Monday, December 30, 2013

Guide to Best Books of 2013

Want to know what books critics or readers were raving about this year? Below is a list of links to the best books of 2013.

I'm proud that the Further Reading blog featured several titles on these lists. Scroll through the links and make a list of items you would like to request when our new catalog launches. You can always check Overdrive to see what titles are available for e-books.

New York Times Best 10 Books of 2013

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2013

Goodreads Choice Awards Best Books of 2013

Amazon's Best Books of 2013

NPR Best Books of 2013

2013 National Book Award Winners

Huffington Post Best Books of 2013

Salon's What to Read Awards 2013

Post by Cara

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Spirits for the Season

It's the day after Christmas and there's a whole week of holiday celebrations still to come. You're no wine connoisseur, but you need to bring a bottle to a meal or party. Where can you turn for advice? Why, to the library of course!

My go-to guide is Good, Better, Best Wines: A No-Nonsense Guide to Popular Wines. Published in 2010 it's getting a little long in the tooth, but its philosophy is timeless: "When it comes to wine, your 'wants' are pretty simple: a good wine, at a price you can afford, that's stocked at your local wine shop or supermarket." The wines here all are consistently good, easy-to-find and priced well under $20.

But the Library is closed today, and no new hold requests are being accepted until our migration to the new catalog and customer service software is complete in mid-January. What can you do now? Never fear, Consumer Reports is always available online.

Consumer Reports covers much more than just cars and appliances. Its seasonal food and drink ratings cover everything from hot dogs and stuffing to coffee and wine. For instance, cabernet sauvignons and sauvignon blancs are reviewed in this month's CR and sparkling wines in last January's. Value-priced whites were rated this summer and reds last fall. And some months before that CR rated pinot grigios and rieslings, cabernet sauvignons and chardonnays, and syrahs and zinfandels. If you are looking for wine that you and your guests will enjoy at a price you can afford, CR's advice is hard to beat.

May the new year find you happy, healthy and safe. Cheers!

Click the links above for more information.

Review by Don Beistle

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Videos on Demand

Wouldn't it be great to find something the whole family can watch during your holiday downtime? Better yet, something free and available 24/7? Have we got a deal for you!

Access Video on Demand (AVOD) is a free streaming video service available through the Library's website. AVOD does not require you to create an account or jump through hoops to access its videos. And AVOD's intriguing collection of rare and unusual Christmas videos include holiday treats for just about everyone.

Among AVOD's musical celebrations are Bach's Christmas Oratorio (1983) performed by the Dresden Philharmonic; The Nutcracker (2009) Sir Peter Wright’s legendary production for The Royal Ballet, which has been called the ultimate Nutcracker; The Story of the Carol (1993) with singers, dancers and instrumentalists performing traditional carols, including "The Boar’s Head Carol" in full Tudor glory; and A Victorian Christmas in Song (1989) starring British tenor Dennis O’Neill performing 19th-century carols and Christmas songs.

Holiday dramas include  A Child's Christmas (2008) an animated version of Dylan Thomas' classic A Child's Christmas in Wales; O. Henry's "Gift of the Magi" both as a 20-minute short from 2001 and as a 1978 feature-length TV special with Marie Osmond and James Woods in the lead roles; Lovely, Still (2010) a late-life romance starring Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn; A Matter of Principle (1990) an hour-long Depression-era family drama starring Alan Arkin and Virginia Madsen; and, of course, Dickens' Christmas Carol.

Among the holiday documentaries available: Christmas: Confidential (2006) travels the world (including Atlanta) to meet the moguls of the Christmas industry as well as ordinary people crazy for all things Christmas; Joyeux Noël with Emmanuel Mollois (2010) artist and actress Poh Ling Yeow gets caught up in the Christmas spirit with celebrity chef Emmanuel Mollois; Modern Marvels: Christmas Tech (2006) reveals how Christmas trees, lights, ornaments, and window displays have become cheaper, safer and more spectacular than ever; and Tradiciones Navideñas (1993) presents a traditional posada on the beautiful grounds of an abandoned convent in Mexico's Desierto de los Leones national park (in Spanish).

Finally, amateur and archival footage from the National Archives is sure to put a lump in your throat as it takes you back to Christmas 1949 in West Berlin, 1953 with the Army in Korea1958 in the US, 1960 in Chicago, and 1986 in Lithuania.

To watch any of the these videos, click the links or images above. Or make your way to AVOD through our website (Home Page > Research & Homework > Video & Photographs: Access Video on Demand).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Spoonful of Sugar Makes it All Better!

