Author Archives: Book Mavens

One Summer

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Title: One Summer: America 1927

Author: Bill Bryson

Publisher: Doubleday, 2013

Summary/Review: Reading this book is like having a friendly historian take you by the arm and walk you through a momentous summer in America a long time ago – 1927. Not just any summer to be sure, but a summer that included a long list of history-making events:

· The flight of Charles Lindbergh revolutionizing modern flight forever.

· Babe Ruth- changing the way baseball is played forever.

· Prohibition – making alcohol in the United States even more prevalent.

· Sacco and Venzetti – were they guilty? The evidence just wasn’t there.

· The invention of the television – “Commercial Use in Doubt”!!

· Talking motion pictures

And the list goes on.

Bill Bryson weaves the extraordinary story as he moves from one subject to another and breathes life into a time that I did not know much about-until now!

Who will like this book?:  History buffs

If you like this, try this:  If you liked Bill Bryson’s writing, he has quite a few other books – most popular titles include “A Walk in the Woods” and “A Short History of Nearly Everything”.  If you’re interested in more history, Erik Larson (“Devil in the White City”, “Garden of Beasts” is a popular historical author, and Vincent Bugliosi (“Four Days in November”, “Helter Skelter”) deals more with real crime.

Recommended by: Sue Z, 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.

 

All the Light we Cannot See

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Title: All the Light We Cannot See

Author: Anthony Doerr

Publisher: Scribner, May 2014

Summary/Review: It is 1934 and Marie-Laure is just 6 years old when she loses her sight. Her father, the principle locksmith for the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, teaches her well how to adjust to her blindness. As she grows, Marie-Laure’s curiosity and intelligence blossom even as the threat of a world war looms. When Hitler and his army begin their attempt to dominate Europe, Monsieur LeBlanc must flee Paris with Marie-Laure ahead of the impending invasion.

It is 1934 and 8 year old Werner Pfennig and his sister Jutta are living in an orphanage in Germany. Their favorite pastime of building and fixing radios, and listening to broadcasts from all over Europe, becomes increasingly difficult as the Nazi party begins to censor what German citizens are allowed to listen to. Before they are completely cut off from the outside world, Werner and Jutta see and hear enough to be frightened of what their country and countrymen are becoming. As Werner gets closer to his 15th birthday and his obligatory job in the local mine, an opportunity arises that will change his life forever.

All the Light We Cannot See is the mesmerizing story of Marie-Laure and Werner and their struggle to survive in a world at war. On opposite sides but so very alike, both are thrust into situations that they cannot control and their palpable fear and frustration can be keenly felt. Doerr’s writing is nothing short of perfect. I was absolutely captivated by this novel and I now consider it one of my top 10 favorite novels of all time.

Who will like this?:  Someone looking for a historical novel on World War II. Someone who is not afraid to take an emotional journey through war – be prepared for characters that will stay with you.

If you like this, try this:  Book Thief by Marcus Zusak or Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.  If you enjoyed Anthony Doerr’s writing style, he has written other books, including “The Shell Collector” and “Memory Wall” (short stories) and “About Grace”, a novel.

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

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 place a hold!

Breed, Chase Novak

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Title: Breed

Author: Chase Novak

Publisher: Mulholland Books, 2012

Summary/Review: Desperate to have a child of their own, a New York couple travels to Slovenia for a radical procedure which has horrifying results.

Alex and Leslie Twisden have tried just about everything to conceive a child but nothing has worked and they are running out of options. When former members of their infertility support group end up pregnant, Alex insists on knowing the secret to their success. This information and the Twisden’s desire to conceive lead them to Slovenia and the mysterious Dr. Kis. After undergoing a barbaric procedure, Leslie winds up pregnant and eventually gives birth to two healthy children, Adam and Alice.

When hormones can no longer be blamed for the new, strange and depraved thoughts and desires of Alex and Leslie, the true horror of Dr. Kis’ fertility treatment is discovered. Will it be in time to save their children?

Truly creepy and not for the squeamish, this novel is a wild ride. Fast paced and well written, you’ll be talking about this one for a while. 

Who will like this book? If you like horror and are looking for something a little different, this book is for you.

 If you like this, try this: “The Devil in Silver” by Victor LaValle has similar themes and creepiness, though his takes place in a mental institution.  If you’re interested in branching out into horror, Stephen King is always a safe (and popular) bet, as well as Dean Koontz – and for the classics lovers out there, “Frankenstein”, “Dracula”, and Edgar Allen Poe are also worth a try!

