Author Archives: Book Mavens

Guest Room

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Title: The Guest Room

Author: Chris Bohjalian

Publisher: Doubleday, January 2016

Summary/Review: In the blink of an eye, Richard Chapman’s home goes from bachelor party venue to bloody crime scene in this riveting novel by Chris Bohjalian.

No one could have predicted the carnage that would occur, or imagine the tragic events that led to the doomed party.  As alcohol and indiscretions abound, two young women, or the “hired” entertainment, make a desperate life or death decision that will have tragic repercussions for all.

Chris Bohjalian is a master of writing a woman’s point of view, and this novel is no exception. The Guest Room doesn’t just bring to light one of the many terrible crimes committed against women throughout the world, but brings the horror into our lives, and into our homes.

Who will like this book?:  Someone who is looking for a literature-focused thriller with a deeper meaning.  Someone who doesn’t shy away from difficult or controversial topics.

If you liked this, try this:  If you’ve read (and loved) Chris Bohjalian before, this won’t be an exception.  However, the style is different from previous books.

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!

 

 

Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

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Title: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Author: Katarina Bivald

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark, June 2015

Summary/Review: If you are looking for a heartwarming, charming and cozy read, that involves a small town bookstore, this is the book for you! Amy from Broken Wheel, Iowa and Sara from Sweden develop a wonderful correspondence about the books they have read and they mail books back and forth that they want to share with each other. They form a wonderful long distance friendship and Amy asks Sara to visit her old farming town so they can meet and talk books in person. The only problem is the day Sara arrives happens to be the day of Amy’s funeral.

The town adopts Sara immediately and insists that she stay for her two month visit. Broken Wheel is an old farming town that has seen better days and many people have left. The main street is filled with abandoned storefronts and is only one block long! Sara decides to take Amy’s books and open a bookshop and then the magic ensues.

You will laugh out loud, you will recognize the characters and you will shed a tear or two but mostly you will be sad that this book has to end.

Who will like this book:  Anyone looking for a charming quirky read who loves books.

If you like this, try this:  “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George, “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin, and “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” by Fannie Flagg

Recommended by: Claudia, Technical Services

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!

Did You Ever Have a Family?

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Title: Did You Ever Have a Family?

Author: Bill Clegg

Publisher:  Gallery/Scout, September 2015

Summary/Review: Bill Clegg’s devastatingly beautiful fiction debut is portrait of a community in the aftermath of an unspeakable tragedy.  June Reid, the broken woman at the epicenter of the novel, is struggling with a loss so profound she is unable to see beyond her grief, unaware that it has touched many people, uniting them in a web of sorrow, guilt, anger, love, and healing.

Clegg tells their stories with heartbreaking sensitivity and insight; it is an important and timely work as so many communities find themselves facing real-life tragedies today.  I absolutely loved this book.

Who will like this book?: Someone looking for a somber and heartbreaking book which is focused more on the after-effects of a tragedy than the mystery surrounding it.

If you liked this, try this: Bill Clegg has written memoirs before, but this is his debut novel.  If you like his writing style (and want to know more about him) then they might be worth a try.

Recommended By: Mary C, Reference Librarian

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!

 

Pretty Girls

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Title: Pretty Girls

Author: Karin Slaughter

Publisher: William Morrow, September 2015

*This book contains graphic descriptions of violence, particularly sexual violence against women, so be warned.*

Summary/Review: I found this novel a somewhat interesting read because it describes good, bad, and even horrible relationships, from a woman’s perspective.

Two decades ago the older sister of the two women involved in this mystery was abducted. Her body was never found. This destroys her parents’ marriage and emotionally cripples, to some extent, the remaining two girls’ development. One sister self-medicates with alcohol, drugs and sex. The other buries her misery and eventually marries a successful architect. Together they create a fairy-tale perfect, suburban marriage.

The story takes a terrible twist when the “good daughter” discovers (or does she?) horrible secrets about her architect husband after he is murdered in a mugging gone terribly wrong.

But what are we to believe? Are all his awful secrets actually true? Can he really be involved in a series of abductions and tortures of young women over the years? Is their perfect lifestyle financed by online snuff porn videos? If so, how did this behavior start and how could he have kept this twisted side of his life a secret for so long?

The sisters become almost action heroes as they uncover more and more, and worse and worse facts about their family, the dead husband and the fate of many young women over the years.

