Tag Archives: 2014 Releases

Swan Gondola

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Title: The Swan Gondola

Author: Timothy Schaffert 

Publisher: Riverhead, 2014 

Summary/Review: When I decided to read this book, I thought the subject was the 1898 Worlds Fair in Omaha Nebraska.  I also thought it was going to be similar to  “The Devil in the White City”, a fantastic book about the Chicago World’s Fair.  It was not at all like the “Devil in the White City” in that the Fair is only a back drop, the story is purely fictional, and if examined more closely, it could be a take-off of “The Wizard of Oz.”   Quirky would be a good word to describe it.

FYI:  I wondered if there was even a Omaha World’s Fair.   This is a description that I found:

There were 11 large, white buildings and dozens of smaller ones surrounding a giant lagoon on which lovers could take gondola rides. There was a miniature railroad, an exhibit of “horseless carriages” — a forerunner to the automobile — exotic dancers from the Middle East, a street scene from Cairo, strange fortune tellers roaming the midway, ostriches pulling carriages, food and clothing from around the world and, last but not least, an exhibit that showcased babies sleeping in incubators.

YIKES

The “Swan Gondola” is the love story of Ferret, a ventriloquist, and Cecil, a beautiful actress, who meet at the Omaha World’s Fair and fall in love. There is much magic, crazy science, and undying love to make a good love story.  People who liked “Night Circus” may like this book.

As an aside, the book both begins and ends with the importance of a librarian’s influence over Ferret’s life.   I enjoyed the symmetrical bookends.

Who would like this book? Someone who’s looking for something a little different.

If you like this, try this: “Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern

Recommended by: Sue Z, Reference Librarian

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 to place a hold!

 

Still Life With Bread Crumbs

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Title: Still Life with Bread Crumbs

Author: Anna Quindlen

Publisher : Random House, 2014

Summary/Review : Rebecca Winter is 60 and newly divorced. She is a lifelong New Yorker and a well-known photographer.    Her photographs are no longer bringing in the money she needs to provide care for her elderly parents. Hoping to save some money and come up with artistic inspiration, Rebecca decides to sublet her expensive New York apartment and moves into a rustic cabin a couple of hours away in the country. It turns out that the “lovely” cabin is not what it was portrayed to be in the ad. Rebecca soon learns that country living is very different from her life style in Manhattan.   Many people become part of her new life, including a young roofer named Jim Bates. Thus begins a very touching and realistic love story.

Who will like this book: Anyone who enjoys women’s fiction. The author delivers a potent message that it’s never too late to embrace life’s second chances.

If you like this, try this:  Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake: A memoir by Anna Quindlen

Recommended by: Beverly D, Branch Circulation Coordinator

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!

Mrs. Hemingway

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Title: Mrs. Hemingway

Author: Naomi Wood

Publisher: Penguin, May 2014

Summary/Review: Favorable comparisons with Paula McLain’s outstanding novel “The Paris Wife” are inevitable and deserved, and anyone who enjoyed “The Paris Wife” will no doubt love “Mrs. Hemingway.”  What makes Naomi Wood’s book such a treat is that the reader will get to know not just one but all four of Ernest Hemingway’s wives – Hadley, Pauline, Martha and finally, Mary.  And through the story of the wives and their relationships also comes a vivid portrayal of the tortured man they loved.  Wood’s writing flows with a deceptive ease; make no mistake that the pain and suffering the women experienced was real and not romanticized in these pages.   In fact this fictionalized account of the lives and times of these people feels as real as any well-researched biography; perhaps this comes from all of the research that the author did, visiting Hemingway’s homes and old haunts in Chicago, Paris, Antibes, Key West and Havana.  “Mrs. Hemingway” is beautiful, gripping and tragic – a worthwhile revisiting of what may be a familiar story.

Who will like this book?  Fans of historical, literary fiction, particularly those who love reading fictionalized biographies.  And anyone who likes to read about the lives of writers.

If you like this, try this;  The Paris Wife by Paula McLain; Z: a Novel of Zelda by Therese Ann Fowler; Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck.

 Recommended by:  Mary C, Branch 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!

 

 

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!

 

 

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!

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!

 

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!