Monthly Archives: July 2008

So Brave, Young, and Handsome

Title: So Brave, Young, and Handsome

Author: Leif Enger

Summary:  It’s finally here! Leif Enger’s second book after his best-selling debut novel Peace Like a River.

In 1915 Minnesota, Monte Becket is an author struggling to write his second novel. Written on a whim, his first novel was a smashing success. Now Monte is starting to feel like he really only had one good book in him. When Monte befriends Glendon Hale, a fugitive outlaw, he gets the chance to live out a real adventure. Monte is encouraged by his wife Susannah to accompany Glendon on his journey to Mexico to find the wife he abruptly left so many years ago. Glendon is looking for forgiveness while Monte is looking for inspiration. Only when they are on their way to Mexico do they realize that Glendon’s sins of the past have not been forgotten and the two are being pursued by an ex-Pinkerton turned bounty hunter.

This is a story about relationships, loyalty, forgiveness, and the importance of taking risks to find out what kind of person you really are.

Who will like this book?  Anyone who enjoys old-time westerns or just a really nice story.

If you like this book, try this: Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

Recommended by:Sue, Circulation Coordinator

Batman: The Long Halloween

Title: Batman: The Long Halloween

Author: Jeph Loeb

Illustrator: Tim Sale

Summary: I reread this fantastic graphic novel before I saw The Dark Knight.  While the plot lines aren’t exactly the same, both the movie and the book share a similar film-noir feel and focus on the same three characters: Batman, Lieutenant Gordon, and D.A. Harvey Dent.

Over the course on one year, from Halloween to Halloween, they track a killer who strikes only on the holidays. As the year wears on, familiar villains appear as suspects, victims and surprising allies. If you, like the millions of others who flocked to the theaters this weekend, are in the grips of Batman fever, The Long Halloween is the book you are looking for.

Who will like this book?: Fans of the Caped Crusader, particularly those who read the comic books or watched the either the live-action or animated TV show. Fans of The Godfather movies. Be advised: Like many Batman graphic novels, this is an intense, mature title.

If you like this, try this: Batman: Year One by Frank Miller. The Killing Joke by Alan Moore. Heroes volume 1, also illustrated by Tim Sale.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Young Bess

Title: Young Bess

Author: Margaret Irwin

Summary: Young Bess provides a fictional, though grounded in historical fact, novel on the life of Queen Elizabeth when she was simply the Lady Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and sister of Edward VI. Young Bess describes Elizabeth’s chequered relationship with Henry VIII, the father she resembles and differs from in so many ways. But along the way Bess also finds the maternal love that has been sorely lacking from her life from her father’s sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr.

Catherine not only provides Bess with love but more importantly with a belief in her destiny–that Bess will someday be Queen of England. Unfortunately, her destiny may be derailed by the long-standing feud between two brothers, Thomas and Edward Seymour, uncles to Edward VI, the brother of young Bess. Their hatred for each other eventually destroys both brothers, but will this hatred destroy Bess?

Who will like this book?: For those who enjoyed Alison Weir’s The Lady Elizabeth or any of the Philippa Gregory novels on the women of the Tudor Court, Young Bess is the book for you

Recommended by: Mona, Reference Librarian

America, America

Title: America, America

Author:  Ethan Canin

Summary: Ethan Canin has always been a wonderful writer, but this is his best book yet.  In fact, it’s one of the best books I’ve read – period.  Several reviewers have deemed it a “great American novel,” not only because of the quality of writing, but also because of its breadth and subject matter.  It is an elegantly drawn portrait of a small American town seen through the eyes of a boy who is at crossroads in his life, during a time when his family and home and country were at a crossroads as well.

Corey Sifter at 50 years old is looking back on that time in his life when he was growing up near Buffalo, New York, in the 1970s.  He had become involved with the powerful Metarey family, first as a groundskeeper on their grand estate, and then as a trusted right-hand man of the patriarch, Liam Metarey.  He was only a 16 year-old boy from a working-class family when it all began, but even then he had the gift of steady observation, not jumping to conclusions about the events around him.  As the Metarey dynasty becomes the driving force behind their friend Senator Henry Bonwiller’s bid for the presidency, Corey is asked to lend a hand and becomes the Senator’s driver and aide. As the campaign gains strength and Corey’s ties to the Metarey’s deepen, he finds himself entangled in a scandal that leads to the downfall of a powerful man and a family that means the world to him.