There are several dramatic plot twists which will probably blind-side the reader. You don’t want to know what they are in advance. This is a somewhat trashy page-turner so it won’t take long to read if you want to know all the details.

Who will like this book? Someone who’s a fan of criminal procedurals who won’t shy away from graphic violence.

If you like this, try this: Karin Slaughter has a huge repertoire of works, so if you like her writing you’ll have plenty to choose from.  If you’re looking for other crime procedurals written by women, try Lisa Gardner or Kathy Reichs.
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!

Lucy Barton

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Title: My Name is Lucy Barton

 Author: Strout, Elizabeth

 Publisher: Random House, January 2016

Summary/Review: Elizabeth Strout is one of the best out there when it comes to writing about flawed, complicated women.  As Lucy Barton recovers from a mysterious illness in the hospital, she has a visitor she’s not spoken with in several years – her mother. The visit spans several days, and as their conversation ebbs and flows in intensity, from gossip to family secrets, Lucy’s memories of her painful childhood are revealed in such a way that, even at the end of the story, she remains somewhat of a mystery.   One thing is for certain – the fragile Lucy Barton has a tremendous capacity for love and forgiveness.

Who will like this book?: Someone looking for a female-centric book that focuses on relationships.

 If you like this, try this: Elizabeth Strout is a well-known name, particularly for “Olive Kitteridge” and “Burgess Boys”, so if you enjoy the writing these two may suit you.

 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!

The Martian

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Title: The Martian

Author: Andy Weir

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group, 2011

Summary/Review: To understand why you will enjoy this novel let’s start with the author. Andy Weir was hired as a computer programmer for a national laboratory at age 15. He is a self-described science geek who actually created and programmed a Mars mission in order to make this story as realistic as possible. His grasp of all things outer space, scientific and NASA is truly breathtaking. He actually received a book and a movie deal within weeks of each other.

We meet the hero of the story, who I could not help but thinking of as Matt Damon, who stars in the movie, as he wakes up from a dust storm catastrophe as a member of a manned mission to Mars. He is all alone and wonders why he isn’t dead. The rest of the crew has lost touch with him an assumes that he is dead. He is incredibly resourceful as he creates, seemingly out of thin air, methods to produce water, oxygen and to grow potatoes to provide sufficient calories to sustain him for the years he figures he will have to wait for even a remote chance of rescue.

Time and again the poor guy has to react to the unforgiving climate and the unexpected consequences of his solutions to an unending list of problems of everyday life, any one of which could kill him. Along the way he hatches plans to modify the Mars surface rover vehicle to allow him to reclaim a probe from a previous mission and hot-wire it to make radio contact with Earth, and other McGiver-like scientific sleight-of-hand just to make it to the next day.

An unexpected pleasure of this book is how funny it is as he talks to himself and then to NASA about the problems of surviving and maintaining a minimum level of sanity as he survives alone for years. He watches lots of 70’s era television shows, listens to Disco music and reads detective novels, all left behind after the first of the many catastrophes he endures.

This is an exceptionally interesting and funny read. You will only be disappointed when it ends.

Who will like this book?:  This book was recently made into a movie, so if you’ve seen it and enjoyed it of course you should read the book!  Someone looking for a funny book that’s written about a serious topic.

If you like this, try this:  This is Andy Weir’s first novel, but you can expect more from him after the success of The Martian. It’s rated 4.38 of over 250,000 reviews on Goodreads –  if that doesn’t convince him to write again nothing will! There are a slew of space novels available, but none hit the funny mark quite like Andy Weir.  If you’re looking for funny science fiction, try Ernest Cline or the classic Douglas Adams.

Recommended by:  Mark Z, guest reviewer

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!

 

Railwayman’s Wife

Title: The Railwayman’s Wife

Author: Ashley Hay

Publisher: Atria Books, April 2016

Summary/Review: A poignant, post WWII novel set in New South Wales, The Railwayman’s Wife is the type of book you wish you could step into, if just for a moment, to make everything right. Some novels make it difficult to just sit back and watch…

Ani Lachlan, her husband Mac, and their daughter Isabel live in what Ani considers “the most beautiful place in the world”, a lovely cottage in a village nestled between the mountains and the sea. But not even this idyllic village can shelter its people from heartbreak and tragedy. Not the local doctor, returned from war but still haunted by the lives he couldn’t save.  Not the young poet whose writing once flourished on the battlefield but is now uninspired and hollow. And not Ani, who turns to her love of books to find solace and healing after her own personal tragedy. Three people whose lives are connected in ways even they do not realize. One person whose life might be saved with just one word.