Have you ever wondered what the job of a Nanny entails?  In A Spoonful of Sugar, Brenda Ashford describes in the joys and sacrifices involved in what she termed her life’s calling.  The first day she held her baby brother David in her arms as a young girl she became entranced with the wonders of new young life! She attended London’s Norland College for several years to acquire all the skills necessary to be a qualified Nanny.  Having experienced an idyllic childhood Nurse Brenda, as she was fondly called by many of her families,  aspired to create the same simple joys in the lives of families including what she deemed most important…enough fun and cuddles!  The book includes recipes, photographs and bits of wisdom such as “appreciate the passage of time”, “take time for fun” and “take time to cheer someone up”.  Nurse Brenda never found love or had children of her own but had not one regret because in her own words “there were too many babies who needed my love” Over her 62 year career she served refugee children during WWII and children of lords ensconced in large estates employing her simple method for nurturing children and families.  Reading this simple and delightful memoir will put a spring in your step and joy in your heart.  

Reviewed by Karen

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Robert Langdon is Back

Inferno begins with Robert Langdon who awakens in a hospital in Florence Italy suffering from a head wound.  He has lost 36 six hours of his life remembering nothing about how he got there, how he was wounded or how a small macabre object got sewn into his jacket!  

It soon becomes clear that divergent groups of people are looking for Robert Langdon and his world erupts into chaos.   On the run with Sienna Brooks, the doctor who treats him, he eventually realizes that the object contains a disturbing video.  The video includes a hooded feature who recites verses from the epic poem the Divine Comedy, specifically the Inferno.   The hooded Dante type figure eludes to a cataclysmic event that will occur that will change the world…forever.  Traveling to uniquely beautiful basilicas, and locations such as Palazzo Vecchio, Bobolie Gardens and the Duomo, Langdon and Brooks find a network of passage ways and ancient secrets and a startling scientific paradigm….one that will improve life on earth…or destroy it.  

This book was a thrill ride that takes the reader on a trip to gorgeous locations in Italy and Greece in search of answers to a quixotic riddle.   Stanzas from the Divine Comedy are interspersed throughout the text adding suspense to the fast moving story.  

Review by Karen 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Yearning for yarn?

The cold weather in Georgia makes this an ideal time to knit or crochet something warm for someone you love.  Fortunately, we have a number of wonderful books in our collection that will inspire you to pick up your knitting needles or crochet hook!

By Nikki Gabriel

The Handknitter’s Yarn Guide is a must-read for knitters who want to understand which fiber will work best for a given project.  Author Nikki Gabriel begins by examining the yarn categories (super fine, fine, and light; medium; bulky and super bulky) and then reviews specific fibers.  For each fiber or fiber-blend, she provides detailed information. Descriptions include the general qualities of the material, the pros and cons for using a particular fiber, and its care requirements.  She also explains what projects tend to be best for a given yarn and provides the recommended needle size.

Although this book does not include patterns, knitters will find it worth their time and effort to gain a better understanding of the different fibers available in today's yarn and craft stores.  

By Carol Meldrum

If you are finding it hard to reserve time for knitting during the holiday season, or if you need a few last-minute gift ideas, 30 Min Knits might be the solution to your problem. The projects are divided into two categories -- easy and intermediate.  Easy projects are meant to help beginning knitters with skill building, while intermediate projects include advanced techniques that will challenge more experienced knitters. Patterns are written using standard abbreviations, and techniques are illustrated at the end of the book.  While some of the patterns included might be a little silly (such as the Salvador Dali mustache), several are quite nice.

Edited by Judith Durant & Edie Eckman

If you are casting about for project to make as a gift for someone special this Christmas, Crochet One-Skein Wonders might be just the book for you. Editors Judith Durant & Edie Eckman have brought together patterns from crochet designers around the world. Readers will be able to choose from 101 projects, each of which uses a single skein of yarn. Patterns are organized by yarn weight and cover a broad range of projects, including mittens, scarves, purses, children’s toys and more.  Most patterns are only one or two pages long, and each is illustrated with a color photograph.  With so many choices there is sure to be at least one project that will be perfect for someone you love! 

To request these books click the titles or covers above.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Crafty Killings...