America, America is much more than a political novel.  Ultimately, I think, it is a novel about relationships and our place in the world, our place in history.  And it is a novel that spans the life, and perhaps the death, of the American dream.

Who will like this book?  Any fan of Richard Russo or John Irving.  Readers who big, multi-layered sagas about families, small town America, politics, love, etc.

If you like this book, try this:Anything else by Ethan Canin; The Race by Richard North Patterson; The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald; All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren.

Recommended by: Mary, Reference Librarian


Title: Sacrifice

Author: S.J. Bolton

Summary: Tora Hamilton and her husband Duncan have just moved to the Shetland Islands. Tora is new to the Islands, but Duncan is returning after a 20 year absence. Soon after Tora moves in, she accidentally digs up a body buried on her property and soon realizes she has unearthed more than just human remains. She has quite a few questions to ask the authorities about the body. Simple questions like why was the woman’s heart removed and why did she have ancient symbols carved into her back? The more questions Tora asks, the more secretive the people around her become. She finally decides to do some investigating on her own and discovers that the symbols carved in the woman’s body are ancient runes and the manner in which she was killed is eerily similar to a ritual described in Shetland Island folktales. Unfortunately for Tora, as one character puts it, “…tucked away inside all legends, a kernel of truth can be found”.

If you like a book that has some chills,  and a setting that is not commonly used, this may be the book for you.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator


Title: Adam

Author: Ted Dekker

Summary:  FBI agent Daniel Clarke is obsessed with finding the serial killer known as Eve. Eve has killed at least 16 women and shows no sign of stopping. Daniel’s obsession has already cost him his marriage and now it has cost him his life. Or has it? After being shot by Eve, Daniel is clinically dead for 20 minutes. He is resuscitated but now the face of Eve is hidden somewhere in Daniel’s memory. When Eve kidnaps Daniel’s ex-wife Heather, Daniels knows his best chance of catching Eve before Heather is hurt is to die again so he can recover his memory. What he doesn’t realize is that Eve has a plan of his own for Daniel- to make Daniel his first “Adam”.

If I had to use one word to describe this novel I would say “intense”. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the creepiest, I would give Adam an 8. If you like like horror and have a few sleepless nights to spare, you should definitely read this one.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

A Northern Light

Title: A Northern Light

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

Summary: Unlike many girls in the Great North Woods at the turn of the century, Mattie Gokey is gifted: She is a writer so talented she has been offered a full scholarship to Barnard College. But how can she leave? Since her mamma died, it has been Mattie’s job to run the farmhouse and look after her sisters, neighbors and her gruff pa. To earn money for the family, Mattie goes to work at the Glenmore Hotel. One day she is handed a bundle of letters by a guest named Grace, who asks her to burn them. Hours later, Grace’s body is found in the lake, and the boyfriend who took her out rowing is nowhere to be found. As Mattie begins to read the letters and piece together the mystery, she also begins to answer the questions of her own life: Should she stay and marry her gorgeous neighbor Royal, who doesn’t understand her love of books and words, or take her chances in New York and chase her dream of becoming a writer?

The book is based on a real murder case that was the basis for the classic novel An American Tragedy and the film A Place in the Sun. But it is the fictional Mattie’s struggle to define herself in an era where girls had so few choices and little say in their futures that will linger long after the final page has been turned.

Who will like this book?: People who like fiction based on true stories. Fans of authentic characters with a lot of depth and honesty.

If you like this, try this: An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. For another unforgettable, beautifully written historical novel featuring a book-loving heroine, try The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Garden Spells and The Lace Reader

Titles: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Summary: It was sheer coincidence that I read these two novels back to back, so I thought it would be nice to review them together.  The two stories have a lot in common and share many similar themes, but each one evokes a completely different (and wonderful!) reading experience.

