Author Archives: Book Mavens

Queen of the Tearling


Title: The Queen of the Tearling

Author: Erika Johansen

Publisher: HarperCollins, 2014

Summary / Review:    On Kelsea’s 19th birthday, nine of the Queen’s Guard  arrive at the remote cottage that has been her home to escort her to New London and her new life as Queen of the Tearling.  Kelsea’s life with her adoptive parents Barty and Carlin has been secluded.  She is a great reader and has been tutored by Carlin in the history of her kingdom and by Barty in basic forest survival skills but she is woefully unprepared in the skills necessary to survive in the political snake-pit she is about to enter. It’s uncertain whether she will even survive the journey. Her uncle has been living large as Regent of the kingdom and is loathe to give up the comfortable life style he’s been enjoying. Fueled by the support of the Red Queen of Mortmesne, his determination to make sure Kelsea is not crowned makes for a difficult journey.  The travelers are stalked by the Caden, crimson cloaked assassins that are feared through-out the kingdom and they are attacked by Mort hawks “black as midnight and big as dogs.”  Assistance comes in the unlikely form of a masked rogue known as the Fetch who will appear more than once in Kelsea’s life.
The group is splintered and against all odds Kelsea does make it to New London accompanied by the formidable Lazarus (a.k.a. Mace, for the deadly weapon he wields so effectively).  Her introduction to the capital is grim.  They ride in on the day the tributes are being loaded onto carts to be delivered to the evil Red Queen of Mortmesne.  Queen Elyssa, Kelsea’s vain and weak mother, signed the Treaty of Mort obligating the Tearling to provide 3,000 slaves per year, including children, divided into 12 shipments and delivered to Mortmesne . In return, the Red Queen would not invade and destroy the Tearling. Kelsea is enraged and orders the prisoners released and the carts burned.  When those that enforce the treaty hesitate to obey the Queen’s commands, we get a glimpse of the power she will learn to use. She has worn the Heir’s Jewel, a sapphire, for as long as she can remember and now she begins to understand what it can do.

Magic jewels will go a long way in helping to make up for political naivete but Kelsea has broken the Treaty and there will be a price to pay.

Queen of the Tearling is the first in a proposed trilogy.  The second, Invasion of the Tearling, was released in June.  It would be wise to read the book soon before the hold list starts to build. Warner Bros. has acquired film rights to the entire series. Emma Watson has signed on as executive producer and star. The search is on for a cast to bring Johansen’s wonderful characters to life.

Who Will Like This Book:  Anyone who enjoys an action packed fantasy with a strong female protagonist.

If You Like This Try This: The Tearling series has been described as a “lighter” version of Game of Thrones. There have also been comparisons to Hunger Games and Divergent because of the strong female characters.

Recommended by: Sue D’Num

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

Pirate Hunters




Title: Pirate Hunters

Author: Robert Kurson

Publisher: Random House, 2015

Summary/Review: This is the second book written by Robert Kurson about underwater treasure-hunting and salvage. His first, “Shadow Divers” was about the discovery of a World War II German submarine off the coast of New Jersey. It brought the reader into the dangerous and dramatic world of deep water scuba diving and the strange group of characters who made this exploration an important part of their lives.

“Pirate Hunters”, while an interesting read, is not nearly as tense or dramatic. It deals with the author and some of his treasure-obsessed associates locating a pirate ship from the Golden Age of Caribbean piracy in the 18th century. Apparently pirate ships are the Holy Grail of treasure hunters since so few have ever been salvaged. We read about the false information and myths surrounding the wrecks and the emotional roller coaster of locating artifacts that might lead to a major discovery, only to actually lead to dead ends.

Since these salvage excursions are strictly self-financed, it is seems strange that we are asked to go along with the author’s assertion that the divers are not interested in treasure this time out, but rather in making history by locating a sunken piece of that history, simply because the history of this time period is so important.

Some of the most interesting chapters deal with the background of his crew. They have varied and very colorful backgrounds, such as being involved with the Gambino crime family in New York, then becoming a police detective and then becoming an international private security expert. Each individual attacks the research surrounding underwater wrecks in his own, sometimes very peculiar way.

