Between the Stacks

Here you will find the good, the great and the fantastic of the library world. You will also find out how the library's materials and services connect to the larger community and enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Wilkes County.

Friday, June 30, 2006


Love books? Try this great service, available through your local library!

NoveList is a fiction database that provides subject heading access, reviews, annotations, and much more for over 135,000 fiction titles. It also includes other content of interest to fiction readers, such as Author Read-alikes, What We're Reading, Book Discussion Guides, BookTalks, and Annotated Book Lists. For school media specialists and teachers there are Picture Book Extenders and articles on Teaching with Fiction.

What You Can Do in NoveList

NoveList allows readers to use a favorite author or title as a template to locate other authors and titles of interest. When you look up a favorite book in NoveList, you have the option of finding similar books in one of two ways:

You can click on subject headings from your favorite book and search the database for more titles using the subject headings you have selected, or
You can click the "Find Similar Books" button (at the top of the title record) and search for more titles like the one you enjoyed.
Author Read-alikes articles (at the For Readers tab) can also help you find authors whose books are similar to the novels your favorite author writes. In addition to finding similar books to your favorites, NoveList allows you to:

Look up and view series information (in series order),
Search for books by entering your own descriptive terms in Describe a Plot,
Use the Boolean Search function to search specific parts of the title record, such as reviews,
Browse book lists by category, genre, or theme at every reading level through Explore Fiction, and look for award-winning titles in Best Fiction,
Link directly from many title records to web sites with information about the author.
Customized Content for Readers, Library Staff, Schools

Designed for our fiction readers: In addition to the Author Read-alikes articles, NoveList offers several features at the For Readers tab. These include What We're Reading, Annotated Book Lists, Book Discussion Guides, and BookTalks. These features have been developed specifically with NoveList users in mind. Hypertext links from title records also allow the user to go directly to articles or guides that mention the title, as well as to the lists in Explore Fiction or Best Fiction where the titles appear.

Designed for the staff at your library: In addition to the For Readers tab, NoveList offers resources for public library staff at the Readers' Advisory tab. Training materials, articles written by leaders in the field, and NoveList Notes are accessible from this tab.

Designed for schools: NoveList provides materials developed specifically for educators at the School Resources tab. If you are a library media specialist or a teacher, this page leads you to essential curriculum-related articles and Picture Book Extenders. These materials provide support for the increased use of literature in the classroom and across the curriculum. There are articles and guides for all grade levels from pre-school through high school.

The Database
NoveList provides full title records of fiction for all ages, including picture books, children's "chapter" books, young adult titles and books for adult readers. Updated monthly, the NoveList database integrates information from a variety of sources. The title records include full-text reviews from several journals, including: Booklist, Kirkus, School Library Journal, Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. In addition to these reviews, there are annotations and summaries, and all of them are searchable!

NoveList adds about 9,000 new fiction records to the database per year, along with reviews and descriptions when they are available. The browsable book lists in Explore Fiction are periodically revised, and the awards lists in Best Fiction are updated along with the full database each month. New Author Read-alikes, What We're Reading updates or additions, Annotated Book Lists, Book Discussion Guides, and BookTalks are also added monthly.

NoveList K-8

NoveList K-8 provides a student-focused interface and a database of young adult, children's and easy titles designed for children in pre-K, elementary or middle schools or your library's children's room. NoveList K-8 uses the same great database engine as NoveList, and a subset of the database records with the same cataloging attention to detail. The primary differences between NoveList and NoveList K-8 are:

The interface uses different colors and fewer tabs.
Adult content in NoveList is not found in NoveList K-8,
Staff resources are found at the Teacher Resource tab (instead of the School Resource tab).

The NoveList Team

NoveList is a product of EBSCO Publishing, which has its headquarters in Ipswich, Massachusetts. However, the NoveList team resides in Durham, North Carolina. The product's co-creators, Duncan Smith and Roger Rohweder, are joined by a small but growing staff of professionals that includes librarians, educators, and programmers. Our staff consists of individuals from a variety of backgrounds but all sharing a love of NoveList and books.

You can access Novelist through
NCLive. For more information or to obtain a password, call the library at 838-2818.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada

With the release of The Devil Wears Prada, starring Meryl Streep as evil Miranda Priestly, we offer similar titles for your consideration:

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. Most recent college grads know they have to start at the bottom and work their way up. But not many picture themselves having to pick up their boss's dry cleaning, deliver them hot lattes, land them copies of the newest Harry Potter book before it hits stores and screen potential nannies for their children. Charmingly unfashionable Andrea Sachs, upon graduating from Brown, finds herself in this precarious position: she's an assistant to the most revered-and hated-woman in fashion, Runway editor-in-chief Miranda Priestly. The self-described "biggest fashion loser to ever hit the scene," Andy takes the job hoping to land at the New Yorker after a year. As the "lowest-paid-but-most-highly-perked assistant in the free world," she soon learns her Nine West loafers won't cut it-everyone wears Jimmy Choos or Manolos-and that the four years she spent memorizing poems and examining prose will not help her in her new role of "finding, fetching, or faxing" whatever the diabolical Miranda wants, immediately. Life is pretty grim for Andy, but Weisberger, whose stint as Anna Wintour's assistant at Vogue couldn't possibly have anything to do with the novel's inspiration, infuses the narrative with plenty of dead-on assessments of fashion's frivolity and realistic, funny portrayals of life as a peon. Andy's mishaps will undoubtedly elicit laughter from readers, and the story's even got a virtuous little moral at its heart. Weisberger has penned a comic novel that manages to rise to the upper echelons of the chick-lit genre.

The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin. A blistering satire based on the real-life experiences of former New York City nannies McLaughlin and Kraus, this hilarious examination of the upper echelons of Manhattan society and the unlovable Park Avenue X family is flawlessly complemented by Roberts's limber, metamorphosing vocal performance. Depicted by the Academy Award winner's detached, patronizing tone, Mrs. X, a housewife, has little more to do than spend her adulterous, workaholic husband's seven-figure salary on manicures, designer clothes and floral arrangements. She delegates the care of her bratty four-year-old son, Grayer, and other small "errands" (e.g., shopping for a 50-guest dinner party) to an NYU grad student, Nan. Highlighting the disparity between the decadent, insular world of the Xs against the underpaid, disrespected one of the hired help surrounding them works especially well in audio, as Roberts acutely captures neglected Grayer's temper tantrums, piercing whines, inconsolable cries of "I want my mommy" and the hesitant tones and broken English of his playmate's caretakers. When the babysitter's "level of commitment" to the job is questioned and a developmental consultant is called in to handle the "deleterious self-esteem adjustment" her charge may have been set up for after failing to make it into a prestigious school, Roberts conveys Nan's struggle through readings alternately sarcastic, angry and falsely cheerful. This is a witty and thoroughly enjoyable production.

Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell. In a way, Candace Bushnell's Lipstick Jungle picks up where her career-defining book Sex and the City left off, in the money-soaked, power-hungry, beauty-obsessed jungle that is New York City. This time around, the ladies are a bit older, a lot richer, but not particularly wiser nor more endearing than Bushnell's earlier heroines. Lipstick Jungle weaves the stories of Nico O'Neilly, Wendy Healy, and Victory Ford, numbers 8, 12, and 17 on The New York Post's list of "New York's 50 Most Powerful Women." But this is 21st Century New York, and to get ahead and stay ahead, these women will do anything, including jeopardizing their personal and professional relationships. Take for example Nico, editor-in-chief of Bonfire magazine, who betrays her boss to rise to the top of the entire magazine division at media mega-giant Splatch-Verner. As president of Paradour Pictures, Wendy may be poised to win an Oscar for her 10-year labor-of-love, Ragged Pilgrims, but her marriage is in shambles and her children care more about a $50,000 pony than their mother. And for single, 43-year-old fashion designer Victory, pleasing tough critics may be more important than ever finding the real relationship she's convinced herself she doesn't need. This racy tale of women behaving badly manages to shrewdly flip the tables to show us how gender roles are essentially interchangeable, given the right circumstances. Whether that was Bushnell's intent when crafting this wicked tale is another story.

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. If you've ever paid off one credit card with another, thrown out a bill before opening it, or convinced yourself that buying at a two-for-one sale is like making money, then this appealing novel is for you. In the opening pages, recent college graduate Rebecca Bloomwood is offered a hefty line of credit by a London bank. Within a few months, she has exceeded the limits of this generous offer, and begins furtively to scan her credit-card bills at work, certain that she couldn't have spent the reported sums. In theory anyway, the world of finance shouldn't be a mystery to Rebecca, since she writes for a magazine called Successful Saving. Struggling with her spendthrift impulses, she tries to heed the advice of an expert and appreciate life's cheaper pleasures: parks, museums, and so forth. Yet her first Saturday at the Victoria and Albert Museum strikes her as a waste. Why? There's not a price tag in sight. Eventually, Rebecca's uncontrollable shopping and her "imaginative" solutions to her debt attract the attention not only of her bank manager but of handsome Luke Brandon--a multimillionaire PR representative for a finance group frequently covered in Successful Saving. Kinsella's debut makes excellent fantasy reading for the long stretches between white sales and appliance specials.

Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding. Considering the number of writers who've tried, and generally failed, to do plummy Bridget Jones one better, it only makes sense that Fielding should take a vacation from the genre she spawned and seek (sort of) greener pastures. Her new inspiration? Think Ian Fleming. Fielding's ridiculous, delicious, wildly improbable plot goes something like this: freelance journalist Olivia Joules ("as in the unit of kinetic energy"), formerly Rachel Pixley (her whole family got run over when she was 14), gets bumped from the Sunday Times's international coverage down to the style pages thanks to the titular imagination (e.g., a story about a "cloud of giant, fanged locusts pancaking down on Ethiopia"). In between ducking twittering PR reps and airheaded blondes at a Miami face cream launch party, she uncovers what looks like an al-Qaeda plot, headed by a dreamy Osama bin Laden look-alike, who is either (1) a terrorist, (2) an international playboy, (3) a serial killer or (4) all of the above. Languid, mysterious Pierre Feramo returns Olivia's interest, and thus begins an around-the-world adventure that has plucky Olivia eventually recruited by MI6. In addition to the fun spy gear (e.g., Chloé shades fitted with a nerve-agent dagger) there are kidnappings, bomb plots and scuba-diving disasters. Olivia is slim, confident and accomplished; ostensibly, she's "painstakingly erased all womanly urges to question her shape, looks, role in life," etc. But she still has her bumbling Jonesian moments, and though she may not need a man, she'll get one in the end. What's wrong with the book: two-dimensional characters, dangling plot threads, the questionable taste of al-Qaeda bombings in an escapist, comic spy novel. What's right: girl-power punch, page-turning brio and a new heroine to root for.

Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot. Bag the tiara and get out the gun: Heather Wells, former teen idol, turns detective in the cute debut of a new mystery series from bestseller Cabot. After the 20-something Heather's rocker boyfriend dumps her, and her mother and manager flee with her earnings, she becomes an assistant director of an undergraduate residence hall at Manhattan's New York College (read: NYU) in hopes of free tuition. When students start to die mysteriously while "elevator surfing" in the building, weight-conscious, romance-obsessed Heather goes on a crazed hunt to uncover the truth—with an unwavering sense of style. As Magda, Heather's dorm cashier friend, says: "Even if the rest of your life is going down the toilet... at least your toes can still look pretty." Cabot delivers Heather's amateur sleuthing adventures in a rapid-fire narrative that may leave some readers begging for time-outs to control sudden laughing fits.

Good In Bed by Jennifer Weiner. It is temping at first but unwise to assume Candace Shapiro is yet another Bridget Jones. Feisty, funny and less self-hating than her predecessor, Cannie is a 28-year-old Philadelphia Examiner reporter preoccupied with her weight and men, but able to see the humor in even the most unpleasant of life's broadsides. Even she is floored, however, when she reads "Good in Bed," a new women's magazine column penned by her ex-boyfriend, pothead grad student Bruce Guberman. Three months earlier, Cannie suggested they take a break apparently, Bruce thought they were through and set about making such proclamations as, "Loving a larger woman is an act of courage in our world." Devastated by this public humiliation, Cannie takes comfort in tequila and her beloved dog, Nifkin. Bruce has let her down like another man in her life: Cannie's sadistic, plastic surgeon father emotionally abused her as a young girl, and eventually abandoned his wife and family, leaving no forwarding address. Cannie's siblings suffer, especially the youngest, Lucy, who has tried everything from phone sex to striptease. Their tough-as-nails mother managed to find love again with a woman, Tanya, the gravel-voiced owner of a two-ton loom. Somehow, Cannie stays strong for family and friends, joining a weight-loss group, selling her screenplay and gaining the maturity to ask for help when she faces something bigger than her fears. Weiner's witty, original, fast-moving debut features a lovable heroine, a solid cast, snappy dialogue and a poignant take on life's priorities. This is a must-read for any woman who struggles with body image, or for anyone who cares about someone who does.

Wild Designs by Katie Fforde. The appealing British heroine of this delicious romantic romp is Althea, who loves her house, her three rambunctious teenagers, her dog, and her garden. At 38, she loses her job, faces the return of her disagreeable ex-husband, and tries to cope with her impossible younger sister. Always a bit distracted by the pressures of daily life, she doesn't welcome the arrival of the architect who buys a nearby mill in whose greenhouse Althea has been surreptitiously raising plants. Patrick is rich, extremely attractive, and attached to the perfect musculature of a woman named Topaz. Althea, who hopes that winning a gardening competition will enable her to do something she loves and still keep her family financially intact, rings such glorious changes on the themes of motherhood, the bliss of gardening, friendship, and sibling relationships that we almost forgive her for wildly missing the cues of Patrick's interest and for her knee-jerk response to putting what she thinks are the children's interests first. In the end, she gets to keep home, garden, and love interest, although not in ways she might have expected. As pretty a piece of wish fulfillment as can be imagined; enchanting withal.

Spin Doctor by Leslie Carroll. Dirty laundry gets cleaned, dried and aired in the newest women-in-the-city soap opera from Carroll (Play Dates), an exuberant ode to friendship among women and the need for affordable mental health care (at least in New York City). When a Manhattan psychotherapist decides to offer pro bono counseling in her apartment building's laundry room, her lucky neighbors jump at the chance to wash away "the emotionally damaging detritus of their lives" while they wash away stains from their whites. Dr. Susan Lederer thinks of herself as the ultimate mother hen, dividing her time among her detergent-scented community work, her paying gig at the women's health center and her more literal motherly duties: taking care of a husband, Eli, their two children (aged 11 and 16) and an incontinent dog. That Susan's laundry room patients eventually join together to help Susan through her own domestic crisis is no surprise, but Carroll handles her material with wit and wisdom.

Faking It by Jennifer Crusie. Bestseller Crusie (Fast Women, etc.) takes readers on another smooth ride in her latest romantic caper. At the wheel this time is fab art forger Matilda Goodnight, whose chance encounter in a closet with cute con man/thief Davy Dempsey leads to madcap mayhem and breathless romance. He's trying to steal back the money he filched from Clea Lewis, ex-girlfriend (and possible husband killer), who had taken it right back. Tilda just wants her last "Scarlet" painting, which Clea has bought to impress Mason Phipps, her rich art-obsessed beau. It's the last of six forgeries Tilda did for Tony, her now deceased gallery-owner dad, and Tilda is determined to preserve her newly squeaky-clean reputation. Confused yet? It gets wackier, because the whole Goodnight clan and supporting cast are as enormously engaging as the loopy plot. There's Tilda's mother, Gwen; her sister, Eve/Louise, a split-personality teacher/diva; her gay ex-brother-in-law, Andrew; and her precocious teenage niece, Nadine. Add a host of shady characters and would-be hitmen, and the breezy plot thickens and puffs up like the light airy doughnuts all Goodnight women are attracted to but eventually forsake for muffins: "Muffins are for the long haul and they always taste good. They don't have that oh-my-God-I-have-to-have-that thing that the doughnuts have going for them, but you still want them the next morning." Finally, defying all odds, Crusie answers the burning questions she poses can liars and thieves fall in love, live happily ever after and stay out of jail while confirming the dangers of dating doughnuts.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

And the Oscar goes to...

Try out these great reads, brought to mind by recent Oscar nominated films...

Enjoy The Aviator? Try these:

Howard Hughes: Aviator by George J. Marrett. Marrett was an experimental test pilot for the Hughes Aircraft Company for 20 years, and before that he flew 188 combat missions for the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. This scrupulously researched book begins by recounting Hughes' early flying years (his first flight took place in 1920, when he was 14) and continues with his work in developing aircraft during World War II and the postwar era, the growth of Hughes Aircraft, the early age of jets, and his famous flight in the Spruce Goose. Marrett tells how Hughes became a billionaire and relates his later calamitous years in Las Vegas, where, because of his desire for isolation, he became a recluse. Marrett also recounts Hughes' successful work as a film producer and his relationships with actresses, some of the most famous stars of the 1920s and 1930s.

Ava Gardner: Love is Nothing by Lee Server. At the ripe old age of 32, having collected three ex-husbands-Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra-Ava Gardner waxed introspective: "I still believe the most important thing in life is to be loved." Server's (Baby, I Don't Care) deliciously entertaining tome bursts with Hollywood dish and Oscar-worthy dialogue and is written in a crackling style that reads like great pulp. "Love became her terrible habit," he writes, "something hopeless to resist, impossible to get right." A Tobacco Road urchin turned "statue of Venus sprung to succulent life," Gardner ditched her secretarial aspirations and started at MGM in the early '40s as a contract actress earning $50 a week. She became an international star, drawing huge crowds on both sides of the Atlantic. But life wasn't always sweet for the gorgeous star of Show Boat and The Barefoot Contessa; her steamy affair and marriage to Sinatra ranks among the most notorious of Hollywood love stories. Gardner's career, hard drinking and screen-worthy love affairs are all chronicled in Server's page-turner prose, doing justice to one of cinema's most beautiful faces.

