Saturday, January 29, 2011

Getting started in the Fantasy Book Group

Six people journeyed out into the wintry night questing to find our little library in the Village and I am quite pleased with the discussions that sprung up in our little group. We discussed George R.R. Martin and his work, primarily A Game of Thrones, the first in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. We will not meet in February as our hardworking Friends of the Emmet O'Neal Library group will take over our meeting spaces to transform the Library for the Annual Book Sale February 25-27th but we will meet monthly starting in March.

March and April's meetings are devoted to talking about the other three books in ASoIaF (A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows) as well as the series as whole. If you've read this series and love it, no doubt you are as excited as we are about the HBO miniseries adaptation debuting in April of this year!

These books are long, complex, and peopled with many different characters, many of whom get to tell the story from their point of view. Previously, I described the story this way:
The novel is set in the land of Westeros which, with its royal intrigues, calculated sexual affairs, and political maneuverings, is reminiscent of medieval Europe at its most brutal. Deadly human forces opposing the crown are gathering in the lands beyond Westeros and sinister creatures with no such human allegiances are held at bay in the frozen reaches of the north only by the Kingdom’s aging Wall and a ragtag band of elderly men, landless younger sons, and criminals. Coming in at over 700 pages, this hefty tome will keep you reading far into the night discovering how holding the throne in Westeros truly requires power, deceit, and lethal cunning!
I can only just begin to describe the richness and complexity of these novels. Mr. Martin has spent, and continues to spend, a great deal of time making the places and people of this imaginary world come to life in a way that grounds it firmly in an achingly familiar historical reality. If you enjoy sagas, historical fiction, magical realism, court intrigue, espionage, romance, adventure, or thrills and chills, this is definitely a series to put on your to-be-read list!

Why not read it sooner rather than later and join us for the discussion?

Here is our tentative meeting schedule for 2011:

March 24
April 28
May 26
June 23
July 21
August 25
September 22
October 27
November 24
December 22

We brainstormed some titles to read for the rest of the year, but we are always on the lookout for more so comment with suggestions
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (I know, I know, it'll be published when it's published, but I'm doing this as a sort of rain dance. I would rather have a great book than a quick one, but're killing us!)

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Swords & Dark Magic edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders

The Cup of the World by John Dickinson

Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan

All of our book groups heartily welcome new members, so please drop by! If you'd like more information, please call (205/445-1117) or email me (!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Genre Reading Group recap - cults & secret societies

Don’t forget that the Library’s new fantasy book group will have its very first meeting on Thursday evening, January 27th at 6:30pm in the Library's Administration area on the second floor. We will be discussing George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, the first in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. This series is coming to HBO in April 2011 so there’s no time like the present to get started on the source material!

Our genre for next month is the debut novel, an author’s first novel length work of fiction. I have a few set aside on the usual shelf at the Reference Desk on the second floor but, as usual, you are welcome to research and select your own title! If you have any questions or would like suggestions, call or email me and I will be thrilled to assist you. We will again be meeting in the second floor administration area for this meeting due to preparations for the annual Friends of the Emmet O'Neal Library Book Sale taking place February 25th-27th! All monetary donations of $25 or more to the Library net the giver an invitation to the private Preview Party on Thursday evening, February 24th!

There was a brief discussion on the films nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture that have been adapted from books.

True Grit (the most current adaptation is still in theaters and stars Jeff Bridges) was adapted from the novel of the same name by Charles Portis.

127 Hours (the adaptation was released in theaters in early January 2011) was adapted from Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston

Our discussion this month was on nonfiction about cults and secret societies, so here’s the list!

What Is Their Secret And What Are They Hiding? Step inside the secret world of the Masons and discover:
How such pivotal American documents as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights reflect Masonic principles and influence. How Freemasons became the world's oldest and largest fraternal organization. If Freemasons rule the world--or want to. Why Masonic symbolism appears on American currency. Why the opposition groups, from conspiracists to the Catholic Church, fear Freemasons. Why Texas has been called "the Masonic Republic." How to recognize Masonic rings, pins, and other symbols. From George Washington to Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, the Freemasons have influenced the United States in many surprising ways. With nearly half the world's six million Freemasons--some twenty-five U.S. presidents and thirty-five Supreme Court justices among them--America has felt the group's impact more deeply and broadly than any other country. Using historical anecdotes and incisive analysis, this timely and insightful portrait separates the myths surrounding Freemasonry from the facts, offering a unique insider's view into what American Freemasonry was, is, and will be tomorrow.

