Days of Anna Madrigal

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Title: The Days of Anna Madrigal

Author: Armistead Maupin

Publisher: Harper, January 2014

Summary/Review: In January 2014, Armistead Maupin published the ninth and final book in his glorious Tales of the City series. Maupin began writing Tales as a newspaper column in San Francisco during the 1970’s. Tales centered on landlady Anna Madrigal and her magical apartment house at 28 Barbary Lane in SF’s Russian Hill neighborhood. Anna’s tenants included Mary Ann Singleton fresh from Ohio, Michael “Mouse” Tolliver, out and proud gay man, Mona Ramsey frustrated copywriter, and aging ladies’ man Brian Hawkins. Tales of the City was turned into an award-winning television mini-series in the 1990’s for PBS, and the second and third books were also produced for television by Showtime starring Olympia Dukakis as Anna and Laura Linney as Mary Ann. Maupin created a world where people of all walks of life could not only be friends but family to each other.

The Days of Anna Madrigal continues the story of these characters. Now a fragile ninety-two year old and committed to the notion of “leaving like a lady,” Anna Madrigal has seemingly found peace in the bosom of her “logical family” in San Francisco: her devoted young caretaker, Jake Greenleaf; her former tenant Brian Hawkins; Brian’s daughter Shawna; and Michael Tolliver and Mary Ann Singleton, who have known and loved Anna for nearly four decades. Some members of Anna’s family are bound for the otherworldly landscape of Burning Man, the art festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada where sixty thousand revelers build a temporary city (Michael calls it “a Fellini carnival on Mars”) designed to last only one week. Anna herself has another Nevada destination in mind: a lonely stretch of road outside of Winnemucca where the sixteen-year-old boy she used to be ran away from the whorehouse he then called home. With Brian and his beat-up RV, she journeys into the dusty, troubled heart of her Depression-era childhood, where she begins to unearth a lifetime of secrets and dreams, and to attend to unfinished business she has long avoided.

Who will like this book? Fans of Maupin’s earlier work, lovers of light, suspenseful novels, San Francisco-philes, people interested in Burning Man, readers who enjoy alternative families, life-long friendships, characters aging gracefully, and LGBTQ readers and allies.

If you like this, try this: Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott, Exiles in America by Christopher Bram, Rough Music by Patrick Gale, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan, Michael Nava’s Henry Rios mystery series, and Greg Heren’s Scotty Bradley mystery series.

Recommended by:  Philip B. 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 place a hold!

Mimi Malloy, At Last

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Title:  Mimi Malloy, At Last

Author:  Julia MacDonnell

Publisher: Picador, April 2014

Summary/Review:  Mimi Malloy, divorced and newly retired is settling into the twilight of her life.  Her sisters and six daughters are ever present in her life and believe that her memory may be starting to fail.  But a chance discovery of a locket in the top of her closet sets her on a path to remembering the dark unresolved secrets of her Irish Catholic childhood.  After their mother passes away during childbirth, their father marries another woman who turns out to be the classic mean stepmother. After many failed attempts at discipline she even sends away the feistiest of the young girls to Ireland from which she never returns.  As the sisters interact and Mimi remembers more and more we learn what really happened. The story has much interaction among the sisters and explores various mother daughter relationships.  There is even a new romantic interest for Mimi, who also has a secret which he reveals to her.  Always comfortable with herself and the life she now leads there is much humor and warmth in this novel. The difficulties of their dark early days have been overcome as they have remained very close. Family life, reconciliation and the power of memory are the major themes of this book.

Who will like this book:  If you enjoy a story about older, independent women or family interactions you will enjoy this novel.  If you like Maeve Binchy, you will probably like this.

If you like this try:  The Good House by Ann Leary.

