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.