Tag Archives: Debut Novel

Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

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Title: Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

Author:  Paula Daly

Publisher: Grove Press, 2013

Summary/Review: The words that no woman ever wants to hear. “Just what kind of mother are you?” Lisa Kallisto is sure people are asking that question of her. She has been asking that same question of herself ever since her 13 year old daughter’s friend, Lucinda, went missing. You see, Sally’s friend was supposed to be sleeping over Lisa’s house to work on a school project with Sally. When Sally got sick, the sleepover was cancelled but someone forgot to tell Lucinda or her mother Kate. No one even knows she’s gone until the next morning when Sally doesn’t see Lucinda at the bus stop and calls her to ask about the project.

Lisa knows she doesn’t have it all together-not like Lucinda’s mother, Kate Riverton, anyway. Kate has always been more of a hands-on parent than Lisa could ever hope to be. Now their differences couldn’t be more glaring. One little misstep and a young girl is gone. Overwhelmed with guilt, Lisa promises Kate that she will find Lucinda. As family secrets are exposed and another girl is abducted, it becomes obvious how little everyone knows about their neighbors, friends, and even their own families.

This was a fantastic story. If I didn’t have to break for sleep, I would have read it cover to cover. This debut novel has it all-great writing, setting and story, and engaging characters, some of whom I would love to see again.

Who will like this? Someone looking for a strong story that will keep you reading.  Someone looking for a mystery/thriller that also delves deep in to the lives of each of the characters.

If you like this, try this: “And Then There was One” by Patricia Gussin, in which three sisters go to the movies and only one sister emerges.  “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, about a woman who disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary (and is being made into a movie starring Ben Affleck).  This is a debut by Daly, so be on the lookout for something else from her soon!

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

If you think this would be a good book to try out, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!

The Dog Stars

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Title: The Dog Stars

Author: Peter Heller

Publisher: Knopf, August 2012

Summary/Review: After a pandemic kills 99% of the population, a survivor tries to find some hope for the future.

Hig, along with his dog Jasper and fellow survivor Bangley, is living on a fortified compound in Colorado after a flu pandemic. Their safety is precarious and hinges on Hig’s piloting his 1956 Cessna to scout their area from the air, and Bangley’s uninhibited penchant for killing intruders. Though Bangley seems content with their situation, Hig can’t forget a radio transmission he heard 3 years ago coming from Grand Junction, and the hope that came with it. Hig must decide between his commitment to Bangley and the search for a better existence.

Powerful and beautifully written, Heller’s debut novel not only illustrates the horror and isolation that come with the near-annihilation of mankind, but the new bonds that are forged and the humanism that remains.

Who will like this book: Someone who is sick of reading zombie-pocalypse books and is looking for something a little deeper and more focused on human psychology. Fans of dystopias who are looking for something new.

If you like this, try this: If you would like to read more books about the apocalypse that aren’t centered around zombies, try “I am Legend” by Richard Matheson (the movie remake stars Will Smith). “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy (also made into a movie) is centered around global climate change. Both show the bonds humans form with either one another or the living things around them in hopes of survival. “The Pesthouse” by Jim Crace is more focused on the dark side of humanity and what people can do to out-survive one another- including slavery, thievery, and murder.

This is Peter Heller’s debut, so be on the lookout for more from this author- who is featured on Amazon and shares a picture of the real-life inspiration for Jasper!

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

If you would like to see if this book is available or place a hold, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog! [Link will open in a new window]

Age of Miracles

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Title: The Age of Miracles

Author: Karen Thompson Walker

Publisher: Random House, 2012

Summary/Review: Julia is only eleven years old when the earth’s rotation begins to slow. “The Slowing” as it comes to be called, adds minutes to the days and nights. Scientists have no idea why it is happening or when it will end. Though fear creeps into the lives of people around the world, most adopt a “wait and see” attitude and try to adjust.