I enjoyed the book, but it was not the fast-paced, danger-around-every-underwater-corner that I came to expect from “Shadow Divers”.

Who will like this book?: Someone looking for a suspenseful non-fiction book about a topic that hasn’t been written about very often.

If you like this, try this: “Shadow Divers” by Robert Kurson.  Or try “Dead Wake” by Erik Larson, which has a similar feel about the Lusitania.

Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer

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

My Sunshine Away


Title: My Sunshine Away

Author: M.O Walsh

Publisher: Penguin, 2015

Summary/Review: I really enjoyed this book for a lot of reasons, I have to say the first is because it starts off with the act which is the foundation for the book. There is a rape of a young beautiful girl named Lindy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There are 4 suspects, all who live in the same neighborhood just a few houses apart. Bo Kern – a troubled boy, Jason – the adopted son of  psychiatrist, Jacques Landry – who is also a suspect, and the narrator of the book – who is my favorite character, and you never find out his name.

The story spans over 20 years, from the late 80’s until 2007. The author does a great job of sharing with us how each of the characters evolved over those years – the choices they made, some good and some bad. For some who read this it will feel like a walk down memory lane, from middle school all the way through college, and settling down and starting a family of their own.

There is a lot of sadness in this book, but the twist at the end really ties it all together. If you like coming of age stories, with good times and bad you will enjoy this book. There are some chapters that are hard to get through, but you must endure them to get the real feel for these kids and what they went through in their very young lives, and how it changed them forever.

Who will like this book?:  Someone who is interested in a mystery which focuses more on character development than clues and who-dunnit. Someone who won’t shy away from a disturbing topic which has a sweeping effect on an entire community.

If you like this, try this: If you’re looking for mysteries heavy on character development, try Paula Hawkin’s “Girl on the Train” or Garth Stein’s “A Sudden Light”.  If the location of Baton Rouge draws you in, try the mystery series by James Lee Burke.  This is M.O. Walsh’s debut novel, but keep an eye out for more in the works!

Recommended by: Virginia, Circulation

If this looks like something you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold.

The life-changing magic of tidying up


Title: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up. The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.

Author: Marie Kondo

Publisher: Ten Speed Press, October 2014

Summary/Review: As a librarian at Fairfield Public Library I was intrigued by the high number of “holds” on this book.  I consider myself to be tidy, organized, with minimal amounts of junk drawers scattered throughout my house. (Although I will admit to a few closets that I don’t like to open any more.)

As I started to read, I realized that the author’s skills in organizing far surpass my own, or anyone I have ever known.  Her lessons are demanding:  declutter all at once, not a little at a time- throw all your clothes on the floor and then sort them–don’t keep worn out clothes to wear them “around the house.” She instructs that if an item does not “spark joy” then get rid of it.  If I followed this criteria, I would have no garden or lawn tools at all. “Sorry dear, the lawnmower does not spark any joy for me!”

She also says forget about the fancy storage systems.  People who advocate for them are closet hoarders!

For the most part, though, her methods made sense to me, and I will make use of them when I next suffer a fit of tidiness.

I have to draw the line, though, at folding my socks, stockings, and tee shirts so that they stand up “on end” in the drawer. The goal is to instantly see everything in the drawer. Great idea! So I read the instruction several times but can’t grasp how my tee shirts are going to stand up in the drawer.  If you read this book and understand how to make my clothes stand in the drawers, please drop by the Reference Desk. I would love to talk to you!

The author claims an even grander goal, though, beyond tidying.  The goal is to free yourself of things that mean nothing to you and to find those interests and loves at the core of your soul.  “Putting your house in order is a great way to discover what they are.”

I am all for that.

Who will like this?:  Someone looking to get organized – whether you take each piece of advice and use it or pick and choose which you implement, her methods are sure to get you thinking about the “junk” items in your house.

If you like this, try this:  This book has swept the nation but this is the first credible book the author has published.  Be on the lookout for her companion book, coming in December.

