Tag Archives: Family

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

 

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!

 

 

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!

Breed, Chase Novak

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Title: Breed

Author: Chase Novak

Publisher: Mulholland Books, 2012

Summary/Review: Desperate to have a child of their own, a New York couple travels to Slovenia for a radical procedure which has horrifying results.

Alex and Leslie Twisden have tried just about everything to conceive a child but nothing has worked and they are running out of options. When former members of their infertility support group end up pregnant, Alex insists on knowing the secret to their success. This information and the Twisden’s desire to conceive lead them to Slovenia and the mysterious Dr. Kis. After undergoing a barbaric procedure, Leslie winds up pregnant and eventually gives birth to two healthy children, Adam and Alice.

When hormones can no longer be blamed for the new, strange and depraved thoughts and desires of Alex and Leslie, the true horror of Dr. Kis’ fertility treatment is discovered. Will it be in time to save their children?

Truly creepy and not for the squeamish, this novel is a wild ride. Fast paced and well written, you’ll be talking about this one for a while. 

Who will like this book? If you like horror and are looking for something a little different, this book is for you.

 If you like this, try this: “The Devil in Silver” by Victor LaValle has similar themes and creepiness, though his takes place in a mental institution.  If you’re interested in branching out into horror, Stephen King is always a safe (and popular) bet, as well as Dean Koontz – and for the classics lovers out there, “Frankenstein”, “Dracula”, and Edgar Allen Poe are also worth a try!

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

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

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!

Help for the Haunted

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Title: Help for the Haunted

Author: John Searles

Publisher: William Morrow, Sep. 2013

Summary/Review: Since I am not a fan of ghost stories, I was reluctant to read a book titled “Help for the Haunted” for worry that I would not sleep afterward, but I wanted to conquer my fear of the unknown. Although this book focuses on the paranormal, it becomes clear that you see what you want to see and believe what you chose to believe.

The Masons are quite successful in taming the unusual behavior of those possessed by spirits but are incapable of handling and helping their disobedient older daughter, Rose. When they agree to drive during a snowstorm to meet her in a church to talk, they do not know this encounter will end their lives. As their younger daughter, Sylvie, awaits their return to their car, she ends up being the only witness to the murderer. As Sylvie struggles with the past and present she starts putting together the pieces of her parents’ work and the events preceding their murder, which eventually lead her to the person who pulled the trigger.

“Help for the Haunted” is a good choice for book groups as it features interesting characters, including an evil doll named Penny, and provides several topics for discussion.

Who will like this book: Anyone who enjoys reading about mysteries with dark family secrets.

If you like this, try this: “The Returned” by Jason Mott

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

Summary/Review: “Help for the Haunted” is the story of two girls – Rose and Sylvie Mason – whose parents were helpers of the haunted (I kept thinking of the Warrens throughout).  Sylvie is the “good one”, always responsible.  She plays counterpart to her older sister Rose, whose bad temper, negative attitude, and overall rebellious behavior put a deep strain on the family.  When Sylvie’s parents drag her out of bed to drive to a church to meet Rose, who has left the house angry, she is awakened by gunshots only to find her parents dead in the church.  But what happened?  Who would have killed them?  Why did Sylvie tell the police she knew exactly who it was? And who is keeping the light on in the basement, waiting for her parents’ return?

I started this book, unfortunately, late one night while I was home alone.  What was I thinking?  The first half is extra creepy, laying the foundation for why the Masons became involved with people like Lynch (who Sylvie points to as her parents’ killer) and their pasts.  The book focuses on 14-year old Sylvie throughout, and the second half deals more with her sister, their relationship and past, and her desperation to find the real killer.  I found the book compelling and wanted to know, exactly, what happened to her parents and why.  While the ending didn’t come together as well as it could have (it’s clear Searles is an extremely talented writer, who I will definitely read again), I was pleased to find I was surprised at the unexpected finale.

Who will like this book? : Someone who’s not afraid of a little creepiness.  The book comes out in September and would make an awesome Halloween read.

Recommended by: LB, Library Assistant

If this looks like the type of book you’d like to read when it’s released, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to check availability and place a hold!

Just what kind of mother are you?

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Title: Just What Kind of Mother Are You? 

Author: By 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 book?: Someone looking for a gripping, non-stop mystery thriller.

 If you like this, try this: This is a debut novel, but be on the lookout for more Paula Daly coming soon after this success (it was named as one of Publisher Weekly’s top 10 Fall Thrillers!). If you’re looking for a gripping thriller featuring women, try Gillian Flynn’s super-popular “Gone Girl” or the author Heather Gudenkauf.

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

Does this look like your type of read?  Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold.