Author Archives: Book Mavens

My Sunshine Away

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Title: My Sunshine Away

Author: M.O Walsh

Publisher: Penguin, 2015

Summary/Review: I really enjoyed this book for a lot of reasons, I have to say the first is because it starts off with the act which is the foundation for the book. There is a rape of a young beautiful girl named Lindy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There are 4 suspects, all who live in the same neighborhood just a few houses apart. Bo Kern – a troubled boy, Jason – the adopted son of  psychiatrist, Jacques Landry – who is also a suspect, and the narrator of the book – who is my favorite character, and you never find out his name.

The story spans over 20 years, from the late 80’s until 2007. The author does a great job of sharing with us how each of the characters evolved over those years – the choices they made, some good and some bad. For some who read this it will feel like a walk down memory lane, from middle school all the way through college, and settling down and starting a family of their own.

There is a lot of sadness in this book, but the twist at the end really ties it all together. If you like coming of age stories, with good times and bad you will enjoy this book. There are some chapters that are hard to get through, but you must endure them to get the real feel for these kids and what they went through in their very young lives, and how it changed them forever.

Who will like this book?:  Someone who is interested in a mystery which focuses more on character development than clues and who-dunnit. Someone who won’t shy away from a disturbing topic which has a sweeping effect on an entire community.

If you like this, try this: If you’re looking for mysteries heavy on character development, try Paula Hawkin’s “Girl on the Train” or Garth Stein’s “A Sudden Light”.  If the location of Baton Rouge draws you in, try the mystery series by James Lee Burke.  This is M.O. Walsh’s debut novel, but keep an eye out for more in the works!

Recommended by: Virginia, Circulation

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 life-changing magic of tidying up

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Title: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up. The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.

Author: Marie Kondo

Publisher: Ten Speed Press, October 2014

Summary/Review: As a librarian at Fairfield Public Library I was intrigued by the high number of “holds” on this book.  I consider myself to be tidy, organized, with minimal amounts of junk drawers scattered throughout my house. (Although I will admit to a few closets that I don’t like to open any more.)

As I started to read, I realized that the author’s skills in organizing far surpass my own, or anyone I have ever known.  Her lessons are demanding:  declutter all at once, not a little at a time- throw all your clothes on the floor and then sort them–don’t keep worn out clothes to wear them “around the house.” She instructs that if an item does not “spark joy” then get rid of it.  If I followed this criteria, I would have no garden or lawn tools at all. “Sorry dear, the lawnmower does not spark any joy for me!”

She also says forget about the fancy storage systems.  People who advocate for them are closet hoarders!

For the most part, though, her methods made sense to me, and I will make use of them when I next suffer a fit of tidiness.

I have to draw the line, though, at folding my socks, stockings, and tee shirts so that they stand up “on end” in the drawer. The goal is to instantly see everything in the drawer. Great idea! So I read the instruction several times but can’t grasp how my tee shirts are going to stand up in the drawer.  If you read this book and understand how to make my clothes stand in the drawers, please drop by the Reference Desk. I would love to talk to you!

The author claims an even grander goal, though, beyond tidying.  The goal is to free yourself of things that mean nothing to you and to find those interests and loves at the core of your soul.  “Putting your house in order is a great way to discover what they are.”

I am all for that.

Who will like this?:  Someone looking to get organized – whether you take each piece of advice and use it or pick and choose which you implement, her methods are sure to get you thinking about the “junk” items in your house.

If you like this, try this:  This book has swept the nation but this is the first credible book the author has published.  Be on the lookout for her companion book, coming in December.

Recommended by:  Sue Z, Reference Librarian

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

Night Sister

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Title: The Night Sister

Author: Jennifer McMahon

Publisher: Doubleday, August 2015

Summary/Review: “Do you believe in monsters?” You might after reading the creepy new novel by Jennifer McMahon. And by creepy I mean awesome.

Growing up in and around the decrepit Tower Motel in London, Vermont wasn’t all bad for friends Amy, Piper and Margot, at least not until they found the suitcase hidden in the tower. Why was the suitcase, hidden for two decades, not taken by Amy’s aunt Sylvie when she left town in 1955? The discovery only leads to more questions and eventually the dissolution of the friendship between Amy, Piper and Margot.