Recommended by:  Sue Z, Reference Librarian

If this looks like a book you’d like to read, check the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

Night Sister


Title: The Night Sister

Author: Jennifer McMahon

Publisher: Doubleday, August 2015

Summary/Review: “Do you believe in monsters?” You might after reading the creepy new novel by Jennifer McMahon. And by creepy I mean awesome.

Growing up in and around the decrepit Tower Motel in London, Vermont wasn’t all bad for friends Amy, Piper and Margot, at least not until they found the suitcase hidden in the tower. Why was the suitcase, hidden for two decades, not taken by Amy’s aunt Sylvie when she left town in 1955? The discovery only leads to more questions and eventually the dissolution of the friendship between Amy, Piper and Margot.

Fast forward to present day and the discovery of an unspeakable crime, allegedly committed by Amy at the Tower Motel. Sisters Piper and Margot struggle to find answers but everything leads back to the discovery of the suitcase so many years ago. Don’t bother asking Piper and Margot if they believe in monsters. I can tell you, the answer will be “yes”.

Who will like this book?: Someone looking for a VERY creepy read.  Someone who’s interested in a thriller/mystery that will leave you feeling haunted.

If you like this, try this: Jennifer McMahon has written other novels, including the well-received “Winter People” and “Promise Not to Tell”.  This book is reminiscent of “Help for the Haunted” by John Searles, although darker.  Tana French is also brought to mind.

Recommended by:  Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

If this looks like something you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

Literary Pick-up Lines

paris wifeone kickreunion of ghostsladies night

We’ve been getting great reviews for some of the titles in our Adult Summer Reading Program: Literary Pick-up Lines. Some of the favorites receiving 4 or 5 stars this week are:
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

One Kick by Chelsea Cain

A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell

Ladies’ Night by Mary Kay Andrews

Check back for more recommendations, or better yet, come in to the library and see which books on our display speak to you. You might just find your new favorite book!


Man Called Ove


Title:  A Man Called Ove

Author:  Fredrik Backman

Publisher:  Atria Books, 2014/Dreamscape Media, LLC. (audiobook), 2014

Summary/Review:  Ove is not someone you want to cross paths with.  He is an older man, set in his ways, and not afraid to tell people what he thinks whether they want to hear it or not.  Ove is a man on a mission.  He has only one goal left to accomplish, but it is not going to be easy to achieve it.

As the story switches back and forth from present to past, you get a better understanding of how certain experiences in Ove’s life, especially those involving his youth and wife, shaped his personality and outlook.  The supporting characters provide a unique link to Ove’s daily routine.  There is a great importance of how timing affects everything.

This book will make you laugh, cry, and appreciate the people (and animals) in your life.  The story will stay with you long after the book ends.  It is a strong read from start to finish and an excellent choice for book clubs.  It will easily top your favorites’ list.

Added note:  The reader (and known actor) on the audiobook is exceptional, painting a clear image of Ove and the rest of the cast.

Who will like this book: Anyone looking for the next best book.

 If you like this, try this:  The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

If you think this is 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!

Delicious Foods


Title: Delicious Foods

Author: James Hannaham

Publisher: Little Brown & Company, March 2015

Summary/Review: The story begins with Eddie, who has recently escaped a mysterious company called Delicious Foods. His mother, Darlene, is still working there. Eddie has no hands, he’s estranged from his relatives, he’s poor and distraught about his mother, but he is ultimately good-natured and ready to emerge with a new life. The real struggle is with Darlene, Eddie’s mother. In her past life she would be described as a grieving widow whose husband was murdered, a hard-working, educated, beautiful, and caring mother. In her new life Darlene is addicted to crack cocaine, prostituting herself, neglecting Eddie, abusing herself and others and, ultimately, losing her mind – until she is saved by Delicious Foods, who offer a wonderful new dream filled with hope, redemption, hard work, and a rampantly dark underbelly.