Beautifully written, atmospheric and haunting, my heart broke for these characters during their darkest hours, and cheered for them as they tried to find their way in this new world.

Who will like this book?: Someone looking for a melancholy but beautiful book that will make you want to jump into its pages.

If you like this, try this: The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy, The Golden Hour, by Margaret Wurtele

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

It’s too soon to put a hold on this book, but keep checking to see when the library orders it!

Girl in the Dark

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Title:  Girl in the Dark

Author:   Anna Lindsey

Publisher: Doubleday, 2015

Summary/review: This is the story of a young woman who finds herself becoming sensitive to the glow of her computer screen at work.  Her condition worsens to the point where she cannot tolerate any kind of light at all without an extreme reaction through her entire body.  She ends up staying in complete darkness in a room in her apartment all day.  Thankfully she has a fiancé who takes care of her needs and when he comes home and prepares dinner she emerges to another room lit with a dim nightlight.  She sometimes is able to go out for a walk on very dark nights but when the town sends a letter to all citizens that they are upgrading the streetlights to new brighter ones it is near tragedy for her. She eventually has several partial remissions, but it is fascinating to read about the implications of her condition.  It is almost like a self- imposed blindness, a horrible condition to think about.  We do not realize many of the things we take for granted, including friendships.   Her emotional ups and downs, even to the point of near suicide really took me in and I thought a lot and am still thinking about this book.

Who will like this book?: Someone looking for a unique memoir

If you like this, try this: If you’re looking for memoirs with unique twists, check out our extensive biography and memoir collections!

Recommended by: Jan, Admin

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

Reunion of Ghosts

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Title: A Reunion of Ghosts

Author:  Judith Claire Mitchell

Publisher:  Harper, March 2015

Summary/Review:  This book is an absolute perfect balance of humor and sadness, hope and despair, blessing and curse, past and present, reason and insanity.  The story of the Alter sisters and their relatives, living and dead, will not soon leave me.  It’s a family history filled with tragedy (loosely based on the story of the German chemist who invented the poisonous gas used in both world wars).   Lady, Vee and Delph Alter decide they can no longer live with this legacy of guilt, and decide to end it all on the same day in December of 1999. In an interview, the author Judith Claire Mitchell says that when writing “A Reunion of Ghosts” she felt like she was “alone in a bunker with this family.”  It’s that engrossing.  This expertly-written and unique family saga is not to be missed!

Who will like this?   Someone looking for a historical family saga that will cover a huge range of emotion for the reader

If you like this, try this:  Mitchell has written another book, “Last Day of the War” which covers Paris and World War I.  If you’re looking for female-centric family sagas, try Kate Morton or Isabel Allende.

Recommended by:  Mary, Reference

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!

Murder House

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Title:   THE MURDER HOUSE

Author: James Patterson

Publisher: Little Brown and Company, 2015

Summary/Review: I know what you’re thinking: not another James Patterson book, he writes one every other month! I felt the same way until I read Murder House – it draws you in from the first page. Usually you find out right in the beginning who the killer is… boring, right? Not this time. There are several different characters. Even the Murder House – 7 Ocean Drive – is a character

There is a beautiful beachfront estate in the Hamptons which was the scene for some gruesome killings that have never been solved. Detective Jenna Murphy, who is from the Hamptons but hasn’t been back since she was a girl, returns after being forced to quit the NYPD. She is given a job by her uncle, the Chief of the South Hampton Police Department.

When a double murder occurs at 7 Ocean Drive and local resident Noah Walker is charged, Jenna takes an interest in the case. She starts to snoop around and that’s when it gets really interesting. There are a lot of questions and more suspects – even her partner Isaac Marks. Then her uncle is killed and another body is found, and there seems to be a pattern with this killer. He likes to cause pain with a sharp object into vital organs.

Jenna requests the help of a rookie, Ricketts, to find out about the owners of 7 Ocean Drive. Without giving too much away this opens up a whole new investigation that will keep you guessing right till the end. The twists and turns are perhaps the best made by James Patterson in a long time. Enjoy the ride. The ending was terrific too.

Who would like this book: A James Patterson lover like me, or anyone who enjoys a thrill ride right to the end!

If you like this, try this: Obviously James Patterson has a number of books out – you’re sure to like at least some of them!

Recommended by: Virginia, Circulation

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