Author Archives: Book Mavens

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.

City of Mirrors

Title:  THE CITY OF MIRRORS

Author:  Justin Cronin  

Publisher:  Ballantine Books, 2016

 Summary/Review: City of Mirrors is the riveting conclusion to Justin Cronin’s post-apocalyptic series The Passage.

The series starts (with The Passage, 2010) in the not too distance future. The environment continues to deteriorate.  The storms that hit after Katrina demolish New Orleans and turn the Gulf area into a toxic stew.  War is a constant and terror cells continue to multiple.   Given the circumstances, Project Noah seemed like a good idea.  What country wouldn’t want a soldier who can recover from a life threatening wound within half a day?  A soldier with super human strength and speed.  A soldier who could live for hundreds of years.  As it’s explained to Agent Wolgast, the lucky man assigned to collect the twelve “volunteers” for the project : “Let’s say a soldier … takes a piece of shrapnel.  Maybe he bleeds to death.  If he’s lucky, we patch him up.  He’s probably out of the war.  He’s a broken asset.  All the money we’ve spent on his training is a total loss.”   And we can’t have that. So science and the military team up and launch Project Noah.  It was a project that went horribly wrong.

But it was successful in creating beings of super human strength with a thirst for blood that also had an uncanny ability to insert themselves into the dreams of the survivors, draining them of all hope. Unfortunately they could not be controlled.  Given the raw material the scientists had to work with (murderers and rapists all) lack of control quickly spiraled into a blood bath for humanity.

When it all fell apart and the project was questioned by the top brass : “You decided to reengineer an ancient virus that would transform a dozen death row inmates into indestructible monsters who live on blood, and you didn’t think to tell anybody about this?” it was hard to remember the potential.

The most horrifying element of the Project would prove to be the greatest hope for the survival of mankind. A young girl, Amy NLN, the Girl from Nowhere was also injected with a form of the virus.  The effects on the child are far different from the effects on The Twelve and will not be truly realized or understood for years.

The virals, jumps, smokes , dracs, whatever you chose to call them, moved rapidly across the United States destroying or converting anyone unlucky enough to be in their path. The survivors retreat to protected communities and do not go out at night.  To wish upon a star is a long forgotten myth.

The City of Mirrors picks up at a slightly more optimistic time. The events transcribed in The Twelve resulted in the destruction of eleven of the original virals, and those that they turned. Slowly the remnants of humanity leave their protected communities and begin to repopulate the land.  But Zero, the first and most powerful of the virals remains,dwelling in the ruins of New York.  Some of the characters introduced in The Passage, Peter, Michael, Alicia of the Blades (who, as you might guess from the name has killed  more than a few of the virals) and Amy, the Girl from Nowhere return in the City of Mirrors.  It’s Amy, the light to Zero’s dark, who will be the ultimate defender of mankind.

In this conclusion to the trilogy we learn the back story of the search for the virus. Love and betrayal are the powerful motivators behind the actions of both human and viral.  Cronin writes on a majestic scale of acts of great courage and selflessness but also of the horrors that humans will inflict on each other to ensure their own survival.

Be on the look-out for the movie version. Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions purchased the movie rights to The Passage but a release date is not yet determined.

Who will like this book: Anyone who enjoys a riveting End of the World As We Know It saga with characters battling against seemingly unbeatable odds.

If you like this, try this: Stephen King’s The Stand; The Strain trilogy by Guillermo del Toro; Swan Song by Robert McCammon.

Recommended by: Sue D’Num, Tech Services

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

What is the Best Book You’ve Read This Summer? Final Chapter.

 

We love to talk about books, and so do our patrons! We have received so many great reading suggestions that we just had to keep the list going. Here are a few more:

 

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Larson

Heartbreaking and illuminating, this will serve not only Kennedy fans but also those curious about the history of disabilities in the U.S. ~Booklist

If this looks like a book that you would like to read, click here to see if it is available or to place a hold.

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

Fans of Giffin’s will find much to love in her chronicle of the rocky relationship between two disparate sisters 15 years after the death of their older brother, Daniel…This is Giffin at her finest-a fantastic, memorable story. ~PW

If this looks like a book that you would like to read, click here to see if it is available or to place a hold.