Reading reviews you might think this story is focused on drugs – after all, the drugs have their own chapters, told from their point of view. You might think it’s about a mysterious company, Delicious Foods, and all the horrible things that go on in a place where you keep people addicted to drugs and brainwashed. You might even think that it’s about Eddie, and his struggle to regain a new life. But the truth is that the book is about all of these things yet none of these things. It’s a beautifully written book. It’s the type of book you have to read slowly because it takes a long time to convince yourself you’re not there, experiencing these things. You could probably call it a mystery thriller, but that wouldn’t accurately describe its deep literary roots. The truth is that “Delicious Foods” is indescribable – you just need to read it. It’s wonderful, magnetic, heart-breaking, scary, thrilling, hilarious, and poetic.

Who will like this book?: Someone that doesn’t shy away from dark topics such as race, addiction, and hopelessness. Someone looking for a read that’s thrilling but deep and literary.

If you like this, try this: James Hannaham has written one other book, “God Says No”, which is probably worth a try. I honestly can’t think of a book similar to this one, so you’ll need to try it yourself!

Recommended by: Lauren O

If you think this is 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.



Title: Aquarium

Author: David Vann

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press, March 2015

Summary/Review: David Vann is a master of family dysfunction. Hidden within his beautiful writing lurk some of the cruelest and manipulative characters you will ever meet. His newest novel, AQUARIUM, is no exception. This one, however, allows for some hope which isn’t always the case with Vann.

Twelve year old Caitlin lives with her single mother, Sheri, in Seattle. Sheri is struggling as a single mother, working full time while trying to build a good life for herself and her daughter. Since, according to Sheri, they are all alone in the world, Caitlin is left alone for long periods while Sheri is at work. Caitlin is dropped off at school early in the morning and heads to the local aquarium after to school to wait for her ride home. It is at the aquarium that she meets a very kind elderly man who takes an interest in Caitlin and keeps her company while she waits for Sheri to pick her up. When Sheri learns of this friendship, she is consumed with an uncontrollable rage and her haunted past comes roaring back with a vengeance.

Sometimes there’s just no way to tell how damaged a person really is until they are forced to confront the demons from their past.

 Who will like this?:  Someone who’s not turned off by dysfunction.  Someone looking for a thrilling read.

 If you like this, try this: other David Vann novels, FATHER OF THE RAIN BY Lily King, DROWNED, by Therese Bohman, and DISQUIET by Julia Leigh.

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

Blind Date With a Book

We wrapped up our “Blind Date With a Book”  program and patrons had plenty of opinions!  Here are some of our favorites:

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson:

Patron rated it: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  1/2♥

What did our patron have to say about it?: “I think I will still prefer Simenon, Parker, MacDonald, Christie. Gritty/graphic/gothic/noir has to be incredibly clever to be really entertaining. This comes close to doing that. Thanks.”

The Chalk Girl by Carol O’Connell:

Patron rated it:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

What did our patron have to say about it?: “I thought this was a great idea! This was a book I wouldn’t have thought to try on my own, but I actually enjoyed it once I got started! I might even look up another book by this author. Thanks!”

The Returned by Jason Mott:

Patron rated it:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

First impression? : So-So

How was it?: Better than expected

The Keep by Jennifer Egan:

Patron rated it:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

First impression?: Love at first sight!

How was it?: WOW!

Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman:

Patron rated it: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

First impression?: Love at first sight!

How was it?: WOW!

 The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers:

Patron rated it:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

First impression?: Love at first sight!

How was it?: WOW!

 The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood:

Patron rated it:   ♥ ♥ ♥

How was it?: OK

How likely are you to try this book again?: Definitely


But that’s not all! Here are some things our patrons had to say about the program:

“While I enjoyed the book, I absolutely loved the display and the whole idea around Valentine’s Day/Blind Date.  Fantastic!  Please do it again.”

“I thought the whole ‘Blind Date” was charming and challenging.  Congratulations to the person who came up with the idea.  It was great fun.”


We’ve got a few more things to work out before our next program – some of our picks didn’t go over so well.  But, we got a great suggestion, too!  “The only downside was my 7-year old wanted to check one out, too, and didn’t know why you didn’t do it with children’s books!  Keep up the good work, FPL!”


Here’s to one of our favorite programs – hopefully we’ll be able to do it again next year!