As the days grow from 24 to 26 to 30 hours long and longer, the slowing starts to take its toll. Gravity and the earth’s magnetic field are altered, wreaking havoc on wildlife and the food supply. Birds can no longer fly, ocean mammals can no longer navigate, and vegetation can no longer survive the long hot days and the long cold nights. People begin to suffer from gravity sickness and radiation poisoning and still the earth continues to slow. The title of this novel refers to the middle school years when bodies are changing and the adult you will become starts to emerge. For Julia, this “age of miracles”, with its typical dramas and hardships, comes with the additional stress of an uncertain future. Relationships are dissolving and people are taking more risks and making questionable decisions. It’s clear that life will never again be the same.

Though this may seem like a science fiction novel, the emphasis is clearly on the effect that the threat of extinction has on human relationships. Some relationships will become stronger and others will wither and die under the pressure of a crumbling future. “The Age of Miracles” is a wonderful debut novel; more than just a coming-of-age story but a testament to the perseverance of the human spirit.

Who will like this? Adults and teens looking for a moving story with unforgettable characters.

If you like this, try this: If you like the theme of nature-driven dystopias, try “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy or “After the Snow” by S.D. Crockett. For dystopias in general, try the wildly popular “The Hunger Games” series (Suzanne Collins), “Never Let You go” by Kazuo Ishiguro, or “Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. For younger ones, “the Giver” is an excellent place to start.

If you’re more attracted to the teenage drama, try “Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd, “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, or “Catcher in the Rye”, J.D. Salinger’s classic.If you like the author’s voice, keep an eye out for more books coming soon, since this is Karen Thompson Walker’s debut.

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

To check if this book is available and/or to place a hold, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog [link will open in a new window]

The Language of Trees

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TitleThe Language of Trees

Author:  Ilie Ruby

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, July 2010

Summary: Ilie Ruby’s debut novel opens with a canoeing accident in the waters of the Canandaigua Lake. The three small Ellis children have stolen a canoe and are making their way out to Squaw Island, a few miles away. When a storm springs up, the wind and waves prove to be too much for the children; only two will survive the storm. Twelve years later, the tragedy continues to haunt the residents of Canandaigua figuratively and literally.

Grant Shongo has returned to his family’s cabin on the lake. His wife Susanna left him a year ago and Grant has come back to heal. Back to the place his Seneca ancestors called The Chosen Spot, where the earth split open and his people emerged. Grant isn’t the only one who has been drawn back to Canandaigua. Echo, his first love, has returned from Boston, fearing that Joseph, the man who raised her, is in far worse health than he has let on.

The reunion of Grant and Echo is overshadowed by the disappearance of Melanie Ellis. Melanie has led a troubled life since that night twelve years ago, when she and her brother and sister were caught in the storm so far from shore. Now she is gone without a trace, leaving behind her boyfriend and young child. Some believe she is on yet another binge, but others are not convinced. Either way, her family is determined to find her. It is a perfect storm of sorts, these events that are unfolding. Events that will reveal secrets long kept hidden, a lifetime of secrets and mistakes “that catch up with a person in a span of a few hours”.

This is a great novel with endearing characters that will touch your heart. This is not a novel about regret; instead it is a story of accepting choices made and moving on without regret. It is a story that demonstrates that “not everything is meant to happen. Some things should stay as they are, just like that, full of possibility. It’s wanting them that gives you something to hope for, a reason to get up in the morning and put on a fancy dress”. I loved this novel and its message.

Who will like this book? Everyone, especially those who like literary fiction.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

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TitleMajor Pettigrew’s Last Stand

Author:  Helen Simonson

Publisher: Random House, March 2010

Summary: I fell in love with widower Major Ernest Pettigrew about six pages in! The story takes place in a quaint English village, where the Major’s brother’s sudden death and the propriety of a family heirloom spark an unexpected friendship with a local shopkeeper, Mrs. Jasmina  Ali.  His quiet world changes as he deals with his growing affection for Mrs. Ali (after all they share a love of literature), his yuppie, shallow son, and the various unattached ladies in the village vying for him.  It is a charming and endearing love story. The Major’s wry, witty humor combined with his chivalrous old fashioned courtesy, yet sarcastic jabs about modern situations had me laughing out loud. There is a gentle humor and a quiet lovely rhythm with a romantic twist that will appeal to both sexes. I kept picturing Sir John Gielgud delivering the Major’s lines! Such a wonderful debut novel!

Recommended by: Cindy B., Children’s Department