The secrecy and mystery surround freemasonry is a popular topic for novelists and filmmakers. Dan Brown's most recent book, The Lost Symbol, centers on the organization and both of his other books (also adapted for film) in that series touch on it (Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code), as do the National Treasure movies starring Nicholas Cage.

Children of Darkness by Ruth Gordon
Ruth felt lost and rejected: they offered her acceptance, caring, and a way to find God. So she joined "the family" and found everything she'd ever wanted: friends, encouragement, a husband-love. All the COG asked for in return was Ruth's unquestioning devotion and her total submission to "the family" and it's founder, David "Moses" Berg-a man who considered himself God's end-time prophet. But something went wrong. Ruth was asked to do things that were tearing her marriage apart, and suddenly she and her husband were faced with some agonizing questions: Was the COG, through which they had both found God,really a cult? Was the only way they could save their marriage to leave the very group that had brought them together? And, if they left the COG, would they be abandoning God's will for their lives? The true story of a woman's search for love, and how she joined and ultimately escaped from the Children of God.
While a member of Children of God, Ruth married an Alabamian. While I can find no information on where she currently lives, she has written about her time with the cult on the Cult Awareness and Information Library website. This website has a current copyright but I can find little information on their research methods so please do be analytical if you choose to look around.

Escape by Carolyn Jessop
The dramatic first-person account of life inside an ultra-fundamentalist American religious sect, and one woman’s courageous flight to freedom with her eight children. When she was eighteen years old, Carolyn Jessop was coerced into an arranged marriage with a total stranger: a man thirty-two years her senior. Merril Jessop already had three wives. But arranged plural marriages were an integral part of Carolyn’s heritage: She was born into and raised in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), the radical offshoot of the Mormon Church that had settled in small communities along the Arizona-Utah border. Over the next fifteen years, Carolyn had eight children and withstood her husband’s psychological abuse and the watchful eyes of his other wives who were locked in a constant battle for supremacy. Carolyn’s every move was dictated by her husband’s whims. He decided where she lived and how her children would be treated. He controlled the money she earned as a school teacher. He chose when they had sex; Carolyn could only refuse—at her peril. For in the FLDS, a wife’s compliance with her husband determined how much status both she and her children held in the family. Carolyn was miserable for years and wanted out, but she knew that if she tried to leave and got caught, her children would be taken away from her. No woman in the country had ever escaped from the FLDS and managed to get her children out, too. But in 2003, Carolyn chose freedom over fear and fled her home with her eight children. She had $20 to her name. Escape exposes a world tantamount to a prison camp, created by religious fanatics who, in the name of God, deprive their followers the right to make choices, force women to be totally subservient to men, and brainwash children in church-run schools. Against this background, Carolyn Jessop’s flight takes on an extraordinary, inspiring power. Not only did she manage a daring escape from a brutal environment, she became the first woman ever granted full custody of her children in a contested suit involving the FLDS. And in 2006, her reports to the Utah attorney general on church abuses formed a crucial part of the case that led to the arrest of their notorious leader, Warren Jeffs.

The Hell-Fire Clubs scandalized eighteenth-century English society. Rumors of their orgies, recruitment of prostitutes, extensive libraries of erotica, extreme rituals, and initiation ceremonies circulated widely at the time, only to become more sensational as generations passed. This thoroughly researched book sets aside the exaggerated gossip about the secret Hell-Fire Clubs and brings to light the first accurate portrait of their membership (including John Wilkes, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Prince of Wales), beliefs, activities, and the reasons for their proliferation, first in the British Isles and later in America, possibly under the auspices of Benjamin Franklin. Hell-Fire Clubs operated under a variety of titles, but all attracted similar members—mainly upper-class men with abundant leisure and the desire to shock society. The book explores the social and economic context in which the clubs emerged and flourished; their various phases, which first involved violence as an assertion of masculinity, then religious blasphemy, and later sexual indulgence; and the countermovement that eventually suppressed them. Uncovering the facts behind the Hell-Fire legends, this book also opens a window on the rich contradictions of the Enlightenment period.

Monday, January 24, 2011

New book group meets this week!

(The text of this article also appears in the January 2011 issue of Village Living, the community newspaper of Mountain Brook,AL.)

