Tag Archives: Relationships

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!

 

 

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!

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!

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!

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!

The Last Original Wife

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Title: The Last Original Wife

Author:  Dorothea Benton Frank

Publisher: William Morrow, 2013

Summary/Review: If you are looking for a book that has a little romance, a lot of humor and takes you to Charleston, South Carolina then this book is for you. Leslie Carter is the last “original” wife among a group of couples that had gotten married and raised their children together. Now, whether by divorce or death, the husbands in the group have replaced their original wives with newer models.

Leslie’s husband Wes expects her to be grateful that he has kept her around. Leslie’s daughter is a single mother expecting her mother to be on call 24/7 to babysit. Her son is a hippy living in Asia trying to find himself while smoking a lot of pot. During a disastrous trip to Scotland with the “new” wives Leslie falls into an open manhole and no one misses her for 45 minutes. When she is stuck in the hospital in Scotland her husband leaves her there so he doesn’t miss his tee time. When she returns to the states, Leslie escapes to Charleston to spend time with her gay brother and reevaluate her entire existence. Once there, Leslie rediscovers herself and her passions –  including an old flame!

Dorothea Benton Frank has a wonderful writing style and opening one of her books you can feel the warm Charleston breezes, you can taste the cocktails and you can smell the sea air. Open the pages of this book and escape for a while!!

Who will like this book? Anyone who likes a good southern saga and a great beach read.

If you like this, try this: Dorothea Benton Frank has written over 14 books so if you like this one you will love all her other books too.

Recommended by: Claudia, Technical Services

If you think this could be your next read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or 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!