Aquarium

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Title: Aquarium

Author: David Vann

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press, March 2015

Summary/Review: David Vann is a master of family dysfunction. Hidden within his beautiful writing lurk some of the cruelest and manipulative characters you will ever meet. His newest novel, AQUARIUM, is no exception. This one, however, allows for some hope which isn’t always the case with Vann.

Twelve year old Caitlin lives with her single mother, Sheri, in Seattle. Sheri is struggling as a single mother, working full time while trying to build a good life for herself and her daughter. Since, according to Sheri, they are all alone in the world, Caitlin is left alone for long periods while Sheri is at work. Caitlin is dropped off at school early in the morning and heads to the local aquarium after to school to wait for her ride home. It is at the aquarium that she meets a very kind elderly man who takes an interest in Caitlin and keeps her company while she waits for Sheri to pick her up. When Sheri learns of this friendship, she is consumed with an uncontrollable rage and her haunted past comes roaring back with a vengeance.

Sometimes there’s just no way to tell how damaged a person really is until they are forced to confront the demons from their past.

 Who will like this?:  Someone who’s not turned off by dysfunction.  Someone looking for a thrilling read.

 If you like this, try this: other David Vann novels, FATHER OF THE RAIN BY Lily King, DROWNED, by Therese Bohman, and DISQUIET by Julia Leigh.

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

Blind Date With a Book

We wrapped up our “Blind Date With a Book”  program and patrons had plenty of opinions!  Here are some of our favorites:

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson:

Patron rated it: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  1/2♥

What did our patron have to say about it?: “I think I will still prefer Simenon, Parker, MacDonald, Christie. Gritty/graphic/gothic/noir has to be incredibly clever to be really entertaining. This comes close to doing that. Thanks.”

The Chalk Girl by Carol O’Connell:

Patron rated it:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

What did our patron have to say about it?: “I thought this was a great idea! This was a book I wouldn’t have thought to try on my own, but I actually enjoyed it once I got started! I might even look up another book by this author. Thanks!”

The Returned by Jason Mott:

Patron rated it:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

First impression? : So-So

How was it?: Better than expected

The Keep by Jennifer Egan:

Patron rated it:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

First impression?: Love at first sight!

How was it?: WOW!

Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman:

Patron rated it: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

First impression?: Love at first sight!

How was it?: WOW!

 The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers:

Patron rated it:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

First impression?: Love at first sight!

How was it?: WOW!

 The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood:

Patron rated it:   ♥ ♥ ♥

How was it?: OK

How likely are you to try this book again?: Definitely

 

But that’s not all! Here are some things our patrons had to say about the program:

“While I enjoyed the book, I absolutely loved the display and the whole idea around Valentine’s Day/Blind Date.  Fantastic!  Please do it again.”

“I thought the whole ‘Blind Date” was charming and challenging.  Congratulations to the person who came up with the idea.  It was great fun.”

 

We’ve got a few more things to work out before our next program – some of our picks didn’t go over so well.  But, we got a great suggestion, too!  “The only downside was my 7-year old wanted to check one out, too, and didn’t know why you didn’t do it with children’s books!  Keep up the good work, FPL!”

 

Here’s to one of our favorite programs – hopefully we’ll be able to do it again next year!

Paying Guests

 

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Title: The Paying Guests

Author: Sarah Waters

Publisher: Riverhead Books, September 2014

Summary/Review: I have never read the fiction of Sarah Waters before, but I am happy to have now read The Paying Guests.  She writes beautifully – creating characters that you can literally see and hear in your own head as you read the book.

The story begins at the dusk of the Edwardian era, a few years after the end of World War I.  Frances lives with her mother in what was previously a grand house.  They have fallen on hard times.  Frances’ father is dead, after having mismanaged the family fortune and a brother has died in the War.  In order to make ends meet, they must take in paying guests — a matter of some shame.

The Barbers, a young middle class, perhaps lower middle class couple, take rooms on the second floor.  They are young, stylish in their way, and are a product of a new society growing in England that has tossed aside the trappings of propriety of the past.

The author slowly unfolds the plot to reveal events that would never be understood or tolerated at this time in English society. Then the final unforgivable act takes place– and it is a fast and furious ride all the way to the end of the novel. So hang on.

