Posted by Book Mavens on 25th April 2013
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.
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!
Tags: 2013 Releases, Family, Memoir, Mental Illness
Posted in Biography & Memoir, Non-Fiction | No Comments »
Posted by Book Mavens on 27th March 2013
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!
Tags: 2012 Releases, Acting, Family, Friendship, Relationships
Posted in Audiobooks, Biography & Memoir, Non-Fiction | No Comments »
Posted by Book Mavens on 7th February 2013
Title: Yankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers
Author: Ray Negron and Sally Cook
Publisher: Liveright, 2012
Summary/Review: If you read this book, not only will you learn the incredible story of Ray Negron who was “nabbed” by former Yankee owner George Steinbrenner (“The Boss” of the Yankees) you will also be transported into the inner sanctum of the Yankees and Yankee stadium, home of the most storied and decorated sports franchise of all time. Ray Negron became a Yankee batboy when he was caught spray painting, or tagging, the wall of Yankee stadium. As “punishment”, Steinbrenner had him work off repainting the wall by becoming a batboy with all the menial tasks assigned a batboy. He became so beloved in the club house that he stayed with the team and professional baseball his entire career. You will read inside stories about Yankee greats from Mantle to Jeter, championship seasons, runner up seasons, and all the ways Negron and sports page heroes actually do give back to their communities. I recommend this book to all sports enthusiasts–especially the Yankee faithful (and you know who you are!)
Who will like this book?: Someone who loves Yankees, baseball, or sports in general
Recommended by: Mark Z, guest reviewer
Think this looks like a book you’d like to read? Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and place a hold! [Link will open in a new window]
Tags: 2012 Releases, Sports, Yankees
Posted in Non-Fiction, Sports | 1 Comment »
Posted by Book Mavens on 18th November 2012
Title: One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game
Author: John Feinstein
Publisher: Little, Brown, & Company 2011
Summary/Review: I don’t know how I keep encountering books like this one. John Feinstein, the incredibly successful sports columnist and author, takes the reader “inside”, way inside, the world of college and professional sports time after time. In this book, the author goes back to interview and to reexamine the subjects of some of his previous investigative books. You are reacquainted with Bob Knight (A Season on the Brink), Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus (The Majors), several Patriot League basketball players (The Last Amateurs), and many, many other internationally famous athletes. Feinstein’s genius for behind-the-scenes, unlimited-access sports reporting and writing allows the lucky reader first-person access to the heroes of just about any game to have watched from afar, your whole life. It’s no surprise that his books, both non-fiction as well as his novels, rise to the top, or very near the top of best-seller lists time and again.
If you enjoy sports of any kind, and are at all interested in the people behind the box scores and headlines, you will only be disappointed when you come to the end of John Feinstein’s latest investigative effort.
Who will like this book?: Those interested in sports, who are interested in getting a more personal look at athletes and sports reporting
If you like this, try this: Frank Deford is one of the more-famous sports writers, and has written a number of books that investigate the sports world. Additionally, the book “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN” by by James Andrew Miller might be of interest if you’re looking for a book more focused on the world of investigative reporting when it comes to sports.
Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer
Tags: 2011 Releases, Reporting, Sports
Posted in Non-Fiction, Sports | No Comments »
Posted by Book Mavens on 14th October 2012
Title: Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Feelings Betray Us. (Fear Can’t Help You. An FBI Profiler Can. )
Author: Mary Ellen O’Toole, Ph.D.
Publisher: Penguin, 2011
Summary/Review: The author knows her business. She is a retired FBI profiler and has seen and interviewed violent criminals of all types: mass murderers, rapists, kidnappers, pedophiles. The purpose of this book is to impart to readers how people don’t make safe decisions on a regular basis: hiring a contractor in the home, deciding at whose home your child can play, or even opening the door to a complete stranger. We get lulled into a false sense of safety because our biases lead us to deem someone harmless when we really don’t have enough information to make a decision. The author tries to instruct on how to assess risk: physical risk, health risk, social or emotional risk, professional, or financial. Being a good listener is key; but “listening between the lines” is even better. She also discusses how to observe a persons behavior to try to make an assessment. She also discusses those people in our society who are most dangerous: the sociopath.