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

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

Wolf of Wall Street

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Title: Wolf of Wall Street
 
Author: Jordan Belfort
 
Publisher: Bantam Books, 2007
 
Summary/Review: It’s hard to believe that this book is non-fiction because Jordon Belfort, the author and main character of the book, has portrayed his meteoric rise from lowly assistant stockbroker a mega-millionaire as such a farce.  I am sure that there are financial and stock market insights to be gleaned from reading this book, but it is so funny that you don’t care.  The author describes in excruciating detail his all-encompassing desire to eat, drink, self-medicate, and debauch to his heart’s content.  All while earning millions of dollars each month.  He takes us behind the scenes of manipulated IPO’s, some of which seem to be created exclusively to enrich him and his firm.  By the time he is caught out by federal authorities for money laundering, insider trading, and other financial crimes he has been married twice, had two children, and achieved the ripe old age of 36!  This is a morality story but again it is so funny, page after page, that you can simply enjoy it.
 
This book has been made into a movie starring Leonard DeCaprio.
 
Who will like this book?If you saw (and enjoyed) the movie, we always recommend reading the book!  If you’re looking for a funny read about a very serious topic.  If you’re interested in memoirs, finance, or comedy!
 
If you like this, try this: Belfort has written another book about his exploits (and ultimately, his downfall) in “Catching the Wolf of Wall Street”.  If you felt there was anything lacking, this second book of stories may fill in the gaps.  If you’re looking for more information and stories dealing with Wall Street and the people who run it, try “House of Cards” by William Cohan (who also writes “The Last Tycoons”).  Greg Smith also wrote a piece for the New York Times, “Why I Left Wall Street”, which has since been turned into a book after 3 million readers logged onto the Times website to see his account.  This one has a much darker view on the excess and extravagance of Wall Street. 
 
Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer
If you’d like to read this book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!
 

Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

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Title: Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

Author:  Paula Daly

Publisher: Grove Press, 2013

Summary/Review: The words that no woman ever wants to hear. “Just what kind of mother are you?” Lisa Kallisto is sure people are asking that question of her. She has been asking that same question of herself ever since her 13 year old daughter’s friend, Lucinda, went missing. You see, Sally’s friend was supposed to be sleeping over Lisa’s house to work on a school project with Sally. When Sally got sick, the sleepover was cancelled but someone forgot to tell Lucinda or her mother Kate. No one even knows she’s gone until the next morning when Sally doesn’t see Lucinda at the bus stop and calls her to ask about the project.

Lisa knows she doesn’t have it all together-not like Lucinda’s mother, Kate Riverton, anyway. Kate has always been more of a hands-on parent than Lisa could ever hope to be. Now their differences couldn’t be more glaring. One little misstep and a young girl is gone. Overwhelmed with guilt, Lisa promises Kate that she will find Lucinda. As family secrets are exposed and another girl is abducted, it becomes obvious how little everyone knows about their neighbors, friends, and even their own families.

This was a fantastic story. If I didn’t have to break for sleep, I would have read it cover to cover. This debut novel has it all-great writing, setting and story, and engaging characters, some of whom I would love to see again.

Who will like this? Someone looking for a strong story that will keep you reading.  Someone looking for a mystery/thriller that also delves deep in to the lives of each of the characters.

If you like this, try this: “And Then There was One” by Patricia Gussin, in which three sisters go to the movies and only one sister emerges.  “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, about a woman who disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary (and is being made into a movie starring Ben Affleck).  This is a debut by Daly, so be on the lookout for something else from her soon!

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

If you think this would be a good book to try out, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!

The Hedge Knight

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Title: The Hedge Knight

Author/Illustrators: George R.R. Martin, Ben Avery and Mike S. Miller

Summary: While you are waiting (and waiting…and waiting) for the next installment of George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire, The Winds of Winter, enjoy this graphic novel of the first Dunk and Egg story. Set in Westeros about 100 years before the action in A Game of Thrones, these stories focus on Duncan the Tall, an unknown hedge knight looking for tournament glory but more importantly, a roof over his head, and his squire Egg, who has a surprising background. These stories, which have been published in fantasy compilations over the years, are now here as slim, well-designed graphic novels. These stories are essential for fans, particularly those interested about life under Targaryen rule. Eagle-eyed readers will also discover some revealing details that may change the way they view the characters from the main novel series.