Kate Remembered by A. Scott Berg. Even those who've read many Hepburn biographies will find Berg's immersion in the actor's world engrossing, full of crisply-voiced takes on old Hollywood and intimate looks at her everyday life. As a longtime friend and ardent fan, Berg (Lindbergh; Max Perkins; etc.) does not attempt an objective biography; instead, he aims to convey Hepburn's thoughts and memories. Framed by Berg and Hepburn's 20-year friendship, the book charts the inescapable subjects of Hepburn's life, such as her romance with Spencer Tracy and her assessment of her own performances. She considered Tracy the greatest American screen actor and her last years with him (in the 1960s) the happiest of her life. Among her movies, she spoke warmly of her films with George Cukor. As to Hepburn's sexual orientation, Berg notes that in the 1930s she lived with actress Laura Harding and decades later was rumored to have exceptionally close relations with a woman, but Hepburn reported nothing. Most interesting is Berg's depiction of Hepburn's early acting days: how she moved from Broadway to Hollywood, negotiated an outsized salary, and, after becoming box-office poison, fought her way back with The Philadelphia Story. Throughout those years, she was befriended personally and professionally by her husband Ludlow Ogden Smith and by industrialist Howard Hughes. Berg is true to his subject and lets her voice come through in every quote, whether she's pooh-poohing him for thinking the 50-ish-degree water near her Connecticut house is cold ("Only for the first few seconds. And then you're numb") or explaining why she never tried to marry Spencer Tracy: "I never wanted to marry Spencer Tracy."

Love Brokeback Mountain? Try these favorites:

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. Proulx has followed Postcards , her story of a family and their farm, with an extraordinary second novel of another family and the sea. The fulcrum is Quoyle, a patient, self-deprecating, oversized hack writer who, following the deaths of nasty parents and a succubus of a wife, moves with his two daughters and straight-thinking aunt back to the ancestral manse in Killick-Claw, a Newfoundland harbor town of no great distinction. There, Quoyle finds a job writing about car crashes and the shipping news for The Gammy Bird, a local paper kept afloat largely by reports of sexual abuse cases and comical, typographical errors. Killick-Claw may not be perfect, but it is a stable enough community for Quoyle and Co. to recover from the terrors of their past lives. But the novel is much more than Quoyle's story: it is a moving evocation of a place and people buffeted by nature and change. Proulx routinely does without nouns and conjunctions--"Quoyle, grinning. Expected to hear they were having a kid. Already picked himself for godfather"--but her terse prose seems perfectly at home on the rocky Newfoundland coast. She is in her element both when creating haunting images (such as Quoyle's inbred, mad and mean forbears pulling their house across the ice after being ostracized by more God-fearing folk) and when lyrically rendering a routine of gray, cold days filled with cold cheeks, squidburgers, fried bologna and the sea.

The Colonel and Little Missie: Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and the Beginnings of Superstardom in America by Larry McMurtry. Pulitzer Prize-winner McMurtry chronicles the rise to fame, fortune, and international celebrity of two of the West's most enduring figures -- and America's first real superstars. From the early 1880s to the end of his life in 1917, Buffalo Bill Cody was as famous as anyone could be. Annie Oakley was his most celebrated protégée, the "slip of a girl" from Ohio who could (and did) outshoot anybody to become the most celebrated star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. In this sweeping dual biography, Larry McMurtry explores the lives, the legends, and above all the truths about two larger-than-life American figures. With his Wild West show, Buffalo Bill helped invent the image of the West that still exists today -- cowboys and Indians, rodeo rough riders, sheriffs and outlaws, trick shooting, Stetsons, and buckskin. To each other, they were always "Missie" and "Colonel." To the rest of the world, they were cultural icons, setting the path for all that followed. Larry McMurtry -- a writer who understands the West better than any other -- recreates their astonishing careers and curious friendship in a fascinating history that reads like the very best of his fiction.

Enjoy Capote? Try:

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. "Until one morning in mid-November of 1959, few Americans--in fact, few Kansans--had ever heard of Holcomb. Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there." If all Truman Capote did was invent a new genre--journalism written with the language and structure of literature--this "nonfiction novel" about the brutal slaying of the Clutter family by two would-be robbers would be remembered as a trail-blazing experiment that has influenced countless writers. But Capote achieved more than that. He wrote a true masterpiece of creative nonfiction. The images of this tale continue to resonate in our minds: 16-year-old Nancy Clutter teaching a friend how to bake a cherry pie, Dick Hickock's black '49 Chevrolet sedan, Perry Smith's Gibson guitar and his dreams of gold in a tropical paradise--the blood on the walls and the final "thud-snap" of the rope-broken necks.

Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three Stories by Truman Capote. "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is a story that was first published in 1958. This wacky hillbilly-turned-playgirl who lives in a Manhattan brownstone shares not only Capote's philosophy of freedom and acceptance of human irregularities but also his fears and anxieties--'the mean reds' she calls them. For her the cure is to jump into a taxi and head for Tiffany's; nothing bad could happen, she says, amid 'that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets, and her dream is to have breakfast in that soothing setting. This volume also contains "House of Flowers," "A Diamond Guitar," and "A Christmas Memory."

Love Finding Neverland? Try:

The Little Minister by J. M. Barrie. "The Little Minister" by J. M. Barrie was first published in Good Words Magazine, spanning the months January to December 1891. Reckoned to be Barrie's best work, it is one of several novels about the fictional village of Thrums, said to be modeled on Barrie's home town of Kirriemuir. In 1840's Scotland, a young Scottish pastor falls in love with an educated, radiant gypsy girl, who turns out to be a peeress who impersonates a gypsy and smoothes things over between rebellious weavers and the authorities in 1840 Scotland. The play version, produced by the legendary Charles Frohman, was a tremendous success in which the star, according to William Winter's review Jan.10,1897 "expressed impulse, pertness, perversity, caprice, discontent. mischief, longing, self-will, arch and tantalizing sweetness and charmingly irrational contradictions of an impetuous girl." It was made into a RKO movie in 1934 with Katharine Hepburn and John Beal (as the Scottish Minister). Also try Half Hours by Barrie.

Love Seabiscuit? Try:

A Year At The Races: Reflections on Horses, Humans, Love, Money, and Luck by Jane Smiley. Smiley's great love for horses inspired her spectacular novel Horse Heaven (2000). Now she chronicles her real-life equestrian experiences as a novice but adventurous horse owner bringing her untried young horses to the track in California with the help of a gifted trainer, Alexis, and the astonishing disclosures of Hali, an animal communicator with whom Smiley's horses share their thoughts and concerns. The very qualities of mind that make Smiley such a compelling novelist--her keen attentiveness to the sensuous world, her deep sensitivity to psychological states, and her fascination with life's entwinement of chance and inevitability--enable her to write about horses, both their interior and exterior selves, with extraordinary avidity, empathy, wonder, and gratitude. As she tells the intriguing stories of the horses she knows best, neurotic Persey, scintillating Waterwheel, and the book's irresistible star, ardent Hornblower (who tells Hali that he wants to be called by his nickname, Wowie, because Hornblower has negative "vibrational qualities"), Smiley, as erudite and probing as she is passionate and witty, meticulously and bewitchingly illuminates equine sense and sensibility. Ultimately, Smiley succeeds brilliantly in portraying horses not only as fully sentient beings but also as beautiful and intriguing creatures of unique intelligence and heart, who have, over the course of centuries, greatly enhanced and graced human life.

Captivated by Mystic River? Try:

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. Know this: Lehane's new novel, his first since the highly praised and bestselling Mystic River, carries an ending so shocking yet so faithful to what has come before, that it will go down as one of the most aesthetically right resolutions ever written. But as anyone who has read him knows, Lehane, despite his mastery of the mechanics of suspense, is about much more than twists; here, he's in pursuit of the nature of self-knowledge and self-deception, and the ways in which both can be warped by violence and evil. In summer 1954, two U.S. marshals, protagonist Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, arrive on Shutter Island, not far from Boston, to investigate the disappearance of patient Rachel Solando from the prison/hospital for the criminally insane that dominates the island. The marshals' digging gets them nowhere fast as they learn of Rachel's apparently miraculous escape past locked doors and myriad guards, and as they encounter roadblocks and lies strewn across their path-most notably by the hospital's chief physician, the enigmatic J. Cawley-and pick up hints of illegal brain surgery performed at the hospital. Then, as a major hurricane bears down on the island, inciting a riot among the insane and cutting off all access to the mainland, they begin to fear for their lives. All of the characters-particularly Teddy, haunted by the tragic death of his wife-are wonderful creations, but no more wonderful than the spot-on dialogue with which Lehane brings them to life and the marvelous prose that enriches the narrative. There are mysteries within mysteries in this novel, some as obvious as the numerical codes that the missing patient leaves behind and which Teddy, a code breaker in WWII, must solve; some as deep as the most profound fears of the human heart. There is no mystery, however, about how good this book is; like Mystic River, it's a tour de force.