If you are looking for a lighthearted mystery, you might enjoy one of the following cozies:

By Maggie Sefton

Certified Public Accountant Kelly Flynn leaves her fast-paced life in D.C. to head to Fort Connor, Colorado for the funeral of her beloved Aunt Helen. Helen, it seems, was murdered during a botched burglary. The police suspect a vagrant with a known drinking problem and violent tendencies. As she investigates her Aunt's death, Kelly discovers that Helen took a loan for a large sum from a shady mortgage company shortly before her murder. She also finds out that several items (including her Aunt’s last knitting project, a treasured family heirloom, and a large quantity of cash), were missing from the crime scene. All of these loose ends have Kelly wondering if the police have really caught Helen's killer, or if the vagrant was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Meanwhile, Kelly discovers the unexpected kindness of the regulars at the House of Lambspun, a knitting shop owned by Helen’s best friend. Complications with the settlement of her Aunt’s estate force Kelly to extend her stay in Fort Connor, and she realizes that her life in D.C. is missing several key elements that Fort Connor has to offer -- such as friendship and a possible romance!

As Kelly discovers more about Helen's murder, she decides that it's up to her and her friends from the House of Lambspun to solve the case and see the killer brought to justice.

By Betty Hechtman

Bookstore Event Coordinator Molly Pink is caught in a compromising situation when she attempts to do a good deed. Ellen Sheridan, the group leader for the Tarzana Hookers (a crochet group that meets at the bookstore) forgets her crochet hooks after a meeting. Molly decides to return them to her. Unfortunately for Molly, when she arrives at Ellen’s house she discovers that Ellen has been murdered. Molly is discovered standing over the body by the police, and her complicated past with Ellen makes her an ideal murder suspect. To make matters worse, the investigating officer, Detective Heather Gilmore, has a grudge against Molly. Detective Heather is willing to take the circumstantial evidence of the case at face value and pin the murder on Molly. With all eyes on her and no other suspects in sight, it’s up to Molly and her best friend Dinah to figure out the killer's identity.  To do so, they join the Tarzana Hookers and learn how to crochet while they try to figure out who might have killed Ellen.    

Whether or not you knit or crochet, the characters in Maggie Sefton’s Knitting Mystery series, and Betty Hechtman’s Crochet Mystery series, will entertain you.  If you’re inclined, the simple pattern that each book includes might even inspire you to take up one or the other craft, if not both!

To request these books click the titles or covers above.

Reviews by Christina J. J. Gangwisch

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Lady and the Dragon

A Natural History of Dragons
A Memoir by Lady Trent
By Marie Brennan

Isabella grew up in a world of rules. Ladies should not read books on science. Ladies should aspire to a good husband. Ladies should leave all exertion and danger to the men of the family. And, of course, ladies should most certainly never exhibit an interest in dragons. Unfortunately, Isabella has never been good at following the rules.

In this book Marie Brennan has created a society that mirrors the Georgian society in Jane Austen's novels. Only this isn't England, it's Scirland. And dragons, instead of existing only in the realm of myth and legend, are real. There are fire-breathing dragons and ice-breathing dragons and swamp-dwelling dragons who breathe poisonous gas. Men of science write books on the beasts and Isabella finds those books fascinating. Her mother, however, insists that she find a husband.

What her mother doesn't count on is that Isabella will find a husband who is interested in dragons almost as much as she is. That's how she finds herself on a scientific expedition to learn more about the flying lizards that inhabit foreign lands. If Jane Austen was of a more adventurous bent, and if she decided that Elizabeth Bennet would be more interested in dragons than Mr. Darcy, this is the book she might have written.

To request this book click the title or cover above.

Review by Danny Hanbery

Monday, December 2, 2013

Suwanee Branch Staff Picks

Today is the first Monday in December, which means it's time for staff picks. This month's selections come from the staff of the Suwanee Branch, the busiest library in Gwinnett County. Many thanks to the Suwanee staff for taking time from their hectic schedules to share these great picks, the last of 2013.

Doctor Who
Shada: The Lost Adventure
by Gareth Roberts and Douglas Adams

In honor of television's longest-running program, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this November, why not pick up a copy of Doctor Who's infamous "lost adventure"? Originally conceived as an episode of the series back in 1980 by none other than Douglas Adams (of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fame) but scrapped due to budgetary constraints, this rollicking science-fiction yarn has been reimagined in novel form by writer extraordinaire Gareth Roberts. If you like shadowy conspiracies, brain-zapping robots, chases through Cambridge corridors, and, of course, Britain's favorite time-traveling alien, then this is the read for you.

Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash
by Edward Humes

Do you ever wonder where that piece of whatever you just threw away goes? If you don’t now, you will after reading Garbology. Humes won’t tell you how to recycle or turn your trash into treasure, but he will share some history and statistics that you most likely have never heard before. You will learn that there is no area on our planet that hasn’t been touched by trash as well as what is being done with it across the USA. You’ll meet entrepreneurs and artists, all finding interesting uses for this endless resource. A great choice for non-fiction readers.

Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
by Mary Roach

Could anyone actually “bust a gut” by laughing too hard? As she’s done in her other books (Stiff, Bonk, and Packing for Mars) Roach digs deep into the published research when exploring what happens to what we eat. And when she can, she volunteers to become part of the research herself. Saliva? She offers her own to a scientist studying differences in chemical composition. And she's not afraid to tackle the big subjects, such as "noxious flatulence" and whether constipation played a part in Elvis Presley’s death. Science writing at its most accessible and fun(ny), Roach makes complicated (and often wacky) research highly readable. By the way, you can “bust a gut” by overeating (sort of, it’s complicated), but Roach didn’t look at laughter as a cause. Maybe in her next book...

The Immortal Rules
by Julie Kagawa

Allison Sekemoto is a young woman living in an alternate world where vampires keep humans as cattle. She is attacked and left on the verge of death when a vampire named Kanin offers her a choice: die or live—as a vampire. This book's action-packed scenes are written with a cinematic flair, and Kagawa doesn’t shy away from making us contemplate the harder questions: Can you become something other than human without losing your humanity? Where is God in this dystopian world? And can two natural enemies fall in love? If you enjoy dystopian fantasies, vampires, or strong heroines, give The Immortal Rules a try.

Orange as Marmalade
by Fran Stewart

Martinsville, Georgia’s new librarian, Biscuit McKee, starts her new job with an unexpected and unwelcome event: a dead body in the library! With the help of her curious cat, Marmalade, McKee investigates the murder while preparing for her wedding to the town’s only police officer. Sometimes it seems as if the only character who knows what is happening is the cat. Too bad Biscuit does not speak felinese. If you decide to try this well written and unusual mystery, you are sure to enjoy the rest of the Biscuit McKee series: Yellow as Legal Pads, Green as a Garden Hose, Blue as Blue Jeans, Indigo as an Iris and Violet as an Amethyst.

The Story of the Human Body
Evolution, Health, and Disease
by Daniel E. Lieberman

Lieberman leads readers down the evolutionary path traveled by the human body. He explains the body's ongoing changes in easy-to-understand language. It is fascinating to learn how the human body continually changes, how it adapts to shifting diets, and how the body itself creates conditions for diseases.

To request these books click the titles or covers above.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chef Christy Jordan Visits Suwanee Branch

Come Home to Supper reflects the reality of today’s family schedules, gathering more than 200 deeply satisfying dishes that are budget-conscious, kid-friendly, and quick to make. These are the everyday meals that Christy most loves to cook and her family most loves to eat, and she serves them up with generous helpings of her folksy wisdom, gratitude, and lively stories. Many of the recipes make ingenious use of the slow cooker or a single pot or skillet, and they all use easily found supermarket ingredients.

In her cookbook Southern Plate, Christy gets back to her southern roots with traditional recipes including chicken and dumplings, hoe cakes, boiled peanuts, chili, blackberry cobbler, and the oh-so-delectable pecan pie.  Interspersed with Christy's heart warming stories of family and friends, makes this an essential cookbook for any southern home.  Filled to the brim with full color photos and categorized by season of year, you'll find yourself saying "that's just like mama used to make it".

Christy Jordan is the publisher of, a contributing editor to Taste of the South magazine, former editor-at-large at Southern Living, and a judge on Game Show Network’s Beat the Chefs. She’s appeared on TODAY, Paula Deen, QVC, and a host of other media outlets. She lives with her family in Huntsville, Alabama.

Christy Jordan, cookbook author, blogger, and the South’s favorite home cook, will share complete menus to help readers plan family meals at the Suwanee branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library. Her book, Come Home to Supper and website,, offer tips and real-life solutions for getting a delicious and affordable supper on the table every night. This book talk and signing will take place on Dec. 3, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.

This event is free and open to the public, and books will be available for purchase.  The Suwanee branch is located at 361 Main Street Suwanee, Ga. Please visit to learn more about this and other library events, or find GwinnettLibrary on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

To request these books click on the titles or covers above.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Feast of Words

Every year I go back home for Thanksgiving and every year I take a few books with me to pass the time in between food and family and football. Here are a couple of books that have food at their center. You might pick one of them up if you're looking for something to sate your mind after your belly is full.

John Saturnall's Feast
By Lawrence Norfolk

"A true feast has mysteries for parts, some clear to discern and others running deeper. Its dishes speak in tongues to baffle a scholar yet a humble cook must decipher them all."