Peruse any recent New York Times bestseller list in the children’s category and you are likely to see many fantasy titles. Harry Potter, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Percy Jackson, Frodo Baggins, Aslan, pretty much anything in the Disney catalog – all of these wildly popular cinema sensations have their roots in literature and myth. Children just seem to gravitate towards stories which transport them to new worlds populated by strange creatures, unknown languages, and alien landscapes and fantasy fiction certainly fits the bill. Unfortunately, it seems as if many adults lose their affection for magical creatures and enchanted swords as the years go by but we would love to have the opportunity to change your mind or perhaps introduce you to this type of fiction for the first time!

The last Thursday of this month, January 27th, the Library is pleased to host its first fantasy fiction meeting at 6:30pm! Our debut selection is George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, the first novel in the terrific A Song of Ice and Fire series. The novel is set in the land of Westeros which, with its royal intrigues, calculated sexual affairs, and political maneuverings, is reminiscent of medieval Europe at its most brutal. Deadly human forces opposing the crown are gathering in the lands beyond Westeros and sinister creatures with no such human allegiances are held at bay in the frozen reaches of the north only by the Kingdom’s aging Wall and a ragtag band of elderly men, landless younger sons, and criminals. Coming in at over 700 pages, this hefty tome will keep you reading far into the night discovering how holding the throne in Westeros truly requires power, deceit, and lethal cunning!

If you would like to start out with something lighter, try Maria V. Snyder’s Poison Study. A young woman wrongly imprisoned is offered a bleak choice: die for her supposed crime or take on the job of poison study. Choosing life as a food taster over immediate death, Yelena soon stumbles upon to a nasty plot to assassinate the Commander and must work to keep herself from being eliminated along with the potential target. Galen Beckett’s The Magicians and Mrs. Quent is an engagingly clever novel ideal for grown up fans of Harry Potter or Jane Austen. This fantasy novel of manners set in Regency London is part historical fiction, part fantasy, part romance, and 100% delightful!

For more information about the new book group or any of the Library’s regularly scheduled programming, contact us at 205/445-1121 or find us on Facebook!

Happy reading!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

excellent audiobooks for adults

via the Editor's Choice Media section of Booklist magazine!

Audio for Adults

The Brutal Telling. By Louise Penny. Read by Ralph Cosham. 2009. 13hr. Blackstone, CS, $72.95 (9781433297083); CD, $105 (9781433297090).

Cosham’s confident, thoughtful reading captures this compelling tale filled with dark secrets, seductive prose, complex characterizations, and a multilayered plot. Cosham’s mesmerizing performance is sure to touch listeners’ intellect, heart, and soul.

The Coral Thief. By Rebecca Stott. Read by Simon Prebble. 2010. 9hr. Tantor, CD, $69.99 (9781400143382).

Prebble transports listeners to a richly detailed post-Napoleonic Paris, teeming with adventure and scientific discovery and debate. His polished reading underscores the dark, dangerous tone, bringing out Stott’s gorgeous imagery and elegant language.

The Eyre Affair. By Jasper Fforde. Read by Susan Duerden. 2010. 12hr. Books on Tape, CD, $90 (9781415966648).

Plucky Special Operative Thursday Next sets off to rescue Jane Eyre and preserve the iconic narrative in this literary romp. Duerden’s matter-of-fact take on the reality-bending events is most delightful.

Fault Lines. By Nancy Huston. Read by Edwina Wren. 2010. 10hr. Bolinda, CD, $87.95 (9781742140926).

Structured as a reverse recitation of four generations of hidden family secrets, this is read by Wren, whose voice fluidly morphs between genders, time shifts, and accents in this emotional saga.

Freedom. By Jonathan Franzen. Read by David Ledoux. 2010. 25hr. Macmillan/AudioGO, CD, $99.95 (9780792773214).

Oprah’s newest book-club pick is a natural for audio. Ledoux does a terrific job with the massive plot, making the best-seller accessible through his steady, consistent reading.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky. By Heidi W. Durrow. Read by Emily Bauer and others. 2010. 7hr. HighBridge, CD, $29.95 (9781598879230).

Centering on Rachel, the daughter of a black serviceman and a Danish mother, this powerful novel is told from multiple viewpoints, aptly recorded by three readers, with Bauer playing Rachel. The narrators eloquently capture the characters’ emotions and subtle maturation.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. By Stieg Larsson. Read by Simon Vance. 2010. 20hr. Books on Tape, CD, $40 (9780307735010).

