley's suggestion I am now reading MEG which is a fiction book about an ancient shark (Megalodon) which is stalking a deep sea sub.
Even better stuff!!!!!!!
Also? This is why I swim in the pool at the J. The only scary thing in it is a bug or two.
This brings my 100 book challenge total to 22, I believe.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer Reading Lists All In One Place!

Hiya Friends!
Check out this link to a collected list of Summer Reading lists! You'll find links to everything from Salon to The New York Times - there's even a section for Children's and Teen lists.

Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen

Now I have never read a book by Sarah Dessen before, but Lock and Key will NOT be my last!
The story is about seventeen year old Ruby who's older sister Cora takes her in when her mother abandons her. Understandably, Ruby doesn't want any help from anyone and her transition to life in Cora's upscale neighborhood complete with ritzy private school is anything but smooth. Eventually, though, Ruby begins to thaw and finds friends and family can help her move forward. Ruby even finds romance, but this is a very realistic tale, so the book did not turn into a "happily ever after" type book, which I really appreciated.
I love this book and loved the message. It was not too light and fluffy, nor was it depressing. The characters were interesting and realistic and I felt like I really knew them. Because of references to drug use and the rough side of family life, I would recommend this book to high school students. Also, though I would recommend it to an adult who wanted a good book to read that was not too fluffy.
I actually listened to the audio and the reader was great!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Visit With Gin Phillips!

The library's book group, The Bookies, had a GREAT visit this past Tuesday when Gin Phillips, author of our June book The Well and the Mine came to visit.
Here is a photo of our lovely group - Gin is the cute blonde in the front row.
If you have not read The Well and the Mine yet, PLEASE grab a copy and do so. It's set in Carbon Hill, AL in the 1930s - a coal mining town where residents deal with the harsh realities of work in the mines and low wages. The story begins when a young girl, Tess, witnesses a woman throw a baby into her family's well. I found this story absolutely engrossing and our Bookies did too! If you like Southern Fiction and stories set in Alabama, you will LOVE this one!
Other books that The Bookies said reminded them of The Well and the Mine included Ava's Man by Rick Bragg and Lee Smith's Fair and Tender Ladies.
The Bookies will read Cutting for Stone next month, although the author is not going to be joining us ;)

Documentaries After Dark next Tuesday!

Please make plans to drop by the library next Tuesday evening, June 15th, at 6:30 pm for a documentary film on Ernest Hemingway! Light refreshments are provided! For more information, contact Holley Wesley at 205/445-1117 or

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Do You Look Like The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest?

If so, this contest is for you!

That's right, dear readers, Knopf Doubleday is hosting a Lisbeth Salander look-alilke constest!
What will you win with your fierce face full of attitude?
A gift certificate to IKEA, of course!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bookies Book Group meets with Gin Phillips!

We are delighted to announce that local author Gin Phillips will be joining the Emmet O'Neal Library's day book group, The Bookies, as they discuss her award-winning first novel, The Well and the Mine tomorrow morning at 10am at the library! Don't miss this opportunity to hear from a great local author and to participate in a great book discussion!

Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June is National Audiobook Month!

I just can't stand to be in the car without an audiobook anymore. I have little interest in any of the local radio stations so audiobooks are the way to go! They are perfect for planes, trains, and automobiles!

Drop by the library and check one out today in celebration of National Audiobook Month! We have a collection in the adult, teen, and children's departments! Also, visit our website and click on the link for Downloadable Audio for titles you can listen to on your computer, iPod, or other Mp3 device!

Some of my favorite audiobooks include (but are by no means limited to):

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

The Teacher's Funeral by Richard Peck

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

What are your favorite audiobooks?

Happy listening!