Tag Archives: Family

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.

Walking with Jack

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Title: Walking With Jack

Author: Don J. Snyder

Publisher: Doubleday, 2013

Summary/Review: It will help you understand this tale if you are a golf nut, or at the very least, golf-term-savvy. This memoir about a father’s desire to help his son realize their shared dream of the son playing professional golf with his father alongside as his caddy takes the reader through the joys and sorrows of seeing one’s children grow up and become independent young adults. The father takes his role in this very, very seriously, as he leaves the family home to caddy at St. Andrews, Scotland for two seasons, preparing him to be the best caddy he can possibly be. The son, a very talented high school golfer can’t quite match his Dad’s zeal and only attempts to play on a minor professional golf tour some years later.

We are shown the ups and downs of a father’s love for his son and the various ways the two deal with successes and the seemingly inevitable failures. Along the way the author reveals many long-term feelings of inadequacy and some triumphs, brought on by his strained relationship with his own father.

One thing I do not understand is that the author is presented as a writer and teacher with several “acclaimed” books and screenplays to his credit, yet he spends quite a bit of time describing the financial hardships he and his family endure. Perhaps acclaimed doesn’t necessarily equate with financial success in his case.

This is a very well-written book with many humorous scenes. The author does a terrific job of describing his feelings as a father to three girls and one boy, and the joy of being a good enough husband to provide at least some degree of financial stability and a full measure of emotional support.

Who will like this book?: I recommend this book to any golfers and fathers out there.

If you like this, try this: If you’d like to read more books dealing with golf, check out John Dunn’s “Loopers: A Caddy’s Twenty-year Golf Odyssey” or Joseph Parent’s “Zen Golf”, which deals more with becoming a better golfer.  As mentioned, Don J. Snyder also has a number of other books, including “Of Time and Memory” and “The Cliff Walk”.

Recommended by: Mark Z, guest reviewer

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

Fin and Lady

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Title: Fin and Lady

Author: Cathleen Schine

Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books, 2013

Summary/Review: When Fin is orphaned at the age of 11, his half-sister Lady becomes his guardian.  He had last seen Lady six years earlier when his enraged father tracked her down in Europe after she left her groom at the altar.  Lady is a glamorous, worldly, free spirit who Fin adores.  But, being a country boy from rural Connecticut, he finds life perplexing among Lady and her friends in the Greenwich Village of 1964.  The question becomes “who exactly is raising whom,” when Fin begins to take responsibility for finding a husband for his impulsive sister who is determined to marry before turning 25.

Cathleen Schine, author of “The Three Weissmanns of Westport”, has a great gift for character development.  This charming story of an unconventional family will make you laugh and cry, and you will remember the characters long after you’ve finished the book.

Who will like this book?:  Those who enjoy stories of human relationships with good character development.

If you like this, try this:   “Weird Sisters” by Eleanor Brown or “Seating Arrangements” by Maggie Shipstead

Recommended by:  Paula, Reference Dept.

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!

World’s Strongest Librarian

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Title: The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family

Author: Josh Hanagarne

Publisher: Gotham Books, 2013

Summary/Review: Josh Hanagarne is not your average librarian. He’s a 6’7”strongman, who lives each day battling with Tourette Syndrome.

What started out as twitches at an early age progressed into frequent harmful tics as Josh grew older. After he was diagnosed with Tourette’s, he tried several treatments that produced little results.

As Josh struggled attending classes and holding down jobs, you begin to wonder how this guy is ever going to make it in the world. His honesty hits home—whether he’s talking about what it is like to have Tourette’s, dating, marriage, having children, or questioning his Mormon faith. His certainty comes from the love and support of his family.

After Josh discovered that weight lifting provided some relief to Tourette’s, he begins experimenting with different strength building techniques. He is left with hope of getting his tics (and life) under some control. The way Josh challenges himself, whether with weights or by working in an environment that requires silence, is inspiring.

Evident throughout the pages are Josh’s love of reading and the importance of libraries in his life. He incorporates humor in his story where you expect to find none. This book not only motivates you to be a stronger person, but also to have compassion of those around you.

Who will like this book: Anyone interested in an inspiring story or those who want to know more about Tourette Syndrome.

If you like this, try this: “Always Looking Up” by Michael J. Fox or “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

Think that this book could be your next read?  Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!

When She Came Home

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Title:   When she came home

Author:   Drusilla Campbell

Publisher:   Grand Central Publishing, 2013

Summary/Review:   Francine (Frankie) Byrne Tennyson stunned her family when she decided to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps.  Frankie is a 25 year old married woman with a baby who is not even two years old.  Frankie’s husband believes her enlistment is because she is still trying to get her father to love her.  Frankie’s father cannot accept his daughter’s decision to serve in spite of his own career as a brigadier general.   Frankie comes back home after a tour in Iraq and finds that her husband is still harboring feelings of abandonment and their marriage is in jeopardy.  Her daughter is confused, alienated and being traumatized by bullies.  In therapy, Frankie begins to deal with memories of an incident in Iraq which has threatened to destroy her sanity.  In order to save everything in her life that is most important to her, she must face the toughest battle of her life.  This novel brings you into the heart, soul and mind of a very courageous woman.  You will celebrate her freedom of choice to make her own decisions.

Recommended by:  Beverly D., Branch Circulation Coordinator

Who will like this book?  It should have special relevance to military women and their families, as well as, those who seek insight into PTSD.

If you like this, try this:  Little Girl Gone also by Drusilla Campbell.  This author continues to portray strong women finding their voices.

Does this look 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!

