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 »
Posted by Book Mavens on 6th April 2012
Title: The Art of Fielding – A Novel
Author: Chad Harbach
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company 2011
Summary/Review: The Art of Fielding is definitely “not just about baseball”. Although it centers around the baseball games, it is the characters who take center field. It was easy to identify with the hardships each character goes through, knowing that the outcome of one situation leads to another. The book revolves around five main characters: Henry Skrimshander, who lives and breathes baseball; Mike Schwartz, the team captain who befriends and pushes Henry to his limits; Owen Dunne, Henry’s roommate, who provides insight and support to those around him; Guert Affenlight, the college president, who shows that it is never too late to change and become the person you are supposed to be; and Pella Affenlight, Guert’s daughter, who overcomes her own personal issues trying to find her life’s path.
Overall, I found The Art of Fielding to be interesting read with some unexpected turns. I felt that the characters and storylines are something readers can relate to.
Who will like this book?: People who are interested in sports, but more interested in the people involved in them.
If you liked this, try this: If you’re interested in learning more about baseball, check out “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis, which goes into (sometimes shady) economics of the Oakland A’s, or “The Boys of Summer” by Roger Kahn, a non-fiction book about the history of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Also, try “Accidental Sportswriter” by Robert Lipsyte.
If you liked Char Harbach’s writing style, this is his debut novel- but he’s been compared to Jeffrey Eugenides (author of “Middlesex”), and Justin Torres (“We the Animals”).
Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation Staff
Does this look like a book you’d like to read? Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to place a hold or check availability!
Tags: 2011 Releases, America, Baseball, College, Coming of Age, Wisconsin
Posted in Fiction, Popular, Sports | 1 Comment »
Posted by Book Mavens on 31st March 2012
Author: Nina Revoyr
Publisher: Akashic Books, 2011
Review/Summary: “Wingshooters” is grim reminder that hatred and bigotry have no place in a civilized world.
Michelle LeBeau, the nine year old daughter of a white American father and Japanese mother, has come to live with her American grandparents in Deerhorn, Wisconsin. It’s the early 1970’s and Deerhorn has remained virtually unchanged for the past 30 years. Michelle, or “Mike”, as her grandfather likes to call her, is the first non-Caucasian person many residents have ever seen. No one is very happy that she has come to live in their town. Mike’s grandfather, Charlie, who is well respected in town, is torn between his love for his granddaughter and the shame of his son’s marriage. Michelle is tormented and bullied by her schoolmates but finds comfort spending time outside with her dog Brett. When an African American couple comes to live and work in town, Michelle sees just how ignorant, bigoted and hateful her neighbors, and her grandfather, really are.
This is a powerful, brutal and disturbing story that will leave you shaking your head at the senseless violence and utter disregard for life portrayed within its pages. A great choice for book clubs, this wonderfully written novel will linger in your thoughts well after the last page is turned.
Who will like this book?: Someone who is not afraid to read about the realistically devastating effects of racism. Someone looking for a more literary read, focused on complex family bonds and historical events.
If you like this, try this: If you’re looking for more books dealing with racism in general, check out “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, or “A River Runs Through it”, a short story by Norman Maclean. If you’re more interested in the Japanese American historical fiction, try “Snow Falling on Cedars” by David Guterson or “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford. Nina Revoyr also has a few other books, titled “Necessary Hunger” and “Southland”.
Recommended by: Sue B, circulation coordinator
If this looks like something you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog where you can check if its available and place a hold!
Tags: 2011 Releases, America, Family, Japanese American, Racism, Survival, Wisconsin
Posted in Fiction, Historical, Literary | No Comments »
Posted by Book Mavens on 27th March 2012
Title: Caleb’s Crossing
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Inc. September 2011
Review/Summary: Caleb’s Crossing is a wonderfully written historical fiction novel based on the first Native American to graduate Harvard College in 1665. The story is told through the voice of Bethia Mayfield, the daughter of a minister dedicated to spreading the Christian word among the Wampanoag tribe. Denied a formal education, Bethia improves her mind by secretly listening to her brother’s lessons and teachings of her father. At 12-years-old, Bethia meets Caleb, a young tribesman and the two form a secret friendship. Bethia teaches Caleb the English language, which becomes the foundation enabling him to further his education, and Caleb provides her with an understanding of his people, which helps her in dealing with natives.
Christian and tribal beliefs are challenged, along with the ability to cross over from one culture to another. After many hardships and tragedies, Caleb’s and Bethia’s characters remain strong, determined, and inspirational. Caleb’s Crossing provokes much discussion and is an excellent choice for book clubs.
Who will like this book?: Readers of historical fiction who like to be transported to another area. Those who want to know more about Native Americans and the colonial era.
If you like this, try this: If you like the way Geraldine Brooks writes, you can check out her other historical fiction books, including “People of the Book”, or “Year of Wonders”. If the subject matter interested you, try “Mayflower”, by Nathaniel Philbrick as a prelude to the events depicted in “Caleb’s Crossing”. Or, try some other authors famous for historical fiction like Ken Follett, Charles Frazier, or Diana Gabaldon.
Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation staff
If this looks like a book you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to check its availability and/or place a hold!
Tags: 2011 Releases, America, Colonial, Hardvard, Native Americans, New England
Posted in Fiction, Historical | No Comments »
Posted by Book Mavens on 4th January 2012
Title: “V is for Vengeance”
Author: Sue Grafton
Publisher: Penguin, 2011
Summary: I have been a fan of Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries since her first one “A is for Alibi.” Her main character Kinsey Millhone, who was born in the 1950’s, has been a PI since the early 80’s. I always related to Kinsey driving around in her beat up Volkswagen, wearing her jeans, turtleneck sweater and boots. When need arose to make a visit to a more elegant venue she’d climb into her back seat of the car, to change into her pantyhose and skirt and manage to walk into a crowd sassy and smart. She was just a funky kind of PI.