The Water Knife by Paulo Bacigalupi

Bacigalupi depicts a horrific would-be world, destroyed by climate change: the American Southwest has run out of water, and immense political instability is the result…Though the gory details may be hard to stomach for some, the horrific violence perpetrated against innocents in this lawless world is compellingly portrayed and, sadly, not unfathomable. Readers will find it hard to look at a glass of water the same way. ~Booklist

If this looks like a book that you would like to read, click here to see if it is available or to place a hold.

What is the Best Book You’ve Read This Summer? Chapter 4.

 

 

Well, the Adult Summer Reading raffle may be over but there is still plenty of time to find a great book! Together, the Main Library and Fairfield Woods Branch Library received more than 300 entries with suggestions from your fellow patrons. Here are a few more:

The Widow by Fiona Barton

What would you do if your spouse suddenly became the prime suspect in the kidnapping of a two-year-old girl? That’s the stomach-churning prospect that confronts London hairdresser Jean Taylor in this exceptional debut from British journalist Barton, who circles her story as if it were a lurking panther, unseen but viscerally sensed.  ~PW

If this looks like a book that you would like to read, click here to see if it’s available or to place a hold.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

In Sittenfeld’s modern version of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet writes for a women’s magazine, Jane Bennet teaches yoga, Lydia and Kitty Bennet are Crossfit enthusiasts on paleo diets, heartthrob Chip Bingley is a reality-TV star, and Fitzwilliam Darcy a neurosurgeon. ~PW

If this looks like a book that you would like to read, click here to see if it’s available or to place a hold.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Cleave paints an emotion-filled portrait of a damaged city with its inequities amplified by war and of courageous individuals whose connections to one another make them stronger. ~Booklist

If this looks like a book that you would like to read, click here to see if it’s available or to place a hold.

 

What is the Best Book You’ve Read This Summer? Chapter 3.

Let us know what books you’ve been reading and loving this summer! Simply fill out and submit a raffle entry at either the Main Library or Fairfield Woods Branch Library for a chance to win a bag of great books. Here are some book suggestions we’ve already received from patrons :

By the Numbers By Jen Lancaster

“Lancaster’s signature snarky humor is on full display here, and even though some of her characters might be a bit grating (Penny’s daughters are extremely unpleasant), fans will snap this one up.” ~Booklist

If this looks like a book you would like to read, click here to see if it’s available or to place a hold.

Journey to Munich By Jacqueline Winspear

“Maisie Dobbs proves herself wily and fiercely determined again in this twelfth series entry, set in 1938, as she faces down another formidable enemy and some of her own personal demons.” ~Booklist

If this looks like a book you would like to read, click here to see if it’s available or to place a hold.

Pet Friendly By Sue Pethick

“This is a light heartwarming read perfect for a wintry afternoon at home or a sunny beach vacation.” ~ RT Book Reviews

If this looks like a book you would like to read, click here to see if it’s available or to place a hold.

 

What is the Best Book You’ve Read This Summer? Chapter 2.

Let us know what books you’ve been reading and loving this summer! Simply fill out and submit a raffle entry at either the Main Library or Fairfield Woods Branch Library for a chance to win a bag of great books. Here are some book suggestions we’ve already received from patrons :

Lily and the Octopus By Steven Rowley

“In generous helpings of bittersweet humanity, Rowley has written an immensely poignant and touchingly relatable tale that readers (particularly animal lovers) will love.” ~PW

If this looks likes a book you’d like to read, click here to see if it’s available or to place a hold.

 

Vanessa and Her Sister By Priya Parmar

“In her second historical novel, Parmar (Exit the Actress, 2011) portrays Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Clive Bell, and Leonard Woolf and, through a reenvisioning of the Bloomsbury group’s letters, postcards, and telegrams, along with the invention of Vanessa’s diary, offers access to their fascinating lives during a snippet of time: 1905-11.” ~Booklist

If this looks likes a book you’d like to read, click here to see if it’s available or to place a hold.

 

Head Over Heels By Jill Shalvis

“Healthy doses of humor, lust, and love work their magic as Shalvis tells Chloe’s story in her newest Lucky Harbor contemporary romance.”~PW

If this looks likes a book you’d like to read, click here to see if it’s available or to place a hold.

What is the Best Book You’ve Read This Summer?

Let us know what books you’ve been reading and loving this summer! Simply fill out and submit a raffle entry at either the Main Library or Fairfield Woods Branch Library for a chance to win a bag of great books. Here are some book suggestions we’ve already received from patrons :

The Royal We by Heather Cocks

“Royal watchers and chick-lit fans alike will delight in this sparkling tale.” ~PW

If this looks like a book you’d like to read, click  here to see if it’s available or to place a hold.