Scary when I think of the number of times that I have done exactly what the author warns us against. I will never be able to read someone’s mind, but I will try to employ some of these techniques in my own danger-filled life!
Who will like this book?: Those who are interested in psychology, or are interested in true crime.
If you like this, try this: If you are interested in the psychology topics discussed in the book, Malcolm Gladwell has a number of books, including “Blink” which you may find interesting- especially because he discusses the decisions made on impulse. “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout may also be interesting for you, as she discusses the nature of humans and what makes them stray from a healthy psychological profile.
If you would like to learn more about criminal profiling, Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”, Erik Larson’s “Devil in the White City”, and Vincent Bugliosi’s “Helter Skelter” might be good choices, but beware – they may be graphic.
Recommended by: Sue Z, Reference Librarian
If this looks like your kind of book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to check if its available and place a hold. [Link will open in a new window]
Tags: 2011 Releases, Crime, Decision-Making, Psychology
Posted in Non-Fiction, True Crime | No Comments »
Posted by Book Mavens on 10th October 2012
Title: Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die
Author: Jonathan Katz
Publisher: Villard Books, 2011
Summary/Review: Jonathan Katz is famous for his many books on dogs and life on Bedlam Farm – he’s written seven novels and twelve works of non-fiction. But he’d never really addressed what happens to someone when an animal that they have loved and cared for dies. When Katz made the very difficult decision to put down his border collie Orson, he was blindsided by a grief that was so strong, he didn’t quite know how to deal with it, so initially he didn’t. After some time and healing, he realized that his experience was very similar to others who’d lost pets, so he decided to write a book about it. This beautiful book will be of real help to anyone who’s said goodbye to an animal that they loved. Katz addresses not only the grief – he also writes about the guilt that may come from having had to make the decision to end a pet’s life. Speaking from personal experience, this book is very comforting and a true gift for anyone in pain over the loss of a pet.
Who Will Like It: Anyone who has ever shed a tear over the loss of a beloved pet.
If you like this, try this: As mentioned, Jon Katz has a number of other books including “Dogs of Bedlam Farms”, “A Good Dog”, and “Dog Year”. If you’re looking for more stories about pets, try “Marley & Me” by John Grogan, or “Dewey” by Vicki Myron.
Recommended by: Mary, Reference Librarian
If you’d like to read this book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and place a hold [Link will open in a new window]
Tags: 2011 Releases, Animals, Dogs, Healing, Pets
Posted in Biography & Memoir, Non-Fiction, Self-Help | No Comments »
Posted by Book Mavens on 23rd August 2012
Title: When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico Maine
Author: Monica Wood
Publish: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
Summary/Review: When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico Maine by Monica Woods is an endearing memoir told from the voice of a nine year old girl. It is 1963 and the family patriarch is felled by a heart attack on his way to work at the local paper mill. Left behind are a mother and her five children including a daughter with special needs.
The author writes beautifully of the bonds between families, neighbors and co-workers. Her Uncle Bob, a Catholic priest and her Mom’s youngest brother, does his best to be the man of the family even when he is so devastated by their loss. In this memoir you are transported back to the early 1960’s and what is was like to grow up during this time like reading Nancy Drew, and riding your bike all over town, and making up games with neighborhood friends. It is also the story of a mill town and what happens when there are union issues and when the plants are sold to outside entities that have no ties to the town.
Woods is a fiction writer so the book flows like a novel. Although the author writes from a nine year old perspective it is not saccharine and sweet; rather the narrative is reminiscent of a more innocent time. The title of the book is somewhat misleading since the reference to the Kennedy’s is that Jackie and her children lost their father and husband in the same year that this family suffers their devastating loss. This book is written with humor and love and is a touching story of healing and families.
Who will like this? Memoir readers, people who grew up in the 1960’s, people who appreciate good writing.
If you like this, try this: ”Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood” by Alexander Fuller, “The Tender Bar” by J.R. Moehringer,” The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls.
