Monday, February 27, 2012

Leap Year and Bachelors

Men beware! February 29th, according to folk custom, is the day that women can propose to men. I've tried to research this tradition, only to be met with no real facts or documentation. Some sources say that it comes from the 5th century in Ireland. St. Bridget asked St. Patrick for a day that languishing women could ask their men to marry. After bartering, they agreed to once every four years. In the United States, it can be called Sadie Hawkins Day after the Li'l Abner comic strip. The women of Dogpatch in the comic strip could marry any bachelor they could chase and capture. This evolved into Sadie Hawkins Day dances, where women could invite the man of their choice.

Where am I going with this? Proposals. Marriage. Bachelors. Books. In books, who would I try to capture if I was running in the Sadie Hawkins day race?

I asked my library friends who they thought of when I said those words. The overwhelming immediate response was Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.  Mr. Darcy is a wealthy landowner who comes off as a snob, but has a heart of gold given the opportunity. The second response was Captain Wentworth from Persuasion. Wentworth is a loving, faithful man who believes that nothing should stop true love. I should mention that most of my friends are Austen mad like I am.

Other interesting characters such as James Bond, Rhett Butler, Dexter Morgan, Hamish Macbeth, Dirk Pitt, and Stone Barrington made the list. I should point out that these characters aren't necessarily bachelors for life - they have had on-off again relationships or were married at some point.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Garner Files

The Garner Files by James Garner and Jon Winokur
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I never read celebrity biographies, but I couldn’t resist The Garner Files. I remember watching The Rockford Files Friday nights when I was a kid, and to this day whenever I stumble across a rerun on some classic TV station Jim, Rocky and Beth feel like old family friends (I was never crazy about Angel). So it was a pleasant surprise to learn that James Garner had published a memoir. And it was better still to discover that The Garner Files is a wonderful read: witty, engaging, self-effacing, and arm-around-your-shoulder intimate.

Monday, February 20, 2012

What are the odds?

The Odds by Stewart O'Nan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some kind of kismet got a copy of Stewart O’Nan’s The Odds: A Love Story into my hands right before Valentine’s Day last week. The Odds, you see, has been praised as “a Valentine to marriage as it is actually lived in troubled times.” It  tells the tale of Art and Marion Fowler, an unemployed  50-something couple on the brink of bankruptcy and divorce who travel to Niagara Falls on Valentines weekend 2010 to spend a second honeymoon in the bridal suite of the swankiest casino on the Canadian side of the Falls. Oh, and they’ve got a duffel bag full of cash with them, what’s left of their life savings, to wager on the high-stakes roulette wheel. Art is a laid-off insurance actuary, a man whose entire professional life was devoted to assessing and minimizing risk, and he’s got a plan to beat the wheel. One night’s gamble will determine the fate of the Fowlers’ about-to-be foreclosed home, their teetering marriage, the rest of their lives.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What's Love Got To Do With It?

So the romance novels you started reading for Valentine's Day didn't live up to the hype? You need something with a little more intrigue, a bit of excitement, maybe some international espionage? We've got just the thing. These stories do have love, but they serve it up with a twist.

The Company We Keep by Robert and Dayna Baer tells the true-life story of two spies in love. Of course, when they meet they're both married and can't tell each other their real names. (You can't be too careful when you're spying on potential terrorists in the Middle East.) But they don't let that stop them from finding happiness.

This book spends much more time on international politics and the ins and outs of spying than it does on two CIA agents sending love letters. In fact, there's not a single love letter in the book. (Probably best not to leave a trail of evidence.) Due to the strain a career as a CIA operative can put on a family back home, however, the two previously married spies end up single. As they navigate hostile territory together they find that knowing someone's real name isn't always necessary when it comes to love.

If you'd rather have a murder mystery than a spy story, keep reading.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love in the Library

Whether you spend the day dressed in pink and handing out cards or attending an anti-Valentines Day party, February 14 is a day when you're likely to be thinking about love. For those of you who'd like to spend the day with with a feisty heroine and a dashing leading man, Gwinnett County Public Library has more than 10,000 books that fall under the category of "Love Stories." Click here to see the full list, or click below to discover what else the library has to offer in the way of the literature of love.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Romance - good reads for Valentine's Day

I don't read MUCH romance, but I do have some favorite authors in that genre.