Who will like this?: Those interested in period novels that describe post WWI-era. Someone looking for a gripping novel.

If you like this, try this: If you’re interested in the 1920’s, the standard is “Great Gatsby”. However, you could also try Hemingway or Fitzgerald. If you liked Sarah Waters’ writing, you could try her other novels including “The Night Watch” and “Affinity”.

Recommended by: Susan Z, Reference

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

 

Jerry Lee Lewis

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Title : Jerry Lee Lewis : His Own Story

Author : Rick Bragg

Publisher : HarperCollins, Oct. 2014

Summary / Review : Rick Bragg listened to Jerry Lee’s stories for over two years and then wrote about his life like a he was a member of the family.

Jerry Lee Lewis was born in 1935 in Ferriday Louisiana, a place where the water would rise up routinely, flooding the land, destroying homes and farms, and leaving behind writhing nests of copperheads and diamondbacks. His family was poor. His mother picked cotton and his father was a bootlegger and sometime carpenter. But Jerry Lee decided early on to “live by a set of rules separate from those set down for dull, regular people.”

He was four when he discovered the piano on a visit to his Aunt Stella’s house.  He touched one key and, as he explains to Rick Bragg “I don’t know what happened.  Somethin’ strange.  I felt it in my whole body.” His father, Elmo, would mortgage his farm to buy Jerry Lee his first piano, At the age of 80, he still has it.

Formal piano lessons, of which there was only one, did not work well for Jerry Lee.  He learned by playing and listening, sneaking into Haney’s Big House where he would hide under the tables until he was hauled out by Will Haney himself and shown the door.

Formal schooling also did not work out well for Jerry Lee.  His nickname, Killer, didn’t come from his on-stage antics with the piano but by trying to strangle the 7th grade teacher with the teacher’s own tie. After earning $14 at his first professional gig at the age of 14, belting out “Wine Spo-dee-o-dee” for a crowd gathered at the Paul Ford Motor Co to get a look at the the new model with the flathead V8 well loved by both bootleggers and G-men, Jerry Lee decided to quit school.  He “saw no future in it.”

His upbringing in the Pentecostal Church would create a life-long tension between the fear of the Holy Ghost and the love of the secular music he chose to play. In a last ditch effort at throwing his cards in with the Holy Ghost,  Jerry Lee enrolled in the Southwestern Bible Institute where they offered courses in Bible study, Pentecostal history and church business.  He lasted three months.  He was asked to do a piano solo at the singspiration, a night of religious entertainment.  He obliged with a boogie rendition of My God is Real, which he described as “up-tempo spiritual,” unfortunately the Dean interpreted it as “reckless and prurient.” The next day he was asked to leave.  It was back to the clubs and for that every music lover should be grateful.

Rick Bragg chronicles all the highs and lows of the quintessential rock and roll life – the wives (six by some counts, seven by others), the women, the drugs, the fights, the honky-tonks and juke joints. Jerry Lee’s star rises and falls more than once in a career which spans decades and continues with the recent release of Rock & Roll Time. His command of music encompasses rock, country, gospel and he is as inspired belting out Great Balls of Fire as he is performing the old hymns, Will the Circle Be Unbroken and Railroad to Heaven, on another recent release (Mean Old Man).

As Jerry Lee says “I’ve had an interestin’ life, haven’t I?  A great Life.”

Read about his life to a background of his music. Visit our website to select some of Jerry Lee’s music from Freegal or Hoopla.

Who Will Like This : As Rick Bragg might say, “Anyone who ever danced in their socks.”

If You Like This Try This : For more on Jerry Lee read Unconquered : The Saga of Cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart and Mikey Gilley or try another recent biography of a music legend – Respect : The Life of Aretha Franklin

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

At the Water’s Edge

Title: At the Water’s Edge

 Author: Sara Gruen

 Publisher: Penguin Random House, June 2015

Summary/Review: Sara Gruen has taken on elephants, bonobos, and now the Loch Ness Monster.