In 1625 John lives with his mother in a village until an angry mob chases them into a nearby wood. John doesn't know why the villagers are angry, but he does know that the wood is a place named for a witch. "Old Buccla had witched the whole Vale with her Feast, they said." Living in the wood, his mother begins to teach him how to live off the land, and to stay true to old ways. He discovers that there is indeed a feast on the land, but even that cannot save his mother when winter comes.

Soon John must make his way alone to search for work in the nearby manor house. Finding a place in the kitchens, it's not long before his talent for cooking is noticed. The longer he stays in this world, however, the more complicated things become. When he becomes entangled with Lady Lucretia, he learns that the rules are different when it comes to the highborn. And when soldiers come to the valley, John must do what he can to protect the land that provides for his feasts.

This is a historical novel with fact weaved into myth and chapters interspersed with recipes from John's book. These aren't really recipes you're likely to find on your Thanksgiving table, but who knows when you'll need to know how to cook a wild boar?

The Dinner
By Herman Koch

Hopefully your own Thanksgiving dinner won't be as uncomfortable as this one. It begins simply enough with the line, "We were going out to dinner." From there, it becomes a mystery. What exactly is going on here? At first you're drawn into the narrator's point of view. He's a little sardonic and critical of the world around him, but his thoughts probably don't stray too far from ones you've had yourself. Soon, however, you discover that his family is keeping a secret. As four adults have dinner around a table, drinking expensive wine and eating tiny portions, there is a lot that is not being said. Through flashbacks and the narrator's straying thoughts you find out exactly why these people are going out to dinner. And you may never look at a table of diners the same way again.

To request these books click the titles or covers above.

Review by Danny Hanbery

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Charming French Countryside Setting for a Delightful Mystery

Bruno: Chief of Police

This tale is the first in a series of five mysteries set in a rural French village. Bruno is a perfect gentleman and he is the only police officer in his tiny hamlet but to all its citizens he is considered the Chief of Police. Bruno is adept at playing tennis and teaches the young boys in town on the public court, he kisses each member of the neighborhood on both cheeks as he meets them shopping in the open air market, he is a surrogate parent for the youngsters in town, is an accomplished cook, and is sweet on his hound dog, and an officer brought in from Paris to help with the investigation.

This tale will appeal to those who like cozy mysteries but it will also appeal to those wanting an edgier story. The mystery in the story revolves around an elderly North African Muslim male who was killed and had a swastika carved into his chest. The book is in no ways gory but it is, of course, a heinous crime. The local right wing political group is suspected of the crime including one of Bruno’s beloved young people. The search delves into the dark period of French history revolving around World War II. The author has many international connections with UPI and academic affiliations as well and it shows.

You will fall in love with Bruno and his quaint village. It is a very timely book pitting nationalists against “foreigners.’ Give Bruno a try! I listened to the book on audio and the accents were appealing and authentic. That makes it easier for someone who knows little about the French language to get the pronunciations correct. The Peachtree Corners book club really enjoyed this title!

 Review by Kathleen Richardson

Monday, November 18, 2013

Servant Take on Pride and Prejudice

Ever wonder what the servants of Longbourn were doing while Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy were sorting out their relationship? With Pride and Prejudice in the background, Longbourn focuses on Sarah, a maid in the Bennet household.

Sarah was rescued from the work houses by Hill, the housekeeper of Longbourn. Sarah's life revolves around the ladies of Longbourn. Whatever is needed, Sarah must do. Laundry, soap making, dressing, delivering letters, and going into town to fetch last minute needed items are only a few of her duties. Laundry day is the most dreaded in the Bennet household by Sarah. The hours of washing the linen make her hands crack open and bleed, and all the women in the house make for a lot of linen. The days are long and hard, with too many chores and not enough servants to accomplish them all.

The servants of Longbourn are surprised by the hiring of the young manservant named James Smith. The arrival of James Smith is welcome and his muscle is sorely needed.  James begins taking on the more arduous tasks of Longbourn, which lightens Sarah's load. With many men joining the army and navy to move up in the world, James's choice to work there is a mystery. Sarah longs to know more about James, but he is tight lipped about his background. Follow the lives of Sarah and James as they work, eat, live, and breathe Longbourn.

This is a good read for anyone who enjoys Austen's work - but be warned that the author takes a few liberties with the original Pride and Prejudice story.

Review by Cara 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

No rest for the war weary

Across the River and into the Trees
by Ernest Hemingway

Veterans Day got me thinking about Hemingway's war novels. I was going to recommend that you go back and re-read A Farewell to Arms if you haven't picked it up since high school or college. It's Hemingway's best and better than you remember, especially once you've got some serious life experience under your belt.