Her life has evolved over the years, and alphabet, into a seasoned Private Investigator. We are still in the 1980’s for this latest book and it opens with Kinsey celebrating her birthday with two black eyes. Kinsey decided to stop in at Nordstrom’s and take a look at some lingerie and silk pj’s. That was unfortunate for the woman who was shoplifting. The woman is caught but when released from jail commits suicide by jumping off of a bridge, or did she? This woman’s finance wants to know the answer and hires Kinsey to find out. Kinsey hasn’t mellowed at all in this latest installment. She begins an investigation of a woman with a murky past; she stumbles onto the death of a spoiled kid, who had a huge gambling debt he thought he could beat and she runs into a powerful “mafia” style boss whose dealings fall outside of the law. Oh yeah, and just to add a little bit more spice to the situation there’s a “bad” cop involved.
You might think that after 21 books Ms. Grafton’s 22 might be a little stale and boring. But she’s kept Kinsey current to the timeframe and life of the 1980’s as she’s added new and interesting characters to her life. A quick and enjoyable read.
Recommended by: Nancy, Deputy Town Librarian
Who will like this book: Those who are looking for a quick-paced and exciting mystery. Those who are looking for an exciting and quick read.
If you like this, try this: Anything else by Grafton, especially the Alphabet Series.
Tags: 2011 Releases, America, Detective, Murder, Mystery
Posted in Mysteries & Thrillers | No Comments »
Posted by Book Mavens on 21st July 2011
Title: The Weird Sisters
Author: Eleanor Brown
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011
Summary: Three sisters named after Shakespearean characters, Rose (Rosalind; As You Like It), Bean (Bianca; The Taming of the Shrew), and Cordy (Cordelia; King Lear) are the daughters of Professor James Andreas, a lover of Shakespeare who answers their questions and offers advice in Shakespearean quotations. You need not be familiar with Shakespeare to enjoy this witty, clever novel, but it would make it more amusing. The sisters return to the family home in Barnwell, Ohio, ostensibly to take care of their mother stricken with breast cancer, but ultimately to deal with their own personal issues. Cordy is pregnant, broke and has nowhere else to go, Bean has been fired from her job in New York for embezzlement, and Rose is afraid her family will not survive without her full attention and involvement. Although the subject matter is serious, the book does have elements of humor as each sister is unique, funny and lovable in her own way. It does help to know – which is not clear at first – that the narrator is the voice and point of view of all three sisters. I am hoping for a second novel by this new and accomplished writer.
Who will like this book? Those who enjoy good modern fiction as well as stories of family life
If you like this, try this: The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst, Family Album by Penelope Lively, Rescue by Anita Shreve
Recommended by: Paula, Reference Dept.
Does this look like your type of read? Click here to enter our catalog and place a hold or check availability!
Tags: 2011 Releases, America, Cancer, Family, Shakespeare
Posted in Fiction, Popular | No Comments »
Posted by Book Mavens on 23rd June 2011
Title: Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse
Author: James Swanson
Publisher: William Morrow, September 2010
Summary: Beginning with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Bloody Crimes tells the parallel stories of Lincoln’s final journey home and Davis’s flight and ultimate capture. Swanson details the events immediately following the shooting of Lincoln, including the chaos at the Peterson house where Lincoln’s body was taken immediately following the attack. From the hysterical and inconsolable Mary Lincoln to the doctors and government officials who came and went throughout the evening, the Peterson house became the first place of mourning. When Mary Lincoln finally decided on Springfield as the President’s final resting place, the death pageant began. The journey by train took thirteen days, covered 1,645 miles and never deviated from the master timetable. Lincoln’s coffin was displayed in 10 cities along the way. Each city hastily constructed viewing chambers for their honored guest, and each city tried to make their display more elaborate than the last. Cleveland constructed a “temporary outdoor pavilion” made to look like a Chinese pagoda. Government officials, embalmers, and the coffin containing Willie Lincoln traveled on the train with Lincoln. More than one million Americans passed by the President’s coffin while it was on display and more than 7 million people lined the train tracks as the train passed by. To the many onlookers “Lincoln’s coffin became a kind of ark of the American covenant, possessing hidden meanings and mysterious powers.” Meanwhile, with the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the Union army closing in on Richmond, Jefferson Davis began his flight south. A $100,000 bounty (more than $2 million today) was placed on Davis’s head. This was twice the amount offered for the capture of Booth. Lincoln, who was always forgiving, probably would have wanted Davis to escape and live in exile, but after Lincoln’s murder northerners wanted revenge. Davis was one of the last to accept that the cause was lost and that the South was defeated, and he moved slowly-never wanting to appear that he was fleeing. Thirty eight days after leaving Richmond, Davis was captured near Irwinsville, GA and gave up without a fight. His flight took him “through four states by railroad, ferry boat, horse, cart, and wagon”. After his capture he began his 12 day journey to imprisonment and 2 year captivity in Fort Monroe, VA. This is a highly readable account of an important event in our history and Swanson does a great job of showing us just how beloved Abraham Lincoln really was.
Who Might Like This?: Civil War buffs and Abraham Lincoln admirers, and anyone who is interested in American history.
If you like this, try this: Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer By James Swanson.
Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator
Look like something you’d enjoy? Click here to visit our catalog and check availability and place a hold!
Tags: 2010 Releases, Abraham Lincoln, America, Assassination, Crime, Jefferson Davis
Posted in History, Non-Fiction | No Comments »