It’s the height of WWII in Europe as Maddie and Ellis Hyde, along with their friend Hank, travel from Philadelphia to Scotland to find the elusive Loch Ness Monster. Why, you might ask, are they making this dangerous Atlantic crossing? For money, of course. Ellis, unable to serve in the war due to his colorblindness, is already an embarrassment to his colonel father. When Ellis publicly mocks his father during a drunken rant, Ellis and Maddie are cut off financially and unsure what to do next. Without really thinking it through, Ellis decides the best way to get back into his father’s good graces, is to succeed where his father failed. Years ago the colonel tried, and failed, to find the Loch Ness Monster. It turns out the colonel didn’t make any friends over in Scotland during his quest. He did manage to anger quite a few people, though. And that is what Maddie, Ellis, and Hank walk into when they arrive in the village of Drumnadrochit. While Maddie is left alone for days at a time as the men are out monster hunting, she discovers that the life she has been living with Ellis might not be the life she wants to live after all.

This novel is part drama, part romance, and part mystery. Maddie’s reawakening to what is really important in life is the focus of this story, as the monster hunt fades into the background.

Who will like this? If you like historical romance, complete with heroes and villains, you will like At the Water’s Edge. 

If you like this, try this: If you liked Sara Gruen’s writing style, then try her other books – most famous is “Water for Elephants”, but “Ape House” and “Riding Lessons” also gave positive reviews.

 This book isn’t published yet, but be on the lookout come June!  How did we review a book that’s not published?  Publishers often donate copies of books for an honest review – like this one!

 

 

Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor…

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Title: Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice

Author: Joan Biskupic

Summary/Review: The most interesting thing about this book is the direction the author chose in describing the selection and Senate approval of Justice Sotomayor. She describes in wonderful detail how it is nowhere near enough to be a brilliant, Ivy League educated, experienced lawyer and lower court judge, but how politics and one’s network of associates, mentors and friends impact the possibility of being selected by the President of the United States and then surviving Senate confirmation hearings. The author takes us through some of Justice Sotomayor’s upbringing and education, but focuses on the way she drove herself to cultivate professional associations and friendships to give her the best chance to do social good from lower court benches and concurrently, to give her the best chance to climb the ladder of judicial advancement. One problem I had was that I previously read and thoroughly enjoyed, “My Beloved World”, Sonia Sotomayor’s auto-biography. As far as human interest and reader involvement, it far out shone this book. But again, the books are written from two different points of view.

Who will like this book: Anyone interested in Sotomayor or politics in general.

If you like this, try this: I would still recommend reading “Breaking In” if you are interested in the intricacies and politics involved in the professional life of a judge in the United States.

Check the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if this book is available and/or to place a hold!

2014 Staff Picks!

Our staff picks are here!  Still looking for a wonderful gift for someone special?  Here are some of our top recommendations:

Jess, from Reference, recommends:

“Forty Acres” by Dwayne Alexander Smith, published July 2014.  This is a thriller I could not put down! Thought provoking and eye opening!

K.C. in Circulation recommends:

“Bird Box” by Josh Malerman, published July 2014.  A post-apocalyptic world where not being able to see what horror lies in front of you is necessary for survival.

“Cop Town” by Karin Slaughter, published June 2014.  Groovy 1970’s Atlanta where crime and fashion collide. A series perhaps?

“One Kick” by Chelsea  Cain, published Aug 2014 (and reviewed by RBRT In September).  A young kidnapping survivor becomes one heck of a vigilante.

“Southern Reach Trilogy” by Jeff Vandermeer, published Jan 2014, April 2014, and August 2014. Post Apocalyptic – is the world being taken over by nature thanks to the US government?

“Blue Labyrinth” by Douglas Preston and Licoln Child, published Nov 2014. Another installment featuring the always mysterious FBI Special Agent, AXL Pendergast.

“Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King, published June 2014. A retired cop has to hunt down a serial killer.   A possible series.

Nicole, Teen Librarian, recommends:

Hawkeye Volume 1: My Life as a Weapon, by Matt Fraction and artist David Aja, Published March 2013.

What happens when Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye, aka ‘Hawkguy’) leaves his day job with the Avengers and heads home to Brooklyn? Focusing on the messy, mundane life of a non-superpowered superhero, his relationships with his neighbors and his protégé Kate Bishop, this innovative, stylish and award-winning series (three collected volumes have been released so far…) has been a big hit with comics readers.