Instead, let me recommend the last and least-read of Hemingway's full-length novels, Across the River and into the Trees. Though set in Venice in 1949, it's really about the Second World War. Postwar Venice resembles Vienna in Orson Welles' Third Man, a pressure cooker of benumbed civilians, Allied occupiers, sullen ex-fascists, ardent communists and profiteers of every stripe. As always in Hemingway's novels there's a doomed romance in the foreground, here involving a wounded and literally brokenhearted 50-year-old American colonel and a nearly chaste 19-year-old Venetian contessa.

The dying colonel's true love, however, is his "beautiful command," lost five years earlier "under orders" in Germany's Hürtgen Forest. The months-long nightmare in Hürtgen Forest was arguably America's costliest blunder in the European war as one Division after another was thrown in, quickly decimated, and withdrawn in tatters weeks later with little to show for its losses. Hemingway was there, unofficially attached to the 4th Infantry as a correspondent for Colliers magazine, and Across is a kind of eulogy for the men he watched fight and die in that miserable, pointless operation.

Across is hardly Hemingway's best novel, but it is historically fascinating both for its snapshot of Venice as postwar was bleeding into Cold War and for its "punch drunk" flashbacks to the war itself. Later writersVonnegut especiallywould do it better, but Hemingway was the first to try to recreate the after-effects of wartime trauma in print.

Clink on the titles or cover above to request these items.

Review by Don Beistle

Monday, November 11, 2013

A soldier's plea for more than empty gestures

Breach of Trust
How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country
by Andrew J. Bacevich

Monday the 11th is Veterans Day, and the Library is closed along with most government services. Originally Armistice Day, November 11 was  renamed Veterans Day in 1954, when celebrating the end of "the war to end all wars" and the advent of world peace became too ironic even for Congress. As twelve years of continuous combat in the Middle East stretch into thirteen, it is worth remembering that Veterans Day began as a celebration of peace achieved, not war sustained.

Andrew Bacevich has spent the past decade warning about America's drift into a state of perpetual warindeed, his 2010 book Washington Rules is subtitled "America's Path to Permanent War." Now, in Breach of Trust, he points the finger of blame squarely at us, the American people, for allowing Washington to renounce a 200-year tradition of citizen-soldiery: "To abandon the tradition of the citizen-soldier, seeking to create an invincible offensive force able to win any argument, [is] to open the door to schemers pursuing criminal policies."

Bacevich knows what he's talking about. Now a professor of history and international studies at Boston University, he also is a retired Army colonel, West Point graduate and Vietnam veteran. His 27-year-old son was killed six years ago in Iraq. Bacevich's short books are bitter medicine, clear and honest.

A final example: "A people who permit war to be waged in their name while offloading onto a tiny minority responsibility for its actual conduct have no cause to complain about an equally small minority milking the system for all it's worth. Crudely put, if the very rich are engaged in ruthlessly exploiting the 99 percent who are not, their actions are analogous to that of American society as a whole in its treatment of soldiers: the 99 percent who do not serve in uniform just as ruthlessly exploit the 1 percent who do."

To request these books click the titles or cover above.

Review by Don Beistle

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Murder on the British Isles

The Complaints
By Ian Rankin

Malcolm Fox is a cop in Edinburgh, Scotland. He's a member of the Complaints, the ones who watch the rest of the force and bring them to task if they break any rules. Unfortunately, this means he's not very popular among his fellow cops. Add to that a former drinking problem, a sister with an abusive boyfriend, and guilt over putting his dad in a nursing home and you've got a classic cop-with-problems story.

Only this isn't a standard-issue crime drama. When he's between cases Malcolm is asked to look into another officer. This is fine and dandy until his sister's boyfriend is murdered and the cop he's watching, Jamie Breck, is one of the officers on the case. Despite the ethical dilemma, he finds himself becoming friendly with Breck. And soon Malcolm discovers that Breck isn't the only one being watched.

What does a cop do when he finds himself on the wrong side of the law?

In The Woods
By Tana French

The book, the first in the Dublin Murder Squad series, starts with a bizarre and bloody scene in the woods with one survivor. That survivor, we learn, grows up to become detective Rob Ryan. Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox are assigned a case that might tie into the unsolved mystery that haunts Ryan's childhood. Will he find out what happened in those woods? Character-driven and full of twists, this is literary mystery at its best. Don't come looking for detectives who do everything right and tie things up with a bow. These people are flawed and it shows, and the book is more interesting for it.

To request these books click the titles or covers above.