The Innocent by Harlan Coben. Matt Hunter made a mistake when he was 20 years old and paid for it with a four-year stint in prison that left him with a determination never to be locked up again. Finally, his life is back on the promising track he was taking before he accidentally killed a man: He has a good job, a newly pregnant wife he adores, and is about to close on the home of their dreams. Then he gets a couple of bizarre photos on his cell phone that seem to show his wife in a compromising position with a black-haired stranger. But before he can sort out who sent the anonymous pictures and why, he's running from the law--especially from the cop who was his best friend in grade school, and a sharp young detective who's stepped right into the middle of an FBI investigation spurred by the discovery that a dead nun who wasn't who she claimed to be is somehow mixed up in Matt and Olivia Hunter's life. Coben deftly wields a complicated plot involving a missing stripper, a dead gangster, an incriminating videotape, and a couple of agents who aren't quite who they seem to be, while Hunter manages to hold onto his faith in Olivia despite her clouded past and uncertain future. Like all Coben's protagonists, (including the hero of his popular series starring sports agent turned detective Myron Bolitar) Hunter is a nice, middle-class New Jersey boy who's still the innocent of the title, despite the miscarriage of justice that sent him to prison. Or was it? That's the moral question at the heart of this tightly constructed thriller, which will no doubt shoot directly to the top of the bestseller list, and deservedly so.

The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais. Crais's latest L.A.-based crime novel featuring super-sleuth Elvis Cole blends high-powered action, a commanding cast and a touch of dark humor to excellent dramatic effect. One morning at four, Cole gets a call from the LAPD informing him that a murdered John Doe has claimed, with his dying breath, to be Cole's father, a man Cole has never met. Cole immediately gets to work gathering evidence on the dead man - Herbert Faustina, aka George Reinnike - while cramping the style of the assigned detective, Jeff Pardy. Though Cole finds Reinnike's motel room key at the crime scene, the puzzle pieces are tough to put together, even with the unfailing help of partner Joe Pike and feisty ex-Bomb Squad techie Carol Starkey, who's so smitten with Cole that she can't think of him without smiling. Days of smart sleuthing work take the self-proclaimed "World's Greatest Detective" from a Venice Beach escort service to the California desert, then a hospital in San Diego, where doubts about Reinnike's true heritage begin to dissipate. Meanwhile, a delusional psychopath named Frederick Conrad, who is convinced that his partner in crime was killed by Cole, stalks and schemes to even the score. There's lots to digest, but this character-driven series continues to be strong in plot, action and pacing, and Crais (The Last Detective) boasts a distinctive knack for a sucker-punch element of surprise.

**Reviews and descriptions taken from Amazon, Publisher's Weekly, and Books In Print.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Tom Dooley

Over the weekend, the Wilkes Playmakers opened their season at the new Forest Edge Community Amphitheater, formerly Fort Hamby Community Amphitheater. Forest Edge is a state-of-the art, 900 seat facility with a complete professional sound and lighting system. It is designed to offer the community and region superior accommodations and setting for outdoor concerts, theater productions, reunions, festivals, corporate functions, and arts and environmental education and training. (For more information and for a schedule of Summer on the Lake events, please visit the Friends of W. Kerr Scott Lake website).

People nationwide have been fascinated and intrigued with the Tom Dooley story for over a century. The murder of Laura Foster in the Elkville community, now known as Ferguson, in North Carolina was one of the nation’s first highly publicized crimes of passion. Tom Dooley hanged for the crime but many questions were left unanswered.

Over 200 pieces of testimony were recorded in the two years that Tom was on trial. Most of the testimony is conflicting and everyone was convinced that his or her side of the story was the right one. Governor Zebulon B. Vance came to Wilkes County to defend this Confederate war hero. A reporter from the New York Herald penned articles that gripped the nation and left them wanting more. Governor Vance lost the case and Tom was hanged in Statesville, NC in May of 1868. His last words were “Gentlemen, do you see this hand? I never harmed a hair on Laura Foster’s head”.

The Kingston Trio catapulted Tom Dooley to fame again in the 1960’s with the song “Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley”. Visitors still travel from far and wide to visit the graves and tour the countryside where the story took place. Tom Dula’s gravestone is on private property on the Tom Dula road in Ferguson, NC. Unfortunately, visitors have chipped away the marker for souvenirs and the access road has been closed. In Elkville, (now Ferguson) descendants still have different opinions on what really happened. Wilkes Playmakers held a story-telling session at the Whippoorwill Academy in Ferguson while the script was being developed. Karen Wheeling Reynolds, an Elkville native and author of the play, used these different opinions and stories to develop her intriguing script for the play.

“This script is a mixture of fact and folklore”, said Mrs. Reynolds. “These stories have been handed down from generation to generation. I’m proud to be a part of their preservation”. She should be. Calvin and Martha Cowles, the storekeeper and his wife in the script, are her great- great- great grandparents.

Anne Melton was Tom’s childhood sweetheart. Many in the community believe that she killed Laura Foster and persuaded Tom to help her bury the body. Anne was said to be a beauty, with coal black hair and milk white skin. She married James Melton while Tom was away at war. When Tom returned, he took up with Laura Foster. Citizens of Elkville are divided on this next issue. Some say he loved Laura. Some say he used Laura to get back at Anne. Whatever the case, Tom was known for being a ladies man. He was handsome and charming. Most folks will tell you that he was a good fiddle player too...always laughing and playing at local get-togethers.

Perline Foster, Anne’s cousin from Watauga County, was brought in to work for Anne after she married the wealthy James Melton. Perline was rumored to also be in love with Tom and may have played a part in the crime. Her testimony in the trial was instrumental in sending Tom to the gallows. Many believe that her testimony was false and that she acted out of jealousy and hatred towards Anne and rejection from Tom.

Tom is buried on a small hill out on the Tom Dooley road in Ferguson. Laura’s grave is in Caldwell County in a beautiful pasture at the bottom of German Hill. Anne rests out on Gladys Fork road between Ferguson and Darby not far from where the murder took place. Their graves, like their past lives, form a lover’s triangle. “Tom Dooley; A Wilkes County Legend” fills in many of the gaps for serious Tom Dooley fans.

(The above information was taken from the Friends of the Lake and Playmakers websites.)

Your library offers a number of titles of interest to Tom Dooley: A Wilkes County Legend visitors, including:

Lift Up Your Head, Tom Dooley: The True Story of the Appalachian Murder That Inspired One of America's Most Popular Ballads by John Foster West. When Laura Foster, a young & attractive woman, disappeared from her home in Happy Valley in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in the spring of 1866, residents of the area assumed that Tom Dula (pronounced Dooley in the hill country), a young Civil War veteran, had something to do with it. He was known to be Laura's lover, as well as the lover of many other young women in the area. Months before Laura's body was found, stabbed through the heart, in a shallow grave near the Yadkin River, Dula was seized held in jail. His trial unveiled a sordid story of sexual immorality, resentment, jealousy and bitterness; Dula was convicted & hanged before a huge crowd in Statesville, an event that drew national attention. The story lived on, with time becoming entwined with myth and legend, because it inspired a ballad that was sung throughout the mountains. Nearly a century after the murder that inspired it, that ballad became a major national hit for a popular folk singing group called the Kingston Trio. Novelist John Foster West grew up in Happy Valley hearing the stories about Tom Dula. His search for the truth behind them led to this book. Foster also penned another volume with similar information entitled The Ballad of Tom Dula: The Documented Story Behind the Murder of Laura Foster and the Trials and Execution of Tom Dula. Don't miss Karen Reynolds' novel Tom Dooley: A Wilkes County Legend and Thomas W. Ferguson's Tom Dooley as well.

For more on Tom Dooley, plan a trip to the Tom Dooley Art Museum at Whippoorwill Academy.

Tom Dooley is not the only notorious criminal in Wilkes County history. Bandit Otto Wood offered a fascinating story in his life history, recorded while he was in prison for the murder of a Greensboro man. Otto Wood inspired his own ballad, Otto Wood: The Bandit, recorded in 1931 by the Carolina Buddies. The text of his autobiography in the North Wilkesboro News is on display in the genealogy room of the library. Also on display at the library is the original ball and chain worn by Otto Wood during his incarceration.

Other works of interest include:

The Mystery of Beautiful Nell Cropsey by Bland Simpson. As compelling as fiction, The Mystery of Beautiful Nell Cropsey tells the dramatic story of the disappearance of nineteen-year-old Nell Cropsey from her riverside home in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, in November 1901. Bloodhounds, detectives, divers, and even a psychic were brought in to search for her, and the case immediately became a national sensation. Bland Simpson, who first heard the tale as an Elizabeth City schoolboy, weaves this true story into a colorful nonfiction account, told in three first-person voices: Nell's sister Ollie; famous newspaper editor W. O. Saunders, who covered the case as a young reporter; and Jim Wilcox, Nell's beau, who was implicated in the case. Nell and Jim's romance, her disappearance, the great search, the trials, and their aftermath are artfully reconstructed from interviews, court records, and newspaper accounts. From the book Word spread like that into the swamps where the slaves had run, where convicts had run--mightn't Nell Cropsey run there too? Back deep toward the lake at the heart of the great Swamp, where the ghost of an Indian girl searched each night for her lost lover, by firefly lamp, gliding in her white canoe. And word spread far beyond those low tidelands, as the dailies in the big Eastern cities of Baltimore and Philadelphia and New York played up the mystery til Nell Cropsey and Jim Wilcox were the talk of the nation and the booming little river port Elizabeth City was suddenly on the map.

Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy B. Tyson. In this outstanding personal history, Tyson, a professor of African-American studies who's white, unflinchingly examines the civil rights struggle in the South. The book focuses on the murder of a young black man, Henry Marrow, in 1970, a tragedy that dramatically widened the racial gap in the author's hometown of Oxford, N.C. Tyson portrays the killing and its aftermath from multiple perspectives, including that of his contemporary, 10-year-old self; his progressive Methodist pastor father, who strove to lead his parishioners to overcome their prejudices; members of the disempowered black community; one of the killers; and his older self, who comes to Oxford with a historian's eye. He also artfully interweaves the history of race relations in the South, carefully and convincingly rejecting less complex and self-serving versions ("violence and nonviolence were both more ethically complicated-and more tightly intertwined-than they appeared in most media accounts and history books"). A gifted writer, he celebrates a number of inspirational unsung heroes, ranging from his father to a respected elderly schoolteacher who spoke out at a crucial point to quash a white congregation's rebellion over an invitation to a black minister. Tyson's avoidance of stereotypes and simple answers brings a shameful recent era in our country's history to vivid life. This book deserves the largest possible audience.

Until He Is Dead: Capital Punishment in Western North Carolina History by Tom Rusher. Rusher is a former District Attorney who was elected to serve the counties of Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, Yancey and Madison for twenty years. During his career as a prosecutor, Rusher developed a hobby studying and collecting information, legends and lore about death penalty cases in the mountain counties and “Until He Is Dead” is a result of that long-standing hobby. He covers several trials in western North Carolina including the trial of the infamous Potter cousins. Boone and Clarence, of Pottertown in Watauga County and the Avery County trial of Reid Coffey’s murderer, whose sentence was first commuted and then paroled through political pressure on the Governor of North Carolina.

Deadly Greed: The McEachern Murders in Hamlet, North Carolina by Clark Cox. Deadly Greed, a true crime story, recalls the murders to Maceo and Vela McEachern of Hamlet, North Carolina in 1991. The African-American family lived in Rockingham County and their murders made headlines and shocked the community. No one expected murders could happen there. Through hard work, Maceo and Vela McEachern became financially and socially prominent. Their situation was unusual for African-Americans in that place and time. Cox, a former journalist, tells the story of the crime, the trial, and the eventual fate of the murder (and those surrounding him). The story is told in short chapters using the clear, precise language of journalism.

Unholy Covenant: A True Story of Murder in North Carolina by Lynn Chandler-Willis. Radiant in her white satin wedding gown, Patricia Blakley was living a dream come true. At last, she was marrying the man she loved, Ted Kimble-a fellow Christian and son of a local preacher. But little did she realize her new husband had a dark side. Shock waves rocked the small, North Carolina town of Pleasant Garden when Patricia's charred body was discovered inside the Kimble's burned-out home. Soon family and friends learned an even worse truth-Patricia had died from a bullet wound to the head. Now, in Unholy Covenant, North Carolina journalist Lynn Chandler-Willis uncovers the story behind the crime. Taking readers from the crime scene to the courtroom, she delivers a passionate account of a crime that forever changed the lives of many in the small North Carolina community.

Other similar titles include:

Jerry Bledsoe's
  • Before He Wakes: A True Story of Money, Marriage, Sex, and Murder
  • Bitter Blood: A True Story of Southern Family Pride, Madness, and Multiple Murder
  • Blood Games: A True Account of Family Murder

Joe McGinniss's

  • Cruel Doubt
  • Fatal Vision

Jim Schutze's

  • Preacher's Girl: The Life and Crimes of Blanche Taylor Moore

Too much gore for your taste? Try Darin Strauss's Chang and Eng. This fictionalized account is based on the life of Chang and Eng Bunker, the original Siamese twins. For more information about Chang and Eng, visit this link:

Chang and Eng.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

North Carolina Fiction

The June 15th issue of Library Journal offered the following Reader's Shelf column:

Storyteller's Delight: Tarheel Fiction

From the Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks, North Carolina teems with stories. As one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, it is changing before our eyes, and the conflict between past and present is a continuing theme in the literary works of its native scribes.

Thomas Wolfe's 1929 Look Homeward, Angel is still the classic North Carolina novel. The young author worked with the legendary editor Maxwell Perkins to shape the massive original manuscript. How massive? O Lost--Wolfe's initial title for the book--is the literary equivalent of a director's cut DVD. Here, restored to the author's original vision, is the coming-of-age story of sensitive Eugene Gant and his boisterous, chaotic family in early 20th century Asheville. Wolfe's bombastic prose is left intact, providing a richly detailed portrait of a pre-Depression boom town and the development of a young artist.

The steady production of cozy, heart-warming novels set in the picturesque mountain towns of western North Carolina has become a cottage industry. Jan Karon's seventh book featuring affable Father Tim Kavanaugh, In This Mountain, continues the touching stories of the residents of idyllic Mitford, a town modeling on Blowing Rock, N.C. Just down the road, readers will find the ladies of Covington in Joan A. Medlicott's At Home in Covington. These women "of a certain age" run a rambling boardinghouse in a quiet mountain town. Abbotsville is the small scenic fictional setting for Ann B. Ross's "Miss Julia" novels. In Miss Julia Meets Her Match, the funny and fiercely independent Julia weighs a marriage proposal from a longtime suitor.

Acclaimed cartoonist Doug Marlette's The Bridge explores the rich textile history of North Carolina's central piedmont region. Pick Cantrell is a successful but controversial editorial cartoonist who has just returned home from New York. At the heart of the novel is Pick's feisty grandmother, Mama Lucy, who recalls her involvement in the mill workers' strikes that swept the South in the 1920's.

Before CSI popped up on television, Simon Shaw was on the case. The bumbling professor of forensic history at fictional Kenan College in Raleigh is back at work in Sarah Shaber's The Bug Funeral. When a woman claims to have committed a crime in a previous life, Shaw is skeptical but finds that the story is not as simple as it seems. His investigation leads him to some troubling events in the history of North Carolina's capital city.

Popular Raleigh TV weatherman Will Baggett's life crumbles when he loses his job, his wife leaves him, and he's arrested for a crime he didn't commit. In Robert Inman's Captain Saturday, Baggett flees his sophisticated life in the big city to visit family in a rural eastern county where he begins his recovery by delving into his past.

The reigning crime-solver in Tar Heel fiction is Margaret Maron's Judge Deborah Knott. In High Country Fall, Judge Knott flees her native eastern North Carolina home in search of peace and quiet. But then she's forced to step out from behind the bench and pursue a murder mystery on her own. Maron does an excellent job of depicting the clash between North Carolina's increasingly high-tech future and its traditional, agrarian past.

As Anderson Ferrell's Have You Heard opens, Jerry Chiffon is dressed in woman's clothing and pointing a gun at a well-known conservative North Carolina senator. The life story of Chiffon--a gay man in a closed, conservative community who fled to New York City--unfolds as several narrators, all residents of a small eastern town, struggle to understand what has happened.

Some of the best North Carolina stories come from the Outer Banks, the windswept chain of islands stretching along the coast. In B.J. Mountford's Bloodlines of Shackleford Banks, the action unfolds on a small island where wild horses still run free. Roberta "Bert" Lenehan, a park ranger charged with giving the horses their annual checkup, quickly discovers that one of the horses is missing, and there are signs of foul play. Then a local woman is killed. Mountford's interesting tale weaves the history of the wild horses with a contemporary drama in which greedy developers are pitted against environmental activists.

The above column was taken from Library Journal and contributed by Nicholas Graham, Head of Public Services, North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

You may also like these novels set in North Carolina, all available at your library:

What Lies Buried: A Novel of Old Cape Fear by Dewey Lambdin. In pre-Revolutionary Wilmington, North Carolina, nothing is as it seems. Respected political leader Harry Tresmayne has been found murdered beside a lonely road in Cape Fear, and the more his friend Matthew Livesey uncovers about Harry's private life, the more he finds motives for murder. Soon the suspect list includes some of the hightest--and lowest--born of the region, and Livesey and his family face the consequences as a cold-blooded killer is run to ground.
In pre-Revolutionary Wilmington, North Carolina, nothing is as it seems. Respected political leader Harry Tresmayne has been found murdered beside a lonely road in Cape Fear, and the more his friend Matthew Livesey uncovers about Harry's private life, the more he finds motives for murder. Soon the suspect list includes some of the hightest--and lowest--born of the region, and Livesey and his family face the consequences as a cold-blooded killer is run to ground.

