I am Pilgrim

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Title: I Am Pilgrim

Author: Terry Hayes

Publisher: Atria, 2014

Summary/Review: I am always amazed at the detail and intrigue which the great thriller-writers create for our entertainment. This novel, about a premiere field agent who races against time and the evil guile of his foe to head off global Armageddon, keeps the reader turning all 600 pages as fast as you can read them. When you reach the end you will wish there were another couple of hundred pages to enjoy.

There is a telling line in the book which says that the international intelligence services will long for the good old days when terrorists depended on suicide bombers and merely crashing airplanes into buildings compared to what our hero is up against.

Not to be a spoiler, but this is a tale about an evil genius of a desert fighter who evades international law enforcement, creates a modern-day plague, and along the way dazzles the reader with his technological wizardry, high-level education and single-minded zeal to exact terrible revenge on the United States for their actions in the middle east. His actions and abilities are narrowly matched by the former US agent who pursues him with just-barely-matching technical and mental capabilities.

Who will like this book?: If you enjoy thrillers, you cannot go wrong investing the time reading this exceptional novel.

If you like this, try this: This is going to be part of a series, so be on the lookout for the next books if you enjoyed this plotline. If you like the government thriller aspect, try Dan Brown or Stieg Larsson (more brutal). The plotline is also reminiscent of Bourne Identity, a series which is worth a read by Robert Ludlum.

Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer

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!

The Painter

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Title: The Painter

Author: Peter Heller

Publisher: Knopf, May 2014

Summary/Review: Peter Heller’s second novel is a huge departure from his stunning post-apocalyptic debut, The Dog Stars. From Good Reads,

“Jim Stegner has seen his share of violence and loss. Years ago he shot a man in a bar. His marriage disintegrated. He grieved the one thing he loved. In the wake of tragedy, Jim, a well-known expressionist painter, abandoned the art scene of Santa Fe to start fresh in the valleys of rural Colorado. Now he spends his days painting and fly-fishing, trying to find a way to live with the dark impulses that sometimes overtake him. He works with a lovely model. His paintings fetch excellent prices. But one afternoon, on a dirt road, Jim comes across a man beating a small horse, and a brutal encounter rips his quiet life wide open. Fleeing Colorado, chased by men set on retribution, Jim returns to New Mexico, tormented by his own relentless conscience.”

Heller’s novel is a quintessential guy book with lengthy descriptions of fishing, painting, violence and memories of his daughter. Heller’s character Stegner spends a large portion of the book inside his own head.

Who will like this book?  This book will appeal to anglers, artists, lovers of the Southwest, and readers hungry for an intellectual suspense novel.

If you like this, try this:   Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson, The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham.

Recommended by:  Philip, Reference

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

 

Cabinet of Curiosities

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Title: Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief & Sinister

Authors: Stefan Bachmann, Emma Trevayne, Katherine Catmull, & Claire Legrand

Published:  Greenwillow Books, 2014

Summary/Review:  This book of short stories is presented by four outstanding children’s/YA authors.  Asked to collect their most horrifying stories, the authors have formed a “cabinet” to share amongst themselves and with the public the tales of terror they have found across the world. The tales are divided between themed sections including fairies, magic, music, and more.  The tales range between slightly creepy and odd to downright scary, many leaving the reader guessing about the future.  (Some of the less-satisfying endings are brought to a conclusion in the final chapter of the book, where the “curators” revisit some of the characters they have found.)  Adults will easily recognize the fine writing of the book, which does not rely heavily upon gore and shock factors, but instead relies on the quality of both the prose and the stories themselves.

This book would make a great read-aloud for parents (who may want to read the stories ahead of time, lest some of them are too scary for their children) but would also serve wonderfully for those busy children that can’t devote a ton of time to their pleasure reading.  Clocking in between 5 and 25 pages each (for the most part), children could skip around and find the story that suits their time limit.

Who will like this book?:  Someone looking for a creepy read.  While the book itself is over 400 pages, the actual stories themselves are short – so they could work well for a child who is pressed for time or who doesn’t have the patience to sit through 400 pages of the same story.

If you like this, try this:  If you’re looking for more creepy stories, try the Alan Schwartz “Scary Stories” series.  While those illustrations are far scarier than those found in “Cabinet”, the stories are the same caliber of scary (with slightly more gore).  The four authors of “Cabinet” are prominent children’s and YA authors, so if you like a particular writer’s stories, there’s plenty more from them available.  If you’re looking into more short stories, Jon Scieszka has a series of “Guy Reads” books, including one titled “Thrillers”.  And as always, these are NOT just for guys!

Recommended by:  Lauren O, Library staff

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

We Are Called to Rise

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Title: We Are Called to Rise   

Author: Laura McBride

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, May 2014

Summary/Review: The mother of a returned Iraq War veteran, a young Albanian boy, an injured soldier and a volunteer social service worker have lives and stories that intersect in this debut novel set in Las Vegas. The novel is told through the four voices of these characters. We learn much about their backgrounds and the many issues that make up their stories.  Through the mother Avis we also learn about the husband who is divorcing her, their troubled son and his wife. Their family issues and losses are profound. Through the soldier Luis, recovering in a hospital, we learn about his loving grandmother who has looked after him his whole life. Through the little boy, Bashkim we come to know his whole family, the issues these new immigrants are faced with and a great tragedy that brings all of these characters together.  This book is filled with emotion and will leave you with much to think about.  I really like the title of this book because in spite of the tragedy and sadness, each character rises toward hope with courage and compassion.

