The Only Child

Title: The Only Child
Author: Andrew Pyper
Publisher: Simon & Schuster June 2017

Summary/Review: The old-school horrors of Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde manifest in present day in this deftly imagined novel by Andrew Pyper.

Dr. Lily Dominick finds strange comfort in working with the criminally insane. This comfort comes from her uncanny ability to delve into their minds and find the root of their evil. That is until she meets her new client. A man with a number but no name. A man who has committed heinous crimes and knows far too much about Lily and her past.

From that meeting on, their lives are irrevocably intertwined and the details of Lily’s forgotten past will be made clear.

If you like this, try this: Fans of Penny Dreadful and classic Dean Koontz and Robert McCammon will be interested, as well as readers who enjoy their thrillers and suspense with a little horror mixed in.

Recommended by: Sue B., Circulation

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on this book, please click here.

The North Water

Title: The North Water
Author: Ian McGuire
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, 2016.

Summary/ReviewFirst of all this is about as far from a chick book as you can get. It is a sometimes-thrilling account of the horrible, bloody, violent life of Arctic whalers aboard a sailing ship in the late 1850s.

The protagonist is an Irish ex-Army surgeon with a questionable past who served with the British army in India. Back in England after that military escapade, he needs to find work and signs on to be ship’s surgeon for a pittance of a salary, just to have something to do for 6 months or so. At that time the whale oil business was fast being replaced by coal oil and paraffin since they were cleaner, less expensive sources of heat and light. Unfortunately, also among the crew is as foul a human being as I have ever read about — Henry Drax is his name and among other things, he rapes and sometimes kills young boys on land as well as at sea. 

The owner of the ship, who has his own sordid past, connives to sink the ship for the insurance money when they are out whaling, but the weather and human attrocities “scuttle” his plot. 

The whaler-sailors were toiling under horrible and unforgiving conditions, but the absolute disregard for human and animal life and suffering is hard to fathom. 

The North Water may, or may not be, an historically accurate depiction of a way of life that none of us will ever experience. There are other novels which take the same path, exploring and explaining the lives of commercial fishermen, such as The Perfect Storm and All Fishermen Are Liars.  

I read this book because In December 2016 The New York Times named The North Water as one of the 10 Best Books of 2016.

If you like this, try this: The Perfect Storm and All Fishermen Are Liars.  

Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on this book, please click here.

The Wonder

Title: The Wonder

Author: Emma Donoghue

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, September 2016

Summary/Review:  Anna O’Donnell is a perfectly normal, very bright, attractive and extremely pious 11-year-old Irish girl who has not eaten a morsel of food in four months.

Is she a Wonder or a hoax? If she is a wonder then everyone in her deeply religious Catholic hometown is living with a possible saint, but if she and her family are perpetrating a hoax they want to get to the bottom of it.

This is where Lib Wright, who is a nurse on the vanguard of modern  medicine comes in. She is hired by a town committee, along with a local nun, to keep strict watch over young Anna for two weeks to see if she is secretly receiving any nutrition at all. Lib is convinced that there is indeed a hoax being committed and sets out to expose it. She has to contend with deep-seated “traditional” medical thought as practiced by the two doctors who are attending to Anna as she wastes away right in front of Lib’s eyes.

Lib discovers a complex and self-serving community surrounding Anna as she does her best to expose what she KNOWS is a sham, while doing her utmost to do no harm to the young girl in her care.

The reader is treated to a description of how modern nursing came to be taught to the women of Europe along with a look at the superstitions and deep religious convictions which shaped every facet of Irish country life.

The resolution of the mystery is shocking. Anna has a deep and troubling secret which beautifully ties together every terrible possibility the story poses.

One thing to consider: you might want to read this book, and you really should read it, with a dictionary or smart device at hand to look up words used by the author in her rich and vibrant descriptions. She has a PhD in eighteenth-century literature and her vocabulary is extraordinary.

Who will like this book?: Readers of Historical Fiction or Mystery, or anyone who just wants to read a great story.

If you like this, try this: News of the World by Paulette Jiles, or Room by Emma Donoghue

Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer

If you would like to place a hold on this book, please click here.