The Past is Never Dead by David Sculman. Gritz Goldberg is a middle-aged psychiatrist with an obsessive-compulsive disorder and a foot fetish. He's living in his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina with his ex-mother in-law and still lusts for an adolescent lost love. And whenever one of his patients answers his questions with anger and mistruths, Gritz swears he can smell Zelda Fitzgerald's personal perfume--so what if Gritz's office was the same one used by Zelda's therapist years ago; Zelda has been dead for decades. Just as Gritz begins to question his existence he is called to the Battery Park Hotel to convince a possible suicide not to jump off the roof. As he investigates, Gritz uncovers dirty secrets that involve prominent people--people involved in a plot to assassinate President Franklin Roosevelt and aid the Nazi movement in Germany in the, 1930s. As his search for the truth proceeds. Gritz is framed for the murder of an elderly woman who is living at the Happy Valley Retirement Community. Some of the characters are based on actual historical figures.

Circle of Grace by Penelope J. Stokes. For the last thirty years, Grace has been living a lie; now it's about to catch up with her. On college graduation day, she and her friends agreed to keep a journal which would make the rounds for the next thirty years. In the journal, Liz is committed to bettering the world. Tess seems content as a professor, wife, and mother. Amanda enjoys married life with her college boyfriend, a former Minnesota Viking-turned-executive. As for Grace, she never intended to deceive her friends. At first, she simply embellished the truth and omitted a few details from her entries. However, one exaggeration led to another until most of the life she had written was fiction. Now she is extremely ill. Reunited, her friends help Grace face the most important battle of her life while embarking on the most important struggle of their own lives--the fight for honesty and friendship.

Step-ball-change: A Novel by Jeanne Ray. Dance instructor Caroline and her lawyer husband Tom are looking forward to spending time alone together as they waltz their way gracefully into retirement. Suddenly, though, their empty nest is filling up. Caroline's sister arrives with a load of luggage, a bad-tempered terrier, and a broken heart. Their daughter, Kay, brings home her fiance, the richest boy in Raleigh, and plans a high-society wedding that could wipe out Caroline and Tom's savings. And a contractor finds cracks in the foundation of their home and sets up camp indefinitely. Filled with warmth, wit, and insight, this tale of a family caught in a whirlwind of change reminds us that life is what happens while we're making other plans-and that having loved ones along for the ride is the greatest blessing of all.

Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons. In Ellen Foster, the title character is an 11-year-old orphan who refers to herself as "old Ellen," an appellation that is disturbingly apt. Ellen is an old woman in a child's body; her frail, unhappy mother dies, her abusive father alternately neglects her and makes advances on her, and she is shuttled from one uncaring relative's home to another before she finally takes matters into her own hands and finds herself a place to belong. There is something almost Dickensian about Ellen's tribulations; like Oliver Twist, David Copperfield or a host of other literary child heroes, Ellen is at the mercy of predatory adults, with only her own wit and courage--and the occasional kindness of others--to help her through. That she does, in fact, survive her childhood and even rise above it is the book's bittersweet victory.

To find more novels set in North Carolina, visit this website:
Read North Carolina Novels

**All synopsis taken from Books In Print except for Ellen Foster--this synopsis provided by Oprah's book club.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Invisible Library

"The Invisible Library is a collection of books that only appear in other books. Within the library's catalog you will find imaginary books, pseudobiblia, artifictions, fabled tomes, libris phantastica, and all manner of books unwritten, unread, unpublished, and unfound."

Check it out here:

The Invisible Library

Thursday, June 22, 2006

"We learned to make wine at the library..."

Did you know that the Gallo brothers learned to make wine at the library?

"In 1933, Ernest and Julio Gallo inherited their father's grape-selling business. Like many small businesses, they wanted to expand their product line. They knew very little about making wine--so they went to their local library to learn more about the process.

There, they found a pamphlet, 'The Principles of Wine-making.' They followed the directions and soon started producing wine.

Seventy years later, Ernest and Julio's small winery has grown to be the largest wine producer in the world. They create 2.5 million bottles of wine a day. One out of every four bottles of wine sold in the United States is a Gallo product. What started as an aspiring small business has created hundreds of jobs, thousands of opportunities, and millions of satisfied customers, all from asking a librarian for help."

Taken from Libraries, a publication of the American Library Association.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Phishing attacks are fraudulent emails that appear to come from authentic online merchants or financial institutions. When you click on a link within an email, you end up on a site that may appear to be the merchant or financial institution, but it isn't. Here's how you can avoid phishing scams:
1. Don't reply or click on email/pop-up links asking for personal or financial information.
2. Never send an email with personal or financial information.
3. Review credit card and bank statements as soon as they arrive.
4. Use anti-virus software and keep it up to date.
5. Be cautious about opening any email attachment or downloading any files.
6. Report suspicious activity to the FTC at
7. Visit for more information.

**This information was provided by a

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Hey bibliophiles, this is a really cool site! You can catalog up to 200 books for FREE (more than that if you upgrade). You can also get recommendations based on the catalogs of other people who own the same books you own. Try it out!


Monday, June 19, 2006

Hungry for recommendations?

Love to cook? Want to learn more about the history of cookery or view historical cookbooks online? The Michigan State University Library and the MSU Museum have partnered to create an online collection of some of the most influential and important American cookbooks from the late 18th to early 20th century. The goal of this project is to make these materials available to a wider audience. Digital images of the pages of each cookbook are available as well as full-text transcriptions and the ability to search within the books, across the collection, in order to find specific information.

Visit the site here: History of Cookery

Ready to get started cooking? For online recipes, try these sites:

All Recipes, the world's largest independent food site, is an online cooking community where home cooks from around the world come to share, rate and download recipes and meal ideas. With more than 15 million annual visitors and a membership base of more than a million strong, is considered the world's largest test kitchen, offering a nightly glimpse into the kitchens and habits of home cooks everywhere.

The site is an indispensable resource for home cooks who are looking for trusted recipes, everyday and holiday meal ideas, practical cooking tips and food advice. The site features more than 30,000 of America's best-loved recipes. In our 8 year history we have never paid to advertise, instead the site's success is based solely on the positive word-of-mouth of our fans.

Epicurious, a CondeNet site, incorporates more than 20,000 recipes from the premier brands in food journalism, Gourmet, Bon Appetit and Self magazines, as well as original material and tips focused on cooking, entertaining, and cocktails.

Kraft foods

Kraft Foods offers recipes, tips, and ideas as well as Comida Kraft in Spanish. On their site you can:

Share your favorite recipes with our community
Keep track of your favorite recipes in one place
Rate recipes and share your opinions with other cooks like you
Receive recipes and ideas just to your liking in e-mail
Maintain balance with personalized meal plans and fitness plans
Find out how to receive the free Food & Family magazine

Love down home cooking? Try Taste of Home.

Taste of Home provides home cooks with a friendly exchange of their best recipes. Taste of Home magazine is published six times per year and is filled with 68 full-color pages. On the mouth-watering menu for each issue are delicious foods for everyday meals and special occasions, all prepared with ingredients that are readily available. Our readers like the great recipes that don't call for a lot of exotic ingredients, the fact that each one is a family favorite of another home cook much like themselves and the easy-to-follow recipe directions and mouth-watering color food photos!

Pressed for time? Try Simple and Delicious.

Eating Light? Try Light and Tasty.

Prefer to actually browse through an actual book? Try out these cookbooks available at your library:

America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. This comprehensive cookbook delivers more than 1,200 foolproof recipes for classic American family fare. Beautiful step-by-step photos illuminate every technique. In addition, the recipes will keep you busy for years to come since we've included hundreds of easy weeknight dishes (like Skillet Lasagna and One-Pot Chicken and Rice), company and holiday-worthy dinners (like Beef Burgundy, Roast Leg of Lamb, and Flourless Chocolate Cake), dozens of menus, shopping tips, equipment ratings and more.
A cooking tutorial between two covers, The America's Test Kitchen Cookbook is the one and only basic cookbook you will ever need, covering every course, from appetizers to desserts, plus chapters on breakfast, sandwiches, sauces and condiments, and beverages. Bound to get America back into the kitchen again, this is a family cookbook for generations to come.

Fix-It and Enjoy-It Cookbook: All Purpose Welcome-Home Recipes by Phyllis Pellman Good. This irresistible collection of more than 675 recipes brings you delicious food that is easy to prepare. Recipes use ingredients already in most cooks' cupboards. The skills required are simple and basic. And the recipes yield nutritional food family and friends of all ages will heartily enjoy! Each recipe includes the amount of preparation and cooking time needed. Each also includes clear, step-by-step procedures for making the dish. Fix-It and Enjoy-It Cookbook delivers recipes that are easy and pleasing for the cook and all who gather around the table. This is good everyday food! Persons who have loved the Fix-It and Forget-It slow cooker series will also love the all-purpose Fix-It and Enjoy-It Cookbook!

Giada's Family Dinners by Giada de Laurentiis. Giada De Laurentiis is back with a new batch of simple, delicious recipes geared toward family meals-Italian style. These unpretentious and delicious meals include soups like Escarole and Bean, hearty sandwiches such as the classic Italian Muffuletta, one-pot dinners like Giada's Chicken Vesuvio and Veal Stew with Cipollini, holiday favorites including Easter Pie, Turkey and Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta, and Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce. Suggested menus help you put together a family-style meal for any occasion, from informal to festive. The heart of Italian cooking is the home, and Giada's Family Dinners--full of fantastic recipes that require a minimum of fuss to prepare--invites you to treat everyone like a member of the family. Nothing is more important than family. Bring yours to the table with Giada's unpretentious, authentic, down-home Italian cooking!

