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The Wonder

Title: The Wonder

Author: Emma Donoghue

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, September 2016

Summary/Review:  Anna O’Donnell is a perfectly normal, very bright, attractive and extremely pious 11-year-old Irish girl who has not eaten a morsel of food in four months.

Is she a Wonder or a hoax? If she is a wonder then everyone in her deeply religious Catholic hometown is living with a possible saint, but if she and her family are perpetrating a hoax they want to get to the bottom of it.

This is where Lib Wright, who is a nurse on the vanguard of modern  medicine comes in. She is hired by a town committee, along with a local nun, to keep strict watch over young Anna for two weeks to see if she is secretly receiving any nutrition at all. Lib is convinced that there is indeed a hoax being committed and sets out to expose it. She has to contend with deep-seated “traditional” medical thought as practiced by the two doctors who are attending to Anna as she wastes away right in front of Lib’s eyes.

Lib discovers a complex and self-serving community surrounding Anna as she does her best to expose what she KNOWS is a sham, while doing her utmost to do no harm to the young girl in her care.

The reader is treated to a description of how modern nursing came to be taught to the women of Europe along with a look at the superstitions and deep religious convictions which shaped every facet of Irish country life.

The resolution of the mystery is shocking. Anna has a deep and troubling secret which beautifully ties together every terrible possibility the story poses.

One thing to consider: you might want to read this book, and you really should read it, with a dictionary or smart device at hand to look up words used by the author in her rich and vibrant descriptions. She has a PhD in eighteenth-century literature and her vocabulary is extraordinary.

Who will like this book?: Readers of Historical Fiction or Mystery, or anyone who just wants to read a great story.

If you like this, try this: News of the World by Paulette Jiles, or Room by Emma Donoghue

Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer

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

The Slow Waltz of Turtles

Title: The Slow Waltz of Turtles

Author: Katherine Pancol

Publisher: Penguin Books, November 2016

Summary/Review:  Ever since I read Yellow Eyes of a Crocodile by the French author Katherine Pancol. I have been waiting for more of her books to be translated into English. After 3 long years her sequel to Yellow Eyes has been published here and it was well worth the wait! Josephine Cortes is living in her new apartment in Paris with her youngest daughter Zoe. Her older daughter is studying in London, her best friend has moved, and her sister has been institutionalized. Oh and Josephine just may be in love with her brother-in-law. And on top of all this three women have been murdered in her new neighborhood.

What follows is a charming, funny, zany and sometimes dark story. Pancol has the ability to immerse you into her character’s lives and feelings and you will be reluctant to leave them. Here’s hoping that we will not have to wait a few years for her next translated book.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like anything French and any reader who enjoys a good story about a woman at a crossroads in her life.

If you like this, try this: Yellow Eyes of a Crocodile by Katherine Pancol, A Man Called Ove by Frederick Backman, The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Recommended by: Claudia, Technical Services

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

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify

Title: The Joy of Less:  A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify

Author: Francine Jay

Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2016

Summary/ReviewWe are constantly trying to keep up with those around us and don’t realize how much time and stress is spent on acquiring and maintaining things like cars, houses, designer clothes, brand-name appliances, etc.  Having too much stuff can actually hold you back from enjoying new experiences and activities.  The clutter weighs you down.  With exercises clarifying the concept of having less, questions to answer before purchasing a new item, and a system in place, the transition to minimalism seems not only necessary but easy to do.

Set in four parts—PHILOSOPHY (establishing a minimalist mindset), STREAMLINE (every letter stands for a technique for tackling clutter and keeping more from coming into the house), ROOM BY ROOM (decluttering, containing, and maintaining each room), and LIFESTYLE (converting family members and understanding the global impact of minimalism)—this book contains everything needed to live a simpler, happier life. 

Who will like this book?: For those who believe less is more.

If you liked this, try this: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation Department

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

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.

Lucy Barton

[Cover]

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!