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

“…the novel effectively melds intrigue, romance, and gloss into an engrossing tale of a woman struggling to get out from under the weight of crushing expectations”. ~Booklist

If this looks like a book you’d like to read, click  here to see if it’s available or to place a hold.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

“Danler’s debut captures the wild abandon of youth set free in a environment where there are no rules.~ Library Journal

If this looks like a book you’d like to read, click  here to see if it’s available or to place a hold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet


 

 

 

 

 

Title: Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet

Author: H.P Wood

Publisher: Sourcebooks, June 2016

Summary/Review: Ah, turn of the century Coney Island. The sun, the surf, and its newest amusement park Dreamland. Yes, it’s all fun and games until someone dies from the plague. Who better to blame for this scourge than the misfits who work and live along the Boardwalk? Soon it will become a classic battle between “the haves” and “the have nots”, fueled by prejudice and fear of the unknown.

The wonderful, fully developed characters are what make this novel the gem that it is. A story that is atmospheric and reminiscent of a bygone era before wonderment gave way to cynicism and people could still believe in magic. 

Who will like this book?: Someone interested in historical fiction that focuses on the gritty atmosphere of old-time Coney Island.  Someone looking for a book that’s character-driven but dark.

If you like this, try this: This is a debut novel from the author, so if you liked the writing you may have to wait a while until another book is released!  If you liked the Coney Island setting, Alice Hoffman’s “Museum of Extraordinary Things” and Kevin Baker’s “Dreamland” both incorporate the location.

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

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

 

 

The Hatching

[Cover]

Title: The Hatching

Author: Ezekiel Boone

Publisher: Atria, 7/2016

Summary/Review: Would you prefer death by a swarm of flesh eating spiders, or death by an exploding spider egg sac laid within your body? It seems like those might be your only choices, unless you have a spacious underground bunker that can sustain you for five years. Even then, who knows what will await you when you finally resurface?

The Hatching, book one in The Hatching series, is an apocalyptic novel that preys upon our fear of those creepy, crawly, and in this case carnivorous, monsters we call spiders. The first sign of danger comes when China “accidentally” drops a nuclear bomb within its own border. Was it really an accident, as they claim, or a futile attempt to stop the rampaging arachnids? Then news footage from India shows a panic in New Delhi, but what exactly are they fleeing from? The rest of the world soon finds out as the creatures make their way to other continents. Who, if anyone, will survive this plague? This was a great book. It was highly entertaining and hair-raising at the same time, fast paced and addictive. I can’t wait for book two in the series.

Who will like this book?: If you have a fear of creepy-crawlers, you may want to stay away – unless of course that’s what you’re looking for!  Someone looking for a new fast-paced series that will keep your heart racing.

If you like this, try this: Spiders aren’t typically covered in horror, and this is Boone’s debut: however, there are plenty of fast-paced creepy horror stories out there to choose from.  Try our “horror” category of the blog!

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! [This book comes out in July, but we’ve already pre-ordered it!]

What Alice Forgot

[Cover]

Title:  What Alice Forgot

Author:  Liane Moriarty

Publisher:  Amy Einhorn Books, 2011; Penguin Audio, 2011

Summary/Review:  After taking a tumble off a spinning bike and being knocked unconscious, Alice Love awakes thinking it’s 1998 and that she’s 29 expecting her first child. What a shock it is when she’s told it’s a decade later and she’s pushing 40 with three kids.

Unable to recall the last ten years of her life, Alice is surprised to find out that she’s one of those do-it-all moms who is involved in tons of school activities, incredibly organized, and totally fit.  Unfortunately she’s so focused on her life that she has little regard for those around her (and quite frankly, she’s not such a nice person).  Even harder to grasp—she’s separated from her husband Nick. Once the perfect couple, she can’t comprehend what could have caused them to lose their love for each other.

As names of people are mentioned and flashes of memories come into Alice’s mind, she is unable to place them.  Caught between her younger simpler self and her older supercharged self, she has to examine the fragments of her life to determine who she really is and what is most important to her.

Alice’s sister and grandmother not only provide commentary on what is happening but also reveal heart-felt stories of their own.

Who will like this book: Anyone who enjoys trying to figure out the pieces to put the whole story together.

If you like this, try this:  Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret, also by the author.

Recommended by: Sharyn, 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