Garden Spells is a delightful story about two half-sisters, Claire and Sydney, their magical garden, and life in the small town of Bascom, North Carolina.   The Waverly women have always had mysterious gifts, but they’ve not always embraced them.  Claire’s magic comes through the herbs and spices she uses from the famous Waverly garden, while Cousin Evanelle intuits exactly what item people will need the most and gives it to them.  Sydney spent most of her life running away from her gifts, but finds herself returning to Bascom with her daughter when her boyfriend becomes abusive.  As the bond between Claire and Sydney grows, so does their appreciation of their unusual talents.  This book was a pleasure to read, the perfect summer novel.

If Garden Spells is the perfect summer novel, then The Lace Reader is its perfect cold weather counterpart – it’s a bit darker, but still a fantastic read.  We meet another family with mystical powers, the Whitneys of Salem, Massachusetts.  The Whitney women can read your future in patterns of the Ipswich lace that they help to make, which leads some people to believe they are witches.  Towner Whitney thought she’d left all of that behind when she moved to California, but she’s called back home when her beloved Aunt Eva goes missing.  Her return to the family home sets off a series of events that are a more than a little unsettling.  There are some fascinating people and places in this novel.  I particularly loved reading about Salem and Yellow Dog Island, a fictional island of the coast of Massachusetts that’s inhabited by hundreds of wild Golden Retrievers.

By the way, The Lace Reader is one of the books that created a buzz at this year’s Book Expo America.  It’s being published in hardcover this month, but we happened to have a previously-published paperback edition on our shelves – and I’m so glad we did!

Who will like these books?:  Any fan of Alice Hoffman and Laura Esquivel.

If you like these try: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman; The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen.

Recommended by: Mary, Reference Librarian

Speak Truth to Power

Title: Speak Truth to Power. Human Rights Defenders who are Changing Our World

Editor: Nan Richardson

Interviewer:  Kerry Kennedy Cuomo

Photographer:Eddie Adams

Summary: This book contains interviews with 49 defenders of human rights around the world.  While some are well-known Nobel Prize Laureates such as the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Elie Wiesel, most of the defenders are not well-known.  Along with each interview, there is a black and white photograph of the person that, through the talents of the photographer, Eddie Adams, speaks volumes. After I read many of the interviews, I returned to linger over the photograph.

What unites these brave individuals is the clarity of the belief that they are doing something right (with a capital “R”) and their need to effect change.  All of them champion the fight against different human rights violations ranging from children’s rights, religious freedom,  disarmament, political rights, and multinational corporate responsibility, to name only a few.

Kerry Kennedy Cuomo has been working on behalf of human rights since 1981.  She established the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights in 1987, and serves as Chair of the Amnesty International Leadership Council, and in numerous other capacities.  Ms. Cuomo best sums up this unusual and inspiring book.

In a world where there is a common lament that there are no more heroes, too often cynicism and despair are perceived as evidence of the death of moral courage. That perception is wrong. People of great valor and heart, committed to noble purpose, with long records of personal sacrifice, walk among us in every country of the world

Eddie Adams is an internationally famous photographer and is one of the most published photographers in America.

Who will like this book:  Those people interested in understanding political issues in other areas of the world, in reading about people who are making a difference, and those that wish to be inspired.

If you like this, try this: Three Cups of Tea of Greg Mortenson. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder.

Recommended by:  Susan Z, Reference Librarian

The Nine

Title: The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

Author: Jeffrey Toobin

Summary: Best-selling author Jeffrey Toobin takes the reader into the chambers of the Supreme Court to reveal the character and thinking of the nine people who decide the law of the land. This is a remarkable and riveting book – lucid and probing.

Also, author Jeffery Toobin will be appearing on Sunday, September 24th at 8 PM for the Open Visions Forum at the Quick Center of Fairfield University.

Who will like this book?: Those interested in the workings of the third branch of our government.

If you like this, try this: The Brethren by Bob Woodward. Supreme Injustice by Alan Dershowitz. Harry Blackmun: The Outsider Justice by Tinsley Yarbrough.

Recommended by: Cliff, Reference Librarian