In my quest to find all fiction books set in Savannah, Georgia and low country South Carolina, I have found Mary Kay Andrews. She is a wonderful author and these three books about Savannah are the funniest I have read. The characters are Eloise “Weezie” Foley and BeBe Loudermilk, best friends to the end.

Savannah Blues

Landing a catch like Talmadge Evans III got Eloise “Weezie” Foley a jewel of a town house in Savannah’s historic district. Divorcing Tat got her exited to the backyard carriage house, where she has launched a spite-fest with Tal’s new fiancé, the elegant Caroline DeSantos. BeBe owns a restaurant in town, and Weezie makes pies for her. An antiques picker, Weezie combs Savannah’s steamy back alleys and garage sales for treasures when she’s not dealing with her loopy relatives or her hunky ex-boyfriend. But an unauthorized sneak preview at a sale lands Weezie smack in the middle of magnolia-scented murder, mayhem . . . and more. Dirty deals simmer all around her — just as her relationship with the hottest chef in town heats up and she finds out how delicious love can be the second time around. There are not recipes in this book, but it does introduce you to Weezie and BeBe.

Savannah Breeze

In this eagerly awaited sequel to Savannah Blues, Southern belle BeBe Loudermilk loses all her worldly possessions thanks to a brief but disastrous relationship with the gorgeous Reddy, an “investment counselor” who turns out to be a con man. All that’s left is a ramshackle 1950s motor court on Tybee Island-an eccentric beach town that calls itself a drinking village with a fishing problem. Breeze Inn is a place where the very classy BeBe wouldn’t normally be caught dead but, with no alternative, she moves into the manager’s unit, vowing to make magic out of mud. With the help of Harry and BeBe’s junking friend Weezie, she soon has the motel spiffed up and attracting paying guests.Then there’s a sighting of Reddy in Fort Lauderdale, and BeBe decides to go after him. She puts together a posse, and with the irrepressible Granddaddy Loudermilk snoring in the backseat of the Buick, heads south. The plan is to carry out a sting that may be just a little bit outside the law but that, with any luck at all, will retrieve BeBe’s fortune and put the dastardly Reddy in jail where he belongs. The recipes in this book are for Breeze Inn Crabcakes and Blue Breeze Cocktail… Yummy

Blue Christmas

It’s the week before Christmas, and antiques dealer Weezie Foley is in a frenzy to garnish her shop for the Savannah historical district decorating contest, which she intends to win. Weezie is ready to shoot herself with her glue gun by the time she’s done, but the results are stunning. She’s certainly one-upped the owners of the trendy shop around the corner, but suddenly things start to go missing from her display, and there seems to be a mysterious midnight visitor to her shop. Still, Weezie has high hopes for the holiday—maybe in the form of an engagement ring from her chef boyfriend. But Daniel, always moody at the holidays, seems more distant than usual. Throw in Weezie’s decidedly odd family, a 1950s Christmas-tree pin, and even a little help from the King himself (Elvis, that is), and maybe there will be a pocketful of miracles for Weezie this Christmas Eve. The recipes in this book are for Foley Family Irish Corned Beef Dip and Red Roosters, a Christmas-y cocktail.

And so it begins – the time of year when, at every opportunity, we find an excuse to eat something special and delicious, a time also known as “the holidays”. (If you’re really serious about this, you start at Halloween and extend it at least until Super Bowl Sunday, maybe Valentine’s Day!) Food is often a popular theme of many books and movies, from Julie and Julia to Like Water for Chocolate. This week our blogging librarians clue us into some of their favorites. Lexie gets us started with a movie that’s sure to become a classic.

Not only are the holidays a great time for food, they’re also a great time for family togetherness.  In that spirit, I  highly recommend the Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouille.  It tells the story of a rat named Remy who loves food and coming up with new concoctions made from whatever he can find lying around.  When he stumbles into his cooking idol’s restaurant, he strikes up an unusual friendship with the garbage boy, and together the two cook up amazing creations and bring the vitality back to the failing restaurant.

I might be an adult, but Pixar can still do no wrong in my eyes.  You definitely don’t have to be a kid to enjoy this movie.  It’s really an inspirational story about achieving your goals despite your shortcomings and the things that stand in your way.  It’s got comedy, a little romance, and….well, a rat cooking, which sounds gross but is done in such a cute way that I don’t mind.  As long as it’s not happening in any restaurant I eat in, of course.