Recommended by: Claudia, Technical Services Assistant
Does this look 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 [link will open in a new window]
Tags: 1960's, 2012 Releases, America, Family, Friendship, Memoir
Posted in Biography & Memoir, Non-Fiction | No Comments »
Posted by Book Mavens on 15th August 2012
Title: “Hiking Through: One Man’s Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail”
Author: Paul Stutzman
Publisher: Revell, A Division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan- 2012
Summary: All his life, Paul Stutzman dreamed of hiking the length of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, a hiking adventure of 2,176 miles. Paul was not looking to be a section hiker, hiking small sections of the trail at a time, but to experience the Appalachian Trail as a thru-hiker, doing the hike from start to finish continuously over an extended period of time. Like most people, Paul’s dream was put on hold by day to day life. The challenges of paying a mortgage, raising three children and paying college tuition, car payments and working full time along with his wife. Paul and his wife Mary looked forward to retiring together and doing all the things that they never had time to do while working full time and raising a family. Unfortunately, life threw them a curve ball, and Mary was diagnosed with breast cancer. After four years, Mary lost her battle with cancer. Paul is devastated and does not know how to pick up the pieces of his life and to work through his grief. His dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail now seems like a way for him to heal. But how can he quit his job of 25+ years in the food industry and pack up and leave for several months? He is torn between his own desire to pursue his dream and the guilt he feels by leaving everything behind. Paul takes us on his personal journey of a lifetime. He quits his job and spends 4 ½ months on the Appalachian Trail. Along the way he experiences the kindness of strangers and the friendship of several thru-hikers. It is truly an amazing story of strangers coming together to share one common goal and the challenges they face in their quest to fulfill their dream. It is a very unique bond that is formed out in the middle of the woods. Paul’s remarkable journey was about more than just hiking. In the book, he states “In one month, I had gained more insights on life than I had in many, many years past.” This book will make you laugh and make you cry. You can’t help but become a part of Paul’s journey and anticipate the challenges he faces each day spent on the trail. His writing will touch your heart. There are moments when he questions his own sanity of quitting his job and walking over 2,000 miles. His faith and his sense of humor were of great help along the way. There were days when he questioned his desire to stay on the trail and reach his goal at the top of Mount Katahdin, but he never gave up. Paul reminds all of us that we spend so much time preparing for the future that we neglect to enjoy the present. He said his experience on the Appalachian Trail changed his life. I loved this book! It is fun, it is inspiring, and it is one man’s choice to take that first courageous step. As a day hiker, this book even had me thinking about a thru-hike. It is an amazing story of change and healing, stepping out of one’s comfort zone and a little trail magic along the way.
To read his blog and see pictures of his hike, visit Paul Stutzman at www.hikingthrough.com
Who Will Like this? Anyone with an adventurous streak. Anyone with dreams of hiking the Appalachian Trail (or any other hikes). Those who enjoy hiking, or just reading about it. Anyone looking for great inspiration or motivation to turn a dream into a reality. Anyone with a love of the outdoors.
If you like this, try this: “Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peak Bagging Adventure” by Patricia Ellis Herr, “A Walk In The Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail” by Bill Bryson, “In Beauty May She Walk: Hiking the Appalachian Trail at Age 60” by Leslie Mass, “Halfway To Heaven: My White Knuckled and Knuckleheaded Quest for the Rocky Mountain High” by Mark Obmascik.
Recommended by: Laura, Technical Services Department
Does this look like your kind of read? Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to check if it’s available and to place a hold!