Who will like this book?  This book will appeal to a wide-range of contemporary fiction readers. It has well-developed characters that you care about along with an engaging writing style.

If you like this, try this:   Shotgun Lovesongs by Nicholas Butler; The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris

Recommended by:  Jan, Administration

Does this look like a book you’d like to read?  Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

One Kick

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Title: One Kick

Author : Chelsea  Cain

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster, 2014

Summary/Review: This book is a first in yet another series! (I know,  it’s hard to commit to a series since there is so many good books out there.)  But believe me –  if you like strong characters and fast-paced action then this is the book for you.

The main character is a strong willed 21 year old named Kick Lannigan. She was kidnapped at age 6 by a man named Mel, who was into child pornography and children trafficking.  She is rescued by the FBI at the age of 11. One FBI agent in particular, Frank, has become her guardian angel of sorts. Kick’s life after the kidnapping did not go well. Her parents divorced and her mother made a lot of money exploiting Kick. At the age of 21 she gets involved in a series of child kidnappings that hit very close to home.

Her abductor, Mel, is in jail and dying of Kidney failure. He knows something about the person who is taking these kids. She decides to confront him to try to get information.  A mysterious man named Bishop shows up and demands Kick’s help. She doesn’t trust him or – anyone for that matter. She agrees because of the boy Adam and the girl Mia whom they are looking for. Without giving too much away, it’s a roller coaster ride  to the very end.

Who will like this book? : Anyone who has read Chelsea Cain before, or someone who doesn’t  mind graphic details and some very disturbing contents. She does write it so well that you really don’t feel offended by it.

If you like this, try this: If you like this book I recommend reading her series with Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowe    In order by title: Heatsick, Sweetheart, Evil At Heart, The Night Season, Kill You Twice and Let Me go.

Recommended by: Virginia, Circulation

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

Soldier Girls

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Title: Soldier Girls

Author: Helen Thorpe

Publisher: Scribner, August 2014

Summary/Review: A thoroughly touching look at the circumstances and lives of three women in Indiana who, for various reasons, have enlisted in the National Guard. A common thread is an attempt to utilize their service to further their secondary educations with the assistance of the GI Bill. The last thing any of them expect is to be sent to a war zone. But that is exactly what happens when the US becomes ensnared in Afghanistan and Iraq. We see the economic, emotional and family hardships exacted upon these women by prolonged absence from family and friends. We learn how difficult it is to be a woman in the almost-entirely male national guard and then in the US armed services overseas.

The three women are at different ages and points in their lives as they struggle (that’s the only word for their trials) to adapt, thrive and survive the day-to-day boredom, danger and stress of providing administrative, repair and support services, since they are banned from “combat” duties. They are, however, certainly in harm’s way every time they venture outside the US compounds where they work and live while on duty.

This is a look at women in vastly different economic and educational situations than most of us in southern Connecticut experience and certainly enlightens us about the real people behind the headlines and media coverage which barely touches on the human cost of repetitive and prolonged deployments experienced by the citizen-soldiers in the US National Guard services. You will enjoy the time you spend learning about the lives of these three women.

Who will like this book?: Someone looking for a new perspective on war and deployment.

If you like this, try this: Helen Thorpe has written only one other book, “Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America”, but be on the lookout for more from this author. If you are looking for books about war and deployment, try “Undaunted: The Real Story of America’s Servicewomen in Today’s Military” which offers another take on women in the military, or “Fives and Twenty-Fives” by Michael Pitre.

Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer

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

Boy, Snow, Bird

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Title: Boy, Snow, Bird

Author: Helen Oyeyemi

Publisher: Riverhead Books, March 2014

Summary/Review: A loose retelling of the story of Snow White, Boy, Snow, Bird deals with the issues of jealousy, race, family, and identity.  Set in Massachusetts during the pre-civil rights era, Boy Novak Whitman is surprised when her newborn daughter, Bird, is born with dark skin. Unbeknownst to Boy, her husband Arturo and stepdaughter Snow, as well as most of his family, are African Americans passing for white.  Aware of society’s, and her in laws’, idea of beauty leads to Boy’s jealousy and resentment of light skinned Snow and an evil stepmother is born.

Told through the voices of more than one of the complex characters in this novel, Boy, Snow, Bird is a great choice for book groups and anyone who likes multilayered fiction. You won’t be bombarded with parallels to Snow White’s story, but you will catch a glimpse of her from time to time.

Who will like this book? Someone who enjoys loose retellings of fairy tales.  Someone who is looking for a book that will leave them thinking about it.

If you like this, try this: If you enjoyed the fairy tale retelling, try The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.  These stories are more popular in young adult and children’s, including the Grimm trilogy by Adam Gidwitz, multiple series by Shannon Hale, and more.