Vance’s masterful reading of this final title in the acclaimed trilogy highlights the complex plot, breakneck pace, and irresistible characters (good and bad). This dark story of abuse, violence, conspiracy, and corruption is flavored by Vance’s outstanding reading and authentic accents. To appreciate the full impact of his performance, begin with the first title, also available from Books on Tape. (Top of the List winner—Audio.)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. By Rebecca Skloot. Read by Cassandra Campbell and Bahni Turpin. 2010. 12.5hr. Books on Tape, CD, $100 (9780307712523).

Campbell calmly reads this compelling account of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were removed and cultured without her knowledge and used for medical research. Campbell personalizes Lacks’ story, with Turpin’s rich voice portraying Henrietta’s adult daughter. The book is the 2010 Booklist Top of the List Adult Nonfiction title.

Juliet. By Anne Fortier. Read by Cassandra Campbell. 2010. 20hr. Books on Tape, CD, $40 (9780307701930).

Julie Jacobs’ deceased aunt bequeaths her a passport and the key to a safe-deposit box in Italy, prompting Julie to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Campbell seamlessly switches among characters, both contemporary and fourteenth-century Americans and Italians.

Rain Gods. By James Lee Burke. Read by Tom Stechschulte. 2009. 16hr. Recorded Books, CS, $113.75 (9781440727047); CD, $123.75 (9781440727054).

Aging lawman Hackberry Holland is anticipating retirement until a truckload of Thai women is slaughtered in his district. Stechschulte moves smoothly and convincingly between Holland’s gruff been-to-hell-and-back growl and a criminal mastermind’s textured voice.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning. By Nancy Pickard. Read by Tavia Gilbert. 2010. 9hr. Blackstone, CS, $65.95 (9781441747716); CD, $90 (9781441747723).

Most of the action takes place in a rural Kansas town shimmering with secrets, and Gilbert brings emotion and finesse to her performance, superbly differentiating the richly drawn characters as they weave in and out of the unfolding plot.

Secrets of Eden. By Chris Bohjalian. Read by Mark Bramhall and others. 2010. 11.5hr. Books on Tape, CD, $100 (9780307705051).

The murder of an abused wife and the apparent suicide of her husband leave their 15-year-old daughter devastated and the family pastor suffering. Four excellent readers, including Rebecca Lowman as the teen, contribute to this taut mystery.

Wolf Hall. By Hilary Mantel. Read by Simon Slater. 2009. 23hr. Macmillan/AudioGO, CD, $129.95 (9780792771159).

Historical-fiction fans will enjoy this novel told through commoner Thomas Cromwell’s viewpoint. The characters ring true, from British gentry and royalty to Italian and French diplomats, and all read with convincing accents and shifting tones.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

two great online resources!

Access tutorials for downloading digital ebooks and audiobooks from the Hoover Library website by clicking here!

Access job searching resources from the Birmingham Public Library website by clicking here!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

More wintry weather!

Today (Tues, Jan 11th), the Library will be closing at 4pm.

Tomorrow (Wed, Jan 12th), the Library will open late morning at 11am.

Stay warm!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter Weather Advisory

According to the Mountain Brook Police, all roads in Mountain Brook are closed until further notice! The Library will NOT be open unless conditions improve. Check our website or this blog for updated information!

For a complete list of road closures around the state, check ALDOT!

It's a great time to catch up on your reading!

Stay safe and warm!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Genre Reading Group Recap: Salon Discussion

We had some truly varied selections this holiday season and they all made for entertaining discussions! January's topic is nonfiction on world cults. Read any book about any cult or secret society and come tell us about it Tuesday, January 25th at 6:30pm!

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
Pat Conroy, the beloved American storyteller, is also a vora­cious reader. He has for years kept a notebook in which he notes words or phrases, just from a love of language. But read­ing for him is not simply a pleasure to be enjoyed in off-hours or a source of inspiration for his own writing. It would hardly be an exaggeration to claim that reading has saved his life, and if not his life then surely his sanity. In My Reading Life, Conroy revisits a life of passionate reading. He includes wonderful anecdotes from his school days, mov­ing accounts of how reading pulled him through dark times, and even lists of books that particularly influenced him at vari­ous stages of his life, including grammar school, high school, and college. Readers will be enchanted with his ruminations on reading and books, and want to own and share this perfect gift book for the holidays. And, come graduation time, My Reading Life will establish itself as a perennial favorite, as did Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

A funny, raucous, and delightfully dirty history of 1,000 years of bedroom-hopping secrets and scandals of Britain’s royals. Insatiable kings, lecherous queens, kissing cousins, and wanton consorts—history has never been so much fun. Royal unions have always been the stuff of scintillating gossip, from the passionate Plantagenets to Henry VIII’s alarming head count of wives and mistresses, to the Sapphic crushes of Mary and Anne Stuart right on up through the scandal-blighted coupling of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Thrown into loveless, arranged marriages for political and economic gain, many royals were driven to indulge their pleasures outside the marital bed, engaging in delicious flirtations, lurid love letters, and rampant sex with voluptuous and willing partners. This nearly pathological lust made for some of the most titillating scandals in Great Britain’s history. Hardly harmless, these affairs have disrupted dynastic alliances, endangered lives, and most of all, fed the salacious curiosity of the public for centuries. Royal Affairs will satiate that curiosity by bringing this arousing history alive.