Mama Dip's Kitchen by Mildred Council. For nearly twenty-five years, Mildred Council--better known by her nickname, Mama Dip--has nourished thousands of hungry folks in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her restaurant, Mama Dip's Kitchen, is a much-loved community institution that has gained loyal fans and customers from all walks of life. The book features more than 250 recipes for such favorites as old-fashioned chicken pie, country-style pork chops, sweet potatoes, fresh corn casserole, poundcake, and banana pudding. Chapters cover breads and breakfast dishes; poultry, fish, and seafood; beef, pork, and lamb; vegetables and salads; and desserts, beverages, and party dishes. The book opens with a charming introductory essay, a savory reflection on a life in cooking that also reveals the story behind Council's nickname. It is both a graceful reminiscence of a country childhood and the inspiring story of a woman determined to make her own way in the larger world.

Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats: A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners by Rachael Ray. Even your favorite dinner can lose its appeal when it's in constant rotation, so mix it up! With her largest collection of recipes yet, Rachael Ray guarantees you'll be able to put something fresh and exciting on your dinner table every night for a full year...without a single repeat! Rachael offers dozens of recipes that, once mastered, can become entirely new dishes with just a few ingredient swaps. Learn how to make a Southwestern Pasta Bake and you'll be able to make a Smoky Chipotle Chili Con Queso Mac the next time. Try your hand at Spring Chicken with Leeks and Peas and you're all set to turn out a rib-sticking Rice and Chicken Soup that looks and tastes like an entirely different dish.
She covers the flavor spectrum from Asian to Italian and dozens of delicious stops in between. Best of all, these flavor-packed dishes will satisfy your every craving and renew your taste for cooking. With so many delicious entrees to choose from you'll never have an excuse for being in a cooking rut again.

Also, try some fiction in which food plays a prominent role in the story:

Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks. Thirty-one-year-old Wynter Morrison is lost when her husband leaves her for another woman. Desperate for a change, she moves to Seattle, where she spends aimless hours at a local bakery sipping coffee and inhaling the sweet aromas of freshly-made bread. These visits bring back memoapprenticede time she aprenticed at a French boulangerie, when her passion for bread-making nearly led her to leave college and become a baker. Once again, the desire to bake bred consumes her thoughts. When offered a position at the bake shop, Wyn quickly accepts, hoping that the baking will help her move on. But soon Wyn discovers that the making of bread, the kneading of the dough, possesses an unexpected and wondrous healing power one that will ultimately renew her heart and her soul. Also, try the sequel, The Breadmaker's Apprentice.

Crawfish Dreams by Nancy Rawles. The uplifting story of a woman who cooks up a plan to bring her family back together and discovers that love, sharing, and a dash of daring are the secret ingredients that can turn dreams into reality. Camille Broussard can remember a time when she had more pep in her stride and her single-story house was one of the nicest homes in the cozy, well-kept neighborhood of Watts. Her kitchen overflowed with the fragrant aromas of Creole cooking, and the taste of her divine crawfish, rich gumbos, and delicious pralines had family and friends begging for seconds and thirds. The devastation of the Watts riots and the ravages of Reaganomics, however, changed everything. Her neighbors have fled, the church pews are nearly empty on Sunday Mass, and her own children have turned their backs on Watts and on the pride and values Camille instilled in them. But Camille is not ready to give up on the family who has nourished her as she has nourished them. So she decides to combine her love of family and her love of cooking into one great enterprise. She opens Camille's Creole Kitchen and recruits her family to help her get the restaurant on its feet. As the business gradually grows, Camille not only restores her family's spirit and sense of purpose, she also recovers her own lost dreams.

Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber. Thirty-nine-year-old Sirine, never married, lives with a devoted Iraqi-immigrant uncle and an adoring dog named King Babar. She works as a chef in a Lebanese restaurant, her passions aroused only by the preparation of food until an unbearably handsome Arabic literature professor starts dropping by for a little home cooking. Falling in love brings Sirene's whole heart to a boil stirring up memories of her parents and questions about her identity as an Arab American. Praised by critics from The New Yorker to USA Today for her first novel, Arabian Jazz ("an oracular tale that unfurls like gossamer"), Diana Abu-Jaber weaves with spellbinding magic a multidimensional love story set in the Arab-American community of Los Angeles. Written in a lush, lyrical style reminiscent of The God of Small Things, infused with the flavors and scents of Middle Eastern food, and spiced with history and fable, Crescent is a sensuous love story and a gripping tale of risk and commitment.

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran. To the exotic Aminpour sisters, Ireland looks like a much-needed safe haven. It has been seven years since Marjan Aminpour fled Iran with her younger sisters, Bahar and Layla, and she hopes that in Ballinacroagh they might finally find a home. From the kitchen of an old pastry shop on Main Mall, the sisters set about creating a Persian oasis. Soon sensuous wafts float through the streets- an exotic aroma that announces the opening of the Babylon Cafe, and a shock to a town that generally subsists on boiled cabbage and Guinness served at the local tavern. The mysterious, spicy fragrances work their magic on the townsfolk, and soon, business is booming. Marjan is thrilled with the demand for her red lentil soup, abgusht stew, and rosewater baklava- and with the transformation in her sisters. Young Layla finds first love, and even tense, haunted Bahar seems to be less nervous. The sisters find a merry band of supporters against the close-minded opposition of less welcoming villagers stuck in their ways. Infused with the textures and scents, trials and triumphs of two distinct cultures, Pomegranate Soup is an infectious novel of magical realism. This richly detailed story, highlighted with delicious recipes, is a delectable journey into the heart of Persian cooking and Irish living.

World of Pies by Karen Stolz. Karen Stolz has created a cozy, poignant and exquisitely written episodic tale of family, food, and love. Set in a small town in Texas in the 1960's, where "there wasn't a lot to pick from, summer-wise: counter-girl at Jerry's Dairy King, shampoo girl at Barb's Tint n' Clip; the maid job at the Bluebonnet Motel," a young girl named Roxanne comes of age. Whether it's a pie-baking contest that becomes a lesson in racial politics and courage; a crush on the new mailman (who is a woman); or dealing with the death of her beloved father and her mother's remarriage, Roxanne never fails to touch our hearts. And if that weren't enough, the recipes following each chapter--which range from Christina's Lemon Meringue Pie to Doreen's Frozen Fruit Salad--evoke a cozy sweet sensation that makes it seem as though there could be no better place to live than in Annette, Texas.

And for those of you who love a good mystery, try these series that feature caterers and other foodies as sleuths:

Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Bear series
Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swenson series
G.A. Mckevett's Savannah Reid series
Katherine Hall Page's Faith Fairchild series
Nancy Pickard's Eugenia Potter series
Phyllis Richman's Chas Wheatley series
Lou Jane Temple's Heaven Lee series

***All descriptions were taken from actual website descriptions and publisher's blurbs.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

That's History Folks...


"We are informed that a crazy man was in town last Monday afternoon. He went to the depot and informed Agent Hawkins that he was a President, King, and lots of other things, and asked for a map of the U.S. Mr. Hawkins informed him that he did not have one. He (the man) then wanted to take possession of some freight bills. But our agent, being equal to the emergency, told him that he would carry him where he could secure the map. The fellow followed and Mr. H conducted him to Policeman Edwards and told him to arrest the fellow. This seemed to arrest the crazy man and he proceeded to vent his wrath on everybody by swearing, etc. Strange to say, he was not arrested, and after he had given vent to his feelings, he deliberately walked off unmolested by the law. Well!"

from the North Wilkesboro News, November 23, 1893

Commentary for the ladies:

"It's wicked to envy other people, but what girl doesn't look with envious eyes at that other girl--

Who has a fascinating dimple in either cheek?

Who has cunning little feet that she doesn't have to keep constantly covered with the hem of her skirts?

Who can say childish things and not appear idiotic?

Who is always well informed of current events?

Who knows how to receive a compliment without an embarassing blush and a painful smile?

Whose hands are plump and white and whose nails are always pink and even?

Who has the knack of saying the right thing at the right time?

Who doesn't care a cent how she looks or how old her gown is?

Whose nose doesn't get all shiny and need powdering every half hour?

Who, when she is ill, can look pale and big-eyed and interesting and not have to use some horrid ailment that makes her eyes swell and her nose red and her voice a deep bass?"

from the North Wilkesboro News, October 19, 1893

More news:

" When a short distance this side of Roaring River, which is about ten miles from this place, last Saturday afternoon, Capt. L. M. Hawkins saw a man sitting on the steps of the rear car, and opened the door and asked him to come in, or rather started to, but the boy did not give him time to do so. The train was running about 40 miles an hour, but a little thing like that did not worry him, for as soon as he observed the Capt., he immediately sprang off.

The train was was stopeed and run back to see what amount of damage had been done. He was unconscious, and they took him on board and brought him to this place, and Dr. W.P. Horton was summoned, who succeeded in bringing him to in about three hours. No bones were broken but he had a terrible shaking up.