Recommended by:  Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

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

Miniaturist

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Title: The Miniaturist

Author: Jessie Burton

Publisher: Harper Collins, August 2014

Summary/Review: When 18 year old Nella Oortman travels to Amsterdam to meet her new husband, she finds her life will be very different than she could ever have imagined.

Nella’s new husband, Johannes Brandt, is a 39 year old merchant trader in the city of Amsterdam. His successful business has allowed Johannes to have a nice home, servants, and some of the finer things in life. Nella arrives to find Johannes’ sister, Marin, at home but not Johannes. In fact, Johannes deftly dodges his new bride for as long as he can, claiming his business keeps him away from home.

To make up for his absence, Johannes gives Nella a gift-a miniature replica of her new home. She is also given the means to furnish it as she wishes. As Nella orders pieces to complete the cabinet sized house, she receives more than she bargained, or paid, for. Somehow, the miniaturist she hires creates exact replicas of their real life counterparts as if he or she has been in the home before. Nella also receives pieces that she did not order, but still perfectly match items in her home. As her life in repressive Amsterdam starts to take dangerous twists and turns, Nella has to wonder whether the mysterious miniaturist is foretelling her future with each new reproduction or orchestrating her destruction.

Jessie Burton’s debut novel may be set in 1686, but the prejudices and discrimination that take place are still, shamefully, taking place in 2014. Burton’s writing will transport you to Amsterdam complete with the sights and sounds of the bustling city. A great choice for book clubs and historical fiction readers, The Miniaturist will give you plenty to think about and talk about.

Who will like this book? Someone looking for a book that will lend itself to conversation.  Someone looking to be transported to another time and place.

If you like this, try this: If you are looking for more good historical fiction, try Geraldine Brooks, Phillipa Gregory, or Ken Follett.  “Girl With the Pearl Earring”  may be another choice for you.  This is Burton’s first novel, but the buzz with this book is huge – so be on the lookout for more!

Recommended by:  Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

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

100 Years and 4 Days

In our final installment of World War I fiction and non-fiction recommendations, we would like to suggest the following titles.

cavendon hall wild rose no graves last

Cavendon Hall                                                                                                                                                By Barbara Taylor Bradford

“The popular and prolific Bradford knocks another fast-paced family saga out of the park with charming characters and manor-house mayhem.” ~Booklist

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on Cavendon Hall please click here.

The Wild Rose                                                                                                                                                 By Jennifer Donnelly

“A lush story of epic proportions . . . Donnelly peoples her book with larger-than-life characters whose tragedies and triumphs lift your heart and soul.” ~Romantic Times Book Review

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on The Wild Rose  please click here.

No Graves as Yet                                                                                                                                          By Anne Perry

“This absorbing mystery/spy thriller, set in tranquil Cambridge just before the onset of the Great War, marks a powerful start to bestseller Perry’s much anticipated new series.” ~Publisher’s Weekly

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on No Graves as Yet please click here.

The Last of the Doughboys : the Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War  By Richard Rubin

“…the last known American veteran of the Great War died in 2011. Determined to obtain and document the remembrances of the surviving “doughboys,” journalist Rubin began an effort to locate and interview many of them a decade ago. The result is this fascinating and deeply moving collection of individual stories.” ~Booklist

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on The Last of the Doughboys : the Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War  please click here.

100 Years and 3 Days

This week we are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WWI. Florence Green, the last known WWI veteran, died in 2012 at age 110. Frank Buckles, the last living U.S. WWI veteran died in 2011, also at age 110. Here are today’s reading suggestions if you would like to learn more about this global conflict, or if you want a novel set during that time period.

waiting for sunriseliesomewhere in francewomen heroes 1

Waiting for Sunrise: a novel                                                                                                                       By William Boyd

“Sex, psychiatry and Vienna on the eve of World War I – those are promising ingredients for a novel. And William Boyd makes the most of them. . . . Boyd’s narrative moves briskly, and his local color is deftly done.” ~The Seattle Times

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on Waiting for Sunrise: a novel please click here.

The Lie                                                                                                                                                            By Helen Dunmore

“[A] tender tale… subtle and enduring…A quiet tragedy… a poet’s feeling for language shines through the descriptions of the landscape…in this novel Dunmore has wreaked tenderness out of tragedy, so that the reader is left with the sense that something beautiful, however fleeting, has been salvaged from the darkness.” ~The Observer (UK)

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on The Lie please click here.

Somewhere in France                                                                                                                                  By Jennifer Robson

“Utterly engaging and richly satisfying, Somewhere in France depicts the very best in love and war. Fans of Downton Abbey will devour this novel!”  ~author Erika Robuck

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on Somewhere in France please click here.

Women Heroes of World War I : 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics                 By Kathryn J. Atwood

“In time for the 2014 centennial of the start of the Great War, this book brings to life the brave and often surprising exploits of 16 fascinating women from around the world who served their countries at a time when most of them didn’t even have the right to vote.” ~Amazon.com

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on Women Heroes of World War I : 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics please click here.