Fast forward to present day and the discovery of an unspeakable crime, allegedly committed by Amy at the Tower Motel. Sisters Piper and Margot struggle to find answers but everything leads back to the discovery of the suitcase so many years ago. Don’t bother asking Piper and Margot if they believe in monsters. I can tell you, the answer will be “yes”.

Who will like this book?: Someone looking for a VERY creepy read.  Someone who’s interested in a thriller/mystery that will leave you feeling haunted.

If you like this, try this: Jennifer McMahon has written other novels, including the well-received “Winter People” and “Promise Not to Tell”.  This book is reminiscent of “Help for the Haunted” by John Searles, although darker.  Tana French is also brought to mind.

Recommended by:  Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

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!

Literary Pick-up Lines

paris wifeone kickreunion of ghostsladies night

We’ve been getting great reviews for some of the titles in our Adult Summer Reading Program: Literary Pick-up Lines. Some of the favorites receiving 4 or 5 stars this week are:
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

One Kick by Chelsea Cain

A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell

Ladies’ Night by Mary Kay Andrews

Check back for more recommendations, or better yet, come in to the library and see which books on our display speak to you. You might just find your new favorite book!

 

Man Called Ove

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Title:  A Man Called Ove

Author:  Fredrik Backman

Publisher:  Atria Books, 2014/Dreamscape Media, LLC. (audiobook), 2014

Summary/Review:  Ove is not someone you want to cross paths with.  He is an older man, set in his ways, and not afraid to tell people what he thinks whether they want to hear it or not.  Ove is a man on a mission.  He has only one goal left to accomplish, but it is not going to be easy to achieve it.

As the story switches back and forth from present to past, you get a better understanding of how certain experiences in Ove’s life, especially those involving his youth and wife, shaped his personality and outlook.  The supporting characters provide a unique link to Ove’s daily routine.  There is a great importance of how timing affects everything.

This book will make you laugh, cry, and appreciate the people (and animals) in your life.  The story will stay with you long after the book ends.  It is a strong read from start to finish and an excellent choice for book clubs.  It will easily top your favorites’ list.

Added note:  The reader (and known actor) on the audiobook is exceptional, painting a clear image of Ove and the rest of the cast.

Who will like this book: Anyone looking for the next best book.

 If you like this, try this:  The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

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!

Delicious Foods

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Title: Delicious Foods

Author: James Hannaham

Publisher: Little Brown & Company, March 2015

Summary/Review: The story begins with Eddie, who has recently escaped a mysterious company called Delicious Foods. His mother, Darlene, is still working there. Eddie has no hands, he’s estranged from his relatives, he’s poor and distraught about his mother, but he is ultimately good-natured and ready to emerge with a new life. The real struggle is with Darlene, Eddie’s mother. In her past life she would be described as a grieving widow whose husband was murdered, a hard-working, educated, beautiful, and caring mother. In her new life Darlene is addicted to crack cocaine, prostituting herself, neglecting Eddie, abusing herself and others and, ultimately, losing her mind – until she is saved by Delicious Foods, who offer a wonderful new dream filled with hope, redemption, hard work, and a rampantly dark underbelly.

Reading reviews you might think this story is focused on drugs – after all, the drugs have their own chapters, told from their point of view. You might think it’s about a mysterious company, Delicious Foods, and all the horrible things that go on in a place where you keep people addicted to drugs and brainwashed. You might even think that it’s about Eddie, and his struggle to regain a new life. But the truth is that the book is about all of these things yet none of these things. It’s a beautifully written book. It’s the type of book you have to read slowly because it takes a long time to convince yourself you’re not there, experiencing these things. You could probably call it a mystery thriller, but that wouldn’t accurately describe its deep literary roots. The truth is that “Delicious Foods” is indescribable – you just need to read it. It’s wonderful, magnetic, heart-breaking, scary, thrilling, hilarious, and poetic.

Who will like this book?: Someone that doesn’t shy away from dark topics such as race, addiction, and hopelessness. Someone looking for a read that’s thrilling but deep and literary.

If you like this, try this: James Hannaham has written one other book, “God Says No”, which is probably worth a try. I honestly can’t think of a book similar to this one, so you’ll need to try it yourself!

Recommended by: Lauren O

If you think this is 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.

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!