Queen Elizabeth II: A Woman Who Is Not Amused by Nicholas Davies
An expert royalty watcher exposes the private lives of Britain's ruling dynasty, detailing Elizabeth's celibacy, Prince Philip's adulterous affairs, and the demise of Charles and Diana's and Andrew and Fergie's marriages.

Once upon a time, in 1930s England, there were two little princesses named Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Their father was the Duke of York, the second son of King George V, and their Uncle David was the future King of England. We all know how the fairy tale ended: When King George died, “Uncle David” became King Edward VIII---who abdicated less than a year later to marry the scandalous Wallis Simpson. Suddenly the little princesses’ father was King. The family moved to Buckingham Palace, and ten-year-old Princess Elizabeth became the heir to the crown she would ultimately wear for over fifty years. The Little Princesses shows us how it all began. In the early thirties, the Duke and Duchess of York were looking for someone to educate their daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, then five- and two-years-old. They already had a nanny---a family retainer who had looked after their mother when she was a child---but it was time to add someone younger and livelier to the household. Enter Marion Crawford, a twenty-four-year-old from Scotland who was promptly dubbed “Crawfie” by the young Elizabeth and who would stay with the family for sixteen years. Beginning at the quiet family home in Piccadilly and ending with the birth of Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in 1948, Crawfie tells how she brought the princesses up to be “Royal,” while attempting to show them a bit of the ordinary world of underground trains, Girl Guides, and swimming lessons. The Little Princesses was first published in 1950 to a furor we cannot imagine today. It has been called the original “nanny diaries” because it was the first account of life with the Royals ever published. Although hers was a touching account of the childhood of the Queen and Princess Margaret, Crawfie was demonized by the press. The Queen Mother, who had been a great friend and who had, Crawfie maintained, given her permission to write the account, never spoke to her again. Reading The Little Princesses now, with a poignant new introduction by BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond, offers fascinating insights into the changing lives and times of Britain's royal family.

From one of England's most celebrated writers, the author of the award-winning The History Boys, a funny and superbly observed novella about the Queen of England and the subversive power of reading. When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large.

The Queen starring Helen Mirren
Winner of the Academy Award® for Best Actress, Dame Helen Mirren gives a spellbinding performance in THE QUEEN, the provocative story behind one of the most public tragedies of our time — the sudden death of Princess Diana. In the wake of Diana's death, the very private and tradition-bound Queen Elizabeth II (Mirren) finds herself in conflict with the new Prime Minister, the slickly modern and image-conscious Tony Blair. THE QUEEN, also starring Academy Award® Nominee James Cromwell (Best Supporting Actor, BABE, 1995), takes you inside the private chambers of the Royal Family and the British government for a captivating look at a vulnerable human being in her darkest hour, as a nation grieving for its People's Princess waits to see what its leaders will do. Suspenseful, heartfelt and riveting, it's a fascinating story you won’t soon forget.

Evelyn Harbinger sees nothing wrong with a one-night stand. At 149 years old, Eve may look like she bakes oatmeal cookies in the afternoon and dozes in her rocking chair in the evening, but once the gray hair and wrinkles are traded for jet-black tresses and porcelain skin, she can still turn heads as the beautiful girl she once was. Can’t fault a girl for having a little fun, can you? This is all fine and well until Eve meets Justin, who reminds her so much of a former lover that one night is no longer enough. Eve’s coven has always turned a blind eye to her nighttime mischief, but this time they think she’s gone too far—and they certainly don’t hesitate to tell her so. Dodging the warnings of family and friends, Eve must also defend her sister, Helena, when another beldame accuses Helena of killing her own husband sixty years before. As the evidence against Helena begins to pile up, Eve distracts herself by spending more and more nights—and days—romancing Justin as her former self. There are so many peculiar ways in which Justin is like Jonah, her partner behind enemy lines in World War II and the one true love of her life. Experts in espionage, Jonah and Eve advanced the allied cause at great personal sacrifice. Now Eve suspects that her Jonah has returned to her, and despite the disapproval of her coven and the knowledge that love with a mortal man can only end in sorrow, she can’t give him up. But can she prove it’s really him? In this captivating tale of adventure and timeless romance, novelist Camille DeAngelis blends World War II heroics with witchcraft and wit, conjuring a fabulously rich world where beldames and mortal men dare to fall in love.