He is a book agent and his name is Jno. Crouch, about 18 years old, and his parents live at Boomer, 12 miles south-west of here. His father came over after him Saturday night but he was unable to be moved. Sunday morning, however, he was much better and left for home.

Capt. Hawkins says he can't imagine what made him jump off the train as he had not spoken to him, but guesses it will be some time before he tries to beat again."

from the North Wilkesboro News, June 29, 1893

And a note about literature:

"Mathew Arnold said that literature contains a greater mass of educational material than all other things combined. Books are more than friends, for we can enter into a closer intimacy with a book than a friend, and they are the constant feeders of our life. Homer has made of every modern tongue a trumpet to sound his praise. Literature is one of the streams that refreshes us continually. It is a spring that is constantly and silently filling us all with new life and joy. The great beauty of Emerson was that he had zest in life. Every man and woman who came to him came with some message from God to him. He had the path of immortal spirit. In great literature we have something more than what is written...all great books have depth."

from the North Wilkesboro News, August 24, 1893

Did you know that your library has microfilm of old newspapers? We hold selections from the Wilkes Journal-Patriot, the Yellow Jacket, the Wilkesboro Chronicle, the Fool-Killer, and other local publications. Call the library at 838-2818 for more information and to determine which issues we hold. (Note: the library does not hold complete records for any of the publications. The library at Wilkes Community College holds a more complete collection of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"Viral" television show?

Literati meets reality t.v.? Authors "complete a series of tasks which pertain to book promotion and living the lifestyle of a best selling author." The winner receives "the ultimate dream — to enjoy the lifestyle of being a successfully published author. And they will receive additional prizes to help achieve the goal of Best Selling and Celebrity Status and becoming the America’s next Book Millionaire." Curiosity piqued? Check out this link:

Book Millionaire

We even have a candidate from North Carolina--AlexSandra “Sandy Lynn” Lett.

To view her video, click on the link below:

Alexsandra "Sandy Lynn" Lett

By the way, viral television online is so described because it is free and passed along from friend to friend.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Looking for something to read?

Want to find out about the latest books? Try this site:

Got a book club? Want to start one? Try this site:

We would love to hear about your book club. Email Misty Bass at to share news of your group. We would also love for you to join our book club at the library. We meet on the third Tuesday of every month at 4:00 p.m. Email Mary Wilson at for more information.

Looking for something for teens? Try this site:

The library has a book club for teens--it will meet at 6:00 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of the month this summer in the Youth Services area. There is also a book club for students from ten to twelve years old that meets at 6:00 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. Email Meg Webb at for more information.

Love kids' books? Try this site:

The library has story hour on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 11:00 a.m. Email Trish Collins at for more information. You can also email either Meg or Trish to find out more about the library's summer reading program for children and teens.

Found a great new book you can't wait to tell others about? Post a comment to this blog, post a review to the library website, or email one of us directly. We can't wait to hear from you!

Friday, June 09, 2006

New Books at the Library--June 2006

Take a look at a selection of new books now available for checkout at the Wilkes County Public Library:

A Student of Living Things by Susan Richards Shreve. The tightly-knit Frayn family is shattered when Stephen, son and brother, is shot and killed on the library steps of the university where his sister Claire works. Galvanized by an impassioned stranger who claims to her brother's friend, Claire sheds her measured academic persona and sets out to avenge her brother's death.

Adverbs by Daniel Handler. Handler is also the author of the Lemony Snicket books and, he claims, he wrote the plot summary that appears on this book's dust jacket: "Adverbs is a novel about love-a bunch of people in and out of different kinds of love. The miracle is in the adverbs," he says, "the way things are done. This novel is about people trying to find love in the ways it is done before the volcano erupts and the miracle ends."

Correcting the Landscape by Marjorie Kowalski Cole. Gus Traynor is the editor of a small weekly newspaper in Fairbanks, Alaska. His idealism has been consistently tested, but remains mostly intact, and he prides himself on his independence of spirit. So when big business threatens the awe-inspiring Alaskan wilderness, Gus calls for support from his best friend, an often self-serving developer who helps Gus take on the forces of progress.

A Man Jumps out of an Airplane by Barry Yourgrau. Focusing on the thematic standards-father, mother, lover, sex, the imagination itself.-Yourgrau recasts them into madcap parables, surrealistic fables, and grotesque fantasies. A twelve-inch girl lolls in her date's spaghetti; a warrior steps out of the Illiad as an intruder in a backyard swimming pool; a man climbs inside a cow on a bet. Yourgrau treats readers to a circus of surreal, impish beauty.

My Jim by Nancy Rawles. To help her granddaughter accept the risks of loving, Sadie Watson mines her memory for the tale of the unquenchable love of her life, Jim. Sadie's Jim was an ambitious young slave and seer who, when faced with the prospect of being sold, escaped down the Mississippi with a white boy named Huck Finn. Sadie is suddenly left alone, and convinced that her husband is dead.

Twilight of the Superheroes by Deborah Eisenberg. From a group of ambitious friends delighted to find a sublet across from the World Trade Center; to a family whose tranquility is strangely poisoned by years spent in poor foreign lands; to the too-painful love of a brother for his schizophrenic sister, Eisenberg shapes stories of an American reality that has become increasingly chaotic, brutal, and out of control both personally and politically.

The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld. Hannah Gravener is fourteen in the summer of 1991. In magazines, celebrities plan elaborate weddings; in Hannah's own life, her parents' marriage is crumbling. And somewhere in between these two extremes lie the answers to life's most bewildering questions. But over the next decade and a half, as she moves from Philadelphia to Boston to Albuquerque, Hannah finds that the questions become more, rather than less, complicated.

Strange Saint by Andrew Beahrs. Melode is sensuous, spiritual, fierce-and sixteen. Held as a servant by the Puritan congregation of "Saints" responsible for the death of her parents, Mel nevertheless joins them when they resolve to leave for the New World. We follow Mel from her familiar English village to the wilds of Newfoundland and New England, from passionate romance to the rawest struggle for survival.

Side Effects by Patty Friedman. In this wacky and suspenseful novel, the lives of three drugstore employees-two black, one white-become intertwined somewhere between Patient Consultation and Pick-up. Behind the pharmacy counter they are given a unique perspective on New Orleans before Katrina. Luciana Jambon, Vendetta Greene, and Lennon Israel experience the complications of friendship and romance in the storms of inevitable family dramas.

Dying for Love by Gwen Moffat. Culchet is everyone's idea of the idyllic Lake District village: well-behaved residents going quietly about their business. Then, without warning that peace is shattered. Two deaths occur within a short space of time, both too sudden and unusual to be accidents. And when five-year-old Kim Butler disappears, everyone knows there has to be a kidnapper, or worse, living a seemingly respectable life right alongside them.

Karavans by Jennifer Roberson. The land of Sancorra has been conquered by the brutal, tribal Hecari, leaving thousands of families without homes. Audrun and her husband Davyn and their four children must travel to Atalanda province where Audrun has relatives. For safety's sake they join a caravan escorting refugees from their war-ravaged land. But eventually they must travel far too close to the demonic, shape-shifting deepwood than is considered safe.

Sleep with Me by Joanna Briscoe. As Richard and Lelia go about their busy London lives, Sylvie insinuates herself into their happy world. Gradually their reality shifts: Mysterious fragments of a novel about a troubled child appear on Richard's e-mail. Lelia is haunted by a painful secret from her past. A friend confides his adulterous affair and Richard voyeuristically hangs on every detail. With the approaching birth of their child, Richard grows remote, and Lilia makes a surprising decision that nearly destroys the life she and Richard have created.

Saving the World by Julia Alvarez. Latina novelist Alma Huebner is suffering from writer's block and is years past the completion date for another of her bestselling family sagas. The truth is that Alma is seriously sidetracked by the story of Spaniard Francisco Xavier Balmis who in 1803 undertook to vaccinate the population of Spain's American colonies against smallpox, and of Isabel Sendales y Gomez who was asked to select twenty-two orphan boys to be the vaccine carriers.

The Devil's Own Rag Doll by Mitchell Bartoy. In the summer of 1943 poor white and black southerners are pouring into Detroit looking for work in the airplane and tank factories. When a vivacious white heiress is murdered in a black part of town, newly minted detective Pete Caudill is charged with covering up the crime in the interests of civic peace, and finding some kind of justice for the dead girl.

Orphans of Chaos by John C. Wright. For Amelia and her friends, the strict English boarding school where they live is all they have ever known. The School has a large staff but only five students. Amelia can see in four directions. Victor can control the molecular arrangement of matter. Vanity can find secret passageways where none existed. Colin is a psychic. Quentin is a warlock. And, as time goes by, they're starting to suspect that none of them is entirely human.

A Taxonomy of Barnacles by Galt Niederhoffer. The Barnacle sisters-Bell, Bridget, Benita, Beryl, Belinda, and Beth-have been issued a challenge. The Barnacle patriarch, Barry, proposes a contest: Whichever of his daughters can most spectacularly carry on his name will inherit his fortune. Set all over New York City, this novel takes a magnifying glass to one particularly eccentric family, and it is as beautifully written as it is unique.