Laurie, from Circulation, recommends:

Family Furnishings ( short stories ) by Alice Monro, published November 2014.

Still Life With Breadcrumbs by Anna Quinlan, published October 2014

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, published December 2014

The Round House by Louise Erdrich, published December 2012

The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Klein, published December 2014

Mark Z, Guest Reviewer, recommends:

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult, published October 2014.  Once again Jodi Picoult takes the reader on an emotional journey featuring a female juvenile and the adults who try their best to help her discover and manage the search for her long lost mother. And, as usual Ms. Picoult inserts an awesome twist at the end — Fantastic story telling.

Beth, from the Children’s Library, recommends:

“Absoluely Almost” by Lisa Graff, published June 2014. Like “Wonder”

“The Boundless” by Kenneth Oppel, published April 2014.  Transcontinental Railroad ‘era’ –  train robbery/wealthy Railroad Baron.

“Courage for Beginners” by Karne Harrington, published August 2014.   Agoraphobia, Caretaking, Family Ties, Friendship – Main character (Mysti Murphy)  a lively , funny character who faces her caretaking challenges head on.

“Curiosity” by Gary Blackwood, published April 2014.  In 1835, when his father is put in a Philadelphia debtor’s prison, twelve-year-old chess prodigy Rufus Is recruited  to secretly operate a chess-playing automaton.  He soon questions the fate of his father and his own safety.

“The Forbidden Library” by Django Wexler, fantasy series published in 2014. Similar to Inkheart, The Books of Elsewhere and Coraline.  Themes are magic wizards, libraries, books and reading, fairies.

“A Snicker of Magic” by Natalie Lloyd, published February 2014.  A story about the magic of words and stories – and the power they hold to heal, hurt, make trouble and fun. Great story filled with family, love sweetness and joy.

Other Titles – Family Ties  –  Paulsen;

The Graveyard Book – Gaiman (Graphic Novel)

Memory Maze – Korman

So far – the favorite titles from this list are The Boundless and Snicker of Magic.

Paula, from Reference, recommends:

“The Short and Tragic life of Robert Peace : a brilliant young man who left Newark for the Ivy League” by Jeff Hobbs, published September 2014. Biography of the short life of an exceptionally bright young African-American man who with the guidance of a devoted, self sacrificing mother leaves the slums of Newark for Yale University only to be drawn back into the drug culture when he returns home.

“The Underground Girls of Kabul : in Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan” by Jenny Nordberg, published in September 2014. In Afghanistan, the birth of a son is cause for a celebration and the arrival of a daughter is often mourned. This is the story of several girls, known as bacha posh, raised as boys until they reach adolescence.  Researched and written by a Swedish journalist, it is a look into a culture I had no idea existed.

Mary, Reference Librarian, recommends:

“Neverhome” by Laird Hunt, published September 2014.  It’s a stunning and poetic novel of a woman who does what her husband cannot, which is enlist and fight in the Civil War.  Hunt’s writing is absolutely beautiful although there is much that is dark and haunting throughout her soul-altering journey.  This is historical, literary fiction at its best!

Virginia, from Circulation, recommends:

“Leaving Time” by Jodi Picoult, published October 2014.  I really like Jodi Picoult’s books because although they are fiction, they read like non- fiction. Leaving time is about a washed-up psychic named Serenity, and Jenna – the little girl she helps. Her mother Alice was a research scientist working at an elephant sanctuary. She disappeared 10 years ago and Jenna wants to find out what happened to her.

 

BEST BOOKS OF 2014

Next week, we’ll bring you the FPL Staff Picks for 2014!  But if you’d like to get a head-start on your holiday shopping, here are some other published “Best of” Lists!  All of them will open in a new tab, to make it nice and easy to compare!

Amazon

Goodreads

Huffington Post

New York Times

NPR

Publisher’s Weekly

Wall Street Journal

One of the big winners is Anthony Doerr’s “All The Light We Cannot See”, who came to FPL.  Some others include “Euphoria”, “On Innoculation”, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” and “Station Eleven”.  Think any great ones were missed?

We’ll be back next week with our staff picks!

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!