One of my very favorite directors is Quentin Tarantino.  I think his movies are so original and witty, all while being filled with crazy action scenes.  I can’t think of one of his movies that I’ve seen and not liked.  Of course Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs are two of his most well-known films and are both fantastic.  But for me, in the race for favorite Tarantino film, it’s a tie between two of his most recent works.  The first is the Kill Bill saga, comprised of Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Volume 2.  It’s the story of a former assassain who tries to quit the business and is hunted down by her former boss and his minions on her wedding day.  She survives the attack, and now she’s out for revenge.  Volume 1 is pretty heavy on the beautifully directed (and fairly bloody) action scenes, while Volume 2 focuses more on the backstory and Tarantino’s signature dialogue.

My other favorite is Inglourious Basterds, the fictionalized World War II story about a group of Jewish-American soldiers banding together to bring down as many Nazis as possible.  This movie surprised me in so many ways.  I have to admit, I’ve always thought of Brad Pitt as just a pretty face rather than a great actor, but he’s absolutely hilarious and perfect in his role as Lt. Aldo Raine, the leader of the rogue team of Nazi hunters called The Basterds.  But the best performance in this movie is Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa, a member of the Nazi high command obsessed with tracking down any Jewish person who might have escaped initial searches.  I think I held my breath during the entire first scene of the movie because his performance was so riveting.  Even though I have to turn my head away from the screen every now and then (after all, it’s a Tarantino film, and bloody violence is bound to happen), I loved every  minute of the film:  the intense drama, the hilarious dialogue, and the inspired performances.  I highly recommend it.

Happy Thanksgiving! All of the Davenport Library buildings – Main, Fairmount and Eastern – will be closed today in observance of the holiday. We will be back to our regular hours tomorrow, 9:30am – 5:30pm, at all three locations.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Those of us of a certain age (ahem) can remember the last time fondue was all the rage. Suddenly fondue pots were the hot gift and fondue parties the way to entertain. Like most fads, this one faded away and the fondue pots disappeared into attics and the back of cupboards. Well, you might want to go looking for that nearly forgotten relic – fondue is back and this time it intends to stick around.

Of course, fondue never really went away – it’s a traditional meal in Switzerland dating back maybe as far as the 16th century (there is some disagreement on this) – but partly due to the returning emphasis on “slow food” and the importance of sitting down to a meal with family and friends, fondue is popular again. Not Your Mother’s Fondue by Hallie Harron is just the book to reintroduce you. The basics – cheese, sauce, oil, broth and dessert – are all covered, many with fresh, fun twists and a wide range of dippers are suggested. There are also some thinking-outside-the-box ideas such as Minnesota Corn Dogs on a Stick Fondue and even a Thanksgiving Day Fondue! Of course, the best part about fondue, even beyond the delicious food, is the way it brings people together. Start a new tradition with your family and friends with great fondue meals!

Here’s our next tip for help in finding your next great read!

EarlyWord is the place to go to keep up with the latest in book news – what’s moving up the bestseller lists, award nominees and winners, forthcoming books with buzz, what book is being made into a movie. The emphasis is on connecting libraries to the publishing world, so you’ll also find reports on books that are showing a lot of reserves at a cross-section of libraries across the country, but this blog is packed with interesting and helpful information for any book lover.

The co-founders of EarlyWord – Nora Rawlinson and Fred Ciporen – each have strong ties to both the publishing and library worlds, but the tone of this blog is far from stuffy or academic. There’s a lot of humor and opinions but no snobbishness. Frequent postings – often 2 to 3 a day – keep things lively and current. With the end of the year approaching there has been a lot of information on award winners and “best of the year” lists with links to reviews for the big winners.

There are also links galore to all things book-related – publisher catalogs, book awards of all kinds, lists of “best” books from various publications, best seller lists, coming soon and previews, movies based on books (both finished films and those in various stages of production) including links to trailers for these movies. The “Consumer Media, Book Coverage” section will point you to that book you heard about on NPR last night, or the author Jon Stewart talked to last week.

Count on EarlyWord to entertain and inform – and to steer you to some great new books.

If you’re looking for a little escape from the family togetherness during the next big holiday, try one of these dvds in which  families and friends display a range of dysfunctional behavior during the Thanksgiving season.

Jody Foster directed the surprisingly funny Home for the Holidays. Starring Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr., as her irreverent brother. Hunter plays a single mom who loses her job right before Thanksgiving. This is only the beginning of a very stressful holiday with her eccentric family.

Friends, the Complete Eighth Season had a classic episode with special guest Brad Pitt, (married at the time to Jennifer Aniston). He played Will, a high school classmate of Ross and Rachel’s. Unbeknownst to Rachel, they were both members of the “I Hate Rachel” club. Rachel doesn’t recognize Will because he is much slimmer than he was in high school.  Pitt shows off  excellent comic timing in this show.

The Thanksgiving episode of The Middle, Season One revolves around Mom Frankie’s doomed effort to force her family to celebrate a traditional dinner, and to accommodate her boss’ demand that she work at the car dealership.  (The Middle refers to the middle class family in the middle of the country).In typical Heck family fashion, they aren’t able to pull this off. If you haven’t seen this series, now is the time to start.

Looking for an author who is not only prolific but a dependably good storyteller? Michael Connelly has written over 21 books, and continues to create new characters and develop relationships between old characters.

In The Poet, written in 1996, reporter Jack McEvoy’s brother has apparently committed suicide. Jack can’t believe that his twin brother, a homicide cop, would have killed himself. To clear his brother’s name, he starts to investigate several anomalies. This  leads Jack to research the deaths of homicide detectives around the country. Because he is a crime reporter for Denver newspaper, Jack can both write a story about the serial killings and find out what happened to his brother.

He ultimately combines forces with the FBI whose vast resources jump start the race to catch  the Poet. McEvoy knew that there was a serial killer when he found out that the various suicide notes contained lines from Edgar Allan Poe poems. What the FBI uncovers about the killings is very disturbing for Jack as he gains more knowledge about how his brother died.

Connelly’s skill is in combining an absorbing plot and likable protagonists; a great go-to guy when you just need a good read.

We’ve been hearing a lot of buzzwords these days regarding food – “organic”, “local”, “green”, “locavore”, “natural”, “ecological”, “environmentally friendly”, “free range”. Putting all of those concepts and philosophies into practice though – that’s another story, one that seems nearly impossible. However, Growing a Garden City by Jeremy Smith will show you that not only is eating healthy possible, you can also make a difference in your part of the world while you’re at it.

Growing a Garden City follows the community based garden project called Garden City Harvest located in Missoula, Montana, from its modest beginnings to a growing program that not only touches many aspects of the community, it serves as a source of pride. The range of projects and people they’ve assisted is astonishing. They include schoolchildren who visit the farm, troubled teens given a sense of purpose by working on the farm, local university students getting hands-on experience and the homeless and hungry who now have a wide variety of fresh, healthy produce (a rarity in many food banks). The community as a whole is encouraged to participate in the many classes, field trips, summer camps and other education programs as well as the garden plots available for individuals to rent. There are public events throughout the year which include concerts, picnics, lectures and readings making this a truly community-wide program.

Beautifully illustrated, full of practical ideas and inspiring stories, Growing a Garden City will not only show you how it can be done, it gives you hope for the future.

I love sci-fi and fantasy novels, and I have been meaning to read this classic sci-fi work for ages.  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the story of Arthur Dent, an Englishman rescued moments before the destruction of Earth with the help of Ford Prefect, his best friend who turns out to be from another planet.  As the title suggests, the two hitchhike through the galaxy in search of a mythical planet called Magrathea and meet new friends, including the President of the Galaxy, his girlfriend, and a depressed robot.  The book is absolutely hilarious.  The galaxy Adams has created is interesting and well-developed, and we get to learn a lot about it through random and laugh-out-loud details.  One of my favorite things about it is the encyclopedia that Ford is writing, which guides newbies like Arthur through the galaxy and defines all the different creatures, technological advances, and concepts.  If only our encyclopedias on Earth had Ford Prefect’s sense of humor!

The movie version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy stars Martin Freeman, Mos Def, Sam Rockwell, and Zooey Deschanel.  It follows pretty closely to the book and has great performances by Freeman as Arthur and the always amazing Alan Rickman as the voice of Martin.  However, I feel compelled to be honest and say that I didn’t really care for this movie.  I don’t know what it was about it, but something was just lost in the translation from book to movie.  For example, they did include narration of the encyclopedia entries, which I loved in the book.  But by the fifth or sixth little aside in the movie, I was pretty tired of the constant interruptions.  The book packed in all that detail without making it a laborious effort to get through, which is a feat that the movie didn’t accomplish in my opinion.  But then again, that’s just my opinion.  So if you liked the book as much as I did, I encourage you to check out the movie and see what you think!