At the Water’s Edge

At the Water's EdgeIn this thrilling new novel from the author of “Water for Elephants, ” Sara Gruen again demonstrates her talent for creating spellbinding period pieces. “At the Water’s Edge “is a gripping and poignant love story about a privileged young woman’s awakening as she experiences the devastation of World War II in a tiny village in the Scottish Highlands.

Big Top Burning: The True Story of an Arsonist, a Missing Girl, and the Greatest Show on Earth

Big Top BurningPlease join us Friday June 5th at 7:00p.m. for an exciting evening of history, pictures and discussion with Laura Woollett for the Book Launch of “Big Top Burning: The True Story of an Arsonist, a Missing Girl, and the Greatest Show on Earth” all about the 1944 Hartford Circus Fire. The book is written for ages 10+, but the talk and slide show is geared to ALL ages, including adults.
About the book:
Big Top Burning investigates the 1944 Hartford circus fire and invites readers to take part in a critical evaluation of the evidence

The fire broke out at 2:40 p.m. Thousands of men, women, and children were crowded under Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s big top watching the Flying Wallendas begin their death-defying high-wire act. Suddenly someone screamed “Fire!” and the panic began. By 2:50 the tent had burned to the ground. Not everyone had made it out alive.

With primary source documents and survivor interviews, Big Top Burning recounts the true story of the 1944 Hartford circus fire—one of the worst fire disasters in U.S. history. Its remarkable characters include: Robert Segee, the 15-year-old circus roustabout and known pyromaniac; and the Cook children, Donald, Eleanor, and Edward, who were in the audience when the circus tent caught fire. Guiding readers through the investigations of the mysteries that make this moment in history so fascinating, this book asks: Was the unidentified body of a little girl nicknamed “Little Miss 1565” Eleanor Cook? Was the fire itself an act of arson—and did Robert Segee set it? Big Top Burning combines a gripping disaster story, an ongoing detective and forensics saga, and World War II–era American history, inviting middle-grades readers to take part in a critical evaluation of the evidence and draw their own conclusions.

Byrd’s Books welcomes Garth Stein on Saturday March 21st at Western Connecticut State University’s Ruth Haas Library

garth_stein_1111_1On Saturday March 21st at 6:30p.m., Byrd’s Books hosted New York Times bestselling author Garth Stein in the Ruth Haas Library at Western Connecticut State University with a reading & presentation on his new novel, A Sudden Light. It was flowed by a short question and answer period and book signing.

About the book:

A family confronts long-buried secrets as it struggles for forgiveness and redemption in this breathtaking story set against the majestic beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant whole trees and is set on a huge estate overlooking Seattle’s Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch the ailing and elderly Grandpa Samuel to a nursing home, sell off the house and property for development, divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.

But as Trevor explores the house’s secret stairways and hidden rooms, he discovers a spirit lingering in Riddell House whose agenda is at odds with the family plan. Only Trevor’s willingness to face the dark past of his forefathers will reveal the key to his family’s future.

A Sudden Light is a spellbinding, atmospheric work rich with unconventional characters, scenes of transcendent natural beauty, and unforgettable moments of emotional truth that reflect Garth’s outsized capacity for empathy and keen understanding of human motivation.

About the author: 

A Sudden Light_2nd_High Res (1)Garth Stein’s newest novel is A Sudden Light, published by Simon and Schuster in September, 2014.  He is the author of three previous novels:  Raven Stole the MoonHow Evan Broke His Head and Other Secretsand The Art of Racing in the Rain.  The Art of Racing in the Rain has sold more than 4 million copies in 35 languages, and spent more than three years on the New York Times bestseller list.  It has inspired a Young Reader edition as well as a children’s picture book adaptation (2014), a stage adaptation by Book-It Repertory Theatre in Seattle, and is currently in development with Universal Studios for a major motion picture.

Admission to this event is by reservation only. Please call the store for information and/or to make a reservation. You may also make a reservation by clicking here.

 

To watch the trailer of the book, click here.

 

Some Luck

SomeLuckSome Luck
By Jane Smiley

Longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award

From the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a powerful, engrossing new novel – the life and times of a remarkable family over three transformative decades in America.

On their farm in Denby, Iowa, Rosanna and Walter Langdon abide by time-honored values that they pass on to their five wildly different children: from Frank, the handsome, willful first born, and Joe, whose love of animals and the land sustains him, to Claire, who earns a special place in her father’s heart.

Each chapter in Some Luck covers a single year, beginning in 1920, as American soldiers like Walter return home from World War I, and going up through the early 1950s, with the country on the cusp of enormous social and economic change. As the Langdons branch out from Iowa to both coasts of America, the personal and the historical merge seamlessly: one moment electricity is just beginning to power the farm, and the next a son is volunteering to fight the Nazis; later still, a girl you’d seen growing up now has a little girl of her own, and you discover that your laughter and your admiration for all these lives are mixing with tears.

