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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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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