Tags: 2012 Releases, Adventure, America, Survival
Posted in Biography & Memoir, Non-Fiction | No Comments »
Posted by Book Mavens on 9th August 2012
Title: Bringing Up Bebe
Author: Pamela Druckerman
Publisher: Penguin Press, NY 2012
Summary: This is less a manual on raising children than it is a comparison on how mostly upper middle class children are raised in France and America. Pamela Druckerman, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, lives in Paris with her husband and three children. She started to think about “French parenting” after experiencing restaurant hell while on vacation with her first child, an 18 month old. Dinner was a horrifying, embarrassing experience involving picking up torn napkins and sugar packets, running after the child and leaving large tips to compensate for the mess left behind. After a few meals she noticed that the French families with children the same age as her daughter actually seemed to be enjoying themselves. The French children were sitting and eating, not shrieking, running around and tossing food and condiments on the floor. You can either consider this situation in the light of your own, possibly too relaxed, parenting skills or write a book about the differences between French and American parenting tactics. Pamela Druckerman decided on option #2.
I’m loath to condemn this entire country for sloppy, permissive parenting but I’m sure everyone knows that family with the kids that you just want to smack with a rolled up newspaper. I’ve never understood the concept of the child as the head of the household. Unless you’re contributing an income stream that far exceeds my own (and there probably are three year olds that do have an income stream that far exceeds my own) you might be a part of the household, but you are not the head. And that is a concept that does come through loud and clear in Bringing Up Bebe, the child is a part of the family unit, not the center. But is that a cultural concept or just plain common sense?
Two more desired attributes in a child that are mentioned in Druckerman’s book are the cultivation of self-reliance and allowing the child the freedom to learn on their own. I don’t know if there’s a term for “helicopter parent” in the French lexicon. Druckerman mentions her intention to childproof their apartment while renovating, including placing kidproof locks on every appliance and installing the type of oven door that doesn’t get hot. Her contractor, Regis, says the best way to childproof an oven is to “let the kid touch it once and he’ll quickly learn it’s hot.” Those second degree burns are a real learning experience.
I can’t imagine anyone actually wanting to raise a spoiled, dependent, self-centered child who is incapable of amusing themselves, a constant annoyance to everyone around them and will grow up lacking the skills needed to become an independent, self- supporting adult that you will be stuck with until you have the good fortune to die and then they will be cast homeless, helpless and clueless into the street to live out the rest of their miserable life eating from garbage cans and swilling cheap wine under a viaduct. But it happens.
Who Will Like This: Anyone interested in differing parenting techniques.
If you like this, try this: How Eskimos keep their babies warm : and other adventures in parenting around the world (from Argentina to Tanzania and everywhere in between) by Mei-Ling Hopgood Battle hymn of the tiger mother by Chua, Amy.
Recommended by: Sue D’Num, Library Assistant
Does this look like a book that interests you? Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available or to place a hold! [Link will open in a new window]
Tags: 2012 Releases, America, Children, France, Parenting
Posted in Non-Fiction, Self-Help | No Comments »
Posted by Book Mavens on 24th May 2012
Title: Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played With Puppets
Authors: Kathleen Krull and Steve Johnson
Publisher: Random House, 2011
Review/Summary: Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets is a beautifully written and illustrated picture book biography.
Jim Henson began his puppetry career at a very young age when as a child, his entertaining stories were “filling notebooks with creatures he made up.” By age sixteen, he was operating puppets on television. One day in 1968, he got a phone call from a TV producer that would change his life. They discussed the importance of preschool education in children’s lives. Poor children usually had no access to it – but they did have TV’s. Could TV be used to teach? And would his Muppet company help her new show for preschoolers? What happened as a result of this collaboration changed the world for the better, educating and entertaining millions of young children from various socio- economic and cultural backgrounds.
Who will like this book? The beauty of this biography is that young readers ( as well as adults) – who grew up watching the Muppets and Sesame Street can enjoy an introduction into the life of an amazing, one of a kind creative genius.
If you like this, try this: For little ones who are fans of The Muppets, the library has a huge selection of DVDs and books that focus on the characters. For more information about Jim Henson, try “Who Was Jim Henson?” by Joan Holub.
If your interest is more in the actual puppets, try “Balloons Over Broadway” by Melissa Sweet- a different- much larger! type of puppet.
Recommended by: Beth S, Children’s Librarian
If you or your little one would like to take a look at this book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available or place a hold!
Tags: 2011 Releases, America, Biography, Education, Television
Posted in Biography & Memoir, Childrens | No Comments »