Irene Gut was just 17 in 1939, when the Germans and Russians devoured her native Poland. Just a girl, really. But a girl who saw evil and chose to defy it.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitement addict." Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever. Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town -- and the family -- Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home. What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms. For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.

"Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did." So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, Jeannette Walls’s no-nonsense, resourceful, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town—riding five hundred miles on her pony, alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car and fly a plane. And, with her husband, Jim, she ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom is Jeannette’s memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle. Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds—against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn’t fit the mold. Rosemary Smith Walls always told Jeannette that she was like her grandmother, and in this true-life novel, Jeannette Walls channels that kindred spirit. Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa or Beryl Markham’s West with the Night. Destined to become a classic, it will transfix readers everywhere.

The show about people who remember every detail of every day of their lives was "Endless Memory" on CBS 60 Minutes. Click here to watch. Thanks Mary!

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
With the same incomparable style and warm, inviting voice that have made her beloved by millions of readers far and wide, New York Times bestselling author Fannie Flagg has written an enchanting Christmas story of faith and hope for all ages that is sure to become a classic. Deep in the southernmost part of Alabama, along the banks of a lazy winding river, lies the sleepy little community known as Lost River, a place that time itself seems to have forgotten. After a startling diagnosis from his doctor, Oswald T. Campbell leaves behind the cold and damp of the oncoming Chicago winter to spend what he believes will be his last Christmas in the warm and welcoming town of Lost River. There he meets the postman who delivers mail by boat, the store owner who nurses a broken heart, the ladies of the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society, who do clandestine good works. And he meets a little redbird named Jack, who is at the center of this tale of a magical Christmas when something so amazing happened that those who witnessed it have never forgotten it. Once you experience the wonder, you too will never forget A Redbird Christmas.

Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell
Ree Dolly's father has skipped bail on charges that he ran a crystal meth lab, and the Dollys will lose their house if he doesn't show up for his next court date. With two young brothers depending on her, 16-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive. Living in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Ree learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But, as an unsettling revelation lurks, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any cost.

Cy Parks is the Electric Michelangelo, an artist of extraordinary gifts whose medium happens to be the pliant, shifting canvas of the human body. Fleeing his mother's legacy -- a consumptives' hotel in a fading English seaside resort -- Cy reinvents himself in the incandescent honky-tonk of Coney Island in its heyday between the two world wars. Amid the carnival decadence of freak shows and roller coasters, enchanters and enigmas, scam artists and marks, Cy will find his muse: an enigmatic circus beauty who surrenders her body to his work, but whose soul tantalizingly eludes him.

Stay by Allie Larkin
Savannah "Van" Leone has been in love with Peter Clarke ever since she literally fell head over heels in front of him on the first day of college. Now, six years later, instead of standing across from him at the altar, Van's standing behind her best friend Janie as maid of honor, trying to mask her heartache and guilt as Janie marries the only man Van's ever loved. Before Van's mother died, she told Van never to let Peter go, but as the couple exchanges vows, Van wonders if her fairy tale ending will ever come true. After the wedding, Van drowns her sorrows in Kool-Aid-vodka cocktails and reruns of Rin Tin Tin, and does what any heartbroken woman in her situation would do: She impulsively buys a German Shepherd over the Internet. The pocket-size puppy Van is expecting turns out to be a clumsy, hundred-pound beast who only responds to commands in Slovak, and Van is at the end of her rope... until she realizes that this quirky giant may be the only living being who will always be loyal to her, no matter what. Van affectionately names her dog Joe, and together, they work to mend the pieces of Van's shattered heart. And it certainly doesn't hurt that Joe's vet is a rugged sweetheart with floppy blond hair and a winning smile. But when the newlyweds return from their honeymoon, Van is forced to decide just how much she's willing to sacrifice in order to have everything she ever wanted, proving that sometimes life needs to get more complicated before it can get better. Warm and witty, poignant and funny, Stay is an unforgettable debut that illuminates the boundlessness of love and marks the arrival of an irresistible new voice.