 

Still Alice

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Title: Still Alice

Author: Lisa Genova

Publisher: Gallery Books, 2009

Summary/Review: Alice Howland is a psychology professor at Harvard University with 3 grown children.  First, she can’t find her Blackberry, can’t quite remember names and blames it on stress.  But then one day while she’s jogging, she becomes hopelessly lost and can’t find her way home.  After a visit to a doctor, she’s diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s and her life is changed forever.  But as the disease worsens and steals pieces of what Alice always thought of as herself, she discovers that she is made up of more than just her memories.

Lisa Genova, the author of “Still Alice” holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard University.  She wrote the novel, which is her first, for a couple of reasons.   First, while she was in graduate school, her 80-year-old grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so she had a personal experience with the disease.  Second, as a scientist, she found that what was happening to her grandmother was fascinating and wanted to know more about it.  Her grandmother was in a pretty advanced stage of the disease, so she couldn’t really talk to her about it.  She knew that she needed to talk to someone for whom the disease was new, so she decided to focus on people who had early-onset Alzheimer’s – someone in their late forties or early fifties.

This dichotomy comes across very clearly while reading Still Alice.  While it is so hard to read about what Alice and her family goes through, it’s fascinating to read about the biology of the disease, how it develops, and some of the things that are being done to help treat people with the disease.  The book review that appeared in Booklist magazine states it best:  “Clearly explaining the testing, treatment options, and symptoms of the disease within the context of an absorbing family drama, Genova has written an ideal primer for anyone touched by Alzheimer’s.”

Who will like this?: While this book may be a difficult read for some, if you are looking for a deeper understanding of Alzheimer’s, or life in middle age in general, this book may be for you.  Someone who is interested in the medical facts of Alzheimer’s or related diseases.

If you like this, try this:  Lisa Genova has written additional books, including “Loving Anthony” (autistic son dies, two women become friends, husband of one having an affair) and “Left Neglected” (after a car accident, a young woman wakes up with a brain injury called Left Neglect – the brain completely ignores the left side of her body).

Recommended by: Mary, Branch Reference Librarian

If this looks like a book you’re interested in, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to check its availability and/or place a hold

 

Chanel Bonfire

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Title: Chanel Bonfire

Author: Wendy Lawless

Publisher: Gallery Books, 2013

Summary/Review: Growing up with an alcoholic, narcissistic, and mentally ill mother was by no means easy for Wendy and her younger sister Robin. Keeping the severe dysfunction hidden behind closed doors was even harder. Wendy, the dutiful older daughter, became the glue that held her family together despite the neglectful and manipulative ways of her mother Georgann. Robin on the other hand, had very little patience for her mother’s shenanigans.

Always on the lookout for a rich man and living beyond her means, Georgann moved the girls to New York, London, and Boston (just to name a few) in search of the life she felt she deserved. All the while Georgann maintained that the girls’ biological father had a new family and no longer wanted them. Manipulation was her forte, telling the girls things like “My doctor thinks that if you and your sister appreciated me more, I wouldn’t be so depressed” and “…my doctor thinks that it’s because of you girls that I drink”. As Georgann’s behavior became more erratic and dangerous, the two sisters did all they could to break free from their mother’s grip and live their own lives.

Similar to The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, this is a memoir loaded with family dysfunction that reads like a novel and is told with self-reflective honesty and more than a little humor.

Recommended by: Sue B., Circulation

Who will like this?: Someone looking for an amusing memoir that still deals with difficult issues.

If you like this, try this:  The author has a very similar writing style as Jeannette Walls (Glass Castle), so you may want to try out some of her memoirs.  Additionally, Jenny Lawson’s “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened” also deals with difficult issues while still speaking through humor.

If this looks like a book you’d enjoy reading, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and to place a hold!

What Dies in Summer

what dies in summer

Title: What Dies in Summer

Author: Tom Wright

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co, 2012

Summary/Review: This is a debut novel that is packed with so much emotion and surprises you won’t be able to put it down. The story is narrated by one of the main character James- also known as Biscuit. He, along with his cousin Lee Ann (also known as L.A.), and their Grandma live together in Dallas Texas. They were brought together by unfortunate circumstances. The story begins with the two cousins just doing what normal teenagers do, hanging out and trying to stay out of trouble. They soon discover a dead body in the woods and then everything seems to start spiraling out of control.

Family secrets are revealed, and more dead bodies are found. You will not want to put this book down until you have read the very last page. It brings everything together-family bonding, first love, and terrible secrets.

Who would like this: Anyone who enjoys books with a lot of characters and different stories.

If you like this, try this: Books by Mary Higgins Clark. She always has a bunch of characters but they’re easy to keep straight.

Recommended by: Virginia, Circulation

If you’d like to put a hold on this book and/or see if it’s available, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog!

My Mother Was Nuts

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Title: My Mother Was Nuts: A Memoir

Author: Penny Marshall

Publisher: Brilliance Audio, 2012

Summary/Review: Penny Marshall reminisces about growing up in the Bronx, where she spent most of her time in her mother’s dance studio. She talks about her accidental introduction into acting and her later transition into directing. Her brother Garry may have initially opened the door for her, but Penny’s dedication and talent secured her place in Hollywood. Best known for her role on Laverne & Shirley and as director of Big and A League of Their Own, Penny gets up close and personal on her first marriage and entrance into motherhood, her second marriage to Rob Reiner, and relationship with Art Garfunkel (who knew?!). Surrounded by famous friends (Carrie Fisher and John Belushi–to name a few), Penny offers up many private and often humorous moments.

I loved that the audio book was performed by Penny Marshall, however, I wish she did less “reading her book” and more “telling her story”.

Who will like this book: : In addition to Laverne & Shirley fans, anyone with an interest in Hollywood stars or the seventies/eighties would enjoy this book.

If you like this, try this: My Happy Days in Hollywood by Garry Marshall or Bossypants by Tina Fey.

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

To see if this book is available, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog.  We have it available in both audio and print!