The Slow Waltz of Turtles

Title: The Slow Waltz of Turtles

Author: Katherine Pancol

Publisher: Penguin Books, November 2016

Summary/Review:  Ever since I read Yellow Eyes of a Crocodile by the French author Katherine Pancol. I have been waiting for more of her books to be translated into English. After 3 long years her sequel to Yellow Eyes has been published here and it was well worth the wait! Josephine Cortes is living in her new apartment in Paris with her youngest daughter Zoe. Her older daughter is studying in London, her best friend has moved, and her sister has been institutionalized. Oh and Josephine just may be in love with her brother-in-law. And on top of all this three women have been murdered in her new neighborhood.

What follows is a charming, funny, zany and sometimes dark story. Pancol has the ability to immerse you into her character’s lives and feelings and you will be reluctant to leave them. Here’s hoping that we will not have to wait a few years for her next translated book.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like anything French and any reader who enjoys a good story about a woman at a crossroads in her life.

If you like this, try this: Yellow Eyes of a Crocodile by Katherine Pancol, A Man Called Ove by Frederick Backman, The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Recommended by: Claudia, Technical Services

If you would like to place a hold on this book, please click here.

Be Frank with Me

Title: Be Frank with Me
Author: Julia Claiborne Johnson
Publisher: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2016

Summary/Review: After years of being reclusive, the once famous author M.M. Banning (a.k.a. Mimi) finds herself in financial trouble and commits to writing another book. The editor sends his assistant, Alice Whitley, to keep tabs on Mimi and report back on the book’s progress. Alice has no idea what she’s in for.
Up until now, Mimi’s universe revolved around her son. Frank is a unique ten-year-old who prefers to act like a gentleman rather than a kid. A thrown-back from the 1930s, his ensemble includes a smoking jacket, aviator glasses, and a zoot suit. Frank is a talking encyclopedia, spewing out facts on every topic in a monotone fashion. Unable to relate to other children, he tends to spend his time alone or with adults. Not a fan of change, he has set rules that others must follow and overacts when things are amiss.
Noticeably absent is Frank’s father. His lack of presence keeps Alice wondering about his identity. The only male role model Frank has is Xander, a handy-man of sorts who pops in and out the household regularly.
Without seeing any pages, and getting merely hostility from Mimi, the only feedback Alice has to offer is her observations of the mother/son duo, which are often laugh-out-loud funny. As Alice struggles to keep everyone and everything in check, she finds out there is more to life than finishing a book.
Who will like this book: Anyone who enjoys reading about eccentric characters and their interactions with others.

If you like this, try this: One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on this book, please click here. .

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify

Title: The Joy of Less:  A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify

Author: Francine Jay

Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2016

Summary/ReviewWe are constantly trying to keep up with those around us and don’t realize how much time and stress is spent on acquiring and maintaining things like cars, houses, designer clothes, brand-name appliances, etc.  Having too much stuff can actually hold you back from enjoying new experiences and activities.  The clutter weighs you down.  With exercises clarifying the concept of having less, questions to answer before purchasing a new item, and a system in place, the transition to minimalism seems not only necessary but easy to do.

Set in four parts—PHILOSOPHY (establishing a minimalist mindset), STREAMLINE (every letter stands for a technique for tackling clutter and keeping more from coming into the house), ROOM BY ROOM (decluttering, containing, and maintaining each room), and LIFESTYLE (converting family members and understanding the global impact of minimalism)—this book contains everything needed to live a simpler, happier life. 

Who will like this book?: For those who believe less is more.

If you liked this, try this: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation Department

If you want to place a hold on this book, please click here.

Isa Does It Vegan Recipes

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Title: Isa Does It—Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week

Author: Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2013

Summary/Review: Don’t be scared because “Vegan” is in the subtitle—you don’t have to be one to enjoy this cookbook! This is hands down the best vegetarian cookbook I’ve seen. And with all the unique flavors in these recipes, meat-eaters will not feel like they are missing out on anything.

To start with or make as a meal, there are soups like “Sweet Potato & Red Curry” and salads like “Ranch Salad with Red Potatoes & Smoky Chickpeas”. With recipes for “White Wine Risotto”, “Bhindi Masala with Black-Eyed Peas”, and “Phyllo Pot Pie”, it makes it hard to decide which one to have for dinner. Even the desserts are mouth-watering—envision “Just Chocolate Cake with Gooey Ganache”. And there is even “Carrot Cake Pancakes” to have for breakfast—yum!

The recipes included in this book are easy to follow and contain helpful notes on the side. With such a wonderful selection in each category, there is truly something to satisfy every appetite.

Who will like this book: Those looking for delicious meatless meals.