Review by Danny Hanbery

Monday, November 4, 2013

Snellville Branch Staff Picks

This month's staff picks come from the Elizabeth H. Williams Branch in Snellville, the only library branch in Gwinnett County named for a person rather than a location.

His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire, Book 1)
by Naomi Novik

Fantasy is blended with a history of the Napoleonic Wars in this first novel of the Temeraire series. Captain Will Laurence captures a French ship carrying a dragon egg bound for Napoleon. Temeraire hatches and bonds with Will, and so the adventures begin. This story is filled with historical detail from that time period, with the difference that battles are fought from dragon-back as well as on ground and sea. The dragon personalities are delightful, and you will enjoy getting to know them.

The Charge
by Brendon Burchard

Brendon Burchard differentiates The Charge from rewarmed, cheer-styled motivation books by utilizing amazingly clear and intuitive suggestions. Burchard challenges readers to proactively re-examine their everyday routines, thoughts and actions. This fresh perspective, combined with simple yet effective action ideas, allows the reader to reactivate emotional and motivational drives that may have been subtly muted by common life trials.

The Good House
by Tananarive Due

Tanarive Due’s Good House is a perfect Halloween thrill read. In addition to an exceptional supernatural story line, the book draws the reader into the action through the lives of the characters. Most impressive is the emphasis placed on the loss of family connectedness. Due painstakingly examines the losses and the inexplicable void within the story’s family by gradually exposing the secrets kept by their forefathers. Due weaves a tale of the family’s ancestral history to provide hope for their future.

How the Light Gets In
by Louise Penny

The eighth book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, How the Light Gets In offers satisfying conclusions to some of the inspector’s old problems. A murder of a national celebrity and a showdown with the inspector's nemesis converge in a charming town with no electronic access to the outside world. When circumstances for Gamache and friends seem their most bleak, the Chief Inspector is reunited with ex-partner Beauvior and the murder is solved. An extremely suspenseful read set in beautiful Quebec.

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

It'll Shine When It Shines

The Shining
by Stephen King

The month of October is great for a good scary read. And Stephen King’s The Shining is so spine-tinglingly scary and suspenseful that little bumps in the night become very alarming. A sleeping-with-both-eyes-open-and-the-light-on kind of alarming. It is certainly a book to be read only during daylight hours.

Originally written in 1977, The Shining tells how 6-year-old Danny Torrance’s family is going through a little bit of a rough patch. His hot-tempered, alcoholic father has just gotten fired from his teaching position, and the caretaker job at the Overlook Hotel is his father’s last hope at doing something right with his life. But Danny already secretly knows all of this, along with the violent act that got his father fired, too. Danny has something his friend Dick Hallorann calls “the shine.” It’s a little bit more than your average psychic ability, and Danny has a mighty hefty dose of it. Of course he can sense people’s thoughts and feelings, but he also can see the futureand there is something about the Overlook Hotel that doesn't sit quite right. The soul of this hotel seems to be coming to life, along with some of its more demonic, ghostly occupants. Danny’s psychic abilities seem to have awakened something in this hotel, and the Overlook will stop at nothing to make Danny (and his abilities) a more permanent resident.

 Doctor Sleep, Stephen King's much anticipated sequel to The Shining, was published last month.

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Review by Jennifer Green

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lisa Scottoline's Latest

Mary DiNunzio should be on top of the world. She has been made partner at Rosato and Associates and her boyfriend has given her a beautiful engagement ring. When the firm is contacted by the high powered Gardner family, it seems like the icing on the cake. Representing the family could mean bringing in huge money for the firm. However, the Gardner case is not what Mary expects. 

Allegra Gardner, aged thirteen, wants to hire a firm to look into her sister Fiona's murder. Lonnie Stall, the man convicted of her murder, is safely behind bars, but Allegra is convinced of his innocence. Against her parents' wishes and tapping into trust fund money she is now allowed to access, Allegra wants answers. Her parents, convinced that Allegra is obsessed with Fiona's murder, are not happy about the possible reopening of the case.

Mary, experienced with the trauma that occurs when a loved one is murdered, accepts Allegra's case. She soon realizes that going up against the formidable Gardner family will not be easy. Mary is determined to help Allegra find the answers she is seeking, whatever the cost. 

Accused is the latest in Lisa Scottoline's Rosato and Associates series. For those not familiar with the series, it is set in Philadelphia and is about an all female law firm headed by Bennie Rosato. Filled with twists and turns, Accused will have you wondering to the very end if Mary can help Allegra find the answers she seeks. 

The public is invited to meet Lisa Scottoline, New York Times best selling author and Edgar award winner on Monday, November 4th at the Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center at 7 PM. The event is free. For more information about the event, please check the GCPL Fall Into the Arts information page.