Recommended by:  Jan, Admin

If this looks like a book you’d like to try, check out the Fairfield Public Library to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold

 

Station Eleven

Title: Station Eleven

Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Publisher: Knopf, September 2014

Summary/Review: The Georgia Flu has swept the globe, wiping out 99% of the world’s population. With them went everything that had been taken for granted: technology, medicine, and electricity to name a few. Those who survived are forced into an uncertain future fraught with dangers.

Among the survivors is Jeevan Chaudhary. On the very eve of the pandemic, Jeevan was in the audience when famous actor Arthur Leander was struck down on stage. After aiding in the attempt to save the actor, Jeevan learns of the impending disaster from a doctor friend at the hospital.  With this advance notice, he is able to stock up supplies and attempt to wait out the disaster holed up in an apartment with his brother. He could never have imagined what would be left of the world when he emerged. Kirsten Raymonde, a child actress standing off stage when Arthur is struck, is barely 8 years old when the flu hits and life as she knows it is changed forever. Left to wander the landscape with her older brother, Kirsten learns quickly what it takes to survive.

Fast forward 20 years and Kirsten is now part of the Travelling Symphony, a troupe that travels from one community to the next playing music and performing Shakespeare. Dangers have always lurked in the wasteland that they travel, but now a new and greater threat has emerged in the form of the Prophet. Again, life as she knows it is threatened and Kirsten will do whatever it takes to keep her new “family” from harm.

Yes, another dystopic novel but the characters, not the chaos surrounding them, are the focus of this story. I love Emily’s writing. She has the ability to draw you in so completely that you are right there, watching events play out before you. With an uncanny ability to tie everything together without forsaking her beautiful writing, she is an author who should not be missed.

Who will like this book? Someone who is interested in dystopias but is sick of the same old thing.  Someone who is looking for a character-driven story.

If you like this, try this: Mandel has also written “Last Night in Montreal” and “Lola        Quartet”, so if you liked her writing there is more to try.  If you’re interested in dystopic fiction, there are plenty of options:  try “Handmaid’s Tale”, a classic by Margaret Atwood, which is more based on societal collapse than an outbreak.  Other titles include “Hunger Games” and “Divergent” as YA crossovers, or “1984”.  If you’re interested in dystopia after an outbreak or health issue, try “Blindness” by Jose Saramago, or “World War Z” by Max Brooks.

Recommended by:  Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

This one was reviewed with an ARC – an advanced reader.  What does this mean?  It means that since it’s not published yet, we can’t buy it for the library quite yet.  But be on the lookout!

 

 

Walls Within Walls

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Title: Walls Within Walls

Author: Maureen Sherry

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books, June 2010

Summary/Review: CJ, Brid, and Patrick Smithfork (along with little sister Carron) don’t want to move from their cozy Brooklyn apartment to a sprawling penthouse in Manhattan.  But ever since their dad became a super-successful video game creator, it seems that their opinion matters less and less.  With their dad spending all his time at work and their mom spending all her time picking out décor for their new place, the Smithforks want nothing more than to just go home – their real home, in Brooklyn.  But when they find mysterious writing behind the wall, everything changes.  A mystery years in the making that won’t end until they’ve unraveled the clues hidden all over New York – and might end with a missing treasure…and a new idea of what “home” means.

This book doesn’t just have a typical Wizard of Oz “there’s no place like home” theme.  Instead, this is more of an underlying plot line which instead focuses on the beauty and history of New York City – complete with a study guide in the back which discusses what’s real and what’s fiction.  While the set up takes a while, the book’s pace picks up rapidly toward the second half, as the children focus on clues which incorporate history, literature, poetry, and more.  Although I was a little disappointed in how the librarian was represented, the author did a wonderful job of introducing late-elementary/early middle school readers to historical fiction.  It’s also a Nutmeg nominee for 2015, and is less heavy-hitting in the morality department than others, which could be a real plus.

Who will like this book?  A reader who wants to delve into the world of historical fiction.  Parents and children who are interested in mystery and suspense.