Who will like this book: Rabid ASOIAF fans looking for more insight into the history of Westeros. Readers who like stories about knights and combat.

If you like this, read this: The next installment of the Dunk and Egg series, The Sworn SwordThe Princess and the Queen, or The Blacks and the Greens, a short story featuring more Targaryens (and dragon battles!), found in the collection Dangerous Women.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

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

Staff Favorites (2013)

As the year 2013 comes to a close, we’d like to reflect on the books that we loved that were released this year.  See something you like?  Find a similar book by clicking on the tag!

Our big winner, with the most recommendations, was “Light Between Oceans“.  We can’t wait until the 2014 books come out!

Isa Does It

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Title:  Isa Does It:  Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week

Author:  Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company, 2013

Summary/Review: Don’t be scared because “Vegan” is in the subtitle—you don’t have to be one to enjoy this cookbook! This is hands down the best vegetarian cookbook I’ve seen. And with all the unique flavors in these recipes, meat-eaters will not feel like they are missing out on anything.

To start with or make as a meal, there are soups like “Sweet Potato & Red Curry” and salads like “Ranch Salad with Red Potatoes & Smoky Chickpeas”. With recipes for “White Wine Risotto”, “Bhindi Masala with Black-Eyed Peas”, and “Phyllo Pot Pie”, it makes it hard to decide which one to have for dinner. Even the desserts are mouth-watering—envision “Just Chocolate Cake with Gooey Ganache”. And there is even “Carrot Cake Pancakes” to have for breakfast—yum!

The recipes included in this book are easy to follow and contain helpful notes on the side. With such a wonderful selection in each category, there is truly something to satisfy every appetite.

Who will like this book: Those looking for delicious meatless meals.

If you like this, try this: Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi or Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. Anything else by Isa Chandra Moskowitz!  She is the author of several vegan cookbooks.  In fact, she’s been named favorite cookbook author in VegNews for the past seven years.

A second take…

Summary/Review:  This may be the vegan cookbook you’ve been waiting for!  I know that it is for me.  Isa Chandra Moskowitz, already well-known in the vegan cookbook world, has just put together a collection of vegan recipes that truly are “amazingly easy and wildly delicious.”  The majority of recipes can be made without ingredients that involve a trip to a specialty store.  I also like the fact that they are not loaded with “substitute” ingredients (vegan sour cream, vegan cheese, etc.).  She’s covered all the courses – from soup, salads and delicious-sounding desserts.  There are Mexican, Indian and Italian inspired dishes, as well as good old Macaroni and Cheese, so it does seem like there’ll be something for everyone.  It’s beautifully illustrated, which is also a great help in a cookbook.  So if you’ve been thinking about becoming a vegetarian/vegan, or if you’d just like to add more meat/dairy free meals to your diet, give this wonderful cookbook a try!

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 place a hold!

Recommended by:  Mary C and Sharyn R

 

 

 

NOS4A2

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Title: NOS4A2

Author: Joe Hill

Publisher: Harper Collins, 2013

Summary/Review: This story begins with a very young Victoria McQueen, a bike, and her encounter with a magic bridge. We are then introduced to a man named Bing Partridge who befriends a monstrous, evil, and hideous child abductor named Charles Talent Manx, who drives a magical 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith.

Their paths first collide when Victoria, at 17, avoids being kidnapped by Manx and taken to a make believe location called Christmasland, a place where all children never have any pain and where it is Christmas every day. Unfortunately, the children change while they are there; becoming creatures with razor sharp teeth and kill adults by playing the game “SCISSORS-FOR-THE-DRIFTERS”. Manx claims the children’s souls allowing him to live eternally.

Then, as an adult, Vic loses her own child, Bruce Wayne Carmody, to Manx. Her dangerous journey continues, trying to rescue her son with the help of Wayne’s dad Lou, and a stuttering librarian named Maggie, who seems to possess powers of her own.

This life and death tale of a mother’s love will keep you the edge of your seat for all 686 pages. This is one of my favorite novels of the year.

Who will like this book: If you are in the mood for horror, suspense, and adventure, then you will enjoy this story.

If you like this, try this: The Shining, Salem’s Lot, or It all by Stephen King, who happens to be Joe Hill’s father.

Recommended by: K.C. Davis, Circulation Assistant

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 place a hold!