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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!

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!

 

2014 Staff Picks!

Our staff picks are here!  Still looking for a wonderful gift for someone special?  Here are some of our top recommendations:

Jess, from Reference, recommends:

“Forty Acres” by Dwayne Alexander Smith, published July 2014.  This is a thriller I could not put down! Thought provoking and eye opening!

K.C. in Circulation recommends:

“Bird Box” by Josh Malerman, published July 2014.  A post-apocalyptic world where not being able to see what horror lies in front of you is necessary for survival.

“Cop Town” by Karin Slaughter, published June 2014.  Groovy 1970’s Atlanta where crime and fashion collide. A series perhaps?

“One Kick” by Chelsea  Cain, published Aug 2014 (and reviewed by RBRT In September).  A young kidnapping survivor becomes one heck of a vigilante.

“Southern Reach Trilogy” by Jeff Vandermeer, published Jan 2014, April 2014, and August 2014. Post Apocalyptic – is the world being taken over by nature thanks to the US government?

“Blue Labyrinth” by Douglas Preston and Licoln Child, published Nov 2014. Another installment featuring the always mysterious FBI Special Agent, AXL Pendergast.

“Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King, published June 2014. A retired cop has to hunt down a serial killer.   A possible series.

Nicole, Teen Librarian, recommends:

Hawkeye Volume 1: My Life as a Weapon, by Matt Fraction and artist David Aja, Published March 2013.

What happens when Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye, aka ‘Hawkguy’) leaves his day job with the Avengers and heads home to Brooklyn? Focusing on the messy, mundane life of a non-superpowered superhero, his relationships with his neighbors and his protégé Kate Bishop, this innovative, stylish and award-winning series (three collected volumes have been released so far…) has been a big hit with comics readers.

Laurie, from Circulation, recommends:

Family Furnishings ( short stories ) by Alice Monro, published November 2014.

Still Life With Breadcrumbs by Anna Quinlan, published October 2014

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, published December 2014

The Round House by Louise Erdrich, published December 2012

The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Klein, published December 2014

Mark Z, Guest Reviewer, recommends:

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult, published October 2014.  Once again Jodi Picoult takes the reader on an emotional journey featuring a female juvenile and the adults who try their best to help her discover and manage the search for her long lost mother. And, as usual Ms. Picoult inserts an awesome twist at the end — Fantastic story telling.

Beth, from the Children’s Library, recommends:

“Absoluely Almost” by Lisa Graff, published June 2014. Like “Wonder”

“The Boundless” by Kenneth Oppel, published April 2014.  Transcontinental Railroad ‘era’ –  train robbery/wealthy Railroad Baron.

“Courage for Beginners” by Karne Harrington, published August 2014.   Agoraphobia, Caretaking, Family Ties, Friendship – Main character (Mysti Murphy)  a lively , funny character who faces her caretaking challenges head on.

“Curiosity” by Gary Blackwood, published April 2014.  In 1835, when his father is put in a Philadelphia debtor’s prison, twelve-year-old chess prodigy Rufus Is recruited  to secretly operate a chess-playing automaton.  He soon questions the fate of his father and his own safety.

“The Forbidden Library” by Django Wexler, fantasy series published in 2014. Similar to Inkheart, The Books of Elsewhere and Coraline.  Themes are magic wizards, libraries, books and reading, fairies.

“A Snicker of Magic” by Natalie Lloyd, published February 2014.  A story about the magic of words and stories – and the power they hold to heal, hurt, make trouble and fun. Great story filled with family, love sweetness and joy.

Other Titles – Family Ties  –  Paulsen;

The Graveyard Book – Gaiman (Graphic Novel)

Memory Maze – Korman

So far – the favorite titles from this list are The Boundless and Snicker of Magic.

Paula, from Reference, recommends:

“The Short and Tragic life of Robert Peace : a brilliant young man who left Newark for the Ivy League” by Jeff Hobbs, published September 2014. Biography of the short life of an exceptionally bright young African-American man who with the guidance of a devoted, self sacrificing mother leaves the slums of Newark for Yale University only to be drawn back into the drug culture when he returns home.

“The Underground Girls of Kabul : in Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan” by Jenny Nordberg, published in September 2014. In Afghanistan, the birth of a son is cause for a celebration and the arrival of a daughter is often mourned. This is the story of several girls, known as bacha posh, raised as boys until they reach adolescence.  Researched and written by a Swedish journalist, it is a look into a culture I had no idea existed.

Mary, Reference Librarian, recommends:

“Neverhome” by Laird Hunt, published September 2014.  It’s a stunning and poetic novel of a woman who does what her husband cannot, which is enlist and fight in the Civil War.  Hunt’s writing is absolutely beautiful although there is much that is dark and haunting throughout her soul-altering journey.  This is historical, literary fiction at its best!

Virginia, from Circulation, recommends:

“Leaving Time” by Jodi Picoult, published October 2014.  I really like Jodi Picoult’s books because although they are fiction, they read like non- fiction. Leaving time is about a washed-up psychic named Serenity, and Jenna – the little girl she helps. Her mother Alice was a research scientist working at an elephant sanctuary. She disappeared 10 years ago and Jenna wants to find out what happened to her.

 

I am Pilgrim

[Cover]

Title: I Am Pilgrim

Author: Terry Hayes

Publisher: Atria, 2014

Summary/Review: I am always amazed at the detail and intrigue which the great thriller-writers create for our entertainment. This novel, about a premiere field agent who races against time and the evil guile of his foe to head off global Armageddon, keeps the reader turning all 600 pages as fast as you can read them. When you reach the end you will wish there were another couple of hundred pages to enjoy.

There is a telling line in the book which says that the international intelligence services will long for the good old days when terrorists depended on suicide bombers and merely crashing airplanes into buildings compared to what our hero is up against.

Not to be a spoiler, but this is a tale about an evil genius of a desert fighter who evades international law enforcement, creates a modern-day plague, and along the way dazzles the reader with his technological wizardry, high-level education and single-minded zeal to exact terrible revenge on the United States for their actions in the middle east. His actions and abilities are narrowly matched by the former US agent who pursues him with just-barely-matching technical and mental capabilities.

Who will like this book?: If you enjoy thrillers, you cannot go wrong investing the time reading this exceptional novel.

If you like this, try this: This is going to be part of a series, so be on the lookout for the next books if you enjoyed this plotline. If you like the government thriller aspect, try Dan Brown or Stieg Larsson (more brutal). The plotline is also reminiscent of Bourne Identity, a series which is worth a read by Robert Ludlum.

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!