If you like this, try this:  There are tons of great mystery series available to children, some classic (Nancy Drew, Boxcar children) and some new (Mysterious Benedict Society, 39 Clues, All The Wrong Questions…).  If you’re looking for some more historical fiction, try Nathaniel Philbrick (who writes for adults, too!) and Richard Peck.  However, this book is unique in its history of New York architecture, literature, poetry, art, and everything else!

Recommended by: Lauren O, Library Assistant

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

 

Peach Keeper

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Title: The Peach Keeper

Author: Sarah Addison Allen

Publisher: Bantam Books, 2011

Summary/Review: Ever since Willa Jackson moved back to her Southern hometown of Walls of Water she has chosen to lead a quiet life away from society’s rich townspeople and the disgrace of her family name. However, when the 75th anniversary gala of the Women’s Society Club, which was co-founded by her grandmother, was announced strange things began to happen.

The event was being held at the glorious Blue Ridge Madam, a house that Willa’s family once owned and later lost generations ago to financial trouble. After years of neglect, the house was being restored by Paxton Osgood, a former classmate and current president of the club.

While renovating the property the only peach tree was removed unleashing a dark secret that was buried deep within its roots, leaving skeletal remains and a spiritual presence. As Willa and Paxton try to piece together the mysteries surrounding the tree, they learn more about their families than they ever knew and discover what true friendship really means.

Who will like this book: Anyone who enjoys a good story that deals with family secrets, friendship, love, and a bit of mystic.

If you like this, try this: The Girl Who Chased the Moon or Garden Spells, also by Sarah Addison Allen.

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

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

 

 

Hope Flames

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Title: Hope Flames

Author: Jaci Burton

Publisher: Berkley, January 2014

Summary/Review: Though her life was put on hold while she suffered through a traumatic relationship, Emma Burnett has moved on and can finally start living her life. Moving back to her hometown to open her own veterinary clinic, Emma finally feels like things are falling into place. When hot cop Luke McCormack walks in with his injured canine partner in need of veterinary care, Emma’s resolve to keep all men at arm’s length begins to waver. Luke isn’t in the market for a relationship, either. One night stand? OK with him. A serious relationship? No thank you. However, the chemistry between Luke and Emma may be too much for either of them to deny. Can they overcome their fears of commitment? You’ll have to read Hope Flames to find out.

This is the first book in a new series from Jaci Burton. I don’t usually read romance novels, but I really enjoyed this one with its great story, suspense, humor, and likeable characters. This novel will especially appeal to animal lovers, but anyone looking for a nice, romantic story, will not be disappointed. 

Who will like this book?: Someone looking to break into romantic novels.  Someone looking for a nice book to pass the time.

If you like this, try this: Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook. Look for the next in this series: Hope Ignites due out in April 2014.

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

Twisted Sisters

 

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Title: Twisted Sisters

Author: Jen Lancaster

Publisher: Penguin Group, 2014

Summary/Review:  If you are looking for a light, whimsical read that pokes fun at today’s celebrities, while tapping into some New Age methods for getting into someone’s head, look no further than this ultimate book on sibling rivalry.

Dr. Reagan Bishop has it all—she is pretty, in great shape, and intellectually superior to anyone else. She’s also a recognized psychologist on a hit television show, yet her parents never seem to acknowledge any of her achievements. However, they always boast about every little thing her sisters do. As different from Reagan as they can be, Geri is a hairdresser that still lives in her parent’s basement and Mary Mack is married with a bunch of kids.

Although she appears to be in-control, Reagan spends most of her time trying to figure out what her sisters have that make everyone fall all over them. Some of the comments and observations made by Reagan about her sisters and others will make you laugh out loud. With a lack of friends, invitations, and a boyfriend who constantly wants to “take a break”, she can’t understand why it’s so hard for her. It’s only when she has a chance to walk a mile in her Geri’s shoes that she gets a true understanding of her sister. Not only does she view her sister in a different light, but she is able to really see herself as others see her.

Who will like this book: Anyone looking for a quick, fun read and who can relate to the exchanges between sisters.