Review by Cara 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Learn to Homebrew

Next Saturday, November 2, is Learn to Homebrew Day. If you've ever had the itch to brew your own, GCPL can help you get started with any of the great books for both aspiring and experienced homebrewers in our collection.

If you're an absolute beginner, Basic Homebrewing: All the Skills and Tools You Need to Get Started is a great resource, with color photos to guide you through the entire process step by step. George Hummel's Complete Homebrew Beer Book is more thorough and detailed. It's not flashy but has loads of practical advice and 200 very good, contemporary recipes. And Sam Calagione's Extreme Brewing is surprisingly helpful for beginners. Calagione is the founder of Dogfish Head Brewery, and his well-illustrated book is packed with easy-to-follow recipes for some of the best of Dogfish Head's famously big, hoppy and exotic brews.

After you've got a batch or two under your belt, Zainasheff and Palmer's Brewing Classic Styles will help you improve your technique to achieve cleaner, more consistent results. Though geared toward beginning-to-intermediate homebrewers, it's also an invaluable guide for anyone looking to bring home some ribbons from a competition.  The Craft of Stone Brewing is another great book for experienced brewers. It recounts the history of San Diego's Stone Brewing from upstart startup to international success and includes dozens of recipes for Stone's famously in-your-face brews.

Eventually it will be time to turn to Dave Miller's Brew Like a Pro, which is anything but a beginner's guide. Miller favors by-the-book German-style brewing, and he's unwavering in his belief that the only beer worth brewing is made from fresh malt (not from powder or syrup extracts) and served on draft (not from bottles). Even if you're not looking to go over to the lager side, Miller's advice on how to put together a compact, low-cost all-grain home brewery is not to be missed by anyone considering making the leap to all-grain brewing.

There's still plenty of time to pick up a how-to book, purchase some supplies and be brewing by next weekend. Drop by your local branch today to get started. Cheers!

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Review by Don Beistle

Monday, October 21, 2013

A gorgeous enigma from a prose master

All That Is
by James Salter

All That Is is James Salter's first novel in more than three decades, and it's a knockout. A pitch-perfect example of crisp midcentury prose, it traces the life of Philip Bowman from naval service in the Pacific during the Second World War to his postwar return to the East Coast, college on the GI Bill, and 30-year career in publishing.

It covers such vast territory in just over 250 pages by revealing Bowman's story through the lens of his relationships with women: mother, first love, marriage, divorce, affairs, marriage again, and so on. Though told in the third person, the book's episodic structure (months or years pass with the turn of a page) gives it the feel of a memoir. As Bowman's conquests mount, it may seem as though Salter is trafficking in little more than shameless male fantasy. But a careful reader cannot fail to notice that the narrator is altogether too sympathetic, too non-judgmental of Bowman to be anyone other than the protagonist himself. Is this the book he always wanted to write?

Salter's deceptively straightforward-seeming prose and his preoccupation with sexuality and family dynamics recalls the best of Updike and Cheever. His treatment of the world of publishing and New York's literati in the 1950s and '60s is richly detailed and wonderfully inviting—imagine Mad Men as penned by George Plimpton. Come to think of it, All That Is has everything viewers have come to expect from sophisticated basic-cable dramas: vividly drawn characters, a strong sense of place, nuance and moral ambiguity, and office and bedroom as microcosms of broader social upheaval.

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Review by Don Beistle

Friday, October 18, 2013

Monster Mash: Witches

We're winding down our week of wickedness with some witches. While technically not monsters, witches are a common feature of Halloween celebrations, so here we go. From Hermione Granger to Snow White's stepmother, witches have a long history in our popular culture. And with recent titles like A Discovery of Witches and the TV series based on the book Witches of East End, it doesn't look like they're going away any time soon.

Dead Witch Walking
By Kim Harrison

Rachel Morgan is a witch working for Inderland Security, the law enforcement agency that polices witches, vampires, pixies, and whatever other supernatural beings happen to break the rules. Rachel doesn't like her job anymore, but the thing about witches who quit the I.S. is that they don't seem to live very long. They might not even make it out of the building. But with a little luck, some wishes from an uncooperative leprechaun, and help from her vampire pal Ivy, she decides to make a go of it. Rachel and Ivy move into the Hollows, which is the neighborhood in Cincinnati where the otherworldly live. She wants to open her own practice, but soon she's dodging spells and assassins. Fortunately, she stumbles across a case that might, if she can manage it, pay off the contract on her life. Unfortunately, she might not survive until then.

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Review by Danny Hanbery