Some Luck delivers on everything we look for in a work of fiction. Taking us through cycles of births and deaths, passions and betrayals, among characters we come to know inside and out, it is a tour de force that stands wholly on its own. But it is also the first part of a dazzling epic trilogy – a literary adventure that will span a century in America: an astonishing feat of storytelling by a beloved writer at the height of her powers.

The Boston Girl

BostonGirlThe Boston Girl
By Anita Diamant

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine – a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.

Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today?” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naive girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.

Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.

The Paris Architect

ParisArchitectThe Paris Architect
By Charles Belfoure

When a wealthy industrialist offers Lucien a large sum of money to devise ingenious hiding places for Jews throughout the city, Lucien struggles with the choice of risking his life of refusing the job and starving. But Lucien agrees and begins designing hiding places so expertly concealed that the Germans could rip up an entire apartment and never find them – behind a painting, within a column, inside a drainpipe. It isn’t long before Lucien begins to feel emotionally invested in the lives he is saving.

We will be reading this title for our February book group pick!

The Miniaturist

MiniaturistBy Jessie Burton

Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam – a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion – a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.

“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…”

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office–leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist – an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways…

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand – and fear – the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation… or the architect of their destruction?

Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

Lucky Us

LuckyUsBy Amy Bloom

“My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.”

So begins this remarkable novel by Amy Bloom, whose critically acclaimed Away was called “a literary triumph” (The New York Times). Lucky Us is a brilliantly written, deeply moving, fantastically funny novel of love, heartbreak, and luck.

Disappointed by their families, Iris, the hopeful star and Eva the sidekick, journey through 1940s America in search of fame and fortune. Iris’s ambitions take the pair across the America of Reinvention in a stolen station wagon, from small-town Ohio to an unexpected and sensuous Hollywood, and to the jazz clubs and golden mansions of Long Island.

With their friends in high and low places, Iris and Eva stumble and shine though a landscape of big dreams, scandals, betrayals, and war. Filled with gorgeous writing, memorable characters, and surprising events, Lucky Us is a thrilling and resonant novel about success and failure, good luck and bad, the creation of a family, and the pleasures and inevitable perils of family life, conventional and otherwise. From Brooklyn’s beauty parlors to London’s West End, a group of unforgettable people love, lie, cheat and survive in this story of our fragile, absurd, heroic species.

Edge of Eternity

EdgeEternityEdge of Eternity: Book Three of the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett

Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy follows the fortunes of five intertwined families – American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh – as they make their way through the twentieth century. It has been called “potent, engrossing” (Publishers Weekly) and “truly epic” (Huffington Post). USA Today said, “You actually feel like you’re there.”

Edge of Eternity, the finale, covers one of the most tumultuous eras of all: the 1960s through the 1980s, encompassing civil rights, assassinations, Vietnam, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, presidential impeachment, revolution – and rock and roll.

East German teacher Rebecca Hoffman discovers she’s been spied on by the Stasi for years and commits an impulsive act that will affect her family for generations… George Jakes, himself bi-racial, bypasses corporate law to join Robert F. Kennedy’s Justice Department and finds himself in the middle of not only the seminal events of the civil rights battle, but also a much more personal battle… Cameron Dewar, the grandson of a senator, jumps at the chance to do some espionage for a cause he believes in, only to discover that the world is much more dangerous than he’d imagined… Dimka Dvorkin, a young aide to Khrushchev, becomes an agent for good and for ill as the Soviet Union and the United States race to the brink of nuclear war, while his twin sister, Tania, carves out a role that will take her from Moscow to Cuba to Prague to Warsaw – and into history.

These characters and many others find their lives inextricably entangled as they add their personal stories and insight to the most defining events of the 20th century. From the opulent offices of the most powerful world leaders to the shabby apartments of those trying to begin a new empire, from the elite clubs of the wealthy and highborn to the passionate protests of a country’s most marginalized citizens, this is truly a drama for the ages.

With the Century Trilogy, Follett has guided readers through an entire era of history with a master’s touch. His unique ability to tell fascinating, brilliantly researched stories that captivate readers and keep them turning the pages is unparalleled. In this climactic and concluding saga, Follett brings us into a world we thought we knew, but now will never seem the same again.

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories

By Hilary Mantel

One of the most accomplished, acclaimed, and garlanded writers, Hilary Mantel delivers a brilliant collection of contemporary stories.Assination of Margaret Th

In “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher,” Hilary Mantel’s trademark gifts of penetrating characterization, unsparing eye, and rascally intelligence are once again fully on display.

Stories of dislocation and family fracture, of whimsical infidelities and sudden deaths with sinister causes, brilliantly unsettle the reader in that unmistakably Mantel way.

Cutting to the core of human experience, Mantel brutally and acutely writes about marriage, class, family, and sex. Unpredictable, diverse, and sometimes shocking, “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher” displays a magnificent writer at the peak of her powers.

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