 If you like this, try this: The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes.

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

If you think 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!

The Circle

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Title: The Circle 

Author: Dave Eggers 

Publisher: Alfred A Knopf 

Summary/Review: Dave Eggers’ book The Circle has been labeled everything from heavy handed to visionary and stunning. Even though I did want to withdraw into a world of luddites for a short time after I finished the book, I prefer to think there are enough people in the world not quite as naïve and lacking in self-confidence as Mae, the protagonist, to prevent this kind of dystopian hell from evolving.

Mae Holland is thrilled to be working for The Circle, the world’s most powerful and all-encompassing Internet company. She thrives in a corporate culture where your worth is measured by your number of posts and zings and responses to the post and zings of others. And she begins to rise steadily through the ranks.

The Circle is all about transparency. The products they develop, from small cameras which can be placed anywhere to chips to install in the bones of your children to make them easy to track in case of abduction are all about helping you to find peace of mind through transparency. After all, who doesn’t want to keep their children safe? Who doesn’t want to plant small cameras around the home of their elderly parents to check in and make sure they haven’t fallen and hurt themselves? To not share, to keep anything secret, is considered part of an aberrant behavior system. Everyone has an obligation to share what they see and know, and everyone has a right to know everything they can. To this end Mae, now the public face of The Circle, becomes transparent. She’s equipped with a camera the size of a locket to hang around her neck and a wrist bracelet with a screen where she could see exactly what her watchers were seeing and also keep track of her number of watchers. Her job is to provide an open window into the daily life of The Circle.

It’s heartening to see that not everyone in Mae’s life buys into The Circle’s philosophy where the concept of transparency seems to spill over into gross violation of privacy and your life is given validation by the number of smiley faces or thumbs up you receive from virtual strangers. Her former boyfriend Mercer bluntly sums up her new life: ” You sit at a desk twelve hours a day and have nothing to show for it except some numbers that won’t exist or be remembered in a week…you think that sitting at your desk, frowning and smiling somehow makes you think you’re actually living some fascinating life…Do you realize how incredibly boring you’ve become?” But of course she doesn’t realize and things in the world of The Circle go from bad to worse.

One of the true horrors to contemplate in Eggers’ book is a world full of people whose lives are so without purpose that they would invest any amount of time in following someone with a camera slung around their neck as they go about their daily life. How much of a pathetic loser do you have to be to stop investing in your own daily life in favor of vicariously living through someone else?

Who Will Like This Book:  Anyone who enjoys visiting a dystopian world but then closing the book and not actually having to live in it!

If you like this, try thisSuper Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart ; Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Or, check out the Library’s  database “NoveList” for even more Read-alikes!

Recommended by: Sue D’Numb, Librarian

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

Alice Close Your Eyes

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Title: Alice Close Your Eyes

Author: Averil Dean

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA, January 2014

Summary/Review: Alice Croft is seeking justice against the person that she feels ruined her life. Now, she just has to find the right person to carry out that justice. When she finds Jack Calabrese, or rather he finds her hiding in his bedroom closet, Alice sets the wheels in motion.  Once started, their relationship becomes more twisted and dangerous and their lives start to spin wildly out of control. Both Alice and Jack harbor deadly secrets that threaten their very lives.

This debut novel is full of psychological suspense and graphic, intense, and sometimes violent, sex. The story is fast paced and riveting, all the way through to the disturbing conclusion. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about this book. As horrifying as some of it was, I still couldn’t stop reading it. If you like edgy and erotic thrillers, you should give Alice Close Your Eyes a try.

Who will like this book?:  Someone who isn’t scared of edgy and disturbing books.

If you like this, try this:  Averil Dean is a new author so there’s nothing else from her quite yet, but keep an eye out for new material.  If you are looking for more psychological thriller, check out SJ Watson or Tana French.  If you’re looking for something along the same lines but a little softer, check out Laura Griffin or Pamela Clare.

Recommended by:  Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

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

 

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.