The first is Nora Roberts. Yes, I read Nora Roberts. Stop sniggering, my librarian friends. We are all entitled to our guilty pleasures. I particularly like her trilogies. My favorite is her Irish trilogy (Jewels of the Sun, Tears of the Moon, and Heart of the Sea), followed by her Irish Sisters trilogy (Born in Shame, Born in Ice, Born in Fire). These are older titles, but I have them all in paperback, and read them when I want to visit my Irish book friends. These books have characters with strong women that are on the path to find themselves and along the way fall in love. Of course. It is a romance, after all.

The second is Kristan Higgins.  I picked up Catch of the Day at a book sale, and immediately fell in love with her writing style and characters. They are lovable and real. In fact, I had to stop reading them one after the other because I was gorging myself on romance, which can mess with your head a little bit. You might start expecting your honey to act like a romance character or something. Imagine!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Grown Up Kind of Pretty

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ginny Slocumb knows this year is going to be eventful. Every fifteen years, something big happens in Ginny's life. At 15, she became pregnant, at 30, her daughter does the same. At 45, her granddaughter is turning 15 and Ginny is on guard.

Liza, Ginny's daughter, after a long road to overcome her addictions, has suffered a stroke. While removing the willow in the backyard to make way for a pool to help with Liza's recovery,  tiny human bones are found. The question begins: who do the bones belong to and why are they in the yard?

The journey to answer these questions delves deep into the relationships of these women. Relationships to themselves, to each other, and to others. Along the way, the Slocumb's reveal themselves to be strong women in a small southern town that forgets nothing. This tale highlights who they have become while connecting their pasts to the present. While I had trouble reading Backyard Saints, published in 2010, this new book kept my attention all the way through, and by the end, I was reading faster and faster to get to the conclusion.

I recommend Jackson's books for readers who like stories set in the South with complex characters and complicated family history. If you enjoy her books, you may also enjoy Sarah Addison Allen.

View her titles in the catalog here.

View all my reviews

Monday, February 6, 2012

2012 Townsend Prize nominees

The Georgia Center for the Book recently announced the 2012 Townsend Prize for fiction nominees. Named for Jim Townsend, founding editor of Atlanta magazine, the Townsend Prize is awarded biennially to the Georgia writer judged to have produced the best work of fiction or short stories in the previous two years. It will be presented April 26 at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

Most of the nominated books are part of GCPL’s collection and may be found at your local branch. Here are the 2012 Townsend Award nominees:

Perfect Peace, Daniel Black
Reign of Madness, Lynn Cullen
Backseat Saints, Joshilyn Jackson
Remain in Light, Collin Kelley
A Marriage of Convenience, Andrew Plattner
My Bright Midnight, Josh Russell
A Curable Romantic, Joseph Skibell
The Stranger You Seek, Amanda Kyle Williams

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Short Reads for a Short Month

February is the shortest month, so maybe it’s a good time for a few short stories? 420 Characters is a collection of VERY short stories. Each contains 420 characters or less because they were born as a posts on “a famous social networking site.” This collection features stories that are gritty, poignant, dark, and whimsical by turns. Don’t like one of them? You can move on to the next in less than a minute!

Friday, February 3, 2012

I Could Love You

Nicholson, the author, is an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter. He wrote the screenplays for the Shadowlands and Gladiator, which have wildly varying subjects.

This book centers on relationships - between married couples, young singles, and artists and their relationship to their work. I read it in a day (yes, I had the day off) but I found it fascinating.

The book ponders relationship questions such as fidelity, trust, love, lost love, and hope. A friendly warning: this is not a "feel good" book. If you are blissfully in the stages of first love, this may not be for you. Too much reality.  

It is a sequel to "The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life". If you haven't read the first one, don't worry. While it may be useful, it's not necessary to understand the relationships.

View it in the library catalog here.

Read this if you enjoy Joanna Trollope, Nick Hornby, or Jonathan Tropper.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Black History Month Reading Relay

Each Saturday during the month of February members from two organizations, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, as well as some of the youth they mentor, will be reading books at various branches to honor the many contributions and achievements of African Americans, past and present, while promoting literacy in our community.

All ages are welcome.
On Saturday, February 4from 1:00-2:00 pm, the Suwanee, Duluth, and Peachtree Corners branches will host readings.

On Saturday, February 11from 1:00-2:00 pm, the Mountain Park, Norcross, and Elizabeth H. Williams (Snellville) branches will host readings.

On Saturday, February 18from 1:00-2:00 pm, the Centerville, Grayson, and Lawrenceville branches will host readings.

On Saturday, February 25from 1:00-2:00 pm, the Buford, Hamilton Mill, and Lilburn branches will host readings.

For directions to any of our branches please click here and then click the branch you'd like to visit.