If you like this, try this: “Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi” by Yotam Ottolenghi or “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” by Deborah Madison.

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

If this looks like a book you’d like to try, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

Forgetting Time

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Title: The Forgetting Time

Author: Sharon Guskin

Publisher: Flatiron Books, February 2016

Summary/Review: A gripping and dramatic novel about holding on to – and letting go of – memories.  Janie is doing her best to raise her son Noah as a single mom, but there are some mysterious things about him that make it so difficult.  Their paths will cross with Jerome Anderson, a psychology professor who is struggling with a medical diagnosis that signifies the end of his career and, ultimately, his life.  As they try to help each other, they are never quite sure if they are doing more harm than good.  Sharon Guskin’s debut is both powerful and thought-provoking.

Who will like this?: Someone who loves inter-connecting stories.

If you like this, try this: If you liked the author’s writing, this is a debut – but be on the lookout for more to come!  If you’re interested in a similar subject, try Kate Atkinson’s “Life After Life” or, for a spookier take, SJ Watson’s “Before I Go to Sleep”.

Recommended by: Mary C, Reference Librarian

If this looks like something you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

Mischling

Title: MISCHLING

Author: Affinity Konar

Publisher: Lee Boudreaux Books, September 2016

Summary/Review: On the surface, MISCHLING is a haunting novel about the brutality and depravity inflicted upon “multiples” at the hands of Josef Mengele in Auschwitz. It soon becomes apparent, however, that this novel is an affirmation of the importance and power of family, whatever your definition of family may be.

Precocious twins, Stasha and Pearl, arrive in Auschwitz when they are twelve years old. Their daily survival depends on their memories of the family they are separated from, their devotion to each other, and the bonds they form with the people around them. Perverted attempts are made to alter the meaning of family with names like “Uncle Doctor” for Mengele and “Twin’s Father” for their reluctant caretaker, but it is with their fellow prisoners that the twins forge a new family, not of blood, but of something deeper.

MISCHLING is a beautifully written, powerful reminder of the destructive nature of hate and the redemptive powers of love and hope. Stasha and Pearl will stay with you long after the last page is turned.

Who will like this book?: Someone looking for a book that is beautifully written.  Someone who doesn’t shy away from one of the most difficult topics in one of the most brutal time periods in history.

If you liked this, try this: If you’re interested in World War II historical fiction, try “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, or “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak.  If you like Konar’s writing, she does have one earlier novel entitled “The Illustrated Version of Things”.

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

 

The Last Painting of Sara De Vos

Title:  The Last Painting of Sara De Vos

Author:  Dominic Smith 

Publisher:  Sarah Crichton Books, April 2016

 Summary/Review:  This fictional book is the shifting time-line story of art restorer Ellie Shipley in the 1950’s, Sara De Vos , who in 1631 becomes the first woman to be admitted to the Master Painter in the Guild in Amsterdam, and Elanor Shipley, who has become a respected woman curator and art historian in 2000 in Sydney Australia.

At the heart of the book is talented painter, Sara, who has only one painting credited to her name:  At the Edge of the Wood.  What is unusual about this painting is that it is a landscape.  In this period of history, women painters were limited to still lifes:  flowers, food arrangements, items in the home….they were not landscape painters. Landscapes were the domain of male painters.  It is a famous and haunting painting, but alas Sara appears to have painted only one landscape in her life.

Ellie Shipley, a PhD. candidate (her PhD. is about the women painters of the Dutch Golden Age) now living in New York, is an art student and is also gifted as a repairer of paintings. A man for  whom  she occasionally does painting restoration brings her multiple and professional photos of the At the Edge of the Wood.  He asks her to reproduce it.  To forge it.  She, at first, has a difficulty with the idea of forgery.  But forge the painting she does– and beautifully–and spends the rest of her life in regret over this act of forgery.

Many years later, as a curator at a museum in Sydney in 2000, her forgery has come back to haunt her.

In the end,  though, it is Sara’s narrative  of a woman in the 1600’s that is spell binding.  Her story of losing a child to the plague, of being abandoned by her husband, but eventually finding work and eventually love.   Did this incredibly gifted painter have only one painting to her name?  What, in fact,  was the last painting of Sara de Vos?

Who will like this book: Anyone interested in art or history or who just wants to read a beautifully written novel. 

If you like this, try thisThe Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. 

Recommended by: Sue Z., Reference

If you want to place a hold on this book, please click here.